Coming of age in 1944


The 70-year class reunion of the Weatherwax High School Class of 1944 was celebrated with a luncheon July 24, at the Aberdeen Elks with 17 classmates and 17 guests. The tables were decorated with blue and gold with Flowers by Pollen.

We were born in the period 1925-27, the tail-end of kids raised during the days of the Depression and into World War II.

A few were grandchildren of Aberdeen pioneers — A.J. West, Sam Benn and Cyrus Blackwell. Some were children of immigrants from Croatia, Lithuania, Japan, Hawaii, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

A small number had ancestors who were American Indian and even some from folks who were Mayflower voyagers.

We were a diverse group, a mix of cultures of that time and this place.

We can recall the penny pinching Depression years, WPA, job losses, bank failures, strikes, hiring of scabs and the National Guard in town to maintain order at the mills.

Several years ago, one of our fellows related the following: “It was 1938 and my stepfather was working on a road crew removing many of the South Aberdeen board walks. He found a silver dollar. We all went to the movies. I remember it was “Test Pilot” starring Clark Gable, The price was 35 cents for two adults, a dime each for my brother and me plus another dime for the bag of popcorn!”

One of our guys once used the phrase “many logging trucks ago” and we remember mill whistles tooting at the change of shifts, the squeal of Jake brakes while logs were in transport to mills, trains and ships; the pungent fragrance of the loads of cedar, sometimes overpowered by the stink of the pilchard plant.

In elementary school, daily we said the Flag Salute and sang “Good Morning Dear Teacher.” We learned the Palmer method of penmanship. We stood up when someone of importance like Mr. Powell, the superintendent of schools, came to visit, and we remember “Old Ironsides” at Port Dock, plus President FDR riding into town.

In our last year at Miller Junior High, war was declared and we learned about blackouts, military equipment coming by rail to Port Dock for shipment, War Bond rallies, rationing, enlistment and the draft.

Our high school graduation ceremony was at the Miller Auditorium, May 26, 1944. Not all of our 211 class members were there to receive their diplomas. Some of our boys were already in the armed forces. One, of Japanese descent, was with his widowed mother, brother and sister in the Tule Lake internment camp in California.

Another of our boys was in England and two weeks after we graduated, he was killed on the beach in France.

Later, many of the fellows used the G.I. bill for a college education.

Most of us had families and lived ordinary lives, Many of us here today, remember a line from that school song, “We’re all in our places with sun-shining faces.

Laila Walli Silva

Hoquiam

 

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