Unlock the Issaquah History Museums’ secrets

February 21, 2012

Issaquah History Museums Executive Director Erica Maniez leans against a historic road sign at the Gilman Town Hall Museum. By Greg Farrar

Find hidden treasures from the past in the city’s unofficial ‘attic’

There are 8,359. And counting.

That’s how many artifacts, including 3-D objects and an array of documents, make up the Issaquah History Museums’ collection.

With 7,111 photos to complement the collection, there’s no better place to get a sense of what makes Issaquah, well, Issaquah.

Among the items are rare finds — an unusual Native American trading knife buried beneath the floor of an Issaquah business or a logger’s skidding cone made right here by the town blacksmith.

Some are specific to this area, such as an early 1900s billboard — discovered later facedown in a ditch — advertising the latest and greatest in Issaquah merchants, medical care and goods.

But while each item lays claim to its own history and back story, every artifact weaves into a fabric that tells a story of who we are as a community, how we came to be and even where we’re going in the future.

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Spiritwood resident celebrates one Eck of a 100th birthday

February 14, 2012

Violet Eck (center) celebrates her 100th birthday Feb. 7 with friends and family including sons Steven Ek (left) and Roger Ek. By Tom Corrigan

At least in front of a reporter, Violet Eck didn’t have much to say on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

Eck celebrated the day with family Feb. 7 at the Spiritwood at Pine Lake retirement community in Issaquah. She was born in 1912 in Spokane, though she has lived in this area for a number of years.

Asked if she had anything to say to a reporter, Eck had a quick comeback that drew big laughs from family members.

“No,” Eck said, “I don’t tell those things.”

Nevertheless, her oldest, Steven Ek, told his mom’s story nicely.

While still in high school, Eck was offered a debate scholarship to Washington State University. But the Great Depression interrupted her college plans at least for a while. There simply was no money, Ek said, to pay for his mother’s living expenses had she gone to school.

By the way, you might have noticed the elder Eck and her sons spell their names differently. There are at least two stories as to why Violet Eck added an extra consonant to her last name.

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Off the Press

October 18, 2011

Issaquah greets, embraces Tent City 4

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

Tent City 4 is due to return just in time for autumn chill and damp, but Issaquah — a community celebrated for a commitment to helping people in need — is certain to offer a warm embrace to the encampment.

The camp, a tarp-clad home to about 100 people, settled on the Community Church of Issaquah parking lot in August 2007 and again in January 2010.

Days after the camp settled in Issaquah for the most recent stint, camp residents extended a greeting to myself and another reporter for a night behind the Tent City 4 fence.

(The initial idea emerged as a way to introduce readers to camp residents and chronicle the experience on Twitter — a then-novel idea as The Issaquah Press started to experiment in the social media realm.)

The encampment provided shelter to about 80 people then. Some shared stories eagerly. Others needed some coaxing to open up to a notebook-toting stranger.

Inside the encampment, interviewees said camp life offered a chance for stability.

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Issaquah resident celebrates 100th birthday, and counting

August 23, 2011

Asked how it feels to be 100 years old, Issaquah’s Paul Emile Beaudry doesn’t answer right away.

Paul Beaudry (left) celebrates his 100th birthday Aug. 15 with daughter-in-law Dianne Beaudry and son Richard Beaudry in the dining room of the Spiritwood Assisted Living facility. By Tom Corrigan

“He always says, ‘It beats the alternative,’” said son Richard Beaudry, a retired attorney and in his 70s himself.

At that, Paul grins.

“I don’t feel any different,” he said, sitting in the community dining room of the Spiritwood Assisted Living facility, where he passed the century mark Aug. 15.

“I’ve come a long way, but I feel the same,” Paul added.

As his son tells the story, Paul was born on the kitchen table of the family home on 51st Street and Woodlawn Avenue North in Seattle. The third child of Frank and Blanche Beaudry, he and his brother and sister all went to Lincoln High School.

It was there that Paul met Doris, the woman who would become his wife of 60 years. During their early courtship, they had only one problem and that was that a home phone didn’t really fit into the Beaudry family budget.

Or maybe it wasn’t really a problem after all.

