Puzzles from the past

For the story I’m working on—a novella, in which SFPD Inspector Kate Martinelli revisits her past—I needed to have her look at some high school yearbooks. To remind myself what they looked like, I dug out my own.

Now, I graduated in 1970.  Ever since I bought the thing, I’ve wondered what the hell a “Micopacen” is.  So I Googled it—only to find that the sole listings for that word are, yes, yearbooks from this Franklin Pierce High School. (Franklin Pierce being our alcoholic, pro-slave, ranked-among-the-worst, 1853 president. Great name for a high school, right?)

I can only guess that this neologism (indeed, so far as I can tell, this hapax legomenon) may be an acronym.  The school’s first nine teachers?  The students who worked on the first yearbook? Their mothers, their dogs?  Anyone have a suggestion?






Active &





Oh, but you say you’re more interested in what’s inside, rather than the baffling name on the cover? This was the time of miniskirts and plastered hair, of Vietnam and the Beatles.  Except maybe in suburban Tacoma, where you might find a long-haired, wire-rimmed, ridiculously young LRK:

About whom a friend wrote:

That’s right: “Laurie, our class hippy.  I had a write-in for you on that popularity sheet for our class hippy ’cause they didn’t have a category for it…”

What category did you guys find yourselves nominated for, back in your own Dark Ages?


  1. Kay Kay on January 8, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Thrilled that you are working on anything Martinelli, even just a novella.
    It’s been far too long since she has graced us with her presence! Thank you for a glance into her past.
    More Martinelli, please?

    • Gary Branch on January 19, 2019 at 4:54 pm

      I hope it evolves into more than a novella. I’ve missed what developed after “The Art of Detection”. More children, a headstrong daughter.. whatever. Let’s look at the past as part of a greater story.

  2. Christine Olewiler on January 8, 2019 at 10:36 am

    That is lovely handwriting on a sweet note!

  3. Mary Beth on January 8, 2019 at 10:54 am

    We could have been ’70’s sisters!!!!! I had the long hair and wire frames, too!! Love the picture!!!!! Memory road is always a hoot.

  4. Sue Burnam on January 8, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    1967 high school grad – gee, this looks familiar! Hair only shoulder length now, but still wearing rimless glasses. I will be so happy to meet Martinelli again!

    Love, mystery fan who teaches comparative religion, Sue

  5. Ken Wedding on January 8, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    A new Martinelli! Hooray!!

  6. Storyteller Mary on January 8, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    In 1970 I was in college, organizing marches and vigils against the war, marching for women’s rights . . . straight hair, patched jeans, bell bottoms. We did some good. There is still much to be done.
    I’m not sure I was nominated for anything in high school . . . mostly known as quiet, studious, a future teacher.

  7. Merrily Taylor on January 8, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    You might have been younger and darker in that picture, but I know that expression well. And am not surprised that you were the Class Hippy!
    It’s been so long since I looked at my yearbook that I have no clue what my “classification” was, but I think it might generally have been “class funny person.”

  8. Susan on January 8, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Look at that beautiful cursive handwriting! I graduated in 1970 as well and we all had or were working on that long straight hair by then.

  9. Kathy Reel on January 9, 2019 at 12:11 am

    I love your yearbook picture. I was just two years behind you, and I had that same exact hairdo, long and straight. I also had the glasses. And, oh the mini-skirts.

  10. wuwqn on January 9, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    except for the glasses (which i didn’t need until about ten years later) this looked like me! long hair and so on….i graduated in 1973…

  11. Leslie Orr on January 11, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Yeah I love the series can’t wait.👵

  12. Jan Earnest on January 14, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Thank you for all your wonderful books. They have given me so many hours of entertainment and…. escape. I graduated in 1968 so I recognize the yearbook picture…. And i will never forget the tumultuous period of the late sixties.

    Cant wait for the new Kate M book.

    Happy New Year, Jan

  13. Ali Smith on January 15, 2019 at 10:38 am

    So happy you’ve got a new Martinelli coming out! Is there any chance of you doing more in the Califia’s Daughters world? I love that book.

    I managed to be classified as most mature and most immature pupil at the same time, when I was about 12. Bizarre! (I’m in the UK – we didn’t have yearbooks.)

    Thank you for all the pleasure your stories give me.

  14. Lady Jan Faulkner on January 15, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Thanks! Looking fwd to your new Martinelli book!

    We were a 1969 graduate (lots of snarky references to that year!) But my twin and I ruined our long, wavy brown hair by bleaching it blond and wearing it in a bouffant flip. (aka: old school 60’s)

    It’s wonderful to have read all your works…. it’s a trial in patience to wait for the next publication.

    All the best for the new year,
    Lady Jan

  15. Barbara L Swahlen on January 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    As a ’71 grad, the photo is oh-so-familiar. Love seeing you in that persona.
    I’m beyond thrilled to be visiting with Kate again! She’s one of my all time favorite characters, (though it was Folly that changed my life.)

  16. marie-therese Buisson on January 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    I am almost angry. Just a novella, I hope it’s just a training ….Longing for a new noval. Thank you.

  17. Terry Hochmuth on April 2, 2021 at 9:41 am

    MICOPACEN stood for the four original grade schools in the Franklin Pierce School District!

    MI (Midland Elementary School)
    CO (Collins Elementary School)
    PA (Parkland Elementary School)
    CEN (Central Avenue Elementary School)

    How do I know this you ask? I was the Editor of the 1970 MICOPACEN.

    • Laurie King on May 5, 2021 at 12:09 am

      Terry Hochmuth! Hello, Laurie Richardson here!
      Thank you for telling me–I knew it had to be something like that!

  18. Rachel Ulmer on August 3, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    Hi there!

    I’m and FPHS grad (2018) and I come from a long line of FP grads (my dad in 1987, and his mom sometime around 1969). What I think I can remember my dad saying is that the Micopacen stood for the 4 elementary schools that fed into FP at the time. Midland-Collins-Parkland-Central Avenue a.k.a. MiCoPaCen.

Leave a Comment