Golden Grad returns to Kirkland: Hilda Wilson Krahn graduated in Kirkland in 1928
By RAECHEL DAWSON
Kirkland Reporter Reporter
September 29, 2012 · Updated 12:56 PM
Hilda Wilson Krahn was the oldest Kangaroo at last Saturday’s Golden Grads Reunion. The 101-year-old Union A High School graduate made her way to Lake Washington High School to celebrate 84 years since she graduated in 1928.
Prato Barone, the associate principal for LWHS said that having the Golden Grads Reunion at the school is great because its core values in tradition and history really connect the Golden Grad community.
“We literally have third-generation students coming through,” Barone said. “So many people who have settled (in Kirkland) have a connection to Lake Washington High School.”
Krahn said her high school’s mascot was also the Kangaroo and its colors were purple and white, the same as Lake Washington High School.
“‘Find a way or make one’ - that was our motto,” Krahn said.
According to Krahn, hers was the biggest graduating class during her time with 40 students. Union A High School was located at the corner of Market Street and Waverly Way - in what is now Heritage Park.
Krahn’s family moved to Washington from Finland and she was born in Ballard. Then when she was 4 years old her parents and her two brothers moved to “little Finn-Hill” in Juanita.
She remembers summers were filled with a lot of swimming in Lake Washington, life guards excluded. She recalls Juanita beach had pretty shallow water so it “wasn’t dangerous.” But as soon as school started, Krahn had to walk 2.5 miles every day.
“I tried out for basketball but then when I realized I had to walk home after practice, I never tried it again,” she said.
Krahn, who said she used to be shy, was fond of reading and anxious for summer to be over so she could return to school.
While she wasn’t very “sports minded,” she was smart. So smart, that she graduated valedictorian.
“At commencement I had to give the speech and I forgot the last line,” she said. “The teacher had given me a couple of little lines at the very last minute, but the girl behind me that was prompting me didn’t give them to me so I had to let her have it and I said ‘Dammit’ in front of everybody.”
Krahn graduated when she was 17 and went to business college for about six months. She soon landed a job at McCormick Steamship Lines and worked with them for eight years.
Krahn and five other girls had to walk to Kirkland from Juanita to take the ferry to Seattle. She recalls the ferry took 20 minutes to reach Madison Park, where she would then take a “streetcar” to get to work.
“Every once in a while … in Redmond they would have a big truck with all of their pigs, and all the stuff that pigs have, and they would get on the ferry,” Krahn said. “And when that happened nobody sat outside on the ferry, we all went inside because the pigs smelled bad.”
But working at McCormick Steamship Lines had its perks. In 1930 Krahn and her friends took an Alaskan cruise.
“I had to pay only $50 for my cruise and the other girls had to pay $100. It was pretty cheap,” she said.
In 1937 she had to quit because she got married to Alfred “Bud” Krahn.
“They didn’t hire married women in those days,” she said.
Historic events such as the Great Depression didn’t drastically effect Krahn. And while none of her family members served in World War II, she said her brother Bill and husband worked in the shipyard in Houghton, which remodeled the WWII ship, the Kalakala.
Krahn and her husband moved to Ballard shortly after marriage. There, she got a job at Ballard High School and worked her way up to head secretary. Her husband worked as an elementary school teacher while in his 40s around the same area and got his degree from the University of Washington.
In 2006, Krahn moved to Bellevue at the Lake Hills House retirement home.
“Today’s generation is entirely different than the past,” she said. “I do have a regret that I have not kept up with the computer. I know that’s a big loss, I just didn’t figure it was here to stay.”
Krahn’s high points have been getting married, having her children and her travels to Alaska, Hawaii (five times) and Finland (three times). She says her low points have been aging.
“I think it’s remarkable to have that passion to want to keep going,” said her daughter Char Tait. “It’s incredible she can keep track of everything.”
Krahn will turn 102 in November.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Reporter Raechel Dawson at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 X5052.