Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Introducing Anita

Anita Calneh Post, 1917 University of Arizona yearbook

The last two posts have recalled Esther Suastegui and her daughter Anita Calneh Post, along with their travels to Europe, Mexico and California. I have described a trip they took together in 1921 during Anita's sabbatical year through Spain, Italy, Germany, France and elsewhere in Europe. An earlier journey in 1914 provided the foundation for their 1921 trip. First I need to provide some background on Anita. She was a very talented singer, teacher and professor in Arizona. After reading many newspaper articles from Arizona describing her activities, I am really impressed and I think her work ethic is a great example for my kids to know.
Arizona Sentinel, 4 Jun 1902.

Anita Calneh Post was born on 7 January 1885 in Yuma, Arizona. At birth she was named Mariana Calneh Post, after her Aunt Mariana Suastegui and grandmother Calneh Ames Post. On all other documents and newspaper articles throughout her life she went by Anita (the 1900 US Census lists her as Mariana C. Monson). She was a gifted student and was a talented singer in Yuma growing up. As seen in the article above, Anita received her teachers' certificate at the age of 17, after completing the 10th grade. After getting her teachers' certificate, in the summer of 1902 she spent several months traveling in Sonora, likely visiting her mother Esther in Imuris and family on the Suastegui side.

According to news articles, Anita returned to Yuma from three months of travel in Sonora in February 1903. She departed again in early May 1903 to visit her mother and brother, Asa Frank Post, in Imuris, Sonora. Anita was accompanied by friend Lila Godfrey on her May trip. They returned in early June 1903 after a month in Imuris. Anita departed by train on 11 July 1903 for Los Angeles, to enroll in a course at the Comnock School of Expression.

In 1904, Anita enrolled in the University of Arizona at Tucson. The University Special Collections department is pulling a copy of her biographical file. She is listed in school bulletins from 1904-1908.

Anita returned to Yuma in June 1905 at the end of her first year to vacation with her mother Esther. In August 1905 Anita departed for Imuris to visit her brother Asa Frank for the remainder of the summer before the start of classes in September. 1906 was much the same, with her school year spent in Tucson and summer vacation split between Yuma and Imuris. She likely attended her brother's wedding in Imuris to Maria Giron on 14 August 1906.

The newspapers in Yuma and Tucson regularly mention Anita's vocal performances in 1908. She sang with various groups and at social events, singing in Spanish and English.

Her talents appear to have also extended to the basketball court, as Anita played guard in a basketball game in December 1908. Like her mother, Anita was quite short, but the article notes that "Miss Post would be a splendid guard were she a few inches taller. Her lack in height, however, is offset, in a measure, by her quickness."
Arizona Daily Star, 6 Dec 1908.
Arizona Sentinel, 9 May 1909.

Anita graduated from the University of Arizona in May 1909. She was quickly hired to teach high school Spanish in Yuma, where she joined her famous aunt Mary Elizabeth Post. Her aunt had opened the first school in Yuma and was later honored by the US Senate as the first teacher in the state of Arizona to receive a pension. An elementary school in Yuma is still named after her.

In July 1909, Anita vacationed in Long Beach, California to enjoy the "cool breezes", away from the summer heat in Yuma.

Anita started teaching Spanish and History at Yuma Union High School in September 1909, the first year of the school. In 1910 the school operated from the old Territorial Prison, earning their athletic teams the nickname "the Criminals". Apparently it is the only high school in the country with that team name.

Anita was active in musical and social events and regularly performed in Yuma, including the Hispano-Americana Alianza, Elks, Catholic Altar Society, the Ocotillo Club, the Yuma Women's Club and other groups. In December 1910 she sang at a banquet for delegates to organize Arizona's constitutional convention.
Arizona Sentinel, 22 Dec 1910.
In 1911, Anita hosted the Yuma Women's Club and Ocotillo Club at her home. Her aunt Mary Elizabeth Post was a member of the Ocotillo Club and a member of the Federation Committee on the History of Arizona. She was clearly a big influence on Anita.

By 1912, Anita was in charge of the Spanish and English departments at Yuma Union High School. At the end of the 1912-1913 school year, Anita announced she had been offered a job as a Spanish professor at the University of Arizona, starting in Fall 1913.
Arizona Sentinel, 29 May 1913.
By October 1913 she was already earning high praise for her teaching at Arizona.
Arizona Sentinel, 9 Oct 1913.
At the end of the 1913-1914 school year, Anita joined a party of eight professors led by her boss Professor Turrell for a summer study of languages in Europe. This is the trip that Anita's mother Esther joined her on to France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
Arizona Daily Star, 2 Jun 1914.
The description of this trip deserves its own post, along with a copy of Anita's US Passport application.

I am skipping ahead in her timeline, but below is another page from the 1917 UoA yearbook. The Class of 1918 dedicated their yearbook to Anita (see the photo at the top of this post). Page 8 of the yearbook includes the following dedication:
1917 Desert, p.8, University of Arizona Special Collections.

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