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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Memoirs of volunteers for the Retired
Senior Volunteer Program, Skagit County, 1989

Part two of six
(Log Chute)
      In this Memoirs section we are featuring many photos that are mysteries to us, mysteries about the people, places and/or year. This photo of a log chute was taken by Sedro-Woolley photographer Darius Kinsey at an unknown location. Copy courtesy of the late Howard Miller. Can you help with details about it, especially the location and the logging company?

      [Journal Ed. note: We recently discovered a charming little booklet that the RSVP program published in Skagit County during the celebration of the Washington state-centennial in 1989. The book was edited by two members of the staff, Dot Schleef and Char Shipley. Volunteers in the program — 99 in all, provided short vignettes about their lives that are fascinating to read. We hope that if readers know any of the people who wrote below that they will contact us and give us more details. For instance, if they did not indicate, can you tell us what city they lived in, what their spouse's name was, etc. Do you have a photo of any of them or do you know their maiden names? For those who are deceased, we wish them R.I.P. and hope that family can provide information about their death dates and an obituary. Further, we hope that those readers 75 and over will provide us with similar vignettes of their own lives and their families' lives so that we can expand this section in the future. Keep in mind that these volunteers were generally born from 1895 to 1915 and matured during the Depression of the 1930s. They were the generation prior to the "Greatest Generation," as Tom Brokaw named them, the folks who matured during the World War II years.]

Memoirs on this website
Maurine Thomas, Clara Bowers, Eugene Bryan, Ella Nichols, Gladys E. McGovern
Marion Rottluff, Vivian Nogle, Helen M. Roberts, Dea Stroebel
Chiyeko Ozaki, William Latimer, Edna Hartson Hageman, Lydia Fish, Viola Schreiner
Marian Simmons, Blanche Craft, Alexandra M. Holm, Helen M. Roberts, [18]

Maurine Thomas, born 1922
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      I was born near Macon, Georgia, the third child of a family which eventually consisted of 8 children. I was the lst girl, two brothers had come along before I did. Shortly after I was born, one of my Pop's brothers happened to come by and my Mama sent him out to the field where Pop was working. He was foreman on the large farm. The message to be delivered was "Jim, you have a cook this time."
      I don't remember my early days of cooking, but in 4th grade had a show and tell time and I took a corn muffin on a small plate. Had to go up and stand in front of the class and tell the ingredients I had used and the directions for baking. It wasn't 15 minutes at 400 degrees but a medium heat oven until well-browned. Later I ate the muffin for lunch.
      I learned to sew the summer that I was l2 years old and have enjoyed it ever since. Also, embroidery, knitting, crochet and quilt making. At the present time, I am in the process of 2 quilts, working on them a little while in the evenings; work on l pattern for a little while, then the other (don't get too tired that way.) I met my husband during World War II. After his discharge from the army, he came by train to Georgia; we were married on July 6, 1945: then drove cross country at the national speed limit of 35 miles per hour.
      My husband, Laurence, is a child of a Skagit County pioneer. His father, William John Thomas, born June 29, 1880 at Fidalgo, later called Summit Park. Laurence's grandfather, John George Thomas, acquired land in Skagit County, State of Washington, the 19th day of June 1877. I have been involved with RSVP for several years. I started as a Bible Guide when the Senior Center was located on the corner of 5th and Commercial. Delivered meals for a short time. Am in the 2nd year as Tax Aide, one afternoon a week. I made 3 blocks for the Centennial Quilt.

Clara Bowers, born 1914
      When I was 14, living in South Dakota, cattle got into a corn field of a friend near where we lived. Charlie, whose corn field the cattle got into, locked them up in my Dad's corral until the damages were paid. Addie owned the cattle and refused to pay. That night she came with some of her help and started to cut the wire around the corral. But they didn't get too many strands out until shots were fired over their heads and the horses jumped and all took off.
      We kids watched from the window, knowing my brother and Charlie were in the hay mow with guns. Someone left a hat and my brother poked a nail through it, claiming he shot through it. Next day, cussing all the while, Addie came and paid for the damages.

