Written by Laurinda Weisse, University Archivist
As Thanksgiving approaches, the UNK Archives encourages you to take time and look back at celebrations through the years. Gertrude Bloom, for example, kept a book detailing her experiences at Kearney State Normal School (KSNS) during the early 1910’s. Included in her School-Girl Days: A Memory Book is a lovely invitation for pre-Thanksgiving festivities, complete with a hand-drawn turkey. She organized the event for the Saturday before Thanksgiving, presumably to allow those traveling over the holiday to participate. Some students stayed at school over the holiday; the 1917 Blue and Gold yearbook includes a picture of the turkeys roasted by the Boarding Department for those students and staff who remained at K.S.N.S.
KSNS also helped uphold the venerable tradition of football on Thanksgiving. The 1915 yearbook witnesses that Thanksgiving was a rather rowdy holiday:
“Pres. Wilson declares we can have day off. Kearney special goes to Hastings, Band, Team and Rooters. Score 20-13 accidentally in favor of Hastings. Notes on Trip:
- Essert sings “The Campbells are Coming.”
- Hastings goes wild about Cameron as he makes the mile run for a touch down.
- Hastings lifts her hands and turns her face to the sky and cries, “Take him away,” as Birkelbach breaks thru the line.
- Dining car well patronized. Menu: Crackers, apples, dates, peanuts and gum.
- Train has to back up because a coach is left behind.
- Dutch Heider nicknamed Kaiser Wilhelm.
- Hastings charmed with Kearney’s Doxology, “Play Ball.”
While the students didn’t get their gourmet dinner that day, they still had an entertaining holiday (and had a feast on the following Sunday).
To further enhance the festive spirit, Una Snidow Sawyer, the Director of Public School Music, set her 1922 First Year Harmony class the assignment of writing music for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You won’t find any forgotten masterpieces here, as the simple melodies and lyrics were designed primarily for schoolchildren. A digital version of the book is available. Share your rendition of these works on the Library’s Facebook page.