Issaquah History Museums

Colleen Darst Petersen

Colleen Darst Petersen (b. 1947) is a lifelong Issaquah resident. Colleen’s great-grandparents, James and Martha Bush, were some of the earliest white settlers in Issaquah.

Name: Colleen A. Petersen


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

I’ve lived here all of my life.


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

I stayed here because my parents were here, I had a job here, and at that time I enjoyed the town.


Issaquah or area school(s) attended:

Clark Elementary, Issaquah Junior High, and Issaquah High School.


Family History in Issaquah:

I go back to the first Bush’s.


Education—Coming of Age

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

I remember starting high school in the old building, double shifting after the earthquake, and finally getting into our new high school building.  I was in the locker bay when we got word of John Kennedy’s death.  That was a sad day.


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

I didn’t have Minnie as a teacher, but I was privileged to have her as a friend.  She’s one of the few people I’ve known to have an incredible wealth of memory that she would share with others.


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

I was a little too young for the earthquake damage to the schools in 1949, but our schools were damaged in 1965.  Because of it, we had to double shift and share the high school building with the junior high kids until we could get into our new high school.


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 was in the Home Ec. Club, which always served milk and cookies to the sports players after their games.  Ha ha.  It’s funny when I think back on it now.  I participated in several school plays and musicals.  I was also in FNA (Future Nurses of America) and we worked as candy stripers at the Villa.


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 friends and I all had jobs in the summer.  One friend was state president of the Baptist youth, so we spent a lot of time supporting her by accompanying her when she visited many different churches.  If we had free time, my aunt’s house on Lake Sammamish was a favorite place.  As for getting punished, the town was so small that if someone saw you doing something, your parents would already know about it by the time you got home.


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?

Mr. Brady’s Dry Goods Store was located a little bit east of where the Texaco on Front and Sunset is now.  You could buy everything from material to shoes.  I remember talking to Mr. Brady about saving a sweater that I was saving money to buy for my brother’s Christmas present.  It took me a long time to save because it cost $13.00, but he never told and he never let on to my brother.  Mr. Cussac’s Leather and Harness Shop smelled like no other.  The floor was wooden, the shoes were all leather, and Mr. Cussac had a genuine scar from dueling.  He had a thick accent and had a distinct manner about him when he spoke.


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?

The first beauty shop that I went to was Alpha’s.  It had a large old-fashioned perm machine and a big fluffy grey kitty.  After that we went to Evan’s Salon of Beauty.  A popular hairdo was the D.A., and later the Beehive.


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

What wasn’t memorable about Lewis Hardware!  You could get just about anything you needed and they would tell you how it worked at the same time.  It was always like going home.  My mom purchased my new green bicycle there for my twelfth birthday.  Ed Lewis delivered it by riding it to my house!  What a thrill!


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?

We bought our groceries at Stevens’, which was in the IOOF building.  The sweetest people in the world owned that store!  Harry and Rae Stevens.  If you wanted cheese you would ask for a pound or so and Harry would pull out a huge knife and cut you the amount you had asked for.


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?

I can’t remember buying anything at the Grange, but I do remember having what I thought was a huge frozen food locker.  I also remember when the refrigeration broke and lots of food went bad.


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?

As a kid there was the Honeysuckle, which was run by Tom Drylie.  It was also the place where you caught the bus to go to Seattle.  Mr. Drylie was very stiff and tall and he also had an artificial leg, which made all of us kids curious.  Mike Shane’s Shamrock had great ice cream, green rivers, and a drink called brown cow.


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

Boehm’s Candy was a real treat with my favorite being Truffles.  We were all surprised when Mr. Boehm married a girl near our age.  It was to be his only marriage.  I did know of a friend who had a birthday party upstairs in the chalet.


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

I remember of a tavern at the intersection of Sunset and Newport.  It was called Park Inn, and there was a carport covered with grapes.  Also, behind it had many cabins that were rented out.


What do you recall about Lawill’s drug store?

Lawill’s drug store was a place of wonder.  Not only did it carry a myriad of things but it had two old-fashioned ice cream parlor chairs inside.


Issaquah Round-Up—Salmon Days—Labor Day Celebrations

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

The coming to town of the carnival was the beginning of the Labor Day Celebration.  It came on Friday, Carnival Night was Saturday, the “Kiddie Parade” was Sunday, and the “Big  Parade” was on Monday.  Growing up, I participated in both parades.  A queen was chosen to reign over the festivities.


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

Every year was one to look forward to.  I loved going to play bingo at the booth in memorial field and also eating the corn on the cob at the Demolay booth.


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

The carnival at Labor Day was always a highlight, especially its’ large Ferris wheel. There was also a big merry-go-round and the “octopus.”  The crowning of our queen was always exciting.  This was a time when the townsfolk could really come together and socialize.  Labor Day was more of a town celebration than Salmon Days has been.  At Salmon Days you can walk the street and never see anyone you know.  Salmon Days is more of an arts fair.


