David Durand '62

  • David Durand
    David: My name is Dave Durand. I currently live in Houston, Texas, and I'm a member of the Grinnell College Class of ’62. We’re here for our fiftieth reunion.
  • David Durand
    David: I came first time to Grinnell in the... well I guess it probably was the spring of ’58 ‘cause I was here visiting the campus and I didn’t have the chance to visit a whole lot of colleges but this was one I did- and... a very enjoyable experience. Got to see a play that was on that weekend, stay in one of the dorms, and get a chance to at least see what student life was like. But, I really came in the Fall of ’58. I should say at the outset, I was here for two years, ’59 and ’60. After that I transferred to Wheaton College, which is in a suburban Chicago area, for my last two years. I was a Chemistry major.
  • David Durand
    David: Came to Grinnell, really for two reasons. One, it was a very highly rated liberal arts school. I didn’t want to go to a big college. I figured it was better to have a chance to know more people. Having later gone on to the University of Illinois, I think that was a smart decision.
  • Sophie Haas & David Durand
    Sophie: Yeah.David: And... But, it was a very highly rated college. Also, it had a good Chemistry department, or Science department. I was interested in either Chemistry or Math at that point, not sure which one. But, I knew both were good departments here and that- that set it good stead.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: The one mistake I did make, offhand, is that music is very much a part of my life, it’s still my avocation, and the Music department at that time was not up to the par it was with some other departments. So, I sort of knew that when I came and I figured “Well, that’s not that important as long as it has the other things.” I was wrong. I was wrong. I really missed it, and that’s one reason I transferred.Sophie: What did you play here?David: I played flute, but, casually, I played piano. Took organ lessons here, played piano. I even had a piano up in my room.Sophie: Wow.David: Well, housekeeping didn’t- they found out about it, didn’t like it but, my sophomore year we found a small piano that we used to take around when we’d go serenade the girls over at the girls' halls. And we’d have something to play outside and keep everybody in harmony. And, finally somebody decided, “Well, let’s put that up in your room.”
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: So then, during some times when it wasn’t quiet hours during the day everybody’d gather in there and we’d play stuff.Sophie: That's so great.David: And it was a lot of fun until housekeeping said, “That wasn’t allowed!” so they took it away. But I had it for several weeks. It was a lot of fun. That’s about the extent of the music I had here, unfortunately.
  • David Durand
    David: The other thing- and I’ll comment, and this is gonna be probably not the usual thing you’ll hear from people in the thing, but I’m a Christian and became a Christian back when I was in high school. When I came here, it just- I didn’t find the nurture, if you will, for that group here on campus. It wasn’t that anybody was anti-Christian. That’s not the issue. It was just that the- I was looking for something and it wasn’t here, in the thing. So, the two reasons I ended up transferring to Wheaton were one, Wheaton is a Christian college outside of Chicago and it did have good music. But, also had good chemistry and stuff like that, and a small liberal arts college. So, it's sort of a thing. So you learn.
  • David Durand
    David: If I had to do it over again I would’ve thought more about what was really important to me at that time, and I would urge any student these days. A lot of times you don’t know when you’re young, when you come, what’s important to you. But if you sense that wherever you’re thinking of going there’s something that’s important to you that’s not going to be there, that’s a red flag. I didn’t recognize it at the time, nothing like that.
  • David Durand
    David: What did our dorm room look like? Well, looked messy most of the time. I lived in a triple. I don’t think that I know if they have those anymore, in North Younker Hall. At that time there was the men’s dorm and a women’s dorm. It was- there were no co-ed dorms. And I was up on the third floor in a triple and- there weren’t that many, there were only a few of those. I just signed to that. My second year I had a single all to myself.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: The triple necessitated you making sure you got along with two roommates instead of just one and I remember one time, it was my freshman year, for some reason one of my, I don’t even know the reason, one of my roommates really got hacked off at me for something. And I was not really aware about it, and he came back one night, having had a few drinks. I was not in the room, and he got real mad. He threw my bed out the window. I mean, from the third floor. He was strong. He picked up the bed and threw it out the window and it landed three floors down on the sidewalk.Sophie: Wow.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: When I finally came back and saw, “What’s this bed doing out here?” y’know? “That looks like my bed,” y’know, and found out- probably just as well I wasn’t around. He probably would’ve thrown me out the window, but..Sophie: Yeah. No kidding.David: The moral of the story is that we ended up becoming very good friends by next year. Whatever it was I hacked him off, I apologized and we ended up being very good friends. I’m sorry he’s not here at the Reunion because he was one I was really looking forward to seeing.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: We decorated. My predilection was to decorate the wall, my part of the room, with signs. I collected signs. No Smoking, No Parking, whatever like that. But mostly, cardboard signs hung all over the room. One night, I decided to explore around town and actually went out and grabbed a couple signs from out along Park Street. One was a stop sign, big metal stop sign. And I went over a couple blocks and got a Route 146 sign, big metal things.Sophie: Wow.David: We put ‘em- I mean we were, “Man these are really great.” Unfortunately the authorities, when they saw a stop sign was missing, figured one of the students, and they finally tracked me down and just- I didn’t- just got my wrist slapped. They found it in my closet. It was stupid. I never should’ve done that. Could’ve caused an accident, obviously. But, well, it was- for a route- a thing.Sophie: Yeah.