For many decades, our museum made do with little to no collections budget, but are trying to change that and improve that care by bring our collection care practices up to museum best practice standards. To do this, it means rehousing much of our collection. We would like to make sure both that our collection is properly housed in the appropriate archival material but also housed in a way that as the museum grows, the collection can be safely and effectively moved in the future. We have already begun this process but need additional funding to continue.
Our collection started in 1939 and was housed in the local school until the 1960s when the historical society was formed to take it over. Since the late 1970s the Museum has been in a converted 1949 house and an out building herein referred to as the Farm Shed.
When we hired our current Assistant Director in 2006, we prioritized gaining intellectual control over the collection and improved collections storage. In 2008, the Museum had a General Conservation Needs Assessment by Dana Senge and have been working on recommendations from that report since. This has been done on a multipronged approach: We digitized, cataloged and rehoused our most utilized photographic collections to make them more accessible to the public. We digitized our catalog system and we have currently substantially completed an 8-year full inventory of our collection. We purchased supplies and rehoused a substantial part of the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper negative collection of over 100,000 images through funding from 4Culture. We purchased supplies and rehoused the majority of our glass and pottery collection through funding from the Snoqualmie Tribe and moved it a different storage location to allow for more climate-controlled storage for more sensitive items. We purchased supplies and rehoused the majority of our archive collections through funding from our general budget and 4Culture.
We recently received funding to continue this work through a Collections Care Grant from 4Culture to purchase supplies to rehouse our schools, merchandising, and organizations collections; additional supplies to house incoming photograph and archive materials; muslin covers for some of our most venerable historic clothing pieces and supplies to begin rehousing our library collections. At the same time we are making building repairs through a grant from the Snoqualmie Tribe and support from the City of North Bend to help preserve the climate of the collection.
As visitors stroll through the Museum, it’s difficult to predict which displays will grab their attention. Everyone reacts differently. They will pass by some, pause at a few, and linger at others. But there is one display that stops visitors in their tracks, compelling them to stop and examine it. It is a striking photo of a young girl, her face centered in the frame. She is staring right through the camera, looking at something beyond.
The photo is old, older than black-and-white. It is sepia-toned. The kind you see in Ken Burns documentaries about the 1800s. The plaque next to the photo says it was taken in the 1880s, and the girl in the photo, she was born in 1872. That makes the photo one of the oldest in the Museum’s collection. The plaque says the girl’s name is Alice Borst, and she was born in the Snoqualmie Valley. In 1872, she was born before hospitals existed in the Valley. Before the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend existed. Before trains, electricity, and cars had reached the Valley. She was born before the modern era of the Snoqualmie Valley.
Alice lived at an amazing moment in time. She witnessed the transition from one age to another. We live today in the same Valley as Alice, but the Valley that Alice was born into no longer exists. When she was born, the Snoqualmie Prairie, the traditional farm land of the Snoqualmie Tribe, filled the Valley. She witnessed the land sold to the Hop Ranch and transformed into one of the world’s largest hop farms. Dominating the Valley, it was a phenomenal agricultural achievement that relied completely on manual labor. Every fall, she saw a thousand people come together to harvest the crop at a time when the total Valley residents numbered only a few hundred. People would come from as far away as Haida Gwaii and the Fraser River Valley to help the Ranch with the harvest.
And these people travelled to the Valley without cars or railroads. In the Valley that Alice was born into there were no train depots, no railroad tracks, no highways, and no powerlines. Yet, in her lifetime, all of these made their way to the Valley. She witnessed the arrival of trains, roads, cars, and electricity. Eventually, she would have even been able to see a plane fly over her Valley.
Her life bridged two significant eras, and her memories paint a picture of a Valley that is difficult to even image now. She was able to recall wolves in the Valley and knew the last person in the Valley to witness a fatal wolf attack.
How do we know what Alice knew of the wolf attack or anything else involving her Valley. That is exactly why your Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum exists. Knowing Alice and her Valley is what the Museum does. The Museum passionately dedicates itself to acquiring and discovering and authenticating this knowledge. We check, double-check, cross-check constantly to drive toward accuracy and authenticity.
And we intend to keep on acquiring, discovering, authenticating, and refining this knowledge for the next generations of the Valley. One hundred years from now, the people of the 22nd century will want to know what you know and what you saw in your Valley. And to ensure the long-term future of the Museum, the Board has started the process of Strategic Planning, hiring Glick Davis & Associates to advise and guide us through the end-to-end process of a long-term plan. This will require several months of work by the Board, which begins this month. I am eager to share the results with you later this year.
That photo of Alice, where she is staring beyond the camera. Those piercing eyes are staring into a future where the Museum continues to protect and preserve the facts and artifacts of the Valleys that no longer exist.
To the Snoqualmie Tribe, thank you for the generous grant to cover the costs of maintaining and repairing the Museum and its farm shed. We sleep better knowing the a solid roof and walls are protecting the Museum’s artifacts!
To the ArtsFund and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation , thank you for the generous grant to allow us establish a Strategic Plan. By helping us preserve history, you have made an excellent investment in the future!
To the Rotary Club, thank you for the generous grant to cover the costs of the Museum’s exterior exhibit panels. With the exterior panels containing historical photos, you have made the Museum more accessible!
To the City of North Bend, thank you for your generous support of the Museum through your stewardship of the Gardiner-Weeks Memorial Park, the sustaining support to help cover some of the costs to operate the Museum and the covering the costs of the replacement of our sewer line.
-Kevin Burrows, Board President
Let me introduce you to Kay Miniver. I’m sure that name is vaguely familiar. You probably know her better as Mrs. Miniver, the unassuming British housewife in the 1942 movie Mrs. Miniver. The character of Mrs. Miniver was so well-written, so believable, that it was thought she and her family lived in a small village near London. She, in fact, was fictional, the creation of the brilliant English writer Jan Struther.
Mrs. Miniver remains immensely popular largely because she had a gift for expressing profound thoughts simply. For example, Mrs. Miniver on rear-view mirrors: “She wondered why it had never occurred to her before that you cannot successfully navigate the future unless you keep always framed beside it a small, clear image of the past.”
