March 18, 2002 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande High School has never been a church-based school.

However in 1932-33, most of its classes were conducted in churches.

The high school, then situated at Fourth Street and M Avenue, was damaged by a fire in the summer of 1932. The damage took about a year to repair. LHS classes had to be conducted in local churches during the school year.

Passing time between classes thus took on a new meaning.

You would really have to leg it to get to class on time, said Mike Kilby of Pendleton.

Kilby is one of nine members of La Grande High Schools class of 1936 who attended its annual reunion Saturday. Members of the class who live in the area have been meeting annually for lunch every year for at least five years.

We like each other, Kilby said.

The walking the students did between churches in 1932-33 did not bother them since many were used to traveling on foot. Many had no choice since the school district had no buses and most students did not have cars.

There were no buses. All we had were a pair of feet, said Thomas Bob Blackman of Island City.

Blackman traveled by foot every day to LHS even though he lived three miles away in Island City.

Blackman and other students who lived several miles from school were compensated with transportation checks from the district. Blackman received about $3 a month about enough to pay for patches on ones shoes, Blackman laughed.

On Saturday the LHS graduates also reminisced about things

like the dances conducted at La Grandes Zuber Hall. The hall was located on Washington Avenue near where the Bank of America building is today. It was a place where young people went to dance and parents did not have to worry about alcohol being served, Kilby said.

Members of the class of 1936 have stayed in contact with the help of people like Justine Parks, who has been organizing the classs reunions for decades. Kilby said that Parks, who lives in Union, is the primary reason class members, now in their early 80s, meet regularly.

Kilby hopes that the annual reunions will continue for many years.

Rich or poor it makes no difference. We are awfully glad to see each other, he said.

Each reunion is always a great occasion.

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