Photo Mystery!


Unidentified image from the Anderson Collection
photo 2010.011.051
Downtown Issaquah, cars, people, and a man with a lottery style cage on a platform

We’ve had this image in our collections for a few years now, and it hasn’t been added to our digital collections for the sole reason that we’re not sure exactly what we’re looking at. And so we can’t properly date and catalog it.

I first assumed that it was part of the draft in World War II since it came with a collection with many other items related to the war. However, it could be something else completely.

I’d love to know more specifics of what’s going on here. It’s an obviously important event, with cars lining the streets and people filling the sidewalks. If it is draft related, what exactly am I looking at?

Hearing History: Vernon “Babe” Anderson


Vernon “Babe” Anderson
ca 1945
Full Record


Maria McLeod: …So what land are you giving to the city?
Vernon Anderson: The whole thing.
MM: The old farmhouse, too? And this place?
VA: Yeah, everything.
MM: So what is this going to become?
VA: A park.
MM: You seem to really enjoy history. You’ve kept a lot of old files. Is there some sense in you that you’d like to preserve this?
VA: Well it’ll be preserved as a park, you know. Otherwise, what are they going to do? It’ll be a bunch of damn condominiums or something. And you don’t need that. It’s all a park anyway around here. Why ruin this piece in the middle?
Vernon “Babe” Anderson was born in 1927 in Renton, WA to Albert A. Anderson and Ruth Johns Anderson. Babe was interviewed in 2008 by Maria McLeod as part of IHM’s oral history project. His extensive oral history covers his grandparent’s immigration to the United States and Issaquah, through his life growing up and remaining in Issaquah. Subjects covered include working at Issaquah Creamery, being drafted for both WWII and the Korean War, and his father’s various building projects including two houses that still remain as part of Gilman Village. The City of Issaquah acquired Vernon’s family’s land and buildings for part of the Confluence Park Project. Vernon requested recognition of his grandfather, Tolle Anderson, in the park project.
Ruth and Albert Anderson
August, 1923
Full Record


In addition to buildings, land, and this oral history, both Vernon and his brother Rodney wrote letters home during their time in service, and these letters were generously donated to Issaquah History Museum’s by Rodney’s daughter. Some of these letters are available in our Digital Collections as well as other documents and pictures. Check out the full extent of the Anderson Collection.


Vern Anderson’s Navy Class
April 11, 1946
Full Record

The Importance of Being Meticulous

In this blog post are scans from Ruth Johns Anderson’s personal photo album. They are currently being cataloged into our database and perfectly illustrate how taking the time to label your photographs now can make a difference in years to come.
The most frustrating thing for me is when am faced with a photograph with no indication of those four important things: who, what, when and where. It’s usually a wonderful photograph, in-focus with an interesting subject, stacked right in the middle of a bunch of other photographs that have been overly labeled. More interesting than trying to figure out the provenance of the picture is why someone took the time to label all the others and not this one. Where did it come from and why is it here?

Here at the museum, we often run into this problem – a photo that isn’t labeled or is mislabeled. Between all of us, and sometimes the help of members, we are able to identify people fairly easily. But there are those pictures we can’t identify – and we may never be able to.

The most important factor in labeling a picture is just putting a name down. First and last names if you know them. Any other information will be well appreciated. I determined everyone in a personal family album because I knew the original owner of the album and could therefore figure out who she meant by “Aunt and Uncle” and “Cousin.” And don’t forget to label yourself! These photos will not always be in your possession.

Try and take the time now to fill in the other “W”s: What is going on in the picture? When was it taken? Where is the place in the picture? I can assure you this information will be well appreciated in the future.

Digital photos pose a bit more of a conundrum – it’s not as easy as taking a Sharpie to the back of the picture. Thankfully, there are easy options:

1. Windows actually has a built in system for labeling your photos. Your digital camera should automatically embed the date taken into the picture but once you have uploaded your photos onto your computer you can then begin to add details. In Windows 7 it’s as easy as single-clicking on the picture – this will bring up a bar in the bottom of your window where you can then begin to add details such as “Date taken”, “Title”, “Tags”, and even “Rating”. The information you enter then becomes embedded into your picture file.

In previous versions of Windows it’s as easy as right-clicking on the picture and selecting “Properties.” In there you’ll find fields to enter in information.

