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The Depression Years 1930 - 1940 - Part 1

The stock market crash on October 29, 1929, did not seem to influence adversely the convictions of voters in Tucson School District 1 that more schools were needed. On November 25, as was previously mentioned, the electorate approved a construction bond issue of $500,000 which built Mansfeld Junior High School, Carrillo and Government Heights Elementary Schools and enlarged other school buildings. A secondary benefit, of course, was that work was provided for construction craftsmen in the depression years that followed the market crash.

The Carrillo School construction contract went to R. H. Martin on February 15, 1930, on a low bid of $72,114.20. Architect was M. H. Starkweather. The school site at 440 S. Main Avenue was the location of the old Elysian Grove, a recreational park in prior years. The original construction was a 12-classroom building.

It was named for Leopoldo Carrillo, who had once owned the land--originally alled "Carrillo Gardens" and later known as "Elysian Grove" when the land was acquired by Emanuel Drachman for development into an amusement park.

Carrillo was born in Montezuma, Mexico, on May 25, 1836, and came to Arizona about 1859 as a freighter for the United States government. He accumulated considerable wealth from this enterprise and invested in Tucson property, ranches and mines. One of his projects was a cattle ranch near Sabino Canyon and another was the first two-story building constructed in Tucson. The Weekly Arizonian of 1869 lauded the completion of construction and the opening by Carrillo of a "beautifully furnished saloon where wines, ice-cream, etc. are served up." Two years before, Carrillo had displayed his interest in education by becoming one of the original petitioners which set up District 1 in 1867. At one time he also served as a councilman for the City of Tucson.

Carrillo was married and was the founder of the local Carrillo family, many of whom reside in Tucson today.

At one time in his life, Carrillo, who had managed to live through a number of Apache raids, was captured in Sonora, Mexico, and was charged with being involved in a revolution.

According to the Tucson Citizen in 1930: "He was captured at Altar, Sonora, and held for a ransom of $25,000, a staggering sum for fifty-five years ago. His wife gathered the family jewels, disposed of property, and took the money to Altar. But once released his life hung, by a thread. Orders were given for his arrest and only by taking to the mountains was he able to escape death."

That was in 1875. Carrillo died December 9,1890.

Carrillo School was enlarged in 1939 with the construction of four classrooms, a workshop and a nurse’s office at a cost of $48,500. It was remodeled in 1957 and the library was remodeled in 1966. Present Principal is William F. Braucher.

When the site of Carrillo School was purchased, the School Board "inherited" a swimming pool, located in the old Elysian Grove.

The School Board, in 1930, decided to operate the pool and, in conjunction with the City of Tucson, the Board established a school recreational director. He was paid by both the city and the school district and was in fact a city-school district employee. First director of recreation was Otis Hedger.

In 1934, Harold A. (Porque) Patten, who later became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s second congressional district, took over the recreation director’s job. Patten and Superintendent Rose developed a conflict over the recreational program and shortly after Patten took over, Rose persuaded the School Board to abandon its share of recreation activity. The Carrillo pool was then leased to the city for operation and it is still operated under this lease.

It was not until Dr. Robert D. Morrow became superintendent of the District in 1941 that a joint city-school district recreational program was reactivated.

Carrillo School is well-known for its "Las Posadas" nativity pageant originated in the late 1930’s by Miss Marguerite Collier, a teacher now retired. The annual event has become a addition in Tucson.

In the fall of 1930, junior high schools were established in Tucson in the Safford, Roskruge, Dunbar and the new Mansfeld Schools. These junior high schools were composed of the seventh, eighth and ninth grades, leaving Tucson High School with the three upper grades. This eased a strain on the high school which had a population of 1,846 before the establishment of the junior high school system. It dropped to 1,259 with the change.

Anticipating this move, the School Board used bond money to award the contract for construction of Mansfeld Junior High to J. J. Garfield at $147,000--not including plumbing, heating and furnishing. Roy Place designed the school. The school was ready for occupancy in the fall.

As noted before, the Mansfeld family had sold the site for the new junior high school at a reduced price on the condition that it be given the name "Mansfeld."

This was in honor of Jacob S. Mansfeld, whose history was briefly reported earlier.

Originally, Mansfeld Junior High School consisted of 17 classrooms. Five classrooms and two locker rooms were added in 1936 at a cost of $54,800 and in 1954 a cafeteria was provided by remodeling a portion of the south wing of the old Mary J. Platt School at a cost of $29,109. An addition was constructed by M. L. Abplanalp in 1956 at a cost of $110,690 and that same year an additional classroom plus more lockers and showers were provided at a cost of $110,660. The library addition was constructed in 1966 by the George Codd Construction Co. at $80,813.

