Issaquah History Museums

Chuck Olson

Chuck Olson (b. 1948) was raised on Lake Sammamish and has lived in Issaquah for most of his life. He graduated from Issaquah High School in 1966. After college, he began a teaching job at Maywood Junior High. Chuck’s grandparents moved to Issaquah beginning in 1887. His grandparents owned Alexander’s Beach Resort, where he spent much of his time growing up.

Name: Chuck Olson


Your history in Issaquah/How long lived here, etc.:

Born in Swedish Hospital but raised on Lake Sammamish.  Family history- father Clifford Olson called Ole and his parents were married in Gile, WI in 1904.  Father Charles mother Helga- my dad was born in 1912 in Issaquah.

Mother Carmen Ek- her father George one of 8 children.  He was born in 1890 in Preston, WA.  His parents Anton and Christine homestead 320 acres where the Echo Lake Interchange is (Where I-90 meets highway 18).  In 1899 they moved to Issaquah and built a house at 695 Rainier Blvd. N.  This house is still there and is rented out by my cousin Jim Peterson.  My mothers maiden name Hazel Alexander.  Hazel was born on Lake Sammamish near Monohon, her mother (Caroline) and Father Thomas settled on Lake Sammamish in the 1880s.  He was the “straw boss” for the Seattle Lakeshore Railroad.  They decided to stay in Issaquah.  The Alexander house on Gilman is their old house that was moved there in the 1980s.  It is neat for me to have both of my grandparents houses within a block from each other.


If you have lived here all or most of your life, why did you choose to stay?

Why leave, after college I got a teaching job at Maywood Junior High in the Issaquah School District.  Its my home and I have no reason to leave.


Issaquah or area school(s) attended:

1)   The old administration building next to the old green gym. 2) Clark 3) Preston 4) Sunset 5) Issaquah Junior High 6) Issaquah High


Family History in Issaquah: See above

Alexander family- Thomas and Caroline moved to Issaquah in 1887, lived on Lake Sammamish- my grandparents

Ek family- Anton and Christina in Issaquah in 1899 from Preston

Olson Family- Charles and Helga moved to Issaquah in 1906


Education—Coming of Age

What are your memories of Issaquah High School?  Which teachers were influential?

I was at IHS from Fall of 1963-Spring 1966.  Issaquah High was a really fun experience for me.  Everyone knew each other and their families- things did change in 1964-5 when new people started to move into the area- schools started to grow, slowly.  I had a great three years at IHS.  I was successful in sports, had a lot of friends, and many great teachers.  Some of the teachers that influenced me were- Roger Wilson- he was my P.E. and wrestling coach- I probably learned more about life being involved in wrestling than anything else.  Roger taught me what hard work can do for your abilities to be great.  Another was Wally Soland who I remember for his sense of humor.  George Nomadnick (?) was my football coach and taught me a lot about leadership- which began on the football field.


What memories do you have of Minnie Schomber, or another favorite teacher?

Minnie knew everything about “old” Issaquah.  If you needed a person identified from a photo, the chances are she would know someone in the photo.


Were you affected by earthquake damage to the schools in 1949 or 1965?

In 1965 I was in school.  Mrs. Smith’s English II class at IHS.  Mrs. Smith was so scared she froze against the chalkboard.  Sitting in class you could look out the window and see the ground rolling at about 3-4 feet.  After the shaking was over Mr. Fallstrom came over the intercom and said we were having an earthquake.


What kind of extracurricular activities were you involved in?  Did you play football or chess, or did you act in the school plays?  What were memorable games or plays?

I played football all three years from 63-66 and played varsity.  I was a starter my junior and senior years and was all conference my junior year.  In wrestling I was league champ at heavyweight my senior year and my junior year.

In track I competed in shot put and discus.  My best shot put was 51’- 11” and was alternate to district.