2. Windows also provides Windows Media Center as a program to organize and detail your photos. There are also programs available for download on the internet. Here is a site that provides some options with a summary of each:

I am not an Apple user but I imagine there are similar options available.

3. There are many photo sharing sites available online. I feel like this is a fine option for now – but I’m not sure how far in the future these programs will be available. But at least it’s another way to store your photos.

Honestly, I feel a little shaky on the stability of digital photos. I’m not a doomsday type of person at all, but I wonder what would happen if all the technology we currently use just went away. If you’re as anxious as I am about this, your best option (although most time consuming) would be to have all the pictures you couldn’t bear to lose professionally printed. Then you could easily label the back of those and keep them safe.

The other side of that is to digitize your heirloom photographs. In the case of a non-doomsday scenario, your best bet is to have a CD of digital copies of all your photographs (old and new) and to keep them in a waterproof, fireproof safe in your home.
I would go so far as to recommend you do all of the above for photographs that you really care about. This way you ensure that your photos will remain safe. Just make sure they’re labeled!
If you’d like more information on this topic as well as how to properly care for your family heirlooms, Issaquah History Museums will be offering a program on “Preserving Family Photos and Heirlooms” on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 11am. The program is FREE to the general public. Please visit and click on the link at the top of the page for more information.

Rod Visits Hollywood

A generous grant from 4Culture is currently funding the digitization and cataloging of several archival collections, include the letters of Rodney and Vernon Anderson, Issaquah residents. Rod and Vern both served in the Army in the 1940s, and they wrote home to their mother regularly. This post is part of a series of posts about their lives and letters.

I have truly enjoyed reading Rod Anderson’s letters home during WWII. He created a window into his experience in the Army – each letter descriptive and telling of the era. Even when Rod laments that he has nothing to write about he writes anyway, discussing the small things he did during his day which I am certain put his family at ease. While reading his letters I was able to tell when Rod was tired, disappointed, exuberant, and happy even during wartime. One letter in particular stands out to me as Rod at his most excited – his first trip to Hollywood.
In this post I want to follow the adventure that Rod experienced. At the time Rod was stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo, CA. He had previously been stationed in some fairly unexciting places like Oregon, Texas and Iowa. Imagine yourself at 19 – you’ve never really lived anywhere but Issaquah. Prior to the war you probably haven’t been any further than Seattle. And now you’re stationed near, and ready to jump into, the glamorous land of Hollywood, CA.
Rod’s letter begins: “Dear Mom, Well I made it to Hollywood Sat. by 6:15pm and that’s the reason I’m writing. I want to tell you what I did!”

Rod’s first stop was the Hollywood U.S.O where he got a bed for $0.50. After that he “fooled around til 8:30″ at the Hollywood Canteen (pictured at right) – a well-known club for servicemen offering food, dancing and entertainment for free (your entry ticket was your uniform.) Oftentimes celebrities visited to help out and entertain.

After fooling around at the Hollywood Canteen, Rod’s next stop was the Palladium Ballroom where he saw Sonny Dunham (pictured at left) play, a popular tumpet player and bandleader of the time. Rod says he “danced for a couple of hours and then left as it got too crowded. Really had a swell time there though.”

(Palladium Ballroom, circa 1940)

Next, Rod returned to the Hollywood Canteen and continued his night of dancing. The Kay Kyser Orchestra (pictured at right) was playing, but Rod says Kay Kyser himself, bandleader and radio personality, was not. At that point, Rod was probably exhausted and so he “hit the hay.”

Sunday morning Rod got up at 9:30am and without a plan headed out. This part of Rod’s letter makes me smile because it shows to me just what a great time Rod was having:

“…I hopped a trolley and rode the 7 1/2 miles to L.A. There in my wanderings I saw that Jimmy Dorsey and his Orch. was playing at the Orpheum, so naturally, I saw him too.”

(Orpheum pictured at left, Jimmy Dorsey at right)

After the concert, Rod returned to Hollywood around 4:30pm and wandered around. He saw a bunch of different notable landmarks of the time: Earl Carroll’s, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Sardi’s, NBC studios and CBS studios. He says “There’s just so much to do one isn’t able to begin doing it.” I want to note that in his letter Rod underlined “Sardi’s” which was a restaurant (sister to the original Sardi’s in New York City.) I wonder what the special meaning was for him to underline it. All I could find was that it was frequented by the stars of Hollywood and so perhaps was well-known to folks at home.

