Better Than Necessary:
A Celebrational History of
Shawnee Mission North High School



I - The Decades
The 20's
The 30's
The 40's
The 50's
The 60's
The 70's
1980 and Beyond

II - Selective Pictures
and Facts

III - School Spirit

Return to SMN-RAB

    << Back to The 20's

      Forward to The 40's >>

THE 30's

Although the effervescence of the 20's was gone, there was a collective spirit in the next decade. First, the Depression was selective in its pain; secondly Americans would endure the harshest of economic winters. The spirit of fun would become the spirit of survival.

William Faulkner, whose book The Sound and the Fury was published in 1929 and became part of the spirit of the 1930's, said in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech: "I believe man will not merely endure, he will prevail. He is immortal..because he, alone among creatures, has a soul, a spirit, capable of compassion, sacrifice and endurance." This capability would soon be tested.

The 1930's upon closer inspection has a richness of spirit which is sometimes lost in long range history. Any decade that can house Hitler, Mussolini and Shirley Temple must claim diversity. Joe Louis, Picasso, Benny Goodman and Jean Harlow peopled the pages of the morning paper. School children learned of a dictator named Franco in Spain and Mrs. Dionne gave birth to five babies. There was a complex richness beneath depressing economics.

Symbolic of this rich spirit was the introduction of skyscrapers to the urban skyline. New York saw buildings of 47, 71, and 77 stories rise in 1930. A year later the Empire State Building climber 102 stories into the air. And the same year saw the first airplane flight across the Pacific Ocean. By 1935 there would be regularly scheduled flights across what had once been thought to be a boundary. Despite the Depression, the country was moving upwards and outwards.

With the 30's came monsters. Boris Karloff starred in Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; six years later, in 1937, King Kong played to fascinated audiences.

In sports some of their opponents thought Joe Louis ("The Brown Bomber"), Bronco Nagurski or Bob Feller to be in the monster class. The latter struck out 18 batters in one game and was 1938's boy wonder. And speaking of wonderful, the same year Walt Disney released "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to a deserving public.

Deserving? Oh, yes. After years of depressing living and increasing foreign pressure it was nice to believe in the goodness of fantasy or to walk the yellow brick road with Judy Garland. Somewhere, Toto, there is a Kansas!

Too many people lived in "Hoovervilles" (Shanty towns). Too many "Okies" worked the drought driven land. And too often were the names Stalin, Franco, Mussolini and Hitler splashed across the headlines, and into our minds. On January 20, 1933, Adolph Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. From that point his was a growing influence on our lives. No matter desire, our destinies were to co-mingle for at least another twelve years.

To escape what was to come and the grayness of life, entertainment played an ever larger role. In 1932 Aldous Huxley predicted a Brave New World and we believed. 1936 brought with it the all-time blockbuster, Gone With The Wind. People read sports writers Damon Runyon and Grantland Rice; they watched Rita Hayworth model bathing suits and Marlene Dietrich wore slacks and freed fashion for millions of women. America listened more than ever. Saturday night was reserved for Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. Freeman Gorden and Charles Correl created "Amos and Andy" and their Fresh Air Taxi Cab company. Radio brought relief.

Music expressed the mood of the people. Jazz gave way to Swing. Ethel Merman sang "I Got Rhythm" and Marian Anderson's beautiful voice was heard throughout the land. But much of the music spoke to our lives: "Brother Can You Spare A Dime?" and "I Found a Million Dollar Baby." Our dreams were mixed with reality.

With moments of fantasy, life in the 30's became increasingly filled with worry. By 1935 we had survived the WPA, CCC and other initialed remedies. We knew we were sick and the news from Europe was not good. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire danced their way into our hearts. Between 1934 and 1939 Shirley Temple movies grossed $35 million and Jean Harlow was the decade's platinum blonde. Jesse Owens proved wrong any superior race thesis in the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone became America's couple in Hollywood. But the sun broke through rarely. The clouds were darkening: Mussolini visited Berlin in 1937, two years after he had invaded Ethiopia. The Franco-Soviet Alliance was making Josef Stalin a household name in the United States. And in Munich, Czechoslovakia was given to the Germans. There would be no peace in our time.