The most memorable game was my junior year when Greg Fields from Lake Washington High School and Donnie Grimm hit head on full speed.  I was on the field 40 yards away and it sounded like a freight train hitting another train.  They both bounced up like nothing had happened.


Where did you and your friends spend your free time as teenagers?  What kind of mischief did you get into?  How did your parents or teachers punish you when you got into trouble?

My grandparents owned Alexander’s Beach Resort on Lake Sammamish.  So during my free time we were working, hunting, fishing, water skiing, boating, etc.  I had a great time growing up.  I made money working at the resort and had fun on the lake.  I almost never would go to Issaquah.  But if I did I would go to the Honeysuckle and look at the Hoods- kids in leather jackets smoking cigarettes.  I would usually order a Green River but sometimes ordered a graveyard.  We would also go to the Shamrock Café but you had to order something to sit at the booths, if you didn’t order you were asked to leave.


Local businesses

What local businesses do you remember?  What items did you purchase there?  Who owned the business?  Where was it located?  What do you remember most about it?

My grandfather was George Ek and he knew everyone, so as a young person we went to many different businesses.  Grange Supply, Wold’s Hardware, Lewis Hardware, the Feed Store, Stonebridge Chev., Jerry Malone Ford, Dick’s and Alex’s.  Everyone in Issaquah shopped in Issaquah so, there were many businesses downtown.

My favorite was Tony’s and Johnny’s Grocery Store.  I went there all the time, when I went to town Joe Hirko used to give me cold wiener dogs to eat.  My mother never drove and my dad would stop at night, after work, and pick up groceries my mother had called in earlier.


What barbershop or beauty shop did you frequent?  What do you remember about these places?  What were the popular hairdos when you frequented the beauty shop?  Did you do a lot of socializing at the barber and beauty shops?

Lewis Barber Shop- Dave Lewis was my barber for many years.  We also were very good friends- we went hunting and fishing together many times.  He was a great guy but, don’t let him talk too much or all your hair was gone.  He was very knowledgeable and thought he knew it all.  He could quote the Bible or law books.  But, he was also a real kidder and would lead you along also.


What is memorable about Lewis Hardware?  What items did you purchase there?

I remember Tom, Rita, Ed, and Laura.  But Ed was my favorite because he was a hunter and would tell stories about hunting.  When you went there we would always enter from the back and they filed saws and I would always talk to them.  I remember getting my hunting and fishing licenses there.  They, the Lewis Family, were always very friendly to me and made me feel like I was important.


Where did you go to buy your groceries?  Did you go to Tony and Johnny’s, or RR Grocery on East Sunset? Do you remember your favorite clerk?  Were there any items that these grocers specialized in?

Tony & Johnny’s was the best.  I remember George Reiny (?).  He was always friendly in his own way.  Tony always was very friendly and outgoing.  He always talked to you and asked how you were.  He made you feel important.


Did you purchase things at the Grange Mercantile Building?  What type of things did you get there?  Did your family rent a frozen food storage locker?

No, it is like now, people pick a store and my family only went to Tony’s & Johnny’s.


What restaurants or soda shops did you enjoy going to?  Did you go to Rena’s Café, or XXX Root beer?  What was your favorite food?  Were there memorable waiters or waitresses?

I used to go to the Honeysuckle and have a Green River.  Most kids went to the Shamrock because the Hoods with leather jackets hung out at Drylie’s Honeysuckle and smoked cigarettes.  But at the Shamrock you had to buy something to sit at a booth, so you had to have money to go there.


Did you go to Boehm’s Candies?  What candies were your favorites?

Yes, but only on special occasions.  It was too expensive.  More for richer folks of Issaquah and Seattle.


What saloons or local bars did you and your friends frequent?

When Dick Taylor bought the H & H we used to stop by after softball games.  Also, the Gaslamp, Fasano’s.


What do you remember about Grange Supply?

My grandpa went up there almost everyday to buy something.  It was a great place to find out what was happening and to get stuff for the resort.  Most of the time he would go there to shoot the bull.


