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The Class of 1915

ninth-grade

The Class of 1915

The baker’s dozen of students in this class photo (shown with their teacher, standing second from the right) graduated in 1915, one year after the outbreak of WWI but two years before America’s entry into the fray. How might the world have seemed to this group of sixteen-year-olds on the cusp of independence and an otherwise bright future?

It was uncertain whether America would remain neutral, uninvolved with what Iowans might have thought a European affair. Ethnic ties to “the homeland”, however, may have divided the community, which included a substantial number of Germans, and may also have strained individual families with ties to both sides of the conflict. War is never easy, even when the enemy is “them” rather than “us.”

More than half the boys are sporting ties! I like that. But looking more closely at their faces, it’s difficult to believe each of them is just fifteen years old. That fellow seated second from the right seems barely twelve. While the tall chap standing second from the left ought to have graduated last year. Perhaps I’m seeing school too rigidly, too much the template of performance expectations happily met. How many saw their education as a chore, an experience to be endured, not enjoyed? [I did.]

Why are there so few females? Statistics say one of the thirteen is gay, yet what would he/she do about it if they understood?

And what of their intentions after graduation? Any aspirin doctors?  Lawyers? How strong were the ties to “home”? How many were already packing their bags and hoping to achieve escape velocity?

You have no idea how much I’d like to talk with them.


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