This was then: A full bath more than once a week

Government-sponsored health initiative.
Courtesy of Chris Baer

Government-sponsored health initiative.

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.

Students from the old Tisbury School on Center Street march with towels and soap. In 1919 the Child Health Organization of America, in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Education, formulated eight rules to a “health game” in a broad effort to promote health education in schools across the country. The health game, “A Contest in Which the Government Plays,” was promoted throughout the early 1920s by the Red Cross, popular magazines, and future president Herbert Hoover, often through its mascot, “CHO-CHO the Clown.” Good Housekeeping magazine wrote, “The aim is to put the play spirit into health work, making of it a game whose rules are positive rather than negative. Every child wants to play a winning game.” In addition to the suggestion on these students’ sign, the other rules of the game included “Sleeping long hours with windows open, Drinking as much milk as possible, but no coffee or tea, Drinking at least four glasses of water a day, and Playing part of every day out of doors.”

The Center Street school included Tisbury Grammar School (grades 1-8) and Tisbury High School (9-12.) The high school also served, on a tuition basis, a few students from West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Gay Head. An overflow structure known as the “Portable Building” can be seen on the right, and Center Street is visible in the background. The school closed in 1929, and today the town tennis courts occupy this location.