Mark Schorr '66

  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: All right. My name is Mark Schorr. I currently live in Andover Massachusetts, and I’m a member of the Grinnell College class of ’66. I’d like to talk a bit about topic 1, 8, and 15: why did I come to Grinnell College, how has Grinnell changed me since I was a student, and a bit of the student in campus life as I experienced it.
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: One of the things that influenced my choice, I fell under the spell of a very persuasive admissions officer when I was working in my high school college counseling office. Mr. Secoya came and was recruiting for Grinnell, and I was also applying to Harvard and one or two other places, but the big stumbling block for me was, besides the usual stumbling blocks of money and apps and getting in, was, I wanted to find a place that was relatively convenient.
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: I came from a close family life in Chicago and my father didn’t drive very much. I wanted to- so even though I’d looked at other schools that were not as far as Harvard, but there were... I wanted to find a school that I could travel to back and forth easily myself, by public transportation.
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: And as soon as Mr. Secoya started describing Grinnell, I read the- eagerly read the catalog and realized that I could go on the Rock Island line. And I- so, very often I would go back and forth to college on city bus, take a city bus from my house to- sometimes I’d get a ride from my dad to the Englewood Station at 63rd and Englewood, and take the Rock Island line from there, and... It- I look back and I romanticize it, but it was a pretty good road, as Lead Belly said, it was a pretty good road, and it was the road to ride in my freshman year. It was very convenient and we arrived at the Depot.
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: I would never take more than I could carry up to the college. That also meant that I had a very... Current President Howard Bowen advocated something called spartan living and I think I always practiced that, that I never had more than one suitcase worth of stuff. I ended up with a lot of books from the College, books which I wanted to keep eventually. But, by my senior year, at the end of my senior year, I got an old shitbox car and was able to ride- to take some of the stuff back and forth that way. But, the Rock Island line was a mighty good road, a mighty good way to get to Grinnell, and...
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: One of my writing teachers at Grinnell, Mike Liberman, defined a short story as something you say to a person on the way to the airport. And in this case, it was- the short story was on the way to the railroad station. And very often, I remember there were times when I would be seeing someone on the way to the Depot and we would stop and have this fantastic conversation, and then- which I would then think about on the train all the way home.
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: And actually, as I remember it, maybe the second or third trip that I took to Grinnell, I sat next to Philosophy professor, Paul Kuntz, whose big topic was order and chaos, and I got a three hour discussion of order and chaos, which got into the discussion. He wasn’t lecturing to me at all. He was very Socratic on the train, and that was one of the most fantastic conversations of my young life.
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: So, other times it was talking with students and we gradually, in the sophomore and junior year, gradually noticed that the Rock Island line, the service was getting less good. They were putting on fewer cars and fewer trains. And sometimes there were service interruptions, but we still persisted and those train experiences were often- were very much a part of my life at the school.
  • Mark Schorr
    Mark: We- some of my friends began to play musical instruments and we played them on the train, and we’d find a car where people didn’t mind. And actually, as the service was further curtailed, one time the train crew let us go into the baggage room which was actually a foreshadowing of what was to come because we were actually, we were almost riding the rails by the senior year. The service was so sparse. But, the Rock Island line, it was a mighty good road, and I say a small but important part of my Grinnell experience.
  • Tamara Grbusic & Mark Schorr
    Tamara: And did it take you directly to campus?Mark: No, there was a two or three- I mean, there was a short walk to campus. But again, it was something- occasionally I would take a taxi, but the majority of times I, and most of us, would walk to campus, as I remember it. Walking was much more common part of our lives, then, so... And it’s interesting that these many years later I think about that as being a part of the Grinnell experience.
  • Mark Schorr & Tamara Grbusic
    Mark: I wrote an essay about in-town tourists, how even after I came out of a suburban culture - urban really, urban/suburban culture - of driving everywhere, that one of the things that changed when I got to Grinnell was walking or bicycling everywhere. And so quite unknowingly, my Grinnell experience, I anticipated that, and the Grinnell experience prepared me for a world where public transportation was a more important thing, less of a suburban sprawl. And that remained one of the hallmarks of Grinnell for me.Tamara: Thank you.
Alumni oral history interview with Mark Schorr '66. Recorded June 2, 2012.
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