What do you recall about Lawill’s drug store?

I went there right up until they closed and continued when Richard Seok bought it.  The Lawills were very nice people- a real mom and pop store.


Issaquah Round-Up—Salmon Days—Labor Day Celebrations

What do you remember about Labor Day Celebrations or Salmon Days?

Labor Day was something we all looked forward to.  The Carnival would come to town and the Carney  people were really something.  They would work all day and drink all night.  They were grumpy men and everyone was scared of them.  It was a great time of the year, the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year.  I still think back and am disappointed they went to October and Salmon Days- it almost always rains.  When we had Labor Day it almost never rained and it wasn’t so commercialized as it is today.  It has become a big flea market rather than a transition from summer to school.  Labor day was for the kids- Salmon Days is for the City to make money.


Was there any year that these celebrations were especially memorable to you?

Every year was great- we looked forward to the Parade, the Carnival, and seeing friends you did not see all summer.  Also to she how the girls changed, if you know what I mean.


What special activities were there at Labor Day Celebrations, or at Salmon Days?  How has Salmon Days changed over time?

I really remember the Games of Chance, and the Octopus ride, the Hammer- we would ride until we got sick.  Then have some more great food.  I remember playing bingo at the Lions Club booth.  Salmon Days went from an O.K. alternate to Labor Days- The reason Labor Day was dropped was because too many drunks & rowdy people and the police couldn’t maintain control.  Salmon Days started out where Labor Day ended.  But now Salmon Days is to sell things rather than to celebrate the end of summer.


Special Occasions

What were some of the other memorable special events and occasions in Issaquah?

Bill Bergsma would dress up in the Santa Claus suit and visit homes in Issaquah.  As kids we all knew who he was but we never let him know.  It was really neat to have him come to my cousin’s house and give us presents.


Outdoor Recreation

Did you spend a lot of your free time outside?  What do you remember about fishing, hunting, or hiking in the area?  What was your favorite hiking trail?

My grandparents owned Alexander Beach Resort. We lived there in the little house on the beach and in 1954 we moved to the new house my dad built across the road.  So, when I was a kid I was either down at the resort or sleeping.  I was working, hanging out with Grandpa, shooting ducks, fishing, water skiing, swimming and doing cannonballs off the high dive.  I had two cousins, Lee and Bill Haro, they lived next to me and we would go hunting all the time.  We would row all around the south end of the lake chasing ducks.  I continued to hunt until the lake closed for hunting.  We would always play cat and mouse with the Park Rangers.  They didn’t like us hunting in the park- well we knew it was illegal, but we were kids. The fish we would catch were trout, bass, perch, sunfish, carp, man we did it all.


What type of fish did you catch?   How many trout did you catch in the Issaquah Creek and what was the biggest?  Did you fish in the kids fishing derby held in Issaquah?  Were your methods for fishing and hunting any different than they are today?

Lake Sammamish has many different types of fish.  We would usually fish in the summer but would fish on the house dock (the house dock was an old hunter’s cabin that was built on logs, it floated across the lake in the 1950s and we kept it).  In the winter- we would sit in the house where we had a stove and look out and watch our poles.  All the old timers would come down and fish and I would have a great time listening to all the stories, what a great time to grow up. There were trout-rainbows, cutthroat, silvers, (L8andlock sockeye salmon).  There were small mouth and large mouth bass, perch, sunfish, carp, bluegill, squah fish, suckers.

I usually fished only on Lake Sammamish and very seldom fished on Issaquah Creek.

I remember fishing off the dock at Alexander’s Beach for perch.  We would get about 6 or 7 people and lots of worms.  It was during the summer and after a hot day, we only did this once or twice a summer, we would wait until almost dark.  We would put lanterns out to attract the fish and we would catch enough perch to fill a 50 lb sack.  Boy that was fun.


