Newspaper Archive of
Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
February 9, 1978     Shelton Mason County Journal
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February 9, 1978

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ygone days in c LEE eew people are still around to remember, but once upon a time, So'Yvo[Own of Tahuya was a regular cosmopolitan community. shores  iroeStUln, who should know, having first set foot on ster of homesteaders back in 1911 at the age of five years. blacks, Indians, Filipinos, Scots and Scandinavians all together,,, says Frances, thinking back to those years. "And no thought a thing about it. A person'was either good and fair or they weren't. Color didn't have a thing to do with it, or another." the time Frances arrived on the scene, many of the original were already well established; others had been and One of the "oldtimers" in the area, even back when Frances 65 years ago, was Rodney White. was a black match.,, man, as black as your hat wi a heart of gold had come to Tahuya, Frances guesses, in the 1860s, then to homestead his four "forties." Two parcels of his land the Tahuya River Valley while the remaining 80 acres down its slopes and fronted along the river. along with many of the other first settlers, had quite a for road building. He whacked out the road that still Tahuya with neighboring Dewatto, though now there's little :t with in Dewatto. in those days Dewatt) was a prsopering town. It had s, including Nance's, which had an inventory of more a large sum back then. That'd be like $50,000 today. didn't have a dock, so people like Rodney who lived up had to get all their feed and supplies in Dewatto. had an old sled he formed out of maple and used to around. It was pulled by a team of oxen led by two '01' Rodney had a voice like a foghorn. I can still hear him across the valley, 'Get on, Baltimore; get on, Babe.' " who had originally hailed from Seattle, working his was no doubt demanding, but it must have also given of an independent life. Frances says he always and content." is not always pleasant and at first Rodney must have came here with four other black men. Tahuya a dock so the steamer would let people off in a skiff and :ould make for shore. skiff Rodney and his friends were in sank before they it ashore and three of the men drowned. Only Rodney friends, whose name I Can't remember, survived. nately, both of them did well once they finally got going, things must have seemed pretty bleak for them." ears, as Frances was growing up, Rodney with his voice and have seemed permanent fixtures;in the small community. time claimed even the "ageless" Rodney. died, they took those tired old burros over to the ark Zoo in Seattle and for years children rode around on ;ltutten years ago I went to visit the zoo. Old Babe had ,-tore was still plugging along. Rodney would have been oldtimer in the area was Arthur Linn. His pride and joy surrey with a matching fringed launch. Both were kept shed and boathouse fronting Tahuya's shoreline. Arthur who came to pick up Frances, her brother and they first arrived 6n the'H6od Canal. ..... pristine boat named "Ida Linn" after his wife, Arthur the canal to what was then called Union City to pick and transport them to their new home. mother had decided to bring her two children out west a Separation in their home city, Chicago. As a five.year-old the familiar cityscape change from the train's plains, then mountains and finally the rustic city out of towering forests. to a year the three made Seattle their new home. Then mother, Effie, answered an advertisement in a Seattle r for a housekeeper and the trio was off on a new mother was one of those determined and independently Omen Who had always wanted to do a little 'pioneering,' as So there we were on the double ' headed fo-  - -wheeled steamer, , ut lanuya, wherever that was" em 10 er" P Y was a local ranch owner, Vern Knollton. cooked for Vern and his crew of ranch hands, then Particular surprise she soon became Vern's wife. Frances says the drastic changes in locale when she was still a little kid never bothered her, "Everywhere we lived held some attraction for me. I liked living in the city and I felt at home in the country." Even her native Chicago, though she only spefit five years in the Windy City, was special to her. "It may sound funny, but I finally got the chance to return to Chicago after being away for 29 years, and it felt like I was returning home. "Once I got there a whole flood of memories came back to me, childhood things, kind of stupid things, actually. Like the small tabs you have to squeeze together to raise the window shades on the El." Frances says she probably felt that way because most of her "roots" were from Chicago by way of Hoosier ancestry. Her mother's grandfather, Steven DeForest, and great-uncle, Charles DeForest, both served as editors-in-chief for the then fledgling Chicago Tribune. Even with a mind clouded over by memories, Frances couldn't ignore the fact the Windy City had grown by leaps and bounds. "When we lived there it was way out in the tullies, at least we thought so, .but when I went back to visit, the 'old homesite' was smack downtown. Nowadays it's another 16 miles out to the city limits, and even then the houses keep right on going." So the Chicago Frances once knew was now gone and she returned shortly to the more serene Tahuya where she had grown mopolitan Tahuya Thursday, February 9, 1978 from child to young adult on her stepfather's 160-acre ranch. In the community were scores of other children to help pass the fun during hours when chores were finished. Many of her friends were Indians, while several of her closest were Filipinos. "One of my stepfather's best friends went to fight in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. When the war had ended he stayed in 'the Philippines for several years and then returned to Tahuya with a Filipino wife. They had several children and we all went to school together." Much of the children's playtime was taken up with variations on the timeless game, tag. One of these diversions was called "duck-on-the-rock." "I can't remember too much about the game other than we played it all the time. It seems we placed a small rock on top of a large one, then someone tried to throw rocks and knock the small one off. If somebody knocked it off on your team, then everybody started running around like crazy and you tried to get past the other team without being tagged. If you were caught, then you had to join the other side. The game ended when the last man was tagged out on the losing team." When not helping to raise the pigs, cows and vegetables on the ranch, Frances, like the other children, spent her time studying in the Frances Huson : Section of the Shelton-Mason County Journal Costly burglaries continue to plague Fire L)istrict Five; reward offered "Whoever it is, I wish they'd cut it out, because it's costing both the fire district and its taxpayers money." Richard Knight, fire chief of the Mason County Fire Protection District Five, is addressing himself to theperson, or persons, who have repeatedly broken into the department's stations and stolen equipment. Several weeks ago more than $200 of emergency medical aid equipment was stolen at the district's station located between Mason and Benson Lakes. Equipment taken included a portable oxygen bottle and an accompanying bag mask. Just a few weeks earlier, someone entered one of the district's two ambulances while it was parked on the ramp outside the main station in Allyn. They made off with two oxygen bottles, two regulators, masks and tubing. Just prior to the ambulance burglary, a complete firefighter's smoke mask kit and air tank were taken from the plagued station at Mason Lake. Meanwhile, another station in the district reported a complete first.aid jump kit was stolen along with other oxygen equipment. Within the past 45 days, Knight says that the district has lost more than $500 to thieves. Over the past two years, Knight estimates the figure reaches more than $2,000. To help curtail the problem Knight says the district is offering a reward of up to $200 for information leading to apprehension and conviction of anyone involved in the burglaries. "I'm just hoping somebody out there who has seen something or knows about something will come forward so we can put an end to this waste of money." Because none of the burglaries have been executed by forced entry, Knight says he can't rule out that they might be "inside jobs." "But you can't go around accusing your own firemen, so I'm going to assume the best." Knight says they change the locks on the station doors at least once each year and that lately they've been altering the locks and combinations every three months. "But we've got 90 volunteers in the department and each of them has to have access to the stations to do their jobs, so it's difficult to keep track." up missing, we either replace it and hurt somewhere else in the department, or else we 'don't replace it. And that's serious." People with information concerning the missing equipment are encouraged to call WOMEN VOTERS TO MEET North Mason unit-at-large of the League of Women Voters will meet Thursday, February 16, 9:30 a.m., in the Fireside Room of the Belfair Community Baptist Church. Reports will be given on 'community groups in which league members are active, including the Community Education Association, school levy advisory committee, senior citizen center and the local political caucuses. Public is invited. Knight says the district has considered placing alarms in each of its stations, but considers the cost prohibitive. "To make the system effective, we'd have to run all the alarms directly into the main station. Just to pay for the phone lines would run $60 per month for each station." Hooking the alarms into the station's siren has been tried but proved confusing to firefighters who had no idea whether it was a fire or just an attempted break.in. As for the ambulance, Knight says he's busy installing "jiggle switches" connected to an alarm to guard against any future midnight raids. "It's hard enough just to find the initial funds for purchasing emergency equipment, let alone coming up with money to replace the stuff that's been stolen. "Sure, our insurance pays $100 on each claim, but it's driving the premium costs way up. "Over the last few years we've been able to replace stolen equipment from funds provided by the special levy. But this year we have no levy to fall back upon. "So when something turns either the fire district (275-2889 or 426-5533) or the Mason County sheriff's office (275-2844 or 426-9766). MEETING FOR COMPREHENSIVE PLAN ADVISORY GROUP SET