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~ About: A 1961-65 Park College Diary ~ As a high school girl and then a college coed in the first half of the 1960s, I wrote nightly entries on the pages of one-year diaries. In January 2010 I began transcribing the entries into a blog and gave each one a title. I grew up on three farms within 30 miles of Iowa City and the University of Iowa with its Iowa Writers' Workshop. As the oldest of four daughters, in my diaries I sometimes referred to my sisters as "the kids" or "the girls." We helped our parents, but we also had good, wholesome fun - a characteristic I took with me to Park. Park is 300 miles southwest of West Chester, Iowa, in Parkville, Missouri, on the Missouri River 10 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri, and across the river from Kansas City, Kansas. In 2000 Park College became Park University. Today Park's flagship campus is in Parkville and there are an additional 41 campus centers across the nation. Park was one of the first educational institutions in the United States to offer online learning. My last post was on May 22, 2018. I may be followed on Twitter @BarbaraMcDWhitt.

December 15, 2016: Christmas at Park and in Washington County, Iowa

Christmas at Park College was always special, but my first Christmas there is the most poignant in my memory. First, because it was my first Christmas there, and then because it was my Class of 1965's one and only year to have two 18-week semesters - meaning we could enjoy Christmas on the campus and in nearby Parkville and Kansas City because students weren't preoccupied studying for finals. That was the case in December 1962, 1963 and 1964. In those years the Park administration had made the decision to put professors, instructors and students on three 15-week trimesters per year, meaning the fall semesters needed to be finished before Christmas. Fortunately the summer trimester was optional. Here, then, is what I wrote about Christmas at Park in December 1961:

Going Down Mackay Hill on Cafeteria Trays - Friday, December 8, 1961

This was pre-registration day for next semester so there were no classes. I will be taking French, world literature, anthropology, anatomy and physiology, introduction to music, and apparatus and field hockey for 16 hours. And today it snowed. It's so perfect. Tonight a bunch of us went sliding on Mackay hill on Commons cafeteria trays. We had a panic. ...

We Go to See the Plaza Lights - Tuesday, December 12, 1961

Tonight a school bus load of us went to see the Country Club Plaza lights. They are really pretty. Some of them follow the shapes of the tower-like building tops. Judy Cox guided Nancy Huebner, Kathy Gillespie and me around the stores. ...

A Candlelight Vespers Service - Wednesday, December 13, 1961

I'm packed and ready to go - if I'm not forgetting anything. Carolyn Frobig is going to get my train ticket for me so that will save me some time and trouble. My one suitcase is pretty bulging - I can just see it coming apart in Union Station! Tonight the family style Christmas dinner was very nice and the candlelight vespers service was so nice. This has really been a nice Christmas at Park. Everyone is packing and wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

Leaving Park for Christmas - Thursday, December 14, 1961

It's good to be home. My train was an hour late. We didn't leave Kansas City till about 10:30. Mrs. Cox took Flo, Nancy Kelley, Ken Peerson and me to the station. We met Carolyn Frobig about 9:00. Her uncle helped us catch our trains. The different train men were nice. It was fun being in a big city train station and seeing another city at Christmas. This afternoon I got ready to leave, cleaned our room, typed Vivien's philosophy paper and got her off, read my biology, locked our room behind me, and left Park College for two and a half weeks.

November 22, 2016: Memories of Park- Thanksgiving in 1961 and 1963

As a Park student I stayed on campus for Thanksgiving in 1961, went to and from home in Iowa by train in 1962, remained in Parkville in 1963, and went home again in 1964. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, putting a somber mood on Thanksgiving, less than a week later. I've chosen to reprint what I transcribed from my diaries on the two Thanksgiving days and evenings I celebrated with others at Park in 1961 and 1963.

An Enjoyable Thanksgiving at Park - Thursday, November 23, 1961:

My first Thanksgiving away from home was nice. I didn't get up till 10:30 - it was good to sleep for a change. Vivien's and my breakfast was sweet rolls and tea. The Thanksgiving dinner was served family style and it truly tasted just like a good old home Thanksgiving dinner. I guess the taste and style of Thanksgiving food is a national tradition for sure. Vivien and I walked up to Alfalfa Point this afternoon. It was really inspiring and relaxing to look out over the Missouri. When we got back Mom Hawkins had food left over from dinner in the lounge - again just like Thanksgiving at home. Now I must get busy and read The Odyssey. I intended to write four letters today but only got the round robin answered.

