Hans Feickert, EG High School Supergrad of 1968, is a regular contributor to my column, and I always appreciate the messages from my long ago student at Elk Grove Elementary School. Here are some of his memories of being a student in Elk Grove:

“In the fall of 1962, we had a new teacher by the name of Mrs. Pinkerton.  She was our 7th grade social studies and English teacher.  Nobody knew much about her, and that was concerning as there was no clue as to just how much we would be able to get away with.  My experiences in her classroom were during the afternoon period that, as I recall, was a very lengthy two hours.  The trouble was that eventually Mrs. Pinkerton would always get around to calling on me, no matter how far back in the class I sat.  

“One day, I wore a new shirt to school.  It had been hand made by my seamstress grandmother Hedwig. The pattern was not a particularly modern one, but no one noticed that, and the workmanship was flawless.  What was totally unavoidable was the extremely bright blue background with huge, bright-colored tropical fish all over it.  Now, today that might seem less out of place. In 1962, when button-down, collar-striped Arrow shirts were de rigueur…not so much.  Still the day was going well, and nobody had made too big a deal out of it until I reached my social studies class.  Apparently, the tropical fish were quite somewhat more remarkable to our new teacher from Wisconsin: I could see Mrs. Pinkerton heading straight for me. ‘Stand up,’ she commanded in her teacher’s voice.  I stood up.  ‘Now, everybody turn around,’ she said, ‘I want you all to see the beautiful shirt that Hans is wearing.’ Everybody turned to look, while I stood there with no chance what-so-ever of blending into the background. She then proceeded to discuss the finer features of the shirt, and got me to admit that my Nana had made it for me.  One of a kind, it certainly was.  Fortunately, none of my classmates were as impressed as Mrs. Pinkerton was. No 12-year-old boy that I ever heard of has wanted his shirt to be described as ‘beautiful’ by his teacher in front of the class, but that’s what happened that day in 1962.

“The most useless things I learned in Mrs. Pinkerton’s classroom were the names of countless countries across the globe that changed their names within the next few years in that post-colonial era.  But to be clear, that was not her fault.

“My fondest memory of that class was when Mrs. Pinkerton, at her wit’s end as to how to win over and involve the boys in her classroom, decided that food was her last and best option.  She had us plan a lunch, a balanced meal supposedly, that would require us to plan, think, and prepare the food instead of just eating what was put in front of us.  So, we decided to make hamburgers the default food of preference.  An ancient hotplate was procured, plugged into the single electrical plug, and there in the back of the classroom we made our hamburgers. I don’t know if the technique worked for Mrs. Pinkerton, but the hamburgers were delicious, a welcome change from sack lunch fare.

“In those days, air conditioning and ventilation in the 1920s’ vintage school consisted of opening windows, which was occasionally a dangerous maneuver.  One boy back in the 5th grade had his arm broken by a double-hung, upper window that dropped on him when a rotten cotton rope supporting the counter weight broke.  It was a warm learning environment during the hotter months.  The classroom was on the second floor east, above the aforementioned 5th grade classroom.  That year, I hobbled around on crutches with a cast on my left leg for a couple of weeks: negotiating the long flight of stairs, which was an adventure.  

“Another teacher was Mr. Everett Bradley for math, who let us listen to the Giants nearly win the World Series, and Mrs. Augustine for science.  

“The 8th grade in 1963-1964 was memorable principally for the assassination of President Kennedy during the height of the Cold War. It was a sad time for all.

“Miss Toth taught social studies and homeroom, Mr. Norman Newman for math, and a beleaguered Mr. Duncan, nominally a science teacher who did not quite know what to do with us at all, so he resorted to showing us black-and-white. 16 mm films in lieu of maintaining classroom discipline, and of course, once again the aforementioned user of pejorative terminology for PE.”

I am sure that Hans and other long ago students will be able to tell us more about Elk Grove Elementary School in the 1960s.

Everything changed in 1964 when Joseph Kerr Jr. High School opened. All 7th and 8th graders went to Kerr and the ninth graders went there too instead of going on to high school. This was a big disappointment to the graduating 8th graders.

Read more of Hans’ memories of Joseph Kerr Junior High and Elk Grove High School in future HHH stories. Read also about Hans’ father, Adam Feickert, the great scoutmaster of Elk Grove!


History Happened Here, Book 1 – River, Oaks, Gold

History Happened Here, Book 2 – Fields, Farms, Schools

We the People, a Story of Internment in America

All book proceeds go for student scholarships, and I thank the many purchasers who have made possible the 80 scholarships with each one $1,000. Five more will be awarded in 2021 to seniors at EGUSD high schools.  To purchase books, make your check for books payable to Laguna Publishers and send to me at 9227 Lamprey Drive, Elk Grove, CA 95624.  Books are $20 apiece and California sales tax is included. Add $3 for shipping of one book; $5 for 2-3 books. Call me at (916) 685-0606 or email me at elizabethpink@gmail.com.