John Story Jenks Elementary School circa 1960's

Elsa R. Jaeger Principal

From The Chestnut Hill Local, Thursday, December 10, 1959... "The John Story Jenks School, Germantown and Southamnpton Aves., is a leader among Philadelphia's public schools. Here, Miss Elsa Jaeger, principal, accepts National Safety Honor Award from officers of the Jenks Safety Patrol: David Ruberg, captain; James Robinson, 1st Lt,; Edward Rapp, Lt.; Josh Stroup, Lt."

Full Elsa R. Jaeger Presentation (click here)

Contributor's Entries
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Bob Richey entry:
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Thanks for the posting of the photo of Miss Jaeger. This is the first time I have seen an image of her since leaving Jenks after 8th grade in 1963. Remarkably, the photo of her matches my memory of her very closely. She looked pretty old school even in those days but she was such an influential person then transcended her trademark appearance in her old style dresses and hairdo.

When she gathered the kids for an assembly story it was indeed a very special time. I remember anticipating her stories with much excitement knowing that she would take me to a wonderful place making me feel like I was right there with the characters actually in the story as she told it.

I feel very lucky to have grown up with Miss Jaeger as my principal in those most memorable grades K-8 at Jenks. I went on to go to Penn State but I still count Jenks as my favorite school. For me, memories of Miss Jaeger's wonderful stories out rank by far watching the exciting Penn State football games during the Franco Harris days.

Bob Richey (Jenks - 1963)

Jennifer Williams Coutney entry:
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Hi Michael,

Whenever I was asked where I was when President Kennedy was shot, I replied, "At the trolley stop in front of my elementary school." I am grateful that you remember the particulars. Thanks so much for filling in the blanks and for your wonderful memory.

Hope to see you soon,
Jennifer Williams Courtney

Michael Stevenson entry:
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Miss Jaeger 1963

Hi friends from Michael '68,

Now, that we have this photo of Miss Jaeger, I just want to take a moment to share one memory I have of her. I had thought to share it a few years ago, but didn't. Anyone who has talked to me about Miss Jaeger knows that she is one of the most influential people of my childhood. Those who have shared about the wonderful assemblies that she authored, with her wonderful storytelling and personal sharing, will get much of her wonderful character expressed... but there is one more story that I will never forget.

The date was easy to remember... it was November 22, 1963. I was nine years old and in fourth grade at JS Jenks. I rode the 23 trolley to Jenks and back to Germantown, each day, and at just after 3:00 PM on this date, myself and probably about 16 other children were standing in line, awaiting the arrival of the southbound trolley to travel home.

Very suddenly, something happened that had never happened before in (at that time) my five years of commuting to Jenks- Miss Jaeger came outside and walked over to the trolley stop, of all places. As always in her presence, you could have heard a pin drop, even there outside on busy Germantown Ave. No one else spoke when Miss Jaeger was about to. We were all ears as we knew she must have something to say because, as stated her appearance there had never before occurred.

She began to speak... it was a long time ago, but what I remember is something like this... "Children, I want you to know that something very important (or serious) has happened, today. The President of the United States has been shot." I think she went on to tell us that she expected us to conduct ourselves in a particularly quiet and respectful manner for the rest of that day... but that she wanted us to know the gravity of what had happened.

For me, this event of Miss Jaeger's address could have been the reason that the entire event was somewhat life changing for me. And I'm certain that many here know that sorrow of that event. But to this day, I appreciate the fact (and the character) of Miss Jaeger, in that she did not sit in her office after probably hearing of the tragedy by radio... (we all were in class that afternoon) and apparently she (once again) thought of the care of her students, enough to advise them of such a national event, and just instruct them on how to carry themselves accordingly. (We did so.)

Miss Jaeger was a guiding influence in all occasions, and she'll always be tops with me. -- Michael

Robert Staib entry:

"The Yarn of Nancy Bell"

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Hi Michael,

I've been dredging up old memories about J.S. Jenks. Below is a poem that I remember Miss Jaeger reciting in assembly. I believe she did it from memory. the poem is by W.S. Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) from a collection called, The Bab Ballads. Hope it brings back fond memories.

Btw, the website looks great.

Bob Staib

P.S. The author of the school song was Bobby Selzer's mother. So I'm guessing her last name was Selzer.

  "The Yarn of the NANCY BELL"

Twas on the shores that round our coast
 From Deal to Ramsgate span,
That I found alone on a piece of stone
An elderly naval man.

His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And weedy and long was he,
And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the NANCY brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

And he shook his fists and he tore his hair,
Till I really felt afraid,
For I couldn't help thinking the man had been drinking,
And so I simply said:

"Oh, elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
And I'll eat my hand if I understand
However you can be

"At once a cook, and a captain bold,
And the mate of the NANCY brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which
Is a trick all seamen larn,
And having got rid of a thumping quid,
He spun this painful yarn:

"'Twas in the good ship NANCY BELL
That we sailed to the Indian Sea,
And there on a reef we come to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.

"And pretty nigh all the crew was drowned
(There was seventy-seven o' soul),
And only ten of the NANCY'S men
Said 'Here!' to the muster-roll.

"There was me and the cook and the captain bold,
And the mate of the NANCY brig,
And the bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig.

"For a month we'd neither wittles nor drink,
Till a-hungry we did feel,
So we drawed a lot, and, accordin' shot
The captain for our meal.

"The next lot fell to the NANCY'S mate,
And a delicate dish he made;
Then our appetite with the midshipmite
We seven survivors stayed.

"And then we murdered the bo'sun tight,
And he much resembled pig;
Then we wittled free, did the cook and me,
On the crew of the captain's gig.

"Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question, 'Which
Of us two goes to the kettle?' arose,
And we argued it out as sich.

"For I loved that cook as a brother, I did,
And the cook he worshipped me;
But we'd both be blowed if we'd either be stowed
In the other chap's hold, you see.

"'I'll be eat if you dines off me,' says TOM;
'Yes, that,' says I, 'you'll be, -
'I'm boiled if I die, my friend,' quoth I;
And 'Exactly so,' quoth he.

"Says he, 'Dear JAMES, to murder me
Were a foolish thing to do,
For don't you see that you can't cook ME,
While I can - and will - cook YOU!'

"So he boils the water, and takes the salt
And the pepper in portions true
(Which he never forgot), and some chopped shalot.
And some sage and parsley too.

"'Come here,' says he, with a proper pride,
Which his smiling features tell,
''T will soothing be if I let you see
How extremely nice you'll smell.'

"And he stirred it round and round and round,
And he sniffed at the foaming froth;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals
In the scum of the boiling broth.

"And I eat that cook in a week or less,
And - as I eating be
The last of his chops, why, I almost drops,
For a wessel in sight I see!

* * * *

"And I never larf, and I never smile,
And I never lark nor play,
But sit and croak, and a single joke
I have - which is to say:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the NANCY brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!'"
Michael Stevenson entry:
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Elsa R. Jaeger- Principal of John Story Jenks School was one of the precious people who signed my autograph book at my graduation in June 1968. Here is her autograph. Miss Jaeger loved everyone and embraced a diverse group of students of all nationalities. It was very pleasing to her to see children from all parts of the world at her school. Miss Jaeger was a wonderful person and through her leadership provided us with a wonderful experience. Her wonderful practice of storytelling to the entire school in the Auditorium will never be forgotten by anyone who was there.

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