Birth Date or Year (optional):
May 7, 1923
Your history in Issaquah/How long lived here, etc.:
If you have lived here all or most of your life, why did you choose to stay?
Moved to Seattle to work in 1941.
Went into the service 1943 – Out in Dec. ’45
Married a Seattle girl in 1948.
4 years at the U of Wash, built a home in Seattle 1954
Moved home to Issaquah in 1958
Issaquah or area school(s) attended:
Graduated Issaquah High School 1941
Graduated U. of Washington 1952
Family History in Issaquah:
My father’s family settled in Issaquah in the late 1880s.
My mother’s family came to Issaquah in 1900.
Education — Coming of Age
What are your memories of Issaquah High School? Which teachers were influential?
I attended Issaquah High School from 1937 to 1941. There were approximately 230 students in the school at that time so students had the opportunity to participate in many of the extra-curricular school activities. Because of the small student population, teachers had the opportunity to know most pupils personally and to spend more productive teaching time with each student who wanted it. For me, the experience prepared me well to succeed during my college career, even though, thanks to World War II, I didn’t start college until 7 years later.
What memories do you have of Minnie Schomber, or another favorite teacher?
I knew Minnie Schomber after she was no longer teaching, but when she held the position of Clerk for the City of Issaquah in the 1930s and ’40s. She was a very happy and active person loved by everyone who knew her. Her husband, Jake, was another great individual who was the school janitor when I was in grade school in the old three story brick building located behind where the Middle School now stands. Jake wasn’t just a janitor, he was a wonderful unofficial counselor to any kid in trouble at school. Jake and Minnie were wonderful people and I’ll always fondly remember them.
Were you affected by earthquake damage to the schools in 1949 or 1965?
I was in college lecture hall at the U. of W. in ’49 and rode out the quake with 200 other students.
I moved my family back to Issaquah in 1958 and the most poignant memory I have of the ’65 quake was going downtown after it was over and seeing three prominent town lushes on Front St. in front of the liquor store where all the bottles had smashed to the floor, their contents pouring out under the door and into the street. One could tell by the expression on their faces that they were in deep mourning. Just one of thousands of tragedies that earthquakes bring.
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?
My friend, Walt Seil, and I had the co-leads in our Junior play and it was such a great experience and we enjoyed it so much we became great thespians. We ad libbed through each performance and drove our drama coach, Miss Alice Hunt, crazy.
Walt and I are still close friends today and have a great time reminiscing about that experience.
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?
Our most memorable free time was spent during the summer months at Ek’s Resort on Lake Sammamish. We swam and enjoyed water sports during the day and after dark, danced the night away to the tunes on the jukebox in their dance hall. I enjoyed those times so much, many a night I walked the three miles back to Issaquah after midnight because I didn’t have a car.
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?
I remember fondly two stores still operating in Issaquah – Fischer Meats and Lewis Hardware. Every time I went into Fischer’s Market with my folks to buy meat during the Great Depression, John Fischer would give me a wiener, a big treat in those days!
At Lewis Hardware, they used to have ladders on rails on the sidewalls of the store to enable them to retrieve stock for sale that was stored on the walls up to the ceiling. On summer days when they weren’t busy, Tom Lewis would let me ride the ladders from the front of the store to the back. Great fun! I’ll always remember!
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?
My first professional haircut, at age 4, was at Paul Benson’s Barber Shop in the center of Issaquah located just west of where the Mandarin Garden restaurant is today. I continued going there until I went into the service at age 18.
Paul was a great Christian man and an excellent barber. Tragically, he lost his only son in World War II.
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?
In the 1930s when I was growing up, the main grocery store in town was the Red & White. Mickey Miles owned the store and without him and his charge account ledger book, half the families in Issaquah would have starved. Thankfully, his heart was as big as the stacks of bills he never collected on.
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?
Stella Alexander, Issaquah’s first female mayor, was a real colorful character. She was large of stature, walked with an air of authority, and gave looks that scared not only us little kids, but I’ll bet, many grown men who had business with the city’s mayor.
My greatest memory of her involved her two little dogs. She had two little Manchesters (sort of like fox terriers) who went everywhere in town with her, and not on leashes. Three or four times a week you could see her walking on Front St., her dogs at her feet, heading for Fischer’s Meat Market. She would make her meat purchase, put on package in each dog’s mouth, and head for home with her pets prancing in front of her, so proud of the attention they were attracting from all the townspeople on the street. I’ll bet those steaks were real tender what with all the canine perforations in them by the time they arrived home.
Issaquah Round-Up– Salmon Days– Labor Day Celebrations
What do you remember about Labor Day Celebrations or Salmon Days?
My first memory of the summer celebrations in Issaquah is of the rodeos when I was 4 years old. It was an exciting time each year, not only for 4 your olds, but for the whole community. The cowboys and horses, the western outfits that all the town’s citizens wore, and the carnival all made it the celebration of the year. The carnival was even more exciting to me than the rodeo events. At night with all its glitter and bright multi-colored lights really lighting up our little town, I was able to gather up almost enough memories to just about last me until it was time for the rodeo and carnival to come again the next year.
One anecdote about Issaquah history that is enjoyed by everyone I tell involves my grandfather, August Willig. My mother’s family came to Issaquah in 1900, and in the 20s my grandfather became Issaquah’s first water dept. superintendent. The title was impressive but with the small crew he was given, he was down in the mud-filled ditches with his men. In those days, they laid wooden water mains wrapped with wire for added strength. He laid out the water system for most of Issaquah in those days.
In the late 30s, he was in his seventies and decided it was time to retire to a more leisurely life. However, it was soon discovered at City Hall that many of the plans showing the locations of mains he had turned over to the City had become lost over the years and he was the only one who knew where the mains were located.
So at the age of 75 he was asked by the City to come back as a consultant to draw new maps of the system. They gave him an old Ford pickup to get around town. Now my grandfather was getting hard of hearing and one fine day as he was heading for City Hall up Sunset Way, the twice-a-day freight train was approaching the intersection with Sunset Way with its whistle blowing loudly. My grandfather didn’t hear it. The train hit him broadside and pushed him all the way down to the depot. The pickup was beat up but not my grandfather. Six months later the same scenario. The train hit that poor old pickup broadside, pushed it down to the depot again and this time the Ford was totaled. Again, my grandfather escaped with minor injuries, but was wise enough to know he was really tempting fate so he retired again, this time for good.