Seattle's Loyal Heights Elementary School: a Reminiscence of the 1930s

  • By John M. Leggett
  • Posted 4/03/2005
  • Essay 7281
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Former Seattle resident John M. Leggett offers this account of attending Seattle's Loyal Heights Elementary School in the 1930s.

Loyal Heights Elementary

The Loyal Heights Elementary School is located at 2511 NW 80th Street. It occupies the entire block south to NW 77th between 25th and 26th avenues NW. The oldest part of the building was completed in 1932 and opened in September that year. I entered First Grade at Loyal Heights in September 1934 after completing Kindergarten in the 1933-1934 school year at the Whittier School. Loyal Heights did not yet have a Kindergarten class.

During my years at Loyal Heights I lived at 7314 21st Avenue NW. This was in the Southeast corner of the Loyal Heights attendance area. Kids in my growing up neighborhood went to three different schools. If you lived on 20th, you went to Whittier; if you lived south of 73rd, you went to Webster. But if you lived on 21st north of 73rd you went to Loyal Heights.

My parents did not have a car during the thirties and forties. Parents in the neighborhood who did seldom drove their kids to school. We usually walked together, lunch bucket in hand and often with a yellow raincoat and hat. We followed a diagonal route across vacant property from 21st and W 75th to 24th and W 80th where the Junior Safety Patrol supervised the school crossing. The school did not permit us to cross 24th anywhere else.

The well-worn path that we followed went up and down according to the lay of the land. In the places where a cut had been made to keep the streets level there was an embankment to climb. Most of the streets were unpaved and there were no sidewalks in much of the area. On some streets two wooden 2 x 12 inch planks side by side served as sidewalks. These were later replaced with concrete when the streets were paved.

Much of the time the path was muddy but we didn’t mind since that meant there were also a lot of mud puddles to stomp in. In winter the puddles might have a coating of ice that made them even more fun. Seldom was there snow on the ground but when there was enough to make snowballs we had to remember that school rules strictly forbade throwing snowballs at each other on the way to and from school and at recess on the playground. The penalty, if caught or reported, was a spanking by Grace Henderson, the Principal, followed by being sent home.

Bad Luck

The first time I was spanked and sent home came as the result of a playground accident when I was in First Grade. On the south side of the school building there was a raised platform which had metal doors on the top that opened to allow coal to be dumped into the bin beneath. The platform was less than a foot high, but that was enough for us to play “King of the Mountain” on it.

One day I finally got up on the platform but in the process I pushed another boy off who fell and broke an arm. Now that was not what I intended to do; I was just playing the game. But he was in agony with that injured arm and I felt really bad. Nevertheless, I was taken to the Principal’s office where the seriousness of what I had done was explained. A spanking followed and I was sent home.

My parents did not spank me, as they recognized it was an accident and I didn’t mean to break an arm. However, my mother reminded me, as she had many times before and often afterwards, that boys often hurt one another when they play too rough. I realized it could have been my arm that got broken but I wasn’t sure whether that would have been worse -- or better.

The second time I got spanked by the Principal and sent home from school was when I threw a snowball at a bigger kid who had thrown one at me. Somehow it didn’t matter to the Principal that my transgression of the rules was in response to an attack upon me. I was told the same thing when I got home and after another spanking taken back to school fully aware that I was responsible for what I did regardless of what others were doing.

My teachers at Loyal Heights were Alma Johns, Mildred Batchelor, Mary O’Loughlin, Margaret Olsen, Mary Wright, Juanita Showalter, Muriel Robberson, and Katherine Franett. I liked them all, but the one I remember best is Juanita Showalter She instilled in me a love for classical music and the arts in general.

In looking over my report cards recently I noted that I was tardy only once and absent only nine times. All things considered I am very grateful for the education I received and the experiences I had at Loyal Heights. I was well-prepared when I entered James Monroe Junior High in January 1940 and then went on to graduate from Ballard High in June 1945.


John M. Leggett is a former Seattle resident.

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