I like to think that Mrs. Miniver sat on the board of directors of the fictional museum in her local community. Her razor-sharp insight explains exactly why museums exist. Museums work tirelessly to keep the past clearly in focus, always at the ready for that moment you glance back before forging ahead into the future.
The future of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum has become the primary topic of discussion at the Museum’s board meetings. Although ironic for an organization devoted to the past, it is the future of the Museum that is drawing the board’s full attention. The board intends to plot a course that will successfully guide the Museum for the next ten years and beyond, to ensure that the Museum continues to help the Snoqualmie Valley navigate the future.
Over the next year, the board will focus on defining and refining exactly what the Museum is now and will be ten years; what kind of building and infrastructure it will have; how its collection will be grown, preserved, protected, and presented; and, most importantly, how it will serve the community.
We, on the board, are often asked by friends, community leaders, businesses, and schools, “What can I do to help the Museum?” We sincerely appreciate hearing that question! As we plan the future of the Museum will be carefully crafting a response to that question. We will be able to respond precisely with the best way each of you can help the Museum.
Your participation in our planning process is welcome and your input welcome! We’ll create a process for gathering your thoughts as part of our plan.
For now, please take a look at the Museum in your rear-view mirror the next time you drive down Bendigo Blvd. The building reflected in your mirror is unceasingly preserving Snoqualmie Valley’s past so that we all can successfully navigate our community’s future.
-Kevin Burrows, Board President
Since the Bylaws of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society were first drafted in 1960, they have been amended 8 times, most recently in November 2021. On January 1, 2022, the new Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act went into effect, necessitating the replacement of our current of bylaws. This Act was an effort to modernize and clarify the law that governs nonprofit organizations like the Museum.
Over the winter, a board Bylaw Review Committee was formed, consisting of secretary Beth Burrows, board member Steven Moses, and chaired by vice president Emily Lee. The committee outlined priorities for this review process, including preservation of existing language whenever possible, clarity and precision of language, and a format that was well-organized for ease of use. Most changes are necessitated by the new Act, as codified in Chapter 24.03A RCW. The board also used this opportunity to formalize and methodize practices that have evolved organically over the years and are working well but were not described in our bylaws.
Key changes made to the bylaws include:
· Moving from two membership meetings per year to a single membership meeting each November (2d: Annual Meeting), as has been practice in recent years and is adequate
· Election of officers moves from the annual membership meeting to the annual board meeting immediately following. This allows the board to elect officers based on who has actually been elected to serve as trustees for the following year (4b: Election and Term of Office)
· Transitioning the nominating committee to a standing committee to allow for year-round cultivation of potential new board members (3di: Nominations and 3ui3: Nominating Committee)
· Creation of a standing staffing committee to formalize the process by which the board of trustees hire employees of the museum, conduct performance reviews, and review job descriptions (3ui2: Staffing Committee)
· Language to describe under what circumstances a remote meeting may be held, as required by the new Act (2l: Remote Meetings)
· Language to allow notice for meetings to be sent electronically, as well as new parameters for such notice as described in the new Act (2g: Notice of Meetings and 3i: Notice)
· Relocating language that was previously part of the bylaws to more appropriate locations in the policy documents of the museum, since as our Collections Policy or Staff Job Descriptions
Please find the purposed Bylaws for approval at the November 20, 2022 Annual Meeting.
This quilt, object id 517.001, in our collection represents many in the community at the time. Created in 1939 in honor of Snoqualmie School Superintendent Richard Jacobs Schusman (he preferred to be addressed as R. J.) and presented upon his retirement. This quilt was created by the Parent Teacher’s association of the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company mill town of Snoqualmie Falls Washington (1916-1958) and contains almost 600 embroidered signatures of community members — both adults and children. Mr. Schusman was highly respected in the community and given credit for stopping a polio outbreak in the Snoqualmie schools in 1932 by convincing King County health officials that the schools must be closed and the children of the community placed in quarantine. Today there is a street named after him next to Mount Si High School.
by Carolyn Perlbachs
My ancestors were early homesteaders in Snoqualmie, Washington. In 1900, my grandfather, Joseph Emery, built a large house just half a block from the historic
Snoqualmie Train Depot. The original town was situated just above Snoqualmie Falls but in 1904, the year my father was born, my grandparents along with the
Gordon, Somers and Nichols families applied to re-plat and incorporate the two block near the depot into the city of Snoqualmie.
We lived next door to the old family home in Snoqualmie. Some time after the death of my grandfather Joseph in 1944, Dad divided the huge old home in half, making two 3 bedroom apartments. The the house was old and ugly, mostly uninsulated, and the interior was not much better.
They rented for a pittance, which was possibly more than they were worth. However, at the time, my father was ill and unable to work and the apartments were the family’s only source of income for several years.
Snoqualmie was a wonderful place to grow up. We were only steps away from downtown and just around the corner from our school. My friends and I were free to wander almost anywhere we pleased, unburdened by adult presence. Everyone in town knew us—it was small then, perhaps only a few hundred people and we took every opportunity to explore our surroundings. It was small town America at its cinematic best.
After a day of exploring, when we finally returned home, our parents knew exactly where we had been and what we had been doing, often much to our dismay. If we had been walking along the forbidden railroad tracks, when we got home, our mothers already knew. The danger of a train approaching, although real, did not seem to be the problem. The dangers, we were told, lay with the hobos that hung around the tracks just waiting to attack the unwary child who wandered too close.
Try as we might, however, we were never able to find a hobo—attacking or otherwise—on our many illicit forays up and down the tracks, so we were summarily unimpressed by all the warnings. In all fairness, we knew where the hobos were supposedly gathered—they, according to my mother, lived in the train graveyard up the tracks toward Snoqualmie Falls. We could only bring ourselves to venture a few hundred yards up the tracks from the depot before turning back. Subsequently we preferred to head in the opposite direction in our quest for the ever illusive attacking hobos. We never did see one—or if we did, we didn’t know it.
During Christmas time, Santa Claus appeared at the old fire station downtown. He sat outside in the covered area in front of the firehouse doors on Railroad Avenue (if I remember correctly it is the building that currently houses Sigillo Cellars). It was always exciting to see Santa. My mother told me that one year, my father was Santa. I sat on his lap and saw only Santa. The one photo I have of me sitting on Santa’s lap at the old firehouse in 1952, is clearly not my father, however.
Every summer, a traveling carnival set up on the vacant lot on River Street at the end of our street near the American Legion Hall. They arrived early in the morning and began preparing for the Grand Opening in the evening. As we watched them from the sidewalk in front of our house, my best friend Linda (who lived across the street in a huge old craftsman house) and I planned which rides we would try first. I could hardly wait, but we were never allowed, on that first day, to go until after we’d eaten dinner and our parents walked us there— perhaps they wanted to check for attacking hobos before letting us go there alone.
My older sister, however, usually had already scoped it out and told fantastic tales about what I would see later that day—all of it from her own imagination, I found out. She taunted me as she told me that I would never be allowed on any of the rides for one reason or another. I always was a little bit afraid she might be right.
We saved every penny we could and our parents had saved change in a jar for when the carnival came to town. It was meted out sparingly each day for rides and games. On that first exciting evening, I usually spent my allotment within minutes of arriving and had to do without for the rest of the night. Linda, always more prudent than I, could not be cajoled into sharing her money, so I walked around and planned for tomorrow. If I was lucky, I would see my favorite Uncle Ralph from down the road in North Bend. He was always good for a nickel or two. I would beg him to buy me a couple of rides. He always hemmed and hawed, but I knew he would give in at some point.
We were there as much as our parents would allow—except for my rebellious teenage sister. She sneaked out our bedroom window every night to meet her friends, play around and go on rides. She came home with wild stories to torment me because I was too young to go with her—and her empty threats of bodily harm were enough to keep me from tattling on her. However, she was caught as often as not and restricted to our room—but if Dad wasn’t there, she was out the window in no time at all.
We had one bathroom in our house, located off the large back porch as if it were an afterthought. It was fully equipped with a tub, sink and toilet, but had no shower and was not heated. Bathing, for most of the year, was done as quickly as possible because it was so cold out there. That and the fact that we were only allowed an inch or two of water assured we did not linger.
My mother, sister and I washed our hair in the kitchen sink, probably because the bathroom was so cold. Mom and my sister could stand at the sink, but I was too short and had to climb on the counter and lie on my back with my head hanging over the sink while Mom washed and rinsed my hair. When she finished, she towel dried my hair vigorously while my head bobbled to and fro, then grabbed a comb and none to gently combed out the snarls and knots in my very curly hair, while tears ran down my cheeks. Finally she pinned my hair in little pin-curls all over my head. When my hair dried, she would carefully remove the pins and wrap the curls around her finger, pulling it into loose ringlets á la Shirley Temple.
Across from the bathroom was a wide staircase that led up to the open attic. It was a magical place filled with bits of furniture, a record player and a huge collection of old 78s. But the best of all was my sister’s beautiful dollhouse Dad had built for her, with its beautiful, ornate doll furniture. I loved it, but was forbidden to play with it because it was delicate and I was not a particularly careful child. I can still hear my sister’s shrill screams when she discovered yet another piece of furniture I’d broken.
Her dream was to have her own bedroom and not have to share with her ever inquisitive, snooping little sister. Eventually, Dad started framing her bedroom to the right at the top of the stairs in the attic. Apparently I was completely oblivious to my surroundings or was completely indifferent to anything that didn’t involve me. As a result, I had no idea my sister was getting her own room in the attic. I watched the walls go up, but was not particularly interested in why. One day I mentioned it to my sister. She said that there were so many rats in the attic that Dad was building a room for them.
Seeing my horror at the thought, she embarked on her most successful “scam the kid sister” program to date. Before long, much to my sister’s delight, I was afraid to go into the attic because of the rats. The fact that she didn’t mind living in a rat filled room, didn’t occur to me. As long as I didn’t have to go up there, I didn’t care. To ensure I stayed away, she’d told me that when she opened her door, some of them escaped into the rest of the attic and spent day and night looking for something to eat.
The attic was no longer a safe place to play peacefully because of the hordes of rats. Luckily, Linda’s huge old Craftsman house across the street had about six or seven bedrooms. One of those empty rooms became our new playground.
Linda’s parents were of hardy German stock from Minot, North Dakota. During World War II, they took in boarders. One of the many upstairs bedrooms was so large, they had made it into a dormitory with around eight or more bunks, but when we played there, the room was empty except for a large, magnificent tub of Lincoln Logs.
We’d dump the logs out onto the floor and take turns choosing our favorite pieces to build houses and stores and make into people. We’d play there for hours. Her older brother and sister had rooms upstairs as well, but Linda, who was far more timid than I, would not trespass on their territory. For some reason, perhaps because they were not my siblings, I managed a peek or two into the forbidden rooms before losing courage and quickly closing the door.
In the early 1950s, a penny would buy us some candy at the Red and White (I think it was the general store in downtown Snoqualmie once owned by the Reinigs). I had my eye on some wonderful erasers that actually fit on top of a pencil—it was something new that I’d never seen before and I really needed one —and Linda already had one, which made it all the more important for me to have one, too. Besides, this was the answer to my all my pencil problems. I wanted one so badly I could almost taste it…but it cost two cents, and I didn’t have any money.
One day I wandered into the Red and White to make sure my erasers were still there. I looked around, and seeing no one, I slipped a packet into my pocket and left the store. On my way home I felt queasy. I knew I’d done something wrong, and of course, when I walked through the door, my mother confronted me. Mom had received a phone call from the store clerk. I was to return my precious erasers, apologize for stealing and await my punishment. Although I begged Mom to go with me, she refused. Humiliated and frightened, I walked into town by myself, returned the eraser and apologized. It was awful, but she forced me to accept responsibility for my own actions. It was the best thing she could have done, although at the time, I thought she was the most horrid person ever to make me do it alone.
Every month or so, Linda and I would set out on a treasure hunt. We discovered the best places to find our treasures were on the street next to the curb where people parked their cars—tax tokens! Tax tokens by the dozens! They often fell out of pockets and most people didn’t bother to retrieve them. They were there, lying on the ground, just waiting for us to find them.
Tax tokens were set up so people wouldn’t be overcharged for sales taxes on small nickel and dime purchases in only 12 states, including Washington. They were first issued during the Great Depression, but in the early 1950s, at least in Snoqualmie, they were still accepted as 1/20th of a cent. We learned that if we collected twenty of them we could spend them as if they were an actual penny—and forty would be enough to buy my coveted erasers.
It took many trips to find enough tokens and once in a while we’d even find an actual penny! Linda and I would split the proceeds—and eventually I headed to the Red and White to proudly buy my erasers with my forty tokens. It was great.
I loved those erasers. I could make changes or correct my writing and drawing mistakes with ease—while it lasted, that is. All too soon I had worn off the top of the eraser and the sides were so weak they finally split.
However, by then there were other things I wanted that would require me to find hundreds of tax tokens and they were getting harder to find. I was surprised to learn that in exchange for chores around the house and yard, my parents were willing to pay me a small allowance. I don’t remember for sure, but I think it may have been a nickel a week—enough to buy two erasers a week if I wanted and still have a penny for some candy. My days of treasure hunting were over.
Two of my favorite people lived only a few doors from us. Mr. and Mrs. Lane— Walter and Elizabeth—were the perfect substitute grandparents: kind, loving and always happy to see me. All but one of my grandparents had passed away before I was born and this wonderful couple filled the void. Years later, when Mr. Lane had a stroke, Mrs. Lane took care of him herself. By then, they were both in their late 80s. She would bathe him, get him out of bed and sit him in a large wheeled chair with piles of pillows propped around him. She’d cook and clean, then go outside and mow her lawn with a push lawn mower, pull the weeds and cut flowers for a vase she set near her husband. Nearly every day she walked the block or so into town to pick up the mail and as much groceries as she could carry home. By the time Mr. Lane was in his late eighties, she was was no longer able to take care of him and had to put him in a nursing home where he passed away a short time later. Mrs. Lane passed away in 1987 at the age of 101. I still have the vase they sent as a wedding gift and the booties she knitted for my first child, now 55 years old.
Between Dad’s old family home and our house was a large vacant lot where our father, probably with the help of neighbors, dug a huge shallow pit. He would fill the pit with old branches from the apple tree in our yard and other brush cleared from the property. The apartment had a huge weeping willow tree in the back yard that shed branches like fur from a dog. These were added to the pit. I remember neighbors bringing their brush to add to the pile and at some point during the summer, Dad and the neighbors would set the brush on fire and stand at the ready with buckets and a water hose to make sure it didn’t spread.
After the fire had burned down and white-hot coals appeared at the bottom of the pit, people showed up with large potatoes wrapped in tin foil. They stuck them into the hot coals, turned them occasionally, and waited for them to cook through.
Once cooked, they retrieved their potatoes and took them home to eat. They were the best potatoes I’d ever tasted. By nightfall, the fire had died and been watered down and the men set to work covering the pit with the dirt they had left on the sides when the pit was dug. Within a few weeks, no one could tell there had been a big bonfire there.
Next to the vacant lot, in our yard was an old apple tree with huge branches that spread out over the yard. The tree had been planted by my grandparents, Clara and Joseph Emery in the early part of the century. She had “mail-ordered” it from a catalogue and was expecting a MacIntosh apple tree but it was something entirely different. No one could ever figure out what kind of apple it was. It did, however, produce some of the biggest apples ever. It was the perfect tree for climbing and sitting with its many thick branches running nearly parallel to the ground. In the summer, the leaves offered cover for us while we hid in its branches and watched what was going on in our neighborhood. When we moved to Issaquah in 1955, Dad took a cutting and grafted it into our new garden where it produced huge apples until well into the 1980s.
We had a small garden that grew the best peas and Swiss chard ever. Linda and I would sneak out and pick the peas, eating them where we stood, or we would grab the sugar bowl and sprinkle sugar on damp chard for a sweet treat. Soon, Dad would burst out the door and yell at us to get out of the garden—but oddly, never until we had eaten our fill.
Next to the garden was a shed that housed some of the most fearsome geese and ducks on this earth. I avoided them at all costs. Not so with the neighbor boys. They lived in one of Dad’s apartments and were a wild pair, always in trouble or looking for it. Dad was constantly after the oldest boy—David—to leave the geese alone, but David loved nothing more than poking and hitting the geese with sticks.
One day, while absorbed in his favorite pastime, the huge gander had enough. Although he was unable to fly, he flapped his wings enough to get over the short fence around the pen and chased David down the alley behind our house. When Dad finally found the gander, it still had a piece of David’s pants in its beak. David never teased the geese again. Dad & I used to sit on the couch and read the Sunday Seattle Times together.
Sometime around the summer of 1954, I think, I noticed a photo of our goose nemesis, David and his younger brother in the paper. The headline said they had drowned in the Snoqualmie Slough (aka Meadowbrook Slough). Dad had not told me they had died. I had only played with the boys once, which was enough for me, but I was sad to hear what had happened to them. Aside from the death of my brother in 1948 (by then, I did not remember him as I was quite young when he died) they were my first encounter with death.
Dad told me that they had gone swimming in the slough—which was one place had yet to visit—and subsequently never would. He said the youngest boy, whose name escapes me, slipped off the end of a boat they were playing around and David tried to help him—they both drowned. They were sent to a make-shift morgue in Meadowbrook, a small community that Linda and I rarely visited. It was quite a long walk and most of the buildings there were old and vacant—there was nothing to see. Of course, now that there was a reason to go, Linda and I set off to see if we could get a peek inside the morgue. Thankfully, the windows were all papered over and once again, there was nothing for us to see in Meadowbrook.