(Earl Carroll’s Theatre, circa 1947)

(Grauman’s Chinese Theater, circa early 40’s)

(Sardi’s Restaurant, opened in 1932)

At 10:30pm Rod picked up his ride back to camp at Hollywood and Vine. He says that he picked up a private ride from a guy in another company and only paid $4 round trip which was apparently “darn reasonable.” Rod notes that most fellows charge $10.

He finished his letter by explaining and describing the pictures he had enclosed (which unfortunately are not in our collection.) The pictures, though, were taken on Hollywood Blvd and were “one of those pay while you wait propositions.”

As someone who loves old films and musicals, I couldn’t help but think of movies like On the Town and Anchors Aweigh. You know the ones, the hardworking servicemen get time off to go into the city and gawk at landmarks (and somehow always get into shenanigans and end up falling in love.) While this wasn’t exactly Rod’s story, there is a sense of wonderment in his letter that he just can’t wait to tell somebody at home about.

So there you have it. Rod’s whirlwind tour of Hollywood. He does visit Los Angeles and Hollywood again later, and tells his mother about it in his lettes. But his later descriptions are never any longer than a few sentences that basically detail what he did and who he saw. He never again writes with the enthusiasm he has after his first visit.

Below you can click to view the full-size images of Rod’s letter.

Rod Meets “Boody” Gilbertson

A generous grant from 4Culture is currently funding the digitization and cataloging of several archival collections, include the letters of Rodney and Vernon Anderson, Issaquah residents. Rod and Vern both served in the Army in the 1940s, and they wrote home to their mother regularly. This post is part of a series of posts about their lives and letters.

In what is a recurring theme across WWII veterans, Rod Anderson got the opportunity to see and do a lot of things he might not have had he remained in Issaquah. My first insight into this came while reading Rod’s April 28, 1944 letter. At this point in time he had left Drake University after the Army cancelled his Air Force training and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

His letter begins with “Had a bad day today…” and goes on to tell his mother about spending the day in the rain. Rod consistently wrote the date and place at the top right of his letters and this one tells us he was stationed in a “Pup Tent, Bivouac Area, By Candlelight.” The troops were roughing it and subsequent letters tell me they were helping with a flood area.

But despite this Rod had good news. He writes:

“Met a kid from Everett today. He’s in my company. He used to play basketball at the W. Names “Boody” Gilbertson, anyone that has followed the W teams would know of him, I did. He was at Sheppard Field the same time that I was, I heard that he was there but didn’t get to see him before he shipped to college.”

This piqued my curiosity and I was excited to learn that Merlin “Boody” Gilbertson was indeed a sort of local celebrity. He was enlisted in the Army National Guard September 16, 1940 with only 2 years of high school under his belt and served four years. His basketball history began on Everett High’s basketball team and with him they easily claimed the state championship during his 1939-40 year. The timing is fuzzy in my research but Boody did play basketball at the University of Washington (either before the war, after or both) and played 2 seasons of pro basketball – one for the Seattle Athletics and the second for the Sheboygan Redskins.

Here is a great Seattle PI article profiling Gilbertson.

Here is the copy of Rod’s letter with his brief description of meeting “Boody” Gilbertson:

Rod Receives AFPMP 6122

A generous grant from 4Culture is currently funding the digitization and cataloging of several archival collections, include the letters of Rodney and Vernon Anderson, Issaquah residents. Rod and Vern both served in the Army in the 1940s, and they wrote home to their mother regularly. This post is part of a series of posts about their lives and letters.

When Rodney Anderson was drafted into World War 2 he was placed in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and began his training at Camp Abbott in Bend, Oregon. In Rod’s first letter home he says he is surprised that they didn’t put him in the Air Corps.

So Rod took matters into his own hands and, after covertly asking his mother for his birth certificate (he didn’t want to worry her), he applied to the Army Air Forces (previously called the Air Corps.) Rod was accepted into the AAF and moved to Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas. There he began his training.

Training sent Rod to Drake University in Des Moines, IA. College life seemed to suit him and his letters were happy and excited, talking of classes and coeds. After 1 month at Drake University, Rod received memo AFPMP 6122 titled “Army Ground Forces and Army Services Personnel.” The memo basically said that any men who had not yet fully completed AAF training were to be pulled from their training and placed back into Army Ground Forces due to a shortage in men. Rod wrote a disappointed letter to his parents on April 7, 1944 and included memo AFPMP 6122.

