Reflections of a Time Gone By: Remembering Snoqualmie, 1950 – 1955

by Carolyn Perlbachs

The original family home on the corner of King and Olmstead around 1948, during convertion to two 3 bedroom apartments.

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.

Hiram and Johnny Groshell with Santa.

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.

Me with my Shirley Temple curls, and Linda in our yard, circa 1950.

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.

Telephone Service – Number By Number

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? 

Early telephone at Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant, c 1898.
Newton and Julia Harshman outside their home/telephone company, Fall City.

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.

Telephone without number dials.

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.

1921 Cascade Telephone Directory Instructions for Subscribers on telephone rules.

Fritz Ribary

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 Ribary, Mary Miller photo.
Fritz and James with their parents getting ready for a milk delivery.

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.”

ASB officers Dale Sim, Dennis Hamilton, Fritz Ribary, Gayle Koch, Bobbe Hamerly at Mount Si High School, 1962 Tenas Coma yearbook.

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).

Antone and Ribary families enjoy a ride on I-90 before it opens, c1978. Antone family collection.
Fritz receiving North Bend Citizen of the year award from Mayor Ken Hearing, 2017. Valley Record photo.

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.

Fritz and his brother Jim on the farm in 1956.
Fritz at North Bend Depot during Centennial of railways arrival celebration standing next to Snoqualmie Mayor Jeanne Hansen, c 1989.
Ribary family at Fritz’s North Bend Citizen of the year ceremony, 2017. Valley Record photo.
Fritz Ribary during term as Mayor of North Bend, 1988-1992. During his tenure the city celebrated the centennial of the city, arrival of the railway and statehood.
Fritz at daughter Andrea’s wedding. Mary Miller Photo.
Fritz MCing at Festival at Mount Si. Mary Miller Photo.

A Memory of 1940 North Bend

Interview of Lucille Bonifas Smith from 2012. Lucille passed in 2017 at the age of 93.

Lucille Bonifas Smith.

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. 

Louis Bonifas in one of his cars, 1935.
Alps Cafe.
Frank Marsalis.

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.

Willena Bonifas with nephew Joe Sheppard in front of house.

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.

Bonifas family in 1935. Louis and Willena back row. Front row, left to right: Betty, Walt, John, Lucille.

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. 

Lucille, Betty, Walt and Willena on a shopping adventure, 1940s.
Willena Bonifas at their home.

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.

Upcoming Exhibit

Artwork from 1950s Snoqualmie Falls Weyerhaeuser Mill booklet.

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!

Another Officer Involved Shooting

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.

Walter Peden from Snoqualmie Valley Record, December 15, 1949

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.

Location of incident from Sno-Valley Star, January 5, 2012 issue.
Gordon Peters from Snoqualmie Valley Record, December 15, 1949
Washington State Patrol covering between Preston and Easton. Officers Clare Powers, A.J. Brozovich, R.E. Stevenson, Sgt. L.H. Baker, M.D. McKain, M.A. Tutthill and Paul Johnson. From Seattle Sunday Time Rotogravure, April 10, 1949.

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.

from SnoValley Star, January 5, 2012
“George Fitzgerald, millwright, holds a shotgun with which he intended to shoot Peden.George was creased by a bullet early in the day, later seized Peden as he entered Fitzgerald home. ” Snoqualmie Valley Record, December 15, 1949

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.

Washington State Patrol Officer Paul Johnson from Sno-Valley Star, January 5, 2012.

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

Find-A-Grave: Paul H Johnson

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

2021 Annual Meeting

Each year the Museum has an Annual Meeting. It is an opportunity for our members and the general public to get together for a fun history program and allows the Museum to hold its election. This years program will include two parts! A program on the history of the North Bend Theatre by a question and answer panel of theatre owners’ past and present led by Kevin and Beth Burrows and a reading from Dave Battey’s upcoming book compilating a selection of his over 200 Snoqualmie Valley history articles from the Snoqualmie Valley Reporter!

Please bring your friends, family and neighbors to join us on Sunday, November 21 at 10am!

In addition to the program, the Museum’s Annual Meeting includes a short business portion. This will feature the election of new and reappointed of current board members, a confirmation of next year’s board officers and the confirmation of proposed amendments to the bylaws.

