Names: Charles D. Cerar & Jean M. Cerar
Your history in Issaquah/How long lived here, etc.:
We moved to Issaquah in early February 1972. We have remained in the same house since then and have raised two children, Joanna and Jonathan, who both went all the way through the Issaquah School system.
Jean has been involved with the Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, Camp Fire at Issaquah Valley Elementary and Hans Jensen day camp, Cub Scouts at Issaquah Valley and the PTA at Issaquah Valley, Issaquah Middle School and Issaquah High School.
Charlie was involved with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Camp Fire.
Both Jean and Charlie were members of the Issaquah Residents for Environmental Quality and currently volunteer for the Issaquah Historical Society.
If you moved to Issaquah, why did you choose it?
We liked the small town feel of Issaquah and the fact that it was a distinct community even though it was close to a major metropolitan area. It turned out to be a good place to raise a family and we have made many good friends here over the years.
Education—Coming of Age
What are your memories of Issaquah High School? Which teachers were influential?
We did not attend Issaquah High School, but our children did. For Joanna (Class of 1992), the most influential teacher was Joe Peterson, who taught history and government and was an early supporter of the Issaquah Historical Society. For Jonathan (Class of 1996), the most influential teachers were Doug Longman, orchestra, and Jeff Dineen, biology.
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?
Coast-to-Coast Hardware, located first in the Gilman Shopping Center near what is now the antique mall and then in the Meadows shopping center, was one of our favorites. The owners were always so friendly and helpful. Over the years we bought a wide variety of items, including paint and our first gas barbecue.
Villa Auto Parts behind KFC was a favorite. Con and Elmer were the friendly guys behind the counter of this old-fashioned, bar-stool auto parts store.
For many years Issaquah had two wonderful, locally owned pharmacies, Issaquah Rexall owned by Richard Seek, and Look’s Pharmacy, owned by Robert Look. The fact that Look and Seek operated the businesses led to some waggish comments from time to time.
Highway 10 Lumber, a small lumber store, used to be on what is now Gilman Boulevard where Auto Tech is now located.
Prairie Market used to occupy the building just to the west of Burger King. It was one of Issaquah’s early warehouse-style grocery businesses.
City Lights, operated by Alan Ligda, was a wonderful business. It was Issaquah’s first video rental store and there wasn’t much Alan didn’t know about movies. City Lights occupied two locations in the strip mall just south of Front Street Market.
When we moved here in 1972, the only auto dealer in town was a Chevrolet dealership just to the east of XXX on Gilman Boulevard. It went out of business soon afterwards and there was no dealership in town until Evergreen Ford arrived in the 90s.– Charles & Jean Cerar
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?
I preferred Gene’s Barbershop on Front Street N., although I did have my hair cut a couple of times by a barber who opened a shop in Issaquah and was later convicted of murder and dumping the victim’s body in Lake Sammamish.
Our son got his first haircut at Frank’s Barbershop next to Front Street Market in 1980.– Charles Cerar
What is memorable about Lewis Hardware? What items did you purchase there?
The small town feel of Lewis Hardware has always been its greatest appeal for us. Over the years we have purchased nuts, bolts, miscellaneous painting supplies, fishing licenses and an assortment of items one wouldn’t expect to find in a small store. The creaky wood floors and the back entrance through the supply area are particularly memorable.– Charles & Jean Cerar
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?
Over the past 30 years I think I have shopped in all of the grocery stores located in Issaquah. In that time the Thriftway on Front Street S. has become the Front Street Market and Safeway has moved through three locations (Front Street N. where Stars is now located, Town and Country Shopping Center where G.I. Joe’s is now located, and its current location in the Commons at Issaquah).
During the 1970s I did much of my shopping at the grocery store located in the Gilman Shopping Center where the antique store now stands. The bakery operated by the Miller family opened in that store. Marge Miller always had a cookie ready for the kids riding in the shopping carts.
For a time I also shopped at Prairie Market, where customers picked the merchandise off of warehouse shelves, marked it with a wax marker and bagged the groceries themselves. It was a small-scale precursor of Costco.– Jean Cerar
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?
During the 1970s we ate out at the Foothills Restaurant on Gilman Blvd., Fasano’s on Front Street N. (now the Shanghai Garden) and Pick’s (now Las Margaritas). McDonald’s arrived on Gilman Blvd., at about the same time our children were ready for Happy Meals. When Andy Wang opened the Mandarin Garden on E. Sunset, he introduced us to spicy Sichuan food. Our taste buds have never been the same.– Charles & Jean Cerar
Did you go to Boehm’s Candies? What candies were your favorites?
