John Graber '63 and Jon Miles Klement '63

Primary tabs

  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Once we start talking I'll just wait, but you know, I tried to urge John to come and I succeeded.
  • John Graber
    John: Is that on tape or something? Can you...
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement & John Graber
    Kathryn: It's a digital recording actually.Jon: Okay.John: How many hours of him can you get?Jon: Oh-ho-ho.Kathryn: We have, I think 34 hours left.
  • Jon Miles Klement & John Graber & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: Let's just go ahead and give- what is it now?John: Thirty for you, four for me?Jon: Well.. Let's just go ahead and do this. It's about 15 minutes to noon.Kathryn: Okay.Jon: And I.. I stuffed myself with food for breakfast, and this goes 'till about what? 1:30? For lunch? Brunch?John: Yeah.Jon: Until it rains or something.Kathryn: Uh-huh.John: Yeah.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: And so we'll maybe give at least a half an hour. How 'bout that? And then if you wanna just wave at me and tell me...Kathryn: That's...Jon: Like this, you know?
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: Well, we'll start with names, so whoever wants to go first: you can do name, city you currently live in, and your class year.John: My name is John Graber. I currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my hometown, and I am a member of the Grinnell College Class of 1963.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: And now, my name is Jon Miles Klement and I- Let me take off these first... Sorry 'bout that.Kathryn: Nope, no problem.Jon: But being 70 years old, sometimes you lose some of your teeth and you have other problems you have to deal with.Kathryn: Hm.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: Anyway... So to get on with this: I live in Sedalia, Missouri, which is about five-six hours south of Des Moines in Missouri...Kathryn: Mhm.Jon: On Highway 65. And yesterday, I came up here Thursday afternoon and I had to swim across the Grand River in Northern Minneso- I mean northern Missouri.Kathryn: Hehe.Jon: And I’m a member of the Class of 1963, too.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Jon: John and I were in South Younker on the second floor in rooms across the hallway for the first year.Kathryn: Cool.John: We had a friend, his roommate Glen Lumis that we talked here today in Canada.Jon: Just in area east of... east and southwest Ontario just east of Detroit, Michigan...Kathryn: Sure.Jon: Near Toronto, I believe.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: Why did you come to Grinnell College?John: It was the cheapest of the colleges I applied to and got in.Kathryn: Not bad.Jon: Well, I-John: It was 4000 dollars in 1963. Phew!
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Well, I came to Grinnell because I had considered two or three other schools, and I got some financial aid coming here and I decided this was... I didn’t want to go too far away from home, and this was on the Rock Island Railroad from Council Bluffs where I lived at that time, and so I came here.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: What is your first memory you have of being on campus?John: It was very different from Oklahoma. It was much greener and the buildings were older, so it was a different experience.Jon: My first memory, I think, was when my mother brought me up here to South Younker and I was this, sort of- I was sort of really trying to put things together and I was sort of surprised and almost overwhelmed by things.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: Was there a professor, student, or staff member here that had a particularly strong influence on your life?John: I took Physics under Dr. Gale and... I enjoyed that he did things in class that made you think and I had noticed that the 33 RPM records we had at the time, if you held them to the light right, you got the spectrum, and so I painted some with clear lacquer and pulled it off and you could see through it and see the spectrum. And I showed that to him and he gave me a slide made professionally by some company that did that for us. He dug through the drawer in his office and gave that to me and I found that while I was going through stuff to come back to this reunion, so I've still got that slide.Kathryn: Cool.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I guess the professor that I really.... There were several of them, that really- I really liked and enjoyed and made a good impression upon me and I don’t know where to start.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I think maybe one of the first was Mr. Heyer. He taught Russian. When I first- I took Russian language when I was here as a freshman and Mr. Heyer, I think, was a Volga German- that he had come- that his ancestors had come and settled in the Volga region of Russia, and then when the Germans advanced in the eastern front they came over these areas and then Mr. Heyer, wisely, left with the Germans and came out west and ended up here teaching Russian. I enjoyed him.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: There was another- another guy, another Russian emigrate that had come as a small boy from the Russian Revolution of 1917, and he’d gone to Florida and he came up and taught the second semester of my freshman year. This was going to be his last gig, so to speak, for teaching. But he was an old man; his parents had fled the Russian Revolution, the October one, and they went on to Paris and then they went on to Florida and he lived his life there.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: Now, I also had other teachers too. I’m going to switch quickly to History; that was my major. Dr. Westfall and Dr. Wall, I mean, I just… Those people are just amazing!Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: So what were some of your best memories of your time at Grinnell?Jon: I remember one of them: in Historical Studies we read a book called “Utopia”...Kathryn: Mhm.Jon: And Dr. Westfall was the section teacher for that, and Thomas Moore wrote that in the... at that time, and he was Sir Thomas Moore.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: He was a... Henry, King Henry’s, one of his assistants.Kathryn: Hm.Jon: And anyway, there’s a long story about him, and... He was a good Catholic, and Henry cut his head off when he was, you know- when he was... during the English Reformation.Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: And he had a book that we read in Historical Studies, and I remember we had to read these books, you know, then we'd discuss them in class, and we had no schedule, and I guess I read Utopia the night before the class and I didn’t read it very well.Kathryn: Hm.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And we got in class the next day and Dr. Westfall said, “Mr. Klement, you will now tell us about Utopia and tell us all about it.” And I think I blurted out right there, “He’s a communist, wasn’t he?” and the- and the whole class started to roar, just laugh, and I felt just about as... very small and then Dr. Westfall went ahead and said.. he said, “Yes Mr. Klement, we can tell that you’re from Iowa. Alright.”
