Graduation Day in 1942

It’s the time of year when high school students start counting down the days until graduation. Free at last, they think. We won’t warn them that as they enter adulthood, it means having the many responsibilities that go with being a grown-up.

hamilton, Kansas graduation class1942 - 242 kb

Gail McGhee is right below the school logo.


It was the same back in 1942, but there was the additional responsibility of World War II. Young men after graduation were likely to go into the army or navy or another branch of the service. Training for war and coping with the discipline of the military would far exceed any restrictions placed on them by school assignments or a stern teacher.

Here’s the graduation program from my mother’s high school. She looked forward to leaving school behind as she considered herself ready to help in some way, anyway she could, with winning the war. She wanted to do more than just collect scrap metal or cope with ration stamps. You can read her own words about that last year of high school, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and her graduation in her memory blog, Discovering Mom.

gail mcghee Hamilton high school

The graduation took place on May 19, 1942. The Reverand Melvin A. Good gave the invocation and later the benediction. Mr. C.R. Jones presented the diplomas. There’s no indication of his status, perhaps the principal or a school superintendent.

Here’s the fairly short list of those graduating. I see Gail Lee McGhee at the top of the second column.

gail mcghee graduation

All pictures from my family archives.

My mother said it was not the fashion of the time to wear long dresses for graduation. She never mentioned wearing a cap and gown, so not even sure that was part of the event.

hamilton high school ring

Gail Martin’s high school ring. It’s worn down that it’s hard to tell if the center part is the school logo (see the graduation picture).

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