Finding bonu$ material in a Tiger yearbook

Published 8:52 am Friday, November 5, 2010

Ed Shannon, Between the Corn Rows

Not long ago I decided to look through several older copies of the Tiger yearbooks at the Freeborn County Historical Museum Library. Sometimes these books provide information about student life at Albert Lea High School. Hopefully, these books can also provide material for Tribune columns and articles. One recent example was the once popular event known as Sadie Hawkins Day.

Thus, I really found a bonu$ amount of material in the 1980 Tiger yearbook. This particular publication was based on the usual school and student activities, plus several bonu$ sections. And right at this point I’d like to emphasize that the word bonus in this yearbook was spelled with the dollar symbol instead of the letter “s.” Anyway, these bonu$ pages had some really interesting details about life and events three decades ago.

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Here’s an example based on student dating during the 1979-1980 school year:

“A typical night out for two included a school game which cost $2.00 for two tickets. Afterwards going out for pizza was popular. A medium Godfather’s pizza cost $5.65 plus 90 cents for two medium Cokes. Then many daters headed home to watch Saturday Night Live, which was absolutely free. With gas included, the average date cost between $12 and $16. …

“Dating wasn’t a required subject but those who elected to be involved all felt differently about dating depending on their own person experiences. Dating was different from school subjects because letter grades weren’t received. However, after the movies Ten, starring Bo Derek, came to Albert Lea, guys were often heard rating their dates on a scale of one to 10.”

Right about this time the price of gasoline went past 99.9 cents a gallon. This and other energy problems inspired this commentary on another bonu$ page:

“Something affecting student’s lives more than anything was the energy problems of the county. Prices of gas altered driving habits, school activity and life around the house.

“Gas prices took the fun out of driving for pleasure, Cruising Broadway for most students was out. … As winter neared an end in 1980, the price of gas neared $1.20. …

“With the price of gas so high, other methods of transportation were needed. For rural students, riding the bus became more economical than diving to school all the time. Car pooling was more widespread to get to early morning band practice or late night rehearsals.

“At school, temperatures were not to exceed 65 degrees because of new federal energy laws. However, experience could tell that classrooms were not always that temperature. Either the rooms were steaming or there was little heat at all.”

As I implied earlier in this column, those bonu$ pages added details, which went beyond high school life and activities. Among those events mentioned for that school year were the hostage mess in Iran, the death of actor John Wayne in June 1979, the pending political campaign between President Jimmy Carter and actor Ronald Reagan and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Des Moines, Iowa.

The local newsworthy incidents for the students were I-95 changing from disco to rock music, the closing of the F.W. Woolworth store at the corner of South Broadway Avenue and West William Street, the demolition of the Interstate Power Co. smokestack near the railroad crossing on South Newton Avenue and the following bonu$ detail:

“For several months ALHS students who worked in fast food places were a little worried.

“A series of five hold-ups occurred from January to March (1980). The robber always wore a T-shirt over his head. Thus he became known as the T-Shirt Bandit. As of presstime, no suspects had been arrested.”

I’m not sure if the identity of the T-Shirt Bandit ever was determined.

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