Interview: Dr. Marjorie J. Elder (me)
Medium: Audio tape
Date: Thursday, April 9, 1998
Place: Office of Dr. Elder, Indiana Wesleyan University, 4201 S. Washington St. Marion, IN, 46953
Collected by: Matthew T. Voss (mv)
mv: OK. This is Matt Voss, and I am doing my interview with Dr. Elder here at Indiana Wesleyan University. OK. Could you please state your whole name and where we are?
me: I’m Marjorie Jean Elder, on the IWU campus, in my office in the Arts Building.
mv: OK, and what is today’s date?
me: Today is April the ninth, nineteen ninety eight.
mv: OK, and do I have permission to audiotape you with an audiotape?
me: Yes, indeed.
mv: And, do I have permission to submit this information to the Grant County Community History Project?
mv: And also to put it in the Marion, Indiana Public Library?
me: Quite all right.
mv: OK, first can you give me a little bit of background information on the history of Indiana Wesleyan and Marion College? Just real brief.
me: Well, we could go way back to about 1890 without much trouble, and pick up the Normal College it was started here at that time by A. Jones, an important community man. And then we would have to move on down a number of years, and get a, well if I go rather quickly over some of it, by 1912 I think it was, it had become Marion College Normal School and Business University, under a man C.W. Boucher. When that moved, when Boucher moved to Muncie, and a left the buildings empty here, there were two on the triangle at that time, the city group decided that they wanted a college, and they decided they would have a Marion Normal Institute, and so they got together a stock company and sold stock, and set up Marion Normal Institute. And that was able to continue till the first world war, 1917-18, when we got into the war, and then they could not go any longer because so many men were gone for the war, and the buildings sat empty for a couple of years until they were bought by the Wesleyan Methodist, it was then Wesleyan Methodist Church Connection, and the school opened as Marion College in 1920, and it continued as Marion College through the War years, World War II, and clear on down to 1988 when the name was changed to Indiana Wesleyan University, by which time of course, it had grown a great deal from what it was originally, and now we’re here talking at Indiana Wesleyan University.
mv: Thanks. Um, how, how did you come to Marion College in, it was, was it 1941?
me: It was 1941, I had, I had gone to our Church school in the West, in Kansas, I grew up in Kansas. I had gone to our Church school there, and while there, I had met a graduate of Marion College, who was a music teacher, and was a real good friend, and after I was out of High School there, I took High School there, and what they called Normal Training, I taught in the country schools for a couple years, then I got a chance to come back to college. So I arrived in the summer of 1941, and was here working to try to get some money ahead so I could be in school in the fall, and I started, I started in 1941, in September, and by December, we were into war.
mv: And you’ve been here ever since?
me: I’ve been here ever since. I did teach outside here in grade school actually in Gas City for several years after I got out of college, but taught some here in 1945, for a little bit after I first graduated, and then since 49 I’ve been here, had a couple years off to work on my doctorate at Chicago.
mv: You mentioned that you came herein the summer of 1941 to work, where did you work?
me: I worked on the campus, I worked in the Kitchen, I think I washed pots and pans probably, and I worked in the library
me: Those two places, I got a quarter an hour, I think. Good pay.
mv: Oh. yeah, for 1940 that...
me: It wasn’t too bad.
mv: Um. So describe just a little bit about what the campus was like in 1940, 1941.
me: Well, it was really an exciting time, I have forgotten the exact number of people here, seems to me it might have been, well you can look that up, but 2-300, maybe about 250 or something like that.
me: So we had, we had a lot of friendly things going on, the rules were pretty strict, of course, we had to be careful about certain times that you could date, certain times you were supposed to be in your room, and all that good stuff, and of course no cars to speak of, even all the faculty didn’t have cars
mv: Uh huh.
me: And certainly the students weren’t likely to have them. No big parking problems.
mv: Was that a campus rule that you couldn’t have cars, or was that just...
me: Nobody could afford them
mv: No one could afford them, OK.
me: Remember we weren’t, we weren’t too far away from the depression years
me: And a lot of the faculty were working for pretty slim salaries, and so it was difficult. It wasn’t as bad as it had been, but things didn’t pick up actually until the war years.
mv. Uh huh. I forgot to ask you a second ago, the Church that you went to back in Kansas, was that a Wesleyan Church?
me: Yes, it was, uh huh, before I came here, it was in Concordia Kansas.