Bylaws Update

The Bylaws are the legal document that set the rules and procedures for running the Museum. The Board of Trustees regularly review these to ensure they are following the procedures outlined in the document, and to make amendments to them as necessary. Last updated in 1997, the Board would like to make two changes immediately to bring them in line with current circumstances. As per our bylaw amendments procedures, a written copy of proposed changes must be mailed to the membership in advance of the Annual Meeting. The membership then votes to approve the recommended changes at the Annual Meeting.

The philosophies of the current changes are as follows:

1. By allowing the board to range from 12 to 15 members, the nomination committee has greater flexibility when pursuing candidates for the Board. The intent is not to grow the board to 15 members but to allow the Board to adjust the number when there are multiple strong candidates.

2. The tasks performed by the Corresponding Secretary have diminished over the years to the point that the position is no longer necessary. The few tasks that remain involve minor word processing that will be addressed by the Board officers or the Museum’s Assistant Director.

Amend Section II, sub-point 1 of the bylaws to read: “This Society shall be governed by a Board of Trustees of 12 members, or up to 15 under special circumstances.”

Amend Section II, sub-point 3 to read “The Officers of this Society shall be President, Vice-president, Recording Secretary and Treasurer and [they] shall be designated Executive Committee,” and to strike Section IV [Duties of Officers], sub-point 4.

The curent Section II, sub-point 1 of the bylaws reads: “This Society shall be governed by a Board of Trustees of 12 members.”

The current Section II, sub-point 3 reads: “The officers of this Society shall be President, Vice-president, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer and shall be designated Executive Committee.”

The current Section IV [Duties of Officers], sub-point 4 reads: “4.  The Corresponding Secretary shall conduct all correspondence of the Society, as directed by the Board; shall keep on file all papers, reports and copies of correspondence of the business of the Society, as directed by the Board;”

The Board of Trustees

One important aspect of the Annual Meeting is the confirmation of new board members and officers. Current board members include Vicki Bettes, Kevin Burrows, Brian Davis, Dick Kirby, Katie Klahn, Emily Lee, Mary Miller, Fay Rene, Fritz Ribary, Gardiner Vinnedge and Board Members Emeritus Gloria McNeely and David Battey.

Board members are the fiduciaries who steer the Museum towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission. Board members provide foresight, oversight, and insight. In addition to legal duties and serving as a fiduciary of the organization’s assets, board members also play very significant roles providing guidance to Museum by contributing to the organization’s culture, strategic focus, effectiveness, and financial sustainability, as well as serving as ambassadors and advocates. Beyond fulfilling legal duties, board members can be important resources for the Museum in multiple ways. Board members advance the mission of the organization. Board members are responsible for recruiting new members. Most of the board’s work is completed in committees, and board members are expected to serve as needed.

For this election, Heather Anderson, Steven Moses, and Xandra Trostel have been nominated to fill two vacancies and a position that is opening up as Vicki Bettes has decided to not seek re-election.

Heather Anderson is a literacy and history curriculum editor for Heinemann Publishing, a leading producer of K-12 education resources. Heather, her husband Casey, and their three school-aged children live in a farmette just off of Tokul Road. Passionate about including authentic local history in curriculum, Heather brings international level curriculum development and interpretation expertise to the board. Heather has for several years turned to the Museum when she has had in depth questions about our history.

wiaac syayayəʔ, Steven Moses ti dsdaʔ. sdukʷalbix̌ čəd. Hello, friends, I am Steven Moses, a member of the Snoqualmie Tribe and the Director of Archaeology & Historic Preservation. I am also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. I been involved in cultural resource protection for over 16 years. Before that I worked as a network administrator and GIS technician for 10 years. This experience has taught me to solve complex problems and approach projects with a resolve to negotiate conflicts through collaboration. I live in downtown Snoqualmie with my beautiful wife Josie Moses (also a Tribal member) and our 6-year-old daughter, Skyla who just started kindergarten at Snoqualmie Elementary.  I have a love of history and I am passionate about learning and sharing our collective stories. hawadubš čələp! (Thank you!)

Xandra Trostel brings with her a passion for both nature and local history. She has owned a local outdoor education preschool in North Bend for over twenty years where she teaches children about our local environment. Born in Nelems hospital, Xandra has lived in the Snoqualmie Valley all of her life.  Her parents owned the North Bend theater for thirty plus years when she was growing up.  With a passion for Snoqualmie Valley History, she often comments on Museum Facebook entries, while her own page is full of exceptional nature photos. She and her son Eli live close to Uncle Si’s original cabin site, just outside of North Bend; several years ago she requested some one-on-one Valley history tours for herself and Eli and Dave Battey was happy to oblige.

