Week 21: Yearbook

May theme: Social

Here is a woman I learned about when working on someone else’s genealogy. Her yearbook adds an interesting dimension to what I learned about her.

Josephine Amelia Guidoni graduated from Butte (Montana) High School in 1938. Her yearbook was called The Mountaineer.

Obviously, yearbooks are great for finding images – putting a face with a name, quite literally. The little blurb beside her name doesn’t tell us too much. General studies, and skating club. The fun page came a little bit later, on the “Predictions” page. Note that this page, as a stand alone resource, could confuse quite a few people. First, there is the date: June 1, 1960. I’m just waiting to see this show up in someone’s tree as a “fact” – not realizing that it was written 22 years before that!

It would be fun to see where all these people really did end up. Did Ted Hall become a race car driver? Did Walter Collins continue in baseball? Did Marshall Pierce get rich? Did Mary McCoy go on stage?

And then there is Josephine. She was predicted to become a “world famous woman lawyer.” Something tells me that her classmates recognized her as a studious and intelligent. I wonder, though, if it was maybe a little cruel to cast her as a speaker about crime and its aftermath.  

What prompted her classmates to write this, I wonder.

You see, Josephine lived the aftermath of crime. Born 5 Oct 1921, she was the only living child of her parents. Her father’s brother lived with them as well. In 1932, when she was eleven, she went out to pick up the mail from the nearby post office the day after Christmas. While she was gone, her parents began fighting. Her uncle, alarmed, ran to get the sheriff for help. While he was gone, her father pulled a gun and shot his wife, then committed suicide. Josephine returned home to find her father dead and her mother dying.

Clippings from newspaper articles about the murder/suicide

She was raised by her uncle who eventually adopted her. The newspapers of the time were filled with accounts, so it’s a stretch to think that her classmates didn’t know about it. But Josephine herself didn’t talk about it. She even told her sons her parents died in an auto accident, and took flowers to their graves every Memorial Day. She buried the horror along with her parents.

A favorite little find for me was a news item of May 1934 – just a year and a half after she was orphaned – that says that Josephine, an eighth grader at the Divide School (a one-room school house still in use!) won highest honors in her district for an academic contest, Her combined score was a result of a first place finish for Language, and second place finishes for Arithmetic and Spelling. Her resilience is inspiring. I didn’t know her, but I’m so proud of her!

The Divide School, a one-room school house in continual use since 1870.

She did not become a lawyer. She attended the University of Montana, worked as a bookkeeper for an accounting firm, married happily, and was the mom of two sons. She died in 1983, at age 61.

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1 Comment

  1. Barb LaFara says:

    And what about the classmate, Agnes Spillum? Did she also have s family story connected to the yearbook prediction? You made me curious… Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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