CLASSY CAT ROOM 8, THE SCHOOL PET TO ELYSIAN HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY CHILDREN THAT BECAME A CELEBRITY IN THE 1960S, IS STILL REMEMBERED FONDLY DECADES LATER.
Byline: Roger Vargo
For some of the kids at Elysian Heights Elementary, he was the pet they never had, a portly port·ly
adj. port·li·er, port·li·est
1. Comfortably stout; corpulent. See Synonyms at fat.
2. Archaic Stately; majestic; imposing.
[From port5. cat dubbed dub 1
tr.v. dubbed, dub·bing, dubs
1. To tap lightly on the shoulder by way of conferring knighthood.
2. To honor with a new title or description.
3. Room 8 by the kids in, yes, Room 8.
The gray-striped tabby roamed the halls of the Echo Park school for 16 years, sauntering in and out of classrooms, sleeping on kids' desks and, to a teacher's dismay, wiping out a chalked lesson with his fur as he crept along the eraser tray below the blackboard.
Room 8 became a celebrity, arguably ar·gu·a·ble
1. Open to argument: an arguable question, still unresolved.
2. That can be argued plausibly; defensible in argument: three arguable points of law. the most famous cat in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. . And his renown spread after he was featured in national magazines, appeared on TV and was the subject of a biography.
"I was lucky to be one of the sixth-graders who got to feed the cat in the teachers' room every day," recalled former student Julie (O'Neal) Hines. "We weren't allowed to have pets in my home, so a quick cuddle of Room 8's fat furry body was always a welcome thing."
Room 8 adopted the Echo Park school, showing up one day in 1952 and staying until he died in 1968. He'd disappear each summer, yet return each September on the first day of school.
"My first recollection of Room 8 was Miss Mason introducing him to our kindergarten class," said student Angie (Medrano) Nicolai. "She wanted us to know that he belonged to the school and that there may be times he would come into our classroom to visit. She put him down and he immediately jumped up on the desk next to the window to take a nap in the warm sun."
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. "A Cat Called Room 8," a book by Beverly Mason, the school's former principal, and Virginia Finley, a teacher, the feline feline
of, or pertaining to, members of the family Felidae. See also cat.
see feline panleukopenia (below).
feline actinic dermatitis
see solar dermatitis. was born in 1947, and ran away after being mistreated by a boarder in the home where he lived.
"No one knew where he went at night or during vacation. Like the swallows of Capistrano, he returned every September for the opening of school to sleep on the desks of children," they wrote.
The local news media began to take notice of his annual autumnal return to school. His renown spread after Look magazine ran a three-page spread in November 1962 titled "Room 8: The School Cat."
Weekly Reader, a national magazine for elementary school elementary school: see school. pupils, featured the feline in January 1967. Art Linkletter Art Linkletter (born Gordon Arthur Kelly on July 17 1912 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada), was the host of two of the longest-running shows in United States broadcast history: House Party, which ran on CBS radio and television for 25 years, and had the cat as a guest on TV's "House Party," and Room 8 also was featured on "Big Cats, Little Cats," a television documentary that aired in 1968.
According to his biography, Room 8 received more than 10,000 fan letters from 47 states and several foreign countries -- sometimes more than 100 letters in one day.
The volume of mail created an educational opportunity of sorts for fifth- and sixth-graders who were conscripted to be Room 8's "secretaries." They answered each piece of mail and signed it with a rubber stamp of Room 8's paw (tool) PAW - Physics Analysis Workbench. print.
The cat's paw cat's paw
a person used by someone else to do unpleasant things for him or her [from the tale of a monkey who used a cat's paw to draw chestnuts out of a fire] prints also were embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. in wet cement in the front of the school on June 11, 1964, a scene Mason and Finley recall in their book.
"Everyone cheered! Television cameras rolled as he walked across the wet cement with his tail and head high."
Room 8 was hurt in a cat fight in November 1963, and he nearly died of pneumonia a year later. After recuperating at the Lockhart Animal Hospital in Hollywood, he spent nights and vacations with a family who lived near the school -- the first time, Mason wrote, he was willing to accept a nighttime home.
Room 8 was 22 when he died Aug. 13, 1968.
In an obituary published the next day, the Long Beach Press-Telegram The Long Beach Press-Telegram is a major daily newspaper published in Long Beach, California. Tracing its history to 1897, it is currently published by the Los Angeles Newspaper Group. External links
Room 8 was laid to rest at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas, where a 3-foot granite headstone marks his grave.
And there are still remembrances of the cat at the school where he made his home for 16 years.
Two paintings greet visitors in the hall next to a large version of his memorial medallion and a bronze statue.
He is the centerpiece of a triptych in the school library. A fading image of him adorns the outside wall of a classroom building. A 2005 mural on the side of the school auditorium by Yuriko Etue features the gray feline walking through California history.
"Elysian Heights School. Home of Room 8. School Cat 1952-1968" is inscribed in·scribe
tr.v. in·scribed, in·scrib·ing, in·scribes
a. To write, print, carve, or engrave (words or letters) on or in a surface.
b. To mark or engrave (a surface) with words or letters. in foot-high letters in concrete at Baxter Street and Echo Park Avenue.
And each year, Elysian Heights teachers like Sheryl Gallo read the biography of Room 8 to their students.
"Room 8 taught us kindness to all beings and respect for life," she said.
(1 -- 3) Elysian Heights Elementary School Principal Beverly Mason holds school cat Room 8 in the photo above. At right and below, the cat appears with the sixth grade classes of 1963 and 1958.
Photos courtesy Baeri Penne
(4) "A Cat Called Room 8" authors Valerie Martin Valerie Martin (born 1948, Missouri) is an American novelist and short story writer. She has also taught at Mount Holyoke College, Loyola University New Orleans, The University of New Orleans, The University of Alabama, and Sarah Lawrence College, among other institutions. (center), Beverly Mason, and Virginia Finley (back row, far right) are seen with students and Room 8 in 1968.
Photo from the Virginia Finley Collection
(5) Elysian Heights Elementary principal Beverly Mason wrote Room 8's biography with two teachers.
Photo courtesy of Juanita Buck
(6 -- color) A granite headstone marks Room 8's grave at Los Angeles Pet Memorial park in Calabasas. The cat was 22 when he died Aug. 13, 1968. He had shown up at the school one day in 1952, and returned every fall.
(7 -- 9) Room 8 memorabilia still displayed at the school includes a 1967 "Special Top Cat" award from the Los Angeles Cat Club. Room 8's biography, "A Cat Called Room 8," was created by teachers Virginia Finley and Valerie Martin, and principal Beverly Mason. A stamp issued by Pet Pride honors Room 8 after an unsuccessful effort to get him on a U.S. postage stamp postage stamp, government stamp affixed to mail to indicate payment of postage. The term includes stamps printed or embossed on postcards and envelopes as well as the adhesive labels. .
(10 -- color) Room 8 School Cat
(11 -- color) no caption (Room 8)