Name: Eric Erickson
Education—Coming of Age
What are your memories of Issaquah High School? Which teachers were influential?
During my twelve years in grade and high school the two school buildings were the only schools for all of the school district so you knew everybody from Preston to Coalfield, Hobart, and the Pine Lake Plateau. Teachers I remember that were influential in my education were Dan Coyle, Fred Frohs, Oscar Faggerness, Gerald Lider, Fuayls Krelly, Chuck Falstrom, Ken Schmelzer. Teachers in my high school days 1950-1954 did many jobs they were classroom teachers as well as coaches, bus drivers. Kids that got into minor trouble during school hours were sent to the boiler room where Martin Hanson the Janitor put them to work cleaning the school, moving grass and they had to listen to a sermon as Martin was a church preacher.
What memories do you have of Minnie Schomber, or another favorite teacher?
Minnie was my father’s first grade school teacher and my fourth grade teacher. Minnie’s memory was one of the best of anyone I know. Over the years she could remember every student and person she knew by their first name. Minnie loved to play bingo and her and I played many games at the Eagle’s Hall. Many of the teachers that started in Issaquah in the late 1940’s became active in the community and were outstanding in the classroom.
Were you affected by earthquake damage to the schools in 1949 or 1965?
The 1949 earthquake occurred right at lunchtime and I was standing last in line at the school cafeteria. Everyone ran out of the cafeteria but as I was a growing boy I was hungry so I went in and ate lunch. One of out students was injured by falling bricks from the chimney of the old 3 story brick grade school. During the 1965 earthquake at 8:30 in the morning I was dispatched from the Seattle Water Department for about a ½ hour after the quake all communication systems were out. Then damage calls started to filter in. Numerous broken water mains and hundreds of broken water pipes in homes and businesses occurred mostly on Alki Point and the industrial area of Seattle.
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?
At 6’ tall I was the third tallest high school student and played in the basketball team. Our center was Nick Kelderman 6’ 8” the tallest player in the state at the time. Games against our long time rival Mount Si and the larger schools in Bellevue always sold out, as well as games played in the West Central District tournament.
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?
As a farm boy, most of my free time was spent milking cows, cutting hay, shoveling manure and farm related work activities. During free time I spent a lot of time climbing and hiking on Squak and Tiger Mountains.
At home more work was the punishment. At school sent to janitor room for a sermon (only once as once was enough).
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?
Food- Tony and Johnny’s- First located in the Coutts building, then in their own new store (now the Music shop across from the Eagles- Tony Walen and John Hircko
Hardware and Sporting Goods- Lewis Hardware- Same location as now- Tom and Ed Lewis
Feed- Hailstone’s Feed Store- Now Greyhound Bus Depot
Grange Supply- same location as now
Shoes- Cussac’s Shoe Store- Fred Cussac – Next to Peter’s Real Estate
Clothes- Brady’s clothing- First store is where Texaco Station on Sunset is. Second store is Pizza Place next to old Village Theatre.
Ice Cream Soda and Bus Station- Drylies Honeysuckle- sold milkshakes, ice cream, green rivers and was bus station for both Trailways and Greyhound interstate buses and Seattle- North Bend local bus.
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?
First barbershop was H & H Barber shop inside H & H Tavern had to go into tavern to get to shop until late 1950s when state said minors could not go into tavern to get to barbershop.
Second shop was Paul Benson’s shop located in what is now Mandarin Garden Restaurant.
Third shop was Frank’s Barbershop located next to Front Street Market. Frank Minerich was owner until he retired a few years ago.
Barbers knew all that was going on in town and knew all the latest stories and tales.
What is memorable about Lewis Hardware? What items did you purchase there?
Lewis Hardware had everything you need or they would get what you needed (still a frequent buyer there). They were also the only space that sold fishing and hunting supplies and knew where the fish were biting. The store has changed little today from what it was 50 years ago. As well as owning the store Tom and Ed Lewis were avid hunters and fisherman.
