Rummaging through relics

Hadley Carr

Hello readers! In this inaugural edition of Rummaging through Relics we take a look at a hidden treasure found in Wilson’s archives: the meticulous scrapbook of a senior during the 1936-1937 school year.

 

Susan Caryl Loggins’s report card was scattered with Bs and Cs, but the three-by-eight sheet of paper had little significance to the 16-year-old—at least not by the looks of the rest of her scrapbook, which cataloged anything of importance from her senior year.

In the fall, Loggins, who went by Caryl, had begun documenting her activities—most of which consisted of dances, movies, and more dances. Her scrapbook was adorned with mementos of nights out, including tickets to the Wesley Heights Dance with star baseball player Kilmber Bortz and tickets to “Come and Get it,” the movie she watched on her first date with Sid Bishop.

 Sid and Kilmber weren’t the only first dates that October. Caryl went to the Uptown to see a movie with basketball player Jimmy Girard. In the months that followed, Caryl continued to go on dates with the three boys, but didn’t limit her scrapbook content to boys and dances; that fall, she also tracked the student council election and the victories of Wilson’s star football team.

Perhaps the event that occupied the most space that year was Wilson’s beauty contest. A Washington Times photographer had come to the school and photographed five girls, seemingly rapt in their victory, legs dangling from the railing where they posed shoulder-to-shoulder in their shin-length skirts. Caryl hadn’t won, but she spent the following pages tracking the other girls and their modeling careers. 

Then came winter, and with it, the basketball season. Caryl documented her relationship with Jimmy Girard (the Uptown movie date boy) as the Wilson team faced their rival, Western. Despite loss, by The Beacon’s standards, the team showed promise; clipped alongside the game’s score was The Beacon’s review where they wrote, “Wilson will be a threat once it sheds competitive inexperience.”

That December, Caryl also went out with Bob Starling from the football team, but not without agreeing to his conditions. Before their date, Caryl signed a statement from the Washington-League For Protection of Young Men promising she would arrive to the date on time and that “no Woo-Pitching [would] be done by either party.” The object of the league was to “protect the young men of this country from the gold diggers and fast women who are trying to corrupt the morals of the young men.”

Caryl had signed that promise, but she had made no promise to the longevity of their relationship. In January, she went with Kilmer Bortz to see “The Goose Hangs High,” performed by the Woodrow Wilson Players; then the two went to a dance hosted by sorority Sigma Tau Lambda.

 High School Greek life was a prominent part of the Wilson school culture. In fact, many of the dances Caryl attended (as a proud member of the Sigma Lambda sorority) were hosted by Alpha Delta Sigma and Gamma Delta Phi.. 

Two months later, Kilmer Bortz rose to local fame as a young business leader and star Baseball player. On one page of her scrapbook, Caryl taped in not only the newspaper clippings that reported his success, but also the key to Bortz’s front door. Caryl didn’t stop there, deciding to also memorialize the flowers she received from her dates with Bortz in her scrapbook. The flowers would soon wilt into a couple of dwindling petals, but they wouldn’t be the last she received from Woodley Flower Shop. 

The last three months of senior year were a blur of sports games and countless dances. Though much of the space in her scrapbook was dedicated to Bortz, flyers from the Wesley Heights’ Dance and Minstrel Show with Gene Edelin and invitations to the Sigma Nu Phi Fraternity Dance were ever prevalent on the brown-tinted pages. 

June crept upon Caryl and with it, the first annual June commencement at Woodrow Wilson High School.

It was a 15-day affair, beginning with a Senior Farewell Assembly and ending with the class photograph and the graduation ceremony for the nearly 40 graduates. On June 16, at 10 p.m., Caryl had her Senior Prom at the Mayflower Hotel.

A year’s worth of sorority dances had boiled down to the largest event of the year: prom. It was Kilmer Bortz’s corsage that she wore on her wrist and later attached to her scrapbook.

Caryl would receive one more flower from Bortz. This time, she taped its entirety. There, lying across the page, 84 years later, is a rose, wilting towards the page, but with enough pedals to give the appearance of a living flower, flushing with color, to celebrate her graduation.