Also well as our three new nominations; Dick Kirby, Fay Rene and Fritz Ribary are recommended for reappointment. Our purposed slate of officers this year is Kevin Burrows, President; Emily Lee, Vice President; Gardiner Vinnedge, Treasurer and still to be determined, Recording Secretary.

Preserving History in the Digital Age

Gloria in the office in the 1980s.

When board member emeritus Gloria McNeely joined the Museum’s board in the 1980s an electric typewriter was the latest technology being used for Museum business. By the 1990s, through her advocacy, the Museum upgraded to using a computer. When Assistant Director Cristy Lake started with the Museum in 2006, the Museum had just purchased its second computer which is still in use today as our scanning workstation, eight years ago we purchased our current main computer and several years ago purchased two used laptops for additional volunteer workstations.

Technology is always advancing and computer systems need to regularly be updated and replaced. It is time for the Museum to update its computer systems to a more advanced server system rather than using an individual computer as a server and workstation. Our current system is outdated and no longer meets the needs of the Museum nor the expectation of our visitors.

We were fortunate this spring to be able to request funds through a grant program through the Snoqualmie Tribe to purchase a server, new workstation with video-editing hardware and software, a camera with tripod, and a projector.

The Snoqualmie Valley Museum has been growing its digital resources over the last 15 years. Staff and volunteers have been digitizing our photograph collection, photographing our objects, converting our card catalog cards into the PastPerfect database and inventorying our collection so that we can make our collections publicly accessible online. This has been especially vital over the last year with the pandemic. The Museum was closed to interior visits for over a year but has been able to continue to serve visitors by having material available digitally. We updated our website and are adding more and more materials online, while our Assistant Director kept the Museum operating behind the scenes, answering research inquiries even when we could not have visitors in the building. We now are again reopened to the public.

Volunteer Vaugh using 15 year old computer and even older scanner to digitize photos.

We now have 8TB of data and each year we are adding additional materials. But, our computer system needs to be upgraded. We are using an eight–year-old computer, which has crashed twice recently, leading to the loss of some data. This computer acts as both a server and a workstation. It acts as a file server for our volunteer workstations. It acts as a workstation for our Assistant Director Cristy Lake.  It often plays both roles concurrently, causing everything to slow down to an unworkable speed. Because it was designed to be a standalone computer, it cannot support the demands now placed upon it.  Additionally, it has only 2 TB of disk space so our main records are being stored on external hard-drives which increases the risk of losing information if any of these drives fail.

We do not have video capabilities and even though we would like to create videos and host online meetings and programs, we don’t have that capability at the Museum. We have been able to participate in some meetings using Cristy’s personal cellphone, but this does not provide the quality we would like to offer and is not easily available for others to use.

When the computer crashed two years ago we asked several computer experts to recommend an adequate replacement. This is the basis for our grant request. We would like to purchase:

  • A file server that would hold all of the Museum’s data and allow workstations to access it without going through the staff workstation.
    • Storage

The server would hold 12TB of data and back up the data up on a second set of 12 TB drives to protect it if the first one were to crash. The 12 TB will allow for additional storage space as we expand, but, additionally, the server can also have extra drives added to increase storage capabilities in the future.

  • Performance

Designed for concurrent use, the server will be able to support all volunteer and staff workstations simultaneously.  With its responsive file handling and improved network bandwidth, the museum staff and volunteers will no longer encounter unworkable speeds.

  • A new workstation for museum staff that replaces the 8 year old computer
    • Video

The workstation would provide video-editing hardware and software. Additionally, it would provide hardware to support on-line meetings.

  • Documents

The workstation would also provide the software for creating PDFs and other documents to support the Museum’s online presence.

  • Performance

The network bandwidth provided by this new workstation would also address the problems with unworkable speeds that are encountered with the current computer.

  • A camera and tripod that will allow us to create videos.
  • A projector so that we can hold programs that feature power points and videos and add visual elements to meetings.

We are pleased to announce that we can now move forward with these upgrades thanks to a nearly $13,400 grant from the Snoqualmie Tribe! We look forward to sharing the outcomes of this technological upgrade in the weeks, months and years to come.

