"The Board of Education also wishes to compliment your fathers and mothers who have co-operated in such a splendid manner to make Godwin High School the best possible institution of learning that the modest means of this district was able to provide." From the June 12, 1936, issue of "Godwin News," devoted to the graduating class of 1936.
Sadly, the class of 1936 graduated in a time a great economic uncertainty. In the grips of a world wide depression, nothing the US did seemed to relieve the effects of the Great Depression. About all that could be said about 1936 is that by then, seven years since the 1929 stock market crash, and more or less five years into an economic downslide, most people had somehow learned to cope with the new economic reality.
As in all years of the Great Depression, the major distinciton between those doing well and those doing poorly was a job. At the depths of the Depression, about 25% of the working population did not have a formal job. Many people were still on farms, and many more returned to be with relatives that had them. Bartering was commong, and people traded labor, either for things, or for other kinds of labor needed.
Still, 75% of the population did have jobs, and in 1936 the federal government continued to create tax funded jobs in the form of public works. Farm land bounded by what is now Buchanan Street, 36th Street, and the Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad, was purchased for the construction of a General Motors stamping plant. Once completed, the tax revenue had a noticeable effect on the Godwin school system. Together with federal money, many new projects were begun in 1937.
The class of 1936 was the last to bear the full impact of the Great Depression on their high school experience. But it was the case that the school, with the help and involvement of the community, was able to maintain a relatively complete program of activities again in 1936. In every meaningful way the class of 1936 had a complete and rewarding high school experience. Up from 5 in 1927, the graduating class of 1936 had 42 students.
There were no class annuals from 1932 to 1936, in large part because of the impact of the Great Depression. But there were still school newspapers. In some, or perhaps all, of those years one issue of the school newspaper would serve as a surrogate class annual. The June 12, 1936, issue of "Godwin News" was in effect, the 1936 class annual.
The entire 1936 class annual, eight pages, is presented below. To view the pages, simply left click on the page numbers. Each page has been scanned at about 150% of its original size in order to make some of the details easier to see. You might have to move the image around in your browser in order to see it all. Be sure to make your browser full screen size for easier viewing.
Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of each page; comments and notes are included on some of the pages. Use the "Back" button on your browser to return to the main menu. People should consider contacting me if they have additional information, or comments.
Left click on any image below for a much larger version.
Left click on any page for a larger version.
Left click on the image below for a larger version.
Material provided for scanning by Bill Charon, class of 1962.
The piece above indicates that 1,400 people showed up for the class of 1936 graduation exercises. The class of 1936 had 43 graduates, so each graduate brought, on average, over 30 audience members, showing the tremendous community interest and support that school activities generated in those times. This is, in part, why schools like Godwin were so effective at the time.
If anyone has any other photographs pertaining to the class of 1936 they'd like to see included here please contact me.