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 purchased most of our groceries from Tony and Johnny’s. One of my favorite clerks (butcher) was A.I. Garner, he always gave every child who came into the store with his parents a hot dog cut of the string of hot dogs (they weren’t prepackaged in those days). Later we shopped at Safeway at their store across the street from Darigold.
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 kept our farm meats in the frozen food lockers at the Grange and berried (hand picked) and vegetables at the frozen food lockers at the Red and White Grocery Store owned by John Kramer and located across Sunset Way from the Grand Central Hotel.
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?
Rena’s Café was owned by Mike and Rena Shain- their son Bill and I played together as we were neighbors. They lived across the street from my grandfather’s house. Liked XXX Root Beer and their Hamburgers. And of course Tom Drylies who owned Drylies’ Honeysuckle located on Front Street where the Mexican Restaurant is now.
Did you go to Boehm’s Candies? What candies were your favorites?
Before Boehm’s Candies went in there was Bill’s Bicycle repair shop at the rear of the property, took my bike their several times and bought parts there for my Schwinn balloon tired bike. Yes bought candies at shop. Chocolates.
What saloons or local bars did you and your friends frequent?
Did not frequent Except had to go into H & H Tavern to get to barber shop which was in the south east corner of the tavern.
See original for drawing of layout.
What do you remember about Grange Supply?
As Hailstone’s, Wold’s, and Keogh’s and other stores that supplied our farm with farm goods we switched to the Grange Supply for our farm needs as well as the purchase of gasoline and heating oils.
What do you recall about Lawill’s drug store?
Lawill’s was a very small drug store but like Lewis Hardware across the street had everything you needed. The Lawill’s daughter Charlene started with me in the first grade and graduated from high school with me in 1954 (Issaquah).
The Great Depression
What are your memories of the Great Depression? Did you have a job at this time? What ways did you try to save money? What did you eat?
Although I was born at the middle of the depression and of course do not remember much about it, we lived along side of the railroad water tank and a hobo camp existed and was still in use in the 1940-1942 period next to the water tank- these hobo’s were people still out of work and traveling by train. As a little boy, I talked to them on the way to school as I walked down the tracks to get to grade school which was located where the Junior High is now.
See original for drawing.
Note: Cafeteria is the only remaining building of the school site. It was moved and became library where the existing library is now located- it was then moved to Newport Way and is the church just north of Fire District 10 Fire Station (Eastside Fire and Rescue). All the buildings on my father’s place and the RR water tank are all now gone.
World War II
How did World War II affect the town of Issaquah? Did you know men or women who went to fight in the war? Did you leave Issaquah to join the war efforts?
My father worked in the sawmill (Issaquah Lumber Co at Monohon) an essential war industry and served as an air raid warden in Issaquah. I remember black out curtains on windows, rationing coupons and A,B,C, D, stickers in car windows which allowed certain levels of gasoline purchases depending upon how many riders and other criteria you used care for. WE were moving on December 7th 1941 and I remember my mother coming out of the house yelling Pearl Harbor has been bombed.
How did the Japanese Internment affect Issaquah? Did you know men and women who were taken to Internment Camps?
None from Issaquah. But in the 1970s one of my secretaries had been sent to camp as a teenager and her family’s farm in south Seattle was taken away. She met her future husband also a teenager in camp.
What kinds of jobs did the War bring to the area? Where did you work at this time?
Issaquah Round-Up—Salmon Days—Labor Day Celebrations
What do you remember about Labor Day Celebrations or Salmon Days?
We went from a local little area hometown celebrations to the massive Salmon Days celebration of today.
Was there any year that these celebrations were especially memorable to you?
Of course as a teenager the Labor Day Celebration of the late 1940s and early 1950s were the most impressive- only local businesses and organizations had floats, all home made and many on farm wagons towed by farm tractors. -Fir and cedar boughs and crepe paper were the most often used materials to decorate- and of course the carnival that came to town and set up on Memorial Field.
What special activities were there at Labor Day Celebrations, or at Salmon Days? How has Salmon Days changed over time?
(1) Carnivals at Labor Days
(2) City leaders who did not have a beard were arrested and taken to jail in the basement of the town hall (building where police building is). And had to pay a fine (donation) to fund celebration. Some mug shots were taken by the press.
