Sunday, April 29, 2018

Family Milestones Galore – Yet the Scrapbooks Make Us Speculate About the Salyers Family's Time in Richmond

In the fall of 1927, for the first time in their lives, the three younger Salyers children registered for school somewhere other than their hometown of Carrollton, Kentucky. They had moved with their parents to Richmond, where their big brother Bob was attending Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College. Twins Mary Alice and Jim entered Madison High for their senior year, and little brother David entered seventh grade in the school's junior high division.

Based on its place in a scrapbook, the photo below may have been taken soon after the move from Carrollton to Richmond. The Salyers brothers are standing in front of a large sign or billboard. All I can make out in the sign is a string of pearls. Knowing this bunch, I'm sure there's a joke involved.
As they did in Carrollton, the boys were involved in sports. This article includes David as a member of the winning Smith-Ballard community baseball team. Other clippings tell us he played basketball on the junior high school Freshmen Mountain Lions.
Here we learn of David's involvement with the school newspaper. All four of the Salyers siblings were journalists in high school and college.
I am surprised that the scrapbooks for this period don't include much about Mary Alice or Jim and their senior year activities, not even graduation pictures. Because the twins were new in the community and the school, knowing they would be moving on to college the following fall, did they not get involved in school activities? It's hard to imagine them just going through the motions, but I've found nothing about their high school senior year.

While the family lived in Richmond, Mary Alice apparently visited Cumberland Falls. A high school field trip? A senior trip? A church group get-away? There are no hints in the scrapbook. Her mother, Sarah, wrote above the picture only her daughter's initials and the location.
In the fall of 1928, Mary Alice and Jim enrolled at Eastern. The scrapbooks include little about their freshman year, but a bit of research turned up this image of the masthead in the college newspaper published on Feb. 2, 1929. Mary Alice is listed as the paper's feature editor – pretty good for a freshman! Her big brother Bob is the paper's editor in chief.
 Eastern Kentucky University, "Eastern Progress - 2 Feb 1929" (1929). Eastern Progress 1928-1929. 8.
At the end of that school year, Bob received his diploma from Eastern and soon joined the full-time work force. He got a job with Moore Stove Company (where his dad worked) and moved to the company's home office in Joliet, Illinois. He soon became the company's advertising manager.
Robert King Salyers in Richmond, Ky., on college graduation day 1928
The Salyers family lived in Richmond for two years. During that time, they experienced many of life's traditional milestones: David going to junior high; Mary Alice and Jim's senior year of high school and their first year of college; Bob's graduation from Eastern. Yet the scrapbooks yield little information about that time – and nothing about parents Sarah and Will. The opposite is true of their time in Lexington. Multiple scrapbooks include pictures, letters, clippings, and hand-written comments. Future posts will share stories about the whole family during the Lexington years, when David was a student at Henry Clay High and Mary Alice and Jim were at the University of Kentucky.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A New Chapter: The Howe-Salyers Family Moves from Hometown Carrollton to College Town Richmond

In the spring of 1927, Mary Alice and Jim, twins of Will and Sarah Eva Howe Salyers of Carrollton, completed their junior year at Carrollton High. Not many parents would consider uprooting a family and relocating to another town with two children entering that all-important senior year of high school, but that's what Will and Sarah did.

The scrapbooks don't offer a reason for their decision, but consider this possibility: Eldest child Bob had been attending the University of Kentucky in Lexington and decided (for reasons I haven't discovered) to transfer to Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College in Richmond. Three of the four Salyers children would be in Richmond, which was even farther away from home. Will traveled regionally in his job, so he could continue without missing a beat, no matter where in Kentucky he lived. The youngest child, David, would be entering his first year of junior high, so he was at a natural transition point in his schooling. I theorize it was just easier (and more economical during those economically depressed times) for this family – including Sarah's mother and sister – to live in Richmond than in Carrollton. Besides, this family was a living example of "close-knit." Whatever their reasons, off they went! A newspaper story in the Carrollton paper (likely the Democrat) covered the story. You can read at right Carrollton's farewell to the family and appreciation of their value to the community.

