Issaquah History Museums

Meindert Pillie

Meindert Pillie (1916-2003) graduated from Issaquah High School in 1934. He lived with his family on the John Barlow farm on the south end of Lake Sammamish until 1936. After medical discharge from World War II, Meindert began working for Boeing, where he remained until his retirement.

Name: Pillie, Meindert

Education — Coming of Age

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

I started freshman year 1930 in the old grade school building. The 2nd year was in the new high school; the site is where the Boehm Swimming Pool is currently located. We now had a study hall & lots of normal homework was done here. I feel the teacher who influenced the most was the manual training instructor Lawrence Jenson. His wood working class was about the only such program, unless the boys took up dressmaking-cooking classes.

See annual for 1931, pg. 12, for picture of old grade school.


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

Another famous teacher was English teacher James Stevens. This strong, burly red head soon let the “would-be trouble makers” know what it was like to lifted up “by the hair” and put in their place.


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

No, just working on my job to help make money for the additional taxes req’d for repairs.


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?

None, we lived some 3 miles from school, on a hard working farm, & with no transportation to school, we got our “work outs” at home.


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?

Sorry to say, “free time” does not come easy when you are into farm life.


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?

Stevenson Drug Store, on e-side of Front Street, about the location of a present…

At end of month, any magazines, like Popular Mechanics & Popular Science, would be replaced by new issues. Only the front covers of the old magazines were sent to publishers & I could get the whole rest of last month’s magazine for free.


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?

None. Haircuts were a “benefit” of “farm life.”


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

Fishing gear & trapping licenses. I liked the numerous cabinets on the walls & the “rolling” ladder that was used to get to the upper compartments.


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?

Mostly, our main “staple” items were obtained at N. Renton’s “Johnson Grocery” where we traded homegrown potatoes for a few necessary “staple goods.” Remember, this was a period of severe depression & the “barter-trade” method was widely used by our family. Our total “milk check” just took care of the rent for the farm.


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?

Yes, later [we purchased things at the Grange]. Mostly the basics, & later, (1945 or so) when I returned to the Issaquah Valley with my own family, & we did have a frozen food locker then. Home freezers had not yet arrived on the scene.


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?

The Triple “X” occasionally. When we went to Renton Jr. High, about 1828-1930, one of our classmates was Joel Rutherford, & it was this young man’s “branching out” of the Renton original root beer shop near crossroads of Renton’s Third Avenue & Rainier Way, that eventually became known as the “Triple X” & and became a nationwide chain. Only Issaquah’s “Triple X” sign is now a survivor & in spite of efforts to “rid the town” of its famous “barrel” sign, the local protestors of this famous sign now would like to think they created this “historical landmark.”


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

Yes, & make it dark chocolates.


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



What do you remember about Grange Supply?

A good place to get tools & fuel oil-gasoline from the bulk delivery truck. My membership with them goes back to the early 1940s.


What do you recall about Lawwil’s drug store?



Local Politics

What important local political issues of Issaquah are memorable?  Do any particular politicians stand out?  Why are they memorable?  What did they accomplish while in office?

Please don’t get me started on this. Too many blundering episodes would be brought out & some are still occurring today. No use embarrassing people still living here.


What do you recall about Mayor Stella Alexander, the first female mayor of Issaquah (elected in 1933)?  Were there any other local politicians or political activities that drew scandalous attention?



Do you recall Ordinance No. 752 that changed most of the street names in town?  What were your feelings about this change at the time?

No comments.


The Great Depression

What are your memories of the Great Depression?  Did you have a job at this time?  What ways did you try to save money?  What did you eat?

It was during my high school days of 1930-1934, & later, after graduation, it was a choice, either go to the federal “CCC” camp program ($30.00 per month) or stay home & get all of $1.00 per day. So why go to camp when I made the same money as a “CCC” man who had to send $25.00 of his monthly earnings home?

Eating – on a farm, it meant raising your own chickens, other meat like pork & beef, & for spending money to go to an occasional movie in Issaquah, I trapped muskrats on S. end of Lk. Sammamish, stayed home on weekends to “try to sell” live eels to local fishermen. These “rock eels” were in local streams & good bait for bass fishing. If we weren’t too tired, we got occasional “fill in jobs” at neighbors’ farms. No one today knows what a real depression is.