mv: OK, um, so, the campus life, then, was pretty strict?
me: Pretty strict, but an awful lot of fun...
me: Nearly everybody knew everybody else, and it was, it was exciting. You did a lot of fun things, and I, uh, we, you know we had our parties, and we had our intramural sports in the old gym down there, and it was tremendous fun, and we had what they called literary societies in those days
me: Two different societies, and everybody joined one or the other, forever after you were either an Amphician or a Eurekan
me: And they had great battles on the basketball court particularly, to see who could win the, the end of the year, and the yearbook was a big thing, and people got all excited about it, and about selling the yearbook, and they had numerous services, of course, that were very good, and students involved in they, what they called the student conference, and it was a sort of, well the religious group, but nearly everybody belonged to it
mv: Uh, huh
me: Kind of thing, and of course we had state clubs, from here and there, and elsewhere, the Westerners and the Michigan people, and so forth, and foreign language clubs, and lots of different clubs and things, so actually there was enough to do that you didn't have to study...unless you thought maybe you wanted to get through.
mv: And that's, still with all the clubs, and everything, that's still how it is today, and it's still small, where everyone...
me: In a way it is, except that oh, how it's grown
me: Even in the last, well the last ten years, it's been a remarkable growth
mv: It's been kind of exciting
me: Oh it is exciting, and now I guess you don't know quite such a wide group a lot of times, you know a smaller group of people
me: But then, you see, everybody I think everybody positively lived in, all the girls, lived in the dorm, THE dorm.
mv: Yeah, that's Teter?
me: Teter Hall. And some of the men had to live in rooms, because the only thing they had was Century Hall, and it just had room for about 16 men, I think.
mv: Oh, OK.
me: And then, they had to, it was OK for men to live off the campus, that wasn't too bad, but the girls
mv: So where did most of the men live?
me: Uh, There were people would have rooms for them around campus, you know.
mv: OK, was the, just curious, was the male to female ratio similar to what it is today?
me: Oh, I don't think I know but I can tell you it was certainly different when the war started.
mv: Oh, I'm sure it was.
me: I wasn't here very long until it began to be tremendously different. Really sad, made it less interesting.
mv: Um, so, how about Marion, what was Marion like, the city of Marion, being on the college did you get out into the city much?
me: Uh, lets see, of course sometimes you could get downtown, because , you know, you didn't go very much, but you could go, well you could go on the streetcar, you couldn't go down on a car very easy, and of course, you weren't supposed to go down at night, I don't think, even on the streetcar, without permission or something, and all that business, but the streetcar, you could go down on the streetcar, it stopped right out there the other side of Teter Hall, that was the end of the line, you couldn't go any farther, and then it traveled all around, and you could get yourself down there that way, you could walk, I did walk down around the square once, and back, but it's a ways. The downtown had some nice stores, actually the center of town was a little bit more populated than it is these days, of course there was no mall, or anything like that, and things ended pretty soon after you got out this way, and over toward Nebraska Street,, Those things were mixed, Yes, I expect it was.
me: And the Marion Hospital, um, small, much smaller place than even the things you've seen in the last few years you've been here the growth is, very big.
mv: So, can you tell me a little about some of the social activities that went on at the college in the forties, and you mentioned the two literary societies, what were some of the activities?
me: They had the program usually, put on maybe by the different literary societies, and that sort of thing, and I think they allowed dates on Friday nights maybe to go to some of these programs, and they had religious programs, and they had revival services occasionally, and they asked people to choose what church they would want to go to, everybody didn't have to go to the college church, but nearly everybody went to the college church, it was close, and it was much more closely associated than it is now. Of course, they had the musicals, they sang The Messiah, with Prof. Baker, and they had, they had occasional parties, I’ve forgotten just how many they were allowed to have, and of course plenty of basketball games...
me: You could fill up quite a few nights, if you wanted, maybe not quite as many as now, but, lots going on.
mv: Um, now the basketball games, the old gym was...
me: It had been built in 1925 by students, I think it cost about 8,000 dollars, If I haven't forgotten, and I don't know, did you ever see it?
mv: No, where...
me: It was gone, it was gone before you came. It was where the Christian Ministries building is now, it was on that corner.
mv: Oh, OK.
me: And so they removed it, and also the old house next door, that was called Century Hall, Congress Hall at first, and then later Century Hall, it had been built about 1865, and those were taken out of there to make room for Christian Ministries.
