Here's a recap of the beginning of a 95-year-old Bluffton tradition, today part of forgotten Bluffton.
In many cases this 95-year tradition is the only thing, except for a scrapbook or two, that most Bluffton High School alumni still have on their bookshelf.
We know it as the Bluffton High School yearbook, aka “Buccaneer.”
The first edition was published in 1925-26.
It ably told the story of the 1925-26 school year. It’s foreword read: "We the class of 1926, in behalf of Bluffton High School have compiled and edited to the best of our ability, this, the first “Annual Leaves.”
The format of the book has changed little since it’s beginning. A staff puts it together. And in its early years that staff was the job of the seniors.
The book continues to summarize the school year with class photos, athletic summaries, club updates and faculty pictures. There’s also a page for autographs and an advertisement section.
Think for a moment, why was it called Annual Leaves and not Buccaneer?
The answer is that in 1926 Bluffton High School's mascot was not yet the Pirate. That happened during the 1928-29 school year. The naming of the yearbook to Buccaneer took place in 1931-32, although there was a pirate on the cover of the 1930 Annual Leaves, so the idea percolated even then.
The Pirate mascot eventually also changed the name of the high school newspaper from BHS News to The Cutlass.
The first Annual Leaves, is just as impressive as each successive book. It had 144 pages with a soft cover. From it we learned several things:
The 1926 senior class play, presented during the last week of school was “His Best Investment.” Meanwhile, earlier in the school year, the junior class performed “Miss Somebody Else.”
In the sports section it was noted that the alumni football team defeated the varsity on Thanksgiving Day 19-0.
In rehashing the school calendar, we read on Jan. 5 “one of the biggest surprises over vacation is that Mr. Buhler (the high school principal) is cultivating a mustache.”
While today’s high school offers many clubs, musical, art and athletic opportunities for students, so did 1925-26.
Here is a list of the literary clubs: Athenian Philamathean Excelsior Castalian
Forensics had an affirmative and a negative debate team. There were also a club called Girl Reserves (formerly known as the Friendship Club).
There was a Boys’ Glee Club, Girls’ Glee Club, an orchestra and band.
Here’s a joke published in the ’26 Annual Leaves whose meaning is lost today:
Miss Neff (a teacher) was explaining the new note books. Every body was listening intently, and all at once Fritz Herr blurted out, “What is the damage on them?” (Trust us, the meaning here is lost, but it was funny enough to print in 1926.)
And today, while the Buccaneer heads toward its 100th volume, the Annual Leaves and the beginning of the Bluffton High School yearbook is now part of forgotten Bluffton.
Note: The Bluffton Public Library has most if not all of the issues in the library’s history room.