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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 1919

1920

Kansas City, Kansas high school students were privileged on January 5 to hear the great Shakespearian actor, E. H. Southern.  His wife, Julia Marlowe, was unable to attend the convocation because of health.  "Hard work makes an actor," was the information given to the boys and girls.  As a welcome to their distinguished visitor, the students sang a song written for the occasion by Miss Minnie Oliverson and Miss Maude Van Cleave, teachers, and sung to the tune of "Onward, K.C."  Rabbi Steven S. Wise of New York addressed the high school the following October.  Rabbi Wise expressed much interest in the Americanization work being done in the city.

Chelsea Park of 1920 was compared to the district of thirty years ago, when the dummy lines carried Missouri crowds to the park.  At that it was the scandal of the city with daily police calls on account of drinking revels.  The enforcement of prohibition stopped all of that and in 1920 the Chelsea district had twelve churches and several schools.

Living costs rose.  Hawthorne and Chelsea Schools formed a "Unionall Club."  Boys and men resolved to fight "H.C.L." by wearing overalls as much as possible.  News came from New York that "barnyard" overshoes of years ago had been seen on Fifth Avenue women.  Disgusted citizens expected to see galoshes soon as Kansas City streets.

In her concern for children's welfare, Mrs. Stine added to her efforts for anti-cigarette law enforcement by talking before PTA groups about the proposed Child Labor Law.  In May, high school students read essays in Sunday School classes against cigarette smoking.  The movement needed to be extended to include women and girls, for New York women were developing the habit.  They, too, were in need of a club.  Formerly Mrs. Stine had been concerned only with growing boys and had no problem with girls.

Educators throughout the country were concerned over a habit that was supposed to injure morals and health and to cause nervousness, insomnia, and a bad complexion.  As western women were more sane in the choice of fads, it was supposed hat smoking would never be adopted in Kansas.  Anyway, cigarettes were hard to get anywhere in the state.

The city in 1920 was conscious more than ever before of health conditions.  The state and local PTA units went on record as favoring school medical inspection.  Restaurants and drug stores were asked to sterilize glasses.  Women asked for a night in home nursing.  The law did not permit public funds for school nurses, but he Red Cross provided them for 1920.  Teachers attended first aid classes, and Dr. Gloyne met with high school boys in February to discuss health problems.

When a Citizens Committee attended a board meeting, appalling sanitary conditions at some schools were reported.  The PTA told of a novel idea, the serving of hot lunches to country children, which aided them in gaining weight.  The same group asked that ice cream vendors be forbidden as they handled horses' reins, then ice cream, without washing their hands.  A week in October was set aside to help underweights.  "Use more milk," was the slogan.  The Visiting Nurses Association said children bought too much candy and ordered milk and crackers served at school.

Dr. Gloyne established a free clinic, one hour each Saturday, for free treatment of children unable to pay.  He stressed disinfecting, not fumigating, for schools.  The doctor deplored the lack of soap and towels in lavatories, especially where there were lunchers.  Only teachers were supplied.  At Quindaro, the year before, three towels for the entire school were available, and 25 cases of sore eyes developed. 

In reporting on a first inspection of schools, the health department said that only the newer buildings met requirements.  Eleven schools still used drinking cups.  Some had no towels.  here were too many feather dusters in use, and floors were not scrubbed oftener than once a year.  Rated as poor were Oakland, Greystone, Melville, and Kerr.  The board wanted to know if Dr. Gloyne really had the power to inspect.

By January 26, 1919, there were 157 flu cases.  In other epidemics, colored people had seemed immune, but Argentine Lincoln was full of it in 1919.  Hospitals had little room for flu cases, and people talked of a municipal hospital.  With 418 cases in the city, business was short-handed.  Most of the Kansan staff was ill.  Although he was unsure of its efficiency, Dr. Gloyne offered free vaccination against flu and pneumonia.  It might help to build resistance, he said, and 25 people were willing to try.

Girls from the Baptist Seminary at 336 Lafayette substituted for absent teachers.  The Red Cross called influenza a "crowd disease" and blamed poor ventilation and crowds.  Dr. Gloyne wanted to close everything when 3500 absences in the schools were reported, but Missouri refused.  Over 60 deaths from pneumonia following the flu were reported.

The city required that measles cases be reported.  One father of ten children, earning $20 a week, was arrested for failing to report measles in his family and fined $100.  He was given a stay by the judge, but had to report every day to the court.  Dr. Gloyne planned in October to talk about health to every PTA in the city in one month's time.

Money was needed for new buildings and improvements, but there could be no vote on a million and a half dollar bond issue until the legislature enacted a law.  The board had hoped for a March election to provide money for 27 new additions or structures.  An Argentine delegation led by C. D. Darnell and Dr. E. D. Clopper asked that the board increase the sum to two and one-half million.  This the board refused to do.