The Mary J. Platt School, mentioned above, was located at 1200 E. Seventh Street south of the Mansfeld building. It was not constructed by the school district.

It was built in 1911 by the Woman’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church as a private school to provide Christian training for Mexican girls. Funds for the school were furnished by Ward Platt, of Pennsylvania, and the school was named in honor of his wife.

It ceased operations in 1928 and on November 23, 1936, the District 1 School Board leased the land and building from the missionary society to be used as an annex for Mansfeld Junior High. The lease carried an option that could be exercised by the Board to purchase the land and building for $12,500, and the option was exercised on March 1, 1937, so that Works Projects Administration funds could be secured to improve the school grounds. The district used the two-storied structure only for the hot lunch program and storage space.

In 1948, the second floor was condemned and a furor arose over whether the building should be torn down or renovated. Finally, in 1953, the building was torn down by the Dave Feldman Supply and Salvage Co. at a cost of $4,385. The ground is now part of the Mansfeld grounds.

The third school to be built by the 1929 bond issue (the issue also provided for additions to nine other schools) was Government Heights Elementary. The original unit contained four rooms and an office. In 1936, using Public Works Administration funds, two rooms were added and then were destroyed by fire on March 17, 1939. The rooms were rebuilt in 1939 and two additional rooms were constructed. The school continued to grow in population and in 1941 three rooms were added with seven more, plus administration facilities, being built in 1945. That year five acres were purchased to enlarge the playground.

In 1948, more than 1,200 students were enrolled in half-day sessions at the school. In an effort to relieve the pressure, a barracks building was moved onto the grounds and was used for classrooms until 1954 when four more rooms were built. Double sessions were discontinued when a 10-room annex was constructed at Pueblo Gardens School.

In 1961 Shiff Construction Co. built a five-classroom addition at Government Heights. Vandals set fire to the building October 7, 1965, and repairs cost the district $ 11,116. Two portable classrooms were moved to the site in 1966 as the population continued to increase.

No new schools were built between the completion of Government Heights in 1931 and the construction of Wakefield Junior High School and Manzo Elementary School in 1939. However, numerous additions were made to existing schools in the interim through use of Public Works Administration funds, and sidewalks and playground improvements were provided during the years through the Works Project Administration. While these projects were in process, rooms were rented in nearby buildings and in churches to provide space for the overflow from the schools.

Shortly after the 1930-40 decade opened, a committee of parents complained to the School Board that the Roskruge School was sadly lacking in "comfort, sanitation and safety."

The Board investigated and found the committee to be correct. A $200,000 bond election was called for April 17, 1931, to remodel the school and to provide improvements to other schools. The bonds carried by a vote of 622 to 261 and on May 29, J. J. Garfield was awarded the Roskruge contract on a bid of $147,000.

The Public Works Administration was established in 1933 shortly after President Roosevelt took office. On January 11, 1934, the first contract using PWA funds was let by the School District for some $17,765 in repairs.

PWA money was available on a 55-45 per cent basis. That is, the School District could either put up 55 per cent of the cost in bonds, with 45 per cent of the cost to come as a grant, or the District could borrow 55 per cent of the cost from the Federal government, with the grant remaining at 45 per cent.

On October 29, 1935, a bond election was called by the School District to provide $67,000 as "55 per cent" money for additions to various school buildings at a total cost of $121,818. The public approved these three-year bonds.

In anticipation of building the Wakefield Junior High School and Manzo Elementary School, providing vocational shops for the high school, building a high school annex, and making a number of additions to Carrillo and Sam Hughes Schools, the Board asked the approval of two bond issues on April 9, 1938. These called for $300,000 for the high school district and $350,000 for the elementary school district. This was "55 per cent money" under PWA.

The Citizen favored the issue and the Star opposed.

Said the Citizen in speaking of crowded school conditions: "Worst of all, there are 38 teachers in the school system who have no regular rooms at all and they and their classes must take instruction rooms when and where they may be available. Two grade classes are being taught in store rooms."

This did not bother the Star. In opposing the issue, it said: "The issue is whether the people of Tucson are going to have a voice in the conduct of the school affairs other than mere voting a cut and dried ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the ballot next week. Is a Hitler-like plebiscite going to take the place of public participation?" The reference, of course, was to Rose, whom the Star accused of dictating to "his meek School Board." Rose, the Star charged, refused to hold public meetings to discuss the bond issue and the Star charged further that the bond election had been called without public discussion or consideration.