Here is the memo followed by the letter Rod wrote home to his parents:

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

The memo is not a clear indication of why the men are being pulled from training. The memo indicates that there were “accumulated shortages that [had] developed since last July [1943] in Selective Service.”

In Vernon “Babe” Anderson’s (Rod’s brother) oral history, he speculated that it was a result of heavy losses during the Battle of the Bulge. So many troops were lost that they had to pull some out of training and send them back to infantry. But the Battle of the Bulge didn’t really begin until December 1944 – almost 9 months later.

Doing some research into the AAF during WWII indicates that enrollment reached its highest point in March 1944 at 2.4 million men with less than half being overseas. At that point men were sent back to the branch of the Army that they had come from due to a surplus. It is also important to mention that D-Day occurred only a few months later and men may have been pulled in preparation for anticipated loss.

Rod went back to the Engineers and had some good times in training near Los Angeles (stay tuned for a future post on all the wonderful things Rod saw in Hollywood.) He ended up overseas both in Europe and Japan and returned safely home.

The only remaining mystery I haven’t been able to fully decode is what “AFPMP 6122” stands for…any ideas?

The Anderson Brothers’ Service to their Country

A generous grant from 4Culture is currently funding the digitization and cataloging of several archival collections, include the letters of Rodney and Vernon Anderson, Issaquah residents. Rod and Vern both served in the Army in the 1940s, and they wrote home to their mother regularly. This post is part of a series of posts about their lives and letters.

Recently, a very generous donation was made by Rodney Anderson’s daughter. Included in the donation of pictures and documents was a set of letters written during wartime from Rodney and Vern Anderson. The first batch of letters, beginning in 1944, were written by Rod Anderson to his mother, grandfather, and brother. The second batch of letters are written by Vern “Babe” Anderson, Rod’s younger brother, and were mostly written post-WWII. We are only beginning the process of cataloging these letters into our collection and hope to have more posts regarding their content. For now, here is a brief biography into these two brothers’ service to their country.

Rod Anderson (pictured at right) entered the Army in August 1943, 5 months after he turned 18. He only completed 3 years of high school. He started out in the infantry but ended up taking tests to enter into the Air Corps. He made it in and began his training and education. Soon after the Battle of the Bulge the United States began pulling men from different areas to go back into infantry. Rod was removed from his Air Corps training and was sent overseas. He spent time in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany before the war ended. He was then sent back to the United States and then to Japan after their surrender. He returned home in March – just as his brother Vern was entering the Navy.

Vern Anderson (pictured at left) was drafted in March 1946 for WWII only 3 months after his 18 birthday. He was drafted again in March 1951 – almost exactly 5 years later – for the Korean war. Here are some excerpts of his oral history in 2008 detailing his time spent in service.

VERN ANDERSON: Well, I … originally, I got drafted in 1946, in March. I ended up in the Navy. I went to boot camp in San Diego, and then they sent me back to Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Waukegan [Illinois].

I spent all summer there going to a service school, which was just right down my alley because it was all about boilers. And hell, I’d been running boilers, you know. [chuckles] I knew all about that stuff.

Then I got discharged because they didn’t want us anymore. I’d only been in there eight months. So I came home. Then in March of 1951, I got drafted again, about five years after. In the same month. Practically the same week. And this time, I ended up in the Army.

I was over at Fort Lewis; and a bunch of the guys in Issaquah had been in the reserves, and they were running a reception center. And one of these guys said, “Hey, where do you want to go?”

I said, “I don’t know. What have you got in the lineup?”

“Well, you can go to Fort Lawton or you can go to Aberdeen Proving Grounds.”

“Oh heck, I think I’ll go to Fort Lawton,” I said. So I went out there.

We went through training there, and there was a port company – unloading ships – and they needed a bunch of guys up in Whittier, Alaska, which is an Army port. So they sent us up there. And because I had been in the service before, they could send me alone. Because you had to have six months in the Army before they could ship you overseas. I’d already had that before.

So we went up there, and we stayed there till right up until the first of December, then we got back here. Then they gave us a month off, you know, a month off here anyway.