It didn’t take us long to discover Boehm’s Candies after we moved to Issaquah in 1972. Mr. Boehm was often behind the counter, where the price for each variety was posted on a handwritten cardboard chart next to the cast register. Your totals were all worked out on paper; there wasn’t a calculator in sight. Our favorites have included turtles, nuts and chews, peanut clusters. Almost anything, really.
When our daughter was a preschooler, she was often invited behind the counter by Rae Pickering, who would give her a piece of candy and tell her she would give her a job at Boehm’s whenever she was ready. As it turned out, our daughter worked other places in Issaquah while she was in high school, but some of her friends worked at Boehm’s, which has provided employment for generations of Issaquah’s young people.– Jean Cerar
What saloons or local bars did you and your friends frequent?
Although we didn’t frequent the place, we (along with most other residents of the Issaquah Valley and Squak Mountain) well remember the summer night in the mid-1970s when the Waterhole Tavern went sky high. The booms from the explosions echoed all over the area and had people sitting straight up in bed. Of course, we didn’t know what had exploded, but I found out the next morning when I went shopping at the grocery store in the Gilman Shopping Center where the antique mall is now located. The Waterhole, which had been just to the east of the store, was reduced to a heap of scorched rubble. The area was roped off with crime scene tape and was crawling with ATF agents. News reports said the owner could not be located. I believe he was later found in Alaska and convicted of arson.– Jean Cerar
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?
It was such an unusual event that Issaquah made the national news when it recalled members of the Issaquah School Board in the late 1970s. As I recall, among other things the very conservative board had moved to ban some books and to affect the teaching of evolution in science classes. A group of concerned citizens began to monitor all board actions and eventually built a case for “malfeasance and misfeasance in office.”
The recall became such a topic of conversation in education circles, that when a friend of mine, who was attending a convention in Texas, happened to mention in an elevator that she was from Issaquah, half the people in the car turned to her and said, “Tell us about the recall!” It turned out that they were educators attending another conference in the same hotel.– Jean Cerar
Issaquah Round-Up—Salmon Days—Labor Day Celebrations
What do you remember about Labor Day Celebrations or Salmon Days?
Salmon Days has been a major event for our family for the past 30 years. The parades in the 70s were home town affairs that seemed to consist of fire engines, kids in strollers, political candidates in vintage cars, high school bands and the occasional float. The parade went down Front Street between the booths. As the event grew, other parade standouts included the Seafair Pirates scraping their swords on the street to terrify folks and many units from the Nile Shrine – particularly the Oriental Band that used to repair to the H&H Tavern to jam and recover after the parade. Ivar Haglund was the parade marshal one year.
During the 1980s our children had a great time participating in the parade with their Camp Fire and Cub Scout groups. For several years Evergreen Mobile, which was located in Issaquah at the time, provided a large float for Camp Fire.– Charles and Jean Cerar
Was there any year that these celebrations were especially memorable to you?
Not a particular year, but the decade of the 80s when our kids were in the parade because of Camp Fire, Cub Scouts, or the Issaquah High School Drill Team. One of the reasons our daughter wanted to join Camp Fire was because she had seen Camp Fire kids in the parade and she wanted to get in on the fun.– Charles and Jean Cerar
What special activities were there at Labor Day Celebrations, or at Salmon Days? How has Salmon Days changed over time?
In the early days, Salmon Days was a community event that included a simple parade and the last street fair of the season for craftsmen and artists. It was family oriented. It has grown beyond all expectations. Every year we vow that this is the last time we will go and fight the crowds. However, the next year always seems to find us down on Front Street applauding parade entries and perusing the booths.– Charles and Jean Cerar
What were some of the other memorable special events and occasions in Issaquah?
For a brief time, an outside art fair was held over the Memorial Day weekend, I think. The Fourth of July celebrations have been fun – they have the feel of the early Salmon Days celebrations.
The openings of the library on Memorial Field and the Post Office on Gilman Boulevard were special events.
Camp Fire members used to plant flowers in public places each year in honor of Arbor Day. Alan Haywood directed the Arbor Day plantings in front of the library just days after coming to Issaquah as the city horticulturist.– Charles and Jean Cerar
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?
