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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow MEMORIAL MARKS SITE OF OLD LHS

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MEMORIAL MARKS SITE OF OLD LHS

WAKING UP THE ECHOES: Five 1944 La Grande High School graduates sing their school's alma mater during a dedication ceremony for a memorial stone which their class purchased. Shown, from left, are Jackie (Wiese) Kelley, Richard Taylor, Eleanor (Wilson) Campbell, Pat (Knight) Jenkins and Dorothy (Swart) Fleshman. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
WAKING UP THE ECHOES: Five 1944 La Grande High School graduates sing their school's alma mater during a dedication ceremony for a memorial stone which their class purchased. Shown, from left, are Jackie (Wiese) Kelley, Richard Taylor, Eleanor (Wilson) Campbell, Pat (Knight) Jenkins and Dorothy (Swart) Fleshman. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Their wooden-soled clogs succumbed to wear long ago, but this did not prevent five 1944 La Grande High School graduates from stepping back in time Saturday and anchoring their class legacy.

The five dedicated a memorial stone commemorating LHSs old high school building at Fourth Street and M Avenue. The brick building, torn down in 1990, served as La Grandes high school from 1910 until the early 1950s.

The memorial stone has an inscription and an etching of the old high school.

Dorothy Swart Fleshman made the dedication speech.

May it always serve as a heritage reminder to those who pass by here and read the inscription, of the lives who were touched by our La Grande school system, Fleshman said.

The 1944 LHS graduate said the memorial stone will continue marking the historical trail of the City of La Grande so that others will know of the past.

Following the ceremony the five representatives of LHSs class of 1944, all of whom live in La Grande, reminisced about their days at LHS. Several recalled that they frequently wore wood-soled clog shoes in high school.

The clogs made a lot of noise on the old LHS buildings wooden floors. This bothered the late Eldridge Huffman, a business and typing teacher. Huffman asked his students to take off their clogs before coming into his classroom. The popular teacher made his requests with good humor.

He did it with a smile on his face, said Jackie Wiese Kelley.

Memories of life in the early 1940s put smiles on all of the faces of the 1944 graduates.

They were the best years of my life, said Eleanor Wilson Campbell of La Grande.

This was despite the fact that World War II impacted the lives of students in major and minor ways. Campbell recalled that many young men in the class of 1944 left school early to join the military. This made it difficult to do things such as hold dances at LHS.

We had to borrow sophomore boys for some of our dances, Campbell said.

At dances and other activities, girls often wore bobby socks and pleated skirts. Nylons were not commonly worn because they were made with petroleum that had to be conserved to help the war effort.

When a shipment of nylons arrived, it was a major event, said Richard Taylor of La Grande.

There was a line two blocks long at Montgomery Wards (for one shipment of nylons), Taylor said.

LHSs Class of 1944 has had six reunions since 1964. The most recent was the 55th year reunion in September 1999, when 16 people attended.

Pat Knight Jenkins said her class is remarkably close.

We are like brothers and sisters, Jenkins said.

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