mv: When we moved here Christian Ministries had already been built. I think it was two years before...
me: I think it was finished in 83, maybe.
mv: OK, so about 5 years
me: A little bit before you came.
mv: What about, you mentioned College Church, was that...
me: It was where McConn Chapel is now, that was the College Church when I was here, and it had just been built three years earlier, before that, all the worship services had been in the Ad Building on the second floor, there was a great big area there, where all the chapels were held, yeah, that's where all the chapels were held while I was in school, and the church services were there too.
mv: I think, was that what the one, there's a picture...
me: There's a picture in there of a chapel service, yeah and that's in that room, and it was, now it's been all cut up into offices and various things, but then it covered the whole floor, that 'd be the second floor, the whole floor of the Ad building, there were two rooms on either side, the stairway goes up, and the two rooms on either side, those could be used for classrooms, but they had big double doors, and could be opened up, and we had the, you could have the whole second floor then, as a part of that, except for where the stairway is, and one room back in the southwest corner was the music office, where Prof. Baker taught classes and such, that way people could come out of there, and come up here and give their recitals, and they did that sometimes, and I gave a recital, not in singing, but in speech, and I gave a recital, I was back in there, and would come out and enter the platform, and then go back in there, and that was that room. The chapel was pretty good size, it had those old what did they call them, opera seats or something? Real uncomfortable kinds of seats that were fastened to the floor
mv: Uh huh, like movie theater seats.
me: And they go up like this, up and down, you know, you can get a whole string of them are all fastened together and fastened to the floor. The story goes, and I don't think this is when I was here, but once somebody took all of those seats up and turned them all the other way around, and put them back into place, a couple of guys having fun, I guess. That would have been a joy to change! Of course we had to have a certain amount of that too, or it wouldn't have been a college.
mv: Yeah, and they still...
me: And they still have that kind of stuff, it hasn't been long, better not give you any ideas, you might be here someday. You'll have plenty of your own, I'm sure.
mv: 2 Years. Um, so when, tell me a little about what happened when the war started to break out. I know the United States didn't get involved immediately.
me: What happened was that we were attacked, you know that story, Pearl Harbor, and the day that happened, I was here on a Sunday, my cousin, Gordon and I were out taking a walk somewhere, and somebody told us, we were out walking, and somebody told us that the United States had been attacked. Of course, you can imagine what an unheard of thing it is, it never had happened in the whole history of our country. And so, when we got back, I can remember that evening, we didn't have television, we had radio, in the parlor of Teter Hall, gathered around the Radio, and listened to the reports, and thinking, you know, how many of brothers and boyfriends and fiancées would be going because there would be a draft, not one of those if you like to or not, and of course, it was a much different feel than the Korean and the Vietnam wars, that's one kind of thing maybe, but very different feel of our country attacked, and that we would have to protect ourselves, and we would have to do something, and we are involved in it immediately. It wasn't a very short time before some of the men were on their way. The boy I was dating was one of the first ones to go, not that anything would ever come of it as far as I was concerned anyway, but he was one of the first drafted, he didn't even get to enroll for I think the second term, just almost right away. So this, of course, began to happen, and they, of course, in the chapel service, the President spoke on the seriousness of it, and I put that in my History, of hoe tremendously important it was, and how concerned he was, all of us, and he had prayer, and we were unified, a tremendous people were doing everything they could, and of course, you couldn't help but thinking about these people who fight, and I'm sure the wives, there weren’t too many married students in school at that time, very unusual to have any married students in school, in fact, they discouraged students from getting married while they were trying to go to school, because they wouldn’t finish. And we did have, there were a couple of provisions, the ministers, preparing for the ministry, could get a deferral,
mv: That's from the government?