Eugene Bryan, born 1899
      I was born in Temple, Texas. It was very black land, and it took 4 mules to pull a wagon to town when it rained. We moved to Oklahoma and then back to Texas. We had prairie dogs, rattle snakes and mesquite.
      I remember my Mother had an operation on the dining-room table. Then we came back to Oklahoma and lived there until 1943. We came to Wapato, Washington, and worked construction, orchard and warehouse work. My first wife died and I married Hermie in 1982. We have a big garden and yard that I take care of. I have 28 grandchildren and about 40 great-grandchildren and a couple of great-great- grandchildren.

Ella Nichols, born 1911
(Johnson and Nichols)
Betty Johnson and Ella Nichols at a Territorial Daughters function circa 2000.

      I was born in Seattle, Washington. When I was about 1 year old my family moved to Sauk, Washington, where my father was an engineer in the mill. In order for me to have fresh milk we had a cow. Each morning a neighbor boy would take the cow across the Skagit on a ferry to a pasture and bring it back at night. When we moved to Burlington in 1913 my father led the cow from Sauk down the railroad track to our new home. To this day I still prefer milk to any other drink.
      [Journal Ed. note: Ella's niece, Jan Nichols Chapman, wrote us just last week (December 2009] and told us how much fun Ella had at her 98th birthday party at Creekside Retirement Community in Burlington. Her son, Pete, and his wife, Gail, live near Ella's house on the Lyman-Hamilton Road, and her sister-in-law, Doris Nichols, is still doing well at 95.]

Gladys E. McGovern, born 1907
      I was born in Seattle, folks moved to Arlington, father worked in a shingle bolt camp. Lived there about 2 years. Moved to Day Creek and came to Concrete December 1910. Father purchased a livery stable. I started school in Concrete and graduated from high school in 1926. I worked as a dental assistant and was first the first theatre usher in the present theatre.
      I was a postal clerk at Concrete Post Office during the days they were first starting to build] the Baker River Dam. Had over 2,000 employees. Had a small place to work in, post office was in Q the Concrete Drug Store. From there worked as a waitress in local restaurant. I have been with our Senior Citizens for 15 years. Have enjoyed being with them.
      [Journal Ed. note: Gladys E. McGovern was born Sept. 14, 1907 and died Nov. 16, 2001 in Sedro Woolley. Her parents were Perry and Marie Thosath. The family moved to Concrete in 1912 and Gladys graduated from Concrete High School in 1926 and later attended Bellingham Normal College (now Western Washington University). She married Frank McGovern in 1928 and they operated the Sauk Grocery Store for 25 years before he died in 1977. See her obituary in the Skagit Valley Herald, dated Nov. 20, 2001. This information was provided by Dan Royal of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society.
      The Concrete Theater has been purchased by Valerie Stafford and Fred West and is being remodeled, with a new surround-sound system and will reopen in 2010.]

(Log Chute)
      Interior of the old Sauk Store, 1941, with, l. to r. Garnet Thompson, the original manager, Max Hanson and Frank McGovern, who later managed the store with his wife, Gladys McGovern (see below). Photo courtesy of Ed Marlow collection. That was at Sauk on the north shore, a small community around the store and mill that stood just a few miles away from the eastern terminus of the original Seattle & Northern Railroad, which ran east from Ship Harbor and Anacortes. We hope that someone has more photos of the store, inside and out, and we would love to hear the story of the wading pool on the slope behind the house. The late Jack Hoover of Concrete told me, he used to slosh around in there on a hot summer day.

Marion Rottluff, born 1913
      I was born in northern California, in Potter Valley on my grandfather's farm. The first 5 years of my life were spent on a homestead in the coast range mountains six miles from town.
      Sept. 1918 I began school in a one room house with one teacher for all 8 grades. A school was built for all 8 grades and high school. Graduated from high school in 1930. Attended U.C. Berkeley 1930-35 obtained my A.B. and general secondary certificate. 1936-1944 taught in the same high school I had attended.
      When my foster brother enlisted in the Navy in 1944, we rented the farm and moved. I became a civil service transportation driver for the Navy at Treasure Island, CA. After that I did some office and hospital work John and I were married in 1961 and moved to NA. March 1974 I began "working," bringing meals from the middle school to the Center and served them, also worked reception desk. Signed up for RSVP in 1974. Like to travel, read, watch ball games and garden.

