Mystery of the Y-Teen Cup




Seven former recipients of the Y-Teen cup for complete Girlhood are seen at a reunion of recipients in 1974.
They are: seated, Dorothy Wyskup and Dr. Willis; and standing, Charmain Akins, Madeline Farry, Nancy Linder, Nancy Wall and Donna Hunt.



Frances Cornell, now Dr. Frances Willis, retired
Denison High educator, was the third recipient of the Y-Teen cup for Complete Girlhood.




I have been on a mission since the awards ceremony at Denison High School last May. I’ve been looking for the Y-Teen Cup that seems to have vanished. The cup was presented at graduation from high school for many years, then at the school’s awards ceremony. It was one of Denison High School’s most storied traditions and was presented to the Y-Teen that members felt had attained “Complete Girlhood.”

    I had come across a wonderful picture of the third recipient of the award, Frances Cornell Willis, better known today as Dr. Frances Willis, the traveling retired educator at Denison High School.  I say traveling because she’s either returning from or heading out on one trip after another.   She is a role model to every young woman who ever took home economics from her or had other association with her during their school years. The picture of Dr. Willis holding the cup accompanies this article.

    In 1974 a reunion of recipients of the prestigious cup gathered at the high school and the first recipient had an opportunity to meet that year’s honoree. Each year the name of the recipient so honored was engraved on the cup and once the entire cup was covered with names, it was placed on a wooden base and names were engraved on brass plaques on the four sides. Each honoree kept the cup for a year.

    I’ve not been able to learn the name of the last recipient or to locate the cup. The  organization now is known as Den-Teens and is a service club for boys and girls, taking the place of both Y-Teens and Hi-Y.  Charla Winfree Holzbog, teacher sponsor, said that Den-Teens was formed in the early 1990s and the cup no longer is awarded.

This summer I had an opportunity to go through a room full of trophies at the high school and felt certain that the cup was there. It wasn’t, and teachers who had connections to the cup in later years also don’t know its whereabouts.

    Fourteen past recipients attended the 1974 reunion at the annual Mother-Daughter Banquet for Y-Teens, beginning with the very first, Mrs. Mavis Clymer Bryant, who received the award three years after the organization – then known as Girl Reserves – was formed.

    Up until at least the mid 1950s, the name of the honoree was kept secret until graduation night when announcement was made along with the Hi-Y Club recipient for Complete Boyhood. By the 1970s the announcement was made at the Mother-Daughter Banquet and the recipient was recognized again during the May recognition Ceremonies.

    Mrs. W.B. Munson Jr. organized the Girl Reserves as a Christian organization for girls in high school under the backing of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). Mrs. Munson was sponsor for many years and was honored every year at the Mother-Daughter banquet until her death in 1970.

    It also was her idea to honor the outstanding member every year by engraving her name on a trophy. As the years passed and the cup “literally runneth over” with names, the base was added.

    Mary Frances Wilson Morrison was the first president of the organization and was present for the reunion.  The second recipient of the award was Martha Cook and the third recipient was Dr. Willis, who was a sponsor of Y-Teens for many years after she began teaching. In fact, she was a sponsor when the organization’s name was changed from Girl Reserves to Y-Teens in the mid 1950s.

    Each year the group sponsored Neewollah (Halloween spelled backwards) about this time of year when a king and queen of the school were named.

    Other recipients who attended the reunion included Charmain Byers Akins, 1939; Nancy Casey Linder, 1942; Madeline Foster Farry, 1947; Dorothy Bryant Wyskup, 1948; Donna Hord Hunt, 1953; Judy Hoover Gohlke, 1958; Nancy Monroe Wall, 1960; Nancy Robinson Terry, 1962; Linda White, 1963; Ann Jones Holt, 1965; Rhonda Skaggs, then a student at the University of Texas at Arlington, 1971; and Sharon Ward Killough, 1972.

    That year a new name, that of Robbie Wright, now Robbie Shersy of Austin, was added to the list of recipients. Dr. Willis presented the cup to Robbie.

    If anyone knows where the Y-Teen Cup might be, I’m still looking for it.

    While we’re looking for something, Claudia Sandbach of Cooper City, Fla., contacted me and she is also looking for something and has enlisted my help in her search.

    Claudia is in the process of transcribing her grandmother’s journals. Her grandmother, Rebecca Welch, was one of the head nurses at the Denison City Hospital from 1914 to 1917 or 1918.

    In her journal Rebecca wrote “We had the famous Knitting Needle surgery which is a little sordid to put on paper.” She didn’t go into more detail and Claudia is very serious about learning more about it.

    Rebecca’s married name was Brune. She joined the Denison City Hospital just after it opened in 1914, according to her granddaughter, and was a supervisor of the operating room and head of the nursing school there for two years.

    She recorded her life stories in six journals that Claudia found after her father’s death. Claudia and her daughter have been going through the journals and transcribing them for the family.

    Rebecca wrote in her journal, “Before I get too deep into the duties at the Denison City Hospital, perhaps it would be a good idea to tell you something of this brand new hospital. It was opened the early part of 1914, a pretty little brick and stucco with 50 beds, modern operating room and quarters for nurses.

    “Doctors Leland and J.G. Ellis (brothers) were in charge of the hospital by a lease. There were about ten doctors in Denison. I recall by name: Doctor’s Freels, Mays, McGregors (father and son) Long, Seay and Dr. Ellis Sr. The doctors were all times at odds with the two Doctors Ellis. There was always friction of some kind amongst the doctors. I remember on one occasion Dr. Mays and Dr. J.G. Ellis had a fist fight in the front hall of the hospital.”

    Rebecca left the hospital to join the Navy Nurses Corps just before World War I started. Claudia said Rebecca had a very interesting life, but gave no further explanation of “knitting needle surgery,”

    Does anyone have any ideas?

Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at
Denison, Texas


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