The closing paragraph of the Star editorial asked: "Is it not high time to curb this expression or arrogant power on the part of Mr. Rose?"

The issues lost on close votes. Voters rejected the Elementary School District bonds 1,134 to 1,119 and the High School District bonds 1,167 to 1,095.

The Board set about revising its plans and on July 14, 1938, called another bond issue which was successful. This issue was for $225,000 for the Elementary School District and $195,000 for the High School District, to be matched by the 45 per cent PWA funds. The high school bonds were approved 1,109 to 262 for the high school annex and 936 to 392 for a football stadium west of the building. The elementary school issue was approved 1,112 to 255.

A curious situation arose out of the election. The bonds, which called for five per cent interest, were sold to provide the matching funds rather than becoming security for a direct federal loan. The Board informed the government that it had been given "positive assurance that said loan can be financed in the public market at a lower rate of interest than that offered by the United States of America."

On August 16, 1938, the contract for the high school stadium was given Martin Construction Co. on a low bid of $39,771 and the Tucson High School annex contract went to M. M. Sundt Construction Co. at $273,346 on September 16.

The low bid for the construction of Manzo School was $32,966, submitted by contractor C. O. Johnson. James Macmillan was the architect. The new Wakefield Junior High School was built for $7,878 by Herbert Brown Construction Co. It was designed by Henry O. Jaastad.

Manzo, at 1301 W. Ontario Avenue, was for 17 years called El Rio School, after the subdivision in which it was located. On July 10, 1956, the Board changed the name to Manzo to honor Ricardo Manzo, a native Tucsonian who was principal of the school from the time it opened until he died in 1956.

Ricardo Manzo was born in Tucson on December 27, 1906. His early education was received at San Augustin parochial school, Safford Junior High and Tucson High School. He was an outstanding football player while in high school and was selected as a member of the AllState High School Football team for Arizona.

He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1931 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. The field of education, however, fascinated him, and he returned to the University and obtained a Masters Degree in Education.

Manzo was interested in working with young people, having first experienced such work while with the Tucson Recreation Department in 1930 at Oury Park. He was also scoutmaster of the Oury Park Scout Troop.

He first taught at Davis School and in 1939 was appointed principal of El Rio and dedicated the remainder of his life to developing an outstanding school.

Six classrooms were added to the six-room Manzo School in 1942 at a cost of $50,475 and six more were built in 1945 at a contract cost of $56,922.98. Remodeling in 1949 cost $8,450 and a large multi-purpose room was added in 1954 for $71,217. Four rooms were added in 1959 at a cost of $101,038.41.

The contract for Wakefield Junior High School--at first listed officially as the "Tucson Junior High School"--was given to Herbert Brown Construction Co. on November 12, 1938 for $87,878. Furnishings increased the cost of the 13-room building to $105,068.

On January 6, 1939, a committee from the Tucson Chamber of Commerce called on the Board and asked that the new junior high school be named Marcos de Niza, after the Spanish Padre who worked in Southern Arizona. An opposing faction was the Arizona Pioneers’ Historical Society which wanted the school named for Maria Wakefield, one of the first two women teachers in the District. The Board waited until October 12, 1939, to give the school its name--Maria Wakefield.

As was reported previously, Miss Wakefield was one of the two women teachers imported in 1873 from California to teach in Tucson’s public school. She taught only a short time, quitting to marry E. N. Fish.

Miss Wakefield was born in Bombay, New York, on February 9, 1845. Her parents were James Madison Wakefield and Clarinda Adelaid Brown. After her graduation from Franklin College of Malone, New York, she moved with her parents to a farm near Rochester, Minnesota. There, the farming community wanted to establish a public school and community leaders chose Maria as the teacher. This was about the year 1862. From Rochester, Miss Wakefield journeyed in 1871 to Stockton, California, to accept a position as teacher there. On the train while returning for a visit to Rochester, she met John Wasson, the Surveyor General of Arizona, who had been asked by Governor Safford to be on the alert for some young woman teacher who might want to come to Tucson to teach. She accepted, and after her vacation returned to Stockton to await word of the arrangements.

On October 3, 1873, she received the following letter from Governor Safford:

"Miss Wakefield:

"I think you better start as soon as possible after the 25th Inst., as the Apaches are headed toward the eastern part of the Territory and cannot get to the western side before this time, also the moon is full.