me: The government, if the person was preparing for the ministry, he could get a deferral, and I've forgotten what they were coded, I don't remember, there were a few that were for F, that meant somehow they weren't physically or mentally qualified to be a soldier, and one or two that were able to stay on that account, of course one of the friends, my brother came to school a year later, and started working in the factories, and decided to go enlist, and he chose the signal corps, and his friend that went with him had one, only one eye, but he managed to talk them into letting him in anyway. You know how people felt, they wanted to serve, and I'm not sure how all of the ministers felt, I don't know that they all wanted to take deferrals on that account, but they were permitted, and of course they stayed here, and on the other hand, one of the boys, Tommy Russel, one of the first to go, and he enlisted as a chaplain, he felt like he had to do that. It was a hard time, it was a, to talk about the social affairs, they had to do a little different, because so many people that were here got jobs working in the factories, they had defense factories, the had other factories too, but they had defense factories, there was Anaconda, RCA, I think DANA, you'd have to look them all up. A lot of them went into some defense, you see, and so on. It was, like Foster Forbes, it was a glass factory, weather they did much for defense or not, I know that factory cause I got a job there, working my second year here, before I started my sophomore year, we got jobs, several of us there, working 6 to midnight, 12 days running, and it was murder, very boring, we didn’t have foreman's jobs or anything, packing glass bottles and so forth, but we could make money, and you could afford to go to school. And so, some of us did that for a while, but you couldn't last at that too long, I had another job, and at school at the same time, I couldn't do that.
mv: So, did you have two jobs?
me: Yeah, I worked in the library as a job here, and then I worked there, and I took 12 hours I think it was or something, you know, a person can't do that. As I started to say, what they did was arrange for special time that the people who worked in factories could get together and have a party or something, from 11:30 to 1:30, I think, at night. They needed to do something for these people who never had a chance to go to the things. Another thing that happened very early on, at the end of the first year, that would be 41-42, after the war started, Dr. McConn, the President, decided that one of the best things we could do would be to go on a six day week, so as to spend more time, get more done, and all of this business, and so we went to school on Saturday for at least a year. And other things that they did, Dr. McConn was very interested in making sure that we were doing everything that we could, and one of the things they did was to not have coffee in the dining hall, they would have tea instead, because coffee was one of those things that was rationed. And they were very careful about how much sugar they put, if they put much on the table or not, you know, because they had to be very careful with the sugar, I think meat was rationed too, but maybe not, but sugar and meat and gasoline, Oh by the time I got to my Senior year, we had been going on Senior Sneaks and all, and this was fun to go on a Senior Sneak, fool the Juniors out, and get enough cars together to do that, of course you had to be careful, because gasoline was so short, that when that happened we just went to Salamonie, we didn't go anyplace far away, we got away, though. We went to Salamonie, and had a real great time. If you wanted to go home for Christmas, or something, you had one car that could go, you still had to make sure that you could find enough gas to get there, it was very short. Of course, not everybody had cars, but people did have enough cars.
mv: Tell me a little more about the Senior Sneaks. I noticed that in your book, and I didn't have time to read about it.
me: Oh, it was a good time. The year I was here, I was the Student Body President, President of the Student Council, that year, and so we, I was able to help a little with the arranging, and they had class meetings after chapel, and here we all are in the same chapel upstairs in the Ad Building, and downstairs there are four rooms, here and here and here and here, not cut up quite the same way, but on the four corners at least, four rooms where the Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors could meet, and so I kind of arranged which would be in which room, and what we had planned to do, we drove a cattle truck up to the back door of the Ad Building, and so after chapel everybody went down, and we were sure that all the doors were closed, the Seniors walked out, down the stairs, into the cattle truck and took off, while the Juniors were in there talking about make sure we don’t let these guys get away. We were really worried, we didn’t know when somebody would catch us, but when we got to LaFontaine we figured we were safe, and then there were, no body ever caught us. Those were just some of the fun kinds of things that we would do.
mv: Um, how was Marion College affected by the war, I know one of the most visible effects was that the college looked like a woman’s college, probably,
me: That was one of the most visible effects, but the women, I think the faculty women too, worked for the Red Cross, maybe, and I know that some of those things sometime earlier in this book, if you run across it, and people just got involved, or to do everything they could do, and there was a lot of effort in various directions, they had some special training classes, and I’ve forgotten just what that was, some special training classes that were important, well like here, I’m going to read a line, Dr. McConn views the war: Our country today faces a very grave problem. Crisis, probably the situation has never been more serious than that which is before us for many years. The sudden Japanese attack. He talked about that and then he said: This is your day of opportunity, this is the time when not only out patriotism but our faith stands the test. The wisdom and guidance which God alone can give are available for our needs and adequate for every emergency. God may have designed America for just such an hour as this, when the fate of the free peoples of the world seems to hang in the balance. And he talked about fortitude and calmness, and they needed to be the characteristics. He said: this will be a disturbed Christmas Season, but let us pray that the message of the Prince of Peace shall even yet grip the hearts of mankind. Just some beautiful words. Then he also planned some kind of a special program, here it is, and this was out of the Marion College Journal, Marion College is seeking to serve the religious life of Grant County by offering Leadership Training Courses, in which nearly 250 are enrolled. No such enrollment in similar courses has been had in the courses, at least in many years. Marion College is grateful that the people of the city and surrounding community have supported the school in such large numbers. Practically every community in Grant County is represented in the school. Now the school made special efforts to uphold the, and encouraging Christian Standards, you know and all of this
mv: So the school helped stabilize the county?
