Young Folks to Dance

January 18, 1907 fell on a Friday in 1907. That day, the Norwalk Evening Herald had a short article for the next day, announcing a dance would be held Saturday evening for certain young people of the town, sponsored by the Omicon Pi Club of Sandusky.

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Here’s a mystery! Who were the Omicron Pi Club. A Google search turned up no club of that name in Sandusky. I found several fraternities and sororities with those two Greek characters in their names, but nothing that matched.

Several members of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907 were invited to this dance: Florence Bascom, Ruby Hoyt, and Steve Young.

florence-bascom-commencement-photo-1907Florence Bascom lived at 90 Linwood Avenue, southwest of downtown, with her father William, a blacksmith, her mother, and her brother Harry, two years her elder, already a high school graduate and probably employed as a clerk at the coal office of the Cleveland Railroad. Not a wealthy family, but their life must have been comfortable at that time.

ruby-hoyt-commencement-photo-1907The Hoyt family lived at 55 Linwood, only a few houses north of the Bascoms. Ruby Hoyt’s father had died in 1901, so in 1907, she was living with her mother Emma and her elder brother Leon and sister Charlotte. Her siblings both worked: Charlotte was a teacher, and Leon a Marine Officer (which makes me think he did not live at home).

stephen-young-commencement-photo-1907Stephen Young came from a different class than his two classmates invited to this dance. His father was a lawyer with his own private practice. The Young family lived at 64 West Main Street, not far from downtown. His father was well respected and a leading member of the community. What is the connection with the other two members of the class.

So why were these three young people invited to this dance and why were other members of the Class of 1907 not invited? I do not know.

 

 

 

Norwalk, Ohio High School Class of 1907

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Norwalk High School Class of 1907: Front Row: Ruth Jenkins, Irene Eline, Irene Bragdon, Myrtle Woodruff. Second Row: Lillian Smith, Eugene Bloxham, Arthur Young, Carrie Spurrier, Harriott Wickham, Robert Venus, Ruby Hoyt. Third Row: Sarah Barnett, Fred Osborne, Nina Humiston, Earl Sinclair, Florence Davidson, Inez Adams, Stephen Young, Fred French. Fourth Row: Homer Beattie, Florence Bascom, Alice McCammon, Sheldon Laning, Edna West, Harry Holiday, Cleo Collins.

How many times have you come across an old family photo, but have no idea of the identity of the people in it? Unfortunately, too often our ancestors neglected to scrawl identifying information on the backs of their photos. Fortunately for me, my grandmother Harriott Wickham (second row, third from left in the photo above) understood how important it is to record names of people in her photos for future generations. She not only preserved this photo of her graduating class, she also recorded her classmates’ names on an accompanying scrap of paper.

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Old Norwalk High School

The members of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907 are no more. But in their day, at the beginning of their adult lives, they were full of enthusiasm and hope for the future. As I gazed at their faces, so serious, yet so full of life, I wondered who they were and how they lived their lives? I decided to find out.

Not only had my grandmother recorded the names of her classmates, she kept a diaries during those years that describe many of them and tell of her interactions with them. Unfortunately, the diary for her senior year is missing, but she did preserve one for May 1908 to May 1909. From it, and from information I gleaned from research, I began to form a picture of these young people and their families; of where they came from and how they spent their senior year–and the rest of their lives.

What did they do? In small town America of the early 20th Century, young people went to balls, hung out at the library, formed societies, performed in plays and concerts, and played basketball (both boys and girls). They had séances and house parties and spent their summers in cottages on Lake Erie, lazing away the days and dancing at “The Grove” at Ruggles Beach at night.

Who were they and their families? What stock did they come from and how did they spend their lives after graduation? Because I have their names, I’ve been able to answer some of those questions. One of the young men in the photo became a U.S. Senator, but the rest of the the class led ordinary lives: some did not do well, some of them had successful careers. But each one of them has a story I want to tell.

Using my grandma’s diaries and research on the internet, I’m continuing to flesh out the stories behind these faces. Over the next year, I’ll post what I’ve learned–and what I don’t know. I ask your help as I take this journey: to correct my mistakes, and to add your stories to the tale of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907.

 

Please like this post and let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you.

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