The family packed up their belongings at 716 5th Street in Carrollton and hired a moving company to haul the furniture and heavy boxes. Will and sons Jim and David drove to Richmond in the family car. Bob rode in the moving van.
Jim (behind the wheel), David, and Will (barely visible in the front passenger seat) drove from Carrollton to Richmond in the family car, known as the "Gray Job" and the "Topless Wonder."
Sarah and Mary Alice took a bus, carrying with them some of the smaller last-minute items. The trip was not without mishap. As Mary Alice said in a letter to friend Grace Supplee: "Such a trip! Characteristic of the Salyers family, it couldn’t pass uneventfully." The best way to share their adventure is through excerpts from that letter:

We reached Shelbyville without any trouble – the bus was so comfortable, the day so perfect, the driver so courteous, and everything so nice that it couldn’t have been better. At Shelbyville we changed busses [sic] and started "on to Lexington" in a more comfortable, almost luxurious bus and everything seemed more perfect than before. Now here’s where The Box comes in. (The reason for capitalizing it will soon be very plain.) 

You remember the box . . . into which Mother had dumped everything that had been found at the last minute? The big one on which you so carefully wrote our address? And remember how Mother and I carried it down from your house by the string, thus loosening aforesaid string? Well, at Shelbyville the bus driver had swung it up on the top of the bus, along with the basket of flowers, which was already a standing joke between us and the new bus driver (he was Irish!).

We were traveling quietly along somewhere between Frankfort and Versailles when an automobile went by, whose driver called back “Hey, you’re losing something off the top of your bus!” The bus stopped, and our driver got out to see what was wrong. The bus driver [returned] and said “The top of your box has come off, so I put it inside.” Just as the bus was about to start, Mother said to me “Do you reckon anything was lost out? Your new slicker and new hat were in the top of that box.” She went back and looked, and sure enough, they were gone! She rushed up to the front of the bus and told the driver that we had lost about $20 worth of stuff out of that box, and she would have to go back. [That $20 would equal almost $290 today!] The driver was distressed to death, for of course he couldn’t take time to go back with the bus, and still he didn’t want her to go back by herself. When he saw that she was determined to go, he hailed a car going by, which took her in, leaving me to go on to Lexington by myself (and with The Box, which was worse). She had said as she left that she would catch a ride into Lexington and meet me there, so, since I knew that there were cars passing (almost one a minute) to Lexington all the time, I felt a little easier.
The scrapbooks include no photo of the bus. This image from Northern Kentucky Views shows a vintage interurban bus – complete with rooftop luggage rack – that served Carrollton back in the day. Maybe it is similar to the one Sarah and Mary Alice took from Carrollton to Shelbyville. The bus from Shelbyville to Lexington may have been larger.
When we got to Lexington, I got out and stood a few minutes on the sidewalk to see about my baggage (as is customary). As I stood near the end of the bus, I happened to glance in where The Box was, and my heart sank “clear to my toenails.” Grace, you never saw such a mess! As you may remember, the box had two separate lids, one on top and the other on the bottom –– that is, just alike on both ends. Well, the four sides, having lost one lid, had linked together and, in the jolting of the bus, separated from the other one, thus spilling most of the contents of The Box out onto the seat! I nearly expired at the thought of getting it back together and getting it inside, especially as my arms were full to overflowing with the mandolin, the smaller box (the other one you addressed), a book that we had forgotten to pack, two small packages, Mother’s coat, and the pocketbook. So you see how much room I had for a basket of flowers and that terrible Box – even if I could put it together. Just as I was standing there wondering what would be the quickest and quietest way to commit suicide, the bus driver (the angel!) came hurrying up and said, “We’ll try to put your box together for you, lady. ... I could have hugged him where he stood! (He was good-looking anyway, but alas! middle-aged and probably married – he had that married look!) I hadn’t been there very long when that “Angel Disguised as a Bus Driver” came in to inform me that while putting The Box together, he had found a slicker and wondered if that was the one we had thought was lost. I went out to the bus with him, and there, sure enough, was the slicker! (It was my alligator-skin-looking one that Uncle Joe gave me.) A further search at the bottom of The Box disclosed my new hat, and then I realized what had happened. In being put on the bus at Shelbyville, it had been turned upside down and instead of the top it was the bottom which had come off! Of course, Mother never thought of that, and knowing that the slicker and hat had been at the top, naturally supposed them to be lost.

