Friday, April 25, 2014

Click to enlarge

As you can see above, a 1922 high school sophomore named Jennings Keffer liked to doodle. Those scribblings — and many more, as I'll show you in a minute — appear in an old Shakespeare text that was recently found at a bookstore by a music blogger who calls himself Devil Dick. Although the Shakespeare book has nothing to do with music, Devil Dick found the doodles so enticing that he decided to post them on his blog and try to find out more about Jennings Keffer.

So what sort of doodles did a high school fella create in 1922? Pictures of girls, for starters. And what kinds of girls would be of interest in 1922? Take a look (for all of these images, you can click to enlarge):

It's hard to express how much I love that. I particularly like the cigarette and the bells — scandalous! It's worth noting that while flappers were just becoming a pop-cultural phenomenon in the early 1920s, the term "flapper" has much deeper roots and was long associated with prostitutes, so the word may have had an extra forbidden-fruit quotient or with young Jennings.

Here's another set of doodles from the book:

The most interesting thing here, at least to me, is the pair of baseball drawings on the left side, because Jennings was coming of age at just the right time to be swept up in the national mania surrounding Babe Ruth. The Babe had set a single-season record by hitting 29 home runs in 1919 (the previous record of 27 had stood since 1884) and then completely changed the sport by hitting 54 homers in 1920 and 59 more in 1921. When Jennings was making these doodles in the spring of 1922, Ruth was at the peak of his larger-than-life celebrity arc, and baseball was coming into its own as a powerful cultural and economic engine. Even without televised games, it all must have been a very exciting time to be a teen-aged baseball fan.

If Jennings was a high school sophomore in 1922, that means he was probably born around 1906. Sure enough, Devil Dick did some research and determined that Sidney Jennings Keffer was born in 1906 in West Virginia and died in 1995 in Ohio. You can see Devil Dick's post about all this, including several more pages of doodles, here.

(My thanks to reader Jeff Ash for letting me know about this one.)

5 comments:

  1. Pretty certain its 'Keffer'.. his 'H' in 'High School' is different from the first letter of his last name in that last image..

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    1. Right you are -- typo on my part. Will fix.

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  2. I taught history at my alma mater for the past 15 years before we had to move. I collected yearbooks while I was able and have almost a set from the 1920s (1919 was the 1st published ). They are all boxed waiting for us to find a permanent home. The one thing that stands out from me, even beyond the doodles and notes to each other, was the cover of the 1922 (iirc) featuring swastikas as a border on the front cover!
    I'd post pics if I had access to them right now, but be warned our school color is purple

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  3. Sidney Jennings (Jinks) Keffer was born in 1907 and did die in 1995 from pneumonia. He loved beer, smoking, Reds baseball, and The Ohio State Buckeyes football. He was an awesome grandpa to my both my older brothers, me, my younger half-sister (not is grandchild at all), my step-brother, and both step-sisters. He called my gandma Francie and they were married for sixty years. Jinks (everyone called him that) was named for family friends, attended at least one years of college, worked in the shipyards in Va. during WWII, for the parks department in Ohio during parts of the 40's, and finally settled in Columbus as a welder. He sang along to the radio to turn any song into something silly, sang us songs from his youth, taught me how to "skin the cat" which was to hang from a tree branch with my hands and legs hooked around the branch and dangle. He was an awesome gandpa.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing this info, Shana. My condolences on the loss of your awesome grandpa.

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