Your History is in Your Yearbook
Knox County — If you peruse your yearbook, it is very likely that you will find your own personal history as well as the history of the world at that moment in time. If you have the advantage of retrospect and are looking at a yearbook that was published say before World War II, you will see how naïve the world was and how teenagers like teenagers everywhere and in every era are focused on their own goals and aspirations and of just having fun with their fellow students.
In this story I will examine two such yearbooks of two different generations; my mother’s generation in 1927; and my own generation in 1959. In the space of 32 years the world was turned upside down; first with the Depression and then with World War II. My own generation continued with their own wars: The Korean War and the Vietnam War, neither of which were ever declared an actual war.
My generation of the 50s did not realize nor appreciate at the time we were all in high school of the sacrifices our parents had made and the downright bravery that generation went through so that we could enjoy the 50s in relative peace and prosperity.
My old high school, Rockland High School, produced a yearbook called “The Cauldron” every spring. I don’t know when the book started but I do know it existed in 1927, the year my mother, Evangeline Winchenbaugh graduated from RHS, because I have that book. I have examined the 1927 “Cauldron” before, but here I would like to compare it to my own “Cauldron” of 1959. What was important to teenagers in 1927 and what did they care about in 1959? What were their worlds like? How did they differ? Let’s find out.
The Cauldron of 1927 has heavy paper covers and is stapled. It has 22 pages of ads in the front and back of the book and also the Inside Back Cover and the Outside Back Cover. The IBC has ads for Rockland and Rockport Lime Corp. and St. Clair & Allen, a candy store. The OBC has a full page ad for The North National Bank. There are 56 pages of school content. You will see many names that look familiar to you.
The Table of Contents which I will discuss one by one has:
Dedication; Editorials; Literary; Jokes; Sports; Poems; Social Notes; Senior Department; Exchanges; Alumni
“We, the Editorial Board, respectfully dedicate this edition of the Cauldron, to our Chemistry instructor, Mr. Charles Phillip, who has faithfully and loyally stood by us through thick and thin.”
Editorials written by the Editorial staff include the subjects of School Spirit, one of which calls for a dedication to studies as well as to sports. There is also a piece about the new “Boys Band” and a call for a Dramatics Club. In 1959 there was a Thespian Club which we will discuss later.
Stories written by students. Included is a story about a club in New York and the flappers. How A.L., ’28 had any idea about such a club is a question as he describes it very well. Another story is called “The Episode of the Roadster,” by Margaret Hellier, a senior; and one called “Abraham Lincoln, the Greatest of Americans,” By H.G.G. also a senior. Abraham Lincoln pops up in a few places in this issue of the Cauldron. Remember, he had only been dead for 62 years at that time.
The only team pictures in this book are of the Boys’ Baseball team, the Boys’ Basketball team; and the Girls’ Basketball team. The only team for girls was basketball. No Title 9 then. There were also Boys teams for Football and Track. We only have a report of the year in Football and none for the Track team at all. The school colors are mentioned as orange and black which they still were in 1959; but they were known as Bulldogs, not Tigers.
Poems include “The Woman Hater,” also about the flappers of that time. Not complimentary at all. There is also “In Tribute,” another Abraham Lincoln piece.
There was also an essay contest about him. In 1927 Donald Merriam won the “large bronze medal” given by the Springfield Watch Company. I wonder if this company was in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln practiced law. Honorable mention was given to Margaret Hellier and Parker Young.
This section reports on the special events of the year. It is only a written report. Junior and Senior Proms were called “Socials” at that time. There was also a Halloween Masquerade Ball” in October. I don’t see any reference to Kippy Karnival so that event must have come later in RHS history.
There are references to the Boys’ and Girls’ Glee Clubs and the School Orchestra. Also no pictures.
One of the Debating Team topics of that year was: “Resolved that the Philippines should have independence within five years.” They were off by 14 years. The teenagers of 1927 had no inkling of the new Great War to come. The Philippine people suffered greatly during that war. During the Bataan Death March in WWII, 60,000-80,000 Philippine and American prisoners of war were marched, many to their deaths. 10,000 Pilipino people and about 600 Americans died on that march from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga. Survivors of the march were loaded onto a box train and brought to Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tariac.
The Philippines gained their independence from America in 1946 after the war. They surely deserved it.
Mention was also made of the Senior Class Play, “The Whole Town’s Talking.”
The play evidently was based on the movie of 1926, only a year previous, which was a silent adventure comedy, based on a play by Anita Loos and John Emerson. It starred Edward Everett Horton, Virginia Lee Corbin and Trixie Friganza. It was remade in 1936, which I assumed was a “talkie,” and starred Edward G. Robinson. I know you have to have permission to use scripts like this. I wonder if and how they got the rights to do this one so close to the year it actually came out.
