High School Life Before World War II

Introduction: One of the most common topics of conversation among adults is about high school. No matter what the year or decade we graduated in, we all seem to have memories of that time in our life. In 2002 Lyla Eide was interviewed by members of the Yelm High School Class of 2003. Here are her memories of high school life in Yelm.


For Lyla Eide, valedictorian of the class of 1940, school seems very different today than what she experienced. “Well, I don’t think I have anything to compare it to because that’s the only kind of school I ever went to,” she replied when asked what was different between schools today and the small schools she went to in the 1930’s.

Most of the forty students graduating with Lyla had gone to school together since elementary school. Lyla described one of the benefits of going to a small school as being able to “develop deeper friendships.” Lyla also marveled about the “community spirit” that Yelm possessed throughout her school years.

The school day started at 9:00 in the morning for all elementary, middle and high school students, and classes were let out at 3:00 in the afternoon. The school district had three or four buses that picked up most students for school. Hardly any high schoolers had their own cars. Lyla remembers that, “there were two students in my class who had cars.”

School consisted of six or seven periods each day. Classes were not as varied as they are today. Some of the basic classes that were offered include typing, foreign language, math, and English. Lyla still remembers her favorite teacher, “Miss Linstrom, she was the English Teacher [at the high school] and she was a charming lady and mentor. Very, very charming, and very intelligent, and was good to everybody, everybody liked her. She was the favorite.”

Activities in 1940 were more scarce, and less diverse than they are today, but fun was had none the less. Lyla recalls movies being shown at the high school. Dances, including Sophomore Hops, Junior Proms, and Senior Balls, were held at the school as well. Boys played football and baseball, school drama groups preformed plays, and Glee Club, which we learned is the equivalent of chorus today, was available to participate in. Church activities were popular, and some activities as simple as playing Monopoly at a friend’s house was a way to pass the time.

Schooling focused students not for preparation for college, but instead for a future job. Living in the time of the depression, Lyla stated that “In those days, especially before the war… a job was a job. It didn’t matter how hard it was, or what it was, if you had a job, you felt you were doing well.” She also mentioned that teaching nursing and secretarial work were the only jobs available to women. Lyla was an exception to a class where few to none went on to secondary schooling by attending a business college in Tacoma, which prepared her for secretarial work, eventually at our local phone company. Lyla told us that it was rare for young adults to have a car, so to get to her business school, she would carpool to Tacoma with a friend who worked in the city.

A Board’s Eye View of the Forties

Introduction: The material in this section is taken directly from the school board minutes of the decade. The selections themselves are a sampling of the official record kept during that time. The following have been chosen in an attempt to provide the reader with a sense of some of the problems and issues confronting the district and the board. The selections have been organized chronologically in seven categories. These include budget, personnel, discipline, the district, salary, curriculum, and community relations.


Report on Bus Mechanic situation as follows: Mr. Hodge was to continue as bus-driver at the regular salary of $89.25 plus $30 per month for greasing, gassing, and checking tires of all busses. Payment to be on a nine month basis. This plan was to be followed until a suitable mechanic was selected. The busses to be serviced as follows:

Burton’s, Cook’s, Whitson’s, Hodge’s busses at Field’s Garage

Donaldson’s, Stewart’s, and Lane’s busses at Brown’s Garage (Feb. 13, 1946)

The Superintendent reported that the school uses about one ton of coal a day, or about 1 1/2 cord of wood per day. Clarence Barlow had wood for sale at $8 per cord not delivered (second growth) Mr. Ismay would get wood for $9.50 per cord. After some discussion the Supt. was instructed to contact the Bucoda & Penn Mines for a bid on coal, and get Martin Schneider to haul it, if this was cheaper than the bids from the above mentioned firms. (December 11, 1946)

Superintendent reported that the District had secured from the War Surplus Commodities, two large boxes of tools at no cost to the District other than cost of crating and freight. The tools were turned over to the Ag. Department. (December 11, 1946)

Meeting was moved to the Office to hold the hearing on the proposed budget for 1949-50. Mr. and Mrs. Martin, Mr. Demich and Mr. Brugger were present.

