Washingtonville Central School Through the Decades – 1940’s


The 1940’s ushered in great unrest in the world as the United States entered into World War II after the December 7 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Pillar was the name of the yearbook from the Class of 1940.  It was dedicated to

‘Miss Marian C. McInerney, our beloved English teacher who directed the publication of this yearbook.’  In all the years in between 1940 and present day we see the apprehension of new freshmen entering the high school world for the first time.  As quoted in the 1940 Class History, ‘Of course we were all excited about being in high school, but our eagerness was very nicely squelched by upper classmen.  The dignified Seniors, the snobbish Juniors and the sophisticated Sophomores, all looked down on us poor green “Freshies”.  Later in the year we discovered that they were not really so bad and were willing to help us with all the problems our inexperience brought upon us.’

Included in The Pillar is the Senior Will, Senior Superlatives, photos of each club, group faculty photographs and individual pictures and school history and future plans for each graduate.  Graduates: Libbie Baldwin, Elizabeth Brewster, Francis Bryan, Emmett Bruen, Bessie Corkedale, Carolyn Dixon, Florence Freeman, Eleanor Hall, Norma Mae Hookey, Lillian Doering, Betty Ann Goodmen, Ann Hannema, John Kille, Anthony Kolodziejski, Elvira Moran, Barney Lewis, Joseph Orsenigo, Natalie Overton, Marjorie Richmond, Lila Taubert, Mary Jane Ward, Eleanor Richmond, Albert Sewell, Thomas Thompson.

The school archives holds extensive information from 1945 to 1949.

There were 21 graduates in 1945 as the war was coming to an end.  The Scribe Commencement edition for that year was paper backed and twelve pages long.  This class was the first “first” class to enter the new building having spent their whole school life here.  They began with 102 first graders under the tutelage of Miss Overfield and Miss Watkins.  This translated into over 50 children per class!  Considering that this class started out with 102 and ended up with only 21 graduates says something about the times as well.

Clubs that were active in 1945 included The Glee Club, Scribe, Thrift Club, Library Council, Future Farmers of America, Math Club, Bachelors Club-which indicated that the cooking done was limited due to the sugar shortage and that one member’s attempt to substitute salt for sugar met with a “rather different tasting food”; and the Student Council.  Eighteen members of the Student Council sold War Stamps and Bonds again this year.  The total sale of bond for the 7th War Loan Drive was $2975.00.  The total bond sales for the year totaled $3850.00 and total stamp sales was $620.25.  The students raised money individually and held “noon hour dances and a sport dance” as well as promoting the collection of clothes for the Overseas War Relief.

The Basketball team had a good season both in non-league and league games but lost the league playoff to Pine Bush by one point.  Track was allowed to resume competition winning the Section Nine Championship and being presented the James O’Neil Trophy for excellence.  The Soccer team and the Baseball team both ended up in second place.  Three members of the Tennis team came away winning Class C singles title and Class C doubles.

Two pages of this 1945 Commencement Edition were dedicated to Central’s Honor Roll of Recent Months.  It listed four alumni who were killed in action along with their photograph and three additional casualties indicating names and when they attended Central School.  The following page listed the names of 47 young men and two women and their rank and location if known.  In the archives is a Special Application for a War Service Regents High School Diploma.  The student had to have successfully completed 16 units of study, ‘been inducted into active military service within two months prior to the closing date of our school in June 1945 or was legally released for emergency food production service (work on farms or in canneries or in greenhouses) not more than two months prior to the closing date of school in June 1945 in conformity with the Rules of the Board of Regents as set forth….by Associate Commissioner George M. Wiley.’

It was customary for each class to choose a motto, class colors and a class flower.  The Class of ’45 chose ‘With the ropes of the past we will ring the bells of the future’, graduation gowns were in the colors of maroon and white with the carnation the class flower.

