Issaquah History Museums

Theodore & Ann Leber

Theodore and Ann Leber both grew up in Seattle, but made their home in Issaquah on Cougar Mountain for fifty-two years. Their five children, Eric, Christie, Laurie, Tia and Mark, were all raised in Issaquah and graduated from Issaquah High School. Ted and Ann were active in the Issaquah Alps Club and the Issaquah Historical Society. They moved from Issaquah in 1999 and currently live in Ellensburg, Washington.

Name: Ralph Theodore “Ted” & Ann Leber


Education — Coming of Age

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

Eric and Christie Leber were in Jr. Hi during the 1965 earthquake. Christie remembers that she was in Mr. Orth’s class in Bldg. H above the auditorium. It was a 2 story building and the floor dropped about 3”. The kids got under the desks, but Mr. Orth stood and said, “If they close school, I’m going fishing,” while above his head a big wood beam had come loose from the ceiling and was bouncing up and down. There was also a 3 story red brick bldg that split apart. You could see to the outside. The gym floor was like waves. They had to double shift. Some classes were in the Hi School, and some in gray portables along the road to the Hi School. Kids in a gym class were out on the track when it split apart, leaving large cracks. Chris Shortz, a neighbor, was on the track, and terribly shaken, as were many others.


Local Businesses

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?

We did our shopping at Tony and Johnny’s. Bill Bergsma and his young son Bill would stack the milk shelves. Ai Garner, known as Squak, was the butcher.

When Cougar Mt. residents wanted to put a road in connecting Cougar Mt. with Issaquah, Tony and Johnny’s gave a generous donation, as well as many Issaquah merchants.


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? 

We rented a frozen food locker for many years. It was behind the butcher shop. To get to our locker you had to use a little step ladder.


Issaquah Round-Up– Salmon Days– Labor Day Celebrations

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

In the 1950s the residents of Cougar Mt. had a float in the Labor Day Parade. It was a Jeep with a deer driving, and tied onto the hood was one of the residents.

One year a deer wandered in, and joined the parade.



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? 

Across the street from the theater was the Forum Book Store. We would have movies at the theater, then go across the street to the book store to discuss them.

Also, upstairs in the theater we had a “Job Line” where kids could come up and find where there were jobs. There was a clothing bank, and Bob Grey, minister of the Presbyterian Church, had his office up there.


Additional Memories


We started buying our groceries at Tony & Johnny’s as they were the nearest grocery to Cougar Mt. (then called Newcastle Hill – mostly) that sold beer. We had stopped at the Grange Mercantile on our first trip for groceries, but continued to Tony & Johnny’s when we found that the Grange did not sell beer – because we were thirsty & it was hot that July day.

We bought, essentially, all our groceries & meats from Tony & Johnny’s as long as they were in business. Their prices were as good as any in town and their quality was good too.

We especially liked Tony (Walen) as he was very outgoing & friendly. Johnny (Hirko) was much quieter & tended to be in the background. John Hirko’s brother, Joe, was one of the butchers, along with Ai (Squak) Garner. We always felt at ease shopping there.

I worked in downtown Seattle until 1965 and always got my haircuts near my office. I didn’t get haircuts in Issaquah until after 1965.

I don’t remember the name of the 1st barber I went to in Issaquah, but he was a young fellow & had a shop next to Sutter’s Feed Store on the North Side of the Sunset [Highway]. He did a good job, but surprised me when he saturated my hair with water, before he cut it – every time I went in. He insisted they he had been taught to cut hair that way. It seemed to work, at least for him. He decided to return to “Styling School” as he felt there was more money in Styling hair than in giving simple haircuts – that’s the last I saw or heard of him.

The next & final barber I went to was “Gene” (Eugene – AKA “Jean” or “John”) Proulx. A pleasant French-Canadian. Gene is a very competent and efficient barber who spoke little unless spoken to and had an enormous clientele. The only time one could get a haircut without an extended wait was at odd hours, midweek. Even then, I’d often be the 4th or 5th in line – mid-morning Wednesday or Thursday. Any other day you’d be standing for half an hour before you could even get a seat to ease your wait. He never wanted to consider another barber. “Too much hassle.” I was sorry when he decided to retire: I used to drive from our new home in Ellensburg, primarily to have him cut my hair – though I’d manage to include other business in the trip. Not many barbers inspire people to travel 200 plus miles for a haircut.

The atmosphere in Gene’s barber shop was pleasant and relaxed. Quite often there would be a discussion of one subject or another, but not always. Sometimes we’d just sit & read until our turn arrived.