Special Occasions

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

The Easter egg hunt at Gibson Park was a highlight for the youngsters.  To find the egg wrapped in silver meant you took home a big chocolate bunny.  But to find the egg wrapped in gold meant you took home a real live bunny!  My brother taught me to pass up the little candy eggs and go straight for the hard-boiled ones.  I also remember a really wonderful town talent show held at the old high school where the pool is now.  The older men really could sing up a storm!  The old Morgan gym was the site where we held our Campfire council fires.  One in particular was memorable to me when I received so many beads that they went clear to the floor when placed around my neck.


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?

Everyone spent a lot of free time outside whether it was gardening, picnicking, or just having fun.  Most Saturdays I would get up early, put on my boots, get my fishing basket that held a butter horn that my mom had wrapped, and off I would go with my dad.  He always told me to be quiet or I would scare the fish – and I believed him!  He also took me on regular walks in the woods.  Most of the time, he would take me until I got lost and then make me find our way home.  We also would look for tracks whether it was bear or cougar.  Yes they have been around that long!


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?

People who fished in Issaquah Creek didn’t take time to count their catch.  They were plentiful and large.  A two-foot trout was not uncommon.  I and every other kid in town fished in the derby.  There were always a few who would cheat, but they never won.  Now, too many people and buildings have taken away the pleasures of yesterday.


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

Vasa Park meant hours of roller-skating under the disco ball.  It was a night of fun doing the hokey-pokey, etc., and talking with friends.


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

Sammamish, Beaver, and Pine Lakes were favorites for summer swimming and picnicking.  Issaquah Creek was also a favorite for swimming with several good swimming holes.


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 was built next to East Lake Sammamish.  The Red Hall’s mill was close to home.  My brother and I would take the red wagon and go there to get gunny sacks full of sawdust.  I would get to ride part way home on top of the sacks before he made me get off.  We also would cut through there to go fishing or to visit Husky Prue.  It was a sad day when the Preston Mill closed for good.  Never again were we to see those huge logs.  The Highpoint Mill had a very loud whistle like most, but this whistle we know is sitting in a house in Sequim, Washington.


Salmon hatchery

How has the salmon hatchery affected Issaquah?

The salmon hatchery has provided everything from entertainment and education to jobs.  It used to have beautiful ponds on the backside.  They had waterwheels and tall yellow iris.  My grandpa worked there at one time.


Farming and Dairy

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

The high school boys often worked in the hay fields during the summer.  The farms of Issaquah were basically dairy and hay.



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

We traveled to Seattle a couple of times a month.  We usually took the bus to get there.  Sometimes we had a doctor or dentist appointment and sometimes it was just for shopping.  Mornings always got me a buttterhorn and hot chocolate at Bartell’s.  Lunch sometimes was a hamburger and milk shake at the Copper Kitchen.  When I was sixteen I began working for a doctor in Seattle, still taking the bus.


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

The construction of I-90 made it easier to get where you wanted.  No more going around through Renton.  Life was pretty big when we had our own four-lane.


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

I didn’t buy my first car from any of these dealerships, but I do remember going in to get our flags for school patrol from Jerry Malone’s, which used to be the Hepler Dealership.


Fraternal Organizations—Local Halls

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

Dances were held there though I was too small to attend.  I remember going to boxing matches when Pete Radamaker had his training camp here.  A paper article originating in Florida referred to Radamaker’s training camp as being in “Issaquah, an Indian encampment outside of Seattle.”


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

I remember attending wedding receptions in the Grange Hall.  As I remember, the floor was long and slick – good for dancing.



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

My memories were mainly listening to memories of my dad and others.  I do remember getting to ride in the coal cars along Issaquah Creek.



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?

I saw 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, my favorite – Tammy, and many more.  Children’s admission was 25cents and a penny for the governor.  Adults admission was 50cents and two pennies for the governor.  I was always too scared to go to the back upper corner, but we always kept an eye on it to see who did go!



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?

As a child I attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.  I remember the choir loft and the lady with the big bun on her head.  I remember my grandmother being wheeled in on a stretcher to attend a wedding, and most of all, I remember on Easter morning when I lost the button on my new white fuzzy coat.  I could see it, but couldn’t reach it until it was time to kneel.  What an experience!  When I was thirteen, I went to the brand-new in town Our Savior Lutheran Church.  We met at the old Issaquah Theater.  One Sunday, Pastor Collard was a little too long winded.  His three year old son who had been so patient had had enough.  At one of the responses, Paul replied “Amen Daddy, Amen!”  It gave a chuckle to the congregation and a gentle reminder to Pastor Collard.

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