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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

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

Part five of six
(Sedro-Woolley Ferry)
This photo of the Sedro-Woolley Ferry continues our series with the memoirs, photos for which we have no details, such as its exact location on the river, the year, who was the tender, how much it was charged. In this case we want to build a feature on this ferry and its predecessors. The ferry was born as a proposition by Mortimer Cook's young clerk from Pennsylvania. Albert E. Holland operated it for a few years but then sold it to the county, while he became the dominant druggist in the twin cities by the Skagit River. It was replaced in 1912 by the Thompson Bridge between Sedro-Woolley, with the northern entrance at the southern end of Third Street, now near Janicki Cove.

      [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
Doris Tursi, John Tursi, Cornele H. Tucker, Jean Forrest
Jack C. Myers, Langford H. White, Shirley E. Sparks, Elaine Oder
Grace Olson, Mary Ellen Clizbe, Marion Rosin, Rosa Walrath
Dorothy Rosen, Dillmon Brown, Hermie Bryan, Mildred Moore, [16]

Doris Tursi
      I was born in Anacortes and graduated from the Anacortes High School. I became a beautician and practiced that trade for 40 years. I met John Tursi, a C.C.C. boy, and married him in 1936.
      We were both active in the Veterans of Foreign war for years. I am a past President of the Eagles Aux. I have been a member of the Soroptimist Club of Anacortes for 30 years and President twice. I have been involved in the past with the Anacortes Museum and am currently President of the Skagit County Historical Society. I am serving on the School Advisory Board. Volunteering has always been rewarding to me. I feel that in helping others you are also helping yourself.

John Tursi
      Born Brooklyn N.Y. came to the Northwest with C.C.C. during depression, and worked at Deception Pass Park. Married a local girl and worked as a boom man in the timber industry. Served in Europe with Army Engineers in WW2. Returned to Anacortes and worked as machinist and plant foreman in salmon industry. Started volunteer work in 1947. worked feeding blood bank crews, Boy Scout leader, and with Veterans for many years.
      In 1955 worked for Shell Oil Co., retired 1977. I continued doing things for others, being involved with Anacortes, and Skagit County Historical Society museums, translator, RSVP, DSHS, Anacortes Soroptimists Thrift Shop, slide show programs, drive people for treatment to Bellingham and Seattle, teach mentor program, Island Hospital Medical Foundation, taught First Graders Italian, and Anacortes School Superintendent Advisory Council. I get a lot of satisfaction helping others, and keep in shape cutting wood on our property.

Cornele H. Tucker, born 1918
    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.
      I was born in Montana, my parents were very poor and living in a campwagon and herding sheep at the time and I was delivered by a mid wife. Later my parents homesteaded near Kevin, Montana. Parents came from Roumania, family of 12. Walked to grade school 3.5 miles. I herded sheep, lambed sheep, shearing sheep, had 3 bands of sheep of 1,500 each band. Milked cows, fed sheep, chickens, pigs, etc.
      Went to high school in Sunburst, Montana. Married, had 2 boys, 3 granddaughters. I worked in cafes all my life and had 2 of my own. As I entered senior years I joined Windjammer's Band and I keep very active, also help at Senior Centers. I came to Washington in 1958.

Jean Forrest, born 1914
      I was born in Anacortes and except for a few years have lived here ever since. After I retired as cook at the San Juan Nursing Home I started doing volunteer work there, helping with Bingo and playing the piano for the rhythm band My eye sight has failed so that I can no longer play Bingo but continue to "rattle the ivory's" for the rhythm band. I really enjoy being around the friends at the nursing home and hope that continues.

Jack C. Myers
      When I was about five years old I was beginning to doubt Santa Claus. Our mother helped my sister and me to write a letter to Santa Claus telling what we would like for Christmas. I wanted a sled; my sister wanted a doll. We waded through the snow to the mail box. After dark a sleigh stopped directly in front of our mail box. My father said, "That must be Santa Claus." So we all went out to see if the letters were gone, and they were. This was proof for the time being that there was a Santa Claus.

Langford H. White, born 1904
      Born in Ponoka, a small prairie town in Alberta, Canada. The community is a few miles north of Red Deer, which is midway between Calgary and Edmonton. This was the place my parents settled after leaving Northern Ireland. Started school in Edmonton and during an extended visit with mother and sister, attended school in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Returned to Canada by way of New York City after the start of WWI under strict security regulations. Only one German warship scared us as we approached the U.S. coastline and that proved to be a false alarm . . . but exciting to a boy.
      Went to school in Seattle for awhile before coming to Anacortes in 1921, graduated from high school here. My wife was active in Red Cross Volunteer work and assisted activities at nursing homes. Have been co-pilot on the Senior Center bus and play a home-made percussion instrument in the Miscues band. Do a tape every Monday morning for Thursday broadcast over KLKI of events at Anacortes Senior Center.

Shirley E. Sparks, born 1924
      I've worked as a volunteer kitchen aide from 1983-1989. In this space of time I've seen volunteers come and go, as the way with public life. I've found fellowship and a content way of life. RSVP has been most gracious to me through these years. The luncheons are always a delight as are the seniors.
      I have needed the stature that RSVP gives to its volunteers. My daughter, Patti Marquez worked at the Anacortes Senior Center, also. She's a comfort to work with. we learned to "touch" I others, to uplift their spirits and seemed to give joy, however brief.

