Saturday, October 23, 2010

Revisiting the Old School Yearbook

Not LeDandy's yearbooks. Hell, I threw out my old high school yearbooks just after I graduated. I never regretted doing that as high school was the worst experience of my life. It was a prison for me. College? Arizona State University had about forty thousand students when I attended, which made yearbooks meaningless.

Earlier in the week I received some wonderful books from my colleague on the Pince-Nez Renaissance. Included in the shipment was a yearbook for Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The year.........1904! This was a golden era for pince-nez eyewear so this initially stimulated my interest. Then I started examining the book page by page. This yearbook was fascinating and I couldn't put it down.

Below is a photo of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. A far cry from the "Animal House" style fraternities of today.

colby college fraternity
On to the pince-nez photos. Below is a photo of a young man wearing the hoop spring style popular in this time period. Note the ear chain for his eyeglasses. Back in this time lenses were made of glass. One fall and the lens would probably shatter, hence the security device. Also note that the other fellow in the photo is wearing a tuxedo with peak lapels. Many of the students wore tuxedos for their yearbook photo. The narratives for student photos are quite interesting.

colby college pince nez

The young man below wearing hoop springs also appears in the fraternity photo.

Women also wore pince-nez at this time. Note the beautiful hoop spring on the young woman below.

colby college pince nez
At the back of the yearbook I found local ads for businesses of the time. Naturally a shoe ad caught my interest.

Before you get excited about the price of shoes from 1904, you need to remember that wages were drastically lower than those of today. A skilled factory worker earned about eight dollars a week. A nice pair of shoes cost about half of his net pay. In relative terms, shoes are cheaper today though the quality is much inferior.
Note: this article is also posted on LeDandy (of Northern California)


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