Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 3.5 million page views on Oct. 10, 2009
The home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions to continue.
Please pass on this website link to your family, relatives, friends and clients.

(SLSE Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Free Home Page Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

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

(Click to send email)

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

Part three of six
(Wreck at Woolley depot)
      This is a photo of a wrecked railroad boxcar in front of the Great Northern depot in Sedro-Woolley directly north of the Gateway Hotel. This is another of our collection of photos for which we do not have key information, such as the date or at least the year and the cause. We know the location of the depot because it was the original Fairhaven & Southern depot from old Sedro, moved north when that line was discontinued right after the turn of the 20th century, as confirmed by Allen Miller, a railroad buff. We hope a reader can help. Click the photo for a much larger version.

      [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
Alexandra M. Holm, C. Joan Peasley, Stan Sygitowicz, Betty Evans, Florence C. Newman
Rod MacLean, Alice (Emmy) Huppert, Mary L. Leitner, Marion Knight,
Helen Omenaas, Ida Meyers, Clarence A. Green, Thelma Curry, Margaret A. Murphy
Winnie Parish Rogers, Esther Hutton, Mary Mitchell, Della (Zoe) Stedman, [18]

Alexandra M. Holm
    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2010, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. Thank you.
      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.

C. Joan Peasley, born 1920
      Born in Lewiston, Montana and lived there 17 years, then came to Goldendale, MA Graduated from high school. Moved to Seattle. Married a Goldendale boy in 1942 and lived in Seattle for 23 years. Raised 4 children. Moved to Stanwood and started a mink ranch. Retired from that in 1968, at the time my husband had heart problems I went to work, organized Camwood Senior Center, became involved with painting and other town projects and activities. I joined choir at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church and play the harmonica. My husband passed away January, 1988. I joined the Windjammer's Bank and other musical groups. I'm now keeping busy traveling and showing a friend from California the beautiful state of Washington.

Stan Sygitowicz, born 1917
      I was born in Whatcom County and worked in the woods for 42 years, logging and road building. One day in 1948 I had the misfortune of having a 25-ton bulldozer go over a cliff, and it rolled over me and was totally demolished.
      After spending several days in the hospital, I was back at work again. Having worked for the Department of Natural Resources and the U. S. Forest Service on road-building and maintenance, I decided to quit the woods at age 62. Since then I have been into volunteer work serving with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Skagit Council of Aging. I also serve on boards at the Sedro-Woolley Library, Sedro-Woolley Food Bank and as Chairman of the Board on Housing at Sedro Woolley. Besides all that, I still have time to volunteer 500 to 1000 hours in Skagit County. Otherwise, I don't have much to do.

Betty Evans
      The first house I remember living in was on the highway through Pocatello, Idaho. When we moved into this house I was small enough to walk under the kitchen sink. The walnut trees my father planted are still there, though it is now a parking lot for the University. Seeing the travel trailers go by I fastened a wagon on back of my tricycle.
      I've always loved to travel. I have taken tours to China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, the Scandinavian and Eastern Block countries and recently to Russia. Only Borneo and India are missing. It's the people, vegetation, how they do things differently that interest me the most. I have also been camping a lot a month in Alaska and annually in Wyoming. I have big plans for future trips.

Florence C. Newman, born 1913
      I was born in the house that my dad built on the corner of l3th and section in Mt. Vernon. It was on the old road that eventually went to the dump at the corner of Section and Digby. I still have a postcard picture of Mom and Dad in front of it -- the old muddy yard before they landscaped it. I have another picture of Mom holding me when I was a year old. we were sitting on the back step. We went from there to LaConner where my brother and sister were born.
      My dad worked for Scott Armstrong. I have pictures of the milkwagon setup that he hauled milk in to Mt. Vernon. I've been involved at the Mt. Vernon Senior Center over 8 years and have been helping at the Burlington Senior Center for about 5 years. I am finishing 11 years as Treasurer of the Skagit Valley Organ Club.

Rod MacLean, born 1920
      I was born in the province of Quebec, Canada and came with my parents to Vancouver B. C. in 1921. I started school in 1926 in North Burnaby and graduated from High School in 1938. I enlisted in the Canadian army in April 1940 and remained in the army until 1946. This was the year I was married. In 1948 we moved to Mission City in the Fraser Valley until 1953 when we crossed the border in September. we lived in Bellingham until 1955 when we moved to Burlington where we have been since then. I retired from work in 1986 and, looking for a hobby, joined the Windjammer Harmonica Band in 1986. Another hobby I have is working with international students as a tutor in English at Skagit Valley College. I am also serving on the advisory board of both the Mount Vernon and Burlington Senior Centers.

