So when I feel the need to lose myself in my non-technology-related, but still entirely geeky hobby of my collection of school clocks made by The Standard Electric Time Company, I look at old yearbooks on classmates.com. I mentioned this activity in a blog entry a couple of months ago and this trend is continuing on hot summer nights when my brain is a little too tired to write code.
My have a methodical way of finding old yearbooks to look at; I think of one of the longer roadways in New York State and then using Google Maps, I search each town along the selected roadway to see if there is a corresponding school district. I then see if there are yearbooks available and go to one of the early years, but with a minimum year of 1950. The yearbooks before 1950 are kind of hard to come by and are rather sparse in content; I blame this approach on World War II. Once I determine that the school in question was kind of art-decoish in its design, I look through the pages of these old yearbooks and look for clocks in the background of the hundreds of photos of smiling young (and well groomed) people. I’ll probably find one or two photos with a clock for every dozen yearbooks I look at. 99% of the time the clock just happens to be in the background, but once in a while a school will show a really good shot of a clock as a symbol of the passage of time or something, like this photo of the original master clock from the elementary school I attended, courtesy of the 1952 yearbook (from when it was a K-12 school).
That clock was found in the main office of the school up until the mid 1950s and I never knew what it looked like until I found that picture in the yearbook. Geek satisfaction.
It’s interesting to see that each school had its own character with the design of their yearbooks. Even though different students planned and coordinated the yearbook for each school year, there is often a strong similarity in the style and content of the photos from year to year. I think it’s because the school probably used the same photography studio or photographer year after year. I’ve also noticed that many schools of that era had grand staircases that were featured prominently in yearbooks, though only one or two that I’ve observed were as ornate as the staircase that was found in my elementary school.
Since I basically pick random schools in the Empire State to look at, once in a great while I might recognize someone as I’m scanning through the pages looking for a clock in the background. For example, one of my elementary school teachers graduated from Lockport High School in 1969 and I just happened to catch a glance of their name as I electronically flipping through the pages. That was kind of cool.
I still haven’t found another school that had the same style clocks that got me interested in collecting these things to begin with, but I’ve seen several close cousins. Maybe the clock from the elementary school in my collection is now officially a one-of-a-kind (since the others were all replaced).
That’d be kind of neat.