When Norm and I moved to Arizona in 2003 to be close to Mom, I wrote a book about my parent’s life. She died at age 98 in 2011. The date of her birth is coming up, August 23, so she is on my mind. This is the story about her journey to teach. There is quite a contrast to the letters they wrote in the 1930’s compared to today’s resumes.’ I am thankful education was important to Mother and she encouraged me to get my RN degree.
In the early 1930’s Frances Shara had a dream for her daughters. She insisted they go to college. She started selling eggs and saving money. My Mother, Le Nora was her youngest daughter. She was a straight A student completing high school in 3 years. At age 16 she and her older sister Leona, age 18, were taken to Cuba, Kansas by their Dad. They caught a train and traveled through the flint hills to Manhattan, Kansas to attend Kansas State University.
They were real pioneers for women, being the first girls from Narka, Kansas to attend college. With little money they found a room to share, and needed to work. Le Nora planned to teach business. She found employment at the Varsity Theater, being their bookkeeper and ushering. Leona wanted a degree in Home Economics and worked in the Home Economics Department. Le Nora was driven to get her degree as quickly as she could. The sooner she got it, the less money she would spend going to school.
She liked athletics and kept busy playing basketball, baseball, volley ball, dancing or tennis depending on the season. She commented, “I won more than my share of tennis games.” During the summer she rented a room from the family that owned Varsity Theater. She wanted to continue school and be close to her fiancé Harold Anderson. She completed her teaching degree in three years and again with a 4 point grade average. Harold still had another year of college before graduation.
Le Nora and Leona needed $200 for their last semester of school. Their Mother Frances borrowed the money from the Eastern Star. Le Nora and Leona agreed to pay the Eastern Star back after they graduated and got jobs. Eastern Star is a social order of ladies in the Narka area with deep spiritual values. A deep sisterhood exists between its members. Because of this sisterly love, they were willing to help Fannie’s daughters.
Their brother Leonard drover Mother Francis to their daughter’s graduation. She beamed with pride as her two daughters received their diplomas. Her dream that her two daughters graduate from college finally paid off.
Le Nora’s high school teacher told her about a teaching position in the center of a farming community at Centerview, in Western Kansas. Without hesitating to travel far away from family and her fiancé Harold, Le Nora eagerly wrote a letter to the school board.
I have been advised that there is to be a vacancy in the commercial department of your high school. I am submitting my qualifications for your consideration. I am a graduate of Narka Rural High School. I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State College, Manhattan, Kansas. I have taken the required educational subjects for a three year certificate renewable for life.
I am qualified to teach shorthand, typewriting, bookkeeping, and any other commercial subject required in high school. In addition, I have had 21 hours of English, 18 hours of Spanish, 17 hours of history, 34 hours of economics and sociology, 8 hours of mathematics, and 6 hours of public speaking. I received my teacher’s training in ninth grade English under the supervision of Miss Edith Campbell, Manhattan High Schools, in Manhattan, Kansas.
I have made practical use of my commercial training by working part time for Mr. Sam L, Sosna, manager of the Varsity Theatre, Manhattan, Kansas. I am very interested in athletics and am qualified to coach girls’ athletics. I have taken an active part in intramurals, consisting of basketball, baseball, volley ball, dancing, and tennis.
I am nineteen years of age, five feet five inches in height, weigh one hundred and ten pounds, and enjoy good health. I am a member of the Women’s Athletic Association, the Y.W.C.A., and the Presbyterian Church. Upon request, I shall ask the Placement Bureau of Kansas State College to send you my credentials so that you may know of my personal character and teaching ability. If you desire further information, I shall send you additional references.
Should my application be considered favorably, I shall be glad to arrange for a personal interview at your earliest convenience.
Very truly yours, Miss LeNora M. Shara
Le Nora received a response written in pencil from Mr. Titus on June 17, 1933
Dear Miss Shara,
We have decided to give you the job of commerce teacher if it is possible for you to give us a personal interview at any time it is convenient for you. Let us hear from you at once please. Clerk of Centerview Rural High School. Clarence Titus.
At the young age of 19, LeNora was on another train, alone this time and traveling to her teaching job in Centerview. LeNora shared, “It chugged through the flat farm country of western Kansas, you could see acres of wheat beginning to head and green pasture land. Scattered throughout the country, you would see in the horizon large white barns and tall block silo’s towering above. We traveled through small towns stopping to pick up more passengers. When they got to Pratt, I knew it wouldn’t be many more stops until we got to the small town of Kinsley. I took a motor car from Kinsley the 12 miles to Centerview. In the distance I could see across the wheat fields the white steeple in the skyline of the Methodist church on the North edge of Centerview. “
“Centerview consisted of a handful of establishments. There was a garage owned by Tom Stade. He repaired farm equipment and an occasional automobile. There was a post office in the grocery store, and a small red brick bank where the door angled toward the corner of the block.”
There was a boarding house a block from the school, and I was able to rent a room from Mr. and Mrs. Annie Turner for $20 a month. There were two other single teachers at the boarding house. They taught English and Music and we each had our own room. My teaching contract was for $70 a month.”
Le Nora was excited about her first teaching job. “I was sponsor of the Sophomore Class. In typing I class I would blindfold my students to give them a typing test. This proved that there is no need for even a beginner to look at the keyboard.” “I also taught advanced typing and bookkeeping. The biggest challenge at school,” she explained, “Was teaching the male students that were bigger and older than I. “
Le Nora kept active at school and after school and quickly became a part of the community. “I played the saxophone, and was asked to play a solo at PTA November 27, 1933. “I never was so scared, ”she recalled.
Miss Ida Smith was the English teacher, and also lived in the boarding house. She gave descriptions of people in her class and let the students guess who it was. “I am describing someone whom all of you know. This person is rather tall and very slender, has beautiful brown wavy hair, sea-blue eyes, and a skin you would love to touch. She is always jolly and laughing, a good sport, can play tennis well, and is well-liked by everyone.” This was a description of Miss Shara
Le Nora attended the Methodist Church in town and soon was teaching the high school Sunday School Class. All the farm boys in the community also attended church, and were very interested in the new single, attractive teacher. The one that could beat them all in a tennis game. …to be continued Mom and Dad’s Love Story