1965 Alumni

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My name is Diane(Walsh) Jokerst and I served in the first VISTA volunteer group. If there is any alumni from that group I would love to hear from you.

Hello Diane, I was in the second group of VISTA volunteers ...worked in Wolf Creek in southeastern Kentucky 1965-66. At that time, I was from Boston, MA.... an 18 year old kid that thought she knew everything. Life has taken many turn for me.... all of them the good and the bad. I am thankful for all of it.

I currently live on the Georgia coast and have my own non-profit, established in 2004. I stay in Africa 3-6 months of every every working with orphans and families that have been devastated by the AIDS virus. I love my life and credit VISTA for being the starting point.

Check out my web site: www.ourjourneyinc.org

Maureen Ahern
Founder/Director
Our Journey, Inc

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Hey Diane I was 65-66 trained in Montana and served in Vista on Rosebud Reservation. I would love to hear from other people that were there. My name is Yvonne North but at the time the last name was Thibodeaux.

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Hi,
I was in Rosebud living at first in Mission and then in Spring Creek. Did you live in a trailer? My name is Jeannine and Ernie also was there. We all worked on housing and Head Start.
Let me know as I remember = Thibodeaux but they were some of the family names on Rosebud.
Best,
Jeannine from Minnesota

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Jeannine When you say Ernie are you talking about Ernestine Simmons? I roomed with Anne Sulanowski and Ernestine in Mission and I do remember someone from Minn. Are you Indian and I asked because there was a girl from one of the Minn tribes that got stationed at Rosebud. I got married to someone on the res(last name was WhiteBird) in the Summer of 1966 and landed up finishing up college at Northern in Aberdeen, SD

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Hi Yvonne, I remember you!! This is Alice Bonnell (now Winner) and I think I stayed at your place in Mission when I was waiting to get home by plane during a snow storm. I remember something about Ernestine being from the Chicago area, and driving a stick shift truck. I could be wrong. Was Ann the artist?
I was staioned in Norris, north of the reservation border with Anne Bowker. I started in Rosebud in the fall of 1965 working and living with Emily Beardsly Boardman. (I was in Coeur D'Alene ID until I got "transferrred" to the Rosebud.
I remember Bob Delibero, Kathy O'Toole, Larry Tarleton (female, from Hawaii) out at Milk Creek, and some others.
Ann Bowker is the only one I kept in touch with.
Had my own summer service learning program in Norris in 1993, 1994, and 1996. Another story. . . . .

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Hi, Alice:
Read your correspondence w/Yvonne and interested to know where y'all took your training in 1965. When you alluded to "female from Hawaii" in your note to Yvonne, I immediately recalled a beautiful Hawaiian blond VISTA trainee, who looked like the "all-American beauty" to some of us Midwestern, awkward teens and college grads.
I trained in Chicago in June '65....we VISTA's were housed all together at the YMCA in downtown Chicago. Our classes were also conducted there....I did my training in the PILSEN neighborhood through their community center. A man named Julian Sulcheck was the program director, if memory serves me correctly.

~Maureen (Donley)
VISTA '65-66 in St.Louis and'67-68 in KCMO

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I trained at the University of Utah . On site training was on the Navajo Reservation compiling survey data on TB and other health issues. I also worked at the Navajo Times newspaper. I toured the Res with the Navajo political up-and-comer Peter McDonald, who was later imprisoned for some corruption charges.

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Lerry Tarleton was dark haired, wore glasses, and was short. This was not the Hawaiian you are decribing.

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Alice I remember some people from off reservation who stayed at the basement apt Anne,Ernie and I had in Mission and Lord knows there were 3 blizzards the Spring of '64 so maybe it was one of those times. I recognize one of the names you mentioned Bob Delibro who roomed with the other Bob (Fuller). Ernestine was from the Cleveland area and I had a VW.

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sure sounds like the real deal back in the 60's.

