Carol Johnson Addington ‘56

  • Brenna Ross
    Brenna: Say your name, where you currently live and your class year.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: My name is Carol Johnson Addington, known as Johnnie. I’m from the class of ’56. Fortunately went to school with George and we were very good friends, George Drake. I live in a little community outside of Birchwood, Wisconsin where we’ve retired from the Twin Cities where I lived, and lived after I was married.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: All right. So, I guess to start off, how did you first come to hear about Grinnell?Carol: Well, we had one of the counselor gals come around and talk to us about Grinnell. I lived in Minneapolis. I went to school at Southwest High School. I’m a singer, and there was a very strong push for me to go to St. Olaf and sing in the choir, which I was very interested in doing. But I’m a product of the depression and of the war, and when the war broke out my parents went to the war and I moved in with my grandmother. I was an only child, and St. Olaf was just a little bit too close and I thought I needed to get a little farther away from home.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: My grandparents were very good to me but they were very old and as an only child, I thought I needed to branch out my experience with other young people and stuff. I was very impressed with the College, came down and looked at it. I liked it very much and so that’s why I decided to come to Grinnell. I was glad I was accepted.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So... just kinda going down the list here. Was there a professor or student, staff-Carol: Well, Danforth really was an asset to me. For some reason or other I got into a Chemistry class I never should’ve gotten into. My counselor kind of missed the boat on me, and I had only had Biology in high school. I really really struggled. I was a very good math student so I handled the math part of the Chemistry class very well but it really was hard for me. I’m too analytic to accept the gas laws and all the things in Chemistry. The- I just wanted explana- I had a real hard time of it. He was wonderful because he met with me separately and tutored me and helped me through that class because he knew that that would really pull my grades down. So he was wonderful to me.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: Sang in the choir and I loved singing the choir. I also did some acting in the plays, and I really enjoyed that. It was a wonderful experience to me to be down here and it was a growing time. I liked the concept of the freshman dorms because I made wonderful friends my freshman year. We are still friends. We still get together. We’re still the round robin group.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: So, I think for me, just the development, it created in me, a really... drive for knowledge. I love to read. I love to take classes on things, and I guess that’s what Grinnell taught me, is that learning is really fun. And that's... that's been my experience. It was a great school for me. It’s a beautiful school. It’s very different than it was when I was here. The Quonset Hut Union that George talked about this morning was a wonderful place though ‘cause that’s where we got together and had coffee and we danced to the jukebox and the one TV on campus, the black and white TV where we came over to see things that were going on.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So what would you say is the biggest change?Carol: Oh, the buildings I think. Well, it’s just changed tremendously. I think that one of the things he talked about this morning: the girls were on one side of the campus, and the boys were on the other and it was just strictly a social connection or whatever we took in class, the of classes that we took together. But I think, watching my kids grow up, I have a daughter that went to St. Olaf and one that went to UMD and they still had their own floor where the girls were for the privacy but the guys were everywhere for security and I think they got a better- not having any boys in the family other than dad... It just helps them learn how to connect with the other opposite sex. I don't even think of them as the opposite sex anymore.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: But I think just the whole campus atmosphere. I liked that they kept the center campus open and the buildings have gone the other way, but- the buildings have changed so much, but the campus is still lovely, warming, and the beautiful old homes. And the town is like three times as big as it was when we were here, I think.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So where did you live?Carol: Minneapolis.Brenna: Oh, on campus.
