James H. Stacey '57

  • Ben Doehr
    Ben: Full name, where you're currently living, and what class year you're a member of.
  • James Stacey
    James: Okay. I'm James H. Stacey, class of 1957. I'm now living in my hometown of Chicago.
  • Ben Doehr & James Stacey
    Ben: Yep, and you wanna talk about how you got to Grinnell?James: How I got here, and as I said, George Drake, in the little address to the... some of the alumni today, mentioned that- how much in need Grinnell was of resources, as well as, students in the early 50s.
  • James Stacey
    James: And... people like John Pfitsch were offered a bounty if they would- could secure some applicants when they were at out of town athletic events, and I was, at that time, living in Colo, Iowa, with my sister and brother-in-law, and finishing high school there.
  • James Stacey
    James: And at one basketball game in... oh, I can't remember. Maybe it was March, something like that... We were there and Ruth, my sister, said, "That's Spade Cooly refereeing the game." And I said, "Well, who's that?" She said, "He's one of Lind's-" that's my brother- "coaches."
  • James Stacey
    James: My brother was then in his senior year at Grinnell. My sister was class of '50. So, my sister said, "Go down and say hello during the break."
  • James Stacey
    James: So I went down and I said, "Hello, I'm Lind Stacey's brother." And he said, "You are? Well, what are you doing here?" 'cause we're from Chicago. And I said, "Well, I'm finishing high school here in Colo."
  • James Stacey
    James: He said, "Well, where are you going to college?" And I said, "I don't know. I haven't thought of it." He said, "Well, why don't you come to Grinnell? Come on over here, I've got some papers." And so.. so I went over and filled out the papers, mailed 'em in.
  • James Stacey
    James: Came down to have some tests, which were administered to me by my sister-in-law. My brother married in his senior year at Grinnell, just living in one of the barracks, apartments.
  • James Stacey
    James: So she did the... she monitored my taking of a test, and after it was all over I said, "Well, DeOnn, how did I do?" She said, "You barely made it." But I did, and so I came to Grinnell, and moved into Rawson Tower.
  • James Stacey
    James: And I was lucky enough to move in with two fabulous seniors. They were big men on campus: Roger Perry and Jim Ploss. They had written student musicals. Tthey were- Roger was the president on the student council, and so on, but they- they left a room open for me, and so I came in and was thrilled. Absolutely thrilled.
  • James Stacey
    James: I- I had a room that faced east, and I maneuvered my bed so that I would be looking out the window, and ready to wake up as soon as the sun hit me. I was so excited to be here, and so excited to be part of this new life.
  • James Stacey
    James: And Roger was... just sort of, you know, at the height of his collegiate success, and he had gone into Chicago to... to.. to enter a contest, the prize of which would be a week at the Chez Paree, which was one of the biggest night clubs in America in those days.
  • James Stacey
    James: The place where Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin and Lewis, Danny Kaye would play. Peggy Lee would play. The Chez Paree was the top of the mountain. And so Roger won the contest, and there was such excitement, you know, in our hall.
  • James Stacey
    James: And that Christmas, we... some of us went down and sat at the bar, and ordered Cokes. Roger was the... sort of the opening act, and he sat at the piano, did his stuff, had a nice singing voice, and we were thrilled, you know. It was a great, great experience.
  • James Stacey
    James: Then I.. I sort of bounced from one thing to another my freshman year. And all this excitement waxed and waned, and I had difficulties focusing on my studies, you know, and it was- I was a wreck by the end of the year.
  • James Stacey
    James: And... my father said to me, "I'll give you one more year." You know? And so I decided I had to really change my whole approach, and so my second year I only took courses that were truly engaging.
  • James Stacey
    James: I took literature courses. I took history courses. I took writing courses.. And I went from, you know, C- to B+ in one year. So I was very thrilled with that.
  • James Stacey
    James: Just, moved along, became one of the Grinnell Players, had a grand time performing, and.... by the end of my second year I was exhausted. Just totally exhausted.
  • James Stacey
    James: And then I sort of started a new life in a sense. Took a third year at the University of Oregon, then came back to Grinnell for my fourth year, and... by that time I was a married man, living off campus, and... doing very well in my studies. I was thrilled with it.
  • James Stacey
    James: Thrilled, too- I was talking to a fellow classmen today- with some of the instruction I got. And in particular, Curtis Bradford, who was professor of English. I used to complain sometimes to myself and to maybe some other students: "What? He's not analyzing the poems." It was a course in Yates. He was reading them.
  • James Stacey & Ben Doehr
    James: But, to this day, I can hear those lines. And he made the poem perfectly clear simply by reading with such sensitivity and grace. And so, you know, that sort of set me up for my Master's degree, and... the rest of my life.Ben: Wow.
  • Ben Doehr & James Stacey
    Ben: Did you want me to roll through any of the questions on here, or is that your story?James: That's about it. I- Are you satisfied? Is there something you--Ben: Yeah. That's perfect.James: Okay, good.
  • Ben Doehr & James Stacey
    Ben: So, thanks to you again for doing this.James: You're welcome.
Alumni oral history interview with James H. Stacey '57. Recorded May 31, 2013.
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