Cole Grammar School (c.1885-c.1926) was a school in West Oakland on 10th Street between Union and Poplar Streets.
Jack London attended Cole starting in 1887. He graduated 8th grade in 1891, but being ashamed of his shabby suit, skipped the ceremony.
A classmate, Frank Atherton, later wrote that Jack was ”occupied with books. Not only did he apply himself diligently to his studies during class, but also during recess and the noon hour, he would sit on one of the benches in the school yard, reading some strange tale of romance and adventure, while other boys and girls were at play … he read many books, some seeming far beyond the comprehension of a ten-year-old boy. And it was remarkable how well he remembered the details of so many stories.” 1
In 1887 Joshua P. Garlick was principal (reportedly, Jack London was no stranger to his office), and there were 15 teachers: Mrs. Fanny M. Pugh, Miss Alice A. McCord, Miss Agnes G. Madden, Mrs. Harriet J. Lee, Miss Mary F. Buckelew, Miss Martha R. McClure, Miss Carrie A. Vinzent, Miss Eleanor Pullman, Miss Florence A. Pereau, Miss Susie H. Snook, Miss Hattie B. Sproul, Miss Josie N. Standeford, Mrs. Jennie N. Brower, Miss Maggie Conners (sister of Mollie Conners) and Miss Fanny G. Smith, with John S. Fox working as the school janitor.
1896 attendance was recorded as 695 students. 3
A 1901 “bring a pet to school” day ended badly in Miss Robina Ferguson’s class. A white pet rat escaped its cage, which was then pursued by a brindle cat, which was then pursued by a Newfoundland dog, which was then pursued by all the boys in the class. The chase didn’t end until the cat caught the rat. 4
Cole Grammar School alums
- Isadora Duncan (dropped out c.1887)
- Mrs. C. C. Boynton (classmate of Isadora Duncan’s)
- Jack London (class of 1891)
- Priscilla Prentiss, daughter of Alonzo and Jennie Prentiss who raised Jack London
- Frank Atherton (friend of Jack London)
- Mike Pinella (bully of Jack London)
- Jimmy Hopper (friend of Jack London)
- Margaret Jack (class of 1895), daughter of David Jack, who may have popularized Monterey Jack Cheese.
- Emma Richards Miller (c.1885)
- Otto Darnstaedt (c.1891-1896), also see photo
- Minnie Elizabeth McCraken (c.1887)
- James Ferdinand Andreas McCloud (c.1920s)
Cole Grammar School staff
- Joshua Platt (J.P.) Garlick, principal (c.1887-1891, when Jack London attended)
- George W. Frick, principal (c.1905) [not George W. Frick of school fame, who was already county school superintendent from 1890. Not necessarily; Garlick went from county super to Lincoln principal in 1898]
- S. P. Meads, principal (c.1908-1916)
- Hattie B. Sproul, teacher (c.1891-1892)
- Mrs. J. Brower, teacher (c.1891)
- M.R. McClure, teacher (c.1893)
- M.A. Boardman (c.1894)
- M.E. France (c.1895)
- M. Story, teacher (c.1896)
- Robina Ferguson (c.1901)
- Bertha Chapman (c.1901)
Links and References
- Boyhood Days with Jack London, Frank Irving Atherton (via Journal of the Emeryville Historical Society)
- Oakland and Surroundings Illustrated and Described
- Schools Largely Attended, SF Call, July 29, 1896
- Pet Rat Spoils A Nature Study, SF Call, November 24, 1901
- Alameda County: The Eden of the Pacific. Tribune Publishing Co: 1898.
- Image(s) used by permission of the UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
- Image(s) used by permission of family of Bessye Pettis