What are your memories of Vasa Park?  What did you do while there?

I wonder why Vasa Park is mentioned.  Almost all of the Issaquah people would go to my grandparent’s resort- Alexander’s Beach.  The resort was named after my great-grandparents who bought the property in 1888.  Alexander’s was the people’s choice for resorts.  I remember the moms and kids of several families coming down during the hot days of summer and after work the dads coming down for dinner and relaxation.  I didn’t know anyone who went to Vasa Park except when they had the Swedish Picnic, once a summer.  It was more of a Bellevue, Lake Hills resort.  After the State Park opened most people went there because it was free.


Did you go swimming in the local lakes in the summer?  Or ice-skating at the Horrock’s Farm in the winter?

Sometimes I would go to Pine Lake or Beaver Lake but it would get really warm and it was always colored like tea.  Lake Sammamish was the best.


Logging and Sawmills

Do you remember the Monohon Mill, the Red Hall sawmill by the fish hatchery, the High Point Mill, the Preston Mill, or the Issaquah Lumber Company Mill on Front Street South?

The Monohon Mill I remember was a mill that made moldings for doors.  I remember getting sawdust and shavings for my grandparent’s resort, Alexander’s Beach.  I remember going to Red Hall’s Mill to get sawdust, and he was another character.  He would always give me a jar of his home cured salmon eggs for trout fishing.


Do you remember when there was a fire at the mill?  Did you help fight it?  Did you see the fire?

The Monohon Fire in 1924 burned down the town and the mill.  My mother remembered fires also around the hillside.  People had to sit on their roofs because the hot embers would land on the roofs.  She said the hot embers were as big as basketballs.  Since the roofs were shake they had to sweep them off so the house wouldn’t catch fire.


Salmon hatchery

How has the salmon hatchery affected Issaquah?

The salmon hatchery was always neat to visit.  I remember field trips to the hatchery in the 1950s.  I think it has been a positive thing and helped the community by educating about the fish cycle.  I remember one time shooting Mergansers (fish ducks) that were eating the little fish in the holding ponds by Gibson Hall.


Farming and Dairy

Were you involved with farming in Issaquah?  What farm did you work on?  What was grown or raised there?

I used to work haying season at Woodside’s.  The Woodside Farm was where the new courthouse and Fed Ex is now.  It was a dairy farm.  Sometimes I helped them milk the cows.  During hunting season we would hunt ducks on the property.  I really enjoyed Stu Woodside and it was something I will always remember.


Do you have any memories of Pickering Farm?

The Pickering Farm was bigger than Woodside’s and was very well known around the community.  I worked for them only a few times during the haying season.


Did you work at the Issaquah Creamery, or what is now Darigold?

I didn’t but my dad, grandfather, and uncle worked there at one time in their life.  I do remember going into the office as a young man and getting a free ice cream bar from their freezer.  I also remember going to the boiler room and looking at their pin-up calendars on the wall.



Did you travel frequently into Seattle?  How did you get there?  What did you do while in Seattle?

I didn’t go to Seattle very much because the traffic was so bad and the one way streets were so confusing.


How did the construction of I-90 change life in Issaquah?

I-90 left Issaquah alone and on the side of the road, which we were. Highway 10 went through the north part of town and when I-90 was built a lot of businesses closed.  But, I-90 sure made it easier to cross Gilman Blvd. (The old HWY 10 Road).


What was your first car?  Did you buy it from Hepler Ford Motors, Stonebridge Chevrolet, or the Kaiser-Frazier dealership?

My first car was a 1957 Chevrolet from Stonebridge.  Stonebridge was the place where I would go to hang out with the men.  I would just drop by and shoot the fat with the mechanics.  Most of the mechanics would also go over fishing with us to Burke Lake near George.


Fraternal Organizations—Local Halls

What are your memories of the fraternal organizations?  Did you belong to the Elks Lodge, or Lions Club, etc?

