John Story Jenks Elementary School circa 1960's

Michael Stevenson
From the Class of '68 Photograph contributed by Ed Richey '68
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Beginning Year: Ending Year: Graduation Year:
1959 1968 1968

Contributor's Entries
msg 003, True Confessions... Coming Clean About My Oral Book Report, by Michael Stevenson '68
msg 002, Greetings, Classmates!
msg 001, A Timeline
Michael Stevenson entry:
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True Confessions... Coming Clean About My Oral Book Report, by Michael Stevenson '68

   When I attended Miss Finley's seventh grade English class, back in the mid- 60's, as it has been mentioned in another message- one of the requirements for that class was the presentation by each student of an oral book report. In this exercise, each student would stand at the front of the classroom, and give a summary of a book which they have read, along with the author's name and a recommendation to the class (thumbs up or down) for the reading of the book to the class.

   My difficulty with this is that I was not the avid reader, let's say that others might have been or that Miss Finley might have expected of me. When I got home from school I was rather busy playing in the neighborhood games like Chink (a.k.a "Wall Ball" -a low-cost, no-sports club requirement game of handball in which a rubber ball was bounced off of a nice smooth wall alternately by each player) or games of half-ball, (a.k.a. "stickball" as it is known in Philadelphia), or riding my bike, playing "two-hand touch" football and many other things that children just do. This did not leave adequate time for "Charlotte's Web", "National Velvet" or any of the Nancy Drew mysteries.

   This resulted in the dilemma my waking up on one day of the school week, and heading off to school realizing that; 1- an oral book report was due, 2- that I had not currently completed any great literary work, and 3- that these facts would soon be realized by Miss Finley, and in front of the entire class at that. This was not a comfortable mental picture for me, so- as I took the long walk from the area of Roosevelt J.H.S. in Germantown, down towards the intersection of Germantown Ave. and Washington Lane where I would board the trolley car for the two and one half mile journey to our beloved John Story Jenks Elementary School, I thought of a possible solution. Instead of "dying a warriors death" like jumping into a pack of wolves with a sword in my hand (i.e. "The Vikings" starring Kirk Douglas), I would compose a novel (quickly), give the work a pen name and save my neck.

   So from the time of formulating this great plan, until the arrival of the 23 Trolley, through the duration of the trip to J.S. Jenks, I would have my character born, raised, and riding off into the sunset, ...the work titled, then leaving only the task of developing a pen-name for the author before the time Oral Book Reports were due. If anyone observed me during these particular trolley rides, I would probably be described as "intense" or something, as opposed to a casual rider. Who knows what gyrations take place during the creation of a "major work"? I heard it commented that composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) would walk through the streets of Germany wildly waving his arms in the air and making sounds that frightened shoppers on the way to the market, as the music he was composing was playing loudly in his mind. I don't remember doing any of that, but possible muttering and/or blank staring might have occurred.

   I remember arriving in class with all of the tension in the air as though it were the day of "The Great Escape" (i.e.. starring Steve McQueen), yet finding myself remaining fully intent on going through with the plan, though butterflies existed in my stomach (stow-mock). When the time came to actually give the report, I had arrived at a pen-name for the "book", and... (as is the point of this confession) stood in front of the class and delivered the story (no pun intended) to the class flawlessly to it's completion, featuring a recommendation to the class for reading. Heading for my seat (and to safety), it is as though I began to hear the closeout music to "Mission Impossible" playing during this "escape" of sorts. Arriving there, when I heard the next student called upon for their Oral Book Report, and I breathed a sigh of relief.


   Miss Finley, never asked me for an ISBN number for the work, and I say this to show the big person that she really was. I tell you, I think of her only with fondness of memories, even though she was one of the most formal and stoic characters that you could ever meet during that time (with the exception of course, of the immense character of Elsa R. Jaeger, Principal. I would have died of a heart attack if I had tried this with her present.) Miss Finley *had to be formal. It promoted the high standard of education, respect for teachers, a functional classroom learning environment, all of which made J.S. Jenks such a great school.

   But I digress, because now with the admiration I have for Miss Finley I feel guilty about this manufactured Oral Book Report and the need to lay the matter before the now assembled student body as a means of repentance, that way, I could move on past the issue.


