We had great success last week in identifying about 60 people and a dog in two previously anonymous photographs taken on Watson Avenue in 1956. Now let’s take on a much more difficult assignment.
Before she left for Roma, Molly Rawls posted another picture, this one of an early 20th century elementary school class, with a request for help in identifying the content. As always, click on the pics for larger size.
We are given only this: “This photograph is a recent donation to the Photograph Collection. The only person identified in the group is Richard Eugene Moester (1912-1968), third from the left on the top row. Richard graduated from R. J. Reynolds High School in 1931. He lived on S. Main Street in 1930 and on S. Trade Street in 1928. Can anyone identify any of the other students, the teacher (near the center), and/or the school that the children attended?”
Not much to go on.
And compounding the problem is that if indeed Richard Moester was born in 1912, the youngest person in the picture would be around 100 years old today. Seems hopeless. But not necessarily. These folks had children and grandchildren who might recognize them if we could find them. We might, as we did with the Watson Avenue pics, get really lucky and find someone who has an original of the picture, with names attached.
Let’s see if we can answer any of Molly’s questions to help narrow things down.
First, when was this picture taken? I checked the records, and Richard Moester was indeed born in 1912. A cursory glance at the picture tells me that he was probably about 12 years old when the picture was taken. But guessing the age of children can be a bit tricky.
So I looked at the teacher, especially her hairstyle…a sort of wing thing…quite similar to the hairstyles seen among seniors in the 1924 RJ Reynolds High School yearbook. If you go back to the 1923 yearbook, you can see the beginnings of this hairstyle, but it does not become full blown until the next year. In fact, the teacher to whom the 1924 yearbook is dedicated, Jone Mebane , has just such a hairstyle.
The unidentified teacher and Jone (?) Mebane, from the 1924 Black & Gold, both sport the new “wing” hairstyle. The class of 1924 was the second to graduate from the R.J. Reynolds High School.
So combining age observations and female hairstyles, I think it is reasonable to say that the picture probably dates from 1924 or 1925. Go much past that date and the children are no longer in elementary school.
Second, where was the picture taken? We are told that it is an elementary school. And we know where Richard Moester lived back then, at 520 South Trade Street in Salem.
In 1913, when the city of Winston and the town of Salem joined to create the city of Winston-Salem, the new combined school system leased the former Salem Boys School to serve as the graded elementary school in Salem, renaming it the Central Elementary School.
The principal of Central was Annie Wiley, daughter of the legendary educator Calvin Wiley, and a graduate of the first Winston high school class of 1886. Logic tells us that Richard Moester would have attended Central, barely two blocks from his house. In first grade, his father, Charles Moester, who operated a barbershop in the 300 block of South Main, could have walked him almost all the way to school on his way to work.
Beyond that, we cannot go for the moment. We were told that Richard Moester graduated from RJ Reynolds High School in 1931. So we could go to the 1931 RJR yearbook and attempt to identify the subjects of our photo by matching faces. We have the yearbooks from 1930 and 1932, but not 1931. And since only senior pics were included in yearbooks back then, we are out of luck.
But somebody out there knows something about this picture. Let us hear from you.