My grandfather, George Ek, and my uncle Elmer Haro were very involved in the Lions Club.  They would attend meetings in the basement of the Eagle’s Club.  I was once a speaker at a meeting just after I started teaching in Issaquah.  I also remember the annual Lions Club picnic and all the food, games and especially the Bingo games at the Labor Day celebration.


Did you attend the Sportsmen’s Club?  Do you remember when it was built in 1937?  What did you do at the Sportsmen’s Club?

I remember as a kid going to the Annual Turkey Shoot.  I remember Jake Lott who used to run the raffle.  He would spin a big wheel and when it stopped he would yell out the number and the winner would get a turkey.  The clubhouse was a log cabin and really neat.  I felt like I was going back in years and felt like Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett could have lived there.  Those community get-togethers were very important to all the people of Issaquah.


What types of events did you attend at the Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) Hall?  Did you use the shooting range located in the basement?

I remember the basement of the old VFD Hall.  We used it as a dressing room for Little League Football but by the early 1960s it was falling apart.  I remember Pete Radamacher, the Fighter, training in the top floor of the VFD Hall.  I also remember the fire siren on top of the building.


Did you attend dinners, dances, banquets, or other events in the upstairs Grange Meeting Hall?

I remember my Cub Scout banquet up above the Grange Hall and Wedding Receptions.



Do you have any memories of Issaquah’s mining days?  Were you involved in mining?

I was much too young to be involved in mining, but my grandfather was working in the Grand Ridge Mine.  My grandfather, George Ek, was living at the family home on Rainier Ave. N. (The house is still there.)  They had a wash room just outside the house with a small pot belly stove in it and a wash basin.  That is where the miners would clean-up after work.  Mining- coal- was a very dirty job.  They would come home black with coal dust all over.  My grandfather quit the day his lunchbox was smashed by a landslide 15 minutes after he ate his lunch there.





What movies did you go to see at the Issaquah Theatre (the Old Movie House) to see?  How much did movies cost?  Did you ever go to the back upper corner of the theatre to kiss?

We called the back upper corner the passion pit, but I never was old enough or had a girlfriend who would want to sit back there.  For many years almost every Friday night during the winter months my father would bring my sister and I up to Issaquah to go to the show.  He would go to the H & H Tavern and play cribbage until the movie was over.  My father quit drinking in the early 1940s and I thought it was unusual for anyone to go to a tavern and not drink beer.


Front Street

I remember Cussac’s Shoe Store.  It was next to Peter’s Agency.  Mr. Cussac was in his 80s and we would go in there to buy shoes.  The shoes smelled like leather.  It was dark and he had a ladder that would slide along tracts on the wall.  He needed the ladder to get at the upper shelves where he would store the shoes.  He had Parkinson’s- I guess- because his hands would shake and his head would shake.  He would speak in broken English and climb the ladder- (after he had measured your foot) and grab your box of shoes and try them on.  He was truly a very nice person and a real important asset to the Issaquah Community.



What church did you attend?  What memories do you have of this church?  Were there any pastors, reverends, or church leaders that stand out in your memory?

I went to Sunday School at the Baptist Church on Rainier Blvd- behind Darigold- once.  I did not like it because it took away from my hunting/ fishing.


Additional Memories

The bowling alley was not mentioned in the Memory Book, but was a very important part of Issaquah history.

When I was about 10 years old until 16 I would bowl on the kids league every Saturday during the winter months.  There was several teams and we had a league.  My first trophy I ever won was my 1st place bowling trophy.  I played for Howard’s Bakery which was located next to the Eagles.  I would go in there and tell them I played for their team and I would get a free giant donut.  After they knew me I would always get a free donut.  Although, some Saturdays it was hard to make it there. It was a very worthwhile experience.  My highest game was a 205, but my average was 155?

AUTHOR of THIS MEMORY BOOK (signature and date)

Chuck Olson        3/22/2001