me: Uh, this was, it was just reach out and help in every way we can, and be a place where they can find support and encouragement, and that was particularly good.
mv: How, you had talked earlier about some of the chapel services were, how was the Spiritual Life on campus affected by the war? Did people grow stronger as Christians, or were they, not much of a change?
me: Well, of course, I hadn’t been here before the war, and anything, to know what the difference, I would guess that in many instances it was strengthened. Because, when you had that kind of concern.....
mv: I don’t know if it recorded all that at the end of the tape.
me: I was telling you that the I thought that the spiritual life probably was deepened by the war, because of the great concern that everybody had not only for themselves but for people around the world and certainly their own friends and brothers. And we got V-mail back, you know,
mv: Oh, OK
me: They would write back, and they wrote back to the newspaper, wrote back to the Marion College Journal. It was unfortunate, one time, unfortunate fun, that’s what it was, Dr. McConn’s son Maynard, was in the war and he wrote a letter back Dear Friends at Marion College, and they put it in the Journal, and when it came out in the journal we happened to be having a chapel program that the Journal was on, and I was, I guess working on the Journal probably, and I got up to say something about it, and looked down and it said Dear Fiends of Marion College! So I read it! So of course we had those fun times. And a couple of the, a couple of my friends married their boyfriends before they went to war, and they really suffered, You know, they roomed together someplace down the street, and waited and waited for their boys to get home and, they both came back safely, and that was good, then one man who was a Senior and what was he in, education I think, and when he was about to graduate just about to graduate and it was time to go you know he was drafted.
me: But they gave him at least one maybe two 60 day deferments and let him finish.
mv: Oh OK.
me: And it was it was everybody was glad, I think he was president of the senior class at the time and there was a nice banquet. That was an interesting deal.
mv: I noticed when I was reading in your book there, you mentioned a lot about Dr. DeVol.
me: That’s one of the most fascinating stories. When I, I was living in Teter Hall, this would have been my probably freshman or sophomore year I lived there 3 years, so somewhere in there anyway. And um, his wife was Dean of Women.
me: Dr. DeVol, Leora DeVol, was Dean of Women. They had been missionaries to China and that sort of thing, and she had managed to come on back when the war broke out over there. And he was planning to come and it didn’t, uh, he needed to wait just a little longer there and it didn’t work out. In fact I think the war broke out after she had come home and they were afraid of what might happen then. And then you get hostilities between Japan and us and then here he is in China and various things happen, that kept him from coming, he was kept there and finally ended up in a Concentration Camp.
mv: Oh wow.
me: And if you read some of the description he enjoyed you know moldy bread and if you picked the worms out of things you could at least eat.
mv: Yeah I saw that.
me: And he was working on his dissertation and it was imagine that, in Science, he did get to have some access to one of the Universities there at some time or another, but when he finally was released and they would exchange, do a prisoner exchange, once in a while, and he finally was released from prisoner exchange, but he didn’t get to bring his writings with him. He had to leave them with somebody, I think it was maybe somebody associated with the French organization somehow or another, he had to leave them, but he got them later.
me: He got it later, it was safe. And of course when he came home he was not in the best of shape, but you can imagine, I think the girls in the dorm took up a collection that helped Mrs. DeVol get to go so she could go and meet him when he arrived on in the States again and he came back and taught here, in fact I got to take one class from him before I graduated. He was a very superior teacher and a world renowned scientist, but that was one of the hardest, hardest, experiences to know that. And there is more detail on that if you have time to get into it.
mv: And they named the, was it the Greenhouse?
me: They had a DeVol Greenhouse, yes that they, maybe they built one at first, had one somewhere else.
me: I have forgotten just how that was.
mv: In the Science Building.
me: Science Building now, it was just a little building and then they had it in there later on. Yeah, in Taiwan, he was a missionary in Taiwan too later on. And they named, honored him with one of their postage stamps.
mv: Oh wow.
me: Picture of it in the History.
mv: Oh OK.
