I DON’T REMEMBER the first two school buildings here, actually being too young for that. The first classes were held upstairs in Arey’s store, which was across from the present site on what is now North 30th Street. The second was like a boxcar on the present site that served grades 1 through 12. My school was also on the present location, facing north with most of its yard to the west and south. This was a three story building; photos of it can be seen in the fellowship hall at Kennydale United Methodist Church and possibly in the PTA’s archives. The building had a play area and restrooms in the first level, one flight up stairs to a good sized hall leading into four classrooms, each with a “cloakroom”, and another flight up to an auditorium with stage, a kitchen, bookroom and several catch-all areas. The large auditorium had been used for dances in earlier years, but I do remember well the elaborate 8th Grade graduation ceremonies, with flowers and fernery on the stage. We actually wiped out the maidenhair ferns near the trail across the street leading down to May Creek. During my 8th year, another school was being built along Kennewick, which somehow left us with no place to play except the small front yard. It was rather embarrassing to hit balls through the windows, but it happened often.
Lower Kennydale students walked to school, but upper Kennydale had a bus part of the time, privately run, that must have been on contract. The Low-downers also had a post office, while we were on RFD #2 (Rural Free Delivery). Sometimes, our mailman, Mr. Day, actually let us ride on his car’s running board. Of course, we could always walk, and often did.
The only sport we had besides some games like squares, hopscotch and cops & robbers for the younger ones was playing ball. Softball was my league, but I believe the older boys played real baseball, because my brother played with an American Legion sponsored team that won the Pacific Northwest Championship when he was in his teens. Baseball was not a Renton High sport for many years.
We had some excellent teachers. This was way back in the time when we first learned the sound of letters and then put combinations together. A few boys spent another year in the first grade, as learning was considered more important than our egos. Discipline was evident, but not all that strict. Also, if you were in trouble at school, you were also in trouble at home. Our fifth and sixth grade teacher was very demanding, probably unusually so. She had us memorizing lengthy poetry such as “The Barefoot Boy” over one night. Orders were orders, so I thought I had to carry on, but it was not easy. No one who ever had Miss Crane for a teacher would ever forget her legacy. On the other hand, occasionally we got to leave class in order to wash her car.
By our eighth grade, we had a new principal. It was actually a year of fun for the most part. One time he decided that we would stay after school for talking during class, and as a result found that he was spending every day after school in order to be in control. Did we know what we were doing? Oh, yes! My worst memory of grade school was the year the seventh and eighth grades were too large to be in the same room. My fourth grade class was placed with the eighth, and we had to compete with them. You could pick the slowest of them and they beat us by a mile every time. That didn’t do much for our delicate little egos.
Renton had two weekly newspapers, the Renton Chronicle and the Renton News Record. Our nearest neighbor wrote for one of the Renton publications---who visited, who had a party, really important events. We knew practically everyone in our vicinity and often borrowed something needed. No one ever ran to the store. Obviously there was no second car around, and no bus service. Nor was there any traffic!
Editor’s note: This is the third in an on-going series of articles by Pauline Kirkman, who is kindly serving as KNA’s official Historian.
KNA is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Kennydale and fostering community spirit.