Your History is in Your Yearbook-Part II, The Cauldron of 1959

By Sandra Sylvester | Jun 16, 2014
Artwork by: Holman Davis

Knox County — We finish our examination of Rockland High School/Rockland District High School’s yearbook, the Cauldron from the years of 1927, my mother’s yearbook; and the Cauldron from 1959, my yearbook. I see my own personal history at that time as seen through the pages of my yearbook as well as the world at large at that time. What did the teenagers of 1959, 32 years later than my mother’s graduating class of 1927 care about? How was their world different? Where would they go, what would they experience after graduation day?

The teenagers of 1927 were between wars. Although the Class of 1959 was not in high school during the Korean conflict, we were certainly aware of it. It ended in 1953 and we entered high school a mere three years later. The Vietnam conflict, or war, began in 1955 and ended in 1975, a space of 20 long years compared to the four years or so of World War II. There were actually fathers and sons who participated in that war. No wonder we got tired of it and expressed our opinions loudly about wanting out.

In 1955 Americans were basically consultants. That changed of course. In high school at that time, as sophomores, we were not even aware of Vietnam. Most of us could probably not even tell you where it was. However, some of my classmates were to become very involved in that war later on. Remember--it had only been 14 years since the end of World War II in 1959. As we looked at that fact in the years to come it seemed to us as though we had just morphed from one war to the next. We were doubtful that the world would ever be at total peace. So far that world condition goes on, unfortunately.

Now that I’ve given you a picture of where the world was in 1959, we go to the Cauldron of that year. In the 32 years since my mother’s Cauldron, some things remained the same and some things were very different as far as the book is concerned. Please keep in mind that my copy of the 1959 book is one I was able to acquire from the internet as my original book was lost in the flood. I told you that sad story before, therefore, my report may be slightly different than the books my classmates have.

The 1927 Cauldron began with 16 pages of ads. The 1959 Cauldron put its ads at the end of the book. The 1959 book unlike the 1927 book is hard cover; perfect bound (no staples); no ads on the back covers; with artwork throughout of our school mascot, the Rockland Tiger, created by our classmate, Holman Davis. It is clear that as the years progressed, the Cauldron became an art piece as well as a report of the events of that year.

The Cover

The cover of the ’59 book shows the first tiger art work done by Holman. The colors are maroon and white, our class colors. The ’27 book uses the black and orange school colors in a circle on the front and even shows a cauldron. The mascot at that time was a bulldog rather than a tiger, however. Our school colors continued to be orange and black though.

First Page

The 1959 first page is a picture of the front door of the high school on Lincoln Street.

The type under the picture is; “We the editorial staff of this, the 1959 volume of the CAULDRON have endeavored to portray the many aspects of one year at Rockland High School. We will show you, through words and pictures, our academic, our athletic, and our social attainments—and our occasional failures.”

The Dedication

Both books have dedications. Whereas the ’27 book dedicated their book to one of their teachers, Charles Phillips, we of the class of ’59 chose to dedicate our book to a long-time employee at RHS, our custodian, Oliver Wendell Holmes, obviously named for the famous Supreme Court Judge. He was always a friend to all of us at the school. The words under his picture read:

“To Oliver Wendell Holmes, custodian of Rockland High School for twenty-five years, kindly and judicious friend to all, this issue of the CAULDRON is lovingly and respectfully dedicated.”

And rightly so, I may add.

The Memoriam

The ’59 book also has a special memoriam to our classmate, Eddie Crane, who died in an accident at age 16 while working at his father’s store, Senter Cranes, on Main Street. His memoriam reads:

“In loving memory of Edward Page Crane this page is dedicated by his classmates.”

The Faculty

Unlike the ’27 book, the ’59 book shows a picture of the teaching staff opposite the Dedication page in the front of the book. I count 36 teachers plus our principal, Hamilton Boothby and secretary, Irene Adolphsen. Kenneth MacDougal was Vice-Principal and was also a science teacher.

Sections of the Book

The ’27 had an actual Table of Contents. Our book, however, was divided into sections with a cover page done by Holman for each section. The Sections were in order: Seniors, Sports, Activities

All things Senior are presented in the front of the book for the ’59 book. There are pages for the Cauldron Board, the National Honor Society, and Dirigo State, which involved honorary nominations for some students to participate in the government process at our state Capitol in Augusta.

Here is where the history of individual classmates comes in. Besides our individual pictures and a list of our activities for our four-year high school career, we also have two very special pages that I still see posted on Facebook from time to time.

One is a full page simply called “The Class” on which every one of the seniors signed his or her name. As I look at these names I think of some story or other connected with a bunch of them. I also see those who have left us over the years. I bet you every remaining classmate can tell you exactly where they signed this page. I lot of history here.

The other page is called “Seniors’ Baby Pictures.” This is self-explanatory. In my picture I am about three-years-old with a tiny hat of some kind on my head and holding the knit teddy bear which my grandmother made for me. The faces on this page also take me back. I went through all the grades in school with some of them as well as four years of high school. I will see this page from time to time on Facebook.

