The yearbook of Liberty High School, Liberty, Sullivan County, NY
We at Between the Lakes Group are happy to make this Item of New York State history available once again. We acquired it on eBay, and hope that some find it useful. Given the age that living 1950 Liberty High School grads now are, we expect that this is now of more genealogical interest than it is food for reminiscence.
High school yearbooks are one form of history within which everyone is recorded when they graduate from high school. They, and their community, are frozen at a point in time that the yearbook captures and keeps. Haircuts, clothes, friends, teachers, the sense of humor of the era, the area businesses – they are all captured as they were, not as we choose to remember them or tell our children they were back in the good old days.
The senior this year were born circa 1932-33. The Great Depression was here; the happy times their parents remembered from their own childhoods likely seemed a distant memory. They were in school during World War II, and likely most could tell you how they heard about Pearl Harbor. All knew World War II veterans, and some of them may have had memories of soldiers and sailors who did not make it home from that war. Boys graduating from LHS this year stood a good chance of being drafted or enlisting for the Korean War. And at this writing, surviving class members are 85 or 86 years old.
There are a number of interesting aspects of this yearbook. First off, it was soft covered. Hard covers were still a year or two in the future. The interesting blotches of pink on the pages just inside the cover are not some form of abstract art – they are simply color that has over the decades bled from the covers. Under 70 pages in length, counting covers, it was not an extravagant effort, but it was carefully done.
Something this yearbook has that we’ve not noticed in other yearbooks was the class “Last Will and Testament” – yes, they were a yearbook commonplace back then, but this is the only one we can remember seeing in poetic form. Shakespeare it is not, but it is an interesting touch.
Gender roles were pretty absolute in 1950. Girls took home economics. Boys took shop, with long-time shop teachers AuClair and Burnham already in place. There don’t seem to have been any shop clubs for either boys or girls, but we note that there was a “Charm Club” that presumably was intended for girls who wished to improve their prospects in the matrimonial department. Something interesting here: there were two clubs for boys, the Bachelors Club and the Chefs Club, in the Home Economics department. These clubs, which sought to teach boys to cook and to keep house, seem to be a bit discordant. With sex roles still tightly defined, the popularity of these is hard to explain, even in retrospect.
Cheerleading remained the only sport for girls. Basketball, which had been a girls’ sport as well as one for boys decades earlier, seems to be long gone at this point. The boys’ sports: football, basketball, wrestling, track, baseball, and golf, were Liberty’s traditional mainstays. One interesting addition to this book: people occasionally used yearbooks to collect clippings about graduates. One such – a sad one – is the last page of this file.
At the same time, the Golden Age of the resorts was dawning, and fast. While we see no references to Liberty’s place in the resort community, it was certainly well established by this time and was growing. The O&W Railroad was still in business, although fading fast. The Route 17 Quickway was not yet there, and the trip by car to NYC was a four-hour adventure, likely with a stop at the Red Apple Rest.
Telephones were black, had coiled cords, and were usually found one to a household – and your parents overheard every word you said. Your neighbors may have as well, on the party lines that were still common. Television sets, on the other hand, were still scarce, and reception, such as it was, was entirely in black and white, and often snowy.
1950 was genuinely a long time ago. This yearbook captures it nicely, we think.
Want to capture this bit of history for yourself? CLICK HERE to go to our Liberty, New York page.
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Meanwhile, enjoy this bit of New York State history!