me: He found a fern and a flower, a great botanist, identified some that had never been identified, you know. So he was a great man.
mv: What about, um, so with working a lot of new factory jobs opened up in Marion
mv: during the war?
me: This is what happened, there were a lot of factory jobs and actually faculty members too took moonlight jobs.
me: The math professor worked and the chemistry professor worked, they taught and worked in the factory. Kids would work nights and work 11 - 7 and then come to 7:30 class if they could stay awake, if they could get there, sleep, there were lots of jobs and there was, was a time when people could begin to have just a little more money, and that of course was good although, I don’t know if the school finally got as much advantage out of that as they should have as an institution, trying to make buildings and things of that kind. It seemed that you could get a job pretty easily if you wanted to work like that, but it was hard and it continued to be hard afterwards when the veterans came back.
me: Because it was a lot of work nights and go to school in the day time, and especially when you were married fellows and starting to raise a family go to school and everything else at once. That is all after the war the GI bill and all that business, the college was very active in that.
mv: Overall during the war was the attitude on campus toward the war very positive?
mv: Of it?
me: Yes, it was very, it was very, we’re in this to win we absolutely have to win.
mv: Very patriotic.
me: Yeah, very, very, patriotic. You never heard, in fact, it was astounding to somebody like me later on to think how people didn’t really want to go to the war, and yet I could kind of understand it, not that I mean they wanted to go, I could kind of understand it, what would be the next one, Korea, probably wouldn’t it, in the 50’s or something, but so many of those times it was just a different feel when you are over helping or think you are some other group somewhere else and when your doing
mv: Uh ha.
me: There just all the difference. There were conscientious objectors, of course.
mv: Uh ha.
me: Because they just plain believe in the war at all.
mv: Uh ha.
me: They didn’t think it was right. And they were permitted to, um, to be conscientious objectors and take other kinds of jobs and you know just register that way and be put in some kind of job and they wouldn’t be forced to go and kill somebody if they felt that was wrong. And I don’t know whether there were a lot of those on campus I don’t remember that there were but there may very well have been, may have been some.
mv: OK. So, I know, I’ve seen your book, and I know there were some parties and celebrations when the war was over.
me: Oh, that was so wonderful, oh yea.
mv: Can you tell me about some of those?
me: That was so wonderful, when we heard, VE Day first
me: The war in Europe had ended but the war in Asia was still going on, or the war , I guess it was in Asia.
me: Yeah the, we heard and it was wildly wonderful, and the next day we were suppose to have Chapel, and we had planned the first Chapel, you know, after the war was won, we would have a special Chapel and I can remember going to Prof. Baker and again I was suppose to be in charge of this because of this silly little position I had.
mv: Uh ha.
me: And going to Prof Baker and trying to find out what we would sing and what we would do you know, of course we had a big Chapel celebration people were thrilled. And then when we got to VJ Day, that would be about the 14th of August I guess, wouldn’t it, the same year. When the war with Japan ended and after the atomic bomb and all that.
me: The campus, of course was dead then, I don’t think summer school was even going on at that time, you see it was Aug. 14th, but my sister, later my sister-in- law she was, was registrar at that time so she had the keys that were necessary, and she and I went over to the old Ad Building and climbed clear up the stairs and there is a bell.
me: Clear up in the top there, you go up through the attic and there is a rope hanging down, I don’t know if it is that way now, I haven’t been up there, way up there, back up there like a real old attic, so we went up there and and rang the bell for the guys and the end of VJ Day. Felt like we could do at least that much to represent how much that meant that the war had finally ended.
me: The excitement knowing at last it was done.
mv: What about the Marion Community on VE and VJ Days? Was there any
me: I was out here so much, I don’t suppose I even know.
me: You better get that out of a newspaper somewhere.
mv: OK, OK
me: Because there obviously would be some really special celebrations.
mv: Uh ha.
me: Of course we have all seen those pictures of New York or somewhere you know where it’s wild, wild, wild, and there surely would have been some of that here but I but I I, I was here and I probably just didn’t know.
mv: OK. Now when the atomic bomb was dropped, was there any sort of reaction to that? That you remember or
me: I don’t really remember, I think there was a sense of, but whether this was for everybody or I just sort of felt it, I don’t know, a sense of we had to do something, it’s a good thing we did this before somebody else did.
mv: Ah um.
