A photo of the Morse High School band from the 1946 school yearbook.

I remember a couple of halfhearted attempts to form clubs when I was at Bath Junior High School.

There was the AV Club, which I was very happy to join.  After filming one girls basketball game and attending two meetings, the whole thing sort of dissolved.  Then there was the Young Astronauts Club.  A bunch of us went to the gym and listened to a real, live astronaut talk about the space program, which was exciting indeed.  Sadly, I don’t remember the club ever meeting again after that.

The only extracurricular group I managed to get involved with, other than the football team, was the Science Olympiad, where we competed in various science-based competitions.  The science teacher who led the group retired just after our state finals in Portland, possibly because he accidentally left me behind on the University of Southern Maine campus, lost and alone in the dark.  But that’s a story for another day.

As I flipped through the 1946 Morse High School yearbook recently, I was struck by the number of clubs in operation, and the large number of students involved.

This was a time when kids had no television, Internet, smartphones, or video games – and it shows.  The Latin Club (Solidas Latina), for instance, features 89 people in their group photo.  Even if a few of the faces belong to teachers, this is extraordinary.  Schools don’t even bother to teach Latin anymore, and few students care to learn it.  Yet almost 90 kids enjoyed the old dead language enough to form an after-school club, complete with a president, officers, and fundraisers.  They held an annual membership drive and baked bean supper.  Can you imagine?

Less popular was the French Club, which still boasted a healthy 39 members.  Considering French is the second language of Maine, this is a little more believable.  They put on a spaghetti dinner that year, however, which doesn’t seem very French.  The Phi-Bi-Chem Club was formed to promote a greater interest in science, and had 30 active members.  They put on a science-based assembly for the school and sponsored a novelty dance.

One of the more elite groups was the “M” Club, reserved for students who had earned a letter in some extracurricular activity; 59 students qualified for membership in 1946.  I am happy to say that I could have been a member myself, due to the letter I earned playing football in 1991 (not because I was a good player, which I wasn’t, but because so many people quit the team that year that they gave a letter to everyone who stayed.)  Those who lettered in basketball could mingle with those who lettered in band.  What a great concept.

The Girl’s Leader Corps sponsored a three-act play, “Your Face is Your Fortune,” to raise money for a summer camp.  The girls acted in the play and trained to be counselors at the camp.

The most popular group, however, was probably the Glee Club, which had to be broken into three different groups.  The girl’s group had about 25 members, and the boy’s group had 14.  There was also a mixed club that met after school, with 105 members.  You can imagine the constant singing that went on in the halls of ol’ Morse High.

The Girl’s Athletic Association consisted of seven young ladies who put on a Sadie Hawkins dance, which allowed girls to ask boys for dates.

There were many students who joined the Dramatics Club to put on plays, in addition to the Senior Class play and the Junior Class play.  These plays generally featured at least one character in blackface, which was an accepted practice at the time.  Such was the case with a production of “Huckleberry Finn.”  It was an all-white school, and somebody had to play Jim.  On the positive side, he was listed as “Jim” in the credits, with the full nickname mercifully left out.

For a more active experience, you could join the marching band, the badminton club, the archery club, or the rifle club.  Imagine kids walking the hallways of Morse with rifles nowadays.  Times have changed, indeed.

All in all, there was so much for kids to do at school in the old days.  I envy them.


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