Still, there were moments of sun. Kate Smith first sang "God Bless America" in 1938. Gold fish swallowing was a rampaging fad and "OUR TOWN" was written by Thorton Wilder and a year later, in 1939, "Gone With The Wind", starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable opened in the theaters across the country.

Finally, all young hearts wanted to own an automobile, that symbol of status and morality. A '32 Plymouth was a best seller during the Depression and a '39 Plymouth "rag top" was stylish indeed.

The 30's would end with shock therapy being tried in psychology and the "Wizard of Oz" on the screen. Somehow, it all seemed to fit. War was on the horizon and people were afraid. But they had endured; they were still capable of compassion and sacrifice. The next few years, however, would tell whether or not they would prevail.



-    Students E. VanWinkle and W. Jacobs were awarded two and a half dollar gold pieces for perfect attendance and punctuality during their 4 year high school career.

-    Miss Davis, the new World History and Biology teacher, took over sponsorship of the Pep Club.

-    "The Mission" editorial entitled "Depression Helps" spoke of appreciating the opportunity to attend high school. Many could not come to school because their parents could not afford books and clothes.

-    "The Mission" complained of the 4 major problems at North: students sleeping in assembly, trash in the halls, students not buying activity tickets and a lack of school spirit.

-    The first chapter of National Honor Society was formed.

-    Mr. D.A. Morgan was the principal.  Mr. A.L. Cross was the Vice-Principal.


-    January, Shawnee Mission Rural High School entered the Northeast Kansas High School League. The League schools were: Leavenworth, Atchison, Olathe, Wyandotte, Argentine and Rosedale.

-    February, Shawnee Mission ranked higher than 55% of the other high schools on the Scholarship Test.

-    Charles Driggs was first in History and Physics on the State Exams.

-    Hair cuts and finger waves were both 25c at the Beauty Shoppe.

-    The March 10th Assembly agenda was:

1.    Mr. Morgan read the Bible.
2.    Flag Salute
3.    Star Spangled Banner
4.    Sophomore Teaser "The Path Across The Hill"
5.    Announcements:
  a.    League elimination contest
  b.    Office mailed letters to the parents of National Honor Society members.
6.    The condition of the school building.

-    The March 24th Assembly agenda included two major problems: loitering in the halls and beer.

-    First Student Council formed.

-    The April 7th "Mission" asked: "Is the whole world getting radical?"


-    The Principal was A.L. Cross.

-    On October 1st J.W. England III gave his oration "The Challenge of Rural Leadership" at the regional contest of the National Dairy Show.

-    An activity ticket cost $2.00. The ticket included:

4 football games
7 basketball games
4 grade school basketball tournament sessions
5 Lyceum numbers
The Girl Reserves and Hi-Y plays
The Sophomore, Junior and Senior Class plays
16 issues of "The Mission". A student could
pay the two dollars in 10 cents per week

-    "There should be no trouble with the bells or clocks this year, as a 24-cell battery for their power has been installed."

-    "The building received a general cleaning, the walls were painted and the building was spick and span to start the new school year."

-    The first school band was organized. John Francis was the conductor and there were 29 members. The band's first public appearance was at the first home football game; there were no uniforms. Later that year uniforms were obtained.

-    Miss Nobel, the librarian, published the three Don't for the library:

  1.    Don't tear papers or magazines--unless you have special permission.

  2.    Don't talk loudly in the library at any time.

  3.    Don't write in books or magazines.

-    Library book fines were 2c per school day.

-    Mr. Cross, the Principal, suggested a plan to clear up the traffic jam which formed each morning and afternoon in front of the school.

-    November, 6 students made all A's for the first grading period.

-    The ladies in the office complained of disappearing students. The students would just drop out of school without informing the office.

-    Mr. Francis started the first orchestra. There were 8 violins and one cello in the string section.