Copies of the proposed budget of $165,170 was presented and discussed. (April 13, 1949)

It was resolved by the board the Lunchroom business be divided equally between Wolfs and Edwards. (April 13, 1949)


Mr. Merz reported that criticism had come to him on the selection of Emory Dalan as janitor, as he had no dependents and was not a taxpayer as Supt. Davis stated that he had been selected only temporarily, until a regular janitor was secured. (Feb. 13, 1946)

Motion by Merz, seconded by Wilcox, that Supt. look for a younger teacher for the Lackamas School. Motion carried. (May 8, 1946)

Mrs. H. O. Martin selected as janitor at McKenna School. (August 14, 1946)

Mrs. Jean Grinde selected as library clerk with salary $117.00 a month. (August 14, 1946)

Vouchers and payroll signed and approved. A contract for Mrs. Milo Schneider was signed to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Mrs. Walen. December 11, 1946


Mr. Merz asked for a report on the Robinson – Otto incident. Supt. Davis reported that a thorough investigation had been made. The Principal and the School Nurse had examined the Otto boy and found no real serious cuts or bruises. Mr. Robinson had been questioned and he stated that the boy had been impudent to his teacher at that time and received a good shake up as a result. It was recommended to the Board that he not be dismissed but allowed to finish the school year. (Feb. 13, 1946)

The District

Resolution signed authorizing return of grounds of the Eureka School Dist#43, to the original owner was approved and signed. (August 14, 1946)

Also a delegation consisting of: Chester Thompson, Warren Wallace, Virgil Daskam, of McKenna; and Cap Longmire of Lackamas. (December 11, 1946)

Discussion was held on the Lackamas School Property. (Nov. 17, 1948)

Meeting was called to order in room 2 for the purpose of meeting with the delegation concerning the disposal of the Lackamas Gym. Mr. Glen Rutledge and Mr. Cap Longmire presented the articles of incorporation of the Lackamas Community Club together with the by laws of the club. These papers were read by the Secretary. (April 13, 1949)


Approved and signed the following contracts:

Thomas J. Davis…………………..Superintendent…………………….. $4200

Frank Bower ………………….High School Principal ………………..$3685

Harry Southworth…………Yelm Grade School Principal…………. $3260

Wm. Thun ……………McKenna Grade School Principal…………. $3260

Eugenia Coury ………………High School English…………………….$2710

Katherne Burgess ……….High School Commercial………………. $2525

A. E. Prescott ………….High School Social Science………………$2860

S. W. Dunn ……………High and Grade School Music…………… $2750

Bob Herness………….. Upper grade and grade coach…………… $2060

Bill Olsen …………….Upper grades and Vice-Principal………….. $2825

Frances Norton ………………..Upper Grades……………………….. $2390

Zelma Anderson ……………….Upper Grades……………………….. $2400

Velma Curry ………………….. Upper Grades…………………………$2100

Mrs. Wheeler ……………..Intermediate Grades…………………….. $2500

Thelma Lynne …………….Intermediate Grades…………………….. $2220

Frances Drogseth ……………Primary Grades………………………. $2400

Cassie Pierce …………………Primary Grades………………………..$2340

Ruby Lynne ………….Intermediate Grades McKenna School…..$2330

Ruth Cumming ………..Intermediate Grades McKenna …………..$2400

Laura Hahn ……………..Upper Grades at Yelm…………………….$2420


Mrs. Dallas Edwards appeared before the board concerning the opening of a Kindergarten at mid-year.