(3) Dances held at Grange Hall and Volunteer Fire Hall.
(4) Raffles and games of chance held by local fraternal organizations to raise monies.
What are your memories of the Rodeo?
Before my time
What were some of the other memorable special events and occasions in Issaquah?
The arrival of the first of the next year’s new car models in the showrooms of car dealers.
The last of the steam trains in Issaquah including on of the Casey Jones specials that stopped to take on water at the RR water tank and they were unable to proceed up the grade towards High Point because it did not have enough power to pull the grade it sat there for several hours until a diesel locomotion arrived and pushed it on its way.
The long standing argument between Issaquah and the Washington State Highway Department about the installation of a stop & go traffic signal at Front and Sunset. And how long and many accidents that occurred at US 10 and Front before a traffic light was installed there (now Gilman & Front).
The demolition of the high school building following damage by the 1965 earthquake. My mother was one of the first graduates from the building in 1933.
The Flying Tiger airplane crash in January 1950 2 miles south of town across the Issaquah Hobart Road from where the hang gliders now land. It occurred during a wind and rain storm. Plane hit a tree on top of Squak Mountain. They went straight down to the valley floor- all lives lost.
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?
Spent lots of time on Tiger and Squak Mountains hiking all over the mountains, hunted deer and bear on both mountains. Fishing in Issaquah Creek for trout and there were many times where I caught the limit of trout (30) per day. Big bass in the 6-8 lb. range caught at Monohon Mill or Lake Sammamish. Deer herds as large as 15 would come down into our farm fields and even today deer abound at farm which is now the Squak Valley Park Site.
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?
Of course fishing is no longer allowed in Issaquah Creek but times gone by caught limits which ranged from high of 30 down to 15 mostly rainbow and Kokanee (silver) trout. In Lake Tradition which had a raft on it caught fish and perch (6”-8”) sizes abound (no limit) caught many. In Lake Sammamish- rainbow, bass, perch, catfish, Kokanee, trout ranges upwards 2-3 lbs, bass 6-8 lbs. Catfish and perch small 6”-12” inches.
Used mostly worms and periwinkles in creek, spinner and worms in Lake Sammamish, worms in Lake Tradition, Pine Lake, Yellow Lake and Beaver Lake, and Sutter’s Lake (now called Laughing Jacob Lake).
What are your memories of Vasa Park? What did you do while there?
Vasa- memories include many mid summer festivals- picnics, speeches, swimming- took swimming lessons there.
Roller-skated many times in Vasa Hall which had skating every weekend.
Dances at hall.
Alexander’s Beach on Lake Sammamish- Many picnics and swimming- local organizations held picnics and just about everyone in town went. Free hot dogs, ice cream, and beer for adults.
Hans Jensen’s Place- Every kid in town probably swam at Han’s where Boat Ramp is on Lake Sammamish is now.
Did you go swimming in the local lakes in the summer? Or ice-skating at the Horrock’s Farm in the winter?
Swam in Lake Sammamish, Pine, Beaver, Round, and Yellow Lakes as well as used inner tubes and floated and swam in swimming holes along Issaquah Creek.
Went sledding on Jake Housman’s hill during winter snows (hill is now Sycamore area of Issaquah).
Ice-skated on Prospect Pond, and our farm pond and the pond that was at intersections of old Issaquah Hobart Road and Issaquah Hobart Road. Now 238th Way SE and Front St. S.
Played on ice when Lake Sammamish (south end) froze in 1950. Record cold spell which still is record today.
Also swam in N.P. RR water tank.
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?
The last stand of old growth trees existed on my place at 10029 Issaquah Hobart Road. It consisted of 21 trees with diameters up to 5’- the purchaser of the property from me cut them down. In most cases the trees were 100 feet before the first branches were.
In earlier years the remnants of cedar stumps cut off 8’-10’ above ground existed on the place. Many were 10’-14’ in diameter.
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?
My grandfather Eric Erickson was co-owner of the Issaquah Lumber Company Mills at 2nd and Monohon. From 1929-1944- all I remember about 2nd and Front Mill was when it burned down my mother was first to see fire and she yelled at my dad that the mills was on fire and we ran up the road to the mill. I also remember remains that existed there for several more years, charred metal, sawdust piles and woody water tank that did not burn. Visited the Monohon Mill several times when my father was at work there and remember when he came home after the fire and the back of his 1940 Ford car had the paint burned from the fire- watch people catching bass from docks in mill pump house on the lake- remember log trains going through Issaquah and unloading logs on pier out into lake.
Remember many log trains came down from Preston, North Bend area or tracks through Issaquah to Monohon and on to other points.
Farming and Dairy
Were you involved with farming in Issaquah? What farm did you work on? What was grown or raised there?
Our family farm was located at what is now the Squak Valley Park- Barn and Farm House still exist on all owners by City of Issaquah. We raised beef and had a small herd of milk cows (15 max) for which I hand milked, every morning and evening until 1957. Of course there was hay to cut, put in barn, manure to shovel out of barn and put in fields. Milk compartment to clean and wash and 5-gallon creamer cans and 10 gallon milk cans to handle.
Issaquah Auto Freight picked them up at farm and delivered them to the Issaquah Creamery.
During the later years of my other grandfather’s life (Frank Klotz) I helped him with his chicken farm located at what is now the property at the entrance of Sycamore. Feeding, picking, and cleaning eggs, preparing chickens for market at Issaquah Meat Stores. Changing the coal oil (kerosene) handling the 100 lb. sacks of chicken feed.
Did you work at the Issaquah Creamery, or what is now Darigold?
No, we were co-op owners of Creamery which was called Consolidated Dairy Products.
Did you travel frequently into Seattle? How did you get there? What did you do while in Seattle?
As a youngster we only went to Seattle for dentist (Issaquah did not have one) and to Sears. Dentist by bus- Sears by car (Sears did not have a catalog or retail store in Issaquah). Later traveled to work in Seattle (5 days a week) mostly by bus except for meeting nights.
How did the construction of I-90 change life in Issaquah?
It, along with the construction of the Mercer Island Floating Bridge in 1939 and US 10 Now Gilman Blvd. changed Issaquah forever. Development and traffic resulting from these roads have made Issaquah a mess. We no longer have the peace and quiet and the mess is still under way and will get worse.
As a youth I could walk down the middle of the Issaquah Hobart Road (now First St. S) to Issaquah and only on occasion have to move to the side to let a car go by- over 20,000 cars a day now use road and you would get killed walking on parts of it without sidewalks.
What was your first car? Did you buy it from Hepler Ford Motors, Stonebridge Chevrolet, or the Kaiser-Frazier dealership?
Bought first car a used 1946 Ford Coup from Hepler’s. Irv Nelson was Hepler salesman and my father purchased several cars and trucks from them and later when Irv went to North Bend Motors bought cars and trucks then- Irv later worked as a truck salesman from East Gate Motors the predecessors to Evergreen Ford now in Issaquah.
Fraternal Organizations—Local Halls
What are your memories of the fraternal organizations? Did you belong to the Elks Lodge, or Lions Club, etc?
Not an active member except for Issaquah Historical Society
Went to and participated in many events held and sponsored by the Elks, Eagles Mason’s.
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?
See my book History of the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club copy on file at historical society. I have been involved with the club for over 45 years and participated with my dad in earlier events at the club.
Club has sportsmen youth since 1952 to youth conservation camps. I was sponsored by the club to the first Washington State Conservation Camp held at Orcas Island in 1952 and have been active since then in many Sportsmen’s Organizations.
What types of events did you attend at the Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) Hall? Did you use the shooting range located in the basement?
Dances and used the Indoor Shooting range in basement where the first hunter education programs were held in the State of Washington- They were voluntary in the early days and no required to get a hunting license.
Did you attend dinners, dances, banquets, or other events in the upstairs Grange Meeting Hall?
Attended many dinners, banquets held there included- both Democratic and Republican Banquets- Sportsmen’s Club and Grange Dinners and Dances
Do you have any memories of Issaquah’s mining days? Were you involved in mining?
