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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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KCKS Public School System, 1819-1961
by Nellie McGuinn
Copyright USD 500, Feb 1966

Return to Previous Section 1918

1919

Although the war ended on November 1, 1918, it was well into the new year before the troops started coming home.  Enthusiastic welcomes awaited them.  One cold, snowy evening, February 14, 1919, 300 town people waited for four hours for a Missouri Pacific train at Third and Washington.  Five hundred Kansas soldiers, clean and refreshed after a long train ride, enjoyed a supper prepared for them at the high school.  Led by a band, they marched up the Avenue after midnight to dances held for them at the Union Club and Grossman's Hall.

Richard Naylor of Hawthorne won an essay contest sponsored by the American Red Cross.  Russian orphans at Archangel sent a hemstitched handkerchief to Kansas City children as a reward for the city's activities during the war.  The handkerchief went to Richard for writing the best letter to the Russian children.

Lela Douthart returned June 1 from Red Cross work in France.  She told how in 1910, she had been so impressed by the Passion Play at Oberammergau that she once told a group of how school girls she would champion a group, if they were still single, to see the play in 1920.  The performance, of course, was canceled, but of the 75 or 100 girls who promised to go, 99 44/100 were married in 1919.  Miss Douthart left in October to become Dean of Women at the University of Wisconsin.

Elizabeth Flagg served ten months overseas with the YMCA as librarian at Dijon, France.  She became part of the Education Corps at the end of the war, but returned in the fall as a mathematics teacher.  Kate Cowick, also in France with the Red Cross, returned during the summer of 1919.  Lucy Dougherty resumed mathematics teaching also upon her return.  She had worked in Belgium feeding undernourished children.  Miss Guila Adams had entertained soldiers with her readings.  These women were much in demand as speakers before groups.

In the big parade on November 11, Armistice Day, children carrying flags made up the largest unit.  Instead of an elaborate Junior Red Cross Program in the schools, the state sponsored and cartoon contest for school children.  Prizes were awarded and an exhibit of best work held in Topeka.  A new Junior Red Cross magazine began in September 1919.  Its first slogan was "Go Forth and Serve," and the contents were about France.

During the third Red Cross Drive, high school boys formed one hundred teams and spent four hours going to every house in the city.  They collected $1100 and were rewarded with a supper at the Masonic Temple on November 4.  The Red Cross sponsored nurses for the city and county.  The Junior Red Cross set up a project in the schools, known as the "Health Crusade."  Weight cards were issued to children, and charts for establishing good health habits kept.

The Department of Education in Washington recognized the work of Americanization here and gave it national prominence in February, 1919.  Foreigners were credited with having their own good leaders to help in promoting class attendance.  Warden J. K. Codding praised the night schools and told of how they were serving 2300 people at a cost of only $5000.  I. B. Morgan expanded his field by going at noon to talk to unions and to machine shop and packing house workers.  At Christmas time a Vocation Bureau was set up at the library and Mr. Morgan early in December placed 25 girls at the Jones Store Company.

The food shortage, felt during the war, kept the gardeners in action.  As early as February, 1919, there were 9,000 children enrolled for home gardening.  Under W. W. Thomas, supervisor of nature study, an elaborate system was set up.  Non-gardeners had to file exemption claims with classmates.  Children were "drafted" to work in the school lots.  The United States School Garden organization gave window cards on which a rake and hoe were shown crossed, one over the other.

Mr. Thomas and J. J. Maxwell directed a flower parade and garden show in the new Chamber of Commerce building.  Prizes amounted to $2000.  Movie people asked for pictures taken by the Chamber of the war heroes marching up Minnesota Avenue and of the gardens.  Profits at the show went to the Chamber of Commerce. 

On January 14, 1919, the Kansan carried the headline, "A School Crisis," and featured the news that one third of the city's teachers were preparing to quit.  The Teachers Federation sent a letter to every taxpayer and discussed an increase of two mills in the levy at a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce.  The board could levy only six mills and need legislative action to raise it.  Senator Charles Ridgway assured the Council of Clubs that the bill would come up.