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City plans to remove tainted soil from park

May 10, 2011

The city has agreed to spend up to $26,000 to clean up contaminated soil at Squak Valley Park North — open space along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast about a mile south of downtown Issaquah.

Planners estimate about 56 tons of soil need to be removed due to contamination from a leaky heating oil tank, although the actual amount remains uncertain until additional testing confirms the extent of the tainted soil.

City Council members approved the expenditure May 2.

The city purchased the land and a farmhouse at the former Erickson farm 24 years ago for use as open space and to restore the natural habitat.

Crews breached a Great Depression-era levee at the site last summer, and then Mountains to Sound Greenway volunteers planted more than 2,000 trees and shrubs at the site in October. The city relied on grants to cover about 75 percent of the $1.4 million cost.

Crews discovered a leak in a heating oil tank during the farmhouse demolition. The demolition team removed the tank, and the city hired a consultant to assess the soil contamination.

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Budget cuts nix police storefront, resource officer

November 16, 2010

The austere county budget for the upcoming year closes a police storefront near Issaquah and reassigns a popular resource officer from Liberty High School.

The spending plan also eliminates 28 deputy positions from the King County Sheriff’s Office, reduces police service in rural areas and curtails investigations into burglaries and other property crimes. The budget includes, all told, about 300 staff reductions.

King County Council members approved the lean budget Nov. 15, after a monthslong debate about how to fund police and other criminal justice services. Read more

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City restores Issaquah Creek salmon habitat

October 19, 2010

Greenway volunteers plant native trees, shrubs

Environmental restoration crew workers add tree trunks to Issaquah Creek last month at Squak Valley Park North to provide habitat for salmon and other fish to spawn and hide from predators. By Greg Farrar

Squak Valley Park North — a slice of former farmland sidled against Issaquah Creek — started to resemble a bygone era by the time more than 250 planters left the site on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

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The flames of love still burn after 70 years

June 29, 2010

Bill (left) and Ona Bentz reflect and joke on all of the happiness their 70 years of marriage have brought them during their lives in Seattle and Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah couple credits strong family ties for keeping them together for seven decades

Over the handlebars of William Bentz’s bicycle, Onadee Steward fell in love.

The pair spent the mid- to late 1930s riding miles together through the Yakima countryside on their way to and from school and town.

“He wasn’t nearly as wild as some of the young men,” Onadee, or Ona as she likes to be called, now 89, recalled. “He was clean cut and didn’t pay much attention to girls.”

“In that day, bicycling was big. I’d pick her up and pump up the hill to school and back. She really outsmarted me,” Bill, 90, said with a chuckle. “You would have thought I would have caught on. I was the one doing all the work and she got to ride with me.”

Seventy years later, their love still burns brightly. Their closest family and friends helped them celebrate their 70th anniversary at a party at Mandarin Garden on May 23. Read more

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Endeavour students bring history to life

April 20, 2010

Fourth-grader Rose Didcock donned James Cook’s captain’s uniform for the third annual Night at the Museum event. All fourth-graders participate in the culminating project where they create reports, 3-D models and dress in costume to bring state history to life. By Chantelle Lusebrink

Ever wonder what James Cook, the famous Northwest Passage explorer, was like? Or maybe what Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would say about the Pacific Northwest?

Well, at Endeavour Elementary School, they break out the wax historic figures for the one night a year they come to life. Read more

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Helen Russell celebrates 100 years of tough living, chasing dreams

March 9, 2010

Helen Russell wears a tiara at her 100th birthday party in November, and enjoys the quilt made and presented as a gift to commemorate the milestone. — Photo contributed

Helen Russell has accomplished a lot in her life. After all, she’s been around for a century.

Russell celebrated her 100th birthday Nov. 22. It was a day she won’t ever forget.

“My daughter-in-law threw a party to end all parties,” Helen said of Judy Russell, wife of her younger son Alan. “She took an 80-year-old address book and started writing invitations.

“If you want a party, get Judy.”

There were more than 100 people who came to help her celebrate her birthday, including her three granddaughters and three great-grandchildren.

Cousins, friends, family and neighbors came, said her older son, Mac Russell.

“It didn’t last long enough,” he said. “There were too many people who hadn’t seen her, or we hadn’t seen, in 20 years.” Read more

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