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And I had to go re-read the... re-read that book quickly and try to save a little bit of my face, or whatever was left of it. But I had Dr. Wall and I liked him very much. He taught American History, and... and I had other teachers in Chemistry that I liked, and I also had Dr.- I had Professor Gale too, and... but John, I’ll give you a chance now to say something you were.. you talked about.
  • John Graber
    John: Well, my memories of Grinnell being cold and snowy. Oklahoma doesn’t have that much snow. It doesn’t have cold weather at all, but the people you met… I was only here one year before I transferred to Oklahoma University for warmer weather, but the people like Jon here, the same dorm, that sort of fraternity life-style and the houses that... wasn’t a fraternity, didn’t have all the rigmarole that fraternities have, I appreciated that.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: What did your dorm rooms look like?John: Unair-conditioned.Kathryn: They were hot in summer?John: Wasn’t hot to me. I thought they were pretty comfortable.
  • John Graber & Kathryn Vincent
    John: But.. I remember, you walked in the door, there were closets on either side; then you had a bed on either side, a desk, then two windows, I think, and a heater under that, and a little bit of room to put a bookshelf in of your own, and... The doors were pretty heavy and thick, and if somebody locked themselves in the room, you could press on the door and stick a penny between the wood and the door jam, they couldn’t get out. ‘Cause they couldn't- it was too tight..Kathryn: Mhm.John: And pennying the door was one of those things you did to people you didn’t like.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: What kind of clothes did you wear every day?John: In Oklahoma, at school and high school, I wore blue jeans most of the time. Here they weren’t the “in” things.
  • John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    John: Slacks, a shirt, and when we ate the evening meal. I worked at the men’s dining hall, North Campus for Saga. I had to wear a jacket and tie, and the seniors had these things that looked like they had a shirt on with a tie, and they just pulled it on over over their head—you know, put their jacket on and go. But you had to dress up for dinner.Jon: Yeah.John: That was the- the jacket and tie was part of that.. the idea of 'you’re at college now, you should look like an adult rather than a bum'. I’m not sure that holds true any longer. Adults look like bums.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: Were there any special occasions that you would dress up for?John: Dinner, every night.Jon: Well, yeah, you had to put some kind of special clothes on for that, but that was about the extent of it.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: If you went to church on Sunday you had to sort of dress up for that, but... I guess I was a little bit more formally dressed than maybe what I needed to be, but you know, that was just the time and place. I'm going to... You know, I wear jeans now practically all the time. I mean, I don't wear... I just wear jeans and shorts wherever I go anymore. That's... You know, I’ve gotten less formal as I’ve gotten older.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: So Jon, you talked about “Utopia” as a book that was influential.Jon: Yeah.Kathryn: Were there other books that influenced you heavily when you were at Grinnell?Jon: No.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: I said I took Russian Language and I enjoyed that. And we- I think... I think we read “The Communist Manifesto” in Historical Studies, too.Kathryn: Hm. Cool.Jon: And I think I can almost remember, you know, the end of the... he writes: "Proletarians of all lands unite," and I think I can still say it in Russian: "Пролетарии всех стран объединяются!". You know, and I still say that much Russian.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And.. but those were other books. I enjoyed the readings. Some of them I didn’t really get into very much, but I enjoyed the historical ones because “Utopia” was, I think, one of the books that really, you know, it talked about.. more talked about changing people and all the other political systems for the most part talk about changing the institutions and the institutions is what you change, and with Moore it had the idea that we change people and that’s a much more realistic thing to try and do. And I know Harry Hopkins in his lecture yesterday, that was sort of his bent too.
  • John Graber
    John: I remember reading in the... we started out what they called Humanities, and read the Iliad and the Odyssey and they were such different books supposedly written about the same time by the same person, but they're so different.
  • John Graber
    John: And years later, I read a book: “The Origin of Consciousness” by Julian Jaynes, and it explained that as a change in the mental functioning, that in the Iliad the people react to God’s voice: "Go out and die," they went out and died. No argument.
