Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Salyers Twins Move to the University of Kentucky – and Take Their Parents and Little Brother With Them

Mary Alice and James R. Salyers, c1930
While most students leave their parents to go to college, twins Jim and Mary Alice Salyers took their parents – and their little brother – to college with them (well, at least to the town where the college was).

The scrapbooks for 1927-1929 had little to say about the family's time in Richmond, just a few pages of tidbits shared in last week's post. Suddenly, without preface or preamble, the scrapbooks show the family living in Lexington, and Jim and Mary Alice are enrolled as sophomores at the University of Kentucky. The whole household had once again picked up and moved!

The "college years" scrapbooks are full of stories, letters, and photos about their life in Lexington and at UK. Let's start at the beginning of the 1929-1930 school year.

Right off the bat, Mary Alice applied for a job on campus at the Margaret I. King Library. This letter  of recommendation from her library science teacher at Eastern was a treat to find, because it includes both history and foreshadowing. Margaret King was UK's first librarian. The campus library named in her honor continues to be respected throughout the region. Mary Alice got the job and started working with Ms. King, and she eventually became a professional librarian herself. Jim also worked for various employers on campus and in town, mostly at jobs involving sales.

Both Mary Alice and Jim participated in Greek rush. Jim was initiated into Kappa Sigma in the fall of 1929 with eight others, including another young man from Jim's home town of Carrollton, Kentucky.
Mary Alice pledged Kappa Delta. The sorority accepted 13 pledges on a Friday, a circumstance that, by superstition, caused an ominous start to Greek life for the pledge class. The story in this unsourced, undated clipping probably appeared in Kentucky Kernel, the UK student newspaper. Other items in the scrapbooks confirm that the year was 1929.
Big brother Bob, now a graduate of Eastern and the advertising manager for Moore Brothers Company in Illinois, supported his younger siblings in their quest for fraternity/sorority membership. This note to Bob, its sender unknown, indicates that Bob may have lobbied with the fraternity chapter's pledge master on Jim's behalf.
Mary Alice, who had been considering several sororities, wrote to Bob a few times asking for advice. Once she settled on Kappa Delta, she informed him by telegram.
By December, both Mary Alice and Jim were sending Christmas cards emblazoned with Greek insignia.
The following card indicates that mother Sarah Eva Howe Salyers, true to form, welcomed her children's fraternity and sorority friends into the Salyers home and became more or less a "mom" to those whose families lived far away. At least once she sent Jim to the fraternity house with a cake. No wonder she got this card from her "Kappa Sig boys." 
Both Mary Alice and Bob also got involved in the Kentucky Kernel student newspaper. Here is one of Mary Alice's first story assignment slips:
In the next image, Mary Alice (standing in front of the light-colored wall) is surrounded by others on the Kernel editorial staff. Most of the students look so serious!
I cannot say whether or not Jim ever wrote for the Kernel, but I know he joined the paper's business staff. Because he had experience in selling, I suspect he sold advertising space in the Kernel. He was involved enough to be elected treasurer of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Press Association, an organization that is still an active supporter of college journalism. (Note that UK was then known as "State.")

So began a busy student life for Jim and Mary Alice at the University of Kentucky. The scrapbooks are full of notes and letters, dance and party invitations, clippings about Greek events, and other mementos of college days the early 1930s. Stay tuned!

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