It was decided after considerable discussion to let the P.T.A. make a survey on the number of eligible students and see if it would be possible to hire a teacher by charging a fee, as the School District does not have funds to hire a Kindergarten teacher. (Nov. 17, 1948)

Community Relations

Frank Bower appeared before the board representing the Lion’s Club asking for permission to fence the athletic field. The Lion’s has agreed to furnish the material and labor to construct a barbed wire fence. (November 9, 1949)

The McKenna PTA

The McKenna PTA

By Ashley Hunt (2004)      

The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was a very important part of the social fabric of McKenna. During the 1940’s and 1950’s amazingly thorough scrap books were kept describing the activities connected to the McKenna PTA. Scrapbooks were kept prior to this, but were lost in a school fire (as noted in the 1947 scrapbook). The PTA was involved in nearly every event that took place within the community. The PTA involved not only, parents and teachers, but also included prominent community members.  The PTA membership was directed by an executive counsel.  This counsel consisted of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and there was actually a position for the person who made the scrapbooks.  These people were well respected within the community and served as an organizing counsel for activities with in the community. Upon reviewing these scrapbooks the importance of the PTA is more than evident.

The PTA met once a month for their general meetings. The average attendance was about forty people. In comparison to the actual total population of the community this was a significant amount. Each person paid fifty cents in dues (The books were unclear whether this was monthly or yearly.), these dues were to help raise money to fund meetings and events. For an extra dollar a month a person could receive the monthly PTA magazine. The PTA sent out reminders to members in the mail as well as placed an ad in the Nisqually Valley News in order to remind community members about the monthly meetings.  At meetings members discussed up coming events such as fairs, watched plays and slide shows, or listened to speakers. At the majority of the meetings there would be a guest speaker who might talk about social issues, or provide guidelines for running schools and/or homes. Some examples of these topics are “School Organization,” “Why Some Children Don’t Learn to Read”, and “School Responsibilities of Parents and Teachers.”  Some guest speakers talked about current world events, or give presentations about foreign places. In one newspaper ad announced that there would be a speaker on “Conditions in Finland.”  Beyond that the PTA would have “round table discussions” on topics regarding the school and community, during these discussions they would bring in a neutral moderator to ensure fairness during the discussions.  The topics would regularly focus on the topic of the speaker from that meeting. Other topics that required decision making would also be made during these discussions. It is obvious that from the topics within the meetings that the meeting were intended more for entertainment (Picture 1, Picture 2) than for actual education or awareness.  Beyond the meetings other events that were hosted by the PTA including Founders Day, Christmas Programs, Halloween Events, and the School Fair (for beginning of the school year), a business meeting and “social time” would also follow every meeting.  A meal (Picture 2) for those in attendance was also much anticipated part of the evening. It seems that PTA planned many of the social events within the community.

The community during this time also recognized, or rather felt, that the PTA was an important part of the McKenna School and the community. An example of this would be that they had founders day for the founders of the PTA itself. They would have a carnival activity and plays that incorporated the founders of the PTA. Another action that the community would take that showed the importance of the PTA was that they would write poems about the officers and the teachers. (These poems were also saved in the scrapbook). Also, the existence of the scrapbooks themselves shows that the activities hosted by the PTA were of great importance to the community members.

District #305 – Lackamas

Lackamas – District #305 

Early History 

The Lackamas school opened in fall 1914.  Lackamas District #305 was formed by combining the Longmire (Tebotten), Morehead, and Bald Hills Districts.  Students from the Longmire (also known as the Tebotten and maybe even the Clear Lake school), Morehead, and Bald Hills Schools were now bused to their new school in a district which combined the three school districts found in the Bald Hills area.  Louis Cochrane built a house behind the school and rented it to a teacher at the school.  In 1920, the gym was built.  The gym became the social center of the Lackamas community.  The gym was used for playing basketball and other physical activities.  School plays and assemblies in the gym drew appreciative crowds of parents and relatives.  Community dances were a regular part of weekends in the Bald Hills.  Profits from the dances were used by the families to fund the free lunch program at the school.