The Class of ’46 Commencement Edition states that as they began their high school years were given the name of “Those Noisy Freshmen”.  From the stories told throughout it would seem that the description followed them right through Senior year.  Apparently the cure for jet propelling erasers at faculty was a weeks detention which as stated ‘cured some of the guys’!   Junior prom seemed to be the best one ever with a profit of $.02.  The theme was Dutch Garden complete with a windmill, tulips, picket fence.  The Senior trips for many years were to Washington DC.  This class seemed to have held court in Room 409 at the Taft Hotel which was reenacted on Class Day.  One would assume that whatever happened in Room 409 remained there.

This edition is the first to publish photos and biographies of each graduate along with baby pictures.  News of local servicemen is included.  The Track team came in second this year losing first place by four points.  Baseball had the distinction of being in last place and Basketball was in last place in the Section III loop.  Soccer was the most successful sport as the team came in second place having lost only one game to Cornwall.  The class motto- Out of the Harbor into Deep Channels; navy blue and white were the colors with the American Beauty Rose as the class flower.  The Baccalaureate service was held the Sunday prior to graduation.  Participating was Rev. Swensen who gave the Invocation, Fr. Beller from St. Mary’s the prayer, Rev. Conger who read from Corinthians, Rev. Huenink from the First Presbyterian Church who presented the sermon.  Graduation took place on Tuesday evening, June 25 at 8:00 pm.

The Class history of 1947 states that they were looking for perfection – they would accept neither the smartest nor the most stupid students because the goal was for average.  They lay claim to ‘having the most average class ever to graduate from good ‘ole C.H.S.’

They produced and starred in the Senior Play “Tish” which put $400 in the class treasury.

They continued the trend of having noon-hour dances on Fridays during the winter months with admission charged.  Of course this class had the best prom ever!  It netted a profit of $75.25 so compared to the previous year it was certainly more lucrative.  The biggest concern seemed to be whether the class rings would be delivered before the class trip to Washington.  They were by three weeks.  Senior biographies were included but without any photos.  A group photo of the faculty was added in this edition.  There were 24 graduates with an additional graduate listed from August 1946.  The commencement address was delivered by Captain Harold J. Whitlock, post chaplain, Stewart Field, “The Making of a Citizen”.  Class motto – We Build the Ladder by Which We Rise; blue and white were the class colors, and American Beauty Rose chosen again as the class flower.

The Class of ’48, this year celebrating their 60th year graduated 38 young men and women.  Their motto – We Finish to Begin, blue and white class colors and the cornflower as the class flower.  Again, this class chose their Class Day theme based on the train ride back from Washington D. C.  This class in their Junior year gave three of the biggest events of the year with the Halloween Dance in October; “aster of the Strait” a Christmas play and the best prom.  As stated, ‘it must have been good if pictures were taken at it for the local paper.’

The Class of ’49 graduated 25 students with 3 additional graduates from August 1948 and January 1949.  Notes from Mr. Taft, principal, indicate that the graduates would be wearing maroon and white gowns.  The motto chosen was We are On Our Way with the class colors green and white and flower the orchid.  Rev. Clarence W. Hunter, minister of the Federated Church of Kerhonkson presented the commencement address.  His theme was “Remember the Three Bones” as story of a man who wanted his boy to make good.  When leaving home to go out into the world the father reminded his son to remember the three bones and he would get along alright: the wish bone, the jaw bone and the backbone.

There were no Commencement Editions available for reference for 1948 and 1949.

The population for the United States recorded in the 1940 census was

32, 122,000 with the average salary at $1,299, minimum wage $.43 an hour.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office April 1945 and Harry Truman saw the country through the end of World War II.  Big Band music was the rage with television coming on the horizon.  Fifty-five percent of homes had indoor plumbing.  The war affected everything from the rationing of food to the shutdown of the car industry to the lack of rubber for baseballs and a shortage of wood for bats.  The end of the war marked the beginning of the Baby Boom as soldiers came home and settled down to start their family.  The war would leave an indelible mark on history with the loss of so many young people with promising lives ahead of them.  Their deaths placed a pall over small communities like Washingtonville where everyone was a neighbor to everyone.