At the moment I’m writing chapter 3 of the Gray Barker biography. This one centers on his college years at Glenville State Teacher’s College in the 1940s. I’ve been researching his pre-ufological days in an effort to see if I can determine what shaped him into a trickster.
The biggest takeaway I’ve got so far from my studies is that Gray was always a bit mischievous. He made his mark at Glenville with his humor and wit. Not that he was simply the class clown or comic relief. He was too multifaceted for that. In fact, by the time he graduated, he was editor of the school paper and had served as the chair and/or president of the college theater group, the local YMCA chapter and so on.
Perhaps the clearest way to tell you what Gray was like in his college years is to let you read his acrostic Mercury-ite tributes from the student newspaper, the Glenville Mercury:
Sophomore Year 3/28/1944 Unsigned
G – ait is well known
R – eally has a ‘nose’ for news
A – ble photographer
Y – es, he’s a sophomore
B – oy! What a vocabulary!
A – dept at punning
R – eads constantly
K – ind and courteous
E – xcellent cinema authority
R – egular churchgoer
Junior Year 2/27/1945 By Homer Paul Heckert
G – ood as a playwright
R – iffle is his home
A – lways ready with a pun
Y – es, he is the tallest boy in school
B – ecame co-editor of the Mercury this past fall
A – ambitious junior class member
R – emained out of school one semester to help with farm work
K – eeps up with cinema
E – eager to finish school
R – oscoe is his other name
Senior Year 10/9/1945 by Homer Paul Heckert
G – ait well known
R – oscoe is his first name
A – ctive in campus activities, as well as his advocation, projectionist at the Pictureland and Lyric theatres
Y – es, he makes good grades
B – ecame editor of the Mercury this past year and still holds the position
A – bout 6′ 4″
R – ises at seven each morning for his breakfast in Kanawha Hall
K – eeps up with the news
E – lected to represent the College in Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges
R – eally makes use of his vocabulary
For the record, Gray seems to have been featured as a Mercury-ite more times during his 4 years at Glenville State Teacher’s College than any other student. Of course, he was heavily involved with the paper. According to the November 15, 1961 issue, the Mercury began in the 1929-1930 school year but the first editor wasn’t appointed until the 1938-1939 school year. Barker was co-editor in the 15th year of the Mercury’s publication and sole editor in the 16th year. He was the Mercury’s 7th editor overall, 3rd co-editor and 5th sole editor to date.
My query to Who’s Who to confirm the claim made in the Mercury in the acrostic and in a fuller article in the same edition came up negative.