“Everything Was Entirely Different”

Everything was entirely different. We had one teacher. No superintendent, no principal, no janitor, no nothing. One teacher ran this school. And every Friday we would put a list up on the board and two boys would feed the wood furnace for the following week. Two boys would take care of their restroom. Two girls would take care of theirs. The teacher always cooked the noon lunch. And she’d have two girls, their names would be on the list, they’d help cook the lunch for that week, but they only cooked lunch for four days a week and every Friday one of the mothers would bring us something special for lunch. And that’s the way it worked. And then about fifteen minutes before school was out every day we’d have to clean up our room, so it was ready for the next morning. And then once a week we’d go out and clean up all the school grounds and clean everything up. And then of course one person had to put the flag up and take it down everyday.  (Dillard Jensen, 2003)



The Lackamas school drew its students from the farms and woods of the Bald Hills.  The enrollment fluctuated with the economy and other undetermined factors.  Students might have numbered as low as 13 for one year to a high of 44 in 1920-21.  Wallace Music attended Lackmas for seven years in the 1930’s and remembered the  school employing two teachers, each with roughly 12 students.  Dillard Jensen recalled 16 students attending Lackamas in 1940.  Students would be grouped according to age with up to four or five for a particular grade level.  At the enrollment height of its existence the school employed three teachers.

                                                The School Year


In an interview in June 2003 Dillard Jensen recalled, “We started right after Labor Day and we always got out the last of May. Usually around  May 29.  . .  I don’t think we had any spring vacation.”  School records from the Lackamas school corroborate Jensen’s memory.  School usually started the first week in September and ended during the third or fourth week of May.

According to school records the 1918 school year at Lackamas, on September 2, 1918.  October 4th the school had that Friday off for students to attend the fair.  World events caught up with the students of Lackamas within days of returning to school that Monday.

Influenza was rampaging through the nation and world at that time.  The school was shut down on the 13th of October, not to reopen until the week of November 25.  The students returned to school that Thanksgiving week.  Undoubtedly they shared their knowledge of the workings of the disease in the area, along with their tales of free time in the fall.  Students fell back into the rhythms of the school day and looked forward to Christmas.  Christmas vacation, however, came early to the Lackamas school that year.  On December, 6, 1918, the school was again shut down in order to limit the spread of the deadly contagion.  The students didn’t reenter the doors of the school until February 3, 1919.  Altogether the students had missed 49 days due to the series of precautionary school closures.  The school year ended, as was usual, in mid May and seven out of the eight students in grades 9 and 10 were promoted to the next grade.  That was not the end of the flu, however.

In February 1920, the school was again shut down for, in the words of the teacher, two separate “flu vacations.”  The last vacation ran until the end of the school year.  Students returned in September 1920.

Teaching in a Multi Age Room

Chester Biesen taught in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade at the Lackamas School in the 1926-27 school year.  A yearly sum of $1,125 he instructed four 4th graders, one fifth grader, and ten 6th graders.  According to his grade book his school day was broken up in the following way:

9:00                Opening Exercises

9:10                4th arithmetic

9:25                5th arithmetic

9:40                Physical training

9:45                6th arithmetic

10:00             4th spelling

10:10              5th spelling

10:20              6th spelling

10:30              Recess

10:45              4th history and reading

11:00              5th history and hygiene

11:15               6th history

11:30              4th hygiene

11:45              6th hygiene

12:00              Noon Intermission

1:00                penmanship

1:15                 4th language

1:30                5th language

1:45                6th language

2:00                5th reading

2:15                Recess

2:30                6th reading

2:45                4th geography

3:00                5th geography

3:15                6th geography

3:30                Dismissal

Dillard Jensen, who attended the school over a decade later, remembered that recitation and working at the blackboard was an important part of the school day.  Jensen stated:

in reading and different things like that we probably read more than we had to recite, but we did have to get up and read to the class, stand up in front of the class…or even in math, she’d make you get up and work your math out on the blackboard and everybody would watch you and see if you were doing it right. So, that’s where you learned from the class ahead of you, so when you got there it was pretty much review. Everything was done pretty much without teacher. She sat at the front of the room and she’d call you up and you’d work on the blackboard, because you wouldn’t want to mess up.

