Gossip is Not a 21st Century Thing

February 8th, 2019

By Becky Chapin, Archival Assistant

cover to the November 1899 edition to The High School News

The High School News, November 1899

My most recent display at the library  features different publications that came out of Geneva High School from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s. The first dated publication owned by the Historical Society is “The High School News” dated May 1898. At this time, high school student went to the Geneva Classical & Union School, as seen on the front page of “The High School News” in November 1899. Sometime between 1935 and 1939, it was renamed “Geneva Hi-News.”

We have inferred that this newspaper might have been a predecessor to yearbooks, as they were often sub-titled as “Junior Number,” “Senior Number,” or even “Football Number.” The first Geneva High School yearbook in the Historical Society’s collection published in 1923. While looking through the publications, I found the ‘gossip’ sections to be interesting. I’ve chosen some tidbits from across all the publications.


Cover to the May 1915 edition of the High School News

High School News, May 1915

While the quarterly published “The High School News” often featured a “Notes and Remarks, ““Personals,” or “Bits and Hits” section, the Geneva Hi-Times (which began publication in 1939) was up on the weekly gossip with the section “Whispers.” Oftentimes, the section was used to call out students, like ‘Clark’ in the June 1903 issue, “recently Clark informed the Geometry class that 4 divided by 4 = 0.”

From October 1909, “There were a few Saturday nights that James Moore did not go to dancing school. Ask Lloyd Allen why.”

In February 1910, “Nov. 16 and 17:– ‘Red Letter’ days in G.H.S.” with a handwritten note next to it: “(boys and girls all wore red ties to make Evans mad.)” Though why it would make Evans mad, we don’t know!

Interestingly, the section was called “Roasts” or “Freshly Roasted” in June 1912, which must be the same as “roasting” someone today since one entry read,“Heard in American History Class: Miss B.–What was the previous occupation of the explorers who came to America from Spain? For instance, what made Ponce de Leon so old? Pupil: He had been a teacher.”

Some student humor from  May 1926, “Dumb– I am going to a dental college. Dumber– Ah, Colgate, eh?” and “Teacher–Why were you absent today? Pupil–There was a sign out front, ‘Dump closed.”

In April 1930, “‘How’–May I hold your hand? Helen–It isn’t heavy, I can manage, thank you.”

cover to Hi-Times


Gossip seems to get more specific and longer in the Hi-Times…

Dede Wilson is coming to town, and Petite doesn’t know what to do with both Dede & Greg…Connie came to Geneva Sat. How’d it come out Don?…That girl called up John Boughton at the Youth Club and why was he so excited about it…For the last two Tue. nights at the “Y” the lights have been going out mysteriously. It must be a coincidence since those nights there have been join meetings of the girls’ and boys’ Hi-Y…Franklin Harper now waits at the end of third period for Winnie Wilson so he can walk down the hall with her. Is a romance budding?…Martin Dennington would like a date with Sue Harrison…Bob Helson and Dot Douchey seem to be getting rather friendly…Dick Golding takes Jane Scott home from young People’s every Sunday night…Somebody recognized James Barrett as a rival last year. That person has now retired from battle…What boy (probably from Hobart) called up Mrs. Scott in the office and asked her to connect him with Dot Bouchey?…Bill Clunz is still the leading one in the eyes of Rita Mullens are you jealous fellows……. (March 1939)

Romance seemed to be in air in October 1940, “Johnnie Boughtin’s latest crush is Jean Hart…Joan Welch still likes a certain little boy by the name of Sonny but Jim Finley walks home with her from Stunt Nite practice.”

From  May 1941, “One of the most outstanding personalities in geneva High to me is that little lady affectionately called ‘Dopey.’  Not insinuating this is appropriate, we shall continue with our analysis. Of course you know that person about whom we are to speak is Martha Dwyer… “

In June 1941, “Joyce Reed talks a lot about Francis these days…The ‘Lone Ranger’ has at last been snagged. The girl? Jean Hart.”

Anyone remember these publications? Were you involved in creating them?

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