Graduating into Life

Elitha Shelley and Bertha Dodgen with their school principal

Today I decided to open a different cabinet door to see what I could find.  Here is the graduating class of 1907 at Round Mountain High School in Round Mountain, Texas.   They are named Elitha Shelley and Bertha Dodgen, and they stand with their principal who must have a name, but I don’t know it.  The two young ladies are probably 16 or 17 years old because, in those days, there were only eleven grades of school.  This was a small ranching community in the Texas Hill Country, and the businesses in town sustained the surrounding ranches, just as the ranchers sustained the shopkeepers.  I know for a fact that, as soon as she graduated from high school herself, Bertha started teaching school.  She was my mother’s mother.  Now, sit tight while I explain the eventual relationship between these two young women!  Elitha, known as ‘Litha’, married the brother of Bertha, Frank Dodgen.  Elitha was the sister of Hope Dodgen, who married Jim Alexander.  Jim had a brother, Frank Alexander, who married Bertha.  So, the children of these marriages were related several different ways.  Elitha and Bertha had become sisters-in-law!  Elitha and Frank Dodgen had 9 children:  John, Dean, Earl, Joe, Tom, Ann, Keith, Elizabeth, and Martha.  Bertha and Frank Alexander had 5 children:  Julia Mae, Roberta, Emalu, Rufus, and Seleta.  Roberta is my mother.  But, I’m getting waaaaaay ahead of myself here.  Let’s go back to graduation day and look at the program.

Commencement Program- 1907 Round Mountain High School

Tied at the side in what has been a green ribbon, this is a fetching memento of the occasion!

Let’s look inside:

Page One 1907 Commencement Program

“The Class of Nineteen Hundred and Seven

of the

Round Mountain High School

requests the pleasure of your presence

at its

Commencement Exercises

Saturday Evening, April Twentieth

at Two o’clock

Round Mountain, Texas.”

Now let’s have a look at the program.  I am guessing that the first is a speech, the second and third are poems, the fourth is either a poem or a song, and the last is definitely a hymn.

“Cuban Independence………………………………………………..C. D. Henninger

Someone, Somewhere is Watching You…………………………Elitha Shelley

From Acorn to Oak………………………………………………….. Bertha Dodgen

Old Black Joe……………………………………………………………Charles Gimbel, Jr.

Presentation of Diplomas and Commencement Address…..Hon. Ike D. White

Jesus Lover of My Soul………………………………………………Chas. D. Blake”

Back in those days, it was quite common to write popular names in shorthand, which is how ‘Charles’ became ‘Chas.’ in the printed program.  Other common abbreviations were ‘Jas.’ for James, ‘Jn.’ for John, and ‘Wm.’ for William.  ‘Hon.’ stands for The Honorable, which quite likely meant that the fellow was a judge.

Program

The final page lists all the graduates; all two of them, along with the class colors of light green and white, which explains the pale green ribbon on the spine.

I’ll bet there were some mothers busy months in advance making those dresses with all the lace and ruffles, and you can bet that those mothers or some aunts put together whatever the local milliner could order or had on hand to “build” those hats!  (And I don’t believe that the high school principal is a whole lot older than his students.)

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