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Remembering J.J. Smith | Enumclaw Centennial

I went to school in the old, three story J.J. Smith building since I was in the first grade. I came to J.J. Smith after spending my first and part of my second grade in Auburn. I had some good memories of J.J. Smith. My grandma, Helga Nelsen, was one of the cooks that prepared the meals for all the schools. She also collected the money for the lunches, so I saw her every day.

Certain times of the year there were volleyball games, basketball games or maybe many would be practicing yo-yos or throwing footballs for the boys. Many of us girls would play hopscotch or house with all the leaves the beautiful maple would produce. We also got pretty good doing double Dutch jump rope.

Our last year in J.J. Smith was when we passed sixth grade. Before we would start going to the junior and senior high school, we were going to have what they called move-up day. All of us walked over to the new big grown-up school in a group. We stood in the entry to the large auditorium until we would find out what section would be our seventh-grade seating area. Each class would have their own section until they would move up the next school year.

When move-up day finally arrived we all dressed up. Many of us girls wore pumps and nice dresses. We weren’t little grade-school kids anymore and we couldn’t wait to walk down to our seat. The senior class moved up on the large stage F senior section. The band played marching music for each class moving up. Soon all sections were filled and then it was our turn. We were all lined up out in the large hall, the signal came. The band started up the music and played… nursery rhymes, “Rock A Bye Baby,” “Jack and Jill Went Up A Hill,” “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and “Three Blind Mice” to name a few. We couldn’t get to our seats fast enough. All the other classes were laughing at us because they knew the nursery rhyme music was coming.

I know many of us probably had red faces in our march to our seats. We were brought down to earth quickly and then we didn’t feel so grown. Next year it would be our turn to laugh at the new group moving into our old seventh-grade section.

My mom graduated from Enumclaw High School in 1939. I thought it was neat to walk the halls or even have some of the same teachers she did.

That old high school had a lot to offer. The guys were taught how to weld, build things out of wood, to farm and how to work on cars. The girls had classes where we could learn how to cook or sew. There were all kinds of classes to stir one’s interest in something that could lead to a career.

When the science or chemistry class was making up some really smelly stuff the guys would always say, “The girls are cooking again.”

That high school had the best auditorium. You could hear every word said on stage and the auditorium could seat 1,000 people. It was a sad day when they took the old school down. So many memories went with it for all of us who went to the old Enumclaw junior and senior high school.

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