The benefits of years of this pattern of education were described by Jensen:

Because when you’ve got six grades in one room and you’re in first grade, it’s just like computers today, you store everything, well you store the same in your mind and so when you get to the second grade you’ve already heard those kids recite their lesson- they recited everything back in those days. So it’s already stored in there, right on up through the six grades. When you get there it’s just a review for you.

Recess was a time for students to relax.  There was no playground equipment at Lackamas.  Gertrude Reichel Schulte, who attended the school from 1918 to 1926, remembered taking in the nearby woods, but always being back in time to lessons to resume.  At age 91, Schulte still remembered the beautiful flowers that appeared in the spring.  Jensen played basketball in the gym, but the boys’ favorite pastime was playing baseball.  According to Antone Johnson, boys ‘used to throw the ball around in there.  As far as games go we didn’t do anything very organized.  Mostly teased each other.’  Wallace Music explained that some of the men from McKenna Camp 12 built a small golf course behind the school.  There was a daily dose of 15-20 minutes of organized physical activity.

Materials and Supplies

There is no detailed account of the texts available at the school, but records do show a small collection of books available to the students.  According to district records the Lackamas school possessed copies of the following books in 1923-24.

From Earth to the Moon                                         Jules Verne

The Last of the Plainsman                                      Zane Grey

American Claimant                                                  Mark Twain

Matthew Arnold                                                       Thurman

Vandemarks Folly                                                    Quick

Daddy Long Legs                                                      Webster

Dombey and Son                                                      Charles Dickens

The Making of Herbert Hoover                             Lane

A Man for the Ages                                                  Bachellor

At the end of each year teachers were to inventory their room.  An examination of these documents provides a glimpse of the school room at Lackamas.  The sun filled rooms were sparsely decorated.  There were the desks and chairs for teacher and students.  There was also a table for the younger children to work at.  Utilitarian items including a wastebasket, pencil sharpener, a large clock, and two flags dotted the room.  Bookshelves with 20 reference books filled out the inventory.  In 1927, there were 250 reference and other books in district library.  By then there were 275 volumes of free textbooks available for student use.

Material conditions within Grace Inman’s room (1926-27) had improved over the following year.  Money had been spent to acquire a pointer, 7 rulers, 100 blocks,  10 boxes of letter cards, a dozen boxes of “crayolas,” and a box of beads.  In 1927 the school also possessed a globe, two sets of wall maps, and a sewing machine.

The September 6, 1938 inventory of Ida R. Mertz contained:

Number         Articles                                   Number         Articles

1                      paper punch                          1                      small desk

1                      large art scissors                   1                      primary printing set

1                      fire extinguisher                   1                      set of phonetic element                                                                                                                   cards

1                      typewriter                             1                      set of arithmetic cards

1                      phonograph                           1                      first aid kit

1                      paper cutter                          1                      set of alphabet blocks

1                      book case                               1                      set of toy money

1                      sand table                              1                      duplicator

1                      clock                                       1                      bench

1                      globe                                       1                      waste paper basket

1                      wall map                                1                      swing chair

8                      primary chairs                      15                    rulers

2                      primary tables                      11                    scissors

1                      teacher’s desk                       8                      pen holder

1                      rhythm band set                   1                      whistle

1                      set of chart material for use with Webster’s readers

In 2003, Wallace Music recounted that he “Never bought one piece of paper or a pencil, never took a sack lunch to school.”  His needs were provided for by the school and the community.


Those Saturday night dances provided the money for lunches for the students.  Wallace Music proudly stated that he never took a sack lunch to school once during his time at Lackamas.  The school served up hot lunches daily.  There was soup sandwiches, and cake.  Students had a choice of white or chocolate milk.  The students took one hour for their lunch break.   

The dances were great Saturday evening events. Dances were a “family affair.” There were grandparents, students, parents, even babies taking in the live entertainment.  Wallace Music could remember two fights during all of his evening at Lackamas.  One of those was between two brothers and was fueled by moonshine.



Students break rules, no matter the teacher or the era.  After all, “we all try to get away with as much as we can.”   Corporal punishment was part of the Lackamas program.  “You got bent over,” was how Dillard Jensen described it.  “There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it, and then when you got home you got some more.”

