Regular faculty’s Despair-era PTA booklet historical past lesson in miniature | Historical past

 As a not-for-profit establishment, the McLean County Museum of Historical past depends on donations to “develop” its curated collections of every thing from household letters to widespread home goods. The museum’s mission, in any case, is to gather, protect and make out there the papers and objects that inform the story of McLean County and its folks — from the Paleoindians some 12,000 years in the past to you and your neighbors at this time. 

Usually relating to donations, what seems at first look to be a fairly ho-hum merchandise seems to be something however. Take, for example, a 1938-1939 PTA booklet for Eugene Discipline Faculty in Regular, gifted to the museum earlier this summer time. 

Eugene Field Elementary School

This 1938 Digicam Craft picture exhibits Eugene Discipline Faculty in Regular. 

Certainly, this booklet opens a number of home windows into the previous, together with the historical past of Discipline; the position of the PTA in American training; the Nice Despair; and one thing of the Blunk household of Regular, who had the foresight to save lots of this fragile, now 84-year-old booklet for eventual donation to the museum. 

The booklet’s cowl contains a {photograph} of the varsity credited to Digicam Craft, a longtime Regular studio. This photograph was initially stapled to the quilt, although over the numerous years the staples rusted and broken the booklet’s acidic, friable paper. Within the museum’s care, the remaining staples had been eliminated and the photograph and paper booklet positioned in protecting, acid-free archival sleeving. The contents had been then housed within the Eugene Discipline Faculty file within the museum’s climate-controlled archives. 

The six-page booklet lists the Eugene Discipline PTA officers, committee chairpersons and room representatives for the 1938-1939 faculty 12 months. On the time, each single Eugene Discipline PTA place was held by a lady (sure, this booklet even has one thing to say about gender in America!) Dorothy Jackson served as president and Julia Byerly as vp. 

The PTA secretary was Bernice Blunk, and it’s with the Blunk household that our story comes extra into focus. On the time, Bernice’s oldest son, Robert, was a kindergartner at Eugene Discipline. And it was Robert’s daughter, Cindy (Blunk) Venker of Florida, who donated to the museum this booklet and a number of different objects collected by her dad and mom. 

Eugene Discipline Faculty, which opened in fall 1936, was a beneficiary of President  Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, with funding coming from the Public Works Administration. Situated on the nook of Maple and Cypress streets subsequent to Fell Park, Eugene Discipline represents a kind of small, neighborhood faculty that has lengthy fallen out of favor in training administration circles (though Eugene Discipline closed as an elementary faculty in 2004, it reopened six years later as Unit 5’s Vocational Coaching Heart.) 

The varsity’s title got here not from a distinguished native citizen or nationwide politician, however fairly the St. Louis-born newspaper columnist and satirist Eugene Discipline (1850-1895), who grew to become generally known as the “Poet of Childhood.” Discipline ultimately settled in Chicago, and his well-known poems embrace “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” and “The Duel,” the latter having to do with “the gingham canine and the calico cat.”

Though Eugene Discipline is a principally forgotten literary determine in modern America, faculties carrying his title nonetheless dot the nation, with these in Illinois present in Chicago, Park Ridge, Rock Island and Wheeling. 

Again within the 1938-39 faculty 12 months, Eugene Discipline was one two elementary faculties in Regular. (This was earlier than the group of McLean County Unit District No. 5.) The opposite elementary faculty was Bernardine Orme Smith, located on the 900 block of Kern Avenue, south of Hovey Avenue and east of Adelaide Avenue.

Junior excessive college students attended Central Faculty, positioned about the place the basketball courts subsequent to Manchester and Hewett residence halls are at this time on the Illinois State College campus.

Eugene Field booklet

This picture exhibits the quilt of a booklet printed for 1938-1939 by the PTA at Eugene Discipline Faculty in Regular.

The Eugene Discipline PTA booklet consists of the group’s 1938-39 schedule of visitor audio system and particular applications. Highlights embrace a Jan. 19, 1939, speak on worldwide relations by Richard Browne of Illinois State Regular College, and an April 20 program on “social issues” courtesy of McLean County Choose Homer Corridor. Additionally deliberate had been an open home, a PTA founders’ day potluck supper and different occasions. 

The Rev. Fr. J.P. Farrell, chaplain on the Illinois State Penitentiary in Pontiac, spoke on the Oct. 20, 1938, PTA assembly on the subject of juvenile delinquency and its prevention. Farrell was well-known within the Twin Cities, having served for seven years as athletic director for Trinity Excessive Faculty (now Central Catholic).

“He associated a lot of attention-grabbing experiences in connection along with his work on the jail,” reported The Pantagraph, “however asserted that however little may be achieved for a boy after he has reached a penal establishment.” 

The booklet additionally reprinted the “guidelines” of the PTA state constitution. “To chorus from all partisan and factional political actions,” was the second rule. Good recommendation for fogeys then … and good recommendation at this time! 

All through the varsity 12 months, Bernice Blunk — with Robert attending kindergarten — remained energetic in PTA affairs. Along with doing her half within the PTA, Bernice put in a few years as secretary for McKnight Publishing Co. of Bloomington. She died in 1986 on the age of 76. 

In the meantime, Robert “Bob” Blunk graduated from Regular Neighborhood Excessive Faculty in 1950 earlier than spending 4 years within the Navy — a part of that throughout the Korean Warfare. He returned to the Twin Cities, received employed as an apprentice printer at The Pantagraph, after which married his hometown sweetheart Barbara Lichty, an ISNU graduate and schoolteacher. 

Bob Blunk retired after 32 years at The Pantagraph, although he drove a Unit 5 bus for an additional 16 years. For 30-some years he additionally volunteered as a College Excessive Faculty official scorer for basketball video games, and a member of the “chain gang” for soccer.

Barbara Blunk taught for 30 years at U Excessive earlier than retiring in 1994. She was additionally a longtime volunteer for the McLean County Museum of Historical past’s library/archives. Barb handed away in September of final 12 months, and Bob adopted two months later. 

The Blunks — by preserving items of native historical past equivalent to this PTA booklet — are serving to the museum fulfill its mission to maintain native historical past impactful and alive.

Items From Our Previous is a weekly column by the McLean County Museum of Historical past. Invoice Kemp is the museum’s librarian.


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