Mayor Mendenhall finally named the election date as April 27, after saying at first that he might not call the election at all.   The Citizens Committee endorsed the bonds and urged voters to register.  Some teachers had to be excused on April 27 to act as election judges because clerks refused to work for $3.  Argentine bottom land residents organized a campaign against the bonds and they lost in the Sixth and Seventh Wards.  Workers in the PTA and Negro voters carried them to victory in others.

No market had been found for the bonds at the end of the year.  The board was in the red with $360,000 warrants outstanding and no funds.  Banks carried the warrants at six per cent.  The board was the only governing body in the country not on a cash basis and wanted new laws passed.  It needed $500,000 before January 1.  M. E. Pearson, W. A. Seymour and A. J. Stanley went to Topeka to interview legislators.

Frank J. Ferren and Carl Roberts were awarded in January the contract to grade at Whittier and at the athletic field.  Because of high prices the high school had waited several years for a stadium.  Attorney James P. Fox reported to the board that the site at Tenth and Gilmore was sold for taxes in October, and was instructed to correct the error.  Plans were made in March for elementary sites and schools to replace Oakland, Melville, and Greystone.  The last two would be combined to form one eight-room building.

The colored school near Fifth and Shawnee in Armourdale was called Phillips.  Kerr had to be replaced and a second story was added to Stanley.  The new building at Tenth and Gilmore would be called Whittier.  Dunbar needed six additional rooms.  When patrons of Lincoln in Argentine complained that it was too noisy there on account of the Kansas City Structural Steel, the board said it would sell the building to the plant and erect a building somewhere else.  The Chamber of Commerce wanted a planning commission for the city and suggested that the board wait on purchasing sites until such a group could look over the grounds.

Miss Frances Henning, for eighteen years secretary to the superintendent, resigned to 1920 to move to California.  The Ward School Principals Club honored her in January at a banquet at the Chamber of Commerce.  The Kansan reported that when Miss Henning told the Board of Education goodby, it was in a "neat and modest little talk such as one seldom hears."  A principals' organization started in March, 1920.  This differed from the Woman Principals' Club which excluded the men and the colored.

Educators feared that the educational structure was threatened during this period of evolution and revolution.  The greatest trouble was in the defection of teachers, for never had there been such a shortage.  With so much indifference to education in the country, authorities hoped for more PTA members would could be informed about school matters.  The legislature granted permission for an additional levy and the board considered an increase of $40 a month to teachers.

When one member suggested that a grade teacher had to eat the same as a high school teacher, the board granted a $50 a month raise to all receiving a salary under the maximum.  One hundred on top salary received $45.  The auditorium was filled on the night of the meeting when Anna Randles and Hallie Lesley spoke for the teachers.  For the first time in years, the Normal Training Department was not able to supply grade teachers and 54 from all parts of the country were brought in.  On September 20, a big welcome was given to new teachers and to returning veterans of the World War.

Miss Lillian Bohl, drawing supervisor, was praised for her art exhibit at the library.  The speech instructor, J. Emerson Nye, went to New York in the summer of 1920 to read before David Belasco, noted producer.  Mr. Nye said he might take up a stage career if the audition was successful.  When Ward C. McCroskey left the high school principalship here, he became head of a school at Puerto Rico.  After the war he headed a school for American "doughboys" in Coblenz, Germany.

Teachers of the city supported the Artists' Series at the Chamber of Commerce, and 371 enrolled in extension courses in September 1920.  One of the most popular courses was Miss Bessie Miller's music class.  School administrators went to Topeka in the December holidays to attend the Council of Administration.

After seven years, the night school still operated successfully.  The United States National Examiner came from Washington to award proficiency certificates to graduates in June of 1920.  The newspaper said the program was unusual as "sixty-five stalwart men, new citizens or graduates" received certificates.  A Russian quartette sang.  I. B. Morgan made two NEA addresses on the Continuation Schools and Vocational Guidance.  Prominent men of the city addressed groups of foreign men interested in becoming citizens.

Miss Gertrude Young, clerk at the Board of Education office, became known for her nature study work in water colors.  W. W. Thomas, nature study supervisor, used her paintings of caterpillars, cocoons, etc., in his classes in schools.  Children supplied Miss Young with many specimens of moths and butterflies.

Street commissioner James Beggs did a good turn in September for small children attending Kerr School, who were victims of a neighborhood feud near 36th and Freeman.  A bridge had been erected over a stream on private property to save a mile of walking.  A women involved in the quarreling fenced her property and barred the path to the bridge.  As soon as he heard of the matter, Mr. Beggs ordered the bridge immediately removed to another location.

Dr. Clopper asked for a municipal athletic field in Argentine, between 32nd and 34th and Powell to the railroad yards.  In the fifth annual typing contest, Argentine won all honors of the state.  The junior high school bought a "picture machine," and a New York film announced that it was making some films exclusively for school use.

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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