  • Carol Addington & Brenna Ross
    Carol: On campus, oh! I started in Main Hall and then we always- we drew numbers to pick where to go and I drew number one.Brenna: Oh.Carol: So, we walked around – yeah, that was just, really blew me away. My roommate was Marilynn Postma Hamar, and we got along well so we stayed together and so we walked all over and looked for what we thought was the best place to go and so we went to Read and we really loved it and we had a suite and used the living room as the gathering room. We each had our own bedroom. I performed with a vaudeville group that traveled around the state and I would have hours that would come and go so it was better for us to have quiet bedrooms to sleep in.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: What kind of stuff did you do with the vaudeville group?Carol: Well, we sa- I sang and Roger Perry was a part of that group who went on to be an actor and do some TV stuff. Singing and dancing and Roger played the piano and we did just various things. It was just a carful of us and we’d go to Kiwanis Clubs and Christmas parties and that sort of thing. So, that was really fun. Did that for... I’m trying to remember. I did it my sophomore year. I think I did a little bit of it my freshman year too. But music was my thing.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: What other activities were you involved in?Carol: Of course we didn’t do a lot of sports and things like that because that wasn’t it. But I went to all the games. I love basketball and I liked this basketball that they played down here. But it was mostly choir. That was my big activity. I was on the newspaper my freshman year, really enjoyed that. And I liked all my classes. Struggled with the Chemistry but I liked it anyway. But I just, as they say, I developed a hunger for knowledge and that stayed with me a long.
  • Brenna Ross
    Brenna: So what did you study? Or, what was your major?
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: Well, first we had the requirements that we had to do and I was just here two years. Then I went to the University of Minnesota. So, we did pretty much just the requirements and stuff so. I did take Shorthand and do the Secretarial course which I used and I still use shorthand ‘cause I’ve been on several boards and usually the secretary so, that was good training for that. But yeah, it was pretty much just the general stuff.
  • Carol Addington & Brenna Ross
    Carol: I think I thought I wanted to be an English teacher, but then when I went back to school I took a lot of courses and they thought I should be a Home Economics teacher because I’d raised a couple kids and that sort of thing. So, that’s kind of what I focused on most days, were some Teaching classes. I wish now, what I should’ve been now is a choral director. If I had it to do over again that’s what I’d do, because I have gone on to do a lot of that.Brenna: Well, that’s very cool.Carol: That’s about it.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So what kind of clothes, and what was your sort…Carol: Well, we always wore skirts. We wore slacks once in a while, but definitely it was cashmere sweaters, if we could afford them, and socks that matched and pleated skirts. I was kind of not a part of the poodle skirt period. I was gone from my school when those got to be popular. I did have them but I didn’t wear them. But, the pleated skirts and the socks and I look back at the pictures and we always wore- And then we had the sweaters with the little ties, the little scarves that we tied. We didn’t wear slacks that much. Of course not- and never jeans. So yeah, in my high school we weren’t allowed to wear slacks except on Fridays, and I don’t remember wearing jeans. I live in jeans now but I don’t remember wearing much of those in school.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: What book influenced you the most in college?Carol: I don’t know. I had Dean Gardner for class and I think she was my favorite teacher. Classics books and novels that are history novels. I can’t really pick out any particular book now. I’m thinking more now, 'cause I’m in a book club, and so I’m more apt to think of something more recent but just reading, I just loved to read, and English class, I think was- ‘cause we had wonderful discussions on novelists and writers and stuff so, I suppose that was my favorite class.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: Is there a particular writer that...? It could be something, y’know- you like it more now.Carol: I just, I think of books I've- Pillars of the Earth I think is my favorite book. I’m not coming up with the name of the writer but he’s written a lot of murder mysteries and that was a branch away from his regular writing, who wrote that book that I really like. That- we just finished reading for Book Club, which is meeting on Tuesday when I get home, is People of the Book which is a very good book to read and really. We have wonderful discussions ‘cause, a lot of teachers in our group so we pick really good books and interesting- We’re reading Daughter of Time for next month which is a lot shorter than the books we’ve been reading lately. I really do love the history books, I think, but I can’t come up with one. I think I oughta go buy George’s book now though. He’s got one over at the Bookstore.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So, what’s one thing that’s gone from Grinnell now that was very important to you while you were here?Carol: Gosh. I think we bonded a lot more then, because we didn’t have all-girl dorms and I think the friendship that we developed there- I see that in my kids going to school, they don’t develop the bonding with the- I mean I have high school friends that I’m still very close to and high school and college friends that, this round robin group. But, I think growth and change is always good.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: I’m glad the Library is still active and that students still read ‘cause I’m concerned about the computer. I think kids spend too much time at the computer, but... I can’t- the- experiences change. We walked to town. I’m sure they still walk to town. There’s a lot more traffic than there ever was. But it’s just, it’s grown like everything else has. I love to see where it’s become, in the college world, and that it has remained a very effective institution and I love reading about where it’s going. I think the diversity is wonderful because that was not there when I was here and I think that’s important for any educational institution to succeed. It has to be very diverse not only in their students but also in their courses and where they need to go.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So what were, what are your memories of the town of Grinnell?Carol: It was very quiet. There weren’t very many places to eat. We had two or three places that we liked to eat. Beautiful, old homes, I like that because I’m interested in architecture. But it was- and I loved the town students because those are some of my best, like MJ and Betty, and now Polgy lives here. But I just- it was a small enough community where I just thought the town was really neat but it was smaller down- I don’t know what the relationship is now. I think it was fairly good. I heard rumors that there was some animosity about the college kids. They're all probably- We were all really good. I suppose there was noise and stuff, but yeah, I really can’t say.