Alice (Emmy) Huppert, born 1923
      My mother was a wonderful mother and I am the oldest of 5 children. Some of my fond memories are of visiting my cousins on the farm. We played house in the silo and my boy cousin would let the pig in to scare us.
      Dave and I were high school sweethearts and we have been married 46 years. we had a good time when my husband was in college at the University of Iowa. we also had some difficult times but made such good friends that we still keep in touch. we moved to California, then came here to Camano l0 years ago.
      It is the happiest time of our lives. I enjoy volunteering these days, working with the women at the hospital. I like being with women groups and have nearly always volunteered.

Mary L. Leitner, born l911
      I was born in a sod house in Traer, Kansas. My mother found a bull snake one morning on moving a pillow. I had 2 brothers and a sister. My father had a small farm, with cows to sell cream and chickens to sell eggs. when my dad went to town he bought us a candy treat. we went to public school mostly, tho it was a rural school. The teachers couldn't help me much, as they taught all grades and sometimes didn't know much. We played fox and geese in the snow and pom-pom pull-away but mostly we played baseball.
      I was married in 1929 and went to live with my in-laws. I helped to cook, bake and to feed 30 workers, who were building a new road. In l941 we moved to Washington. In l944 we came to Mt. Vernon.

Marion Knight, born l915
      I was born right next to the Cedardale Fire Hall. we lived there almost 5 years. I got to see when they paved old 99. Then we moved 5 miles south and a mile in from the road and I went to Upper Cedardale School, which is now the Meadow Grange Hall. we walked to school. I didn't ride a bus until I was in the 6th grade.
      When I was 11, I went to school and also the house and carried feed out to the birds. Mrs. McFarland's mother and Mr. McFarland's father lived there and they were both elderly. At the game farm they raised Chinese pheasants and I turned the eggs every day. I got married when I was l9. I joined the Meadow Grange in Feb. of l933, 56 years ago and I have belonged ever since.

Helen Omenaas
      In l969 my mother and I spent 6 weeks in Norway. we went to Oslo as mother has a sister there. I was sitting there half understanding what they were saying. Then we took an all-night train to Hellyest and then to Geiranger. There they were filming the movie, "Sons of Norway." When we returned home we saw the movie and recognized where it was taken. In Geiranger we had a good time. we got acquainted with relatives and saw what kind of stock we came from. we went to a farm where mother's brother was and we saw how they cured hay. I still correspond with my relatives in Norway, but it is hard because there is no one left here who can translate.

Ida Meyers, born 1910
      It had been my life time dream to get to see Germany. with careful planning and saving it was the year to go and I fulfilled that dream in 1980. we traveled through seven countries on our European trip - Denmark, Germany, Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland, France and Holland. I bought a cuckoo clock in Lucerne.
      There were no clothes dryers in the European homes. Electricity was much too expensive. For me, the Passion Play at Oberammergau was a moving experience. It was very well done. The weather! we had some rain, cold, snow over the Arlburg Pass, overcast, yes, and sunshine, too. Our Rhine River Cruise, on the beautiful M. S. Helvestia was the most relaxing and restful part of our entire trip.

Clarence A. Green, born 1911
      I was born in Jefferson, Wisconsin. My grandparents came here from Bavaria and my mother was also born in Bavaria. My father was born in Wisconsin. His parents came from England and were farmers in Wisconsin.
      My mother died when I was 3 years old. I was taken to Michigan by one of my aunts and uncles. After a few years was taken to an Orphans home in. Illinois for 4 years then to Chicago. My wife, Helen, and I were married 51 years and she passed away May 24, 1988 in San Jose, CA. I moved to Mt. Vernon and live with my son and daughter-in-law. Joined the Harmonica Band 6 months ago and met a lot of nice people. One in particular who lives in Stanwood, WA, Joan Peasley. I love beautiful Washington.
      [Journal Ed. note: The Jefferson, Wisconsin, area was also where Otto Klement (, the father of Lyman, grew up and lived until 1873, when he went West to Washington Territory.]

Thelma Curry, born l909
      I was born in North Carolina but I lived almost all my life right here in Skagit County. I graduated from Edison High School. Edward R. Murrow went to the same high school. He was a senior when I was a freshman. I remember him being on the debating team. I remember hearing him say on the radio, "This is London."
      We lived near Butler's pit and we walked to grade school at Belfast. when the weather was bad, we rode in a covered wagon. One day one of the few cars in the county crowded the wagon off into the ditch. No one was hurt, but I was mad because my mother had made me stay home from school that day and I missed the excitement. After that we moved to Georgia where I went through the 7th grade. When we moved back to Washington, my mother said she would never leave again unless she had a round trip ticket.
      [Journal Ed. note: See our extensive Murrow Section (, compiled with the considerable aid of Florence Smith Low, who rode that same Edison school bus that Murrow drove and later co-authored the book, Equality Colony, with her brother, Fred. She is now 93 and lives in California.]

