Charles E. Hawtrey '57

  • Kathryn Vincent
    Kathryn: Alright, so we're gonna have you speak into the mic here.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: Alright. Can you hear me okay?Kathryn: And-- Maybe move a little closer, if you want to.Charles: There?Kathryn: Yep! [Sounds of mic being moved.]
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Can you say--?Charles: Hello.Kathryn: --your name?Charles: Charles Hawtrey.Kathryn: What city are you currently living in?Charles: Iowa City, Iowa.Kathryn: Iowa City, Iowa. And you're a member of Grinnell College class of..?Charles: 1957.Kathryn: 1957. Great.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: So, why did you come to Grinnell College?Charles: Because it was recommended to me by the Episcopal bishop of Iowa and I got a scholarship, which helped me pay the 1,440 dollars per year, every year, for four years. Heh.Kathryn: That helps a lot.Charles: Yes it did.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: What was your first memory of Grinnell?Charles: I came here for a visit and... I was shown around by one of the football players and I asked if I they would allow me to swim even though I had not- the high school that I went to did not have a swimming pool except in the summer. So, winter competition just didn’t occur.Kathryn: Right.Charles: So, I wanted to do that and they said sure, "Erve Simone will take anybody." And he did.Kathryn: The coach?Charles: Yeah, yeah. He was a very wonderful man.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Did you swim all four years?Charles: Yup, I was on the freshman team. I swam well enough that they let me swim the last three.Kathryn: Hm.Charles: And I was co-captain in ’57 with Bill Simmons, and we’re lifetime friends.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Was there a professor, or a student or staff member who had a particularly strong influence on your life while you were at Grinnell?Charles: Oh, yes. There were many, but the story that I like to tell is about my freshman advisor.Kathryn: A student?Charles: No, no. No, no.Kathryn: Okay, a professor.Charles: Professor of Spanish no less. And Beth Noble said, "Your record suggests that you’re a slow reader. Therefore, you should only take one comprehensive reading course per semester." It was sound advice and it worked.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: It paid off in the end. So I graduated from Grinnell and went to the University of Iowa and medical school.Kathryn: Oh, cool.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Are you a doctor now?Charles: Yeah, I’m a Professor Emeritus of Urology at the university.Kathryn: Over--?Charles: Do you know what it means to be a Professor Emeritus?Kathryn: I do.Charles: What?Kathryn: It... you still have an office.Charles: Yes, you have an office and you work for free.Kathryn: You work for free. That’s exactly what you want to do, right?Charles: Well yeah, it’s absolutely wonderful!Kathryn: Very cool.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: So you teach at the medical school there?Charles: Mhm. The urology residents come and work with me and we write papers, and I ply them with questions that they might try to answer...Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: And then we try to collect information that answers the question.Kathryn: Science.Charles: Yeah.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: And you were a biology major here?Charles: Chem-Zo. So I had a minor in history, chemistry, and zoology.Kathryn: Okay. I’m a bio-French double major.Charles: Oh, good for you! I admire your French!Kathryn: Yeah, you actually knew how to... Spanish..Charles: No, I took--Kathryn: What was your professor's name again?Charles: No, it was purely arbitrary.Kathryn: Okay.Charles: But she was a wonderful person, and zoned in on the things that I needed, and it worked!Kathryn: Right.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: What are your best memories of your time at Grinnell College?Charles: Well, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my science courses and Dr. Robertson was a wonderful professor who did absolutely the same things they did in medical school. He quizzed you on anatomy until it was second nature to you. And then we went to Iowa City and they did exactly the same thing.Kathryn: You were prepared!Charles: --Only it was on humans rather than on guinea pigs and the like.Kathryn: That his specialty? Guinea pigs?Charles: Yeah- well zoology was his specialty.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: And... there were other people who were-- Ken Christiansen was a great friend and he was the advisor for Cowles Hall, where I lived.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: And then, of course, I was introduced to my deceased wife by a dear friend, Anne Patterson Egan, who worked- she and I worked in the Main dining room when they had formal- They had formal dinners for the ladies every night--Kathryn: Right.Charles: --And the men, the waiters, carried the food out on trays for the ladies, and the female waitress served the ladies.Kathryn: Oh, okay.Charles: And, so it was a camaraderie of people which were just absolutely wonderful.Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Charles: And there was a cook, whose name was Gus, and I'm blanking on his last name, but Gus would invite all the waiters and waitresses to his house and we would dance the Shodershen and have this wonderful time with traditional German food.Kathryn: Oh, very cool. He was German?Charles: Yes, and I had taken one year of German. I took Latin and German, and that fulfilled my two years of requirements for language.