A new-born kitten and its mother provide a lesson in nature for the third grade students at Walter Douglas School, 3302 N. Flowing Wells Rd. After youngsters helped make a bed for the car in a drawer, the kitten got the attention of, from left, Billy Oesterle, Karl Bachman and Julie Moraga, all 8 years old.

Sheaffer Photo by Harry Lewis, 1968

Sex education certainly wasn't taught in the third grade in 1968, but when a cat wandered in to a classroom and settled down in the cloakroom, the lesson happened nonetheless.

The teacher allowed the cat to stay and the children went to recess. When they returned to the classroom, the cat had produced a kitten. It's not like the teacher could say a stork had also wandered into the classroom.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Friday, March 15, 1968:

3rd Graders Learn Bit About Sex

Mother Cat Has Kitten In Class


A black and white cat, all unsuspectingly, taught a class in sex education Wednesday at Walter Douglas School, 3302 N. Flowing Wells Rd.

The mama cat selected the third grade cloak room as a delivery room, and teacher Roger Thomas was forced to provide the answers for questions that normally are not included in third grade lessons. Some of the questions were answered by other students.

The cat followed students to school Wednesday and was seen at doors of various classrooms. It wasn’t until she got to Thomas’ third grade that she found an open door.

Thomas told his students the cat could stay if they wouldn’t be distracted. By recess time the cat had wandered into the cloak room. That was 10:30 a.m. and all was well.

The cat population had been increased by one very tiny, black and white kitten when the students came back into the classroom at 11 a.m.

A temporary bed was devised in a drawer for the cat and her kitten. After school the students tried unsuccessfully to find the cat’s owner. They did find a family who was happy to have a cat and kitten.

Putting the cat's picture in the paper helped the cat's family get her back.

From the Star, Sunday, March 17, 1968:

Harriet Home After Kidnap, Class Birth

After being kidnapped and abandoned and then giving birth to a lone baby, Harriet is back at her own home, 4558 E. Montecito St., with her mate, Ozzie.

Mrs. Richard Foster recognized the cat pictured in The Arizona Daily Star Friday as the one belonging to her son Richard. The cat had been gone more than three weeks.

The Fosters are certain the cat had been carried away because of the great distance between the Montecito Street address and Walter Douglas School, 3302 N. Flowing Wells Rd., where the cat went Friday to find a place to have her kitten.

The third-grade students in Roger Thomas’ class tried but couldn’t find the owner of the new-mother cat. But they did find a family who would take it.

When the Fosters saw Harriet’s picture, they contact Thomas, who helped unravel the story and get Harriet and her day-old baby home.

And they all lived happily ever after. Perhaps not so much for the family that had agreed to take Harriet and her baby in, but we must hope they didn't have time to become too attached.

Johanna Eubank is an online content producer for the Arizona Daily Star and tucson.com. Contact her at jeubank@tucson.com

About Tales from the Morgue: The "morgue," is what those in the newspaper business call the archives. Before digital archives, the morgue was a room full of clippings and other files of old newspapers.