Florence Begert and Ruth Lautenschlager had a similar relationship to that of Ruth Mihalovich and Violet Stojakovich, who I wrote about before, in that they were the same age and in the same graduating class in high school despite Ruth being Florence’s aunt. Florence, my grandma Lois Begert’s older sister, was born in 1913, the daughter of Charles Albert Begert and Grace Lautenschlager. Ruth, born in 1914 to Isaac Lautenschlager and Barbara Kestler, was Grace’s younger sister by about 20 years. They appear to be pals, frequently standing beside each other in class photographs.
Florence (left) and Ruth (right) standing beside each other (standing below the boy in glasses) in their Junior class photo, 1931. I recognized Florence instantly because she really resembles my grandma Lois (her sister) in this photo. Ruth reminds me of silent actress Theda Bara in this one.
They attended Orrville High School in Orrville, Ohio and graduated in the class of 1932.
Their Freshman year social activities consisted of “two parties, one a wiener roast at Kimberlin’s Woods, and a Hallowe’en party in the gym” where they had “cider, sandwiches, and pie” served by the girls. The next year they held two parties, the first being “a New Year’s party at Riceland, and the second was at the home of Grace Graber in March.” At the end of the year they served the Junior and Senior classes in their upperclassmen banquet. Their own Junior-Senior banquet was held in the gym, decorated with “an arctic scene,” and included music by the Colleens, a girls dance band.
Their senior year, Florence and Ruth’s class wrote up a “class prophecy” which told a fictional story of what each graduate would be doing after high school. I have included the prophecy about each underneath their photo.
Florence’s sophomore yearbook attempted to “Make the Perfect Girl” and singled Florence out for her dimples. Athletic Florence didn’t end up attending college, as a student or an athletic instructor, as prophecized. She married clerk Irvine Edward Spence (called “Spence” by my family) sometime before 1940. A year older than Florence, Spence had attended nearby McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio where he excelled in his classes. He was the art manager for the 1930 yearbook and became a member of Quill and Scroll, the National Honor Society for High School Journalists who were in the top third of their class, scholastically. The bio next to his senior year photo described him as, “a modest and unassuming lad; upright, sincere, and successful.” Upright may have had a double meaning; in almost every group photo, he is standing in the back row so I am assuming he was on the tall side. Florence and Spence had 2 children and eventually moved to sunny Florida. Spence passed away in 1986 and Florence in 2001.
Ruth Lautenschlager, as predicted, did move to Canton and got married a year after graduation to fellow Orrville High graduate Earl Elwood Gerhart, who had graduated a year before. Elwood’s senior yearbook prophecy listed him thus: “Needing a clean shirt I entered a Chinese laundry and who should I see but that red-headed Irishman, Elwood Gerhart.” He did work in a laundry during high school and in the “where are they now?” section of Ruth’s yearbook, he was listed as “working in Canton.” His junior year, a section of the yearbook called Can You Imagine _______ in Hollywood _____? When it came to Elwood, his was Can You Imagine ___Elwood Gerhart___ in Hollywood __kissing__? I assume, then that he was either rather shy and/or unromantic (if meant sarcastically; not knowing these folks it’s hard to tell) or a Romeo (if straightforward). Regardless of the intention, the latter proved most apt: Ruth and Elwood had 6 children. She passed away in 1988 and he in 1997.
The McKinleyite. The Annual Staff of McKinley High School, 1928. www.classmates.com.
The Red and White of 1931. Vol XX, Orrville High School, 1931. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990, http://www.ancestry.com.