Violins & Voices

Week 21: #52 Ancestors – Yearbook

By Eilene Lyon

Family photos tend to introduce us to our ancestors in the context of relatives. The great thing about yearbooks is how they put people in the context of friends in one of the most formative of social institutions: schools.

I enjoyed finding my parents in their high school yearbooks on Ancestry. Then I discovered my Aunt Alice had yearbooks from Oregon State, providing a little later look into my parents’ early lives.

From their high school days (Mom in Portland; Dad in Corvallis, Oregon) you can see a couple activities that probably introduced them to one another and gave them a bond of common interests. (Click on images to enlarge – all from

Junior year play “Spring Green.” My dad in this picture looks so much like Little Brother at this age!

In college, both Mom and Dad continued playing violin and roles in musical theater. (When I was a teen, they performed in “Oklahoma” in community theater.)

They both entered co-housing organizations, though Dad did not live in the men’s house. It was much more economical to live at home with his parents.

Mom was not officially part of a sorority, but The Pines house had some aspects of one. It was one of several homes belonging to Co-Resident Women, Inc. Dad belonged to Acacia, a fraternity established at University of Michigan in 1904.

Do these guys look anything like any college men you know?!

My parents married just before they began their senior year at Oregon State. Mom got a little hazing from her house sisters. I expect it was a common occurrence in the days when it was easier to get an “MRS degree” than a professional career. Not surprisingly, Mom became a homemaker after graduation. Dad went straight into the U.S. Army.

When Mom and Dad got engaged, her house sisters had her do this ritual that I can’t really explain! She did tell me about it, but details are fuzzy.

Feature image: Mom and Dad enjoyed performing in musical theater. Here they are in costume for The Pirates of Penzance at Oregon State College (University).

26 thoughts on “Violins & Voices

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  1. Delightful glimpse into high school and college– back in the day. I adore the group photos, everyone looks perfect, preserved in a happy moment in time. Interesting engagement ritual

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      1. Ack. Women have been getting medical degrees since the 1800s.

        A friend of mine told me that women weren’t as good at programming as men. I hoped she didn’t say that to her granddaughters! I said, “Women were the first computer programmers.” She said, “Oh it was easier back then.” !!!! No, dear, it was much harder – they INVENTED it! Now they have programming languages and build on existing code. Sheesh.

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  2. I have always wondered why people looked so much older back then. Life was harder so it makes sense that adults would age more quickly but kids and teenagers should not. I do like how put together everyone seems. People today tend to look sloppy in comparison.

    This is a lovely glimpse into your parents’ life before you knew them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t seem to master instruments played with two hands. I’ve tried piano and mandolin. Trumpet and French horn worked well for me, but I don’t have any instruments now, aside from a small djembe drum.

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  3. How nice to glimpse your parents’ college years with just a few mouse clicks. I had no idea that the Ancestry site also had pictures; I thought it just had genealogical info for tracing your tree. What a treasure trove of info for you to find Eilene!

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      1. That makes sense – what if people didn’t want their image there? I never thought about that fact, just how nice the extra pictures are for those researching their ancestors.

        Liked by 1 person

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