Four white girls and five colored made up the 1919 Teachers' Training Class, and Mr. Pearson would need over sixty new teachers.  Federal commissioners named $1500 as a minimum wage.  A lobby of women teachers, Ella Woodyard, Lois Torrey, and Vada Boseley went to Topeka to promote the annuity bill.  Most bills, they said, added duties and requirements, but this one would benefit teachers.  Delegates to the NEA at Milwaukee asked for a cabinet member for education.  On December 31, Governor Allen declared a crisis and asked for an emergency bill as requested by the KSTA and the Board of Education.

James A. Garfield had said that school teaching incapacitated a man for business, but O. W. Breidenthal was cited as an example as one who made thousands of dollars on the side as owner of an electrical and washing machine business.  W. A. Bailey resigned as principal of the high school on Ninth Street to go into the newspaper business.  The usual institute was postponed before the opening of school in August, 1919, because of lack of instructors.

The NEA sent a complimentary letter to Mrs. George Stine for getting 125 endorsements for the Smith-Towner Bill.  Money from the passage of the bill would be used to remove illiteracy, to Americanize foreigners, train and pay teachers, and promote physical education.

The first annual meeting of the Council of Administration was held in Topeka on or about January 17.  About 1000 delegates heard Governor Henry J. Allen, Miss Lizzie Wooster, Chancellor Frank Strong, and Teachers' College President T. W. Bucher discuss topics related to the theme, "Chargers in School Programs and School Organizations Due to War."  At the same time, grade school principals, meeting in Topeka, said "Thrift" should be included in school studies.  Governor Allen wanted physical training along military lines.

Physical examinations of recruits for the armed services during the war showed the need for emphasis on health among young people.  In January, 1919, Grace Eastman addressed a meeting in which she proposed an extensive school health program and the employment of school nurses.  She planned to work here with the PTA to form a legislative program and provide for school board supervision.  One of her projects was the establishment of nose blowing and teeth brushing drills.

The Dental Clinic at Central School wanted to expand its work.  "Better the teeth, better the pupil," was the slogan.  While in some places no provision was made for the care of children's teeth, in this city each child's teeth were checked, and free correction given if the parent was unable to pay. 

When the old pest house in Quindaro was no longer for smallpox patients, plans were made to sell it.  A tuberculosis sanitarium and an isolation hospital for flu victims were proposed.  The Chamber of Commerce offered to help in a fight against influenza, which threatened to flare up again.  Diphtheria cards still warned of illness in a home.  Stanley had fourteen cases and two deaths in November, and other schools reported cases. 

Main Entry: pest·house
Pronunciation: -"haus
Function: noun: a shelter or hospital for those infected with a pestilential or contagious disease

Dr. L. B. Gloyne, health commissioner, threatened arrest for a prominent doctor who refused to take a culture and who told the patient to tear down the sign.  Swabs were taken from the throats of 135 pupils at Oakland School when a child who lived in the janitor's basement apartment contracted diphtheria.  Eight districts wanted to accept Dr. Gloyne's offer of school medical inspection, but the board said it first would have to consult its attorney.

Students who left school to enlist or to go to work became the concern of school authorities.  Mr. Pearson said they must be brought back to school.  A "Back to School Drive" was instituted by the Children's Bureau of the United States Department of Labor, which lasted due to PTA cooperation.  Committees from each school called on parents to urge them to keep their children in school.

Truant officer Waddy Thompson reported difficulty in keeping boys in school until they completed the eighth grade.  Foreign people especially were a problem as they desired the money earned by their children.  Americans were more apt to keep their boys in school.  He mentioned one boy who took five years to make three grades, and who quit in seventh grade.  The boy was earning $94 a month; good wages in 1919.

Unless night students enrolled at the various centers, the board had no way to reach the foreign born, as it could spend no money outside the schools.  The WCTU adopted the slogan, "A Literate Womanhood for 1921," and decided to aid the continuation classes.  They planned to contact women in their homes and to prove to the government that such a plan was feasible.

High school boys waned more than anything else a larger gymnasium for basketball practice and games.  At an assembly the boys pledged to do the carpenter work on the gym, almost completed, in the unfinished YMCA building.  Work there had stopped several years before, but $1000 was available to begin the work.  The boys had the approval of the YMCA, the board and Mr. Rice, the high school principal.  Organizations and business firms would be solicited for an additional $5000.

