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Alumni Oral Histories

The Alumni Oral History Project aims to better understand and share the history of Grinnell College by recording and preserving oral histories with members of the Grinnell College alumni community. This collection of oral histories was recorded between 2009 and the present as part of the annual alumni Reunion weekend event.

Alumni oral history interview with Leanne Hoepner Puglielli '66. Recorded June 2, 2012.
I've had probably ten different careers that have sort of tangentially gone off, and when people ask me how that could possibly happen my number one response is, “My Grinnell education.” And the reason- and I don’t do that lightly because what Grinnell did for me was to just expand the way that I looked at the world and I honestly could see the interconnections of all knowledge.

Alumni oral history interview with Irene Blaser Elliott '67. Recorded June 2, 2012.
I have seen two Presidents, and both of them I saw at Grinnell.

Alumni oral history interview with Susan Earley '67. Recorded June 2, 2012.
Y'know, luck is a big part of life. There can be bad luck and there can be good luck, but my picking Grinnell College was really good luck.

Alumni oral history interview with Mariana Alwell '68. Recorded June 3, 2012.
I was young and it gave me a chance to grow up in a relatively protected environment but still have lots of options for making choices.

Alumni oral history interview with Babak Armijani '68. Recorded June 1, 2012.
We broke into the library at night, and- which was very easy to do then - and the Development Office was in the basement of the library. We went down there to find a list of the big donors, of the big alumni donors, with the idea that we had all these people that were working on this, who were working together on a plan, and that we would send this plan, and somebody would generously come forward with the money for this worthy cause and fund the radio station.

Alumni oral history interview with Philip Bertenthal '68. Recorded June 1, 2012.
The same people who could be wild and crazy, y'know, up 'til three o'clock in the morning doing all kinds of stupid things, would go into class the next day and have these really thoughtful discussions with their professors about all kinds of issues.

Alumni oral history interview with Joan E. Eccard '68. Recorded June 1, 2012.
I occasionally still have dreams of coming back and finishing at Grinnell. So, the wonderful experience at Grinnell has stuck with me.

Alumni oral history interview with Cynthia Peterson McKeen '68. Recorded June 1, 2012.
I had an unusual experience as a prospective student coming to Grinnell, because I was on the Rock Island Line coming from Western Iowa, on the day that John F. Kennedy was shot.

Alumni oral history interview with Kathryn Cline Byrd '69. Recorded June 2, 2012.
I heard somebody say, “I don’t know if today I would be able to get into Grinnell.” But, at the time I was there, one of the things I noticed when I first came, we were all, in high school, used to being at the top of our class and you come to a college where everybody’s really bright, and that takes a little bit of adjustment, not to be automatically the best.

Alumni oral history interview with Janet (Castore) Murphy '71. Recorded June 2, 2012.
It has not bothered me, during my life, to be in uncomfortable situations and to be out of my comfort zone. I’ve actually found it very stimulating and use it as a time to redirect myself and say, “There must be something here that I need to rethink,” instead of, “Oh dear, I need to go back to where I am more comfortable.”

Alumni oral history interview with JC Labowitz '71. Recorded June 3, 2012.
I got here and Alex had a live chicken in his room that he was raising, maybe for a Biology project. I don't know. But he spent a lot of time trying to teach the chicken to speak the name of another guy in the residence hall who he was sort of having a- something of a conflict with. So, I know enough, I may be a city kid, but I knew enough that you cannot teach chickens to talk.

Alumni oral history interview with Mara Brewster Munroe '72. Recorded June 2, 2012.
Occasionally, he would try to explain something, singing a little bit of a melody or something and he couldn't sing worth a doodle. But, he could explain it and it was wonderful to have that introduction to music that I've grown to be very fond of.

Alumni oral history interview with James L. Carns '72. Recorded June 3, 2012.
Apparently what happened was, in the middle of his speech, presentation, several Grinnell students, I remember it was four or five, had taken all their clothes off as a protest against Playboy’s exploitation of women.

Alumni oral history interview with Mary Kay Kasang Allen '72. Recorded June 2, 2012.
We had an ice storm in Grinnell when I was here. I don't remember what year it was but I remember, after the ice storm, walking through town and it was just.. It was like being in a wonderland, because the sun was... All the trees were covered in ice and the sun was just glinting off all the ice and that was just... It was like twinkling trees without lights on them. It was very very cool.

Alumni oral history interview with Carolyn Ashbaugh '73. Recorded June 3, 2012.
He was my faculty advisor, who at one point accused me of majoring in revolution since I had a strong interest in left-wing politics and the history of revolutions.

Alumni oral history interview with Mary Margaret Coffield '73. Recorded June 3, 2012.
I particularly remember that feeling of almost social liberation in terms of being able to enjoy relationships with peers, to be in such a non-restrictive environment and to be able to explore so much.

Alumni oral history interview with Carol Edkins '73. Recorded June 2, 2012.
You know, there's the difference between a big city and a small town, and feeling comfortable enough that you can just greet strangers with a "Hello"!

Alumni oral history interview with Laura Korach Howell '73. Recorded June 3, 2012. The photo on the right shows Kit Howell.
I just wanted to share Kit's presence. I'm- this is my first reunion, and it's been.. It's been really wonderful, reconnecting with some people and meeting new people, and just remembering.

Alumni oral history interview with Keith Kozloff '73. Recorded June 2, 2012.
I was a DJ, if you will, at the Grinnell radio station, which was only a few watts, although there was some, maybe urban legend that somehow, some clever student figured out how to use the railway tracks running through campus as an antenna and expanded the broadcast range of the radio station.

Alumni oral history interview with Mark Butterman '76. Recorded June 4, 2010.
I walked out of there exhausted, realizing that maybe I was not above average and that maybe that I had a lot of work to do—but also that it may be a challenge and fun to produce the kind of work that would satisfy a really inquisitive, demanding mind.


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