When we got back right after New Year’s, they called six of us guys’ names out and they said, “You’re going down to the port of embarkation.”

We didn’t know what the hell we were going to do. We went down there to [unknown] and they made military policemen out of us. It was supposed to have been temporary. And it was such a good deal. Hell, I just fell right into that job. [chuckles] So actually, I spent the rest of my time right there.

MARIA MCLEOD: What was your job?

VERN ANDERSON: I was a military policeman on the main gate. That’s where all the troops went and left Seattle, and then also when they came back.


MARIA MCLEOD: So when you say it was the “best deal,” when you worked the gate, what did you mean?

VERN ANDERSON: Well, I had an off-duty pass. All I had to do was show up for work down there. I could do what I wanted after. Then, later on, I even got a pass for living at home. They paid you. Then I had to pay for my meals was the only difference.

MARIA MCLEOD: Do you remember how much you got paid doing that job?

VERN ANDERSON: You want to see the actual figures? I’ll show you. Didn’t get a hell of a lot.

MARIA MCLEOD: So you just [found] your tax withholding statement, your W-2 form, from the U.S. Army, and that says that the finance officer, C.F. May, Lt. Col. F.C., Fort Lawton, sent this to you –– and it says that total wages before deductions payroll in 1952 was $1,429.45, and Federal income tax withheld $151.60. So this was for a full-time job. Did you hold it a whole year?

VERN ANDERSON: Yeah. Look what they get now! You can’t believe it. I was getting – because I’d been in before – I was getting a little extra money. Then, also, I was a PFC, because I’d been in before, and got a little extra money for that.

MARIA MCLEOD: Private first class.

VERN ANDERSON: Then a little later on, I got to be a corporal. That upped it a little bit, not a whole lot.

MARIA MCLEOD: So does your job change at all when your status changed? Private first class, corporal …

VERN ANDERSON: No, I did the same thing. Actually, there was supposed to be sergeants on that job but they had put a freeze on – they couldn’t promote anybody for, I don’t know, about a year there or something, or six months.

We were only supposed to be in the Army for twenty-one months. That’s what the deal was. Then they upped it to twenty-four months.

MARIA MCLEOD: So when you worked the gate, did you have weapons on you?

VERN ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. A .45 pistol. I had that Sam Brown belt and all that. Then, when they had the ships come in, you had to put on a fancy outfit – a white kind of a deal, a neckerchief-type deal. Then you had a white rope on one arm. Then you had white leggings. Then you had the hat – they used the helmet liner, actually, was what they were. They were painted fancy. I think it was a white and gold kind of a deal like that.


MARIA MCLEOD: When you were at that gate, what were you supposed to be watching for, or protecting against?

VERN ANDERSON: Well, we had to let the people go in the cars. That was one job we had. We used to take turns going to do back and forth. Then we to check everybody who came in and out.

MARIA MCLEOD: Did you have to keep a roster of their names?

VERN ANDERSON: No. They always had to have an I.D., or we wouldn’t let them in. They weren’t supposed to be bringing alcohol in, and all that kind of stuff, you know.

MARIA MCLEOD: Did you have to search for alcohol ever, or confiscate alcohol?

VERN ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. We’d take it off of them. They weren’t supposed to take cigarettes neither, you know, from the ship’s store. Golly, they were 20 cents a pack, or a carton, I don’t remember what it was. We used to take it away from them.

I remember that one day, it was on a Sunday, and this black fellow came walking along there. He had a whole carton stuck in his back pocket.

I seen it, you know, and I reached out like that, I hit him in the back. I said, “What the devil do you got in there? Come in here!”

He had steaks wrapped around his body. Tied up in there, you know. Taking them home, see.

So I had to do something then. I couldn’t let him go. So we had to call the officer of the day, and I don’t know what they did. They didn’t do nothing to him. In about two weeks, I seen him back working.

MARIA MCLEOD: Was he stealing steaks? From where?

VERN ANDERSON: Yeah, out of the mess hall, out of the ship. He was one of the cooks that was working in the mess hall.

MARIA MCLEOD: Oh, and he was going to take some home. I guess some people must have gotten mad at you for taking their alcohol and their cigarettes.

VERN ANDERSON: No, they didn’t seem to be. They knew they were wrong. What were they going to do about it? If you got a job to do, you do it.

To read Vernon “Babe” Anderson’s full oral history, follow this link.