Yalecrest has always had some impressive men and women working in Education. One of them was Alma Clayton (1755 Yale Ave). Alma worked quite a few years for the SLC School District. He was the only attendance/truant officer for the whole city. In 1908 SLC schools reported 478 truancy cases, 62 cases of corporal punishment and 81 suspensions. With more children entering school each year, I’m sure Alma was kept very busy.
At the end of 1909 Alma was pulling in an even $100 a month. That was the year he helped create a living flag in honor of President Taft’s visit. The flag was composed of at least 1600 school children. This sight brought tears to our president’s eyes.
The Board of Education must have appreciated Alma’s work. They authorized the purchase of a brand new motorcycle for him.
Alma was also assigned the task of catching the “hungry burglar” who had been sneaking into various schools and cooking himself some scrambled eggs or maybe a custard pudding with coconut frosting. Sometimes the burglar would do the dishes afterwards. Sometimes he chose to take a nap in the principal’s office and smoke some cigarettes there. He always left before the janitor got to work in the morning. (Alma caught him in the cooking act.)
Alma spoke at a mass meeting in favor of not abolishing the Juvenile Court. He said he seldom sent any child to the Court, but having the Court behind him meant a lot to him in his work. Representatives from Episcopal, Catholic, LDS, Jewish, and Unitarian organizations along with other civic-minded groups, stood with him in support.
Alma lived in his Yalecrest home until he died in 1957. For over 10 years he was one of 3 Alma’s living on his block. My guess is that the nearby middle school was named after this Yalecrest man.
SLC Board of Education “Years of Challenge: Public Education in SLC 1890-1965”
SLC Board of Education Minutes, Oct 10, 1911.
Salt Lake Tribune articles:
“About SLC’s Public Schools” Jan 13, 1909.
“Board of Education Has a Busy Meeting” Aug 18, 1909.
“Tears in the Eyes of President Taft” Sept 27, 1909.
“Hungry Burglar is Found in School” Nov 24, 1915.
“Urge Retention of the Juvenile Court” Jan 27, 1917.
Living flag photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.