The Lake Tradition area was our favorite hiking spot when the kids were young. Our son even went cross country skiing there with his Boy Scout troop one winter.– Charles and Jean Cerar
How has the salmon hatchery affected Issaquah?
The salmon hatchery has made Issaquah the destination for those interested in the life cycle of the salmon and its effects on the environment. And of course, the hatchery has become a prime destination for Salmon Days attendees. Threats to the continued existence of the hatchery brought together a unique coalition of concerned citizens as Friends of the Issaquah Hatchery, or F.I.S.H. Continued improvements to the hatchery only enhance its status as a center for education and a unique centerpiece for a suburban town.– Charles & Jean Cerar
How did the construction of I-90 change life in Issaquah?
At first, the construction of I-90 sucked the life out of the old Highway 10, the road destined to become Gilman Boulevard. Starting with Gilman Village, businesses began to spring up along the boulevard – especially after the traffic made it so difficult to get to the businesses in the old downtown Issaquah area.
The freeway tended to divide the valley into north and south halves. For some time development plans discouraged or prohibited construction on the north side, where the Issaquah airfield and the Pickering Barn were located. The airfield was home to a thriving skydiving and glider operation. It was also very close to the freeway. Those who wanted to see the airfield closed to make way for development loudly pointed out the safety issues involved with aircraft making low approaches over the freeway and with skydivers who occasionally missed the target on the field and landed on or near the freeway. Eventually the pro-development voices prevailed. The field was closed and Pickering Place was built. — Charles & Jean Cerar
The Front and Sunset area of downtown Issaquah, with the exception of the new library and the new Village Theatre, looks much the same as it did when we moved here in 1972. However, many of the buildings that housed mercantile businesses now house restaurants. When we got here, the Front and Sunset intersection was a four-way stop where everyone indulged in a little game of chicken. — Charles & Jean Cerar
The Issaquah Citizens for Environment Quality (I.R.E.Q.) was founded in the 1970s out of concerns about water runoff and development in the Issaquah area. The group monitored Issaquah Council meetings and hosted programs on quality of life issues. The group even ran a brat stand at the hatchery during the 1974 Salmon Days as a fundraiser. I.R.E.Q.’s greatest achievement was the promotion of a strong sign ordinance for Issaquah. The appearance of a tall Ben Franklin sign, followed by an even taller Kentucky Fried Chicken sign, raised fears that it wouldn’t be long before Issaquah resembled Highway 99. As a part of the project I.R.E.Q. members fanned out across town on a wet and windy Saturday to measure and inventory every sign. Volunteers, particularly Bette Hancock, spent hundreds of hours researching sign ordinances from other communities and working with city employees and city council members to draft an ordinance for Issaquah. The fact that the ordinance has been changed very little since its adoption attests to the quality of their work.– Charles & Jean Cerar
My first venture into community action was as a member of the Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, the group that still exists to organize school levy and bond campaigns. The district had lost a couple of levies before I became involved in 1979. There was still some voter resistance to the levies. I remember the intensity of the campaigns and the frenzy to see that the measures passed before the district fell further behind financially. At the time I became a volunteer levies had to be voted on every year, which was exhausting for volunteers. The law was changed in the early 1980s to allow school districts to present levies every two years.
During the 1970s Issaquah was home to a thriving babysitting co-op. The moms involved traded hours of childcare, which were carefully tracked through a central bookkeeping system. Most of the women in the co-op had left careers to become stay-at-home moms. Many had no experience with child rearing and little connection with the community. In addition to providing babysitting, the co-op became a support group for many of us. Many of my best friends are women I met through the co-op and the children I knew best as my children went through school were those I had babysat as toddlers.
For a number of years the home economics department at Issaquah High School operated Pooh’s Place, a preschool in which high school students taught under the supervision of their teachers. The little kid students thought their big kid teachers were just great. Because high school students ran it, graduation was a big deal at Pooh’s Place. The young graduates wore red robes and mortar boards and participated in a ceremony on the stage of the school’s Little Theater. I can still remember the shock of walking into the theater in 1979 and seeing the banner, “Congratulations Class of 1992.” It seemed so far away, but somehow it turned out it wasn’t. — Jean Cerar
AUTHOR of THIS MEMORY BOOK (signature and date)
Charles D. Cerar & Jean M. Cerar April 6, 2001