Mr. McGaughey [the bus driver], after giving me some fatherly advice and reassuring me again and again that he was sure Mother would get there all right and for me not to worry, etc., etc. . . . had to leave and go back to his bus (not until, however, he had received my most heartfelt, earnest thanks and appreciation! I sat down to wait, keeping my "eye peeled” for Mother, and hadn’t long to wait before she appeared. She had gone back about a mile in the car we hailed, finding papers strewn all along the way (magazine stories we had saved) but no slicker or hat. The two ladies in the car were so interested in her search and stopped at several filling stations for her to inquire if anything had been brought in that might be from The Box. Then just after they had to turn in a lane leading to their house, leaving her “by the side of the road,” an opulent-looking car came along, which she hailed to ask if they had seen anything of the lost articles. The driver was an awfully nice-looking man who said that he hadn’t seen them, but that he was going on to Lexington –– hearing which, Mother asked him if she might ride in with him (you see, Lexington wasn’t very far away). A few minutes after they started she found out that he was Mr. Netz, the man who, as representative of the company, bought the bridge down at Carrollton. We had heard so much about him and had taken so many telephone messages from him to Mr. Newman, that Mother felt like she knew him well, although she had never seen him before. He remembers hearing about us, and of course, calling up at our house so much, so they had a fine time going into Lexington that when they got to the bus station, he asked if he might wait a minute and see if, by chance, they had been turned in, or I had found them or anything. So as soon as Mother got in the station she took me back out to tell him about finding them. And thus I got to meet the great Mr. Netz, of whom I had heard so much.

We reached Richmond and the Goodloe Apartments –- which, as I prophesied, were in the awfullest mess imaginable. Everything had to be changed from where it was, so we worked like horses all the rest of the day. Grandma and Aunt Leonora came that night, so I went over to Loraine’s to stay all night, giving them my room. When we told Grandma all about The Box, etc., she said “What a shame it had to happen that way,” but I said “Shame my eye! We wouldn’t have had it different for anything. I never had so much fun in my life!” 

Sarah's mother Alice Ada Cost Howe standing outside Goodloe Apartments, where the Howe-Salyers family lived from the summer of 1927 to the summer of 1929.
A segment of the letter from Mary Alice to her friend Grace. Mary Alice noted that she hand-copied the letter so she could include the story of The Box in the scrapbook.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bits & Pieces: Humor, Mission Work, and Insight into the Gregarious Salyers Brothers

Hello again. I'm back from vacation with just enough time to develop a blog post in time to publish at the usual Sunday morning time. Today we'll look at some bits and pieces from scrapbooks Sarah Eva Howe Salyers compiled in the early 1930s. Some of these items take us back in time, but several seem relevant now, almost 90 years later.

The Howe-Salyers family named every car they owned or used over the years. The car below is "Old Bouci." A discovery elsewhere in another scrapbook hints that "Bouci" could be based on a character Sarah played in a community theater production in Lexington in the 1930s. On the other hand, the three Salyers brothers, all readers and thinkers, may have named the car after reading about a 1300s French knight known as Boucicaut. The knight was quite popular with the ladies. That sounds like a reference these young men would have enjoyed, whether they were bragging or poking fun at themselves.