  • John Graber
    John: In the Odyssey, you see people, Odysseus, Ulysses... lying, cheating, deceiving, and he says there was a breakdown in the bicameral split brains where, instead of one side giving a voice to the other side, ‘cause it’s schizophrenic, that people became conscious. And he claimed that you can see this all through literature, statuary, and everything in that.. 2000-1000 years B.C., and suddenly those two books made sense years later.
  • John Graber
    John: That... I couldn’t understand the Iliad. "How could people think this way?" And he said, “They really weren’t thinking.” They were what we see in hypnosis today; they were reacting to instructions they heard, voice of the gods. Fascinating book.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Yeah, I think that’s one of the things. I didn’t mean to cut you off, John, but go ahead. Well, anyway, you know, that was one of the things that I remember about Grinnell: it was very stimulating. And I always enjoyed that: thinking about things and trying to, you know, trying to figure out things, and...
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I remember that they had a film here on Alexander Nevsky, and he was a Russian... It was a World War II propaganda film, and I remember that film because Alexander Nevsky was a historical figure in Russian history and he led the Russians, or the Slavs, to victory.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: You know, there were the Teutonic Knights that were... advancing eastward from, you know, from Germany, and Alexander Nevsky was one of the people that pushed 'em back, was a pushback. And I remember seeing this film, it was made- I think it was made in 1939, 1938, and it was a propaganda film by the Russians against the Germans.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And then when there was this cooperation between the Russians and the Germans for a while; Stalin just put the film away. Then, of course, when Hitler invaded Russia, we brought this film out and we showed the film, you know, to everybody and in this film it shows these brave Russians fighting these Teutonic Knights.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And it showed... it was just a huge propaganda. It was really a propaganda because it showed the Teutonic Knights wearing the German helmet, you know, and they had this Swastika-type thing and the Russians are Greek Orthodox people, a religion. And it showed a western- the Roman church and the Roman church has a, you know- and it has a bishop’s hook and it had a little Swastika-thing on it, you know. It was really propaganda. It was just a beautiful propaganda film, and.. You know, it always was very interesting to see some of those things and relate them to history and our times.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: How would you describe student campus life as you experienced it during Grinnell, your time at Grinnell?John: Probably much more organized, controlled by administration than today. There were men dorms; there were women’s dorms. They had a gate or something that people checked the women in, you know, at a certain time, and...
  • John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    John: The men -boys, most of us- had lots more leeway in what we could do and when, but there were rules. Between six and ten were study times, and then 10:30 through 6AM was quiet hours. So that half hour: 10 to 10:30, got the unofficial name of "Noisy Hours", and the.. He was always going to bed at about that time...Jon: Yeah.John: And we were waking him up because it was noisy hours. “Jon, get up!”
  • John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    John: But, very much more... the school acted as the parent and controlled things, so... That’s not true, I don’t think, in any university today, much less Grinnell.Jon: Yeah, probably changed in Grinnell.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: When I was here, 53 years ago, I was a little bit too quiet, too inward. I concentrated on my studies too much. I didn’t have- quite have the social... social presence that I should have had, but I can go back and I can understand that now.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I mean I can sit around, we were in the Chemistry building for a little while, and you know, I’d understand. You know, you look back on things and you can put things in perspective. There’s something, and call it a resolving: you know, you have to deal with the past, you have to deal with things that... you can’t wall things off.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I was telling John over there about Ross Perot. When he ran for president, he talked about his crazy aunt, you know, the national debt, and you just couldn't- you had to bring that out and I think that’s very valid today a little bit too. But, I was too quiet, and that’s probably one of the greatest things that I didn’t do: was get more active in some of the social events and meet more people.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: So, going off of that: if you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently during your time at Grinnell? Jon, you said be more active…Jon: Be more active, and I’d wear more jeans probably, and more shirts, and I’m not going to say what I'm going to do this evening at the class dinner, but…
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: But when I- when I got my- You know, I believe in one thing—I’ve learned this the long, hard way—that, you know, I have been married almost 47 years and my wife and I are going to celebrate our anniversary next week.Kathryn: Mhm.Jon: And that’s why she let me come to Grinnell, because we’re going to have our anniversary, so I got released for a week. I figured John would take care of me, and...
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: But anyway, I have learned a long time ago, that.. it’s like benzene in Organic Chemistry—and I had a hard time in Organic Chemistry—but benzene is a chemical that’s made of six atoms of Carbon, six atoms of Hydrogen, and there’s a long story about how they developed- how they were able to figure out this molecule. It involved a dream of some Swedish scientist watching snakes grab their tails and come down the hillside.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Well, anyway, the thing about Benzene is that it- the bonds change in the Carbon atoms and I have likened that to a marriage, that sometimes the power is in one area and the power is in the other area, and so that sometimes the woman makes the decisions 75, 80 percent of the time. I don’t care. I mean, she decides she wants to do something, that’s fine with me. I mean, I may not exactly like it, but you know, you don’t start a war over little things.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: It’s just the big things that you have to fight, and... And I can think of a story that I- I mean, these stories are coming up right now and I just want to... just wanna blurt 'em all out. I’ll try to not do that!
