Irene Blaser Elliott '67

  • Irene Blaser Elliott
    Irene: OK. My name is Irene Blaser Elliott and I currently live in Bethesda in Maryland, which is a suburb of Washington, DC. I’m a member of the Grinnell College class of 1967. I just wanted to share a little thing about Presidents.
  • Irene Blaser Elliott
    Irene: I was a first semester freshman in the fall of 1963, November, and I had gone to the Arts Center to practice my ballet, which I wasn’t able to do here anymore except practice on my own, and- all by myself for an hour or two- and I came back on the sidewalk underneath Burling Library and came up the sidewalk which led to Main Hall, which is no longer there, but it was a sidewalk at that time. And a friend of mine came out- Sarah French, actually, was my friend. She came out of the Main Hall, which was our living facility and she looked horrible. She just had a terrible look on her face. And so I smiled tentatively at her and said something to the effect of, “Hi.” She just looked at me and said, “Have you heard the news?” and I said, “No, what happened?” She said, “President Kennedy was shot.”
  • Irene Blaser Elliott
    Irene: And that’s a very strong memory that a lot of us have in Grinnell. I remember we were all pretty devastated for some time there. We didn’t know what to do about the party that was going to be happening the next night. We didn’t know whether to cancel, what to do; it was a hard time for all of us on campus, I think. So unexpected. Coming out of the 50s- we were the generation of kids in the 50s and things like that didn’t happen anymore. The war was over, long gone. But it happened, and it was a big shock. Just a big shock.
  • Irene Blaser Elliott
    Irene: I’m also- I’ve lived in Washington DC since I was in Grinnell. That’s ’67 I moved to Washington. I had a job with the government and I thought, “Well now I’m going to get to see all the famous people and Presidents and everything." Well, I have never in my life seen a President in Washington, DC. I tried once, but I didn’t get there. However, I have seen two Presidents, and both of them I saw at Grinnell. That was Harry Truman, and that was Dwight Eisenhower.
  • Tamara Grbusic & Irene Blaser Elliott
    Tamara: Were they holding speeches, or discussing…?Irene: Yeah, they were- Yeah, both of them came to talk to students and it was a big deal; it was a good thing. I have actually seen also President Nixon when he was campaigning, but I was in my hometown of Davenport, so it was also in Iowa. I’ve never seen a President in Washington, DC.Tamara: That’s really interesting. Okay, thank you very much.
Alumni oral history interview with Irene Blaser Elliott '67. Recorded June 2, 2012.
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