The Farm Chronicles: The Sophomore Class

There were a lot of landmark events in 1938. From The People History Archives: Minimum Hourly Rate of 25 cents, Seabiscuit beats War Admiral, Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia, Germany begins persecution of Jews; the average cost of a new house was $3,900, average resale was $545. Gasoline was 10 cents a gallon. This is the story of Paris Township High School 1938-39 Sophomore Class, the minutes of which were written by Secretary Thelma Humble. Paris High School was one of five township schools in southeastern Portage County, a very rural farming area. In 1938, the Sophomore Class numbered 18, and there were six High School teachers employed.

Paris High School was built in 1912, two stories on a split-level type of a basement, a blonde brick building with a modern outhouses across from the side entrance, coal-fired heat from the boiler room in the basement. It had a combo-stage and basketball court with cold, damp locker rooms beneath the stage big enough for maybe 10 people. The classrooms were large with wood floors and chalk boards extending the full length of one wall. I know, because I attended the school from 1961-1968. But back to 1938. The Sophomore Class met often and it was obsessed with having parties and raising money. The October 7 meeting discussed having a class play to raise money. A party was scheduled for October 26. At a later planning meeting they decided not to have a play because “too many things were going on.”

They decided to sell flowers at the Senior play, but they only made 30 cents. So they appointed a committee to determine “how to make money.” Selling candy was the decision of the committee. They appointed salesmen and an “advertising committee.” From October into January they marketed and sold candy best they could. Secretary Humble writes in her January 9, 1939 minutes, “We had our candy sell and we only made 11 cents because just one person brought their candy.” Then they decided to sell furniture and metal cleaners. And if they sold enough of them, their teacher, Mr. Ott, said “he wouldn’t give us a six weeks test.” That didn’t go so well either. While noting that the boys “had more luck selling cleaners than the girls,” they didn’t have enough money to sponsor a dance, so they had another party.

Secretary Humble’s last entry for the 1938-39 Paris High School Sophomore Class minutes read: “The last day we had a picnic at Woodland Park near Girard. We had a hamburg fry. Carl Wilson, Sam Scott, Punch Milius, and Mr. Ott furnished the transportation. After the picnic, we all went to the show in Warren at the Harris theatre. We saw the history of “Alexander Graham Bell.” We all had a good time.” How do I know all this? That subtle mention of Carl Wilson is the clue. Must have been something special about the “transportation” that day. A landmark event. Thelma Humble and Carl Wilson are my parents. Mom kept those minutes throughout her life. Proverbs 5:18 says, “Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth.” They married young and stayed so for nearly 50 years before my dad went on to be the Lord.

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Bill Wilson