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: But anyway, sometimes there are times that I say we’re going to do things and I can think of two or three times of this. One involving my children when we first moved down to Sedalia, and one before we moved to Missouri... No, there was two of them that we moved out to Missouri with and I decided we were going to do it and my wife says: "No!"
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And in both cases I had to go out and do it, get it started. Once I got it started, then she moved in and took it over. She did it then. But anyway...
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: So that's one of the things I believe, that- that I like to get a woman’s ideas on things. Maybe that’s not the masculine way to do things, but I find that woman have a perspective, and a man that is going to be in charge, whether it’s a military officer or anyone, you’ve got to consider all choices and all options. You’ve got to consider yourself what you are going to do, how to understand the situation. Then you can go ahead and make your decision.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And I’m going to throw a couple more things in here. You know, I've been to- we used to travel from the West Coast back to Iowa and Nebraska where we lived, and one of the places that we would come is to Glacier National Park, then we'd angle down towards Nebraska through Wyoming, the Black Hills, whatever and we’d come to a little place called Little Big Horn.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And we would stop there sometimes, and, you know, it was very interesting because this general didn’t consider everything. He left a few things up for grabs and he made a few mistakes. And as a result, he inflicted upon the United States Army a forced military defeat in the Indian Wars. And of course, he lost his life and a third of his command was wiped out.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And so I’ve always considered it important... in, you know, trying to get people’s opinions and my wife’s, because you know, a wife is somebody who has got a vested interest in things. Really, a vested interest, and really, you want to consider that vested interest.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: My wife always complains, “You don’t do anything I want to do!” and I say, “Well, I always get your opinion first,” and sometimes she doesn’t give it to me, so I say, “That’s it! I’ll decide," and we’ll do it. But I believe, very basically, and that- I got that from my mother.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: That's one- you know, my mother had a few faults and a few issues I have with her right now. If I could go back and talk to her.. But she had a sense of judgment of people, and a very good judgment and that’s one of the mistakes I made: I didn’t key in on this very quickly. I didn’t key in on that in here at Grinnell. It took me a while to figure that out after I was out of here.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: That, but she had a good sense of understanding people and of how to judge people just like Harry Hopkins in that lecture yesterday. He had a feeling for people and how to understand them and that’s what made him successful in dealing with Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, and others.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: I hope I’m not talking too much.Kathryn: Nope! It’s perfect.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: But this is the case: like I said, we talked about the oral history of NPR and I decided that John and I were.. you know, this was going to be a reunion we wanted to remember and we're going to be gone by this time tomorrow. I should be on my way back, swimming across the Grand River in Northern Missouri. Or I’m go- maybe go through southern Iowa if it’s not flooded out and visit some towns that we lived in while we lived in Iowa.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: How about you John? Anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were here?John: I don’t know what I knew back then. I figured... I was playing soccer the spring I was here and... eating an awful lot. My weight went up to about 185. I wore a 32 size pants. I still weigh around 185, but I wear a 38 size pant, so I figure as a college student I had a fat head.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Yeah, I remember playing soccer, too. I was just thinking about it hearing John, and I think this was my sophomore year, and George Drake. He was just back from England and he was back here at Grinnell, and we played soccer across the railroad tracks.. and we had fun that year.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: It was sort of a... unauthorized- it was authorized of course, but it was, you know, unofficial just north of Darby Gym and we played soccer and we played various schools around here and I don’t know if we won a game, or... if we won one game.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: We probably won one game, but we tied a couple games and we went up to Minnesota and I think we played Carleton in Minnesota, and Carleton had just- was a big powerhouse, and they were going to play us.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And they had had a good night. They hadn’t gone to bed and they partied all night, and we were there the next morning, the next day and they were still powerful. I remember.. we were trying to... Basically, it boiled down to: we never did advance the ball, you know, the ball down in their part of the field. We maybe had one goal shot and that was it, but we were hunched down around protecting our goal and it ended zero-zero. I mean, we tied 'em!
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: Now you better check with Bill Montfort on that, but he was one of our wings at that time. I played in the- when they let me play, I played in a fullback or halfback...Kathryn: Mhm.Jon: But I had big feet, so I could stick 'em in, you know, knock 'em out. I enjoyed soccer; I really did. That was one sport that I really got into.. and George Drake was a very good guy. I
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: Did you play soccer with George Drake?Jon: Yeah, he was a coach.Kathryn: Oh, he was coach.Jon: He was a coach, yeah. He was... It was sort of an unofficial thing, but he was out there and we got in cars, and... I think we played at St. Olaf and Carleton and I forget what- some of the others. It wasn’t too many games. We may have played Coe. I don’t know if those schools exist anymore or not.Kathryn: They do.Jon: But we were up there, and...