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I DO remember that very long and spacious basement apartment . . . .
I served a whole year until late June 66. Went home and got married to Tom after he finished his training in Arizona in August. (We had been dating for 3 years - even during my first VISTA -- year sort of.)
Ernie was still there, when I got back with Tom, in August 66, and she had picked up an old truck. I even think my husband helped her learn stick shift. He remembers Ernie, but vaguely remembers the truck thing. Yeah, she was from Cleveland.
The Bob's were in Parmelee. We all called Bob D. "Ginny" which definately is not PC now! But he was OK with it. There is a story about him and some frogs on the wall in their apartment, but I will save that. I thought it was sweet that he always sent flowers to all the females in his family on their special occasions.
When my parents and youngr sister drove out to pick me up to go home, we went to Parmelee so I could say goodbye to him. He borrowed a horse and attempted to impress my sister, came to a sudden stop, and fell off the horse.
We spent our honeymoon in Emily BB's Rosebud trailer until Anne B. went home in a few weeks. Then moved into my old Norris trailer until the end of October. Were happy working in the community with the kids and making some progress. Then we started receiving letters indicating that money was being cut for VISTA due to the war . . . . . Still wish we would have stuck it out. But not a good way to start a married life -- and we"ve been married for 43 years. . . .

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About the SD blizzards: Anne Bowker and I were snowed in during the spring of 66. We had just gone into the village, heeding the warning, of the Lakotas in our village, to go get some food quick. We had know idea how they knew -- the sky was dark, and there was a wet snow in the air, but didn't seem so unusal. The white woman at the store told us to get back to our trailer ASAP. I think we got a ride from her husband? We were not sure that we had enough gas in our gas tank, and had not thought to check it before the storm. I walked out to it during the heaviest snow and made sure I could see the trailer before going all the way out there. Never was sure till it was over if we had enough. Since we only had the outhouse, and could NOT see that, we just went to the corner of the trailer and squated.
THe wind was so bad that we were uncertain that our trailer (one of those green one-bed-roomer "boats") was going to blow over.
When it was all over we went out without jackets --it was so crazy warm. It looked as if the road grader had just gone through to level the mud roads and plowed up the snow in the process, except that it was pure white snow. Turned out that it was just that the wind had piled it as high as the clothes lines in the village, with totally bare dirt in between. Weird!
The natives had it worse:
Many of them had to find their way to other cabins for safe shelter since the snow had blown through the cracks, where the mud chinking was missing, and filled up their one room dwellings. I wonder to this day that they survived. They did.
There was a set of twins born on the road on the Reservation. They all survived. But I remember that very scary story.

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About the SD blizzards: Anne Bowker and I were snowed in during the spring of 66. We had just gone into the village, heeding the warning of the villageLakotas, to go get some food quick. We had no idea how they knew -- the sky was dark, and there was a wet snow in the air, but didn't seem so unusal. The white woman at the store told us to get back to our trailer ASAP. I think we got a ride from her husband? And then the snow and wind started!!!
We were not sure that we had enough gas in our gas tank, and had not thought to check it before the storm. I walked out to it during the heaviest snow and made sure I could see the trailer before going all the way out there. Never was sure till it was over if we had enough. Since we only had the outhouse, and could NOT see that, we just went to the corner of the trailer and squated.
THe wind was so bad that we were uncertain that our trailer (one of those green one-bed-roomer "boats") was going to blow over.
When it was all over we went out without jackets --it was so crazy warm. It looked as if the road grader had just gone through to level the mud roads and plowed up the snow in the process, except that it was pure white snow. Turned out that it was just that the wind had piled it as high as the clothes lines in the village, with totally bare dirt in between. Weird!

The natives had it worse:
Many of them had to find their way to other cabins for safe shelter since the snow had blown through the cracks, where the mud chinking was missing, and filled up their one room dwellings. I wonder to this day that they survived. They did.
There was a set of twins born on the road on the Reservation. They all survived. But I remember that very scary story.

My parents in PA were calling the Red Cross constantly to find me. I had no phone. They were frantic. Ironically I was a disaster services coordintor for awhile at ARC as one of my social welfare jobs. Had more knowledge and more empathy to deal with families when tornados, floods, etc. happened!!

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Hi Diane,

I was also in the first group of 20 that trained in Florida. I was stationed in Abingdon VA doing a variety of community development jobs. Went on to train VISTAs for a while in Florida, then finished my BS at the University of Oregon - On to the Peace Corps in Western Samoa.

After Peace Corps it was grad school in Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University followed by a professional career in planning related agencies until I retired in 2008. Now live and play in Bend, Oregon.

Bill Wagner

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I trained with the first VISTA class at Northeastern University in Boston in 1965. Was assigned to teach remedial reading at Wolf Creek Job Corps Center in Glide, OR. I now live in MI and winter in AZ. Was that really 45 years ago?

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I was part of the first VISTA training class at the University of Oregon in June 1965.  Would love to hear from anyone else who was part of that class. I was from Dallas.

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