Life in 1942 Huntington as America Goes to War

A very rare photo showing Huntington High School in 1942 and the Main Street School at the extreme right.
A very rare photo showing Huntington High School in 1942 and the Main Street School at the extreme right.

America was at war in 1942 and life at Huntington High School recognized that fact.  Page 59 of that year’s edition of The Huntingtonian was devoted entirely to the Student Civilian Defense Council, known by the acronym S.C.D.C.  Despite the war, and the lingering economic tumult, seniors and other students at the school, still enjoyed quite a memorable experience.

“An air raid alarm sounds; quickly, quietly and efficiently the school is evacuated,” states a yearbook description of the S.C.D.C. under a photo of group’s members.  “Inside of fifteen minutes every pupil is safe in a previously assigned home, checked and accounted for. 

“The group responsible for this quick emergency action is the baby of Huntington High organizations; the Student Civilian Defense Council, better known as the S.C.D.C.  Under the leadership of Richard Stone and Mr. Simpson the newest addition has done much to forward the protection of student civilians.”

The Mr. Simpson referred to in this entry was, of course, legendary principal Robert L. Simpson, who ran Huntington High School from 1930 to 1950.  Mr. Stone was a member of the Class of 1942.  Known as Dick, the yearbook noted his plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “buying gasoline for his car” as being his pet peeve and “Broadway sodas” as his “pet like.”

Seniors dedicated the 1942 yearbook to popular teacher Miss Isabelle Buchanan, “Because of her deep understanding; Because of her willing cooperation; Because of her cheery spirit; Because of her friendliness to us; Because we sincerely appreciate all this.”

The photos of 33 faculty members are spread over two pages in the yearbook and include one of Robert Cushman, who later became principal of the school in 1950 and remained until his retirement in 1968.

The “long anticipated” and traditional senior class trip to Washington, D.C. was cancelled due to “war conditions.  Nevertheless, it has been a good four years and we leave reluctantly.”

The senior portraits in the yearbook show an attractive, well-dressed and seemingly happy group of teenagers.  Many pages are devoted to clubs and teams.  The student newspaper was then known as The Question Mark and the drama club was called Masque.  Members of the latter traveled to New York City to see “Life with Father,” which was referred to as “that hilarious comedy hit of two seasons.”

The travel club met on Monday afternoons and members spent the time studying about far off destinations, almost making it feel as if they actually visited the locations.  They also “helped our community by raising money for the Red Cross.”

The more than two dozen members of the dance club enjoyed “a combination of ballet, adagio and Indian war dancing.  Leap – stretch – slide – down – over and up!  Very fascinating once you get into the swing of it.”

The outing club went on hikes, fishing picnics (only one fish was caught and members wanted to frame it), bicycle rides and enjoyed a skating party, too.  “Those were swell times spent by a swell club,” the yearbook noted.

Two cheers are listed under a photo of nine cheerleaders.  The words to “Blue and White” go like this: “Blue and white, white and blue. We’re from Huntington, who are you? Are we in it? Well, I guess, we’re going to win for H.H.S.  Team! Team! Team!”  The Huntington Locomotive cheer had the girls exclaiming, “H-u-n-t-i-n-g-t-o-n (repeat three times), Rah Huntington, Rah Huntington, Team! Team! Team!”

Physical education teacher William Class headed the school’s athletic program and was one of Long Island’s most well-regarded coaches.  The band and orchestra had banner years. 

The community kept students’ school experiences as normal as possible, even during a tough time in our nation’s history.

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