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: I was a soccer player myself, so it’s fun to hear those stories.Jon: Alright.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: What was your favorite place on campus while you were here?John: I don’t know. I tend to remember eating and sleeping.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I remember that one of my favorite places, Dr. Gilmore, and we were involved in the PPPE. And I remember we went down to Iowa City. He came here in ’58, I believe it was, and he was from Pennsylvania and he was a very liberal person. I mean, he was the liberal. I could tell you some things about Dr. Gilmore, but.. I probably will before I go on here because it's recorded: I hope he’s long dead and gone far away. But anyway, he was... Dr. Jones would know more about him.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: But anyway, he came back- he came from Pennsylvania. He was a liberal. I mean, he was from Pennsylvania; he made no apologies for it. He was elected to the Iowa State Senate in 1958, so when I came in ’59 and ’60, he was still a state senator, and he had, you know, he had some influence down there a little bit.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And he’d take us down there and he would take us to the state capitol, and of course, you know, I remember sitting in the chamber, of the House chamber, and there was a picture of John Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and... you know, up there behind the speaker, and Ed Gilmore- No, he was at state senate I guess, ‘cause he was state senator.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And of course, at that time Iowa, probably still is, very conservative people, and he was very liberal, and it was a- I mean, it- They had sort of a gentleman’s agreement, you know? And we sat in on a committee meeting and Ed knew all these people, you know, and.. but it was very-
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: He also, when Governor Hughes was elected governor, he became a... He was head of the poverty program here at Iowa, I think. I don't know- I don't know if he’s here anymore, but he was a... I enjoyed him very much and I enjoyed the activities.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I think that we, at that time, we had- Barry Goldwater was here, and I will make a confession right here in public on the radio that the first time I voted for President was in 1964, I supported John Kennedy. My mother told me to vote for John Kennedy. That, you know, this was one thing I asked my mother and she said, “Yes, John Kennedy is the guy you want to support," you know, "and vote for.”
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And then I was back home in ’64, and I could vote. I was sitting with my tongue hanging out watching LBJ on television and my mother comes in and she watches LBJ for five minutes and she says, “John, we’re going to vote for Barry Goldwater this fall.”
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And I said, “Mom, but you know what they say about Barry Goldwater, don't you?” “Oh, yes, John, he’s a fruitcake, but you know, this man is going to lead us into a big war." And: "Didn’t they ever teach you anything at college that when you have a choice between a liar and a crazy man, you always pick the crazy man ‘cause you can figure them out; A liar you never can.”
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: So that was my Grinnell education. I mentioned that as a sidenote about my mother because that’s one thing I’ve got appreciation for. A little bit of unofficial appreciation of politics from a personal side.Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: Did either of you meet your spouse or partner at Grinnell?Jon: No. I met mine when I was in 19... late 1960... Okay, it would be the fall of 1968 when I was teaching school in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She was a student teacher, a science teacher, just kitty corner to me.
  • John Graber
    John: I met mine 25 years ago, which means late. I was back from Korea. I was teaching in Korea at the time, back from Korea, and met her in my hometown, Tulsa. She was a student from China getting her Master’s Degree in Tulsa. So my Korean friends thought I was crazy, marrying to somebody from China.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Yeah, we spent this morning over in his room. He’s giving English lessons to a niece over in China. And, you know, it was very interesting because she was reading from a book, you know, and you know, John was talking to her and then I would speak.
  • Jon Miles Klement & John Graber
    Jon: And you know, I would tell her that, you know, that we’re up at Grinnell, Iowa, Grinnell College, you know, just east of Des Moines, and the- where the tall corn grows and she was just- She was almost—you’d see her, she had braces on her teeth and everything—and she was just all sorts of.. just sort of smiling, and you know, just sort of taken aback by things, I think, but... y'know.John: Overwhelmed by..Jon: Overwhelmed? Okay..John: -two people speaking in English instead of one.
  • Jon Miles Klement & John Graber
    Jon: Yeah, and then I made fun of John, you know. I said he was a... Okie, he was an Okie, and you know, he was up in Iowa now with the Yankees and... but...John: It went ove- went past her.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: What memories or images do you have of the town of Grinnell?John: Glen Lumis, who was his roommate, and I during the freshman hazing were given the task of finding a letter on a tombstone before midnight in the city cemetery. So, at about nine o’ clock in the evening, we walked across town to the cemetery and wandered through the cemetery looking for a letter, and we found it!Kathryn: Good!
  • John Graber & Kathryn Vincent
    John: And got back before midnight, so we accomplished our task. That's... wandering around the small town, and while we were in the cemetery, somebody must have reported seeing some college boys ‘cause the police- car came with the search light.Kathryn: Mhm.John: So we were laying under some bushes waiting for it to leave.