A Professor's Thanksgiving Meal - Thursday, November 28, 1963:

I still don't know why, but Dr. Gochman called me this evening and had me come over to his apartment in Woodward to help him eat some Thanksgiving turkey, "along with some other students." The group - none of whom I knew very well - wasn't exactly my type, but it was a privilege to be invited to a professor's home for Thanksgiving supper. Miss Thomas was there, too. Our Thanksgiving dinner in Commons was very nice, too. I always like to recall past Thanksgivings. I read physiological psychology this morning and did a reading report after dinner. Evelyn and Jim wet to Hans's sister's for Thanksgiving.    

October 20, 2016: Memories of Park - Soccer Makes Park Unique

One of the things that makes Park unique is that it has never had an intercollegiate football program. It does, however, have something that distinguishes it - soccer. Every year as the leaves turn bright with color and the outdoor air becomes cooler, I remember afternoons in the bright sunshine, watching Park men in their canary and wine colored uniforms (Park now also has women's soccer) move across the field, back and forth, advancing a ball with feet and heads toward the opponent's goal defended by a goalie.

Under a photo of the 1961 Park soccer team, the 1961-62 Park Narva staff described the season this way:

"The 1961 soccer season proved to be one of the best in the history of Park College. Under the leadership of Coach Ara Zakaryan and Captain Mel Blades, the team was able to win five games, while losing only two and tying one. Outstanding players for Park were Paul Thackaberry, a senior, who led the scoring with a total of 10 goals, and John Clarke, a senior goalie, who had a total of 85 saves."

A year later the 1962-63 Narva stated: "The 1962 Park soccer team had one of its most successful seasons. Park had a 7 win, 2 loss record and was selected to represent Area 1 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Soccer Tournament at Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. Park took third place in the tournament and positions on the All Tournament were awarded to Sinan Kunt and Desire Assa, with honorable mention to Bill Higginbotham. High scorer this year was senior Mel Blades who broke the school record by scoring 12 goals. Team captain was Hal Henderson, a junior, coaches were Ara Zakaryan and Ed Nelson, student manager was Joel Givertz an student trainer, Dave Bromberg."

In my diaries I wrote, on Saturday, October 28, 1961: "Park beat Emporia State this afternoon in a thrilling soccer game. Emporia had beat Tabor."

On Saturday, September 22, 1962: "This afternoon Flo, Barb and I went down to watch the Air Force Academy play Park in the first home soccer game of the season. It was a good game, but we lost 5-2. Four years ago they beat Park 4-1."

Friday, November 16, 1962: "Park is playing in the national soccer tournament during Thanksgiving vacation."

Saturday, September 21, 1963: "We beat Tabor in our first soccer game of the season, our second defeat of our archrival and the first time in seven years we've beat them at home."

And on Saturday, October 5, 1963: "The delegation to the Park-Tabor soccer game in Hillsboro, Kansas, returned at 2:30 this morning. The game was thrilling, a 3-3 tie after three 5-minute overtimes." I, of course, had gone with the students who went by school bus to attend the game.

In 2016 soccer still reigns supreme at Park.

September 10, 2016: A Park College Freshman 55 Years Ago

Fifty-five years ago, on Saturday, September 9, 1961 my parents, three younger sisters and I saw Park College for the first time. Visits to college and university campuses while still in high school were not as common as they are now. Arriving from a farm in Iowa, we drove around the campus, then found a motel room in Riverside. Move-in day for Park students was on September 10.

Yesterday, September 9, 2016 was the 36th birthday for the younger of my husband's and my two daughters. Today she is moving from an apartment to her first house, both near Zona Rosa in the Northland area of Platte County. She sometimes drives through Parkville on her way home from teaching in Kansas City and thinks of her mom as she passes Mackay. 

In January 2015 Kenneth R. Klamm began a Facebook group called Parkville Missouri History. Parkville and Park have a true town and gown relationship, and Kenneth has graciously admitted me to the group and has liked contributions pertaining to A 1961-65 Park College Diary.

Today, in honor of the 55th anniversary of my first 21 days at Park and in Parkville and Kansas City, I have chosen to share the titles I gave my 1961 diary entries when I compiled them as blog posts in 2011.

