Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Banner Year

A couple weeks back I went to an estate sale at an old farmhouse in Jefferson County.  I wasn't expecting much as rural folk tend to have fewer frivoulous items and this was not an exception.  However, while looking through some books, I came across a a couple yearbooks from the 1940's.  I'm always baffled how a family can let items like these go.  People ask me why I would want someone else's yearbook.  First of all, at a quarter, I don't have much to lose.  But also, I think I want them because somebody else didn't.    I become keeper of someone else's memories.  I just realized something.  My home has become the Island of Misfit Memories.   Memories cast off by others, gathered, sheltered and seeking a new home.  And I now have a new category for my posts!

The book I chose to profile is the 1945 edition.  The book is from Kulpmont High School in Kulpmont, Pennsylvania or more appropriately, the newly (in 1945) rechristened Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial High School.

Within the first few pages, I came across and was struck by this:

Frank Surzinski had a sister(?) who was a senior in this graduating class.

The war was getting ready to wrap up, but many of the boys in this graduating class would still be heading into service, not college.

Note the annotations reflecting killed, missing or prisoner of war:

Most of the boys on this page don't look a bit concerned about it though.  Well, maybe Walter Kaminsky was a little.  There are a lot of "skis" and "skys" in the book.  Kulpmont must have a large Russian and Polish community.

I love these vintage football poses:

The High School band.  I didn't know the megaphone was an instrument.

The Radio and Stamp Clubs.  I wonder if the Radio Club was a listening or a technical group:

 Predictions of what would become of their fellow classmates:

I love their prediction for Ronald Haas:

For the kids in the audience, a Pultritude Scout is a young man who scopes out the fairer sex, usually in a lascivious manner. What do you think?  Guilty as charged?


You can't argue with the tune they chose as a cover to the class song:

I had no idea Smoke Gets in Your Eyes was older than The Platters' version, but found that it actually dates to 1933.

And now a word from your sponsor:

If you grew up in the 60's or 70's, you'll recognize the publisher from comic book ads promising "Cash Profits and Free Prizes!":

Vintage Ad #75 - Geeky Boys Sell GRIT!

Grit is a Pennsylvania publishing house, local to our Kulpmont High.  They are still in print today, although they've become a glossy magazine.


  1. Great post. I love old yearbooks; they're a great time capsule for ages long gone. Not only that, I believe they're much more reflective of everyday youth fashion and hairstyles of the period, since most yearbook pics were done on campus, hoping to catch the student body in their natural element (at least that was my experience growing up in the '70s-'80s).

    You're lucky to have found this specimen. It's a great one. Unfortunately in all my years of thrifting I didn't find many yearbooks; maybe just a couple here and there. But there is one that got away—a Compton High School yearbook from 1929. Yes, the same Compton from "Straight Outta.." highlighting NWA's career in gangsta rap. What a completely different world Compton was in 1929...I mean, every single person was white. Sigh...when I found it they were selling it for $12, which was a little beyond my budget. So I figured I go back a couple of days later when I had the cash, and it was gone.

    I think that Radio Club was more of a tech geek kinda thing, where they perhaps built, hacked and listened to radios. And it seems that a few of those people in that cargo plane shot were pasted in (observe their "ghostly" appearance)...not a bad job for a time wayyy before photoshop, lol. =)

    1. Glad you enjoyed, Narvo. I like to browse old yearbooks as well, great windows to the past. I actually ended up selling this yearbook on eBay to the daughter of one of the students. I would guess you're right about the Radio Club.


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