Looking over an old 1927 ALHS yearbook

Published 9:29 am Friday, June 25, 2010

Not long ago I received a copy of a 1927 Ah-La-Ha-Sa yearbook from Orville (Orv) Paske of Northfield. He asked me to donate this rare volume of 152 pages based on student life at the high school to the Freeborn County Historical Museum. Orv also had some comments about local life 83 years ago that he thought might be worth passing along to the Tribune’s readers.

Right about here some explanation is needed. First, Orv is not a graduate of Albert Lea High School in 1927. In reality, he’s a 1940 graduate of Wells High School. Second, according to his son Jon of Albert Lea this copy of the Ah La Ha Sa yearbook was likely purchased in an antique store. And, third, there’s still another way to spell the word based on the initials of the local high school. It’s Ahlahasa. By the way this word is now used for the school newspaper. For many years the annual yearbook has had the very appropriate name of Tiger.

One of Orv’s comments was based on the number of local advertisers who helped make this 1927 publication possible. He counted a total of 56 advertisers. Of this number, he wrote that just for are still active: Olson Manufacturing Co., Naeve

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Hospital (Albert Lea Medical Center), Plymouth Shoe and Bonnerup-Sorenson (Bonnerup Funeral Service). To this I can add one more, Interstate Power Co. (Alliant). For all the others Orv wrote, “Time takes it toll.”

In looking over these ads I found several rather interesting or odd details. One advertiser, The Chocolate Shop, had two slogans, “We Strive to Please,” and the more meaningful, “Sweets for the Sweet.” Nearly all the advertisers had three digit telephone numbers back in 1927 and several had four digit numbers. A few also had two digit numbers followed by a letter of the alphabet. An example of this is the 31-J telephone number for Karlsberg Music Shop on West Clark Street.

Another advertiser, The Jefferson Cafe, said it had “Music with your meals” and an added line with the notation of “no extra charge.” One could assume the music was by a piano player who didn’t expect a tip from the customers.

A historical note in the ad for Naeve Hospital reported, “… The original (1912) building accommodated 40 patients, and in 1923 it was found necessary to provide more room. The splendid addition was completed in 1924, giving the hospital a capacity of 80 beds. With the addition of more beds to fulfill future needs, the building can accommodate 100 patients. Last year, 1,709 patients were admitted. … “

As an update, here’s a report on advertising in the last two Tiger yearbooks. In the 2009 edition there were 23 advertisers. And with special thanks to Tribune Intern Janet Lawler, I can report that the 2010 edition has 29 advertisers. Those two editions, incidentally , are completely in color for the photos.

In his letter, Orv commented about the girls’ hockey team. He thought the two teams, senior and junior, might have been playing field hockey, whatever that is. Then again, maybe those two teams played their games on the ice of Fountain Lake.

A further check with the 1927 yearbook shows that this was the first year for both high school girls’ hockey and volleyball. An added note said volleyball practices and games took place in the gym at Ramsey School.

Here’s an interesting commentary by Orv: “The senior class of 1927 numbered 100 while the incoming freshman class numbered 248, a 148 increase in three years. Where did they all come from?”

Orv also listed several of the school’s organizations for students 83 years ago. They were the Maria Sanford Girl Reserves, Ann Rutledge Girl Reserves, Hi-Y Club, Junior Hi-Y Club, Library Club (girls only), Quill and Scroll and The Aggie (Agricultural) Club (boys only).

Special thanks go to Orv Paske of Northfield for inspiring this column with the 1927 Ah-La-Ha-Sa yearbook.

Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.