Please join us in thanking the Snoqualmie Tribe for their generosity and for partnering with us to preserve and share the history of the Snoqualmie Valley for future generations.

To learn more about the Snoqualmie Tribe please visit SnoqualmieTribe.US.

Harley Brumbaugh

Harley as a young man in the Riverside Neighborhood.
Harley and Cathy serving as Grand Marshalls during Railroad Days.
Harley Directing Voices of the Valley

It is with deep sadness that the Museum must share the passing of retired board member Harley Brumbaugh on July 25, 2021. Harley passed away peacefully, after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease . He was surrounded by his family, including his wife of 63 years.

Born in Renton, Washington, Harley moved to the Snoqualmie Valley as a youngster. He is one of the “children of the mill” reared in the mill town of Snoqualmie Falls.

Driven by love of music, he began playing trumpet professionally by age of fourteen. Playing for local families during the services for many of the military funerals at North Bend Cemetery during WWII, he long touched so many hearts. His athletic interests were simultaneously encouraged, primarily due to his 6’4″ frame. He worked his way through college by “choker-setting” in the “woods” during the summers and year-round professional trumpet playing.

Upon graduating from what is now Central Washington State University he played full time as a big-band-on-the-road-musician. After being rescued from ‘the road’ by the army draft he became an educator, combining professional playing and public school music teaching in such places as Ketchikan, Alaska; Port Angeles, Washington, Renton and Bellevue Community College. Notably his college vocal group “Celebration” earned international acclamation through world travel and international television.

Shortly after graduation, he married his life long partner Cathy in June of 1958. Together they raised their son and daughter: Blaine and Heidi.

Harley has sung and played professionally with the likes of The Seattle Opera Association, The Seattle Symphony; and scores of “name” show-biz personalities.

Honors bestowed upon Harley include: International Who’s Who In Music; “National Outstanding Educator” and “Lifetime Achievement Awards.”

Throughout his boyhood and career, “the Valley of the Moon” has been his haven. A place to reconnect, to gather a seed of a poem, plant it, nurture the thought, allow it to grow and bloom then simply “pick the promise”!

His poetry has appeared in regional publications, as well as “World of Poetry Anthology and Treasured Poems of America”. Riverside Reflections was his first published volume of poetry!

Harley was continuously active in serving the community, whether through his music, sharing history or participation in his church. He will be greatly missed.

The family is holding a public memorial on Saturday, August 21, from 2pm to 6:30pm at the Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church. They ask that you RSVP using this link:

FBI’s Famous Kidnapping Case: The Snoqualmie Valley Connection

On the FBI’s most famous cases list is a kidnapping case with a Snoqualmie Valley connection.

“On May 24, 1935, George Weyerhaeuser, the nine-year old son of prominent lumberman J.P. Weyerhaeuser of Tacoma, Washington, disappeared on his way home from school.” – FBI

Weyerhaeuser Timber Company owned and operated the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company in Snoqualmie and the Cherry Valley Logging Company in Duvall and was the largest employer in the Valley at the time. The kidnapping came just three years after Charles and Anne Lindbergh’s son was kidnapped and murdered; leaving grave concern for the potential fate of George Weyerhaeuser. It was in 1932 after the Lindbergh kidnapping that the federal Kidnapping Act was passed placing such cases under the jurisdiction of the FBI, which brought the Portland office of the FBI onto the Weyerhaeuser Case in 1935.

George was living with his family in Tacoma at the time of his disappearance.

“Although the students at Lowell School which he attended were released for lunch earlier than usual, George followed his regular practice of immediately walking to the nearby Annie Wright Seminary to meet his sister Ann. The family’s chauffeur generally met George and Ann at the Seminary to drive them home for lunch at noon. Arriving at the Seminary 10 or 15 minutes early that day, George apparently decided to walk home rather than wait for his sister. But George never reached home that day; somewhere between the Seminary and his house, George Weyerhaeuser was kidnapped.” -FBI

“When the Weyerhaeuser family realized that George was missing, they searched for him and notified the police department of his disappearance. That evening, a special delivery letter, addressed “To Whom It May Concern,” arrived at the Weyerhaeuser home. It listed a series of demands, including the payment of $200,000 ransom in unmarked twenty-, ten-, and five-dollar bills in exchange for the boy. George’s signature appeared on the back of the envelope in which the letter arrived.” -FBI

Weyerhaeuser Residence. Courtesy Tacoma Public Library Image Number 27474.

