A Slice of Life: The Phoenician, 1927 – 1928

One of my favorite books in the Institute’s archive is a yearbook from the Phoenix Union High School, Arizona, dating from 1928.  The book is touching as the personal record of a Gordon Gibbs’s high school years, but also is interesting visually, thematically, and historically.

Here is an image of the yearbook’s cover, with art deco overtones, features a pilgrim leading a covered wagon with two oxen:


But the title page for Phoenix Union High School provides a cliche image of the Arizona desert, complete with cacti and mountains:


The following spread from the yearbook shows a poem called “The Indian Wanderer.”  It’s strange that in a time of considerable racism in the United States against Native Americans, the youth of Phoenix Union seemed to identify strongly with the “Wandering Youth” of the poem.  However, to further enhance the fragmented nature of the book, the following pages contain sketches of the school buildings, with columns and roofs carefully copied from their Greek ancestors.


And lastly, I photographed a picture showing the faces of high school students on Picture Day over 80 years ago.  The girls have perfect pageboys and the boys all wear suits.   It’s safe to assume that today, most of the people in this book are no longer living.  It’s a bit morbid and a bit fun to flip through this yearbook, to see a generation of people ready to enter adulthood.  They have long since entered adulthood, and most (if not all) have passed it.  This may be the Institute’s only record of the friends of Gordon Gibbs, from Phoenix, Arizona, 1927-1928.

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