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: And.. Bill McKibben, dear sweet person, kind of the classic, absent-minded professor, taught Latin.Kathryn: Okay.Charles: And his dear wife would pin letters to his coat to be sure that he brought the letters over and mailed them.Kathryn: Smart!Charles: I chuckle about that all the time.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: Let’s see, what else do I want to say? Well, I didn’t tell you the story of her. So, Anne’s sister, Betsy, class of ’59, came to Grinnell in her sophomore year.Kathryn: Transfer?Charles: Transfer. And so, that was my final semester at Grinnell, and it was love at first sight, and... She was wonderful...
  • Charles Hawtrey
    Charles: And there was the tradition at the time that, if you were out on a date, you said goodbye to your date at 10:30 precisely because they close the doors, and this mass of men went down the Loggia, down to Loose Hall, and just exploded out onto the campus at 10:30 at night. And my swimming buddies were betting on when I would first kiss Betsy goodnight.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: And, at the time, you knoe, guys didn’t want to offend a girl under any circumstances. You were always polite and did your- appropriate things opening the door and blah, blah, blah.Kathryn: Right.Charles: And, so we’d go on to a dance and she’d put her head on my shoulder and then I knew it was okay, and this cheer from the mass of swimmers going down the hall accompanied this focal event at Grinnell.
  • Charles Hawtrey
    Charles: And then of course, Grinnell had other traditions of quasi-engagement. If you gave your beloved one your Honor G pin, that was big and significant, and you serenaded her outside her room. And she was in Mears, and so you sang, “Honey, honey, bless your heart.” It was.. you had a bunch of your friends assisting you in this process, and I had friends who were good singers, and so we had a tenor and a baritone and a bass and it made for great music.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Very cool. So that was a tradition then?Charles: Those were traditions of the time. I don’t know whether they still do the traditions of the time. I know some traditions have died.Kathryn: Yeah. Sadly, I think that’s one of them.Charles: Yeah.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: And there’s another one that I think is just unforgiveable, but it’s not our choice.Kathryn: Yeah.Charles: The swimming team had, if you won three conference championships, you got a duck.Kathryn: You got a duck?Charles: A painted duck!Kathryn: Hm.Charles: One used to be on display in the old gym.Kathryn: Oh, yeah! I think it might- it's up in the new one too.Charles: I hope so.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: But the year that I was- the year before I was co-captain, when we won the championship, it was our third year, and so my brother, John and I made replicas of the duck to honor the event...Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: And.. I suppose I need to give my duck to Grinnell so that it has a home for the tradition. But it was a very unique.... trophy for any sport, you know? And so that was why it was... I wish that it had not died.Kathryn: Well, they have won, I think, 9 out of the 10 last years, so it's still a very strong program, but I- I think you're right. I think that tradition has...Charles: Has died.Kathryn: --faded, sadly.Charles: Yeah.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: What was your dorm room like?Charles: Very ascetic. It was in Cowles Hall--Kathryn: Cowles Hall?Charles: --and all the rooms were single rooms--Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: --and you had a closet about this (gestures) wide, and about, oh, four feet-five feet deep--Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: --and you had a desk and a chair and a bed. That’s it!Kathryn: Simple.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: And it was- You felt like you were in a monastery, and that was what you had. The bathroom was in the middle of the space, and you shared it with all your buddies on the floor, and that was back when there was a segregated campus.Kathryn: Hm.Charles: So, it was okay for study, but of course had no books and so, the critical things were to be in the science library as much as possible.... And they had a- the library used to be down here, nex--Kathryn: In Carnegie?Charles: Yeah.Kathryn: Mmkay.Charles: And that was also a good place to study.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: So what was your- where was your favorite place to study?Charles: Oh, I think the science library. It was quiet. People were serious about what they were doing, and it made a difference.Kathryn: Very cool. So, feel free to not answer any of these questions if you want.Charles: Oh, it's okay.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: What kind of clothes did you wear every day as a Grinnell student?Charles: As a Grinnell student I wore cotton slacks. My mother sent me to college with an iron and metal frames so that you could put a crease in your folding.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: They gave me fifteen dollars for the month to buy paper, pencils, and pay for the laundry.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: That's it.Kathryn: That's it? That was all you needed?