We See Park College for the First Time -
Saturday, September 9, 1961

Park Days and Nights are Underway -
Sunday, September 10, 1961

Park is a Wonderful College -
Monday, September 11, 1961

The PCCs Give a Roman Party -
Tuesday, September 12, 1961

We Buy Bedspreads in Kansas City -
Wednesday, September 13, 1961

We Register for Classes and Find Books -
Thursday, September 14, 1961

College Classes Sound Enjoyable -
Friday, September 15, 1961

The Social Clubs Choose Their New Pledges -
Saturday, September 16, 1961

A Date for Frosh Court - 
Sunday, September 17, 1961

Dag Hammarskjold Dies in African Plane Crash -
Monday, September 18, 1961

Park's 87th Opening Convocation is Impressive -
Tuesday, September 19, 1961

Hell Week Has Begun -
Wednesday, September 20, 1961

Awakened at 4:00 for Hell Week -
Thursday, September 21, 1961

Planning a Freshman Skit for Frosh Court -
Friday, September 22, 1961

Hell Week is Over and Frosh Court is a Success -
Saturday, September 23, 1961

Mid-Prairie Yearbook Came Yesterday -
Sunday, September 24, 1961

A Day of Successes -
Monday, September 25, 1961

An Individual Microscope for Biology Lab -
Tuesday, September 26, 1961

Will Dress for Dinner on Tuesdays -
Wednesday, September 27, 1961

Liking the Way French Class is Taught -
Thursday, September 28, 1961

A Visit to the Campus Infirmary -
Friday, September 29, 1961

Our Dorm Room will be Colonial Style -
Saturday, September 30, 1961

To read what I wrote on each of those nights, I invite you to find the "Blog Archive" on the right hand side of this blog post. Scroll to read "Archive Explained" and then scroll to find September 2011.

August 23, 2016: Memories of Park - Taking Physical Education Classes

Watching the world's finest athletes compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro reminds me that, when I was a student at Park in the first half of the 1960s, all students were required to take a total of 8 hours of physical education classes. Each class was worth two credit hours. Upperclass students advised freshmen to get them worked into our schedules during our freshman and sophomore years if possible. In that I succeeded. In my competence in the classes I ended up fitting into my schedule, not so much - except for modern dance. In that, I was a leader. Here are segments from some of my diary entries:

Thursday, January 10, 1963: In swimming I found out I can neither breathe nor kick right - I knew I didn't - so I've much to learn - she vows we'll all learn each stroke!

[I didn't, but I gratefully received a C for the course. The "she" I mention was Mrs. Barbara Dorsey, who, during her time at Park, taught each of the phys ed classes I took. She was a talented woman who also coached tennis and golf.]

My introduction to college level phys ed began with the trampoline.

Monday, October 16, 1961: Did I ever mess up on my trampoline practical test. Not only did I about kill myself doing the back drop, I couldn't even go down for the front. She (Mrs. Dorsey) said not to worry about it though.

Tuesday, October 17, 1961: I went over to work out on the trampoline and got my confidence back on the front drop but still need to relearn the back drop.

Monday, October 30, 1961: We started turning flips on the trampoline. [I wrote a collective "We." I don't imagine I did any flips.]

After the trampoline classes were over we began fencing.

Monday, November 15, 1961: We got our foils for fencing in phys ed. It sounds like it will be fun.

Monday, November 27, 1961: I got "yelled at" in gym - "Young lady, don't lift your back foot when you lunge!"

Friday, January 19, 1962: Since I spent two hours on my written fencing final this morning (it called for a lot of details) I didn't get to lunch till 1:00 and therefore didn't get to my world lit reading like I had planned.

In the fall of my sophomore year I wrote on Thursday, September 6, 1962: Modern dance is with Mrs. Dorsey who has studied it under one of New York's leading teachers.

Thursday, October 4, 1962: Leslie, Sarah and I got an A on our modern dance interpretation of "Trees in a Storm." Just one other group got an A. She said as she had looked around beforehand, ours had looked the best. She said that about my group once before, too.

Monday, October 8, 1962: Tonight Edna, Theresa and I practiced for modern dance -we finally decided to use "Good Night, Ladies." It has to be a song.

Thursday, October 18, 1962: We got an A- on our modern dance interpretation of "The Puzzled Centipede"- Sandy, Mary Kit, Kelmie and I. I was the frog.


