Fun with Yearbooks

So here’s just a little something that you might not know: My father, Garth Thomas, was married briefly and divorced before he met and married Mona. You might wonder how I learned this. Well of course, I learned it as one should — from the original document! When I was a kid — maybe around 11 or 12 — I was home sick from school and passed my time doing what every bored, nosey and apparently not all that sick kid would do: I poked around in a drawer full of old documents and photos. There, I found my parents’ marriage license. And what did it reveal, but my father’s first marriage!

mona garth marriage

Well, of course I was shocked and devastated! I immediately imagined an entire other family chock full of my half brothers and sisters. I immediately confronted my mother with my evidence (well, not immediately – if I remember correctly I first consulted BFF Lenore Glaser), which of course meant I had confess that I had been snooping through stuff that was arguably none of my business. She told me, very matter-of-factly, that Garth’s first marriage was brief. He was married in Kansas and then the young couple went to Boston where Garth was getting his PhD. at Harvard. There, she left him for some other bright young Harvard man. Mona assured me that Garth was divorced well before they met and there were no children. Whew! She did tell me that the first time she went to Pittsburg to meet the Thomas family, the first wife’s image had been carefully cut out of all family photos. I have to think that Garth’s parents, my grandparents Opal and Leslie, straight laced midwestern Methodists, were shocked and scandalized to have a divorce in the family!


Once again, my research on revealed much, much more! As I searched records for Garth, several unfamiliar family trees popped up. They were family trees belonging to descendants of Garth’s first wife! Why these folks felt it necessary to include Garth is a bit beyond me. I certainly feel no need to include this lady on my family tree as she is not “family.” But now that we have her, I guess we should deal with her.

Her name was Louise Alberta Carpenter and she was born in Pleasanton, Kansas in 1919. According to her descendants, Louise and Garth were married on August 27, 1939, although I haven’t found any documentation of this. This was while Garth was getting his Master’s Degree at the University of Kansas.

Have a look at the information on Garth’s 1940 draft registration card:

Garth draft card


I don’t know when Garth and Louise divorced but in January of 1945, Louise married a man by the name of Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider. He went on to be very prominent in the fields of psychology and computer science.

Garth and Mona were married in September of 1945, and everyone lived happily ever after….


My last few posts have focused on yearbooks that were recently added to the searchable databases. But I have in my possession Garth’s ACTUAL yearbook from his final year at Kansas State Teachers College. That’s right – the 1938 Kanza – the one signed by Garth’s friends and professors! And it sure is interesting!

Kanza 38



Here is Garth as a college senior– he was so handsome:

Senior yearbook 1_0005


Senior yearbook 1_0002

There is a studious Garth in the center towards the top. Hard to believe that the yearbook would publish the comment, “Garth’s mind is on Louise or Psychology, guess which? With the wind, his hair, and all the horns blowing how can he stand it?” Apparently, Garth had some friends on the yearbook staff and they had some thoughts about Louise Carpenter. Below, see what Gordon, the Art Editor of the yearbook, had to say. And in the crease, where it’s hard for you to read, the Managing Editor of the yearbook commented: “To the swellest TGIF member of the whole bunch – the only thing I have against you is that you spend too much time with L. C. and not enough with us -” And I love Fred’s reference in the text to the “serious, depression – themes” of the previous year’s Kanza. Time to get some fun out of life, according to Fred!

Senior yearbook 1_0010


And speaking of fun, what is this T.G.I F. group that Garth was a part of?

Kanza 38 final 2


He makes no reference to either Louise or T.G.I.F., but I like this Marshall fellow who apparently “abhors” Democrats and Communists and who labels Garth “a great guy” but a Communist.

Kanza 38 final 3


In spite of being an active participant in this T.G.I.F. group, whatever that was, Garth still had time to participate in Sigma Phi Mu, the honorary fraternity for students of psychology and philosophy. He served as Treasurer of the organization.

Kanza 38 final


Other than the comments by Garth’s friends, I have not been able to locate Louise Carpenter anywhere in this yearbook but I feel like she too must have been a K.S.T.C. student. Where is she? In fact, I have not been able to find a photo of her anywhere!


P.S. Look who else made it into the 1938 Kanza!! Little sister Shirley, class of 1941!! (By the way, I have some of Shirley’s yearbooks too … another story for another day!)

Senior yearbook 8_0004 (2)

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