   Also, as a means of making amends, perhaps I could make this action, now, dedicating this mini-book report to Miss Theresa M. Finley. Actually, when I did read a novel back in my youth I was stunned by the power of the story. The list is not very long but I did read "The Incredible Journey", do you recall it? It's the story of the Labrador Retriever, a Siamese Cat and a Bull Terrier that traveled a great journey over land to get back to their owners from whom they had been accidentally separated. Oh-- the book was fantastic! I remember the awe of seeing opening events twist (in the wrong direction) resulting in that separation of the family. And I remember being utterly moved with emotion in reading the last page and seeing the end of that Incredible Journey after all that these animals had been through. This wonderful book was written by Sheila Burnford (ISBN: 0-440-22670--8) and I highly recommend it to you for reading.

   Michael Stevenson

Michael Stevenson entry:
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Hi, This is me, Michael Stevenson who spent 9 years at the John Story Jenks school and who is busily reminiscing about you all. Thinking back, I loved everything about the experience. I attended from Kindergarden through eight grade from 1959 to 1968. I was on the Safety Patrol for a long time and played the piano in Assembly at the Auditorium a couple of times. My two sisters, Joanne and Nancy also attended Jenks. The point is that I love every one of you that I well remember during the times of those really good days. May God bless you all.
Michael Stevenson entry:
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1968 - SpringGraduated John Story Jenks Elementary School
1969 - SpringCompleted 9th Grade at Roosevelt Junior High School, Philadelphia.
1972 - SpringGraduated from Central High School of Philadelphia
1972 - Fall Enrolled in St. Augustine's University in Raleigh, NC.
1973 - Fall Departs St. Augustine's University after one complete year
1973 - WinterSaved
1978 - WinterEnlists in United States Navy, Advanced Electronics Program (AEF)
1980 - 6 monsTravelled around a good part of Europe; France, Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy
1981 - 6 monsTravelled around a good part of South America; Every country that touches the sea.
1983 - Fall Promoted to 1st Class Electronics Technician
1985 - JanuaryAwarded by the Federal Communications Commission of the United States, a General Radiotelephone Operator License #PG-4-16212
1985 - Feb EAOS (end of active obligated service;) USN
1985 - SpringI got a wonderful, wonderful dog, named Candy.
1985 - Fall Begin Civilian Federal Service
1989 - Fall Purchased first home
1997 - JulyDied; Father: Robert Bruce Stevenson
1998 - Fall Died; Candy
1999 - Fall Married; Bethany Elizabeth
2000 - SummerBorn; Leah Joy Stevenson
2002 - SummerBorn; Ethan Michael Stevenson
2004 - WinterBorn; Evan Robert Stevenson
2007 - SpringBorn; Samara Elizabeth Stevenson
2010 - SpringBorn; Rayna Hope Stevenson
2013 - SpringPurchased second home
2014 - WinterBorn; Leila Catherine Stevenson
2016 - SummerPut out to pasture
2017 - Fall Rehired as Home School Educator (assistant)

Send in your entry, today!       Webpage updated:    8/14/2018 5:41:28 AM
Profession:Electronics, Mainly RF Comm, some CCTV, some Satellite
Status:Alive & well. Married 2 Children, Ethan and Leah
Make that 3 children, December 2004 Evan :)
...excuse me, four children, Spring 2007, five 2010, ...six 2014
Current Location:Maryland, USA
Comment: "Do I remember you?... Y-E-S!" Phone: (540)388-1241

Bonus Photos:

Michael Stevenson

In 2003 with family at the Chestnut Hill Hotel holding 1968 class photo

Revin' Evan 2004

House full 2005 :)

2008--baby Samara joins in... Left to right- Ethan, yours truly, Evan, Bethany, Samara, Leah

With Candy at Forestville, Maryland

Los Angeles International Airport in 1978

Find the Squid

Apartment life Forestville, Maryland

Pasadena, California 1978

Hard At Work 1990's

Norfork Naval Base, D&S Piers, 1980

1st Class Electronic Technician 1984

At Puerto Arenas, Argentina... the southernmost city in the world, '81. This family spoke no English. I spoke no Spanish. I "cambio-ed" neck ties with the Father.

Lima, Peru '81