We'll also never know for sure why this next item was in the scrapbooks. I'd love to know which person found this cartoon worthy of keeping and what it meant to them. (Of course, I could be overthinking this. Maybe it was just funny to somebody!)
I've seen in the scrapbooks several letters from politicians, actors, singers, and other well-known people. The Salyers children apparently liked to write letters to public figures and receive responses.  Here is one example: In early 1932, Sarah's youngest child, 16-year-old David, wrote to Morton Downey, a popular singer whose son is credited (blamed?) for pioneering the "trash TV" talk show format in the 1980s). David asked the star to include specific songs on his nightly radio program, "Camel Quarter Hour." David received this response dated Feb. 15, 1932. No word on whether or not the singer fulfilled David's request, and no idea why David's brother Jim wrote his initials and an undecipherable word on the letter. (If you knew Jim, though, you'd know that he wrote his initials and undecipherable messages on a lot of things!)
David also saved these next bits of paper related to his days at Lexington's Henry Clay High School, where he received his diploma in 1933. The montage includes a football game ticket, a construction paper "Blue Devil" school mascot, and a cartoon, probably from 1932. I suppose the issue of sponsors in athletics may have been up for discussion even then. When I saw the cartoon, my first thought was of this decade's debates about allowing thoroughbred racing jockeys to display sponsors' names or insignia on their riding silks.

Another curious clipping is this ad for Ballyhoo, an irreverant humor magazine published by Dell from 1931 until 1939. It featured cartoons, jokes, parodies of major newspapers, and barbed comments about advertising, politicians, cultural trends, and life in general. It's easy to imagine the Howe-Salyers family subscribing and appreciating this publication. This ad for Ballyhoo parodies the ad industry's penchant for overblown claims by making overblown claims itself. I think damage to the paper erased two letters from the headline, which apparently was the quirkly term "LAPSE FOBIA."
 While we're on the topic of ads, here's one that I include just because I find it whimsical and charming. 

In a scrapbook filled with 1930s items is this piece from the 1920s. Various committees and organizations throughout the U.S., including the women's missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, sold "China Life-Saving Stamps" to raise funds to provide food for the people of China. Each stamp cost 3 cents, which was said to buy enough food to feed one person for one day. (An online inflation calculator says that 3 cents would now equate to 42 cents or so.) Buyers pledged to increase awareness of China's plight by placing a stamp on the back of every piece of mail they sent. Sarah was an active member of the Carrollton Methodist Episcopal Church and was involved in organizing the church's Chinese Famine Fund.

Next, a nostalgic look at what came to be Morton Junior High in Lexington, built at the corner of Short and Walnut streets, the site of the city's first public school. This is how that corner looked circa 1930, when Sarah and her family moved to the city from Richmond. Son David attended this school before he enrolled at Henry Clay High. He was in the school's "senior" class (ninth grade) of 1930. I know Short Street is still there, but I think development may have erased Walnut Street.
The same scrapbook included this composite of the school faculty: N. Isabel Schmidt (principal), Tomie Bronston, Anna Louise Connor, Fan Lee Dalzell, Catherine Dunne, Laura Harp, Elizabeth Henry, Lena O. Johnson, Elizabeth Morris, Marylark Nichols, Laura Parrish, Martha Payne, Florence B. Ralston, Katherine Rankin, and Katherine Walker.
This list of the teaching staff (below) includes these educators who are not included in the composite: Coleman Alford, Paul Averitt, Ruth Bartlett, G.R. Griffith, Marcia Lamport, Ernestine Ligon, Maude McInteer, Theresa Newhoff, Mary K. Stoner, Phoebe B. Worth, Sarah Walker, and Wallace Williams.

To end this "Bits & Pieces" post on a light note, I include a paragraph published circa 1933, probably clipped from a University of Kentucky fraternity newspaper by one of the Salyers brothers.
With that, I bid you a fond farewell for another week. I'm eager to see what I'll find to share with you next. I hope you'll stay tuned.