  • Carol Addington & Brenna Ross
    Carol: Just, it’s grown, so I don't know if I miss anything. I like that they preserved the beautiful old homes. I’m glad they haven’t torn them all down. Some of it’s a little contemporary. I don’t like to see that when they're such pretty homes but it’s grown and matured. The new.. the Joe is amazing, when I think that, how that’s changed. It’s quite a place. The food sure got- the meal last night was amazing, for a picnic.Brenna: Oh, it was good.Carol: Yeah, really impressive. Good old Iowa porkchop.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So what was your favorite place, like, academic building, on campus?Carol: Oh, I love this building. I think this one. It’s really grown and it’s an amazing place. I like the Chapel. The Chapel is really nice. The Library was really quite a historic place. That was really kind of the core of- we all hung out on the steps and talked and that’s where post office boxes were and everything. That was- I suppose I spent more time in the Library than other place, so I suppose that was it.Brenna: And that was- the library was in..Goodnow?Carol: The old Library.Brenna: Is that?Carol: Yeah. And Mears was a neat hall. You know, we still talk about that, so, as far as the halls.. I was in Main, but I thought Mears was really neat.Brenna: Yeah. Let's see.Carol: That probably covers it.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: Wel,l that’s- oh, knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?Carol: Well, my grandmother put me through school and I did have a secretary job in the office here when I first came that I didn’t keep because I needed more time to study. But, I did not finish college. I tried, but financially was not able to do it, and as I say, I should’ve been a choir director and that’s where my love and my life went.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: I think I would’ve been a good teacher because I worked with kids all my life, so I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to stay and finish my education and become a teacher but I have done a lot of choir directing and working with young people and I love that, so I’m glad I did that. And I would have studied that if I’da known- had the money. But it was that time, and it was just a big issue in my family. And my folks never did. They were killed in the war but they never came home so I stayed with my grandmother. So it was a struggle for her to finish it up.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: Now there’s always some money somewhere. The kids quit and work for a while and then come back but we didn’t do that back in those days. I did go back and I finished a... about a year- almost completed a year but had some health issues, so... never did finish. But I worked- I worked in the school a month. So, I learned as I was growing old.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: If you were to kind of.. think of one thing that sort of differentiated your class from the classes before you and the classes after you, what would you say?Carol: I think our period of time was so different. Like George talked about in his speech this morning, and he’s referred to that before. It was- and the College Magazine that just came out dealt with all those different periods of time and the thinking. It was just a period of time where going to college was not something everybody did. You really wanted to do that. Now, we’ve gone through this period of time where you really needed a college education to get a job. Now the market is so iffy you kinda wonder, "These kids are all graduating and I hope they’re gonna get jobs." So I think just the whole concept of education and the whole idea of it has changed so much.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: It’s a wonderful time. It’s wonderful to be able to come to college. I think it’s a growth period. The attitude about college is a lot different. Kids have more money now, or they think they have more money. They spend it whether they have it or not. I think the money thing is just really different because, we just never dreamed of doing the things that kids do now. I got an allowance so I could go out and get some ice cream and go to a movie once in a while. It was tough for guys to take girls out because they didn’t have the big chunks of- there weren’t a lot of jobs available that paid you a lot of money. So, it was just a period in the time, I think. Education, and I think kids are so much smarter, now. My kids are so much smarter than I am and school kids now and the topics to learn, Japanese and Chinese, and to study abroad, and- Oh man, it's wonderful.