Archive for January, 2022

Working for the Man

January 6, 2022

When going though George May’s student file, I came across his application to go out on an outing over the 1916 summer. The Carlisle outing program has been severely criticized in recent years, unfairly in some instances. For starters, students had to apply for the outing program and the school’s administration had to approve it before the student was allowed to go. Younger students weren’t allowed to go for obvious reasons.

By submitting a signed application, the student agreed in writing to obeying several specified rules.    

One that wasn’t taken literally was reporting immediately to the school if taken ill. Those who were injured—farms were and are dangerous places to work—were generally given medical attention locally. It would have been foolish to delay treatment by sending them back to the school when injured.

Paying board often wasn’t an issue because room and board were part of the pay when living and working on a farm. Room and board were most definitely issues for students interning at Ford Motor Company. Paid $3.41 a day while learning the autobuilding trade, the quarter of pay required to be deposited into the student’s account at Carlisle and the cost of room and board ate up most of this pay. After completing the internship, they were paid $5.00 a day, a large amount for workers at that time.

The admonition not to return to the school on Sundays without special permission was probably to increase the student’s exposure to the majority culture and to attend church with the outing family.

George spent his first outing with Harry Snyder in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. That no town name was provided suggests that Mr. Snyder was a farmer, as were the majority of outing hosts. George returned to Carlisle in time to play football. The next summer, 1917, he went to intern at Ford. This was a plum assignment given to many football players. Carlisle was criticized for having the boys return to the school at summer’s end to play football, interrupting their learning skills.

George May (continued)

January 3, 2022
George May in football uniform

Oscar Lipps responded to George May’s mother on the 31st, not having decided what action he was going to take regarding her son’s behavior:

“Generally speaking, George has not been a bad fellow at Carlisle. It is very unfortunate that he became involved in trouble that led to his infection. He is a young man [19] and should have known better….I have done everything in my power to break down this tendency among a number of the larger boys to slip out and meet girls of bad reputation near the school grounds and get liquor. I have talked to the boys, the disciplinarian has talked to them, and I have had men of experience and high standing in the community come out to the school and talk to them along these lines. Unless a boy has some backbone and strength of character, he is going to go wrong in this world….Unless George, himdelf, wants to do right, no power on earth can make him except that of the police force.. We could lock him up in the guard house and he could not get out to get into mischief, but I do not wish to do that. A boy who has to be treated in this manner had better not be in school.

“I do not know just yet what we shall do with George….He is now practically cured of this disease, but any boy who has once had this disease is usually shunned by the better class of boys in school, and the fact that such a boy is allowed to remain in school often has a bad influence among other boys who have learned to regard such conduct as disgraceful.”

His mother wrote back, saying, “Yes, George is not a bad boy. He wrote to me saying that he was very sorry for what he had done. And if you gave him another chance he would be a good boy and behave himself.”

Superintendent Lipps allowed George to stay at Carlisle. He was soon playing in the school band and running races for the track team. The next fall, he played on the football team and captained it in 1916. In 1917 while working in the apprenticeship program at Ford Motor Company, he enlisted in the 33rd Michigan Infantry and played in the band.