Anne Hruska Parsons '58

  • Kathryn Vincent
    Kathryn: Start out with your name, city you're currently living in, and your class year.
  • Anne Hruska Parsons & Kathryn Vincent
    Anne: My name is Anne Hruska Parsons, Class of ’58 and I live in Castine, Maine.Kathryn: Is that near the water, or..?Anne: Yes, it’s on the water.Kathryn: Oh.Anne: It’s between Bar Harbor- Camden and Bar Harbor, yeah.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Why did you come to Grinnell?Anne: I think, when I was leaving high school, that most of my peers were going either to the University of Nebra—I grew up in Omaha— University of Nebraska, or something else, and I was familiar with the sorority/fraternity situation at the University of Nebraska, and I didn’t think that was for me. So I heard about Grinnell, I was recruited and got a scholarship, and came to Grinnell.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Were you recruited for a sport or for academics...?Anne: Just in general. Just in general, yeah. Not specifically for anything in particular. Academics, I would assume.Kathryn: Okay.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: What’s your first memory of campus- being on campus?Anne: I guess the buildings. The buildings: the Quad, the Loggia, the Green. It was like- nothing like that I had experienced, and not certainly like the University of Nebraska or Omaha or whatever the other institutions that I had seen. It was small.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Was there a professor, student, or staff member who had a particularly strong influence on you?Anne: Well, I suppose like all other History Majors, it would be Joe Wall that turned me into a History Major. The person that recruited me and other people was Curt Harnack who was also a- who was an English Professor as well, so he was an influence in getting me here. Most of the History Professors were what I remember the most.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Is there a favorite academic experience or class that you had at Grinnell?Anne: I was just thinking about that, because I was just talking to someone else this morning. I did go on the Washington Semester Plan, is- which is what they called it then. It’s the year abroad in Washington, DC. So that was really a turning point as well. It was a step beyond the independence that you had while you were here at Grinnell, and then another step into a large urban area, so that was memorable.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: What are some of your best memories of your time at Grinnell College?Anne: At the time, it was—and we talked about this a lot at the Reunion—that we were still a gender-specific campus, and living on South Campus with females and getting to know them, and making friends that I have kept since then. So the life here, even though it was restricted in some ways, was... was- also had a lot of room for growth, and... I went on to be—what we had then was League Board—and I went on to be president of one of the halls and so it was sort of a good transition period.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: What did your dorm room look like while you were here?Anne: They all seemed, in retrospect, they all seemed to be painted light green. And the first one in Main, I had a roommate, and they were all very small, and.... I don’t remember how we fit everything into it, but I guess we did.Kathryn: Any decorations that you remember fondly, or..?Anne: Not really. I think we were told- It was suggested what we were to bring, which is one bedspread, not very much else, and we didn’t, of course, have all the electronics that students bring now, I’m sure.Kathryn: Right.Anne: But, not any- very many bulky things.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: What kind of clothes did you wear everyday at Grinnell, and were there any special occasions you would dress up for?Anne: Thinking back on that too, I’m sure we- I packed matching sweaters and skirts, and that’s mostly what we wore, but I do remember we were told to bring gloves and hats because there would be teas, and there were teas and we wore gloves and hats. So I had a hat box with a hat in it and white gloves.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Was there a book that influenced you heavily while you were at Grinnell?Anne: Again, as a History- well, as a History Major, I suspect that the Palmers, the Morrison Accomatures and Sabine’s and all the rest of them are- that we carried around on our bookshelves for years- were the ones that were most influential.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Was there a class that you remember fondly outside of your History Major?Anne: Hmm… Well, we did- Sam Baron, who we just bumped into in the Union, started a Russian class, and we did- I had a semester of Russian or two and. It wasn’t ever a full major at that point, and I was able to take some Greek, and I think that was a real- Taking any kind of language, even though it was only a semester or two of it, was much of a broadening and an intellectual experience.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: What kind of memories or images do you have of the town of Grinnell during your time?Anne: We didn’t have time to drive around this time, but I still can conjure up the Poweshiek Bank.Kathryn: Mhm.Anne: And there was an old music store across the street, and of course, the depot, which we still traveled on the train--Kathryn: Oh, cool.Anne: --and arrived at the depot, which is now a restaurant, right?