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So what was the dating scene like on campus?Carol: Oh, you just... you got called. One phone on the floor - I don’t know if that’s still the case; everybody’s got cell phones now. But you’d call and invite somebody and then you had to go down and he had to pick you up in Main Hall ‘cause that was the only door that was open and you had to be in by ten o’clock. There were not a lot of options, things to do. There was one movie theater and a couple places to eat. We went to ball games and dances. We had a lot of fancy dances and stuff. Or you studied. Or you just went somewhere and sat and talked. It was definitely a structured thing. We had to meet at the Union for coffee. That was a big place to date. Or dance to the jukebox or whatever, or watch a program on television, but you had to get there early. It was a lot different.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: What were the programs people always....?Carol: Oh, black and white and maybe some news speaker, a ball game or somebody going to the moon, or.. you know. It was just- There were not a lot of programs like there are now. No sitcoms, variety shows- I can’t even remember what was on. We didn't have- but we had a black and white TV at home. I suppose there were like this Imogene Coca and those variety shows but there was not much. It was very limited, and very little news unless it was really spectacular.
  • Brenna Ross
    Brenna: So- oh, I just saw one on here that I was like, "Ooooh, that’s a good question." What would you say is- how have students changed now versus....?
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: Oh, well, I think they’ve changed a lot. I think that they know so much more. There’s more to know. There’s more to learn. There are more opportunities to learn. I think the drive for learning is probably stronger. The availability of stuff that’s there. The teachers are amazing, I think, you know, exceptional instructors. Not all of the teachers that were there back in those days were exceptional. There were good teachers. I had a couple that I was not sure I learned too much from and some I learned a lot from. I think now you just really learn if you really want to. The ability is there.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: So, I think- and I- definitely technology has changed things. I’d- It'd be interesting to know how many students have a Kindle. Is that where books are? It’s cheaper. If we all have a Kindle, then we don’t have to buy all these books. But yeah, I need to go over to the Library and just see how the Library’s changed. That's- It’s a money thing. I mean, everything now, what we have costs a lot more. So, yeah. I just- They're brighter. There’s more to learn. There’s more opportunities and jobs that weren’t even in existence, of course, back 55 years ago.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: So if you were to add one story to the history of Grinnell.... or several stories?Carol: Oh, I left- there were some crazy things that happened with my class people after I was gone. But, they have to tell those stories ‘cause I wasn’t here. But, it was a freedom for a lot of us for the first time. It’s like this- a whole new world for me. I grew up in a very sheltered home as an only child and that’s one of the reasons I chose Grinnell, is 'cause I wanted to be far enough away. I wanted to meet people from other places and gain some sisters and some brothers and that happened.
  • Carol Addington
    Carol: I just, I don’t think I would change anything. It was perfect for me. It was more than I knew about and it fulfilled a lot of things in my searching, and as I say I've made good friends that I still have and I’m still connected to, so... It worked for me. It did for me what I needed. I wish I could’ve come back and stayed the whole four years.
  • Brenna Ross & Carol Addington
    Brenna: Is there anything else you’d like to add?Carol: No, that just about covers it and you’ve done a wonderful job in asking me questions.Brenna: Oh. Well, thank you.Carol: It's nice to meet you and I wish you good luck.Brenna: Thanks.
Alumni oral history interview with Carol Johnson Addington ‘56. Recorded June 3, 2011.
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