We often purchased hardware items from Tom Lewis, though not every item. The principal items that come to mind are our two Aladdin Lamps, which were used during the frequent power failures in stormy weather, especially during the 1950s & 60s. The neighbors often commented “How come you’ve still got electricity?” – all we had were the Aladdin Lamps, which are much brighter than ordinary kerosene lamps.

We still have, though no longer in daily use, our old wood stove. This came with the home we bought on Cougar Mountain. Every so often it would be necessary to replace part of the stove pipe. I knew that I could always find the parts required at Lewis Hardware. I still have some “Elbows” that have never been installed; Tom Lewis & I scrounged around in the basement of Lewis Hardware to find them. I figured I’d better get a couple extras if they were that difficult to find. Few people realize there is a basement under Lewis Hardware.

We had a frozen food locker at the Grange Mercantile store for many years as we raised our own beef; we had Joe Dodge haul our animals to the slaughter house, more or less in the area of the present Post Office, where the Fischer brothers, & Ai (Squak) Garner used to butcher the animal & cut and wrap it for our locker. After Tony Walen died and Tony & Johnny’s finally phased out, we switched our grocery & meat purchases to the Grange Mercantile. We found them very pleasant to deal with, too. (By then, we had found an alternate source of beer – which I don’t think they ever sold – Actually that was not necessary as I was involved in helping establish the first premium winery in the State of Washington: Associated Vintners, now known as COLUMBIA WINERY.)

I bought a side-delivery rake from Grange Supply about 1948. I still own the rake though it is no longer in use. We have purchased farm & garden hardware & various animal feeds along with various petroleum products from the Grange Supply for many years, though they were not our original source of these commodities.

When we first moved to the Issaquah area and required farm-type supplies we purchased them from Western Farmers Association, located on Front Street & now partly incorporated into the Darigold plant. They were competitively priced and were easier for us to get to; also a friendly bunch to deal with. We got home delivery of petroleum products: fuel oil, gasoline & lubricants, fencing, feeds, fertilizers, as well as various hardware items.

I remember the Great Depression as a kid, though we didn’t live in Issaquah at the time. My parents lived in Seattle then; I don’t recall any serious deprivation. My dad had started a new business a few years before the depression and, I am sure, experienced some very serious difficulties (a partner in the business embezzled a large sum of money for starters) but he said little about it, in my presence. (I was only 8 years old in 1929.) We came through all right; my dad never lost his business & Mom mentioned that he paid off the mortgage on time.

My mother’s parents lived in Okanogan County in a little town called Riverside. They had a couple orchards & other property. Mother would take my two brothers & I to visit often, sometimes spending all summer at grandma’s house. My grandfather had serious heart trouble and was often in the hospital; finally dying in about 1932. I do remember grandmother’s concern for him & the finances concerning the care of the orchards. She was a really capable lady and managed somehow.

One of our acquaintances in Riverside was a family of 10 who had a monthly “relief” check from the State of $10!!! Even I could understand they didn’t have much to go on. They lived in a house with 1 bed, a couple of plain kitchen-type chairs, a small table. Nothing visible in the way of food or extra clothing. Their only toilet was an outhouse. No bathroom, no refrigerator, no coverings on the wood floor. I don’t recall seeing any blankets on the bed, either. I’d often see one or the other of the family wearing clothes that looked awfully familiar. My mom & grandmother gave away many of our clothes that “we didn’t need.” The kids seemed to be nice & we often played with them. They never complained.

I was in college by the time WWII started. A number of my friends volunteered for the Mountain Troops & urged me to join them. I didn’t want to spend the war in an igloo & packing everything I owned on my back wherever I went so I decided not to join them in the Mountain Troops, but volunteered for the Army Air Corps instead. I was lucky; became a flight instructor & never left the USA, whereas all my Mountain Troop friends had a much tougher time, in the Aleutian Islands & in Italy.

The Labor Day Parades were a lot of fun. We tried to attend as often as possible. Some of our older children were involved, too. That added to our interest. One thing was of special interest to me; a tame deer had adopted some Issaquah residents as family & used to wander along the parade, mingling with participants and onlookers alike. I thought [that] particularly amazing. I petted her several times. Unfortunately some dogs killed her later. I had some movies of her – which I loaned to a neighbor – his house burned down before they were returned.


No comments about Rodeo; we never attended – too rough on man & beast, for us.