  • John Graber
    John: And... walking just... west here, seeing the houses, there’s nothing really like that in Tulsa. Some of these houses were built back in the late 1800s, and... in the 1800s, Oklahoma was Indian territory; it was not a state, so there was nothing there really like that.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: Any memories from the town that you remember?Jon: Oh, yeah. I just was thinking of one, not from the town because I really wasn’t a part of the town too much. I went to bed when he went up to the cemetery. But I stayed mostly in campus.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: I did walk downtown a little bit, but I didn’t do too much down there. I went to church down there.. But, basically I walked around, and I didn’t have a car here, you know, and I didn’t walk very much, but…Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: You’re talking about hazing and the only time I remember something from that was that... I was- that there was a—I can’t forget his name, he was... he graduated with Norm Sonju in 1960, but he was a great big Dutchman, I think from Pella, and he was fighting down there on the South Younker second, and they were fighting.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: They were sort of wrestling there in the hallway and I walked by. I was walking- I was going out towards... I don’t know where I was going, but I was going north into North Younker and out that way I guess, and..
  • Jon Miles Klement & John Graber
    Jon: So they were fighting near the water faucet. They had the little thing of water, so I turned the water on and it sprayed all over them, and then I just kept on going, you know. I didn’t stop to say anything, and... And then I was coming back... I was coming back into the room and these two guys were walking down the hallway, and I tell ya, I knew right away what they were gonna- what was going to happen, so I turned and if I hadn't had to stop to get into North Younker, I'd have gotten away, but they grabbed me and they threw me into the shower.John: And turned it on.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: Describe your favorite academic experience or class at Grinnell. We touched on this a little bit, but if you have...John: Again, in Physics, Professor Gale came into the class and the only light that was on was a yellow one. It was a.. and it only gave out yellow light. And we sat down, and he came in, and everything was a little bit dark, but this yellow, I guess, sodium light.
  • John Graber
    John: And he asked us to describe his shirt... and it looked like a black and white plaid shirt. And he turned the regular lights on, it had all these different colors on it, but you couldn’t see ‘em with only one wavelength of light. That's all you saw, and that made it so.. real to us that each wavelength of light has to combine with others before you see anything we know as color. ‘Cause otherwise it’s just that one wavelength; that’s all you see.
  • John Graber
    John: And that- and he did another thing. He had a... iron ring in a Bunsen burner and an iron ball sitting on the iron ring and... he showed that the ball wouldn’t quite go through the ring. He would sit there, and he said "Now, I’m going to heat the ring up," and, "Will the ball sit higher or will it drop through?"
  • John Graber
    John: And I did some quick calculation: "Well, the ring's gonna expand inward and outward, so it’s going to ride higher." And then he dropped it through, and I thought, "Where did I go wrong!?" Well, it expanded around the circumference too, and that made a bigger hole.
  • John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    John: So, again, you know, you- he said: "You’ve got to take all things into consideration." And that was one of those very practical lessons in that.Jon: Yeah, I remember some of those light demonstrations, too, with the optics, and... they were very interesting too.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: How has Grinnell changed since you were a student?John: Oh, not at all! It’s exactly the same.Kathryn: Alright! Next question.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Well, I think it’s been an amazing change. Really. I mean it's just like 50 years, things have changed. Things, you know... Some of the buildings are gone; new buildings are here. They have built the observatory. Some of the older buildings are here, but they have been changed.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: ARH is... I remember Dr. Westfall in the.. you know, having his lectures in a great, big cavernous lecture hall, and that kind of thing, but you know, change comes.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I remember I- at our 25th wedding anniversary, we exchanged vows again and I was telling my wife how much change has occurred in the world, and you know, how things have changed since we’ve done this, and..
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: I went back to Russian History. You know, I always like to work history in here a little bit, and I was talking about the Romanov Dynasty, and that lasted for four hundred years... four hundred years in Russian History.Kathryn: Mhm.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And then there was a bread riot in... I think it was... the bread riot was in Moscow I think, and that destroyed the czars. Instead of riding through using their swords to beat up the people or slice them or slash them, they rode through the people with their swords in their shields and they didn't- that was the end of the czar and changed almost overnight.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: And change- we have change here in America too, but it’s more gradual.
  • John Graber
    John: I think as a university, a college, a town changes. They should not just come in with bulldozers and clear everything out. I- it’s good to see some of the older buildings that, you know, generations before ours in the early 1900s would have gone to class in, or chapel to worship in, whatever.
  • John Graber
    John: When you’re into science with library access and stuff like this, you know that the building has to be different to accommodate newer technologies, but the... for the older buildings, modifying them so they’re warmer and more comfortable, but keeping that tradition is a big part, and I’m glad to see that Grinnell has, I think, got a good balance there.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: How would you compare students of today with your classmates?John: Smarter. They really have so much more access to information, like... I think of my niece. She... I taught in Korea in the 70s and for most of the kids I taught, they did not have televisions; they did not have... access to anything outside of the school, really.
