A fascinating artifact was on display at the recent school reunion of the first six graduating classes that attended Bedford High School.
In one issue of The Powder Horn (BHS’ student newspaper) from 1960, there was a big headline saying, “April Vacations Canceled.”
The story said that classes would be held as usual because “the threat of Russian supremacy is becoming stronger every day. The United States must not fall behind: education is an important means to national security. Scientific advances are the result of knowledge. Therefore, it is obvious that increased education is essential.”
The early 1960s were the height of the Cold War between the United States and the old Soviet Union. There were real concerns of Atomic War, which almost happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Students in this era were very familiar with “Duck and Cover” – exercises that included how to hide under a desk in case of an atomic bomb attack. Hiding under a desk was thought to be a way to protect people from radiation and the massive explosion caused by the A Bomb. The school also had a fallout shelter in its basement, stocked with supplies.
This 1960 Powder Horn article went on to say that surrounding towns such as Lexington and Lincoln also canceled their April vacation. The story stated that Lincoln was extending its school year to July 2. Likewise, schools across the country were lengthening their school years as well, according to this article.
To ease the pain, the reporter said, “Actually, the loss of this vacation won’t make a great deal of difference. The school year is more than half over; what difference can one more week make?”
That same issue also talked about a partnership between the BHS newspaper and an area daily paper – a partnership where 90 percent of the profits would go to the three school editors, 1 percent for the rest of the school paper staff to share among themselves, 5 percent to The Powder Horn and 4 percent to the daily paper partnering with the BHS paper.
Another feature said that the girls’ basketball team crushed a team from Auburn, Maine, 90-35 at the Boston “Gardens.” It noted that this was the first BHS team to play at the “Gardens.”
There was also interesting news for the seniors, who discovered that their prom would not be a formal event with an orchestra (traditional in that era). Instead, it would be a sock hop with a disc jockey (a big shocker in those days). This would save the boys and girls a lot of money they would have spent on formal wear.
The actual date of this BHS newspaper? April 1, 1960. It was their April Fool’s edition. So, what was True and what was Fool?
- The Russian scare was real, canceling April vacation and extending the school year was not.
- According to editor Jim DiNitto, who came to last week’s reunion, there was no partnership between The Powder Horn and any daily newspaper. None of the staff on the school paper got even a penny for their work.
- The Bedford basketball girls did not crush a team from Auburn, Maine in the Boston “Gardens” or at the Boston Garden.
- The Senior prom was its usual formal event. There was absolutely no sock hop with a disc jockey.
The real front page of the April 1 issue talked about a science fair and the Junior Prom, which was both formal and fun.