-    Total enrollment was 708 students.

Sophomore - 196
Junior - 142
Senior -133
Post Grad - 4

-    Harold Reade became the football coach in the fall of 1935.

-    September 30, the first night football game was played. Also the seating capacity of the stadium was doubled to 800.

-    October, 28 the first bon-fire to promote school spirit was held.

-    Lena Zimmershied was the valedictorian of the class of 1935.

-    Of the 111 students eligible to graduate, 60 had taken a college preparatory course, 21 had studied commercial subjects, 20 had taken a general course and 10 had pursued vocational agriculture.

-    The Future Farmers of America club started a magazine "The Owl's Nest" whose purpose was to "bring matters of importance to vocational agriculture students".


-    Palmer "Pop" Snodgrass began teaching and coaching. His starting salary was $1,400 per year.

-    Highway 10 to Lawrence was now complete.

-    The auditorium and gymnasium (now called "girls" gym) were added.

-    The first time girls gym classes were offered. Miss Ruth Pyle gave instruction in soccer, volleyball, basketball, folk dancing and tap dancing.

-    Shawnee Mission entered the Greater Kansas
City League. Members were: North Kansas
City, Ward, Liberty, William Chrisman,
Pembroke-Country Day, Excelsior Springs and

-    The enrollment was 771. From 1923 to 1936 the enrollment increased from 191 to 771. The largest increase in enrollment occurred between 1928 and 1929 when the number of students went from 329 to 421.

-    Jewel Ferguson was the editor of "The Mission".

-    The yearbook cost one dollar - $1.25 if paid in installments. The 1937 yearbook was the first book since 1926. Due to cost over-runs in the 20's and the Depression, the yearbook had been absent for 11 years. 415 copies were sold in 1937.


-    Ice cream sold for 254 a quart, 154 a pint.

-    March 19, students used the new auditorium for the first time.

-    Bob Johnson made All-League (Greater Kansas City League) in basketball.

-    "The Mission"warned of fast driving in front of and around the school.

-    The Junior Play "A Good Egg" was the first event in the new auditorium.

-     "Pop" Snodgrass is the basketball coach.

-    G. Murlin Welch came to teach.

-    Enrollment in the fall of '37 was 838.

-    27 teachers composed the faculty.

-    Mr. Dale Pigg is yearbook sponsor. Between the years 1938 and 1967, Mr. Pigg and his students had 13 yearbooks which were honored with All-American ratings.


-    First football championship season in the history of the school. The team won 7 and lost only to powerful Wyandotte (0-33).

-    29 teachers

-    The Junior-Senior Prom was held at the Quivira Country Club. The Clayton Harbour Orchestra provided music. There was a stag line and games of ping-pong, Chinese Checkers and bridge were provided for non-dancers.


-    "The Mission" published an article on the war in Europe.

-    PTA sponsored a Back-To-School night.

-    A magician performed in the first Lyceum of the year.

-    Student Council elections were held on October 5th.

-    The Pep Club is divided into girls and boys.

-    Betty Brown (Senior) was shot in the hand on Halloween.

-    Three enroll for a post-graduate course.

-    The movie playing at the Dickinson Theatre was "The Wizard of Oz".

-    The Library added the following books: The Call of the Wild, Mutiny on the Bounty, Beau Geste, Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, and Lad: A Dog.

-    Miss Ruth Browne, the drama teacher, formed the Thespian Dramatic Honor Society. The club's motto was "Act well your part; there all the honor lies".

-    William Brown got Judy Garland's autograph at Union Station.

-    The football team received new uniforms.


-    Lunch hour students broke safety rules 1,203 times. Pupils from the science class observed 225 students running in the hall, 128 not walking alone on the stairs, 20 not being a gentleman, 100 loitering, 71 not looking forward, 65 not using handrails on the stairs, and 38 tripped someone.

    Forward to The 40's >>

                Table of Contents

Comments and corrections regarding this SMN web page should be addressed to: