Issaquah History Museums

Waler Seil

Walter Wood Seil

Walter Wood Seil (1920-2009) has lived in Issaquah for all but a few (6-8 years) of the last eighty years. Walt worked for many years in the logging industry. He graduated from Issaquah High School in 1941. Walt and his wife, Olga, raised their two daughters in Issaquah.

Waler Seil

Walt Seil in his senior yearbook photo, ca 1941.

Name: Walter Wood Seil

(Walt Seil)


Birth Date or Year (optional):



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

56 years at this address, maybe 6-8 years did not live here out of 80 years.


If you have lived here all or most of your life, why did you choose to stay?

I felt I belonged here, family was here, bought a business here and loved all the people


Issaquah or area school(s) attended:

1st – 2nd Issaquah

3rd – 8th Snoqualmie Falls

9th – 12th Issaquah


Family History in Issaquah:

Raised 2 daughters, Sandra & May.


Education — Coming of Age

What are your memories of Issaquah High School?  Which teachers were influential? 

I entered high school in 1931.  Fred Frohs a great teacher.

I played football for 4 years, I had 4 stripes on my sweater and 3 stars for being a captain, and all conference twice.  The best years of my life were in high school.  Morgon was one of my favouite teachers.  I played basket ball in my first year, baseball 1 year, I shot my hand so I couldn’t play anymore ball so I drove school bus so Morgon could teach.  I also acted in school plays, I fought in the smokes too.


What memories do you have of Minnie Schomber, or another favorite teacher?

My favorite teachers were Fred Frohs agriculture teacher and George Morgon was a PE teacher and History teacher.


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

No we weren’t.


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 was in a play – Huckleberry Finn.  I was the father of Huckleberry.  I was a sales lady also in a play selling purple punk pills.  Harold Chevalier was the manager.


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?

My parents kept me busy on the farm milking and haying etc.


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?

When I was growing up I remember a restaurant cross from City Hall, owned by Judge – a big meal for $.45.

We had lockers & shopped at the Grange next to the creamery also went to Red & White store owned by Leonard Miles.  Best ice cream parlor, Dryles owned it.  The Trailway stages stopped and picked up passengers.  Money Savers was first chain store to be here, on Sunset next to Log Tavern.  These were here from 1920 to 1950 & longer.


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 dad cut my hair till I left home – 21 years old.  After the war I went to Dave Lewis his shop was next door to Heplers Ford garage.  Dave was very interested in hunting and fishing.  One day I stopped in for a hair cut, was in the chair, he was busy cutting my and 2 fellows come in – they also were interested in fishing & hunting.  They started telling fish stories and he was so interested in them he came and started to take the apron off.  I said you haven’t cut all my hair.  He was so interested in the stories.  Still more stories I can tell.


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

I have been shopping at Lewis for 55 years.  My grandpa & dad shopped there for years also.  Tom used to drive the school bus for Issaquah.  When I was in the first grade I would fall asleep before I got home, he would carry me into our house and put me on the davenport.  We lived in Hobart then.  We bought nails, tools, plumbing equipment, paint, kitchen utensils and what have you.  Wonderful family.


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 went to Tony & Johnny’s – they delivered your groceries, gave you credit and had good meat.  It was operated by Joe as manager of meat dept.  Tony Walen and Johnny Hirchs were good people to deal with.  George Reiny was a very good clerk.


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 shopped there, rented a frozen food storage.  We shopped there from when they opened till they closed.


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?

I went to Dryles Ice cream parlor on Front St.

Shamrock, a quick lunch café on Front St. The operators were Elenor Crosby and Gert Chevalier.  It was on the cornor of Front St. and Sunset St. on the west side.

At that time Triple X was on Sunset and 3rd Ave, cross from Fink Garage.


Did you go to Boehm’s Candies?  What candies were your favorites?

We went to Boehms often.  Enjoyed them all, they have good buys on the broken chocolates.


What saloons or local bars did you and your friends frequent? 

I never went to the saloons or local bars.


What do you remember about Grange Supply?

My father and I belonged to it for over 60 years.  We buy our gas there bird feed, yard supplies and fertilizer.  Good people to do business with.


What do you recall about Lawwil’s drug store?

We shopped.


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? 

For many years it was Hill St. we never had any house numbers either till we were given 330 SE Bush and we had mail delivered then.  Councilman Roy Peterson was the one who got our new address east of Front St. and south of Sunset was named after old timers of Issaquah.


Issaquah Round-Up– Salmon Days– Labor Day Celebrations

Was there any year that these celebrations were especially memorable to you?

In 1926 to 1930, they were the Issaquah Rodeo days that remember.  I had 2 uncles who rode in the rodeo, Schuler and Elwel Bennett, my grandma’s brothers.  I was about 8 years old, they got me to ride in Shetland pony races.  We also rode the calves coming out of the shoots During those rodeo days the state was dry so people made their own liquor if they wanted some, so there was many fights going on, so our jail was full nearly all the time.


What are your memories of the Rodeo?

