Monday, February 15, 2016

The Owl–1908 (Part 2)

A new cover design by Nelson Daniel for March, 1908.

We finally get some history as to the early days of The Owl – the March, 1908 edition was the 10th anniversary of the publication.  I wonder if any of these very early ‘numbers’ are still in existence.


By October, 1905, my grandfather, Sig Levy, was the editor (see second column, 4th paragraph) and he made a few changes.  While I have many copies of the publication, unfortunately I don’t have that one.  I’ve also wondered exactly when Sig graduated – good to see in print that he graduated in January, 1906.


It must have been sad to realize that after just 10 years, there were already 21 missing numbers of The Owl.  Of course I scoured my ‘collection’ thinking it would be fun to come up with one of these missing copies more than 100 years later but, sadly, they are missing from my collection, as well.  I have the October and December, 1903 edition – wonder if they ever located November?

I always like to read about Athletics. 

The ads didn’t seem too exciting this time – maybe because I found the history piece so interesting.  However, I did pick one that was cute.  Egg drinks????


These copies have really taken a beating.  The staples in the center have rusted and all but deterioriated so handling them is getting tough.

A new cover design by Nelson Daniel.


One of the first pages showed a picture of the S.J.V.A.A.L. Trophy.  It must have been coveted since they stated Now Ours.

The editorial talked about the trophy by saying:

At last Fresno Hi has permanently won an important athletic cup.  This has been accomplished by winning the track meet of the S.J.V.A.A.L. for three successive years, a feat which has been attempted almost ever since Fresno Hi has had any athletic aspirations whatever.  The winning of the cup, however, has aroused scarcely any enthusiasm, probably because this particular cup has been in our hands ever since it was put up, three years ago, and no fear has been felt for its safety.

Had the recent victory occurred four years ago, the school board probably would have had to declare vacation until the enthusiasm had sufficiently subsided to allow thoughts to return to studies.  Previous to the last few years, almost every student has felt personally interested in the cup.  The old files of “The Owl” are full of editorials urging the enthusiasm and support of everyone toward winning the cup.  The members of the track team are exhorted to strive as they never had before.  Then each time a track meet had been won, and the cup was temporarily Fresno’s, an editorial appeared, joyously proclaiming the happy event, and bubbling over the enthusiastic expectancy of a repetition of the victory at the next meet to come.

But all the editorial hopes and prophesies proved vain.  Try as we would, we were unable to win more than twice in succession, until finally Modesto had the required three successive victories and took permanent possession of the highly prized cup.

The second cup, however, is now ours, and yet there seems to be a lack of enthusiasm.  No one says more than “I’m glad we won it,” and few even say that.  Why is it that the importance of the victory has decreased so considerably in three years?

Interesting.  We’ve already read in previous editions about a lack of participation and enthusiasm at Fresno High School and this seems to carry on with that theme.  I can only guess at the meaning of S.J.V.A.A.L. – San Joaquin Valley Athletic _____ League.

I enjoy reading about the weddings back then but you sure wouldn’t see any publication ‘call out’ that certain girls were the most popular. 


And a few interesting advertisements – suddenly we’re seeing new items being highlighted.  Sure would love to see a photo of one of the talking machines.


And more outdoor gear.


I can just visualize a Sunday afternoon on the lawn playing croquet……


  1. The yearbooks are kept in the vault at Fresno High. I took over as yearbook advisor in 2001, with the 2002 book being the first copy I published. I brought out the 1902 book that year for students to understand the importance of keeping track of the school's history, because in 100 years, there will be people wanting to know what happened in 2002, just as we want to see what happened 100 years before.

    Very few students bought the book. Even though with over 2,000 students, I usually only sold about 250 books. There will be few of those copies around in 100 years.

    1. I have May, 1902! I would love to see some of the early copies - do they ever allow them out of the vault for visitors to view?

    2. I'm sure they would let you sit in the office an peruse them. You cannot take them off the premise as they are quite old and fragile. I would take them out and show to my students but they were never allowed to actually handle them.

  2. I have to keep reminding myself that this is the early 1900s and these are 16 and 17 year olds writing. Your grandparents' high school experience seems so different from what my grandparents had.

    1. There's a lot about my grandparents' (particularly my grandmother's) experiences that seem different than what I ever could have imagined. I so wish I could talk to them about it now.