In the summer of 1955, my parents sold our house on Olmstead and prepared to move to property they had purchased near Issaquah. The move was a difficult one, especially for my sister, who had just finished her freshman year in the newly built Mt. Si High School and did not want to move. We gave up our seemingly idyllic life in downtown Snoqualmie where everything was at our fingertips. Our parents packed our furniture and all our worldly goods onto our old 1938 flatbed truck. Dad had built a fence around the truck bed so things wouldn’t fall out on the trip. My sister and I crawled into the back with all our worldly goods and Mom and Dad sat in the cab. Off we went, ala Beverly Hillbillies, and moved to a property in the wild countryside near Issaquah, five miles from the nearest store.
Every night I listened to coyotes howling nearby and occasionally a cougar would scream. I could still hear them—even after piling blankets and pillows over my head and wearing earplugs. Attacking hobos were never as scary as this! At the time, I would have given anything to go back to what I considered my real home in Snoqualmie rather than listen to all that wildlife outside my bedroom window. I was a small town girl at heart.
Snoqualmie has changed over the nearly 70 years since we moved away, but much remains remarkably similar. The old family home where my father grew up and the vacant lot where we roasted potatoes, has been replace by an attractive rambler that sits in the middle of the site. Our old house with the imaginary rat infested attic and cold bathroom is still there but additions and remodeling have made it almost unrecognizable. Across the street, Linda’s old Craftsman house has not changed a bit. Mr. and Mrs. Lane’s house looks much smaller than I remember, but only the color has changed.
The school I attended now houses the school administration, yet looks nearly the same. The fire station on Railroad Avenue and the Red and White have been replaced by new businesses. The “railroad graveyard” cars on the way to Snoqualmie Falls remain, but have been integrated into the Railroad Community Park. The depot is now a railway museum. I never really noticed it as a child, but now it is a destination. I still visit Snoqualmie every once in a while and reflect on those times gone by. It’s a place full of good memories of an idyllic childhood in an idyllic 1950s town.
by Gloria McNeely
Originally written in the 1990s…
As we head down the “Information Highway” in the closing decade of this century we look back in awe at the changes in the field of communication that have occurred since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1875: commercial radio stations, “talking” pictures, television, computers, “web” pages……
Bell’s assistant first heard his voice through the phone just a few years after the first homesteaders came to the Snoqualmie Valley. Back then, getting a message as far as Seattle meant a couple of days’ ride on horseback – now almost every home has a telephone connecting us with the world. So how did this magic instrument find its way here?
In 1990, just a few years before his death, Jim Satterlee talked about this. Many among Jim’s numerous friends remember him as a respected Valley native, athlete, teacher at Snoqualmie Middle School, and leader in the community. He recalled that his grandparents, Newton R. and Julia Camp Harshman, were instrumental in developing telephone service for the Fall City area. They purchased a “phone company” with “six or eight people on the system” from Emerson Neighbors at about the turn of the century. They established a switchboard in their Fall City home, now a King County Landmark, and steadily built business and service until Newton Harshman’s tragic death from multiple bee stings in 1931. At that time Jim’s parents, George E. and Gertrude H. Satterlee, stepped in to keep the telephone company operating. The family continued to operate local service until 1947, when the company was sold to the Cascade Telephone Company, founded by George Gaines. Cascade was eventually acquired by Telephone Utilities of Washington, now PTI Communications.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. II c. 1974-86) there were more than 150,000 telephones in the United States only eleven years after its invention. At the same time there were 26,000 in the United Kingdom, 9,000 in France and 7,000 in Russia. By 1979 there were more than 153 million telephones in our country alone.
The evolution and proliferation of the telephone worldwide is echoed here in our Snoqualmie Valley, and can be illustrated by the telephonic history of one household – mine, which now contains three of them.
In 1941 my husband Denton and I moved our family into the house that is still home. We had the only telephone on the block then, and when you wanted to make a call you lifted the receiver to hear the operator say “number, please!” (No, you didn’t have to crank it!) Our phone number was 558.
Half a dozen years later, World War II was over and service had expanded locally to the point that the company expanded to a four digit format (1947 was the introductory year for dial phones in the Valley – see instructions in this newsletter Ed.). Not much later, big city ID came to our Snoqualmie Valley. We needed a prefix. “Our 2224” became 88-2224 in 1952, then TU8-4924 in 1958. A few years later, the company again assigned new numbers and switched to a numeric prefix (888) to conform to what was happening across the country.
The latest inevitable change, given the Valley’s growing population, is the addition of a second prefix, 831, in the upper Valley, along with Fall City’s traditional 222. It is a long way from the earliest telephone service here.
One more thing about our telephone. During the war years many neighbors used our phone for casual or important calls since it was the only one nearby. There is THE call I will never forget. It came for Helen Carlson ( a longtime resident of the Valley now living in Auburn). I ran to get her when the call she had been waiting for finally came. It was to tell her that her brother Jerry Emerick was safe and coming home. He had been on the Bataan Death March in the Philippines in 1942 and had been a prisoner of war for four years.
You may have first met Fritz Ribary as your pizza delivery man, through a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, or as a classmate in school. No matter how someone met Fritz, he was soon known for his kind warmness, jovial smile, and wisdom. Fritz has served as a member of the Museum’s board of trustees since 2018.
It is with great sadness that we must share Fritz Ribary’s passing.
Fritz was born Frederick Joseph Ribary on the 4th of February 1944 at Snoqualmie Falls Hospital to Joe and Mildred Ribary. He was soon followed by his brother James in 1946. The Ribary family had immigrated from Switzerland during WWI and settled in Nebraska before moving to the Snoqualmie Valley to operate a dairy farm in the late 1920s. Mildred had been born and raised in the mill town of Snoqualmie Falls and trained as a teacher. Growing up on the Ribary Dairy, Fritz helped operate the business from an early age. By the age of four he was helping his father deliver milk on daily runs.
In his early teens, Fritz’s parents divorced and he moved off the farm for the first time, this was a culture shock for Fritz who had always considered himself a farmer. Though for a while he was able to return to the farm life on his mother and step-father’s new farm in Ellensburg.
In his teen years, Fritz’s first paying job was as a dishwasher at the Little Chalet (now the North Bend Bar & Grill). After a summer of dishwashing he attempted to get a job from Webb Moffat at Snoqualmie Pass as a lift attendant. Offered a job there as a dishwasher he worked the position in his ski gear for about an hour before deciding to not pursue the offer. He then wandered over to the ski rental shop to try skiing before heading home and ended up helping the owner, high school teacher Charlie Scott, get through a rush of customers. This assistance landed him a job as ski fitter for seven winters.
It was a great job, Fritz recalled. “We literally laughed and joked all day long. He had a great sense of humor, and I loved talking to people.”
In high school Fritz was active in academics and sports: being a member of the Honor Society and Math Club, serving as President of the ASB, Class President, and Business Manager, while also playing in the band, baseball and football.
After high school Fritz started at Central University and later transferred to the University of Washington. During his time at Central, Fritz had arranged to stay with room and board on his parents former farm in Ellensburg in exchange for working the farm during the spring and summer. But the man who bought the farm went back on a verbal agreement the day before classes started, leaving Fritz no place to live. Luckily, he ran into a friend that night who helped arrange a place with a group of other young men at Central.
While in college Fritz and a friend began motorcycling racing, beginning a lifelong love of the sport. Fritz continued to ride motorcycles until April when he broke his leg in a crash. He also traveled Europe for a quarter during his college years. While at the University of Washington he drove trucks for Consolidated Freightways but after graduating with his marketing degree his boss told them if he didn’t pursue a career in marketing he would be fired from being a truck driver.
He married Ruthann Fuller in 1970 and they settled in Green Lake but soon purchased a house in North Bend after a series of break-ins and a stolen car. During this era, he was sent to Vietnam where he was stationed at a supply depot at Danang and later China Beach. After his return, Ruth and he started their family raising Paul, Kevin and Andrea. Fritz operated an insurance business out of North Bend and later got into banking developing a corporate sales and marketing curriculum for Seafirst Bank. He later returned to insurance before selling his business to work as the Chamber of Commerce Director and later Manager of Marketing and Communication at the hospital. During this era he spent 30 years in the Navy and Army reserves (15 years each).
When not working, Fritz also has dedicated his live to community service. He at various times served as a North Bend fire fighter and volunteer EMT, a North Bend Planning Commissioner, North Bend City Councilmember, Mayor of North Bend, and a commissioner for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District two different times, the Chairman of Snoqualmie Valley Youth HUB, a Si View Parks booth volunteer during the Farmer’s Market and has been a faithful board member here at the Snoqualmie Valley Museum. He also regularly attended Snoqualmie Valley Alliance church’s services and religion played an important part of his life.
After retirement, Fritz wished to stay busy so he took a job delivering pizza at Frankie’s and doubled down on his volunteer involvements. In 2017 he was honored as the North Bend Citizen of the year. Though heavily involved in work and service, time with Ruth, grandchildren and children were his greatest pleasure.
Just a few days before his death, Fritz was emailing the Museum to say how much he was appreciating all of the posts we had been sharing. Though hospitalized, always selfless, he reassured he was doing much better and was on the mend even if it would be a slow recovery. We were shocked and saddened to learn just a few days later that he had passed. Fritz will be greatly missed by all who have known him, but especially by his loving wife Ruth, daughter Andrea and sons Paul and Kevin, and grandchildren. There will be a memorial on June 4th at 2pm at Mount Si High School.
Interview of Lucille Bonifas Smith from 2012. Lucille passed in 2017 at the age of 93.
In 1940 I baby sat by the month for people by the name of Van Dykes. She worked at Thompson Café and he drove a truck. They had one child, I think he lives in Monroe now.
I lived in North Bend; it was a farm with a nice big house. Ralph Freeman now lives in our grape patch. We raised cattle and had a dairy. We had about 10 milk cows, a couple of horses, a dozen or so chickens and 2 or 3 pigs. Our family was made up of my parents, my sister Betty, and my two brothers John and Walt.
We spent our summer afternoons down by the river; it was the Middle Fork. We would go down to that bridge too, there were some good swimming holes. We lived by the Thrashers, Offields, Bluhers, Fullers, Currys, Harris’, and Harts. The Bluhers and Currys had kids our age. We would have bonfires at the beach.
We wore dresses and slacks. We would wear nylons with seams or we painted our legs and drew on seams. We all wore girdles with slacks and dresses. Our shoes were saddle shoes and 3 to 4 inch high heels. We did our own hair and I wore mine back. At night we did it up with pin curls all over our head. We occasionally wore hats for dress, like going to church.
Heavens yes, we had a car. Mom drove once and awhile but she didn’t have a driver’s license and didn’t drive too much. I think dad intimidated her. I had just gotten my license in 1940. I drove all I could. We would go to Seattle and just around. Our car was a Studebaker. If you drove to Snoqualmie, that was really getting around. Dad had a Hudson Terraplane before the Studebaker. He was always changing car, upgrading. He loved to drive. I don’t know where he bought them all.
Mom, John and Walt’s job was milking the cows. Mom made sure Betty and I never milked a cow. She had always had to milk cows and wanted to make sure we never HAD to. We got to drive horses to pull the hay up to the barn. We had to pump the water for the cattle from a well in the pasture fairly close to the house. My mom didn’t belong to any organizations, she just took care of us kids. She always canned.
At some point I would go up to the Mount Si Rec building and man the phone in case of attack. That didn’t last too long, but I don’t remember exactly when that was. I didn’t go to any of the lectures about the war in Europe or help pack care packages. The war did not really affect me at that point.
My name is Lucille Lois (Bonifas) Smith. I was born in Eastern Colorado in Yuma County, the oldest of born to Louie and Willena Bonifas. I was the only one of the four of us children that had a doctor attending. I was named after mom; Lucille, her middle name. I don’t know if my middle name was after my father, an aunt or just because they liked it.
In 1940, I was about 16 years old. I was still in high school at North Bend High. It was fun. I was involved in the YMCA. We did parallel bars, tumbling and Indian Clubs (kind of like bowling). I also belonged to the Girl Scouts; we went camping and spent a week at Lake Sammamish and a week up in the hills at Lake Hancock.
