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Release of Census Data Evokes Memories of Youth

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News
on April 27, 2002


For class of '30, life was good

By Roz Young

            THE MORNING I woke up and found that the government had released the 1930 Census statistics, I was upset. It was as if those of us who were around here in 1930 didn't matter anymore, but were dead characters to be put under the microscope of history and studied like some curiosities from days of ancient history.

            There are many of us left alive from 1930 and still functioning. You will be surprised to learn what life was like in the 1930s. That was the year when we graduated from high school. I don't know what graduating from the other Dayton high schools - Stivers and Roosevelt - was like, but to graduate from Steele High School was a big deal.

            In the first place, all the social activities that took place were planned by the clubs, and there were several in Steele - Eccritean, Philomathean and Spur, to mention three. If you belonged to those, you were invited to the senior prom. If you didn't, you skipped the prom. I was not one of the club members, so I did not have a date to the prom, which relieved my mother from having to get a prom dress. But we still had to have a baccalaureate dress, an outfit for class day and a commencement dress.

            In those days, anybody who was anybody did not go into a store and buy a ready-made dress. You had to have a dressmaker.

            My mother hired a dressmaker, and we bought the material from Mrs. Thomas, who came to the house with swatches of silks and other dress materials on cardboard tickets. I had a special dress for baccalaureate, very dressy, with a skirt that was longer in back than in front, a hat for baccalaureate, long white kidskin gloves, a blue sports dress and coat to match for class day, and white chiffon for commencement.

            The rules were that we had to wear white silk stockings for commencement. When we got to the commencement, Corrinne Ashmun wore tan stockings instead of white, and I could have killed her for it.

            Baccalaureate was at the First Baptist Church, and all I remember was that the speaker said we should be worthy to be lionized (the lion was our Steele mascot). I don't remember a thing from class day except the outfit I wore, and the commencement was on the stage at NCR Schoolhouse. The girls each carried an arm bouquet of red carnations, and we passed them to the aisles and lined the aisle with the bouquets. They were furnished by the father of Olive Rodgers, who was in our class.

            Somebody gave a speech, we sang our class song, which had been written by one of the members, and the alma mater, collected our diplomas and that was it.

            At the time I thought, `We will never be together again,' and upon that solemn thought I joined my parents for a soda afterwards.

            My best girl friend, Alice Kurtz, whom I had met every afternoon during high school at Rike's for a cherry Coke and every evening at a restaurant at Parkwood and Main for another, was going to Wittenberg. I was slated for Oberlin with some other members of our class.

            We kept up our high school friendship until college began in the fall, and life was never the same again. But life was good in the 1930s.