High, Part 1
Byesville wasnt a big town the population was about 2,700 but it was thriving. This is a little dated, but it comes from the 1911 History of Guernsey County, Ohio, by Col. Cyrus P. B. Sarchet.
We did have a bigger city nearby: Cambridge, the county seat. It had five times the population and was only five miles away. But little old Byesville was big enough for a farm girl like me.
My last summer before starting high school, all of us got together in August and we took some pictures. In this first one, notice the three boys in the white shirts. I forget the name of the one on the left, but thats my big brother James in the middle and my bigger brother Ralph on the right. Ralph had already graduated from high school, and he was going to work for Kresges dime stores up in Michigan. Oh, and that older lady in the back? Thats my grandmother Mary.
You can find another photo here. And there are two more below; I marked the first one Sittin Pretty and the other one Standin in a Row. Obvious titles, I suppose.
The next month, September of 1927, I became a freshman at Byesville High School.
The House of Knowledge was a new building, only three years old, and it had a very impressive stairway in front.
My brother James was a junior that year, and he was president of his class. In the picture above, hes standing behind some of the other junior boys. And thats his senior picture on the right. Jim's class was the same size as mine, with 40 students in it.
I don't remember much that happened when I was a freshman. But the next year, they started up a school newspaper that came out twice a month. They called it The Blue and White. I still have some old issues, and maybe they will jog my memory.
That winter, it would have been December of 1928, the big news was that our principal Mr. Scourfield got married. The girl he married, Thelma Gollop, was from the Class of 1925. When the principal came back to school on the Monday after the wedding, he tried to give a quiz to his physics students, but instead of writing down their answers they wrote him letters of congratulation. I guess he let that pass.
But Mr. Scourfield showed no leniency when it came to heel plates. These were little pieces of steel that some of the boys attached to the heels of their shoes. The plates made a clicking sound when the boys walked on the hard floors. The boys thought that was neat, but the principal certainly didnt, and hed come storming out of his office if someone walked by a-clickin. (Didnt you tell me, Tom, that when you were in high school 35 years later, some of the rougher sort of boys were still getting reprimanded because they had taps on their heels?)
When Governor Cooper was inaugurated in January of 29, they installed a radio in the school so we could all listen in. They even talked about letting us listen to broadcasts from the Ohio School of the Air on a regular basis. And then a couple of months later, Bernard Heskett got to broadcast over the radio himself, on WEBE. Bernard was the manager of the high school basketball team that year. (Just like you, Tom.)
Thats Bernie on the left in the back row. Our principal Mr. Scourfield is on the right; he was also the basketball coach until they hired Coach Malcolm Garner for the next season.
Speaking of radio, it was quite a fad back then. At the Junior-Senior Banquet in April of 1929, the menu included Chicken a la Heterodyne with Microphone Potatoes, Bean Tubes, and Kilocycle Cabbage. I guess all those are radio terms. And then after dinner, the Junior-Senior Network put on a radio program. The chief announcer was Thearle Conroy.
Coca-Cola bought an ad in The Blue and White in October 1930 inviting people to listen to their weekly program on a Pittsburgh station. Tune in on station KDKA every Wednesday. Coca-Cola Dance Orchestra. Grantland Rice interviewing sports champions. Broadcast from NBC New York Studios. When the ad ran again in November, the band was an all-string 31-piece dance orchestra, and three different stations were mentioned: the Pittsburgh affiliate had changed to WCAE (which later became WTAE and then WEAE), and the other two were WSAI from Cincinnati and WTAM from Cleveland.
Several stores in town sold radio sets. You could buy a Crosley radio at Eggers appliance store, where the phone number was 1. Jimmie Hoag sold the Orpheus-Leader. Mr. Thompson had the Stewart-Warner and also the Philco. I remember the Majestic, which came in a low boy table model and a high boy floor model that was $30 more.
These sets were expensive. In those days, you could buy a brand-new car for only $585, the price that Shaw & Larrick advertised for a 1930 Whippet four-door sedan. A new radio cost about a quarter of that, or around $150 without the tubes, which you had to buy separately.
But radio prices did come down. By the spring of 1930, they were advertising a Majestic complete with eight tubes for only $116.50. By that fall, you could get a little Crosley for $59.50 complete only a tenth the price of a Whippet.
A lot of businesses in town sold automobiles, too. New and improved models were introduced every year. Shaw & Larrick were the dealers for Willys-Overland cars, like the Whippet Four and the Willys Six. The Bates Garage had the Hudson and the Essex. And Korte Brothers advertised Chevrolet sales and service.
Gregg & Atherton sold Fords. In their ads they downplayed the fact that they had been offering the same old Model A since 1927. At the same time, they played up the founder of the company, everybodys hero: Henry Ford has added two new body types to the already complete line of Model As.
Drivers could buy Sohio gas and oil at Hoag Electric. Jack Archer had a filling station, and so did Myron Slay, who sold Cities Service gasoline at the Sunrise Park Filling Station. For posterity, I took a picture of a fillin station, with its two gasoline pumps set back from the road.
The Blue and White became an even better student newspaper when I myself wrote an article for it in March of 29. It was called At a Basketball Game. You didnt know your mother was a sports columnist when she was just a 16-year-old sophomore, did you? Here it is.
We were really proud of our basketball team, and we did get all excited and jumped up and down and screamed and everything. I think I told you, Tom, about the night we were playing in a tournament at the McMahon Gym over in Cambridge. I went to Cambridge early so I could shop. I bought a record, some song that I really liked. Back in those days, records were big black 78-rpm disks made out of shellac, and they were fragile. Well, when I got to the gym I laid my things on the floor by my seat, and of course the game got exciting and we started jumping around and cheering, and of course I forgot about the record. Sure enough, when I went to leave, it was broken. I was so disappointed.