Vivian Nogle
      I came from a large family. I loved music so much, and from the time I was little I used to pretend that I was playing the piano. we moved to Oregon and were living on Turner Ranch that Dad bought.
      [When] I was 7 yrs. old, my brother, Clint, must have felt sorry for me. Being very innovative he made me a play piano by splitting cedar into pieces and when he got through he made them into keys, even the black keys. He just nailed them onto a board and to me it was just like a piano! Oh, how I used to spend hours playing my piano! No one else could hear the music but me. They could hear me singing with it, I have no idea how good I was at carrying the tune but it was enough to satisfy me. I must have had a good memory even then because I can remember all those old songs.
      I started playing the harmonica when I was 10; when I was a Sophomore Dad bought me a new harmonica. I went out to the gravel pit on a hillside to do my practicing, later years I took it with me camping. I've worked at many types of work, restaurants, post office from 1944-53, Bames Bakery and a cook in Mt. Vernon School Dist. 1969-1975 when I retired. Sally asked me to join their harmonica band. I never dreamed I might have to take over as leader of the band. The windjammer Harmonica Band plays all over, mostly for Convalescent and Retirement Centers. Played at EXPO '86 and this is 8th year to play at Folklife Festival. We love to see fingers and toes tapping to our music and just knowing we brighten someone's day, makes it all worth while.
      [Journal Ed. note: This memoir is especially precious. Does anyone recall her or the harmonica band?]

Helen M. Roberts, born 1921
      I was born in Waterburg, Conn. My grandparents took care of my sister and I with their fourteen children. I spoke Italian before I could speak English. There were many different speaking people in our neighborhood and it made it easy for all of us to get along.
      I belonged to a girls club since I was in grade school to high school. we played basketball, baseball and many other sports. we hiked, swam in the river and ocean, went to what we called block dances, roller skated, rode horseback.
      There was never a dull moment in our home with 16 children. There was always music and singing both Italian and American. During the summer I spent time with my Dad, and got to see a lot of America and what a beautiful country that we have.

Dea Stroebel, born 1912
      I was born in Bellingham. After going to school there, I moved to Mount Vernon and graduated from Mount Vernon High School. My father and his 3 brothers homesteaded in the Conway area. He owned the first car in Skagit County I got married and had 3 children. Then I got involved with the Homemakers Club through County Extension. I was a state officer and went to a conference in Michigan of Associated Country Women of the World. A woman from India was the president. Now I volunteer at Josephine Sunset Home. I enjoy needlework and travel.

Chiyeko Ozaki, born 1920
      I was born in Seattle, raised in Auburn and graduated from Auburn High school. After marrying a man from Skagit County I moved here. we had a dairy farm and we raised 4 children, and we have l0 grandchildren.
      I've been teaching CPR for the last l0 years. Classes are held at all the schools, medical offices and nursing homes so staff can learn. We teach school children from 6th grade up. Usually on weekends, I volunteer at Skagit Valley Hospital and take blood pressure at Mount Vernon Manor and other places. I enjoy knitting, crocheting and origami. with my volunteer work, I enjoy meeting so many different people.

William Latimer, born 1920
      I was born in Anacortes, at the old hospital located on 4th St. I have lived here all my life, except for military duties. I attended Nelson School and Anacortes Jr. High School. I worked at E.K. Wood's Mill before going into the service. Some of my happiest memories are living at the foot of 30th Street and playing on the beach, building "boats??" of scrap materials and swimming along the shore. I worked for the City of Anacortes 32 years before retiring.
      I became involved in volunteering for the Senior Center thru Alva Oakes, picking up bread at Safeway, went on to Meals on wheels and serving on the Board of Directors. I have always enjoyed my time volunteering and recommend it be part of any individual's life style. I enjoy my dogs and cats.