Our big parades were on Labor Day.  I was paid a nickel taking the horses from the railroad train to the rodeo grounds.  I was 5 & 6 years old then they had big carnivals with the rodeos.


Outdoor Recreation

What type of fish did you catch?   How many trout did you catch in the Issaquah Creek and what was the biggest?  Did you fish in the kids fishing derby held in Issaquah?  Were your methods for fishing and hunting any different than they are today?

I would catch my limit some days.  The limit was 21 fish, I was 12 years when I started.  I would start at the bridge on Sunset highway, start fishing towards the lake till I got my limit.  It was trout I would catch in the Issaquah Creek.  We would catch some perch, cut throat and steelhead in the lake too.


What are your memories of Vasa Park?  What did you do while there? 

We would go roller-skating, swimming rent a rowboat, they had entertainment there.  Roy Widen wrestled there once in a while.  My cousin had a wedding on roller skates there.  Class reunions were there also.


Did you go swimming in the local lakes in the summer?  Or ice-skating at the Horrock’s Farm in the winter?

We would walk down to Han Jenson farm, jump off the piling and go swimming.


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?

I worked for Baldridge Logging on Hobert, St Paul Tacomc and Marankas.  I was a donkey engineer, high rigger and operated all kinds of machines.  I tapped many trees rigging.  The logging camps brought people into town to spend money on the taverns and stores.  The town grew as more & more logging camps open up.  The Rodeo days were wild, with all the moonshine and home brews.  Jails were full, hoses were used to cool them down.  They had to put iron doors up because the cork shoes made holes in the wood.  Trains were used to transport logs from Snoqualmie to Seattle through Issaquah.  Some logs were 1 log per car, 6 to 8 average logs per log.  My daughters used to wave at the trains as they went through town.

This picture was taken 2 blocks from where I lived on Mine Hill Tiger Mtn.


Do you remember the Monohon Mill, the Red Hall sawmill by the fish hatchery, the High Point Mill, the Preston Mill, or the Issaquah Lumber Company Mill on Front Street South?

I’ve been around all of them but never worked at any of the mills.


Do you remember when there was a fire at the mill?  Did you help fight it?  Did you see the fire?

I wasn’t round here then – I was on Tiger Mtn.


Farming and Dairy

Were you involved with farming in Issaquah?  What farm did you work on?  What was grown or raised there? 

My brother Rex and I, we hired out by the farmers.  We started out by Hobart and went to yards in Issaquah working in the hay fields from 1936 to 1939.


Do you have any memories of Pickering Farm?

When we were going to school we boys would go down on week ends and play with the Pickering boys, jumping in the hay loft.


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

No, I never did, my grandfather and my brother Jack did.


Railroad– Transportation

Did you travel frequently into Seattle?  How did you get there?  What did you do while in Seattle?

My aunt lived in Seattle, with 6 children, so we would go in once in a while by car and visited with them.  We had to go on Rainier Ave. to get to Seattle.


How did the construction of I-90 change life in Issaquah?

We had to go on 900 to Renton, to Rainier Ave. in Seattle.

It shortened the drive to Seattle so they could go shopping in there, with the bus it helped everyone.  Very few people in Seattle knew where Issaquah was before the bridge was built.


What was your first car?  Did you buy it from Hepler Ford Motors, Stonebridge Chevrolet, or the Kaiser-Frazier dealership?

My first car was given to me when I was 16 years old by my grandfather Wood.  It was a Model T Ford in the 20s.


Fraternal Organizations– Local Halls

What are your memories of the fraternal organizations?  Did you belong to the Elks Lodge, or Lions Club, etc?

I joined the Elks in 1976.  I am a Charter member.


Did you attend the Sportsmen’s Club?  Do you remember when it was built in 1937?  What did you do at the Sportsmen’s Club?

I never attended any of their meetings.  I went with my dad for a few times to the turkey shoots.  I t was started in 1921 – Paul Koss is charter member and lives across the street from us, he is 93 years old.


What types of events did you attend at the Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) Hall?  Did you use the shooting range located in the basement?

I was a coach for pee-wee boys football team in the middle 1950s.  We used the hall to meet in for our lockers.  It was also used for many dances during our high school days – 1936 on.


Did you attend dinners, dances, banquets, or other events in the upstairs Grange Meeting Hall?

I went to a few dances there.



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

I never worked in the mines, but my great grandfathers son, Bill Price, was killed in the German mine on Squak Mt.  Howard Seil was killed in the Harris Mine.  My dad worked in the Tiger Mt. Mine, my brother worked in the Bianko Mine, my grandfather worked in the Grand Ridge Mine.



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? 

There was always a long line on Saturday nights.  The cost was $.10.  We saw Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Frankenstein and Hop-Along Kassady.


Additional Memories

The report came that someone was dumping water from the NP Bridge to the cars below.  The police went up there, one each of bridges and caught the boys, took them to the police station, parents were called to pick them up.

One of the most interesting things we have is the Fish Hatchery, it has been here over 50 years.

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