Many people live ordinary lives never achieving fame or fortune, but nevertheless would accomplish much in their lives or simply excel in their field. These people deserve recognition.
I would not be writing this blog today without the influence of just one person Who fit this description.
Elin Felt spent her entire career teaching English, most of her years were at Lane technical high school on Chicago’s North Side.
Elin Marie Louise Felt was born in Chicago on October 4, 1904, one of six children, the daughter of Charles John Felt (1864 – 1943 ) who was born in Ostergstland Sweden, immigrated to the United States and was a grocer in Chicago at 1918 Winnemac. Her mother was Ellen C. Larson (1866-1955)
Ellen had four sisters and one brother.
Elin was baptized March 12, 1905 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Chicago. She attended both Augustana College in Rock Island Illinois (circa 1923) and the Chicago Normal College (circa 1926)
Never married, her entire life was all about teaching English. By 1930 she was teaching for the Chicago Board of Education.
In 1949 she was on the faculty of Marshall high school.
Between 1951 and 1970 she was in the English department at Lane technical high school in Chicago’s North Side. In her career lasting at least 40 years I estimate that she might have taught as many as 1200 students.
And at Lane Tech is where I knew her, she was my wonderful English teacher at Lane. Quiet, small in stature, never heavy-handed, always smiling, a personality that just earned and deserved respect.
She left such a positive impression on me that I did not fully grasp at the time.
But if you really want to know the truth, English class was not that all that important to me at the time, but was simply a necessary class stuck between drafting, shops and the lunchroom.Why would I know what a participle was, or how to diagram a sentence? I was much more interested in operating a South Bend lathe or a Bridgeport Milling machine.
But what I didn’t realize was that she taught the important foundation for writing. She taught us to choose our subject wisely, use index cards to gather major thoughts and do quality research before beginning to put words to paper.
For my semester project I chose of all things to write about, the hydraulically operated concrete barriers that were in the middle of Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive. Raising and lowering them on Lakeshore Drive afforded what we know of today as reversible lanes. In order to research the subject, I read through traffic management magazines at the downtown library. I am not sure whether Miss Felt had much knowledge about hydraulic lane delineators but gave me an “A” for my work.
I have not found too much about her personal life other than she lived at 1918 W. Winnemac and later in Chicago’s Sauganash neighborhood. She did travel a bit. I do remember that she thought that the two most beautiful words in the English language were “cellar door”. Go figure.
Elin felt died December 7, 1996 at the age 92 in the Swedish covenant convalescent home near Foster and California. Her funeral was Immanuel Lutheran Church 1500 W. Elmdale. She is buried at Graceland Cemetery among her parents and siblings.
If you had Miss Felt for English at Lane tech high school, please tell me what you remember. If not, please share your memories of an outstanding teacher that you remember in the comments below. You will receive bonus points if that teacher was at Lane Tech. You also can just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And for another great story about Lane tech high school please click the link:
Three LANE Schools over a Clay Pit – Chicago and Cook County Cemeteries