The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

The Mojavian (Redux)

A Page of History


[Due to an editorial error in the May 24 issue part of the article “The Mojavian” was not printed. The Loop staff would like to apologize to Susan Wiggins and to our readers. Here is the article in full:]

I never know what I am going to find in my mother Marion Deaver’s files. Dig deep enough and there is no telling what I will find!

This time I found “The Mojavian” the eighth grade Mojave Grammar School “yearbook” from 1952-53. It was mimeographed (remember those?), and the cover was blue construction paper – held together by gold brads. The pages were not numbered, but probably totaled about 50 pages.

It includes names some of us “old timers” may remember, including Fern Wilson, Francis Moss, Donald Papenberg, Mary Finnerty, Richard Parker, Rosie Valdivia, James Franklin and Junior Lara – just to mention a few.

Teachers who some of us actually had later in the ‘50s included Lillian Terrill, Bonny Packer, Cecelia Reynolds, (my first grade teacher), Estelle Ulrich, Marie Cotton, (my elementary chorus teacher), Muriel Bowlin and Robert P. Ulrich, the Superintendent (For whom R.P. Ulrich Elementary School is named).

The Mojavian chronicled the events of these and other eighth graders who graduated that year. At that time Mojave High School was in the process of being built. The school began with the freshman class, and my brother Mike, living right across from the school, had to ride the bus to Desert High School because he was a sophomore.

The 1953 yearbook included details of a tea that was held for parents so that they could decide what the students would wear for their graduation. They chose ballerina length dresses, pumps or flats for the girls, and dress pants, white shirts, and ties for the boys. (That is the same thing my oldest son wore when he graduated eighth grade around 1982.) Then the cap and gowns made their entrance.

Oh, and the parents were served tea and cookies – how times have changed!

There were 34 students who graduated that year. The basketball and football teams were called “lightweights and heavyweights.” The lightweights in basketball won the league title, coached by Bob Vondriska. Cheerleaders included Judy Duntley, Rosie Valdivia, Rita Sanders, Glenda Wellman, Cheri Palmer, Carol Gilson, Frankie Smyth and Francis Moss.

Each student wrote their “wills” giving the next class such things as “my books, grades, and my ability in sports to Bill Wilson”, said Fern Wilson.

Rita Wilson said she “left my chewed up fingernails to Carol Gilson and my false eyelashes to Cheri Palmer.”

Haskel Hodges left his spelling book and math book to Charles Pridgen.

There was a newspaper mentioned, called the “Scoop.” News included sports, gossip, student council and a “roving reporter.” There were apparently no photos, but Lyman Young and Billy Hicks were illustrators. Don’t forget Vivian Rapids, who typed the paper.

The seventh and eighth grade girls started a sewing club that year, which was called “Chatter Corner Club.” There was no mention of what they were sewing.

Three dances were held that year, including one in February. Tickets and soft drinks were sold at the door and the proceeds went to the March of Dimes. Those dances were held in the gym, which is still there today. That gym was built as an elementary gym, but was used for many years by the high school until a new one as built adjacent to the high school.

Students wrote their ambitions, including wanting to be an architect, learning to dive, to sing on television, to travel to New York on a train, to be a secretary and to join the W.A.C.

Graduation was held on Wednesday – June 3, 1953. It featured a program with seven songs, such as American the Beautiful, America, Faith of Our Fathers and a program entitled “Schools for Freedom.”

Nearly everyone had a part in the program and all sang. A dance followed the gradation and music was provided by Gene Leis and his Moonlighters.

By the time I went to junior high school in Mojave in around 1962 it was part of the high school, with a junior high wing, although we still had to attend some classes in high schools halls, such as chemistry.

I remember being petrified to attend school there because of all the high schoolers. In reality, they ignored us and never bothered me, at least.


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