Margaret A. Murphy, born l907
      In my early childhood, in late summer, a gentle bewiskered oldster would plod down the street and into our driveway, carrying on his back the tools of his trade. One of us would run into the kitchen for a chair. There he would sit in the shade of the rose arbor mending the neighborhood umbrellas or sharpening knives. All the while dealing out sympathy, advice or encourgement to one and all. He entertained us children with stories of his travels around the country. I secretly suspected him of being Santa Claus and was always on my best behavior during his sojourn in our garden. This was in Seattle when I was about 5 years old.

Winnie Parish Rogers, born 1903
      I was born in Athens, Ontario, Canada. November 26, 1903. Left Athens and went to Watertown, N.Y. and came to Anacortes in 1908. Went to school and have lived all my life in Anacortes. My father, Uri Parish, was the Singer sewing machine sales representative in Anacortes for years. I worked in their apartment house and grocery store and sewing machine store while growing up. I married Vinton Rogers in 1922. We raised our 2 daughters in town.
      I now live in Cap Sante Court Retirement Home in Anacortes. In 1976 I started visiting at San Juan Nursing Home and soon became a regular volunteer with crafts. Now I've given up crafts because my eyesight is not as good as it used to be but I still volunteer at the weekly "sing along" at the home.

Esther Hutton, born 1900
      I was born on a farm in Crawford Co. Kansas, July 28, 1900. When I was 5 my parents and 4 girls came west, to the town of Everson, WA. I attended grade school in that area, graduated from Nooksack High School in 1920. Was married in 1923, lived in Iowa for many years.
      Came to Anacortes in 1945. Worked at Whidbey Island Naval base for 4 yrs. Started volunteer work about 1972 at the 3 nursing homes. For the last 15 years I've done craft and art work at the San Juan Nursing Home and bingo at the other 2 nursing homes in Anacortes. I enjoy reading, crocheting, knitting and craft work at San Juan and visiting with the residents there and at Anacortes Convalescent Center and Barth's.

Mary Mitchell, born l911
      I was born in Upham, North Dakota, and came Anacortes at age 2. Attended school here. Enjoyed being a Camp Fire Girl. Did a lot of hiking and swimming. I worked as a meat cutter, a cook in Bible College in summer camps until I retired. Then volunteered part of my time at Senior Center. I enjoy hand work such as knitting, crocheting, plastic mesh work and embroidery.

Della (Zoe) Stedman, born in l911
      I was born in Washington, Oklahoma. We moved to California when I was young. I eloped at l6 years of age. We had 2 children and were happily married for 56 years. We moved to Anacortes for l2 years. Due to health problems returned to due desert for 30 years. I enjoy volunteer work. There is a great satisfaction in helping others. I enjoy handicrafts and sewing. I returned to Anacortes in May l983.

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

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on Dec. 20, 2009 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 51 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

Getting lost trying to navigate or find stories on our site?
Read how to sort through our 680-plus stories.
Return to the new-domain home page
Links for portals to subjects and towns
Newest photo features
Search entire site
Our new weekly column, Puget Sound Mail (but don't call it a blog)
debuted on Aug. 9, 2009. Check it out.
(bullet) See this Journal Timeline website of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
(bullet) Did you enjoy this story? Remember, as with all our features, this story is a draft and will evolve as we discover more information and photos. This process continues until we eventually compile a book about Northwest history. Can you help?
(bullet) Remember; we welcome correction & criticism.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 550 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.
(bullet) Read about how you can order CDs that include our photo features from the first five years of our Subscribers Edition. Perfect for gifts.

You can click the donation button to contribute to the rising costs of this site. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which has entered its ninth year with exclusive stories, in-depth research and photos that are shared with our subscribers first. You can go here to read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research or read how and why to subscribe.

You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors
Would you like information about how to join them in advertising?

(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 88 years.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20, day, week or month, perfect for hunting or fishing
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley
(bullet) Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery-Cafe at 823 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley.
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First section for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first
or make this your destination on your visit or vacation.
(bullet) Are you looking to buy or sell a historic property, business or residence?
We may be able to assist. Email us for details.

Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find" Search this site powered by FreeFind
    Did you find what you were seeking? We have helped many people find individual names or places, so email if you have any difficulty.
    Tip: Put quotation marks around a specific name or item of two words or more, and then experiment with different combinations of the words without quote marks. We are currently researching some of the names most recently searched for — check the list here. Maybe you have searched for one of them?
Please sign our guestbook so our readers will know where you found out about us, or share something you know about the Skagit River or your memories or those of your family. Share your reactions or suggestions or comment on our Journal. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit our site.

View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to Street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.