We attended the Community Baptist Church, which used to be on Rainier Blvd., just across from the Darigold Plant & the Grange Mercantile. In the mid-’60s it became overcrowded & we decided to build a larger structure on Mountain Park Blvd., up the hill west of the Fish Hatchery. Our finances, as always, were limited, so we decided to build, mostly, with volunteer labor from the congregation. One man, Bill Cox, was hired to supervise. That was a wise choice as Bill was an outstanding Superintendent. Everyone respected his abilities & his confident, relaxed approach to the project. It was great fun, though sometimes a little uncomfortable when it was raining or snowing & we had to wade around in the mud – almost to the tops of our boots. I remember, more than once, having to stop to reach down & pull my boot out of the mud with my hands – or it would have come off! When we finished, it gave each of us a strong sense of Truly Belonging. Something to be proud of. Perhaps, the biggest volunteer effort in Issaquah History, at least to that time.


The effort was not confined to the guys alone, but was joined, wholeheartedly, by the gals. They not only did the kitchen/lunch bit, but many were often right there alongside us, swinging a hammer, or whatever was required. And those tasty lunches were sure welcome after 4 hours shoveling in the mud with the rain or snow pummeling you.


Een members of the community came by to watch & often helped, loaned or gave us equipment. I still have a hard hat given to me by the band leader of the Seattle World’s Fair. (can’t think of his name though)


Meindert Pillie, who lives in Providence Point, has some superb movies of the building of the church. I believe the church is now known as the Community Church at 205 Mountain Park Blvd., across from the Catholic Church, our helpful neighbors.


Our pastor, at the time of our church construction, was Russell Hendrickson. He and his wife, Marty, also the organist, were lovely people and very inspirational to us all. Russ was a big influence in achieving our goal, often helping at the building site, in addition to his inspirational leadership. One other outstanding pastor was Dick Birdsall; a very positive influence for that church &, I am sure, the community at large.


My wife, Ann, & I were very much involved, especially in the early years of hiking with Harvey Manning, on what Harvey called the “Issaquah Alps.” We’ve been over every trail I know of on Tiger, Squak & Cougar Mt. as well as Rattlesnake Ridge near North Bend. I used to run to the Clay Pit on Cougar Mt., from our house; every morning a different way; & at least 5 miles. Ann was a hike leader for the ISSAQUAH ALPS TRAILS CLUB for many years.


The nearest I came to Pickering Farm was the Issaquah Airport, next door. I flew in and out of the airport on several occasions while instructing students from the Bellevue Field just up the road towards Seattle – at what is now Eastgate. The way I first located our eventual property on Cougar Mt. was from the air. I had an advanced student who was working on his Commercial Pilot License, with whom I felt relaxed. One day we were practicing Cross-Country flying and passed over Cougar Mt. at a fairly low altitude. I wondered what kind of a view would be possible and turned around to look out towards the rear of the plane. I was impressed & asked, up return, how to get up on “That hill over there.” No one knew. Next weekend my wife & I went looking for a way up “That hill.” Drove up two ruts between massive stumps through what is now Eastgate, to a blacktop road now known as Newport Way. Eventually we wound up the hill to a point where the view opened up & started asking about property for sale. Found the place we lived in for the next 52 years & raised 5 wonderful kids. (The “baby” is now almost 41.)


I never worked for Alpine Dairy but we used to drink Skim Milk long before it was available at groceries. We bought a 3 gallon milk can and would take it to Alpine Dairy about once a week to get it filled. I’d have to go into the plant myself and draw the milk from a designated tank, then return to the office and pay the gal behind the desk or Hans Forster the $1.00 I owned them for the 3 gallons. Some difference now!!


I worked in Seattle from the time we moved to Cougar Mt. until 1965, when our company moved to Tukwila, & there until I retired. When we first moved to Cougar Mt. our address was Route 2, Box 291, RENTON. Most of our neighbors worked in Seattle & most shopped in Issaquah as it was harder to get to Renton than to Issaquah. Bellevue, in those days, was little more than a gas station and a few stores on Main Street and was quite difficult to access from Cougar Mt., among other problems was a long & twisty bridge across the Factoria area swamp. Besides, there wasn’t anything of much interest when you did get there. That changed a bit over the years. At any rate, we petitioned to have our address changed to Issaquah, where we felt more at home. That remained for the entire time we lived on Cougar Mt., though a large number of our neighbors, recently, petitioned to annex to Bellevue & change their addresses to Bellevue. We think that is kind of sad.


The Lake Washington Floating Bridge, originally, was a TOLL BRIDGE. The commuter fare was $8 a month or $96 a year. I was glad they had a toll on the bridge as it helped keep the multitude at bay. I used to get to work in Downtown Seattle in 20 MINUTES, including a stop at the toll booth & the return trip was just as quick. I felt in my heart that things were going to change when the bridge was paid for. And indeed things DID CHANGE!! I could detect an increase in traffic within a week. Traffic seemed to double almost every week!! I hoped, in vain, they’d put that toll back on. Now look at it!!