Mendo High School Yearbooks Need New Homes

Following hot on the heels of our wonderfully fun and successful “History and More” book sale, here’s another chance to capture a bit of Mendocino history. And if you’re a local from a long-time family, you might find your ancestors. 

Three of the twenty-six volumes of the Mendocino High School Yearbooks that Kelley House Museum would like to find new homes for. These covers reflect the varying names that were used since the first yearbook was published in 1907.

Kelley House Museum wants to find new homes for twenty-six Mendocino High School yearbooks, published in the years between 1921 to 1993. We’re asking for a $10 donation, which goes toward our educational programs at the museum. They’re all surplus and duplicates of the collection that we maintain in our climate-controlled archives.

The first MHS yearbook was published in 1907 as “The Occident.” In 1916, the name was changed to “The Boom,” taken from the booms constructed on Big River to control cut logs. During 1938, the name was changed to the “Tides” to represent the ocean around Mendocino. It remained the “Tides” until 1940, when it again changed to “Trails.” After 1940, the name reverted back to “The Boom,” which is still in use today.

These volumes are a wonderful peek into the past, full of the details of life in a different time. Plucking five sample volumes from the sale box, here’s some tidbits from each of them. 

The year 1921 saw eight graduating seniors– six girls and two boys – taught by a staff of six. There were six pages of photos, including a great photo of a “Crabbing Party” for a biology class. Catch it, identify it, cook it, and eat it. The text contained a dedication, predictions on the future of the seniors, editorials, poetry, short stories, athletics, dramatics, jokes and advertisements. The “Home Grill” in Mendocino had a display ad. Where was it located? An ad for the California Western Railroad (Skunk Train) offered an $11.00 round trip fare from Fort Bragg to San Francisco and return. 

By 1933, the yearbook shows the teaching staff had increased to eight. Of twenty-six seniors, fourteen were girls and twelve were boys. A graduating class prophecy was offered and there were photos for glee club, orchestra, California Scholarship Federation, as well as football, basketball, track, and girls’ sports. Unfortunately, the captions for the underclassmen group photos had no names, just a bunch of smiling kids. There were thirteen pages of photos. A poem called “Return of the Comptche Ark” describes the bus ride to Comptche. 

In 1939, there were twenty seniors, six boys and fourteen girls, with a staff of eight. Since this was during the years of the Great Depression, there were only six pages of expensive-to-print photos. This yearbook identified the sports team members by name. The advertisement for the “City Meat Market” on Main Street told readers to “Dial 5” on their telephones to place an order. 

The big excitement was an account of a trip to the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco. The group stayed at the Olympic Hotel, visited the Expo for two days and crossed the bay to Berkeley for a tour of the University of California campus. They got to go to the Zoo and see Chinatown. Big stuff for small town kids. 

By the 1955 yearbook, everyone and everything was identified in the photos. There were ten teachers with seventeen seniors, and 7th and 8th graders were included in the volume. The high school at this time wrote a weekly newspaper column for the Mendocino Beacon called “The Hilltop Volcano.” Pages of snapshots were evident in this issue, not just posed group pictures. The autos seen in the advertisement section would make today’s old car fans drool. 

In the 1963 yearbook you’ll find twenty grads and nine teachers. The school had majorettes and cheerleaders and song leaders, and also a football green. There was a Thespians Club and a Forensics Club. This issue, and the 1950s volumes, have hard covers. Everything before the 1950s is a paper bound volume.

The following yearbooks are available for pick up at the Kelley House Research Office. We’re open daily 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is one volume of each listed year, unless the date is followed by a number in parentheses: 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925 (3), 1926 (3), 1927 (2), 1930, 1932, 1933, 1938, 1939 (2), 1944, 1945 (2), 1948, 1955, 1956, 1963, 1992, and 1993. 

While the above list contains the duplicate issues, the staff at the Museum are eager to complete our set of MHS yearbooks. Many years are missing. If you have one let us know! Contact the Kelley House Museum at 937-5791, or email Karen at curator@kelleyhousemuseum.org. Tell us which one(s) you’d like to donate, and we’ll look at our inventory list to see if we need it.