  • Anne Hruska Parsons & Kathryn Vincent
    Anne: And the Monroe Hotel was there... and I remember the big deal was to go downtown and have giant sundaes at some ice cream store. I don’t--Kathryn: Was it Cunningham’s?Anne: No, that was the drug store.Kathryn: That was the drug store.Anne: The drug store, right. There was another one that was just an ice cream store and there was a huge banana split- four or five or six people would eat it , so.. And I don’t remember what the name of it was.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: How has Grinnell, the town, college, changed since you were a student?Anne: Well, the college has kept up with all of the changes, and as I said, we’ve been involved in academia since then. I have as well, and... everything has changed in education, so that- and obviously Grinnell is on the cutting edge of that as far as diversity, as far as technology, and of course, the buildings are incredible! The dorms have not changed, but the academic and- buildings are spectacular, and the town is trying to keep up, I think.Kathryn: Hm.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Describe something that is no longer available on campus that was meaningful to you, whether it’s a building, or a program, or activity you participated in.Anne: Hmmm… I’m not sure that there would be… I- there are memories of things like the old women’s gym and things that we did there, but I don’t know that there is anything that I missed. Is that what the question was?Kathryn: Mhm.Anne: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know whether the personal contact is still there, which I said was very important to us. I don’t know if the students have that today or whether they all go on their own ways a little bit more. I doubt it; I suppose they get together.Kathryn: Yeah.Anne: Yeah, yeah.Kathryn: There’s still some floor bonding.Anne: Good! Good.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Describe one of your favorite places on campus- some place you loved to study, or hang out with friends, or anything like that.Anne: I think just the greenness and the openness of the campus, and... That- walking from the South Campus to the classrooms, it was just a very peaceful and wholeness-type of setting, which was not a specific place, but it was good.Kathryn: Generally, like...Anne: Yeah.Kathryn: Very cool, very cool.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently during your time at Grinnell? If anything.Anne: I don’t think so. I don’t think that there would be anything that would be different. I think the growing, the exploratory part of it, is all part of growing up, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of that, I think.Kathryn: Alright.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: And it seems like you met your spouse at Grinnell, correct?Anne: Yeah.Kathryn: Describe how you met and fell in love.Anne: I wonder what he said... Actually, I think- we both came from the same town but didn’t know each other. We were in different high schools, came- we knew each other when we came here, and I think it was probably our junior year, there-
  • Anne Hruska Parsons & Kathryn Vincent
    Anne: We had Student Council Conventions for elections of the Student Governing Boards- I don’t know if that was true- but it was a Student Council Convention, and he was a floor manager, and it was during a political part of the country’s history as well and I think I was very impressed with his political prowess and that sort of got me interested, and...Kathryn: Cool.Anne: And then we both went to the Washington Semester Program together.Kathryn: Ah.Anne: So that was…Kathryn: Cherry on top, right? Very cool.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: How would you compare the students of today with your classmates?Anne: I’d like to know the answer to that- I really would! We didn’t get a chance to talk to students today, but I’m very impressed with the ones that we have had a chance to interact with, and based on what was shared with us as part of the Reunion, I’m very impressed with what’s going on and that’s why we're still part of the Grinnell family.Kathryn: Very cool.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: You said you were a History Major-- if you were writing a history of Grinnell College, what would you include from your years here?Anne: I think that, again, there is a piece that Joe Wall wrote that really, was delivered in ’83, that sort of summarizes this whole transitional period that we were part of and what had changed, and I think our generation, my generation is sort of on a cusp thing and things were just changing. We were part of the dull generation and things started changing with us, and- with our generation- and I think it moved from a very quiet and small, inward looking sort of institution to a “We knew we were good,” and they took it from there.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: Well, that’s it for questions. If you have any memories or statements you want to say for the record?Anne: No, I think that your questions were quite inclusive.Kathryn: Okay!Anne: I hope this is good and I’m anxious to see the results!Kathryn: Yeah, me too!Anne: Yeah, right?
  • Kathryn Vincent & Anne Hruska Parsons
    Kathryn: I'll finish- I'll have you say your name and class year one more time.Anne: Anne Hruska Parsons, 1958.Kathryn: Alright.
Alumni oral history interview with Anne Hruska Parsons '58. Recorded June 2, 2013.
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