Let’s Talk Clovis: Phoebe Smith, 1914 Clovis High graduate

Phoebe Smith, 1914 Clovis High graduate. (Photo courtesy of Clovis Museum)

Of the original 40 students in the 1910 Clovis High School freshman class, only 17 (three men) graduated in 1914. Their class motto: “Look to the Light.” Phoebe Smith was Editor-in-Chief of the Argus (Cavalcade) and participated in tennis and basketball.

She was the only girl to have a “fellow.” She was courted by Ward Cadwallader. Ward’s family had settled in the Garfield Colony in 1905, where his father Dave established a telephone system for farmers in that area.

Smith was interviewed by the Clovis High newspaper “Cougar’s Growl” on April 23, 1965. We are sharing some of her published recollections.

She took four years of English, four years of history and four years of foreign languages (one year more than required), a college prep literary course and a commercial business course. Her English teachers required her to memorize 50 lines of prose every night.

Parties and dances were held at students’ homes that were usually located at large ranches. The host family would provide a hay wagon to collect the guests. A pianist would usually provide the music while “the two-step” was danced. The non-dancers would play parlor games and gather around the popular refreshment table.

Baseball, basketball, tennis and track sports were the only athletic courses offered. Coaches were not hired by the school and each team would elect one of their own to coach. Fresno Tech was the chief rival. Smith remembers only one game played against them during her four years (her senior year).

The Agricultural Club, and the Boy’s and Girls’ Glee Clubs were the only campus clubs.

Phoebe rented a horse and buggy for 25 cents per hour with her mixed double tennis partner to play a match at Fowler (approximately 11 miles away). It was the first time she had driven a buggy but they arrived safely. She did not mention if they won the match.

Smith described the style of clothes she wore. During her freshman year the hem line was very high and by her senior year the hem line had dropped to her ankles. The skirts were very tight fitting and slits at the sides were necessary for walking. The skirts became known as “hobble skirts.”

After graduating from Clovis High in 1914, she received her teaching credential from Fresno State Normal School (founded 1911). Fresno City College is now at that location. She began teaching at the Madison School in Fresno in 1916.

Ward and Smith married in 1919. The couple had one daughter Geneva (Gross). Ward was a dentist and practiced in downtown Fresno. Their Fresno home was on Van Ness Avenue. In 1939, Smith would move a house from that area to Clovis (1140 Third). It remains a residence. She would reside there until her death. She married Clovis businessman Walter “Dan” Daniels after Ward’s death.

She taught sixth grade students at Clovis Elementary and Weldon Elementary. She retired in 1952. She stated: “I love children. I think you have to. That’s the first requisite. If you don’t, you’d better not teach.”

Smith, 91, was honored as the oldest Clovis High graduate to attend the 1986 All-School reunion. She remarked that she was looking forward to the event: “I know I’ll see a lot of my kids.”

She is a part of our rich heritage.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.