"Bring the best lady teacher you can secure to take charge of the girls’ room."

Miss Wakefield persuaded a close friend, Harriett Bolton, another Stockton teacher, to travel to Tucson with her and become the second teacher. The trip was made by railroad from Stockton to San Francisco, by boat to San Diego and by stage coach to Tucson. They arrived November 3, 1873.

While living quarters were being prepared for the two teachers in the rear of the school, they lived at the E. N. Fish home. The school was in rented quarters in a small building nearby. Two rooms were furnished for school purposes by Sam Hughes and rented to the School District at $50 per month. It was located on the east side of Court Street on the present site of the Pima County Courthouse, near the northwest corner of the present building.

Maria Wakefield married Fish on March 12, 1874 and they resided at their adobe home at 141 N. Main Avenue throughout their lifetimes.

According to Ida Myrtle Duffy, "Maria Wakefield’s interest in schools was a permanent one. As a social and civic leader of her day, she was one of the prominent women of Tucson who took an active part in putting on benefits in order to collect money for Tucson’s first public school built in 1875 and known as the Congress Street School."

Mrs. Fish also was an important factor in the establishment of the University of Arizona at Tucson. Her eldest daughter, Mrs. Clara Fish Roberts, it will be remembered, was one of the first students at the university and was the first woman to be elected to the School Board in School District 1.

Mrs. Fish died at the age of 64 on September 22,1909.

In 1947, nine classrooms and an auditorium were constructed at Wakefield Junior High by the H. S. McCoy Construction Co. at a cost of $265,693. Five classrooms, a multi-purpose room and an administrative office were added in 1959 by Craven-Hague Construction Co. at a total cost of $259,110.64. Six portable classrooms were moved onto the school grounds in 1963. Minor classroom remodeling was contracted for in 1966 at a cost of $7,088.

The depression years of the 1930-40 decade were difficult ones for School District 1 because taxes went unpaid and those who could pay insisted that school expenses be drastically reduced. As the decade opened in 1930, Superintendent Rose was given a four-year contract at a record $8,500 a year. Teachers, in the spring of 1930, were paid from $1,800 to $3,000 in the high school, from $1,800 to nearly $3,000 in the junior high schools and from $1,800 to $2,400 in the elementary schools--all record highs in the history of the District. That spring, too, the Board adopted a record budget of $571,950 for the elementary schools and $178,990 for the high school for a total of $750,950. The effects of the depression had not struck as yet and the budget included a new school bus, purchased from Apache Buick for $6,107. City water rates were high, it was felt, and when the decision was made to construct Government Heights School, a well was dug at the site for $481.41.

On May 11, 1931, Board member Mose Drachman moved that no salary raises be given "because of the depression in business through out the country and particularly in Arizona." His motion was unanimously carried.

At the same meeting, a committee of representatives from labor unions protested to the Board that contractors of new school buildings were importing labor at less than current wages in Tucson, causing further unemployment among Tucson’s working people. The Board resolved that, "This Board cautions all such contractors in submitting their bids, to figure all wages according to law at not less than the current rate, that the contractor employed will be expected to give preference at all times to manual and mechanical laborers who reside in this district."

A month later a committee from the Tucson Trades Council protested that contractor J. J. Garfield had ignored the Board resolution and was paying $8 per day to laborers when the current daily wage had been set at $9. Garfield was instructed to pay the current wage.

That summer, the Arizona Southwest Bank folded. All summer school tuition monies had been deposited in the bank. The Board had made a provision that of the summer school fee of $10, a rebate of $5 would be given each student who completed the course. The district had no surplus funds to make the rebate and Superintendent Rose and High School Principal 0. W. Patterson made themselves personally responsible for paying the refunds.

Reacting to demands of the taxpayers in the district, the total budget for the high school district and elementary school district was cut for the 1931-32 school year to $703,190.

As the depression continued in the spring of 1932, the Board passed a resolution adding a clause to teaching contracts that salaries would, at the will of the Board, be reduced not exceeding 10 per cent. In the fall, the salaries were cut 5 per cent.

As a further economy move, the Board did not hire a school physician for 1932-33 after the County Physician, Dr. L. H. Howard, assured the Board the County would care for cases of school district children needing treatment.

The District Board, in the spring of 1932 futher slashed the budget to a total of $644,490 and later made a general $20,000 reduction in the total budget as another economy move, and all subtitute teachers’ pay was cut from $7.50 per year to $5 per day. Things were so tight that it was decided to drop the project of putting lights the Borton School.