  • John Graber
    John: Many of their parents didn’t have more than an elementary school education, and to get information was... really the teacher was the source of the big, wider world and that doesn’t exist.
  • John Graber
    John: It- I was there about ten years, and.. the first year I was there, classes of 60 students might have six televisions, and by the end there might- a class of 50 students might have two or three that didn’t have a television. And so they could watch news. They could see things from around the world.
  • John Graber
    John: Now you have the Internet that, ask somebody a question, you know? We sit there and think about books we’ve read and stuff like this. The modern generations "Tch tch tch!" There it is! Google, Wikipedia, whatever: they can get access to whole lots more information.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Yeah, John showed me some of his pictures that he he had took in Korea when he was there in the Army and also as a teacher, I guess, and I was amazed at the changes that I saw. I can remember, you know, grainy pictures of the war in Korea, you know, and the desolation caused by the war.
  • Jon Miles Klement & John Graber
    Jon: And then I saw these pictures of John that he had of his years there, and the buildings, the towns: you know, it's just almost unbelievable the amount of, well, I call it, Westernization of South Korea.John: Yeah.
  • John Graber
    John: There was a book I read, “Cry, Korea”, written by a British correspondent about the war in Korea, and there was a phrase in it that sort of stuck in my mind that.. the bombs and fighting had torn up the capital city of Seoul so much he said, “How can these people ever appreciate?”
  • John Graber
    John: They’ve always had this resentment against America for tearing up their countryside so much. It was a long book, and that phrase stuck in my mind and I thought, “You could go back now; look at that Google map of the night view of the Korean Peninsula, and the North under communist rule is dark. The South is just all lights, everything.
  • John Graber
    John: They not only have adapted; they’ve gone beyond a lot of American technology. They’ve got Samsung Recorders, Kia Hyundai automobiles... It’s a tremendous change there and I think, you know, a book could be written now: "Laugh, Korea" instead of “Cry, Korea” because, very much like when I was in the Army in Germany, I visited France, and visited Paris.
  • John Graber
    John: I didn’t get to Berlin because it was inside the Soviet boundary then, but lots of those cities in Germany had been bombed very bad. They were very modern; Paris was still... looked almost medieval in places.
  • John Graber
    John: And that idea of the old stuff being torn down by war, by destruction and stuff, you can build a new society on that. And.. Japan.. There’s an internet thing that shows Hiroshima in 1945 and a picture of Detroit in 1945.
  • John Graber & Kathryn Vincent
    John: You know, Hiroshima is flattened and Detroit is this booming industrial city of steel, the builder of cars, you know? And it shows in the- I think it was year 2010, Hiroshima, this beautiful, modern city and Detroit looks like it has been blasted.Kathryn: Hm.John: You know, wreckage and the big buildings downtown that have been abandoned, the train station, the houses that have just fallen to disrepair are boarded up, burned out, and...
  • John Graber
    John: Who won the war? He,heh. So, there’s this thing that goes on that, as he said, change happens.
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: Did you guys need to be somewhere at a certain time? We only have a couple of questions left, but we can-Jon: Go ahead and ask us questions because- because we’re gonna leave here in about 20 minutes. I'm gonna probably be hun- Well, it’s only one o’ clock and I hope they don’t close up the food.Kathryn: Oh, no, we’ll finish in the next five minutes or so.Jon: That’s okay. Take your time.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: Describe something that is no longer available on campus, but that was meaningful to you: buildings or programs or activities that you loved when you were here..?John: Well, one thing I did while I was here is that they had just built the library over there. It didn’t have a lot of books, and "Geez. now that's not very.." But they had down in the basement a listening room and all these 33 RPM records, which I don’t think exist anymore.Kathryn: They might be down there. John: They may still be in the archives.
  • John Graber
    John: But you could go down and they had sort of like study carrels and you could listen to things. And I would put on classical records and study and hear something that I might have recognized from—I used to do a lot of short-wave listing and stuff—and you hear bits and pieces of operas and music that I never knew where they were from or, you know, who composed them.
  • John Graber
    John: But there I would listen to some, "Oh!", look at the record, write down that I know I like that, I know what kind of record to buy.
  • John Graber & Kathryn Vincent
    John: And I must have gone through 50-100 different records, finding things. The... “La Donna e Mobile” by- that opera, Rigoletto. IKathryn: Oh yeah.John: I found that- ‘cause I had- some foreign station used that as a.. intro to- their theme song to their broadcast. I knew what it was!
  • Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: How about you, Jon? Something that’s no longer available on campus that was meaningful to you while you were here?Jon: Well, the only program I would say would be the program in Practical Political Education.Kathryn: Okay.Jon: Dr. Gilmore’s little pet project.
  • John Graber
    John: I don’t know if it’s still available or not, but I thought that was very good: incorporating students in the political life of Poweshiek County, probably as well as the state of Iowa. And we had a lot of... Iowans here.
