1962 Ro-Annual editor reflects on school's final yearbook

Bob Ferguson, town of Roann clerk-treasurer, looks through the final edition of the Ro-Annual, the Roann High School yearbook. Photo by Joseph Slacian

By Joseph Slacian

ROANN – When Pamela (Cline) Krom was a freshman at the former Roann High School, she was appointed to the staff of the Ro-Annual, the school’s yearbook. Little did she know that her senior year, when she became the yearbook’s editor, the work of her and her staff would be preserved in the annals of town history.

Last year, Roann Clerk-Treasurer Bob Ferguson proclaimed the 1962 edition of the Ro-Annual a permanent town record and has a copy of it preserved in the Town Hall. During the recent Roann Alumni Banquet, Ferguson spoke about the yearbook, and wondered aloud where Krom was because he would like to talk to her about the book and the planning it took to produce it.

A gentleman, Ned Cline (who with his twin sister, Nancy, were members of the school’s 1959 graduating class), told him that his younger sister was the book’s editor, and that he would contact her to see if she would permit him to provide Ferguson her contact information. She agreed, and Ferguson conducted a telephone interview with her on April 30 from her home in New London, Conn.

He shared the interview with The Paper of Wabash County.

“The way you get to be the editor of the annual, they would select one person who was a freshman,” she recalled. “There were always two sophomores. Each year you added another person from your class.

“When you’re a junior there were three people and when you get to be a senior there were four people that were working on the annual, plus you had your advisor. So, if you went in as a freshman, you were going to be the editor when you were a senior because you had the most experience. That’s the way it works. And they were very careful who they selected as a freshman, to make sure they had good skills.”

What makes the 1962 Ro-Annual special is it was the last one for the school. The Metropolitan School District of Wabash County was formed the following year, and students from Roann began attending Northfield High School.

To honor the school’s heritage, photos of all the prior graduating classes were included in the book, as well as updates on as many as the alumni as possible.

“I kind of remember as a junior the subject came up that the next year would be the last year for the annual because the schools were consolidating,” Krom said. “There would still be the elementary school there, but it would be the last senior class that was graduating. Our class was small. We had 22 people in our class – 11 boys and 11 girls. It was a lot of work for the staff to do this.

“I’m not sure, actually, who came up with the idea (of including all the former classes). I’m don’t know whether it was the adviser, who was the principal, Wayne Fansler, or whether there were some influential people in town that brought it up to the principal who said this is what should be done with this last book as a way to honor all the classes. It could have been from the alumni association. I don’t really know.

“I know it wasn’t my idea, personally. As a matter of fact, when it was finally decided that we were going to do that, I was like, I dreaded all the work because I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I was trying to keep my grades up because I was going to college. We decided to plug in there.”

Krom also said she was unsure of how the staff came up with all the photos of the prior graduating class.

“I assume there were people who lived in our town who were related to or had pictures from ancestors, people who lived a long time ago,” she said. “I’m not sure how we were able to come up with all those pictures, especially from the 1800s and early 1900s. Obviously people in town or people who were alumni had copies of these pictures.”

Several area residents also helped in finding ways to contact the various alumni.

“There were several ladies in town who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody,” Krom said. “They all worked hard at getting as much information to us as they could. One of them happened to be my future mother-in-law, Norma Krom.”

Krom, the former Pamela Cline, is married to 1961 Roann High School graduate Richard Krom.

“I think the ladies who worked at the post office -- Mildred Eller and Ruth Flinn -- those ladies knew a lot because all the mail came through there, they sorted it by hand and all that. They would say, ‘I think I know where that person is.’
“We don’t even know, as we were putting the book together, how much of the information is truly accurate. We only went with the information we were given. That’s the best we could do. And, obviously, there was some that we had no information on.”

The book was offered to alumni for purchase, and Krom believes at least 100 extra books were produced for them.

Generally, she noted, only families who had students at the school purchased the yearbook.

“I’m not sure exactly how many books we had to order,” she said. “It’s possible we had to make a second order, I don’t remember.

“I know we ordered extra because we knew there would be people who wished they had ordered one. For several years we took them to the Alumni Banquet.”

Proclaiming the 1962 Ro-Annual is important to the preservation of the book, Ferguson explained.

“Annuals aren’t permanent documents,” he said. “So, if we were to just take this book and put it in the back room … in another 25 or 30 years, as they’re cleaning up back there, they might just take the annual and pitch it, knowing that they need the extra room.”

Ferguson’s proclamation, Krom said, “really means a lot to me.”

“I love the book,” she said, asking him for a copy of the proclamation. “I’m very much interested in historical things. I hated it when I was in school. I love it now.

“I’m impressed, I really am, that you’ve done that. It means a lot to me.”

Following graduation from Roann High School, Krom attended Manchester College for two years, then moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the National Geographic Society.

Her future husband was in his final year of study at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He went on to have 26 years of active duty with the Navy, serving as a submarine commander.

The couple was married at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Ferguson said the town had two copies of the 1962 Ro-Annual. One was donated to the Roann-Paw Paw Township Public Library, and the other is kept at Town Hall. The Town Hall copy is available for viewing upon request.

Posted on 2019 May 14