On occasion discipline issues were considered serious enough to require the attention of the school board.  Discipline was the reason for a special board meeting on May 14, 1930.  Board members assembled for the purpose of deciding whether to expel Roy Hull, all in attempt to get him “to stop making trouble on the school ground.”  Lackamas board members in that instance decided to let the county board solve the problem between Roy Hull and Principal Grass.  The decision of the county board, however, has been lost in time.


State law required that schools keep a log of all visitors that stopped by the school during the day.  In the 1931 records the visitors often made comments about what they witnessed.  Here are some of those comments:

            Excellent school & spirit

            Excellent cooperation

            Pull together spirit

            Quite different from Seattle schools

            A very enjoyable school and good spirit

            Farther advanced than some schools

One visiting prankster, in 1923, signed the name “Barney Google” (undoubtedly with the “goo, goo googling eyes”).  His home was Steillacoom, Washington, home of the state mental institution.


The following is a list of teachers who worked at the Lackamas school.  When records have been found we have included students number, grade levels taught, and salaries.

9/3/17 – 5/24/18    Sylvia Sharpe            17 students   7,8,9,10

9/2/18 – 5/16/19    Sylvia C. Sharpe

1919-20                     W.B. Beckman

1920–21                    W.B. Beckman

1921-22                     Minnie Lautzheniser                                                $1,260

1919-20                     Pearl Ferris              12 students    4,5,6,7


1921-22                     J.R. Lautzhenhiser   14 students

1922-September      Florence Chabert      14 students    4,5,6

1922-23                     J.R. Lautzenhiser     11 students    12-17

9/4/23 – ???                                     unknown

1923-1924                 Thea Cooke               21 students    1,2,3

8/31/25 – 5/24/27  Grace R. Inman         17 students   1,2,3                $1,125           

8/30/26 – 5/24/27 Chester Biesen          15 students     4,5,6              $1,125

8/31/31 – 32            Fred Grass                                                    5-8

5/31/35         Fred Grass   

1934-35         George M. Parkko    12 students                5, 6, 7, 8         $900

1934-35         Pauline Schierman                                       1,2,3,4,5         $630

1934-35         Daniel E. Damitio      11 students                7,8                   $810  (Made                                      an additional       $10/month working as the janitor)

1935-36         Dan Damitio              (salary reduced to $67.54 per month)

1935-36         Pauline Schierman   $60/month

1935-36         George Parkko (Principal) $100/month

1935-36         Margaret Williams teacher $60/month

1936-37         George Parkko          21 students    1,2,3,4,5,6,7      $1,125

 1937-38        Lewis G. Hunter       17 students                5,6,7,8   $1,200

1938-39         Lewis G. Hunter       14 students                5,6,7,8   $1,350

9/2/35 – 1940                                  Lewis G. Hunter

9/6/38 – 6/2/39                              Ida R. Merz                           grades 1,2,3,4


September 1935-     Lewis  Hunter/Principal/$100 a month

                                    Ida Mertz/Teacher/$100.80 a month

October-                      “                    “

                                    Ida Mertz/Teacher/$100.00

November-                  “                    “

                                    Ida Mertz/Teacher/$94.00

December-                  “                    “

                                    Ida Mertz/Teacher/$100.00

January 1938-April-              “                    “                     

May-                          none

June-                          Lewis J. Hunter/Principal/$300.00

                                    Ida Mertz/Teacher/$200.00

July-                           none

August-                      none

September-               Lewis J. Hunter/Teacher/$112.00

                                    Ida Mertz/Teacher/$100.00

October-April-                        “                    “


One of the most common sights on American roads today is the big yellow taxi, the school bus.  Dillard Jensen described the era’s transportation:

 a homemade school bus. It had benches along the side. Was an old… just an old regular pickup. Old wooden back. And uh then… up the Peissner road here. Whoever lived up there Mr. Peissner had an old car and then he’d deliver them. And then up above Clear Wood, which is Clear Wood now, up on Johnson road, there was another old gentleman up there and he had a big old car and he used it for a bus. And that’s how everybody was transported.

