RED BANK: OLD YEARBOOKS GET PIXELATED

rbhs 1956A screengrab of a “popularity poll” page in the 1956 Red Bank High School yearbook. And hey, do you recognize the graduate shown below? (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbr gradHistory lovers and those prone to the siren song of nostalgia: prepare to fall into a rabbit hole.

The Red Bank Public Library has digitized the yearbooks of the former Red Bank High School and its successor, Red Bank Regional High, from a broad swath of the 20th century.

Forty editions of the annual known as the Round Table and, later, the Log, chronicling changes in hairstyles, fashions and media from 1922 to 1980, can now be downloaded, paged through and word-searched via the Internet, minus the musty aroma.

rbhs 1975The 1975 edition of the Log bid adieu to the high school’s original location, now the site of the Red Bank Middle School. Below, the ‘Girls Recreation Club’ of 1935. (Click to enlarge)

rbhs 1935While there are gaps in the series scattered through the 1920s to the 1950s, allĀ  yearbooks from 1958 through 1980 are included. They can be found here.

To peruse them is to travel back in time. The 1922 edition was produced “Compliments of Sigmund Eisner Company,” the uniform manufacturing business that anchored the borough economy for decades. Eisner’s former home overlooking the Navesink would later become the home to the public library.

The 1927 edition, which library Director Elizabeth McDermott bought on eBay for $10, included baby photos of the senior class.

Two pages from the 1956 yearbook featured the male and female winners of that year’s “popularity poll” in such categories as “most likely to succeed,” “best dressed,” “nicest hair” and “best figure.” Flora Binaco was the winner in those last two categories. In a photo captioned “class wolves,” Louis Ferraro was shown checking out Marjorie Cuje’s gams.

The 1975 edition of the Log was the last for a class graduating from the building located at the site of the present middle school, at Branch Avenue and Harding Road, before the opening of the new Red Bank Regional High in Little Silver. It includes a history of the RBHS home of 74 years, beginning in 1901 as a 16-classroom structure erected at a cost of $60,000 and later expanded to include a gymnasium, a cafeteria and a tunnel connecting two wings.

Oh, and that oscillating-haired young fellow in the photo above right? That’s Pasquale Menna, class of ’72, and now the Mayor of Red Bank.

McDermott told redbankgreen that even for those who aren’t graduates of the school, the yearbooks have strong appeal.

“Some of these names are just synonomous with Red Bank,” she said. “Every time I come across one, I want to stop, do some research, and ask someone, ‘are you related?'”

Many of the yearbooks came from the collection of RBR photography teacher Anthony Trufolo, who before his death in March at age 98 had donated hundreds of still photos to the library.

The digitization was paid for by a $3,000 grant from the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library. McDermott said the project was seen as way to remind residents of the facility’s offerings.

She notes that the class of 1965 is scheduled to hold its 50th anniversary reunion in September, and hopes organizers will incorporate a visit to the library in the festivities.

If additional funds can be found, the library hopes to borrow from RBR’s yearbook collection to fill in the missing years, McDermott said.