Thursday, October 30, 2014

65 Years ago at Chadron Prep…

The decade of the 1940's was about to end, leaving behind the devastation of World War II and ushering in a new era of prosperity.  The Great Depression was becoming but a memory. 

In 1949, unemployment was only about 3.8 percent, and you could buy a First Class postage stamp for a mere three cents.  William Faulkner was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, but the really big news of the year was the weather.  The New Year blew in with snow, ice, and bitter cold that gripped the northern plains for the first few months of l949.  For Chadron, Nebraska, it was one of the harshest blizzards on record.

Archie Conn
For high school seniors at Chadron Prep, it was a time of reflection — and anticipation — as they grabbed their diplomas and raced toward the 1950's.

The 1949 "Eagle's Tale" summarized the accomplishments of the 28 seniors who graduated that year, and dedicated the yearbook to coach Archie Conn, "who has endeared himself to all of us with his admirable coaching ability, rich personality, and sympathetic understanding of our problems."  

Under coach Conn, the Junior Eagles had completed their most successful basketball season in Prep history and "humbled Chadron High 50-9."  Of course, Prep basketball would move on to even greater glory with state championships in the 1950's.

1949 Senior Class Officers at Prep. Standing are
Bob Garfoot, VP, and Harry Landers, President.
Seated are Carol Doell, Sec., and Helen Goff,
Student Council representative.
In April, the Chadron Prep Junior-Senior Banquet took place at Colacino's Supper Club east of Chadron.  Then the Prom was held at the Women's Recreational Hall.  Music was provided by Bob Folsom's orchestra.

Dr. Wiley Brooks, for whom Brooks Hall was named, was then president of Nebraska State Teacher's College at Chadron.   Commencement took place in the college auditorium on May 26, 1949, and Rev. Carl Spieker of Scottsbluff gave the address, "Youths Adventure."

As was common in yearbooks of the era, the Class of '49 authored a "Class Will," whereby members of the graduating class passed along a variety of legacies to underclassmen.   For example, George Babcock bequeathed "my aptness in making life miserable for the faculty and practice teachers to Danny Kuska."  Leana Finney gave her "quiet charming laugh to Margies Swett," while Bernard Konrath willed his position as "junior executive at the Safeway Grocery to upstart Ted Turpin."  

Ross Armstrong willed his ability "to play hard-to-get to Oelrich's favorite son, Bob Egly."  Armstrong, son of long-time college coach and administrator Ross Armstrong, Sr., would graduate magna cum laude and serve as valedictorian of his class.

Within a dozen or so years, Chadron Prep would cease to exist, but the Prep spirit would survive — and even thrive for more than half a century — and graduates continue to gather annually and celebrate their common bond and experiences as "Junior Eagles."

For more photographs and information, visit our Dawes County Journal Schools Photo Gallery.