- The Decades
III - School
The 30's >>
"With malice toward none; with charity for all.., let us strive on
to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds... to do
all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace."
The words, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln in his Second
Inaugural Address, designed to heal the wounds of what the Indians
called the "Brother-Brother" war, might have been spoken in
1919, at the end of World War I. A hundred and twelve thousand Americans
had died in the war against Germany. Two hundred and thirty thousand had
been wounded. The direct economic cost of the two-year war effort was
over $21 million. Vengeance was desired in many quarters; payment was
The roots of the third decade of the 20th Century were embedded in
previous years. Henry Ford had opened the Ford Motor Company in 1903.
This economic fact quickly surrounded the lifestyle of almost every
American. By 1914 Mr. Ford could announce a $5.00 a day minimum wage for
his workers. And, by 1922, a Model T could be purchased in Shawnee
Mission, Kansas for about $400.
By 1920 Americans were trying to forget the pain of war. Philosophically
they were struggling with the existence of evil and a just God. There
was an urgency to eat, drink and be merry.
Historians have called the 1920's the Age of Prosperity. Americans
wanted to be prosperous in economics, lifestyle and fun. Now was not the
time for the nuances of philosophy nor for the inconsistencies of
thought and action. So while the Ku Klux Klan, which was blatantly
anti-Catholic, Jew, foreigner and against birth control, pacifism,
internationalism, Darwinism, and the repeal of prohibition, grew to
about 5 million members and John T. Scopes was indicted in Dayton,
Tennessee, for teaching the theory of evolution and while Sacco and
Vanzetti were erroneously executed in 1925, Americans sought prosperity
in all forms.
Flagpole sitting became a national fad, as did marathon dancing. A 3,000
hour dance was almost commonplace. And if marathon dancing was not so
common, hip flasks were. Despite the reality of prohibition, the
consumption of liquor flourished. Bootlegging became one of the
country's biggest industries. The Charleston was danced; ukuleles were
played. College attendance doubled between 1920 and 1930 and Freud's
ideas on the unconscious mind led to a preoccupation with sex. Jazz
music was played in New Orleans then moved up the river to Chicago and
then east to New York.
Women began to demand equal rights and, despite the apparent
contradictions, science and the ouija board both flourished.
For those who wanted to escape through the written word there was the
dime novel. Consumption was high. For the more serious readers Sinclair
Lewis described the life of the emerging businessman in Babbitt, James
Joyce wrote Ulysses and T.S. Eliot penned "The Wasteland".
Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms in 1929.
"Is Everybody Happy?" Ted Lewis asked and most yearned to
answer in the affirmative. Bobbed hair and flat chests were in fashion
for the ladies. Mae West, as Diamond Lil, invited the gentlemen to
"come up and see me sometime."
Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and Bix
Beiderbecke provided the new Jazz sound while Rudy Vallee played with
the hearts of women. A new, young singer, Bing Crosby, joined Paul
Whiteman's Band. And the whole country tried to dance the Charleston and
the Black Bottom.
The first radio station was KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However,
six years later, in 1926, RCA Victor formed the National Broadcasting
Company, which was followed in 1927 by CBS. The electronic age had
The push toward happiness included science also. Insulin was discovered
in 1921. Eight years later penicillin started to make our lives better.
By the end of the decade electricity had invaded most homes and two
years before the end the cathode ray tube was invented. This was the
beginning of what would come to be known as television.
Movies attracted increasing numbers in the 20's. Heroes emerged from the
big screen. Tom Mix, one of the original "good guys" was paid
$20,000 a week to ride across our imaginations and do battle with the
forces of evil. In 1920 Charlie Chaplin appeared in the "The
Kid". Douglas Fairbanks acted heroic while Lon Chaney was
Frankenstein. 1927 and 1928 were big years for the movies and their
consuming public. In the former, Al Jolson made "The Jazz
Singer" and in '28 The Marx Brothers made "Animal
Crackers" and Mickey Mouse was born with animation. 40,000 women
attended the funeral of Rudolph Valentino in 1926.
When Americans were not listening, reading or going to the movies, they
were watching sports. The New York Yankees gave vision to a public
searching for that which was bigger than life. The '27 team, starring
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, is still considered one of baseball's
greatest. Ruth, the great player who sought fun at night and at the
ballpark, personified dreams. Baseball also produced famous managers
Connie Mack and John J. McGraw in Philadelphia and New York. Johnny
Weismuller, the future Tarzan, set a national record in the 100 yard
freestyle. Man O'War won his last race against a horse named Sir Barton.
The purse was a staggering $80,000.
The decade of the 20's was a time of contradictions and diversity.
Americans voted for prohibition while drinking copiously. Rin-Tin-Tin
appeared on the screen and the first trans-continental trip by truck
took 13 days and five hours. In 1926 Chesterfield used the first woman
in cigarette advertising. She suggestively said, "Blow some smoke
my way." Men claimed they would "Walk a mile for a
Camel." And a Boeing 80A Tri-motor flew coast to coast in 27 ¾
Life was good. Speakin was easy. Still, there was an under current of
disease which no amount of fun seeking could totally erase. The American
mind had been injured in the years between 1917 and 1919 and reparations
were expected on both sides of the Atlantic. In another decade we would
again be involved in a rending war. But that was in the unforeseen
future. Now was fun time. Even this, however, was tainted. In the soil
of free-living lay the seed of a bad economic crop. October 29, 1929
came too soon. The stock market crashed and with it went the dreams of
the fun seekers. With malice and little charity the people tried to bind
their wounds. The 30's would test their healing skills and their spirit.