me: I expect that was the feeling a lot of people had, that if we had not got there first, that then that would have fallen into hands that may made life really bad for everybody, and that it was just a wonderful thing that at least we were able to stop them before they used it on the whole world or something.
mv: Probably that it was over. The war was over.
me: Yeah, the war would be over now. The war would be over, there would be no more, this would be it.
mv: Ah ha.
me: You just, you had that, you had that feeling and now I know as people look back they can’t get that same feeling when they think about how many people suffered and how sad it is, and so on, and it is. I don’t know all these answers.
mv: Ah ha.
me: I know, I know that, I’m pretty sure if we waited until somebody else had used the bomb on us, things would not have been as good as they are, the lesser of two evils.
mv: Overall was there kind of a sense of security, or, not security but completion then after that.
me: It began to be yes, and I have forgotten the date on the Hiroshima thing.
mv: Yeah, I don’t
me: It wasn’t very long before, probably was in that summertime.
me: Yeah, you could find that out easily but it wasn’t very long before because once that happened that was, that was it. And of course the war in Europe had been done already.
mv: Yeah, um, what were some of the changes that took place after the war on campus, were there with the veterans coming back from the war.
me: Oh that was very interesting of course, and we, there was the GI Bill.
mv: Ah uh.
me: And they could, and a lot of them could come to school now and I found that interesting because I was teaching.
me: And here would come, I was not very old.
mv: So you had graduated?
me: I had graduated in 45.
me: I had taught a little that next year, but not a whole lot, and then I came back in 49.
me: By then you see, my brothers got out in 46 sometime and so forth, but then in 49-50 we began to get lots of veterans in, it was fascinating here I was teaching the composition and there would be guys coming to school older than I was, you know, and had lots of experience and they could write about everything and what they did and so forth and about various kinds of things it was a real learning experience for me, of course I helped then with their punctuation or something sometimes.
me: But these ideas and experiences they have had, when Dr. Charles Carter wrote a little bit about the forties one time he had in there how different the feel was with the veterans, let me see if I can’t find it here somewhere. He came back to teach and about this same time, he summed up. His summary of the 40’s and how he felt about, you know the seriousness of the veterans that he, he ought to teach. This was true of course for many of them.
mv: Would it be page 108?
me: Yes, ah ha, this is it, the second world was had just ended. And as the GI’s returned the enrollment swelled from 250 to 300 students to about 550.
mv: Oh wow.
me: Though many of the ex-GI’s were limited in previous education they returned experienced, serious, seasoned, and purposeful. The classes and limited facilities were overcrowded, the school spirit rose high with keen competition between the Amphician and Eurekan athletic societies. During this era Marion College rightfully earned the title of Marrying College as the ex-GI’s took wives and a proliferation of weddings. In 1944, in the foresight of the GI-bulge, that’s what they called it, an increase in enrollment was indicated by the launching of a building fund drive. They went ahead and arranged to get eventually two buildings that were government surplus, one was the old student center.
mv: Oh OK.
me: And the other was a little PE building, it wasn’t that big but had a snack shop in it and a bookstore in it, just a little bitty building and a couple of rooms upstairs I think one was for Ping-Pong and the other for offices or classes or something. These two small buildings were government surplus and they managed to get those put up. The PE building was just across the way toward the CM building.
mv: Oh OK.
me: Toward the old student center.
me: It was in that area too. So it was really good, and the programs for veterans, Dr. McConn worked that out of the deal, he explained you know, he did everything he could, he was really for the veterans, it was great to see, some of the people, and there was some of the people we knew, you know.
me: They were coming back, and by the time I was teaching then, some people were back again that had been in the service had come back safely. They didn’t all come back, one of the best singers that was here was one of the early gold stars and in the community and I think he was a student here too, but well known in the community was Charles Maggert, was the first gold star, Dr. McConn describes him in here and I’m sure you could find him in the newspaper too.
mv: Oh OK.
me: I think he had enlisted probably, about a year before, when people began to get concerns some of them had enlisted.
mv: Ah ha.
me: One of the men who had graduated a year before the war had gone into some defense work, he wrote back how valuable he felt that program was. So there were people who enlisted even before the war began with all the turmoil abroad.
mv: Um, You were talking about all the buildings they bought from government surplus.
me: Ah ha.
mv: Is it true that they moved the old student center from Michigan? Somebody told me that once, I’m not sure who.
me: I don’t know.
me: I don’t just know about that.
mv: OK. Were you here when they moved the buildings to campus?
