They graduated in a city where Prohibition was law, though it didn’t have much effect. In 1926, the Board of Supervisors had even passed a law banning local police from enforcing Prohibition. The Mission was working class, and Catholic — though there are questions as to how devout the neighborhood’s Catholics actually were. Art and culture was something that happened downtown. The only entertainment was the Big Rec ballpark (where the Valencia Gardens Housing Projects now stand) and the movie theaters.
These students were white. Really, really white. Look at yearbooks from the same era from high schools in Chinatown, and you’ll see an almost entirely Asian student body. A combination of laws and social pressures kept them there. Under the laws of the time, if a white woman married an immigrant who was not eligible for citizenship (this usually meant Asian), she lost her U.S. citizenship. In one notorious case, a socially prominent San Francisco woman lost her citizenship when she married a Japanese samurai; it was restored only after his death. 1924, Congress passed the National Origins Act of 1924, which further complicated the citizenship options of would-be Asian Americans.
These kids look old compared to the teenagers in today’s yearbooks. They dress and wear their hair like adults. The men tend to be leathery, as though they’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, inappropriately hatted. And their faces are so serious.
What did they think, really? They seem so stern, so un-San Francisco as we know it today. “I hate the prostitution of a name of friendship to signify modish or worldly alliances,” writes Eleanor Kramp next to her yearbook photo. Really, Eleanor? What does that even mean? Are you even aware of the fact that, at this moment in time, you live in one of the worldliest cities in America? You’re going to find avoiding it to be a bit of a struggle.
So here you have it: the class of 1928. If you’d like to look at the entire yearbook, you can find it at the Internet Archive, here.