My picture in the yearbook shows me in my perfect pageboy. I was very proud of it.. I counted at least 15 pageboys or a variation of the same out of the 42 girls pictured. It was a popular cut of the day and many of us began growing our hair long enough in our junior year so we would have hair long enough to train into a pageboy in our senior yearbook picture. It was a popular cut of many of the movie stars at the time, including June Allyson, my favorite actress of the time.

You can certainly see the popular cuts of the day, including the boys in these pictures and the fact that the pictures were all so formal with the boys all dressed in suits. Some of these boys wouldn’t be caught dead in a suit ordinarily. Remember it was the time of the so-called “Greasers.” That term always tickles me as we never heard that term at RHS when I went to school. It was a name given to us later on. Some of the boys had some “wicked” DAs though. Many of you will know what DA means.

You can see the history of each student throughout their high school years as listed with their pictures. Comments were also made about each one, a carry-over from the ’27 book.

The words with my picture say: “…(a nickname I won’t mention here.) “One good, hearty laugh is a bombshell exploding in the right place.” Commercial Course. Washington Club, 1-4; Basketball 1-4; Commercial Service Club, 1-4; Decorations Committee—Junior Prom, 3; Art Committee Kippy Karnival Ball, 3; Field Hockey, 1-3 (don’t think that’s exactly true); Kippy Karnival Entertainment, 3-4; Band 2-4; Cauldron Board, 4, Typist; Mixed Chorus 1-4; F.H.A. 1-4.

The Washington Club was a club we used to raise money for our class trip to New York City and Washington D.C. in the spring of our Senior year. When I think of that trip the memory that comes to me is of our stay in NYC when some of the boys snuck off to see a ticker-tape parade for Fidel Castro down 5th Avenue. They were told not to even think about it, but away they went. What a story they had to tell their grandchildren in the years to come as a result though. History. always the history.

F.H.A. stands for Future Homemakers of America. Yeah, right. The only reason many of us joined that club was because they had a club picnic at Sandy Shores every year and we got a day off from school for it.

So if you read the activities that accompany each picture in the book you can see the history of that person for the four years he was at RHS. My only regret is that I don’t have all the comments my classmates wrote in my book because the original one was lost in the flood. Those comments also display a history of their own.

Who’s Who

In the ’59 book there is a two-page spread which proposes the ideal senior boy and girl respectively. The characteristics described are right on for the most part and gives you an idea of how a senior stood with his classmates and the personality they had. The Best of the Best is also listed.


Both books have a literary section. In the ’59 book it is in the Senior section and only Seniors’ work is presented. Some subjects discussed were The Security that our government provides for us; the pros and cons of “going steady;” the return of a dead soldier from WWII to his family; a Rockland Tigers’ Evening written by Pat Wade and Prill Newbert, both of whom have left us now. The poem tells a story that borders on juvenile delinquency, a big concern with parents at that time; a look into the possible futures of some of the classmates. It’s fun to look back and see if some of the predictions actually came true. A story about someone’s Ford; Advice to Under Classmates; What High School Has Meant to Me. These were the concerns and comments on the daily lives of the class of 1959.

The Three K’s

Besides all the clubs, sports, and other activities presented in the ’59 book, there is a three page section dedicated to what we called the Three K’s, which meant Kanteen, Kurtis Kampaign, and Kippy Karnival. These were the three main ways of raising funds for the school. The Kanteen was run in the school gym during class out times. The Kurtis Kampaign was actually spelled with C’s instead of K’s. and was our annual magazine drive. It always included prizes for the persons who brought in the most subscriptions. I was terrible at it and never won anything. I did better selling Girl Scout Cookies. Kippy Karnial was a three-day event that charged admission fees to a special entertainment show; special events or activities put on by each class at the high school; a fair type affair where you could play games of skill in the gym for prizes. There was also a ball at which a Kippy Karnival Queen was named as a result of voting for a senior girl who was nominated. Our Queen was Dot Childs.

Minstrel Show

I had forgotten that my senior year at Kippy Karnival included a minstrel show with black face. Such shows were common in the community and at the schools at that time. It was before the days of the Civil Rights Movement. We thought nothing of it. These shows wouldn’t be produced today. Such was the time in our history.

I know that at some point Kippy Karnival was discontinued for lack of interest and other reasons. I believe it was reinstated later on. I don’t know if it continues today or not, but I remember how much fun we had every year when KK time came around.

Today’s History

These days, kids are working more than we did then. If they want to go on to college they often have to keep their noses to the grindstone. I have a lot of sympathy for the kids of today in that respect. Your high school years should be a time of memory-making and living your own personal high school history. It should be a fun time to remember and reminisce about later on at your class reunions and when you get together with your classmates from time to time as the years after high school whiz by you.

I hope you have good memories of your high school experience. I will always remember fondly my years at Rockland High School.

Thanks for listening.

Note: To see more pictures from the 1959 Cauldron please go to the blog space at:
















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