Until I discovered how many yearbooks are lurking online, I had only one photograph taken of my grandfather, Bill Stephenson, before he was an adult. I knew hardly anything about his interests, activities, or friends and I had no mental picture of the schools where he spent all those years. What an eye-opener three yearbooks have been!
At age 14, Grandpa Bill, who I knew as a gentle, loving man with a very silly sense of humor, looked like a bit of a punk, or at least a surly teenage boy.
Bill, my dad’s father, was born in 1910 and raised in Augusta, Kansas–a middle child with two brothers, Paul and Clark. Paul was eight years older, while Clark was just a year younger, going all through school in the same grade. From Augusta High School, they went on to the University of Kansas together, where they were roommates and fraternity brothers. Clark was the scholar in the family, and Bill always found it challenging to be in the academic shadow of his younger brother.
What tidbits did I learn from these yearbooks?
Grandpa Bill was musical. He played in his high school orchestra, (what instrument?) and sang in the glee club and a special boys quartet.
He was class president his sophomore year and Uncle Clark was class president their senior year.
He played basketball, (top right). He always loved sports.
While Bill always looked serious–sometimes even scowly–Clark occasionally had a big grin in his pictures.
He had a girlfriend! And his best friend might have been Arlice Williams (to the right in the photo at the top of the post), who appeared next to him in many pictures throughout their high school years.
Augusta High School was two blocks down the street from the Stephenson house.
I didn’t dig as much in the University of Kansas yearbook for 1932, but…
Bill and Clark were both members of Alpha Nu of Beta Theta Pi.
The fraternity house at 1425 Tennessee Street in Lawrence, Kansas is the former Usher Mansion, a striking limestone, Italianate structure which has continued to house Beta Theta Pi since 1913.
More grandparents and yearbooks to come.
I’d love to hear what others have found through scouring yearbooks!