Issaquah History Museums

Nate Thomas

Nate Thomas (b. 1937) lived in Issaquah from 1945 to 1996. Nate’s family owned Thomas Furniture. Nate also owned a law firm in Issaquah. He currently lives in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Name: Nate Thomas


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



Issaquah or area school(s) attended:

1st grade to 12th Grade


Education—Coming of Age

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

No, the bricks from the Old Grade School missed me as I ran outside, but they did hit the fellow in front of me.  (1949 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, basketball, and track.  My senior year was the first year for Issaquah in the King County Conference.  We set a record by going completely defeated for the whole League season.  My most memorable play was getting thrown out of the Bellevue game for trying to hit a guy named Stu Strickland….I missed but got thrown out anyway.

The Issaquah Town Team was great entertainment.  One Sunday they brought in a ringer from the U of W.  The other team, Rainer Beach, coached by Don Sprinkle, pulled his team off the field and refused to play until the ringer was taken out…Great Stuff.


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?

Did not have much free time- played sports and was involved with Boy Scouts and Explorer Scouts.  We did do a lot of hiking and camping…sometimes every weekend, since we did not have a lot of money in those days.


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?

Obviously my most relevant memory was of my father’s furniture store, which I believe he purchased from Reg Johnson in about 1946/47.  My role was janitor or delivery boy.  This job did not pay particularly well, but I had a job!  I also got to go into just about everyone’s home on my deliveries and it was a sociological awakening to discover how everyone lived.


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?

Paul Benson’s……no appointments were necessary, you just looked in the window at the number of people waiting in the chairs gave you a pretty good idea how long you were going to wait.


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

The floors- dark hardwood


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 Walen was an Eagle Scout, so in order for me to pass my Pioneering Merit Badge I met Tony behind his store with my flint, steel, cedar shavings.  I always thought that was kind of neat and as luck would have it, I got the fire started and ultimately became an Eagle Scout.


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?

Probably my most vivid memories were of the “Honeysuckle” which was owned by Tom Drylie.  Tom was not a particularly friendly guy, but he served great milk shakes (really thick) and Green Rivers.  I probably drank a couple hundred Green Rivers and as much as I was in Tom’s store he never seemed happy to see me, or anyone else for that matter.

When we first moved to Issaquah, you could get a huge chocolate ribbon Ice Cream cone for 5¢.  I can assure you that I had more than my fair share!  This was at the Busy.


What do you recall about Lawill’s drug store?

I could buy my comic books there for 10¢.


Local Politics

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?

I thought then and I still believe that the name change was a mistake. I lived on “Richtofen” which was changed to the upscale name of “Alder”.  Why the name change is still a sore point.  “Richtofen” had character, much like the Baron.


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?

I only went to Alexander’s Beach which was owned by George Ek.  What a great place….I would ride my bike down the Eastlake Road, swim all day, then ride home….It doesn’t get any better than that.


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?

When my family fist moved to Issaquah in about 1946 Red Hall was still operating his mill along with my supervisor Mr. Harper.


Farming and Dairy

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

Never worked there but Ron Funev’s (?) dad did and whenever I went by I would go into the creamery and he would give me the biggest soft serve ice cream cone you ever saw…for free



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

When I was growing up, all the taverns had a “no minor’s allowed” sign.  It took me a while to figure that one out.



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 a lot of movies because Jim Brook’s dad owned the theatre so I usually got in for free.  When I had to pay it was 15¢ for anyone under 12.  Obviously, I was 14 or 15 before I started paying more than 15¢…I think that may have been because the theatre was then under new management and they did not realize how old I was.

AUTHOR of THIS MEMORY BOOK (signature and date)

Nathan Thomas