Remember the coal slack piles located where Evergreen Place is not on Front St. S. They were on fire for many years until they were removed and a mobile home park was built there. (Now Evergreen Place Condos and Apartments). Also across street and creek were large slack piles and the old mine entrance which was not sealed up.
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?
As a small boy we went to the Saturday matinees and sat in the front row looking up at the screen, watched the weekly newsreel, serial westerns, cartoons. Candy bars were a nickel, bottle of pop 10¢ and they had popcorn.
Places I remember on Front Street in the 1940 and 1950s Lewis Hardware, Cussack Shoes, Lawill’s Drugs, Theater, Issaquah 10¢ Store, Wold Hardware, Drylies Honeysuckle, Tony and Johnny’s Market (2 different locations), Thomas Furniture, Issaquah State Bank, Fisher Meats, IOOF Hall, Hailstone Feeds, Johnson Photography, Dr. Hillery’s Home and Office, Issaquah Press, Grange, Alpine Dairy, Hepler Ford Motor, Peters Real Estate, the Castagno, Stonebridge, Maroni and Clark Homes on Front Street South. The High School
What church did you attend? What memories do you have of this church? Were there any pastors, reverends, or church leaders that stand out in your memory?
Although not a regular church member I attended a number of different churches and Sunday schools, they included the Community Church which was located in the second story office building which now stands on south bank of the east fork of Issaquah Creek on the west side of Rainer Blvd. Others included the High Point Church, Martin Hansen Pastor, the church next to Issaquah Press (Lois Hines Pastor for many years) the Roadside Chapel on the Issaquah Hobart Road south of the Cedar Grove Road.
Growing up in the valley south of town I remember the many small farms and the old timers who lived and earned a living on them. In addition to our family dairy farm and Grandpa Klotz’s chicken farm. There was the Hausman Dairy Farm where sycamore now is, the Hart Dairy Farm where the paragliders now land (both sides of Issaquah Hobart Road). Tom Mason Dairy Farm on May Valley Road where Sunset Valley Homes Development is located. Tondreau Farm, Mr. Tondreau used bulls to pull his farm equipment with, it was located across the Issaquah Hobart Road from the Tiger Mountain Vet just south of Cedar Grove Road.
The King County gravel pits located (1) E. Lake Sammamish Parkway just south of SE 56th (eastside) (2) May Valley Road just east of Tom Mason Farm, (3) Hobart just North of the Cedar River.
The big freeze, followed by a heavy wet snow in January, February of 1950 and the big floods that followed. Many roads washed out. This event was at least twice as large as 1990 and 1996 floods. Also the south end of Lake Sammamish froze over. Cars and people were out on the lake. Although most of the logging in the valley had been done some logging near the top of the west face of Tiger Mountain and on the east face of Squak Mountain was still under way in the 1950s.
As a teenager I helped a number of old timers with their farm work, some of them paid me and some did not. One who did was Mr. Prospect who lived on what is now Lewis Lane, he paid me in Green Silver Dollars, this supported the fact that it was reported he lost his money in the 1929 bank failures and did not trust them. So he buried his earnings in the form of silver dollars and returned them to pay people. He also picked dandelions along side of the roads and made good dandelion wine.
Almost everyone in the south valley picked wild blackberries and most of the men hunted deer and bear on both Tiger and Squak Mountains with a high success rate. In the 50s there was a bounty paid for cougars and crows, $75 for cougars and 10¢ per crow and many hunted those on the hills as well. Even today the number of deer, bear, and cougars are about the same as the 1950s but the number of cows is not as large. Due to the number of chickens and eggs in the valley during the 1940s and 1950s there also was a large number of skunks (almost none now) who like eggs and baby chicks.
Of course the telephone system consisting of farmer owned and maintained lines which had up to 10 parties (customers) on each line was very interesting whenever you picked up the receiver and someone was on the line you could hear all that was said by both parties. So the phone was a source for a number of people to keep up on what was going on in the neighborhood by listening in to others conversations.