The typing class in October typed 600 letters to businessmen and domestic science classes served twelve o'clock dinners to contributors.  Effie Adams and Reva Lint were directors.  The boys practiced at the high school, but spent many hours getting the new gym ready.

The Council of Clubs and the PTA tried to protect minors from the cigarette habit by asking that smoking in all public school buildings be prohibited.  They sent the Board of Education, the police chief, and others copies of the law.  On June 30, the Kansan reported that old friend, John Barleycorn, would be wakened when the 18th Amendment went into effect.

Complaints of being "muzzled" at the KSTA in Topeka on November 8, were made by W. M. Shepherd, high school teacher.  In a Kansan article he said that when he asked President J. O. Hall, Hutchison, for permission to talk to the convention, he was refused.  He wished to discuss with teachers the advantages of unionizing and uniting with the American Federation of Teachers.

Shepherd blamed superintendents for opposing the organization, which would permit teachers to band together and separate themselves from superintendents and principals.  The convention allowed other opposition speakers, he said, but refused him.  Otherwise, as chairman of a teachers' union belonging to the A. F. of T., he might have been the opening wedge.  Owing to a reporter's error, readers confused W. M. Shepherd with H. R. Shepherd, principal of the junior high.

Late in October, 1919, a fuel shortage was threatened because of a miners' strike.  The Northwestern Railroad was not delivering the coal that was available.  While enough was on hand here to last until Thanksgiving, other places were short.  The National Guard was preparing for an emergency if the strike continued.  On November 1, the Northwestern Railway ceased operation at 11:00 a.m., blaming financial trouble.  The company wanted the Railroad Administration to take over.

Rumor said that there were thirty cars of coal in Cypress Yards on the Missouri Pacific tracks.  Bethany Hospital, however, had only one day's supply, and citizens wanted the Fuel Administration to divide the coal fairly.  By November 12, the schools were in good condition, but no coal was for sale by dealers without a release from the administration.  Volunteers were called for mine work.  The board had one thousand tons to offer, and met with business leaders to consider the crisis in the Water and Light Department.  The board could operate on five hundred tons.  Legion members offered to work in the mines.

Only thirteen cars of coal were allotted to the city in the cold and sleet of December 1, because of a strike by switchmen.  The government ordered the schools closed the next day.  Dr. Gloyne thought it a good thing because of the diphtheria epidemic.  The Council of Clubs said it was wrong to close because fuel was in sufficient supply.  On December 26, heat plants were started again and pipes drained for school opening on December 29.

When a legislative committee wanted to abandon the Medical School which was located on the site donated by Dr. Simeon Bell of Rosedale, the Board of Education offered the athletic field at 14th and Armstrong for $33,000 plus indebtedness.  No improvements had been made on the old Carnival Park site since its purchase four years previously.  Chancellor Strong opposed to move and the school remained at Rosedale.

No building was going on in the city by either the board or other citizens.  The "High Cost of Living" was becoming a byword, and people said they would wait until prices came down.  Portables, used to take care of crowded rooms, became scarce.  Vacant houses were almost impossible find.  The paper wondered if Mr. Pearson were a magician when he found 475 vacancies.  Three sites for schools were obtained.  The board asked that land at 10th and Gilmore be condemned for school purposes, and also the los west of Irving and on the northeast corner of 11th and Orville for Lowell.

The Kansan became the official newspaper for the board in August, 1919.  On October 24, Mr. Pearson was authorized to permit a collection in the schools for a national memorial to Theodore Roosevelt.  Henry J. Allen addressed the high school students and told of a $17,000 quota.  County Superintendent Olive Thompson talked to the board about a Standardization Honor Roll for schools.  In October, the superintendent, several board members, and architects visited new schools at Lincoln, Nebraska.  A million and a alf bond issue was needed.

Wyandotte County Superintendents - from the organization of Wyandotte County to 1911:  County Superintendents of Public Instruction - J. B. Welborn, Fred Speck, Michael Hummer, Benjamin F. Mudge, Emanuel F. Heisler, William W. Dickinson, L. C. Trickey, H. C. Whitlock, D. B. Hiatt, C. J. Smith, Frank M. Slosson, E. F. Taylor, Mrs. Fannie Reid Slusser, Miss Melinda Clark, Henry Mead, Charles E. Thompson, H. G. Randall and George W. Phillips.