“…Complying with directions given in the note, Weyerhaeuser drove to a designated point…If the money was in order, George would be released within 30 hours… A man ran out, got in the car and drove away with the $200,000 ransom money. Young George Weyerhaeuser was released at a shack near Issaquah, Washington on the morning of June 1, 1935.” -FBI

Louis Bonifas using drag saw to cut wood for shingles, near Issaquah.

It was on that morning of June 1, 1935 that dairy farmer and wood cutter Louis Bonifas was getting ready for his morning milking routine at around 4:30 or 5am. He and his wife heard a knock at the door and found the nine year old boy standing there, cold, tired and dirty. Seeing George, the same age as the daughter Betty; their parental instincts immediately took over as they feed and cleaned him up before driving to the closest phone to call for help. Bonifas then proceeded to drive George to Tacoma to meet up with the police and his parents.

George would in the following days reveal the details of his harrowing experience. When he left school on May 24, 1935, he took a shortcut and met a man asking for directions. When George responded, the man grabbed him up and took him to a car parked across the street where a second man awaited. George was put in the back seat with a blanket thrown over him for a journey of over an hour.

After some time the car pulled over, the blanket was removed and George was given an envelope and told to write his name in pencil on the back of it. He was then blindfolded and carried over a stream and led by the hand over the countryside for about three-quarters of a mile. George was then put into a hole which had been dug in the ground and his wrist and leg chained, and then a board was placed over the hole, completely covering it. The men took turns guarding him until night when George was carried back to the car and placed in the trunk, where he rode for about an hour. He was then taken from the car and led through the woods again. The kidnappers made George wait by a tree as they dug another hole to place him in.

On May 26, 1935, the two men, accompanied by a woman, drove through Washington into Idaho with George in the trunk of a car. In the early morning he was changed to another tree and guarded until nightfall when he was taken to a house and locked in a closet. On the evening of Friday, May 31, 1935, George was told that he would soon return home.

Again, George was placed in the car’s trunk and taken to near Issaquah, Washington. At about 3:30 the following morning, his captors left him alone in a shack, telling him that his father would come to take him home. George wandered to several nearby farmhouses seeking aid but as it was the middle of the night he was unable to get an answer at the doors. After several attempts, he next tried the Bonifas house just as they were raising and finally succeeded in getting the help of an adult. The family took him in, washed him, gave him clean clothes, and drove him to Tacoma, Washington in their car.

“When the FBI started investigating this case, every precaution was taken to ensure the safe return of the victim. During the period of negotiation, special agents conducted the investigation quietly. Serial numbers of the ransom bills were sent to FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where ransom lists were prepared. Immediately after the kidnappers received the money, these lists were sent to all of the Bureau’s field offices for distribution to commercial enterprises, including banks, hotels and railway companies.” -FBI

In the days that followed, special agents, local police officers and store cashiers kept close watch for any bill that had a serial number from the ransom. Their work quickly paid off, on June 2 a bill was used to purchase railway ticket from Huntington, Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah by Harmon Metz Waley. Soon many bills were appearing in stores in Salt Lake City and officers were placed to lay a trap for the next time a bill was passed.

On June 2, 1935, a $20 ransom bill was tendered in payment of a railway ticket from Huntington, Oregon, to Salt Lake City, Utah. Investigation by FBI agents determined the purchaser to be Harmon Metz Waley. “As a result, on June 8, 1935, a police detective stationed at a Woolworth store was notified by a cashier that a woman had presented one of the ransom bills. The detective took the woman, who proved to be Margaret E. Waley, wife of Harmon Waley, to the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office.” -FBI

From their interview of Margaret, the police were able to learn the location of her husband. “Later that day, Harmon Metz Waley was arrested at home. After making several false statements, he confessed that he and William Dainard, whom he had met in the Idaho State Penitentiary, had kidnapped the boy. He added that his wife had no knowledge of the kidnapping until their arrival in Spokane, Washington. She had been at the hideout house and helped them negotiate the ransom.” -FBI

From their interview with Harmon Waley, the FBI learned “that he and Dainard planned to split the money evenly, but that Dainard cheated him out of $5,000. After further questioning at the field office, Waley said that he bought a Ford Roadster, which he registered as Herman Von Metz, when he arrived in Salt Lake City. Under a clump of trees or bushes, he had buried $90,790”. Special agents were able to recovered the buried money on June 11, 1935 but Harmon and Margaret had burned $3700 in their stove trying to cover up evidence.