Elaine Oder, born 1915
      I was born in North Dakota. I went to a one room school where we had one teacher for all 8 grades. We walked 2.5 miles to school. In winter by brother came after us in a covered red sleigh. we walked to school as long as we could see the telephone poles, even if the fence posts were covered with snow. In the winter my father would get coal from the mine for our heating. we used kerosene lights. Sometimes it would be 40 or 50 below and we could see frost hanging inside the house. we carried all our water from the well.
      On cold winter nights we would have house dances. They would put bells on the horses so we could hear them coming with the sleigh to take us to the dance. They would have a stove in the sleigh and mother would heat rocks for us to put at our feet to keep warm.

Grace Olson, born l9l3
      I was born near the Conway School and I went to the two room school. We enjoyed school. There was a big wood stove in each room. Mr. Newhuse was principal then. I like to swing or play baseball. I had to behave myself — my dad was on the school board!
      My mother was born in l878. She said she was the second white child born in the Stanwood area. My mother hated to wash dishes, so I did that and she cooked. So when I got married I only knew how to make soup and pie and my husband taught me to cook the rest. My dad had a dairy farm and raised crops. We had a farm for 40 years off the Chuckanut, just north of Burlington.

Mary Ellen Clizbe, born 1915
      We had been married 9 months when we came to Washington from North Dakota. For a wedding present, my uncle in Mount Vernon gave us 10 acres and a house, and that is where Laventure Sdnool is today. We rented 40 acres across the road for cattle and 10 milk cows. We had no electricity but a little cook stove that over-cooked everything We also had an outside well. I was a live-in.

Marion Rosin, born 1923
      I was born and raised on Whidbey Island. There was a ferry and my grandfather was hired to sit by Cranberry Lake and count the cars. At Cranberry lake we used to have the Farm Bureau picnic and it was so much fun.
      They had plans to build the Deception Pass bridge. Mrs. Pearl Wannamaker was an official in Olympia and she helped the bridge become a reality and also dedicated it. I remember seeing the bridge built. The ferry went from the island [Whidbey] to Dewey Beach. Goose Rock, North Beach, where we used to climb, was developed as a park area by the CCC and suddenly we could just drive over the bridge. I was glad, because I didn't like the small ferry. The only good part was Mrs. Blout's store where we bought pop and other ?

Rosa Walrath, born 1914
      I was born on Orcas Island and finished high school there. My college education began at Bellingham Normal, where I received my teaching diploma. I graduated from Western Washington College of Education. Later attended San Diego State College, had a scholarship at the U. of Hawaii and attended Central Washington College. During the war I left teaching to work at the office of the Boeing plant at Renton and taught senior girls I.B.M. skills.
      I spent 2 years during WWII working for the navy on Kodiak Island at Old Woman's Bay. In 1949 I returned to teaching, first in Burlington, then at Anacortes. In 1952 I accepted a teaching position at Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, then returned I to teach at Anacortes where I remained to retire in 1972. Since retirement I have traveled extensively, I enjoyed walking, biking and now volunteering at Island Hospital at Anacortes as an RSVP member.

Dorothy Rosen, born 1911
      Born in Blaine, WA and lived in this state all my life except for 2 years when we were across the Columbia in Rainier, most of which I spent in Seattle going to business school, after graduating from High School in Kalama.
      Moved to Seattle in 1931. Married in 1934 and moved to Martha Lake, stayed there 13 years and moved to Anacortes in 1947. I have worked in the Island Hospital Gift Shop for 9 years, and am happy working here. Hope to have a few more years here. Love working with Mona and all the crew, they are a great bunch and Mona is the best boss ever. 1'm just glad there is an R.S.V.P., so we can have the chance to help and keep busy.

(Birdsview family)
This is another orphan photo in that we only know it was the family of Birdsview packer Gar Green. The house may be anywhere in the Hamilton to Birdsview to Concrete area. Do you know?

Dillmon Brown, born 1916
      In 1920 when I was 5 years old, I was doing cooking, baking and cleaning at our house. We lived in Salt Lake City, and there were 8 children. In second grade I had a good teacher who helped me a lot. In high school I played football and was a state wrestling champion.
      When I was 5, I started playing harmonica. My Mother and Dad wouldn't let me play in the house, so I played out in the fields. I taught myself to play "The Missouri Waltz" and then learned many other songs. I played as a volunteer in San Francisco nursing homes for 20 years. Since 1979 I have volunteered in nursing homes here.

Hermie Bryan, born 1898
      I was born in Clarksville, Georgia. There were 9 children and I was the oldest. When I was 9 we all had typhoid fever and my Mother almost died. I helped pick cotton. Our school was one little room. I would take 4th grade arithmetic and 8th grade spelling.
      When I was 21, I got married. In 1923 we moved to Washington and my husband worked for a sawmill in Lyman. There have been many changes in Sedro Woolley. 'I'he old hospital was on State Street. Now I'm 91 years old, and 5 of my brothers and sisters are gone. I don't know why the good Lord has kept me here, but He must have a purpose, and I will try to fulfill it.

Mildred Moore, born l912
      I came here from Montana in 1923. My father homesteaded there in 1914, 30 miles north of Fort Benton. It is the first place I remember. The house was made of boards, but had a sod roof and added side sod blocks for insulation. It was all prairie with low rolling hills. The town was 30 miles away. We walked a mile to a one room school. The snow was too deep for school in the winter. We made quilts and clothes out of flour and sugar sacks all winter long. We memorized poems and this is one of my favorites:
      Tell me not in mournful number,
— Life is but an empty dream
For the soul is dead that slumbers
And life is not what it seems.
Life is real, life is earnest,
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returneth
Was not spoken of the soul!
— From the "Psalm of Life" by Longfellow

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
This article originally appeared in Issue 51 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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