July 31, 2016: Memories of Iowa and Park - Kennedy and Johnson

Like the hopefully first woman president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, I grew up with Republican parents - she in the Park Ridge suburb of Chicago and I on farms in southeastern Iowa. Prior to the November 9, 1960 presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, I showed my "neutrality" when I finished a required high school paper assigned by my Seminar in American Government teacher. The assigned topic given to the honors students in the senior year class was "Major Campaign Issues of the Candidates for President." I ended mine with "May the best man win." At home, however, I was influenced by my parents and their Republican leanings and wrote the following in my diary:

"Boo! Kennedy is the next president. At least he didn't win by a landslide. It hasn't been so close in seventy some years. Kennedy leads by only about 3/10 of a percent in popular votes, and at noon they thought Nixon might end up with the most popular votes! Used to describe Kennedy's win were hair's breadth, photo finish, razor edge." Although I had become 18 on November 5, 1960, four days prior to the November 9, 1960 election, Iowa did not allow 18-year-olds to vote until 1971.

Also like Hillary Clinton, I changed my political affiliation from Republican to Democratic while I was in college. On November 22, 1963 I wrote in my diary: "President Kennedy was assassinated today in Dallas. He died at 1:00, less than an hour after Lee Harvey Oswald fired shots at him and the governor of Texas as they and their wives rode in a parade route in the presidential limousine. It is so hard to believe that he is dead and that something this awful could actually happen. The governor is in serious condition. They apprehended Oswald almost immediately. He used a telescopic lens on a high powered rifle from the sixth floor of an office building. Johnson was sworn in on the plane flying him, Mrs. Kennedy and the president's body back to Washington.The chapel was full at a meditation service tonight. From 12:30 when we first 'heard' and turned our radios on, we have variously shared this disbelief."

Over the next three days students were free to watch the aftermath and the accompanying proceedings on a large black and white television that had been set up in the campus lecture hall. A smaller set in the student center was also in constant use.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was overwhelmingly elected for his own full term on November 3, 1964, two days prior to my 22nd birthday. I voted for him in my first election. My diary entry that night included "I'm glad to report that Johnson is winning the election by quite a large majority. I guess Hughes won in Iowa - poor Hultman."

Like Hillary Rodham Clinton, I've remained a Democrat.

Barbara McDowell
A 1961-65 Park College Diary
Park College, Parkville, MO

became Park University on January 1, 2000
now is the flagship campus with a
nationwide network of 40 campus centers and
was one of the first institutions to offer online learning

A 1961-65 Park College Diary writer became Barbara Whitt
on June 17, 1972 (the day of the Watergate Break-In)
am now on Twitter


June 28, 2016: Memories of Park - Hearing the Mackay Chimes

On the last day of the September 2014 Park University Alumni Weekend, I stepped out of Thompson Commons just as the Mackay Hall chimes began to play "Hail, Hail Park College" (updated to "Hail, Alma Mater" after Park became Park University in 2000). Still known by the first version for many of us, there is, for all graduates of Park, something endearing about the "strong as an oak tree, thy name shall never fail," and "to thee, alma mater, hail, Park, hail" that we always cherish in our hearts.

Here's how the chimes sound, referred to here as the carillon, with a photo of the Mackay clock tower where they're located:

And here it is being sung in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel:

Much as I loved the campus chimes, a search of my 1961-65 diary entries yielded only eight times when I actually mentioned them:

Tuesday, January 2, 1962 [after being in Iowa for Christmas vacation]: I was the fifth one to check in at Hawley. We had just arrived in [Vivien's and] my room when I heard the chimes. They hadn't been working in the first three months we'd been here. It was so nice to hear them - now it is college.

Wednesday, January 3, 1962: I love the chimes - if every 15 minutes isn't too often.

Thursday, January 4, 1962: This has been one of my favorite college days - we've been having such spring-like weather, and I still marvel at the beauty of those chimes sounding against the hills.

Saturday, February 3, 1962: Marge and I went over to sit on Mackay steps tonight and watched the sunset and listened to the chimes.

Friday, February 16, 1962: The chimes have been playing more often recently. We've even had Park's alma mater played.

Saturday, March 24, 1962: Poor Mackay's chimes have been off the beam tonight. [And then I didn't mention them again until 1963:]

Monday, November 11, 1963: The chimes are fixed again! [Note: They would not have been out of order since March 24, 1962.] [And once more:]

Monday, April 5, 1965: Yay - the chimes are working again. [That was the night before those of us in the department of education took our written comps, prior to our graduation day on Sunday, April 25.]