“Learning that Waley arranged to meet Dainard at the home of Margaret Waley’s parents, agents proceeded to that house. Her grandfather advised that a man answering Dainard’s description had come to the house asking for the Waleys. The grandfather told him that the Waleys had been there earlier to pick up their suitcase but they returned to Salt Lake City and had been arrested. The man exclaimed, “My God, did they get everything they had?” before returning to his car and driving off.”

William Dainard was on the run. After he spoke with Mrs. Waley’s grandfather, he proceeded to Butte, Montana where on June 9, 1935, he was recognized by a police officer who attempted to apprehend him. Eluding the officer his car was found abandoned with $15,155 in ransom money.

An Identification Order, which included Dainard’s photograph, fingerprints, handwriting specimen, and background information, was distributed throughout the United States, Mexico and Australia.

“In early 1936, bills with altered serial numbers began to surface in the western part of the country. The FBI Laboratory’s examination of these bills revealed the true serial numbers to be identical with those of ransom bills. Banks were advised to be alert to any person presenting altered currency for exchange.” -FBI

On May 6, 1936, two different Los Angeles, California banks reported that a man whose license number was issued to a Bert E. Cole exchanging altered bills. After surveilling Bert Cole’s address, on the morning of May 7, 1936, special agents searched the neighborhood and found his car with they disabled.

“Later, a man entered the car and attempted to start it. When it failed to start, he got out of the car and lifted the hood. Agents approached the man, who was readily identified as being Dainard. He submitted to arrest without resistance, and a .45 caliber Colt automatic pistol was removed from his person.” -FBI

Dainard admitted his part in the kidnapping and at the time of his arrest, agents recovered $37,374.47 in ransom money and bills that he admitted he had received in exchange for ransom money. They also recovered $14,000 in $100 bills that he had buried in Utah.

“Further investigation by the FBI revealed that Edward Fliss, an associate of Dainard’s, had assisted him in exchanging the ransom money. Fliss was locate at the Delmar Hotel, San Francisco, California, where he was arrested by FBI agents. He offered no resistance and admitted to helping Dainard dispose of the ransom money.” – FBI

Harmon Waley from Idaho Historical Society
Nome Daily Nugget article, June 12, 1935.
William Dainard from Idaho Historical Society.
Edward Fliss from Idaho Historical Society.

“On June 19, 1935, the federal grand jury, Tacoma, Washington returned an indictment charging William Dainard, Harmon Metz Waley, and Margaret E. Waley with kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap.” -FBI

Harmon Waley plead guilty on June 21, 1935, and was sentenced to serve concurrent prison terms of 45 years on charge of kidnapping and 2 years on charge of conspiring to kidnap. He was sent to the United States Penitentiary on McNeil Island, Washington, but later was transferred to Alcatraz Island, California for a while. He was paroled from McNeil Island, Washington, on June 3, 1963 at the age of 52.

The next day, Margaret Thulin Waley pleaded not guilty to both charges. She tried in United States District Court, Tacoma, Washington, on July 5, 1935. She was sentenced to serve two concurrent 20-year terms in the United States Detention Farm, Milan, Michigan.

William Dainard was sent back to Tacoma, Washington, where he entered a guilty plea on May 9, 1936. He was sentenced to serve two concurrent 60-year prison terms for kidnapping and conspiring to kidnap and sent to McNeil Island, he later transferred to Leavenworth, Kansas. In Leavenworth, prison authorities determined him to be insane and confined him to a hospital.

Edward Fliss was also sent to Seattle, Washington for indictment. On November 10, 1936, he was charged with assisting in the disposition of ransom money. He plead guilty and was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and to pay a fine of $5,000.

The kidnappers and their accomplices were sentenced to actual prison terms aggregating 135 years. During the course of the investigation, special agents of the FBI recovered a total of $157,319.47 of the ransom.

Maragaret Waley on way to court. Vintage Photos.

On the way to return George to the FBI and his parents, Bonifas had phoned ahead to let them know of their coming.