World War II

How did World War II affect the town of Issaquah?  Did you know men or women who went to fight in the war?  Did you leave Issaquah to join the war efforts?

In 1936, my parents moved from the Issaquah Valley, leaving the John Barlow Farm on the SW end of Lk. Sammamish. We ended up at Orillia, just north of Kent. When the draft system started, I had to sign up & I got a “winning number,” so soon that I was into the Army before the war started. Yes, I got an early start in the Army, but at only $21.00 per month. Issaquah grew in this period, had an airstrip for training pilots.


How did the Japanese Internment affect Issaquah?  Did you know men and women who were taken to Internment Camps?



What kinds of jobs did the War bring to the area?  Where did you work at this time?

Much ship building & aircraft manufacture. After med. discharge from the service, late 1943, I went back to work I had been drafted from, at Boeing Plant II. I went back onto test work on B-17s & later transferred to the “mock up” of new airplanes through the 767 program at Everett, WA, until retirement in Feb. 1981.


Issaquah Round-Up– Salmon Days– Labor Day Celebrations

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

Before Salmon Days, Labor Day had parades at least into the 1940s.


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



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

Over time, the Salmon Days “business” booths have taken over the streets of Issaquah & many local residents are trapped in the area with no easy access to their homes. Only the city coffers benefit from the “permits to open a booth” in this period. Many local residents “escape” for a couple of days.


What are your memories of the Rodeo?



Special Occasions

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

In the 1930s, logging was still a major industry, virgin timber was cut at Round Lake (this was on hill just E. of present high school). Small mines were common, the huge slag dump S. of Issaquah was still burning, as well as at Bianco Mine on Old Highway 10, & these mines (Harris Mine included) were “truck-out” mines & tailings went down Tibbetts Creek & formed a big delta in Lk. Sammamish. This was before I-90 cut the valley in half, as present culverts under I-90 would not be able to handle the flow that existed then. Another mine on old Sunset Highway 10 (now I-90) was the Grand Ridge Mine just about one-half mile from the N.P. trestle that was just east of town. Much water came out of the ground from deep within the Grand Ridge Plateau, but with the projects going on this plateau today, the water table has lowered & no water escapes through the old mine shaft. In early 1920s, I would visit the Wickstrop Farm, which was just east & north of the Bergsma Farm, & mount a telescope on a tripod to watch the logging operation on Tiger Mountain, near the summit. These railroad operations served the mill at Hobart. Later, truck logging (1930s) took over & the slope on north side of Tiger Mountain was logged, including areas south of Lake Tradition.


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?

Yes, lots of time outside, but working time. Living on the S. shore of Lk. Sammamish, I did do a lot of fishing in the lake for mainly bass. A choice spot was in a cove just north of the present state park, in an area of the present state park boat ramp. This cove had lots of log storage that came about when the Sammamish Plateau was logged off & a logging train came off the hill & logs dumped into the lake just about a half mile west of old Alexander Beach. These logs went to the mill at Monohon & to my favorite bass fishing under the storage area.


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?

Bass – perch – catfish in Lk. Sammamish. No trout out of Issaquah Creek. But I have seen & filmed (16 mm) Kokanee (a landlocked salmon) which came into Issaquah Creek & it was like a red tide of these trout. They are almost extinct today. Hunting was good for ducks, but I never got a Canadian honker, they were wild & one could never get close to them. The geese always were in the middle of a big field & had “lookouts” posted & if they saw you, they took off for the middle of the lake, & soon resumed their migratory flight.


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

My Vasa Park memories are: sneaking into the weekend picnics, partaking of them, winning some of the events, then it was back to our ditched bicycles & it was “back to work.” (Cows don’t have free days, & neither did I.)


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

Yes, Lk. Sammamish & ice skating on Pine Lake, which I also got 16 mm B&W footage of. [No ice skating at Horrock’s]


Logging and Sawmills

How did the logging industry affect Issaquah?  How did it change?  Did you work in logging?  For what logging camp or sawmill?  What do you remember of your logging days?  What type of machines did you use for logging?  How did you transport logs? How large were these logs?