In the spring of 1933, the Board cut Superintendent Rose’s salary from his contract agreement of $8,500 to $6,600. Rose agreed to the cut although his four-year contract had not expired.

Salaries of the teachers were again cut, providing a $75,000 reduction in the general salary budget with the cuts to be based on the size of teacher’s salary. That fall, 1933, teachers were not given contracts but were hired on a month-to-month basis with layoffs possible in case funds were not forthcoming to the District account. As another economy measure, school bus drivers were hired on contract, rather than wages, and were required to purchase their own liability insurance--no insurance, no job.

The 1932-33 budget was reduced again--this time to a total of $536,968. Money was so tight, in fact, that the Board decided that spring not to purchase leather folders for graduating diplomas.

Another economy move was taken in the summer of 1934. Janitors were placed on part-time but one bright light shone for the teachers. The Board decided that for the year 1934-35 salaries would "not be less per month" than current ones. By this time, there were 270 principals and teachers in the District. The general business economy improved so much during the summer, however, that one half of the cuts made the previous year was restored. The budget, too, was increased to a total of $586,319, up from the previous year’s total of $536,968.

By 1937, salaries had been raised to nearly the former levels. Superintendent Rose’s final four-year contract called for a yearly salary of $7,488. A uniform teacher salary schedule was established. Maximum for a master’s degree on the high school level was $2,496 and a $2,400 maximum was given for a bachelor’s degree. Other teachers were scaled from $1,248 per year to a maximum of $2,304. Increment raises of $48 per year of service were adopted, but only to continue for four years.

As the decade ended, the salary schedule was the same. At this time there were 72 high school teachers and 279 in the elementary schools.

Progressive changes in the educational system were few during the 1930-40 decade. Superintendent Rose’s health was failing. So feeble and palsied did he become that in the latter years of the decade the enrollment records, kept by him meticulously throughout his regime, are barely readable.

Yet, some advances were introduced. The district would do nearly anything to increase its income and in 1930, it was decided to change the policy against renting the high school auditorium to political groups. The following excerpt from the December 8, 1930, Board minutes may be of interest to the present Republican Party:

"It was decided that the charge for the use of the High School Auditorium by the Republican and Democratic Central Committees for political meetings would be changed from $75 to $37.50. As the Republican Committee had already paid $75, the Democratic Committee would be instructed to pay $37.50 to the Republican Committee." Of interest to today’s Republicans is the thought: Did the Democrats pay?

In December, 1931, an indoor rifle range was built in the south end of the high school auditorium so that the high school military program (which does not exist today) could qualify for Junior R.O.T.C. assistance from the federal government.

School book sales on the high school level were taken over by the district itself. It was decided by the Board that the high school would purchase school books and sell them to students at cost because "The service from the book stores has been unsatisfactory, the number of books ordered being less than were needed and the prices high."

A teacher exchange program with other states, not foreign countries as exists today, was adopted and a number of such teachers were exchanged.

Labor, as related earlier, began to become more expressive in school affairs, so effectively that the Tucson labor community was able to dictate where textbooks could not be purchased. On June 20, 1935, the Trades Council appeared before the Board and protested book purchases from Ginn & Co., a Boston firm. Employees of the firm, the Trades Council claimed, were not being paid a decent wage and were not fairly treated. The Board agreed to take the matter into consideration on future orders.

The District had never employed an engineer and used up to the 1940’s a system of checking school design and construction that would now be considered archaic. In talking over construction plans in March, of 1938, the Board decided to send the school plumber and school carpenter to the architect’s office to "look over the plans to see if they have any suggestions.

In the School Board election of October 25, 1930, Dr. S. C. Davis was elected to succeed W. M. Pryce making the Board membership Davis, Mose Drachman and H. A. DeFord. Davis received 185 votes in an uncontested election. Salome Townsend received two write-in votes.

DeFord resigned on December 15, 1930, and County School Superintendent Mrs. Annie E. Daniels appointed Phil M. Clarke to the position. Clarke was elected President of the Board in January, with S. C. Davis serving as Clerk.

Clarke succeeded himself with no opposition in the Octber 31, 1931, election, receiving all the 193 votes cast. Clarke remained as President of the Board with Davis retaining the Clerk’s position.

First Hundred Years, By James F. Cooper, Edited by John H. Fahr, Tucson, Arizona, 1967