We had been in the house about a year, we moved there in 1939, before that a mill house. The community was close and friendly. Every Wednesday night was the discount night at the North Bend Theatre, I think 10 cents.
My father worked at the Bremerton shipyards. He stayed over there with an uncle. My grandparents moved there too. Dad drove a bus there most of the time for the other employees. He left working at the Mill in1939 because he and the union didn’t get along. They had slashed his tires at one point because he wouldn’t join.
John worked at one of the neighbor farms occasionally. Betty and I also waited tables at the Alps Café and then the Monogram. We worked the Swing Shift and during school breaks during the day too. The Swing Shift was usually about 5:30 pm until Midnight. We worked both during school and on breaks. We worked the same shifts together and walked back and forth. We would eat at the diner when we worked there, but otherwise didn’t eat out much. Frank (Marsalis) would cook us up a nice T bone steak. I would eat mine and Betty’s both because she didn’t like hers. She would sometimes eat a hamburger instead, but we didn’t get much choice because he would cook it up and give it to us. He owned the Alps Café and later Thompsons (co-owned).
We walked to school most the time, but had the bus if we wanted. We could get out of bed later if we walked. Betty and I went to the Baptist church in North Bend. I played the piano there. Betty and I also pent to Youth Club on Wednesday Nights at the church. We went to that church because it was the closest church, we walked. Mom would occasionally go to the Catholic Church and Masses. She wasn’t Catholic, dad was; she just like it; but she didn’t go to church much. Dad never went.
North Bend had quite a few cafes then like now. We would grow some of our food and buy the rest. Mom always had a garden. Lee’s Grocery, Glaziers Dry Goods, the Bakery, the Gas Station we all went to. That George Wyrsch was a heart throb, he had a nice red convertible; he was too old for us though. The Dry Goods carried material and clothing. We bought most of our clothes. Betty, Fern Bonsgaard, and I would spend most of our time in Seattle buying clothes with our $15 a week paychecks. We took a bus to Seattle from North Bend; it went down through Fall City. It took about an hour. Lenners was my favorite shop; they carried the clothes we could afford and liked. We couldn’t afford Fredricks but we were there and Fern would try on shoes.
We were always involved with family, both sides. Aunt Clara lived in Seattle. We saw them about once a month. Her sons would come out and stay and we would go stay there. Joe and Herb would give Betty a hard time because she couldn’t take the teasing. Joe got killed in the war. He had a job delivering newspapers. He kept us informed, told us were babies came from and all of that. He was few months younger than me. He was nice. Herb was a couple years older than me. The first time we met, Herb took me by the hair; Joe, Betty; Neil took John and Gene took Walt by the hair and led us around the room. Then we were all fast friends. That was about 1933. Their youngest brother Dickie wasn’t born yet. Mom’s side was in Enumclaw; they moved out from Colorado in 1934.
Snoqualmie Valley in the 1950s will be the topic of the upcoming new exhibit at the Museum. The 1950s was an unique time in the Snoqualmie Valley signalling a transition era between a time when residents could get everything they needed without leaving the Valley and today’s reality of regular purchases from outside the area, just a hundred or so years after an era when everything one would need for daily life was physically was available from the Valley to residents of that time.
The 1950s was also a transition time with the ending of the Snoqualmie Falls company town, the early stages of the post-war baby boom, planning for flood control and the future I-90 and the first concepts of large scale residential developments being proposed.
The upcoming exhibit will look out how Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, outdoor recreation, local businesses and entertainment, agriculture and use of social capital influenced the lives of those here in the 1950s and changes to those themes during that era changed how we live here today.
There are several interesting sources available for this exhibit to help explore daily life here: the Harold Keller Collection of photographs from 1945 to 1967, the Valley Record Newspaper, a 1956 Snoqualmie Community Survey that interviewed each household about what they thought were the strengths and weakness, assets and threats, and values and vices of the community, and coming this spring the 1950 Federal Census.
The exhibit is funded in part through a generous grant from Snoqualmie’s LTAC fund. Join us in thanking them for their support!
Many new to the Snoqualmie Valley move here for its relative safety, natural beauty and warm community. It is always shocking when an act of violence happens here, in part because such acts are so infrequent. In the past weeks after the officer involved shooting in Torguson Park, the Museum has noticed several social media comments mentioning that this was the first officer involved shooting in North Bend. There in fact have been others, though rare and each with their own unique circumstances. While the community awaits the results of the investigation into the more recent shooting, it is an opportune time to reflect on other incidents in our community. This post will recall the December 12, 1949 officer involved shooting in Ernie’s Grove. As with many such incidents there are conflicting reports on some of the details.
In the 1940s, an elderly man in his 50s purchased a farm in Ernie’s Grove. He was known by some as an “an eccentric but harmless” “friendly little man” with a “whining voice”. A World War I veteran who had served in the Spruce Division or the Air Service (his head stone application has conflicting information), Walter Peden had spent his early adulthood working as a farm laborer in Eastern Washington where he was born and also in Idaho before moving to Vancouver, Washington in his 30s to work as a restaurant cook. Between 1930 and 1931 he moved to Multnomah, Oregon, where in his early 40s he had married an accountant and started a small family. The marriage lasted only 7 years before a divorce instantiated by his wife for “cruelty”. He later worked as a hospital attendant in Oregon before moving back to Washington. In both 1944 and 1947, Peden was briefly institutionalized. Shortly before purchasing the farm in Ernie’s Grove, a room mate awoke to Peden trying to strangle him in the middle of the night at the boarding house they were staying at.
Peden live in Ernie’s Grove for several years, mostly keeping to himself, but occasionally having dinner with neighbors. He was known for his fondness of kittens and his odd habit of always keeping a sawed off shotgun under his shirt. The neighbors also noticed that he was paranoid and imaged deceased enemies were out to get him. One neighbor reported this behavior to the Veterans Administration; only to have Peden get irate at him.