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: Well, and so... she insisted that I know how to iron my trousers and my shirts, and could run the folding through the Laundromat over on men’s campus. So I did that, but we also had little laundry boxes, which you could mail home--Kathryn: Hm.Charles: --cheaply, and it would be ten days turn around for those clothes, but there was also an added bonus. My mother would send a plate of chocolate chip cookies.Kathryn: Ohh.Charles: So, needless to say; we saved the pennies to be able to send the box home occasionally.Kathryn: Cookies in a tub.Charles: Yeah.Kathryn: Oh, sounds wonderful.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: So were there any special occasions you would dress up for? Did you have to wear a tuxedo or a suit or anything?Charles: Yeah, you had to wear a suit for some of the dances. Otherwise- the men’s campus...Kathryn: Mhm?Charles: ..you were required to wear a shirt and tie to dinner.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: And people would have these absolutely awful looking pieces of clothing with tears down the back, and paint on them, and all sorts of things, but they conformed to the rule of the shirt and tie. And... so the men’s campus was this sort of chaos situation.
  • Charles Hawtrey
    Charles: The women’s campus was very- reasonably formal. Young women wore white blouses, dark skirts and they sat by house at tables assigned there. And I kinda liked- I loved my job working in the women’s dining room, because you got to see all the girls first thing in the morning before they did their makeup and stuff. So you knew who the attractive young ladies were.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Was there a book that influenced you heavily while you were here?Charles: ...Well, I would say that there were probably lots of them. I can’t pick out one that... I enjoyed reading. I was kind of a book worm, so I- Books were... valuable--Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: --and they were resources and I really appre-
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: I guess the thing I appreciated most about Dean Norton was- he was one of the history professors- was that he always gave you a good book, which you could save and reuse the information in the books, so.. He taught British History and I have a hanker--Kathryn: Specialty?Charles: Well, it was my interest--Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: --because my family came from there.Kathryn: Okay.Charles: And so it was... had a resonance, and it’s caused me to do some research on my family, which is clearly very funny, but it’s not germane to Grinnell.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: Go ahead, ask more questions.Kathryn: Sure, how has Grinnell changed since you were a student? Is there something you liked about campus that is no longer available, or..?Charles: Well, it changed radically as society changed.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: I mean, we went through the Vietnam conflict and I was in the Navy during Vietnam.Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: And so- so this one day, I went into the operating room and all of my surgeon buddies were laughing up a storm, “Hawtrey, you went to Grinnell?” And I said, “Yeah…”Kathryn: Protests..Charles: They said, “Well, the Playboy magazine was there and a bunch of the girls disrobed in front of the playboy speaker,” and this- It made national copies. So I was in Beufort, South Carolina, and here was this- my Alma Mater mates made the news.Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Charles Hawtrey
    Charles: So, yeah. I think that things have changed. I think that Grinnell has been remarkably flexible and adapting to the society in which all of us live, and I think that’s valuable, and also, they’ve kept their goals of concerns for the poor and the disadvantaged, and I’m glad that that sort of... philosophy continues. I am always proud of my Alma Mater.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: So when you heard about the Playboy incident, were you proud to say, “Yes! I went to Grinnell!” Or...?Charles: Well, I said, “Mmmmm… Well, that might be Grinnell." People would speak out, you know, and I thought that it was a means of protest. It’s a little radical for my sense of being, but that was okay.