Edna Hartson Hageman
      I was born in Mount Vernon and moved to Burlington when I was six. When I was small, my mother and a Mrs. Taylor were having a party. They invited so many they planned it for 2 days. They ordered pastries from Seattle and they came on the train. we children were not allowed in the house for the party.
      My mother believed in early bedtime, but when Halley's Comet came, she woke me and put on my coat and hat and took me out in the dark. It was fascinating to see everybody excited and talking about the event. My mother picked me up and pointed to the sky and said, "You remember that . . . it is important." But I thought the people more interesting.

Lydia Fish, born 1915
      I was born in Canisota, South Dakota, into a family of 13 children, 5 boys and 8 girls. I married Harvey Fish in 1933. We lived on a farm and raised cattle and oats, corn, wheat and hay. we had 7 children, 5 girls and 2 boys. We sold everything in the fall of 1951 and came to Washington in the spring of 1952. we lived in Mt. Vernon 4 years and moved to Clear Lake in 1956. Our family slowly left home, the last one married in 1968. I volunteered for "The Eyes Have It." I was one of the seeing helpers for a group of 15. I was with this group for about 8 years. Then became involved with the Senior Center in Sedro-Woolley and I am still there.

Viola Schreiner, born 1917
      I was born in Helena, Montana. The second youngest of 5 children. when I was in my teens we moved to a small community a near the headwaters of the Missouri River. There I learned to swim in the Gallatin River and acquired a love of baseball that has carried on all through my life.
      After graduating from college I taught school for several years before I married. My husband, Norm and I moved here from Carnation, where we had a rock shop and s did custom jewelry work. I we have 6 children, 11 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. I enjoy watercolor and oil painting, reading, fishing and baseball. Our involvement in the Anacortes Senior Center has made the transition to a new community very easy and rewarding.

Marian Simmons, born 1917
      I was born in Jordan, Montana and then came to Washington as a baby. I am one of seven girls. There was no electricity or water in the house. There were no trolleys. We pumped our own water and took baths in a galvanized tub every Saturday night. Mother was an accomplished pianist and we sang a lot at home. Every Saturday my Q aunt took us to Bellingham for a movie and ` then to the ice cream parlor. He saw Tom Mix movies and animal movies. We played hide and seek, hopscotch and kick-the-can. Even at five years old, I helped in the garden.

Blanche Craft, born 1902
      I was born in Minnesota and moved to a farm in Buckley, NA in 1906. I had one sister and lots of close friends. We grew up in a wonderful time, very few toys, but we had hollow stumps, many acres of woods and about a mile from white River. We spent our teenage years picking berries, working in the hop fields for $1 per day. I graduated in 1920 spent one year at Ellensburg Normal and taught one year. In 1922 I married a logger mechanic. Part of the time we lived on a farm, I milked as many as 14 cows, helped in the hayfield, etc. Our girls loved to shock hay and other farm work. We walked and loved to see the sunrise on Mt. Rainier. In 1939 we moved to Concrete, lived in the Shell Garage 12 years. Sold it, then bought a farm at Birdsview and built a Trailer Court. Now in my 13th year as a volunteer and love it.

Alexandra M. Holm
      Born in Finland, I came to America in 1921, .and came direct to Seattle. I got married in 1929 and I worked in Seattle for 20 years. Then came to Anacortes in 1940 and have been with the volunteers at the Anacortes Nursing Homes since 1960. I enjoy it very much.

Helen M. Roberts, born 1921
      I was born in Waterburg, Conn. My grandparents took care of my sister and I with their fourteen children. I spoke Italian before I could speak English. There were many different speaking people in our neighborhood and it made it easy for all of us to get along.
      I belonged to a girls club since I was in grade school to high school. we played basketball, baseball and many other sports. we hiked, swam in the river and ocean, went to what we called block dances, roller skated, rode horse back. There was never a dull moment in our home with 16 children. There was always music and singing both Italian and American. During the summer I spent time with my Dad, and got to see a lot of America and what a beautiful country that we have.

See Part One with links to even more of these 99 memoirs of Skagit County old-timers, organized in six sections.

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Story posted on Dec. 20, 2009 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
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