  • Jon Miles Klement & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: I remember that there was a governor- a race in 19… What was it? It wasn’t ’64, but ’62, and... No, I forget what year it was, but anyway, Governor Hughes, Harold Hughes was running for governor and Evan Holtman was the Republican candidate from Cedar Rapids..Kathryn: Mhm.Jon: And we had a little thing over here at South Younker, at the Younker Lounge, and Evan Holtman had made this charge that Harold Hughes was- had been a drunk, and he had been a drunk.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: He had been- He was... He had been... I'm not- I'm getting this... Because he was- Maybe I got these confused a little bit, but anyway, I was sitting next to the Lt. Governor, Moody, and Evan Holtman had just made these charges against Hughes and they were.. and Moody disavowed him.
  • John Graber
    John: I mean he separated himself out from Holtman and he said, “Well, we can’t judge this man because he had been drinking!” And, now I forgot what the results were in that year, but I don’t know whether… I know Holtman went down to defeat.
  • John Graber
    John: I mean, he was- carried practically every county in Iowa and I do know it was because of this drinking thing went out and now I think Moody lasted.. he was reelected. Maybe that was ’62. I'm not- gettin' some of these dates confused, but I liked the program in Practical Political Education. I thought it was very good, I took part in it and a lot of other people did too.
  • John Graber & Kathryn Vincent
    John: And, I know I even got acquainted with some of the Democrats from Pottawattamie County because, you know, I sort of overlapped a little bit. I don’t know if that’s around here or not, but..Kathryn: I’m not sure.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: Okay, final question: if you were writing a history of Grinnell College, what would you include from your four years here? Any big events that have, you think, shaped the College or anything that’s really special to you?John: I was only here one year and I can’t remember anything that was… that outstanding other than cold.
  • John Graber
    John: The first time I saw a little place across there where we played intramural football in the fall, they put this ring of sandbags out. I said, “Why’re they puttin' sandbags out there?” A big ring of sandbags, and then they brought this plastic in. Then they filled it up with water and a few days later it turned to ice!
  • John Graber
    John: If you did that in Oklahoma it might turn to ice on the top for one day and then it’d be water again for the next! That impressed me, that... and it stayed ice and that became the skating rink for the campus, you know, through the winter and I assume they did that every year.
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: Yeah, I think they moved it down by the Burling library one year too, or a couple years down there- they were down there, but..
  • Jon Miles Klement
    Jon: I can’t think of anything that.. I mean, it's just the quality of the school that was, you know, evident, and, of course, times change, things change, and people change, and you just have to be a part of the times in which you live... and to be a part of the social experience and be a part of the whole life.
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber
    Kathryn: Alright. Well, that’s all the questions I have, but do you have any... anything else you want to share? Any stories or anything of that kind?John: Well, for the younger generation, I think: don’t burn the books, even though they’re all digitally... I have negatives from my father that were taken back in the ‘20s that I can take down to any photo shop and get reproduced into pictures, yet I have lost some digital pictures because they were on the wrong format, just ten years old.
  • John Graber & Kathryn Vincent & Jon Miles Klement
    John: We were talking about maps: everybody’s got a GPS in their car now. What happens when the satellite dies?Kathryn: Map reading skills!John: That’s right!Jon: Right.
  • John Graber
    John: And, even the army dropped that and is teaching it again because you can’t depend on electronics to keep your entire library and your entire world, you know. At some point or another, you're gonna- and I think I really realized that when I was in Korea in the ‘70s...
  • John Graber
    John: There was electricity in this semi-rural area I was in, but it was intermittent and you walked or you rode a bicycle, a bus or if you had lots of money, got a taxi. There were no private cars.
  • John Graber
    John: I was very... in good shape. I wouldn’t call myself healthy because I didn’t like the food that much, but... But I think it would be a good experience for young people to get out of America into a developing country, to live with the people, not just to visit, but to live with them, and get a feel for the day to day existence without all the technology.
  • John Graber
    John: Because... it gives you a different perspective on life, taking care of the planet, everything else, when... you boil the water because there may be something in it that would kill you. It’s not just going to come out of a tap automatically, or you go down and buy your groceries.. You know, you gotta’ think about these things.
  • Jon Miles Klement & John Graber & Kathryn Vincent
    Jon: I’ve forgotten the question again. Once more...John: There was no question. "Do you want to add anything?" I was adding that for...Kathryn: Future advice for students or anything like that?Jon: Well, study hard, play hard. Okay?
  • Kathryn Vincent & John Graber & Jon Miles Klement
    Kathryn: I'll just have you guys, if you're finished, say your names again, and your class year, and then you're free to go.John: John Graber, class of '63.Jon: Jon M. Klement, class of 1963, and thank you. I think John and I have had a good reunion, and a good way to end it maybe.
Alumni oral history interview with John Graber '63 and Jon Miles Klement '63. Recorded June 1, 2013.