Remember This?

Dorri Partain
Contributor


While autographs from celebrities may be the most requested, inscribed notes from family and friends can become treasured mementos as years pass.


Tucked inside a display case in Northeast High School’s Alumni Room, this red-covered Autograph Book holds notes and signatures from a student who graduated in 1936. Inside the front cover, the owner wrote: “This belongs to Valeda Ball, Year 1936, Class Sr., School Northeast High.” Another page notates that she hosted a G.R. tea on April 8, 1936 and lists the girls who attended.


Among the girls that attended, one wrote: “Dear Valeda, I haven’t known you as well as I would like but I’ll sure remember April 8th a long time. Lots of Luck, Dorothy Frantz.”


Another referred to club activities in her note: “Dear Valeda, Really, being a G.R. has meant a lot to me and working with you in the club has been a real pleasure. I hope that just because this is the end of our work together it doesn’t mean the end of our relationship. Here’s to you, Sincerely, Anne.”


On the last of the faded pastel-colored pages is written: “Dear Valeda, You got me at a time when I’m stumped for something to say, so I will just tell you this well known saying, ‘Just back here, out of sight, I’ll write my name, just for spite.’ Your friend, Eleanor Beebe.”


Autograph books date to the mid-16th century when German college graduates began writing notes in Bibles upon their graduation. Eventually, special books with blank pages were created to collect signatures and personal notes. As Germans immigrated to America, they brought the tradition of the stammbuch (friendship book) and it quickly caught on among American students as well.


For young girls, the gift of an autograph book made a welcome birthday or Christmas gift, and the covers could be plain or decorated, as many styles were available.


The 1936 Nor’Easter yearbook lists the 42 members of the G.R., which was also known as the Girl’s High School Club or Girl Reserves, and describes it as “the only club in which every girl is eligible to become a member. The activities and programs are the type which interest an enthusiastic high school girl.”


Valeda is listed as the Vice President and next to her senior photo she was described as “the girl we will always remember for her thoughtfulness.”

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