Reunion brings Black Diamond graduates together

Ruby Favro Androsko Keeney, a 1926 Black Diamond High School graduate, visits with friends. - Photo by Brenda Sexton
Ruby Favro Androsko Keeney, a 1926 Black Diamond High School graduate, visits with friends.
— image credit: Photo by Brenda Sexton

More than 120 alumni showed up at the third annual Black Diamond School reunion June 3 at the Black Diamond Community Center including 102-year-old Ruby Favro Androsko Keeney, a 1926 Black Diamond High School graduate.

“She was born here in 1907 and she still lives here,” said her son Joe Androsko, who was also in attendance.

There has been a school in Black Diamond since the 1900s. The last high school graduating class was 1943. High school students were then moved to Enumclaw High School, but the middle school and elementary students stayed for a while longer. When the high school became part of the Enumclaw School District, Black Diamond grade school moved into the former high school building and the grade school was torn down. In 1963, the high school was razed and the current elementary school took its place. Today, the building houses kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

“We had a lot of pride in our high school,” said Gomer Evans, one of several Evans to make the reunion.

“There’s a lot of commaraderie in this town,” said John Malgarini, who came from Las Vegas, recalling days when the orange and black of the Broncos, as well as the city teams, were a contending force in local athletics.

Those in attendance weren’t just from the high school. The reunion brings back graduates from the elementary school, too.

“It was wonderful growing up in Black Diamond,” said Clayton Mead, who was among some of the first Black Diamond students to graduate from Enumclaw.

Reunion brought back teachers as well, like Deryl Sleigh, who taught kindergarten through eighth-grade, and drove the bus there from 1952 to 1958.

Those in attendance remember great times growing up in booming coal town.

There were memories of shooting marbles, playing jacks and buying penny candy at the confectionary. There were big smiles as kids, now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, recalled swooshing down Lawson Hill all the way to Morganville on roller skates and in toboggans.

“I remember back when I was a kid,” said Mayor Howard Botts, who attended Black Diamond schools, but was a 1949 grduate of Enumclaw High. “This was a great place to grow up and I’d like to keep it that way.”

“Going to school was different then,” said Mead, who went to school and graduated with Botts. “We were allowed to have pocket knives.”

Ray Kravagna, Chuck Kravagna and Marlene McCauley Martin were sitting at a table sharing memories with Marlene’s mother Glee and brother Daryl and Orville “Trigger” Trover and his wife.

Trover was one of several in the room who never saw graduation as duty called. He would have graduated with the class of 1945, but instead signed up for the Navy.

David Evans, who was there with siblings, Gomer, Tom and Debby, attended Black Diamond until his junior year when he said he was kicked out. He worked in the mines and then joined the Army. In 1943, when his class graduated, he said he was in the Solomon Islands. “I wish I’d stayed in school,” he said.

But no one in the room had more memories than Ruby Favro Androsko Keeney.

She remembers, as a fourth-grade student, “When you did something naughty in class, the principal would put you over his knee, right in front of the class, and spank you. You could do that then.”

She said she never felt the wrath of the principal, but she did get a tongue lashing from her father one day about playing hooky. She said she’d skip school two or three times a week. She and friends would go down to the railroad tracks, the depot or the gorge.

“The principal came by to see my dad one day and he said, ‘Mr. Favro, does your daughter go to school every day?’ And my dad said, ‘Yes, absolutely she goes to school every day.’ ‘Oh, no she doesn’t,’ the principal said.”

She said she straightened right out after her father got wind of her escapades.

During and after graduation, Ruby said she worked at the bakery and a variety of taverns and restaurants. Her son, Joe Androsko, told the group gathered about how his mother used to take him to the bakery when he was a baby. While she worked, the infant slept in a lettuce crate near the warm brick ovens.

Ruby was affectionately known as the pinball queen, for the hours she spent playing the game. She still enjoys having a good time. Joe recently took her to the casino, where she said she had a wonderful time.

“Might as well enjoy it now, can’t take it with you, and I worked hard for it,” she said, referring to the last 16 1/2 years before retirement she spent working at Rainier State School in Buckley.

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