me: Ah that one went up in 48, I was teaching school in Gas City, that particular year.
mv: Oh OK.
me: I probably didn’t know much about the specific happening but it could be, you know they were that kind of thing, I just don’t know.
mv: You said you were teaching in Gas City.
me: I taught, I had a high school license when I graduated in 45, so I didn’t get a job, I wanted to stay around here, first year I didn’t get a job, I taught here, then I went to upper elementary reading because I could teach that under my degree and I got a job in Gas City, I took a job there and stayed for 3 years I guess.
mv: Oh OK.
me: I decided I didn’t want to teach grade school and I didn’t sign a contract and about that time my former speech teacher asked me if I wanted to come over and help her out.
me: So I started a speech masters at Wisconsin later did my, I came in sort of one foot in the English Department and one foot in the Speech Department.
mv: Oh OK.
me: And assisted in those two areas and got my doctoral at Chicago.
mv: Oh OK. Any other major changes that occurred in the later 1940’s on campus or in the community?
me: The college, well as far as the College was concerned I don’t think we took full advantage of the financial push that the war had provided. I had to put in something to show that I’m not all affirmative, affirmative but those things happen, I was trying to think, um, in one way we were, we had done well in many ways the college community during the war years but it wasn’t too long after that until the President seemed to become ill.
mv: That was Dr. McConn?
me: Yes, maybe it was a little later in the 50’s. But between then and 1960 or so he wasn’t as strong as he had been, and the school pretty much focused on us, there wasn’t the interaction between community and school, that might have continued to develop a little bit differently. It took some changes with the next administration, to help us begin and it has taken a while even then to be more active with the community.
mv: Yeah. What about the one other topic that I have here that you probably won’t know too much about, family life, since you were in college.
me: No, probably won’t, um, trying to think whether, I don’t suppose I can even much answer that, I know when, of course, my family was clear out in Kansas, so...
mv: You probably didn’t get out there too often.
me: No, maybe twice a year. I was going to school here, so I really can’t answer that, I know that there were, it must have been interesting for some of the faculty to be working in the factory and also here. You need to ask somebody that was growing up in one of those homes I expect. You’re right I don’t know too much about that.
mv: I figured since you were in college and you didn’t grow up in Marion that,...
me: Yeah. I was in college, didn’t grow up in Marion, and people I knew best were people on the campus, either faculty members or students, and the students most of them weren’t married and so I just don’t know, except for the effect you know that it had, guys came back and met the girls afterwards and then during that had to see their fellows go off and so forth. This is about my limit on that question.
mv: I think that is about all I have, any other interesting stories that you want to share?
me: Well, I don’t know that I can think of anything else, give it a moments thought here.
mv: I’m going to pause the tape.
me: They had Chapels with representatives from the 5 divisions of the war program would come in, Navy, Naval Air Corps, Marines, Army, Army Air Corps, they visited the campus to explain deferred enlistment for prospective officers, special chapel for 4 reserves called to active duty and a honor roll of 70 MC service men was published. They observed Navy Day, the choir went to Fort Benj. Harrison, Dean Clyde held Chapel for those who worked and couldn’t come to the revival services. Paul Parker, one of our professors requested leave so he could become a Chaplain in the Army.
me: Lets see, Charles DeVol, we talked about that. That is fascinating. Um, here is an interesting spot on page 189, something you might notice, the college catalog of 1944-45. Introductory page entitled Marion College and the war, started out at a time when some were questioning the value of a liberal arts college, Marion College continues it’s educational work and at the same time contributes directly to the war program. The college is serving by... and it lists all the different things they were doing, giving preliminary training, enrolling boys under age of 18 years of age in courses that were of direct value to them so they could get maximum training before they got drafted. Training a number of young women for public school teaching and other essential occupations in dire need of recruits, you see they lost so many men from the war, preparing young men for the Christian Ministry, offer an opportunity for students to do part time college work and contribute directly to the war program by filling positions in defense industry. you see that was a purposeful thing. And maintaining a distinctly Christian emphasis which alone could preserve the institutions which the United Nations were fighting for and which alone could preserve democracy and peace. There are some really good things there, some of those things those people in the book had said.
me: 45 was the first year for the Marion Community concert association, that’s kind of interesting too, that’s on page 190 I happened to be on that first board, because I happened to be, my position in the student body. It’s just kind of interesting that they, it’s nice to get the arts program started here in the community, it’s been growing......