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: I have heard that the Cowles dorm was the non-conformist dorm though, from some other Alums in your cluster.Charles: Well, it was- when we were there, we had a really good jazz band and after the 10:30 hours, across the way, they would... in the common room in Cowles Hall, this jazz band would then play music for.... into the wee hours of the morning. Let's put it that way.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: I learned at Grinnell to sleep with a pillow around my ears. I disciplined myself and it paid off in medical school.Kathryn: Okay.Charles: It was: at midnight, no matter what you’re doing, you go to bed.Kathryn: Yep.Charles: Sleep six hours. Get a solid six hour sleep every night--Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: --and you'll... you won’t burn out. And I think it worked.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: It worked. Sounds like it worked well.Charles: Well, it worked in medical school, and I had, you know, I had a job..Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: Both places, you know, I had to work to buy the books that I wanted--Kathryn: Yep.Charles: --and I had to work to pay my medical tuition.Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: And so, you know, that’s what you do.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Do you have a favorite academic experience or class that you remember from Grinnell?Charles: ...Well, I think that H. George Apostle taught.. Algebra, and I qual'ed out of the first level Algebra they had the second level. And he was this very precise, careful, and absolutely clear lecturer, and... I did well in his course and it was affirming to have that in your freshman year.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Describe your favorite places on campus while you were here. You talked about the science building...Charles: Well, I’d say the favorite place was the swimming pool, ‘cause there you- although you were disciplining yourself in a physical sense, it was still a camaraderie of a cluster guys, and you had the competition, and it- You became friends with people, even that you were competing against, so.. One of my competitors’ swimming distance events was a guy by the name of Howie Hanbrack from Knox College--Kathryn: Mhm.Charles: --and we both graduated the same year, and were medical students together at the university.Kathryn: Oh, cool! Oh, very cool.Charles: So..
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Where was the pool when you were here?Charles: Loose Hall.Kathryn: Okay.Charles: It was just west of Loose Hall, about... 150 feet from the Loose Hall, and it was a wooden building.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: Was it on the East side of the railroad tracks or the West?Charles: It was on the East side of the railroad tracks--Kathryn: Okay.Charles: Yep.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: ..And if you read my book about Erve Simone--Kathryn: Oh, really? You wrote--Charles: --you can see the building.Kathryn: Oh, cool.Charles: But you have to go to the Iowa House in Burling Library--Kathryn: Oh really?Charles: --and ..check out the Erve Simone book.Kathryn: Okay.Charles: And you can see the old building.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Charles Hawtrey
    Kathryn: If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently during your time at Grinnell College?Charles: Nothing.Kathryn: Nothing?Charles: Nothing. As I told the students—they invited me back to reflect on my career—, and I said that the one thing that I hoped every student did was, if you’re interested in a course, take it. You have- This is the best place in the world to get a broad education and I was always glad that I did.
  • Charles Hawtrey & Kathryn Vincent
    Charles: I have to go to the Honor G Dinner.Kathryn: Okay! Of course.Charles: So..Kathryn: Thank you so much for sharing.Charles: Yeah. You're entirely welcome.Kathryn: If you could just say your name and class year, that would be great.Charles: Charles Hawtrey, class of 1957.Kathryn: Good.
Alumni oral history interview with Charles E. Hawtrey '57. Recorded May 31, 2013.
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