In an interview in the Nisqually Valley News, Antonte Johnson recalled that 16 year old Edith Roundtree was the driver of the district’s model T Ford.  ‘She was tough. She changed tires on that old truck.’

Transportation needs were a common topic of discussion at Lackamas school board meetings.  For instance, at a December 1933 meeting the board decided to have a brake job on one of the buses and replace the tires.  They made a special point of keeping an old tire for a spare.  In 1935, also during the depression the board denied a request by the Warner family to have a bus pick up one of their family members.   “The budget couldn’t take any more expense.” 

The district owned several vehicles.  The bus routes were put out for competitive bids.  In 1934, the Johnson Road route, the school provided a “sedan type car” able to carry 7 or more students.  It was to driven by an “adult” who was to provide his own gas and oil.  Forty-five dollars was the monthly salary.  One who drove the Morehead Route was paid also paid forty five dollars, but the school provided gas and oil for the “bus.”

The board was also made sure that certain safety rules were followed by the drivers.  There was to be no drinking and no exceeding 30 miles per hour.  The latter certainly made sense in an era where the closest paved road was in the town of Yelm.  At one board meeting in 1934 a driver was told to only go 15 mph when a logging truck was approaching.  Violators of board policy were punished.  At a January meeting in 1935 the board voted to notify Mrs. E. A. Cooke that neither Harold nor Jim Cooke “could drive a bus for the district again” if rules were not followed. 

Economic hard times forced the board to make hard decisions.  Reversing an earlier decision, the board voted to take the cost of gasoline out of the monthly pay of the driver.  They also voted to exclude anyone who was on relief from prohibited from driving.  There would be no double dippers in Lackamas.

For others a mile walk to school along the railroad tracks, past acres of stumps and slash piles, was the way to get to school.  “How did you get to school?  Two legs,” was how Wallace Music described this in an interview.  In an era when a family might walk four miles to call on a friend a mile was, literally, child’s play.

                                    The End of the Lackamas School 


In the 1940’s, Lackamas “was operated under an arrangement whereby parents residing in the vicinity were permitted to choose between the one-room school at Lackamas and the graded school in Yelm.  Under this arrangement the average daily attendance at Lackamas dropped from 16.7 in June, 1943, to 7.7 in June, 1947.”  The voters of the Lackamas District voted to be part of the Yelm District. For many their affirmative vote on the matter was a result of the Yelm board of directors emphasizing the fact that Lackamas would remain open for children in the area.  This, however, was not to be the case.  In 1946 the Lackamas school was closed.  Many in the Bald Hills were shocked and feelings of betrayal regarding the matter stayed fresh for decades after.  There was an attempt by residents in the area to resurrect the Lackamas district and reopen in the in 1948-49, but this attempt failed.  In the spring of 1949 a Yelm school board meeting discussed the disposal of the Lackamas gym.  Cap Longmire and Glen Rutledge argued that the gym should be allowed for the newly formed Lackamas Community Club.

The Rebirth of the Lackamas School 


In the spring of 2004, the Yelm school board held its weekly meeting at the Lackamas School.  It had been a long time coming.  The school had been closed since the 1940s, but the Yelm school district had recently decided to build a new elementary school on the site of this nearly ninety year old small school.

The Lackamas facility had been closed amidst controversy and had fallen into quite a state of disrepair during decades of abandonment. 

The school remained empty from 1946 through 1986.  It was at that time that two couples, Nita and Dillard Jensen and Mary and Rick Scott, took it upon themselves to restore the Lackamas schoolhouse.  According to Jensen, the

foundation was okay.  The doors, however, were gone.  Mere shards of glass remained of the beautiful windows and the “roof was on the basement floor.”

After years of sweet equity and a small fortune they had restored the building to its former beauty.  The school has been  placed on the  Thurston county, Washington state, and national registers of historic places.