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.

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