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Life and Arts

Verdugo Views: Long-awaited Glendale High yearbook from 1920s, including photos of John Wayne, finally donated to library

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Local historian Michael Morgan reviews a recently purchased 1925 Glendale High “Stylus,” featuring Marion Morrison, aka John Wayne, as a senior, before presenting the yearbook to the Glendale Public Library’s History Room.
(Courtesy of Katherine Yamada)

Michael Morgan and the Glendale library have been inseparable since the days when his family lived near Royal Boulevard and Imperial Drive and his older brother, John, would drive him down to the old Carnegie Library on Harvard Street.

His favorite place was the children’s room, also known as the Hans Christian Andersen room.

After Morgan got a bike — on his eighth birthday — he pedaled down the hill under his own steam. He attended Incarnation and graduated from St. Francis in 1969, the same year he began working part time with special collections manager Marion Brittain in a small room then called Readers Services, he said in a series of recent emails.

There, he had access to the entire collection and could look up anything, including a nearly complete set of yearbooks from the local high school.

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He helped move library materials across the street to the new building in 1972, but he left the next year; he was a senior at Cal State L.A. and planning to marry, so he needed a full-time job. His brother John stepped in and worked at the Central Library from 1973 until 2005.

Morgan is passionate about Glendale history — partly because of his years at the library — and to aid his research, he began collecting Glendale High yearbooks. He has all of them from 1915 to 1930, except one; the one that a lot of people would like to get their hands on, the one from 1925.

Read the May 3 Verdugo Views: Launch of Glendale High’s Hall of Fame was prestigious occasion in 1969 »

That’s the year Marion Morrison, also known as John Wayne, was a senior. Morgan checks online sales regularly, just in case a 1925 yearbook becomes available at an affordable price.

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He hit the jackpot this spring. However, instead of adding it to his own collection, he decided to share it with the library so that visitors to the city where the movie star grew up could see it.

He contacted Lora Martinolich of the Glendale History Room. Then, she contacted Robert Gordon, president of the Friends of the Glendale Public Library, who agreed to split the cost with Morgan and the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley, of which Morgan is a member.

The 1925 yearbook, which once belonged to Barbara Kranz, a junior who lived on North Louise Street, has eight photos of Morrison, including his senior portrait, which, according to Morgan, is often used with his bios.

Morrison was a very well known senior; he was the 1925 Senior Class President, chaired the Senior Dance and earned a Bronze Pin. A two-year varsity football player, he played guard and was on the state championship team in 1923-24.

Kranz kept her 1925 yearbook, and after Morrison became famous, underlined each reference to him in green ink. It seems the entire Class of ’25 was proud of him.

Read the April 19 Verdugo Views: Early Breakfast Club members were honored for their contributions to community, arts »

When Morgan interviewed a fellow classmate, Robert Hatch, in 1990, “he just wanted to talk about John Wayne. When the Class of 1925 had their 50th in 1975, they all wanted him to attend. (He did not),” he said in one of his emails.

Morgan brought the 1925 yearbook to the History Room last week and also brought along a 1926 yearbook, which once belonged to Kranz’s classmate Thelma M. Gray, so that Martinolich could view Kranz’s senior profile.

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Known as “Bob,” Kranz was class president, roll room representative, on the Explosion newspaper staff and in the variety show. She was in the G Club and the Girls’ Athletic Assn. and was headed for a business college.

Another Kranz yearbook (from 1924 when she was a sophomore and Morrison was a junior) was also for sale online recently — at a very high price — because Morrison signed it twice. Morgan speculated they must have been close friends, as he has seen a lot of Glendale High yearbooks from that era and has “never seen Morrison’s signature in any of them.”

Morgan doesn’t know where Kranz lived after high school, but he is thrilled that her 1925 yearbook has come back to Glendale “where it belongs. It is poetic that this has come back in May, Morrison’s birthday month. I am very proud of my city and its history.”

Katherine Yamada can be reached at katherineyamada@gmail.com. or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o Glendale News-Press, 453 S. Spring St., Suite 308, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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