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50 years later, Room 8 Cat remains a beloved school mascot and memory

Room * Cat Mural, Elysian Heights | Mary-Austin Klein

Room 8 Cat Mural, Elysian Heights | Mary-Austin Klein

Elysian Heights — It’s been 50 years since Room 8 Cat passed away this month after roaming the hallways and classrooms — especially Room 8 — of Elysian Heights Elementary. But while Room 8 is gone, he’s far from forgotten.

The famous feline first appeared on campus in 1952 and soon ingratiated himself with students and staff, according to the Echo Park Historical Society and other sources.

Word eventually spread about Room 8, attracting reporters to the campus to conduct interviews and take photos.  Fan mail addressed to Room 8 would be opened and responded to by fifth and sixth  graders, some of whom were not too keen on serving as the cat’s secretaries.  A book — “A Cat Called Room 8″ — penned by the school’s principal was published in 1966 and Room 8 even had some TV appearances.

Room 8’s reign finally came to an end when he pass away on August 13, 1968, according to some cemetery records. In a story about his death, Los Angeles Times reporter Dial Torgerson wrote that Room 8 “took fame with feline equanimity, posing casually for countless pictures, becoming ruffled only once, when asked to put his [aforementioned] paw prints in concrete in front of the school. (He left so fast he provided a tail print, too).”

His remains are buried at Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas but there are numerous reminders and tributes to Room 8 at his old school.  On one of the school buildings a mural of the feline stares out upon Echo Park Avenue  while tributes to Room 8 are inscribed into the sidewalk surrounding the school. Says one tribute:

Without A Name
To Room 8 He Came
To Give Our School
The Greatest Fame

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4 comments

  1. Where else could we read such a heartwarming story? That’s why we all love TheEastsiderLA!!! Lucky cat – lucky kids!!

  2. When I moved to Echo Park about 25 years ago, my preschool aged daughter and I stumbled across the tributes to Room 8 on a neighborhood walk. We walked around the school and read all of them. I remember feeling like there was something familiar about that cat … and later remembered that when I was probably 8 or 9 (mid-1960’s), I had read a story about Room 8 in Reader’s Digest! Back then, I lived across town and had no idea where Room 8’s school was, I just thought it was a great story and I wished my school had a cat.

    It was very cool to experience that link to my childhood and share it with my daughter (who ended up attending Elysian Heights for her first 4 years of school).

  3. I thought some years back, those sidewalks with the tributes were replaced with new sidewalks — they are not in the sidewalk anymore. However, the squares were retained, and placed standing up against the wall of the front of the school — I haven’t looked any time recently to see if they are still there. I’m very surprised Eastsider was not aware of that.

  4. I was fortunate to have Room 8 as a classmate, and Miss Beverly Mason as the school principal.

    As I moved through life, I never forgot Room 8. He was a source of pride for Elysian Heights School and Echo Park in general and he was the most famous cat in Los Angeles.

    A book was written about him in 1966 (“A Cat Called Room 8” by Beverly Masion, Virginia Finley with illustrations by Valerie Martin). He appeared on Art Linkletter’s television show multiple times and was featured in the NBC-TV documentary, “Big Cats-Little Cats” in 1968.

    For a more in depth look at Room 8’s life, please visit http://explorehistoricalif.com/ehc_legacy/room8.html

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