Tag Archive | The Mercury

Treasure Chest Thursday:The Unexpected

Yesterdays post was a post about Wordless Wednesday where I posted about High School of Commerce, Worcester, MA and posted a picture of my Great Uncle, Wendell Culley.  Check out the post….(Wordless Wednesday 8/10/2011).

I ordered the 1925 School Year Book of High School of Commerce so that I could get a good scan of the pictures that my Great Uncle was in, and so that I could have an original copy of the Annual..(What Value!).  Well when I opened the book it had a very strong odor to it, as if it had been kept in a dark, damp room.  So as I went page by page reading and looking at each picture, I noticed that there were no African Americans that attended the school, or at least not from Wendell’s 1925 graduating class.  Almost at the center of the book a photo fell out.  It was a picture of a young girl that most likely attended the school, and probably had been the prior owner of the school annual.  (I thought, “I will keep this.”  Why not?”)

Photo Found in 1925 Commerce Annual

Then as I went through the annual, I decided to scan the one’s that had Wendell in them.  He did not take a  solo picture as I have been told, he did not like taking pictures…but he did with his School Band and Cross Country Team.

Wendell P Culley
Only Black in Band

Wendell P Culley
Back row & Center
Wendell P Culley
Back Row, Far Left

Then as I was going through the pages of the annual and a portion of the Commerce High School newspaper that had been folded up fell out.    I had pages 7-18.  So as I started reading “The Mercury” Newspaper, I came across two items that interested me.  One was a “Funnies by Funny Commerce Artists,” and an article that listed Wendell Cully as the leader of the Commerce High School Band, a fact that I had no way of knowing.

Black Face Character in “The Mercury” Newspaper at Commerce HS 1925

This cartoon I didn’t get at first until I read it to my daughter, and then I was like, “Oh, I get it now!”  This was 1925, and the ideas and the stereotypes of who and what Black People (Negroes, Coloreds) were are evident in this clipping by a student.  Now it makes me wonder why my Great Uncle did not have his Graduating Class Picture taken for the year book.  I also wondered how he felt being the only Black in his school, and if he had to deal with racism while he was there.

I knew Wendell Culley was a leader and before his time and here is insight by the clipping below, which I find to be a treasure.

Wendell Cully listed as Leader, Solo Cornet in Commerce H.S. Band, 1925

I knew Wendell played the Cornet, but he is known for his trumpet.  Wow!  I tell you, if you listen to your impulses while researching your family history, your Ancestors will guide you and speak to you.

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