Judith Roberts Stoddard '66

  • Judith Roberts Stoddard
    Judith: My name is Judith Roberts Stoddard. I currently live in San Francisco, and I’m a member of the Grinnell College Class of 1966. There’s a couple questions right in the middle that... inspire me. It’s something that’s no longer available, but that was meaningful to me. It also has to do with the town. The most absorbing extra-curricular activity for me was working at Uncle Sam’s Club, and-
  • Tamara Grbusic & Judith Roberts Stoddard
    Tamara: What was that?Judith: Uncle Sam’s Club was founded, I think, in 1906 or something like that by Grinnell students. At that time it was a Sunday school. By 1966, I’m not sure when it changed, it was a recreation program for children of the town. And the... students ran it. There was a board of directors, which consisted of a few town peo- people from the town, I think a faculty member or two, and whatever current students were in charge of the program. It impressed me that, y'know, the students had done this all these years. Y'know, it just, passed on from one group to another, all that time.
  • Judith Roberts Stoddard
    Judith: In the early sixties, there were usually both a male and female student who were co-chairs of the program on campus and who then organized- There were, sort of sub-committees for each time period in which we ran programs at Uncle Sam’s Club. And then, kids signed up to volunteer. Students signed up to volunteer. We did after school programs, I think, probably every afternoon during the week and at least one evening. There- ‘cause there was a program for older elementary students. The ones who came after school were usually younger elementary students.
  • Judith Roberts Stoddard
    Judith: There was a building, which belonged to the program. I suppose the- it was probably incorporated as a nonprofit organization and the building was owned. Somewhere, a bit south and west of campus- I don’t remember exactly. I know the program no longer exists and I think the building doesn’t either. But at the time it was there, it was very empty. There was no equipment. There was some playground equipment in- on the lawn outside, but it meant that a lot of creativity was required, because you had to come up with something that would really keep the kids engaged and entertained for each time you were there. So the project leaders for each time period were pretty critical, you know, in coming up with something to do there for the children.
  • Judith Roberts Stoddard
    Judith: I just found it so much fun. It was- The summer before I came to Grinnell, when there- a packet was sent and it listed extra-curricular activities I knew right away this is the one I want to do. And I did other things as well, but it was the one that really engaged me.
  • Judith Roberts Stoddard
    Judith: Aside from these regular things we did with the children, twice a year we invited them to campus and the biggest deal was the Christmas dinner. Which... every child who came was matched up with a Grinnell student, some of whom participated in the program otherwise and some of whom didn’t, but it was the opportunity to be there. And.. you know, you were the child’s host for the night and there was a big dinner in Cowles dining hall followed by movies in ARH, and Santa Claus, of course.
  • Judith Roberts Stoddard
    Judith: And the... the acapella singing groups performed for the kids. That was the tradition for all of that. So, you know, it was a big exciting thing for the children. And I think students enjoyed it a lot, whether or not they otherwise did anything with kids. And then in the spring we did something similar, but as a picnic. It was somewhat less elaborate, but still fun.
  • Judith Roberts Stoddard & Tamara Grbusic
    Judith: So... Actually, since I was here in that class of ’66 when the yearbook was so unusual, the photographers invited each senior to specify a location where they’d like to be photographed and I chose Uncle Sam’s club. So... and my picture actually made the book. Most of those senior pictures didn’t, which is kind of sad. But, I would’ve liked to have seen them all. It would have been interesting to see what all of my classmates chose as the place they wanted to be photographed, but... Anyway, so, that’s... I guess that’s it. Unless you have more questions about Uncle Sam’s club.Tamara: Thank you.
Alumni oral history interview with Judith Roberts Stoddard '66. Recorded June 2, 2012.
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