This book doesn’t have many pictures at all. Besides the three sports pictures and the one of Charles Phillips, the only other pictures were of the Editorial Board of the Cauldron; the class play cast; and the Debating Club. I guess the people who taught them were not important enough to include in their book that year. I love that I have pictures of all my teachers at RHS and have referred to those pictures several times when I’m writing about that era.
This section has jokes and gossip about the graduating seniors. One item of gossip included the fact that the class heartbreaker, Donald Merriam, reportedly saw two girls home, Evelyn Perry and Margaret Hellier.
Another piece of gossip was the story that several girls had formed a “Club” whose main purposes were: to eat, gossip, and attend movies. They also vowed to help other girls who were unlucky in love. At one point 12 of them came to school with bandages on their faces because of a truth and consequences game at one of their Club meetings. Sounds like they wanted to be the “it girls” of the day. It also rings true for girls who would be called bullies today or members of a clique.
It also lists the “parts” received by the seniors who took part in the graduation ceremony:
Peter Pellicane…Address to Underclassmen
Samuel Smalley…Presentation of Gifts to the Girls
Virginia Bisbee…Presentation of Gifts to the Boys
Richard Bird…Class Marshal
Edna Gregory… Class Ode
It doesn’t look like they had a major speaker at all, but kept the ceremony a class event only. I think it’s nice that they gave gifts to each other, boys and girls. I wonder what Prophecy by Palmer Pease consisted of and what history Frances Orne presented to the audience. Was it the history of the class or what? The Class Ode became our Class Motto in 1959 which I believe was “The Past is Gone, the Future is our Own.”
Pictures of the 76 members of the senior class in the book are:
Lempi Anderson, Elizabeth Annis, Madeline Bubier, Bessie Blackwood, Leland Blackington, Bradford Burgess, Virginia Bisbee, Richard Bird, Myer Benovitch, Donald Cameron, Christine Curtis, Beulah Cole, Ruth Crouse, Catherine Critch, Albertina Creighton, Marian Clark, Raymond Cross, Arlene Chaples, Annie Dunn, William Davis, Wendell Emery, Walter Ellis, John Flanagan, Maybelle Fales, Cedric French, Kendall Greene, Marion Greene, Evelyn Green, Helen Glidden, Edna Gregory, Ida Harper, Hattie Hupper, Malcolm Hoxie, Elizabeth Hamlin, Margaret Hellier, Alice Hodgkins, Estelle Hall, Mervin Harriman, May Johnston, Ruth Koster, Frank Knight, Wilbur Kennedy, Oiva Lempi, Helen LaCrosse, Claribel Lowe, Florence Legage, Robert McCarty, Alice Merrick, Ruth Mealey, Peter Pellicane, Delia Parsons, Palmer Pease, Ethel Quinn, Ethel Rackliff, Evelyn Simmons, Ruth Stearns, Virginia Snow, Mary Sylvestr, Samuel Smalley, Sydney Segal, Ethel Thomas, Luther Wotton, Robert Wallis, Frances Winchenbach, Evangeline Winchenbaugh (they spelled it wrong in the book as Winchenbach), Parker Young, Linola Young.
The senior graduation pictures are placed in the back of the book rather than in the front as in my Cauldron of 1959.
Some of these last names at least should be familiar to Rockland people. A lot of these family names still prevail today in the community.
A very strange section of this book. It basically reviews the papers and magazines of other schools. Why is the question?
This subject catches up with the graduates of the past two years of 1925 and 1926. For 1925 they show my father Theodore working at the Courier-Gazette. Some of the graduates of these two classes ended up going to some prestigious schools like the N.E. Conservatory of Music, Bowdoin, Bates, Brown, Colby, and Harvard. There were a few “Normal School” students, which were three-year schools that trained teachers in those days. One woman in the class of 1925 was listed as being a resident of the Hebron Sanitarium. I wonder if that was a Sanitarium that treated and isolated Tuberculosis patients. Another woman was listed as deceased. She would only have been about 20 years old. Several members had moved out-of-state, two even as far away as the Bahamas.
The senior class members pictured in the 1927 Cauldron didn’t know at that time of the struggles and strife that lay ahead of them. Through it all they raised their families the best way they could; tried to be good citizens and contribute to their communities and to the war effort. They were the greatest generation of our modern history and we most likely will not see their ilk again.
I don’t think the Cauldron is published anymore since it was a Rockland High School and Rockland District High School publication and the newly named Oceanside High School serves several towns including Rockland. I hope they have started their own tradition with their own yearbook. It is a book we all should keep near and dear to us throughout our lifetime. It’s our link to a time in our lives we all cherish and reminds us of all the good times we had and of the lifetime friends we made while we walked the halls of Rockland High School.
The Cauldron of 1959…to be continued next week.
Thanks for listening.
(Note: For more pictures from this Cauldron go to this story at