On December 11, 1949, County Detective Gordon Sandell and Deputy Sheriff Howard Rutan went to the community to investigate a complaint by Peden that certain individuals were trying to “get him”. The officers could find nothing to support Peden’s fears, and were told that some of his imagined enemies were deceased by neighbors. While there, the officers also were told that residents of the community had planned to file complaints against Peden the next day, seeking a sanity hearing for him. That night, Peden had dinner with his neighbors Geoge and Leah Fitzgerald.
The next day was an overcast, chilly December morning. George Fitzgerald planned to go to Seattle with neighbor C.F. Johnston. Walter Peden and Leah Fitzgerald chatted happily for over an hour that morning in the yard before he returned back to his cabin where he proceeded to kill his 30 chickens, dog and cat. Some reports state he also killed some neighbors animals; some reports say he shot the animals and others that he strangled some of them.
As Fitzgerald pulled out of his garage to go pick up Johnstone, Peden stepped out of his cabin and shot Fitzgerald in the arm. Leaning out the window to yell at Peden for shooting him, Fitzgerald looked across to see neighbor Johnstone had also been shot, shot in the face. Fitzgerald pulled Johnstone into his car and raced him to Nelems Hospital in Snoqualmie. While Fitzgerald and Johnstone were rushing to the hospital, Peden walked into the Fitzgerald house where Leah Fitzgerald was still home. He told her that no one would hurt her, and proceeded to take a box of Fitzgerald’s .22 cartridges. He then left when Leah Fitzgerald told him his cabin lights were still on. On the way home, he shot neighbor Gordon Peters in the chest, who not knowing about the shootings had just stepped into his front yard. By this time the police had been notified and arrived minutes later at the Peden cabin.
At this time North Bend had one sheriff assigned to town Sgt. Baker, the rest of the law enforcement was covered by several Washington State Patrol officers who covered the Snoqualmie Pass district from Easton to Preston who were often several hours away.
As Officers Paul Johnson and Clare Powers stopped in front of his cabin, Peden opened fire on their car. As they dove for cover, officer Johnson was shot between the eyes, some reports mention multiple gun shot wounds. Officer Powers returned fire. Visitor to Ernie’s Grove, Perry Buholm assisted Powers by reloading his weapons and trying to stabilize Johnson. They were able to get Peden to retreat enough, to load Johnson into the police car and rush him to Nelems Hospital.
In the meantime, Fitzgerald returned home and readied his own weapon. His sister Myrtle Drake and niece Joan had also arrived at his house not realizing the danger. After taking Johnson to the hospital, Powers met other officers who had sped to the scene from Seattle; some reports state 3 other officers, others say there were 18 officers. Everyone in the community had gone into their homes, many guarding their doors with loaded weapons. The Fitzgeralds discussed the situation and decided to try to take Peden down as they didn’t know when help could arrive. Leah Fitzgerald called Peden over while George hid behind the front door with his own shotgun. When Peden entered they jumped him and subdued him. Powers, Officer Furseth and two other patrolmen arrived to a covered position 100 yards from Peden’s cabin. They were separated: Powers and Furseth went to the right of the cabin. The two others crept below the cabin to the left. As the officers were closing in on the cabin, Mrs. Fitzgerald dashed from her home and shouted: “He’s over here. We’ve got him!” The officers then took Peden into custody.
Some reports state that the officers fired into the Peden house and threw tear gas instead. Some reports state that they shot Peden 21 times but he survived, pictures from the next day would suggest he was not shot.
Johnson was transferred to Providence Hospital for emergency surgery for multiple gun shot wounds. After being resuscitated twice, he succumb to his wounds just before midnight. Peters was transferred to the Marine hospital and recovered from his wounds. Johnstone was treated at Nelems hospital and recovered from his wounds.
When interviewed Peden claimed not to remember the shootings and when in his cell would fill the sink with water, pat the water and then salute it. Within the week Peden was sent for a judge who declared him insane and sent him Western State Hospital at Steilacoom until he was well enough to stand trial. Though due to privacy laws, Western State Hospital can not release information on his stay or when he was released. It appears from Peden’s death certification that he was transferred to Eastern State Hospital at Medical Lake by January 1950 and that he remained there until his death in 1952 from coronary thrombosis, arteriosclerosis due to organic brain disease.
Though until that time the community had felt that he was “an eccentric but harmless” “friendly little man”, they then reflected that there were warning signs that he needed help. They reflected that before he bought his farm at Ernie’s Grove he tried to strangle a fellow roommate in the middle of the night at the boarding house he stayed at. He always carried a sawed off shotgun under his shirt. There were rumors that he had been institutionalized before.
Officer Johnson, aged 32, served the Washington State Patrol for three years. Born and reared in Seattle, he graduated from Ballard High School in 1936. He spent five years in the Army during World War II and was stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, as a military policeman much of that time. In October, 1946, he joined the Washington State Patrol. His career with the Washington State Highway Patrol began as a clerk in Wenatchee on August 5, 1946. He was a member of the 14th cadet class and commissioned as a patrolman on October 1, 1946. He was assigned to Olympia, then transferred to North Bend, Renton, Seattle, and back to North Bend in 1949 where he was a member of the organization’s Snoqualmie Pass detachment. He was unmarried.
From census, phone book and death records, it appears Clare Powers was 39 years of age. He had been a locomotive fireman in his youth before serving as a guard man during World War II. After the war he became a patrol officer and later a fraud investigator. He would continue to work and live in Washington before moving to Indiana in his 80s. He would die in 2004 at the age of 94.
Not discussed in the newspaper accounts of the time or more recently, were questions that probably would be asked today by the community. Questions like: What were backgrounds of the other responding officers? Were the neighbors shot, the same neighbors that were seeking an insanity hearing? Were Fitzgerald and Johnstone on their way to Seattle to that day to seek a hearing?
Seattle Daily Times, December 14, 1949, page 14
Seattle Daily Times, December 12, 1949, page one
Behind the Badge Foundation Roll Call of Honor: Officer Paul H. Johnson
Washington State Patrol Press Release: Paul H. Johnson
Sno-Valley Star, January 5, 2012, page one & six
Snoqualmie Valley Record, December 15, 1949, page one and eight