I got into this subject earlier (p. 16). I did not work at logging, many of my friends did, & starting in 1936, I always had my 16 mm Bell & Howell camera with me. In those days, most of work in woods was by hand before chain saws came along. The woods were logged off & yarded in by spar trees & steam donkeys. The logs went out by truck. A far cry from today’s logging operations. The trees generally were virgin timber & many one-log loads were common.


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?

All of the above.

Monohon Mill water pumps, at night, would run to fill up a reservoir on the hill above.

The High Point Mill site was wiped out by the high washout from Tiger Mountain in the 1930s.

The Issaquah Lumber Mill at Front St. at present site of fish hatchery ponds, was only cutting alder in the 1930s.


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

Yes. Yes. No.


Salmon hatchery

How has the salmon hatchery affected Issaquah?

It brings in lots of tourists, provides work for a few, the end product swims away & hopefully, some will return to Issaquah, if they escape the heavy toll of the fish nets in the ocean.


Farming and Dairy

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

1930-1936, dairy farming on the John Barlow Farm, at south end of Lk. Sammamish. While we lived there, West Lake Sammamish Road was paved. This closed the road – period – for all traffic (except our bicycles) & the Monohon Mill tug boat took our milk cans from a dock to Hans Jensen’s Farm, & the Issaquah Auto Freight came to pick up the milk. The Castagno boys, Bill & Johnny, usually drove the trucks.


Do you have any memories of Pickering Farm?

Only that I tried to get a shot at the wild geese, but never succeeded.


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



Railroad– Transportation

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

No. In 1927, my parents got their first car, & most of our trips were to Renton, where they had farmed prior to coming to Issaquah Valley in 1930. If we wanted to go into Seattle, we took the Interurban Trolley to Renton Junction & on into Seattle. A few times we took the Rainier Valley Street Car from Renton to Seattle, along the west shore of Lk. Washington. It was slowest train.


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

It divided the valley into 2 zip codes, it cut up the existing farms, it started a spiral of tax increases, it causes the rapid development of shopping areas, it increased the qty. of stop lights from 1 at the corner of Front Street & Sunset (this light was a real history maker), it put Issaquah on the map. Now the stoplights are going in faster than I can count them.


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

In 1937, my first car was bought from Renton’s Clark Bros. Ford Agency for all of $700 – new.


Fraternal Organizations– Local Halls

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



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?



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



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

Special occasions not many of them, only if some one had a special occasion reception.



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

No, but many of my friends did.


What were the working conditions like in the mine? Which mine did you work for, and what was your job?




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?

Not too many movies at the old movie house. In 1930-1936, our only available transportation was by bicycle, 3 miles to go. At this time Highway 10 was used from Goode’s Corner into Issaquah. Not much traffic in those days. Being dark, if a car came toward us, we would turn on a flashlight. This Highway 10 was the main transcontinental highway, & at times we might meet about 6 vehicles. Movies, I think, were about 25¢ to get in, all black & white films.

No [I did not ever go to the back upper corner of the theatre to kiss].


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?

This Issaquah Community Baptists church, starting about 1945 & the church was just west of today’s creamery.

In 1966, a new church was built just west of the fish hatchery, up on the hill, now called the Issaquah Community Church. Our first service was a year and a half later. Our pastor was Russ Hendrickson, & a hard worker on the volunteer crew that built this church.

Fred Lind’s Preston Mill furnished much of the lumber used for this new church.


Additional Memories

The historical society knows of my hobby of photography. Since 1936, I have accumulated thousands of feet of 16 mm films. My main “dear to my heart subjects” are (not in order of my priority):

X Logging

X Railroading

X Farming

35 years of first flights of Boeing aircraft

X The way the valley was

X The controversial E. Lk. Sammamish Trail & rail removal


Dozens of reels on trips around the U.S., Alaska, Canada, Holland, Switzerland.

Above subjects being taped by me for viewing when I get these converted to video. This is the real time consumer.

P.S. The above marked X are on S-VHS video, but require editing & narration.