One reporter, Johnny Dreher claimed that word quickly spread while on the way he flagged down and convinced Bonifas that he was a police officer sent ahead to recover the boy. The reporter continued to claim, that he, Johnny Dreher, took George the rest of the way to his family all the while interviewing him. Bonifas never forgave the media for that deceit of implying that he would allow George to be taken a second time nor for the many misrepresentations of him and his family within the reports.

Additional stories included that “He (Johnny Dreher) drove back to the Weyerhaeuser mansion to deliver the kid expecting to be swept up and greeted and, ‘Oh, thank you for bringing a child back,’” newspaper columnist Emmett Watson would later say. “But he said that he got pushed in the face.”

The Bonifas grandchildren have various recollections of the story. One saying that reporter didn’t take George and the other saying he did. This is not surprising as the Bonifas family refused to talk about the incident for decades and younger family members relied on learning about the connection via newspaper articles.

In a 2017 interview Mr. Weyerhaeuser told reporter Isolde Rafterty:

“Although his story is part of Northwest lore, his family chose not to dwell on it. It wasn’t a sensitive subject for him, he said, but it wasn’t something they discussed. He didn’t remember Dreher. He said it had been too long for him to say definitively whether the reporter had made up or embellished the account, but he said the story seemed off to him, too. He was a reserved child, he said, so his quotes didn’t make sense – and he certainly wouldn’t have kissed a stranger.”

Newspaper clipping of “High Lights of the Kidnaped Boy’s Return”
Louis Bonifas in his car.
George at Press Conference after his return.

“’If you had talked to me before all this’ – before reading The Seattle Times’ version – ‘I would say the farmer took me home.’”

“He said he doubted the farmer would have given him up so easily. ‘He was a welcome man, and a nice one,’ Mr. Weyerhaeuser said. ‘I felt that he really did me a great favor. I would say that was an unusual effort he went to. I do remember him and always will.'”

Once home, George had to endure multiple press conferences and interviews by the police, but as quickly as possible he and his family stopped talking about the kidnapping to help George move past the trauma.

After his return the media stalked the Weyerhaeuser and Bonifas families. For a time Bonifas’ wife and four children had to move in with relatives in Enumclaw to hide from the reporters. But life carried on. George’s father offered Bonifas a job at the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Co in thanks for helping return his son; the Bonifas family moved from the Hobart Road to Snoqualmie Falls and later North Bend. All of the Bonifas children worked for Weyerhaeuser over the years. When the kidnappers were released, each were also offered jobs at the company.

George returned to his family and continued his education. Graduating during World War II, he joined the Navy. Having completed his naval service during World War II, Mr. Weyerhaeuser took as summer job in the woods of Washington state as a choker setter—the logging crewman who wraps the cable around the log before it is hauled to the landing.

Attending Yale University, graduating with honors in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Administration. He and his wife, Wendy, were married on July 10, 1948. Upon graduation, he began working at the pulp mills in Longview, Washington, before transferring to Springfield, Oregon, lumber manufacturing operations in 1951 where he progressed from foreman to assistant manager and then to wood products area manager in 1954.

In 1957, he became assistant to the executive vice president at corporate headquarters in Tacoma, Washington before becoming manager of wood products the next year and a member of board of directors in 1960. Soon he became executive vice president for wood products and timberlands in 1961, followed by executive vice president for all manufacturing and timberlands operations in 1964.

In 1966, Mr. Weyerhaeuser became the company’s chief executive officer and ninth president. He served as chief executive officer until 1991. He became chairman of the board of directors in 1988 and continued in that role until his retirement in 1999. George and Wendy went on to have four daughters, Leilee, Susan, Phyllis, and Merrill; and two sons, George, Jr., and David.

Mr George Weyerhaeuser. Photo courtesy of the Paper Discovery Center.

For more information on the case visit the FBI’s website.

by Cristy Lake

Cristy Lake is the Assistant Director at the Snoqualmie Valley Museum but is also the great granddaughter of Louis and Willena Bonifas. She first learned of her families connection to the case at the age of 7 when her mother warned her there was to be a story in the newspaper about her great grandparents on her dad’s side of the family in a Centennial of Washington State history edition in case the other kids at school mentioned it. At the time she was told that the family did not talk about it and not to ask questions about it. It wasn’t until Lake was an adult that she ever heard the connection mentioned by a member of the family who was present and that was only to hear her great aunt Lucille (Louis and Willena’s eldest) shut a conversation on the topic down when Lucille’s cousin Gene tried to bring it up.