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: We si- I don’t know, maybe the guys- kids still do crazy things, yours too. Who knows? Anyway. But, that- one of the nice things about Grinnell at that time was the dorm life. Despite the fact that it was not co-ed or anything like that, it was very much of a camaraderie. It was like joining a fraternity, in effect, without the side things that aren’t good about a fraternity. And the same for the gals, in the sorority. And.. so, I enjoyed that-Sophie: Yeah.David: -sort of a thing.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: Student life and campus life as experienced- Well, the ARH was here.Sophie: Mhm.David: I got a- I don’t know. Do they still have the auditorium on the second floor? Maybe not.Sophie: Yeah, on the third floor now.David: OK. I mean, that’s where- I was very active in the drama here, the club here. We did- I was in several plays while I was here. But, downstairs on the first floor, what used to be, what they called the Arena Theater which was a smaller theater and then the dressing room and stuff like that. That’s all computer labs now, so I guess that’s how you can tell that that’s the way things have changed over time. But ARH and the Chapel, clearly, and Goodnow Hall. While I was here is when Burling Library was built. Before that they had an old library, that bad thing, but so- Burling, that was a very good addition to the thing.Sophie: Yeah.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: The Student Union, though, was really just sort of a... I won’t say a, Quonset hut but it was a very low-key type of thing. We spent a lot time over there, but I think it was held over from back during the war. It was built back then. Since then- where is.. the Forum? Is that where they have the- what they used to call the Student Union?Sophie: It’s more in the JRC now, in the Joe.David: Okay.Sophie: Yeah, the Rosenfield Center.David: I don’t know where- I’ll find out when I wander around, where kids hang out. But, but we hung out over there, in the thing. I didn’t study over at the library too much. I generally found I could study in my room.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: There were a lot of practical jokes as there are with any generation, things like that.Sophie: What kinds of practical jokes were there?David: Oh, well, throwing my bed out the window was one.Sophie: Yeah, I've never heard of anything like that.David: Yeah. One of the things we did one time was every dorm had its Dorm President or Hall President or something, and the guy that was during our freshman year, we- one night we snuck up there when he was in his room with the door closed and we put a whole bunch of blocks of ice in front of his door.Sophie: Oh man.David: So that he- they melted together, you know? This is like- and so he couldn’t get out of his room. And we couldn't open- we had to get some chips and so- like that and burn him out of his room.Sophie: Oh, wow.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: Another thing that became very common at that time was what we call pennying- like, using a penny. It was a- and what we would do is you go to the door, usually, and find something that you could pry it with or just push it in and insert several pennies between the door and the jamb. Once you did that the person inside a room could not turn the knob-Sophie: Oh no.David: -because the latch was pressed against the metal. In effect, you could trap someone in his room, very quickly. The door was closed, all you had to do was push on it, insert the pennies and he was trapped in there. Obviously, you don’t wanna do that for too long, dangerous.Sophie: Yeah.David: But that- I don’t really- people probably don’t even do that anymore, I would guess. I don't know. Anyway..
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: So yeah, practical jokes of that sort of thing. I remember, we had- of course you joined the Hall just like you would join a fraternity and at that time we had a hazing thing. I doubt they still do that, maybe- you know, wear the beanies that you've seen pictures of.Sophie: Yeah.David: And- at hazing, and we had what we called hell week, which was the... and that was when- it really was usually about, maybe, late fall... early, yeah, sometime in the winter and that’s when it hits its peak or something like that.Sophie: Right.David: And in addition to all the other stuff you had to do, everybody was given a special assignment they had to do and they couldn’t come back to the dorm until 6 o’clock in the morning, or having proved that they’d done it.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: What I had to do, my assignment was to go down to Montezuma and wake up the Sheriff of the Poweshiek County, and get his signature on a piece of paper. I had to do it in the middle of the night.Sophie: Wow. Oh my gosh.David: Of course, that’s about fifteen miles away so, and I didn’t have a car, but there was- one of my friends had a car and so I helped him do whatever he had to do. I think he had to paint some sign on the roof of the Student Union about free... free beer or something. I don’t know. And once we did that, he said he would drive me over to Montezuma.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: So, what I remember, at 3 o’clock in the morning we’re knocking on the door of the Sheriff of the County.Sophie: Yeah.David: He comes down, and I explained what I wanted, and he laughed and he called his wife. It turns out, he was a Grinnell alumnus and when he was a student, what they made him do was to get the signature of the Sheriff at 3 o’clock in the morning.Sophie: Oh! So, you had to go all that wa-David: So he knew. “Oh c’mon in. Yes, I had to do that too, come in and have some coffee.” So, yeah. Yeah.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: But, there were some weird things. Like, somebody got sent over to the University of Iowa to wake up whoever was the quarterback for the football team at that time and get his signature.Sophie: Oh my gosh.David: Yeah, things like that. It just.. so... But, it did- again, it sort of was a sort of bonding within the- male bonding. I don’t know. I don’t think the gals did that, maybe they did. To be- I don’t remember. I don’t remember. But, sort of a guy thing, and we sort of became friends after that so that’s the way that was, so..Sophie: Wow.
  • David Durand & Sophie Haas
    David: I'd wanna- I’ve not been back to the campus, but- a couple times since then, just usually in passing.Sophie: Yeah.David: I don’t get back this way too often, but I’m glad I got back this time. I had my fiftieth reunion at the other campus last month, at Wheaton. And four years ago I went to two high school reunions ‘cause I went to two high schools, for fiftieth. So, I’m done with fiftieth reunions now. This oughta be it. We'll leave that to the younger ones from this point forward. So, that’s about it.Sophie: Great, thank you so much!
Alumni oral history interview with David Durand '62. Recorded June 1, 2012.
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