Next meeting of the North Mason Citizens' Advisory Committee to draft the new county comprehensive plan will be Tuesday, February 14, 7:30 p.m., in Room 2 at the North Mason High School. Public is invited to attend. LIBRARY HOURS REMINDER Local residents are reminded that the North Mason Branch of Arthur Linn pilots his " ' '   ,, : " " his boathouse. Arthur graceful pride and joy, the Ida Lmn,, away from including Frances' fam ften journeyed to Union City to pick up People, dock across the bay. ily, headed for Tahuya who were left off on the community's school or playing in its gymnasium if the weather had turned cold. For Tahuya, 1914 was a busy year. In just that short period the local people built both a wooden bridge spanning the Tahuya River and a gymnasium for their children. Costing exactly $493.73 the 690-foot bridge was constructed mainly to allow children on the far side of the river to walk across it on their way to school instead of using a ferryboat. During the same year the townspeople also paid for a contractor to construct a gym on the school site next to the schoolhouse that Frances says was built long before she arrived. Although the bridge was built to accommodate cars, not much traffic passed over it until the North Shore Road was opened in 1924. The original wooden bridge was still used after some modifications until 1935 when it was replaced by its modern concrete counterpart. As for the school gym, it's still standing on the original site near the river, but the schoolhouse can now be seen rotting where it was later dragged to down by the bridge. Life on the Knollton ranch was typically busy. "At first we raised the standard livestock until the land was pretty well cleared and then we started into producing vegetables. "We had acres of cabbage from which we :made tons of sauerkraut and sold it to well-known restaurants like Manke's and Boldrs over in Seattle." During the 1920's the ranch's production grew so fast that Vern Knollton built a large cannery on his property. Frances estimates that more than 20 people were living and working on the ranch during the period. Tahuya and the surrounding areas were also booming at the time. Both the Woods and Brooks logging companies were going full force, causing Dewatto and its dock to swell. In 1924 Frances married John "Wing" Huson, whom she had met through friends in Seattle, and left Tahuya for a decade. Both the logging off of available timberland and the onset of the Depression took their toll around Tahuya. "It seemed like Dewatto disappeared overnight." Frances says 1927 was a memorable year because it was the only known time in recorded history that Hood Canal froze over. "Believe me, it was cold that year, not just for days or weeks but for months on end. "Two local men who would do anything anyway, Dale Luart and Burt McDonald, took it upon themselves to skate from Tahuya over to Alderbrook. "They made it okay, but first they had to slide down the steep slope made by the tides, and then once they got over to the other side, they had to take their skates off and climb up in their stocking feet. "If you want to talk about things that have changed, try the weather. "It used to snow most every winter, now all it does is rain. "In 1916 we had eight inches of snow and nobody thought it was particularly strange. Nowadays, 1 don't know %vhat's happened." By the 1930s, however, people started moving into Tahuya once again and the community resumed its growth. Wanting to leave the city, Frances and Wing decided in 1935 to buy the Tahuya Grocery up for sale by its owners, Jergen Caldevin and wife. During their ownership of the store, the Caldevins had consolidated its operation with that of the town's post office. Originally, the Tahuya post office was started in 1914 housed in a separate building under the direction of the first postmistress, Jennie Rollie. Then, when Caldevin became the postmaster, he moved the office to his home. "They closed off part of their bedroom and sold you stamps and things from a little window they installed on the side of the home." When the Caldevins bought the Tahuya Grocery, they moved the post ottlce rote the store. For a while, with Frances as postmistress, the Husons followed the same set-up for the combined store and post office. Before long, however, the post office was moved to a small, separate building across the road as part of raising its classification from fourth class to third class. For 17 years the Husons operated the Tahuya Grocery while raising their three children, one girl and two boys. In 1952 they sold the store, but for a total of 35 years - until her retirement in 1971 - Frances served as postmistress for Tahuya. "I liked the work, but even more important I really loved the people in the postal service. I still like to get together with them whenever I can. "Also, I've enjoyed being sort of in the center of Tahuya and watching it change and grow over the years." In 1916 a heavy winter's snow covered the Tahuya schoolhouse in the center, the teacher's quarters to the left and the community's gym on the right. the Timberline Regional Library :::: is ,)pen Tuesday and Thursday, ::  ...... noon to 8 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. When the canal froze over in the winter of 1927, Burt McDonald took the opportunity to skate across from Tahuya to Alderbrook.