High school boys petitioned the board for a warm lunch room.  Only the outside steps were available, and if they went to the drug store to smoke and match pennies, they were scolded.  They hoped the board would also provide a drinking fountain.

John P. White of the Community Service offered in November to assist with recreational work.  He met two times a week with play groups at the schools.  After he met with the supervising principals, some were reported to have liked the idea of supervised games, others did not.  One was quoted as saying, "The average American kid knows how to play without being taught by some easterner with new-fangled ideas."

On May 30, track meet champions from different schools met to compete for a cup given by the Kassel Jewelry Company.  Mr. Pearson handed out a basket of blank diplomas at graduating exercises on June 3.  The real ones were at the printers.  New state books, with the exception of the history, were sent out in August.  Histories were held back so that they could include the signing of the peace treaty.  Kansas was the only state in the union to have this distinction.

Mrs. L. W. Keplinger of the Humane Society announced a bird house contest for school children with cash prizes for the best.  Alfred Payson Terhune, author of animal stories, donated ten dollars.  Some houses would be placed in the city parks, others sold.  Fire Prevention Day was observed on October 9, the date on which the Chicago fire occurred.  A big parade in honor of National Safety Day was held on October 9.  Children riding in floats were to meet Kansas City, Missouri children at the west end of the Intercity Viaduct.  Plans did not turn out as expected, and Kansas City decided not to go with Missouri next time.

The old school house at Sixth and State appeared in the news on November 17.  It had been moved to the northwest corner many years before and additions built to it.  [Annotation:  This was the original Lincoln School which was a "Cincinnati frame," not the later Lincoln School on the southeast corner of Sixth and State purchased by the YWCA in the early 1900s.]  Shacks had been built around it when it was condemned in 1919 and bought for salvage by J. M. Sheaff.

All phases of instruction were reviewed during the year by sixty committees for four teachers each, appointed by the superintendent, and an exhaustive report was made in July.  The groups took out instructional materials of little benefit and studied other school systems for improved teaching methods.  The state complained about losing money on the printing of texts.  The Rotary Club was invited to lunch at the junior high school.  Under the supervision of Miss Ruth Brown and Miss Helen Rose, seventy members were served in the corridor.  The school orchestra and the gym classes gave a program and the men inspected the supervised playground.

The Federation of Parent-Teachers Associations held a a reception for teachers in November.  The Mozart Club presented a musical program for the 500 guests and an autograph contest was held.  Teachers, in 1919-1920, organized themselves into working groups, hen united into a "Teachers Council," still functioning in 1962, over 40 years later.

Other changes came about.  Congress passed a bill in February for the levying of a tax on income.  J. H. Heinz, benefactor of Kansas City University, died in May, 1919.  A new Masonic building was constructed around the old one, and a bathing pool at Klamm Park was built.  Silk hose sold for $3.50 a pair, but cotton hose were almost completely out of style.  Plans for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial were dropped because of increased costs since it was first planned.  Kansas City had 2785 cars, some with heaters, and motorists were required to register the engine numbers of their cars.

If a citizen over 65 years of age had no more than $6 a week, Congress promised him $10.  Veterans formed American Legion poss during the year.  The new dances offended some people, who influenced Mayor Mendenhall to forbid the "shimmy dance, an aggravated form of the one-step."  The papers deplored the fact that the churches didn't know and parents were indifferent as to what was going on.  Club women objected when girls danced in the high school gym at noon recess.  When Mr. Bailey, principal, forbade it, teachers interceded for the girls, asserting such activity was to be preferred to gossiping.

Carl Pickel, a red-head, wanted 34 red-headed boys for the Scout troop he was organizing.  Lois Torrey, Frances Willard, principal visited Malvina Henning Harkins in California during the summer of 1919 and made news by riding in an airplane.  She received an added thrill when the engine died and the plane fell 400 feet into some trees.  Neither Miss Torrey nor the pilot was injured.  In the same summer an airline from Kansas City to Wichita was started.

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Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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