1920's AT SHAWNEE MISSION RURAL HIGH SCHOOL
The roots of Shawnee Mission's high school lay in the history of the
area itself. Reverend Thomas Johnson's Mission to the Indians of Kansas
resulted in The Shawnee Methodist Mission and Indian Labor School. The
year was 1838.
Too soon, however, there were few Indians in Shawnee Mission. Small
farms dotted the land, then were replaced by frequent housing. The same
war that had embedded itself in the mind of America brought people
looking for the good life of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.
In 1917 the state legislature passed a bill which allowed rural high
school districts to be superimposed on several elementary school
districts. The elementary districts did not lose their autonomy. In the
Shawnee Mission area there were 14 such districts.
In 1920 it was estimated that there were 140 children of high school age
in the area. Of those who went to high school most went to Rosedale and
Kansas City, Kansas. There was also a single high school in Merriam and
In 1921 the Shawnee Mission High School district #6 had been organized.
Its elementary districts were:
Valley View -49
Little Blue -79
South Park -90
Westwood View -93
Hickory Grove-Overland Park -110
The district authorized a feasibility study for a rural high school to
be made. When completed, the report suggested a site for the proposed
high school building be "located within two blocks of Goodman
station on the Strang Interurban Railway, because 80% of a possible high
school enrollment lived within a three-mile zone, drawn around that
point. It was further shown that good rock roads, rapid transit,
electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and building rock was available to
The idea of a rural high school was not without controversy. Farmers
were afraid of additional taxation. Even those who supported a high
school district were not unanimous on its boundaries. A vote was to be
September 23, 1921, was for the battle of the ballots. The first tallies
1,049 votes for
975 votes against the proposition to organize a rural high school
1,027 votes for
952 votes against the proposition to authorize $150,000 in bonds for the
purchase of a site and erection and furnishing of a building.
Shortly after, twelve and three-quarters acres on Merriam Road were
bought for $12,000.
On November 22, 1921, the first meeting of the school board of rural
high school district, number six of Johnson County was held. Those
A.M. Meyers Director
D.M. Alden Treasurer
At this and subsequent meetings the plans for a rural high school were
Finally, on September 12, 1922, the Shawnee Mission Rural High School
opened its doors. The building, itself was of reinforced concrete slabs
covered with asphalt tile. The building contained a gym, auditorium,
shops, laboratories, special rooms for homemaking and commercial
courses, a lunch room, 6 regular classrooms and auxiliary facilities.
Presented here is a selected history of the school which has come to be
known as Shawnee Mission North High School. Its people and events have
influenced countless lives and have kept to the purpose of offering a
high school training "commensurate with their needs...and in
keeping with the wealth and dignity of the community."
- Mr. D.A. Morgan was the first principal. He also
taught Spanish. Mr. Morgan had come from Gardner, Kansas.
- There were 12 faculty member, including the
principal. By gender there were 7 women and 5 men.
5 courses were offered; General, College Preparatory, Normal Training,
Commercial, and Vocational Agriculture.
20 students made up the first Senior Class. They came mostly from
Rosedale and Merriam High Schools. The class motto was: "Nothing
succeeds like success." Its colors were purple and white and its
flower was the sweet pea.
- Cyril Scott was president of the Senior Class and
Miss Bartberger was its sponsor.
- In October Miss Moody urged the seniors to join
"The Forum" for the purpose of gaining an insight in debating
and learning about the great questions that were interesting the world.
As a result, four members of the class represented Shawnee Mission in
the inter-scholastic debating league.
- The Public Speaking Class presented the first play
"The Charm School."
- On December 9, 1922, the Senior Class sponsored a
mixer. This was the first social event ever held in Shawnee Mission High
School. Most of the 200 students attended.
- The Girls' Basketball Team ("The Shawnee
Mission Six") won seventeen straight games and was the "Kansas
State Champion". This was the first state championship team at
Shawnee Mission High School.
- In Boys' Basketball, the team won two games in the
state tournament, finally losing to Roosevelt
- Coach A.L. Berry's first football team won 2 and
"We had no equipment for a track team but a good place for a track.
The A.A. bought a 12-16 shot, a discus, a javelin and a vaulting pole.
The Manual Training classes made hurdles and jumping standards. Some of
the boys dug a pit and filled it with sand left over from building the
high school building. By using cinders from our furnace, some of the
boys wheeled them in wheel-barrows along the 220 yard straightway. The
remainder was rolled. The track is 440 yards around and almost level the
entire distance... Here's hoping for much luck to our track team and its
- 1922 The school's Pep Club was formed. It was open
to any student who found Study Hall boring. Eventually the club was
opened to all students.
- By 1926 the Senior Class had doubled in size to 41.
- The rules for the Girls' Basketball Team were:
A. An average of 8 consecutive hours sleep
B. Eat meals at regular times.
C. Do not drink coffee or tea.
D. Do drink one pint of milk daily.
E. Wear sensible shoes to school.
F. Do not wear "party" dresses to
- The 1926 Senior Class abolished the yearbook due to
- The 1927 Football schedule was:
Sep. 30 Paola (here)
Oct. 21 Argentine
Oct. 28 Eudora (here)
Nov. 2 Desoto
Nov. 18 Gardner (here)
- 1927 saw the formation of the first Student
- In 1929 the organization called Quill and Scroll
began at Shawnee Mission Rural High School.
The 30's >>
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