Ray Horton '62

  • Ray Horton
    Ray: My name is Ray Horton. I currently live in New York City, and I graduated from Grinnell in 1962.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: Great. Alright, take this back from you. Well, one thing that a lot of other people have talked about, I don’t know how applicable this would be to your experience, is how they feel like the campus changed during their four years there. Do you feel like you saw a change on campus between the time you entered and the time you graduated?Ray: Not physically.Sophie: Mhm.Ray: The buildings were pretty much the same.Sophie: Yeah.Ray: But there were some changes in- I think, North Campus and South Campus were just beginning to be integrated a little bit more.Sophie: Mhm.Ray: I think, if I remember right. Men could have Sunday lunch on South Campus and women could have Sunday lunch on North Campus. But, basically there were two campuses.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: Okay, and did you- do you feel like you heard about a lot changes immediately after that? Since you graduated in ’62, a lot of the alums who’ve come in so far have talked about the late 60s period here. Do you feel like the camp- I don't know if you- did you hear about the changes on campus then?Ray: Well, I was actually a member of the Faculty in the spring of 1968-Sophie: Oh.Ray: -1969, and 1970.Sophie: Wow.Ray: I was working on my doctoral dissertation at Columbia and I came back here and taught Political Science those three spring terms.
  • Ray Horton & Sophie Haas
    Ray: But most of the changes then were not physical changes. They were changes related to... student protests, Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam. In 1970, the school actually shut down in the spring, and nobody took final exams or anything.Sophie: Wow.Ray: Literally shut down for a couple of weeks. So, people graduated but without really ever having to take their final examinations.Sophie: That's amazing.Ray: Yeah, it was a pretty radical time.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: And did the student body itself seem very different than from when you’d been a student here?Ray: Yeah, no, there was much more activism.Sophie: Mhm.Ray: I think the class that graduated in ’62 was sort of the tail-end of a quite conservative period through the 1950s and the beginnings of a much more radical period in the 1960s and 1970s. The place was very different in ’68 when I returned as a faculty member.Sophie: Yeah.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: And so, what sort of things were you involved with when you were a student here?Ray: I came as a... an athlete. I was a well-known high school basketball player and I wanted to be a baseball player, and it wasn’t until, I think I took a Philosophy course in my sophomore year that I began to have any kind of appreciation of an intellectual life, so that’s probably the debt that I owe Grinnell the most for.Sophie: And what did you end up majoring in?Ray: Political Science and History.Sophie: Okay.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: And were there any professors that really- whose classes really grabbed you?Ray: Well, as a History student, Joe Wall.Sophie: Mhm.Ray: But, the person who had the most impact on me was my basketball coach, John Pfitsch, who had a huge impact on my development as a human being.Sophie: How so?Ray: He taught me not to take myself quite so seriously.Sophie: Mhm.Ray: He taught me how to subjugate some of my individual interests for a group, or team interests.Sophie: Mhm.Ray: He had a big impact on my life.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: Can you think of any- do you have any particularly stand-out memories from a- like, a special game or anything like that that really, that brought some of those messages home?Ray: Well, none of those messages. My only recollection is I made a jump-shot in the final second of a game against either Coe or Cornell, to bring a Grinnell victory home, but...Sophie: Ooh, that's exciting.Ray: I was not a great basketball player.Sophie: Yeah..
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: And so, looking back, do you feel like- do you feel like a lot of your time at Grinnell later influenced what you ended up doing in your life? ‘Cause that’s quite a path, from Iowa to New York to Columbia.Ray: Yeah, well, I went from Grinnell to Harvard Law School-Sophie: Mhm.Ray: For no particular reason other than that people told me, if you had to go- the opportunity to go to Harvard Law School you should do it. I hated it.Sophie: Oh.Ray: Then I started a PhD program at Columbia in Political Science, after that. That’s really… so the- my intellectual development really began at Grinnell and it sort of followed through after that.Sophie: Neat.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: What did you like most about being here as a student? Or did you like it at all?Ray: Oh, I loved Grinnell. I cried like a baby on the... my last day at the campus, when I graduated. In fact all of us in Smith Hall, we had a fairly tight group of people, and we sat in the lounge and cried like babies.Sophie: Oh.Ray: Yeah. No, I enjoyed Grinnell very much. My oldest daughter, I think came here, who just decided whether she was going to come to Grinnell or not. She decided to go to Columbia. I was- There’s part of me that wanted her to come to Grinnell. I think it would’ve been a good experience for her.Sophie: Yeah.Ray: Yeah. But I think she... she was not sure she wanted to come to the middle of Iowa, like a lot people that grow up in New York City.Sophie: Not everyone is sure about that.
  • Ray Horton & Sophie Haas
    Ray: How about you? You grew up in New York City, so-Sophie: Yeah.Ray: Yeah.Sophie: I did. I was pretty sure I wanted to come here, though.Ray: Yeah, yeah.Sophie: Yeah, I didn’t want to stay in New York.Ray: Yeah, yeah. See, and I thought so too, but in the last- in the final analysis she decided to stay in New York.Sophie: Yeah.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: Do you feel like there were things, even back then, that really set Grinnell apart from other small liberal arts colleges?Ray: I really didn’t have any experience with any other colleges. My parents had both come to Grinnell.Sophie: Oh.Ray: I had uncles who had gone to Grinnell, so I was...Sophie: So it was a Grinnell family.Ray: I was a Grinnell- it's a Grinnell family, that’s exactly right. I never really entertained- I guess I entertained going to Harvard. I applied to and admitted to Harvard, but I knew I wasn’t ready for Harvard in 1958.Sophie: Mhm.Ray: I was ready for Grinnell, but not Harvard.Sophie: Yeah... Yeah, man.
  • Sophie Haas & Ray Horton
    Sophie: Do you think there’s anything else that you’d like to talk about, that’s come across your mind while we-Ray: No, I think that’s it.Sophie: Okay.Ray: I gotta run and get my picture taken with the rest of my class, pretty soon, so...Sophie: Yeah, well thank you so much.Ray: Nice to talk to you.Sophie: Yeah.
Alumni oral history interview with Ray Horton '62. Recorded June 2, 2012.
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