2. Confirming the Crazy Stories…

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Local history is full of crazy stories (more on those tomorrow). Inevitably, when I hear one, I try to confirm it. That’s not always easy to do, and most often we need to be satisfied with either a little hint that it might be true, or just accept that we’ll have to take someone’s word for it. But every now and then, we strike gold – and that is exciting! Definitely one of the highlights of working in a community museum!

Here’s an example:

Dick and Vera Staples were visiting the Museum one day. While they were checking out the little red Kingsgate schoolhouse on the grounds, Dick said to me, ”Have you ever heard about the imaginary student in Grade 13?”

I hadn’t.

He explained that when the consolidated high school was built (at what is now Adam Robertson Elementary) in 1938, the school district powers-that-be wanted to be able to offer Grade 13. They needed twelve students to commit to it – and as the deadline neared, they only had eleven.

So, they made one up.

“Those girls in the office were real good,” Dick recalled. ”They even found records for him!”

Several months later, I was reading through the a copy of the high school’s own newspaper – the first issue published after the new high school was officially opened on 11 January 1939. It contains full details of the opening ceremonies, including a history of Valley schools, transcriptions of all the self-congratulatory speeches, a floor plan of the new school. There’s also information about school activities and clubs…and a gossip column called Class Chatter.

There’s a bunch of pretty standard items, the sort of thing that would have made perfect sense to members of the student body at the time, but which are a little baffling to us today.

And then there’s this one:

That’s him! That’s the imaginary student in Grade 13! His name was George!

(I’m evidently still excited about confirming this one!)