Name: Rachel M. Darst
Birth Date or Year (optional): September 13, 1914
Your history in Issaquah/How long lived here, etc.:
I moved here in 1933.
If you moved to Issaquah, why did you choose it?
I came with my parents.
If you have lived here all or most of your life, why did you choose to stay?
I got married to a home town boy.
Education—Coming of Age
What are your memories of Issaquah High School? Which teachers were influential?
I did not attend Issaquah High School, but I do remember how kind all the teachers and students were when my youngest brother, Ira Dilley, was injured during a football game at Memorial Field.
What memories do you have of Minnie Schomber, or another favorite teacher?
Minnie was a sweet friend. During wartime, it was her job to sign up the boys to go to war. That must have been so hard since she knew them all, and knew that some of them wouldn’t be coming home.
Were you affected by earthquake damage to the schools in 1949 or 1965?
I had children in school during both of the earthquakes.
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?
Fischer’s Meats is still located on Front Street and still sells great meat. Brady’s Dry Goods was located on Sunset. You could buy just about anything there. Steven’s Grocery was located in the IOOF building. They even would deliver. I also remember Dalbotten’s 10cent store, Dormax Clothing Store, and Reg. Thomas’ Furniture Store.
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 I went to Alpha’s. It was located just north of the Eagles. After that, I went to Evan’s Salon of Beauty, which was located where part of the Brewhouse is today. I was Bill’s first customer.
What is memorable about Lewis Hardware? What items did you purchase there?
At Lewis Hardware you could always get what you needed.
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 almost always purchased our groceries at Harry and Rae Stevens’ Store. You could call and they would deliver. They were very sweet people. Occasionally we would stop in at Mr. Moser’s Grocery. He would always have a baked potato cooking on top of his stove. Later we would sometimes stop at the E & F Market on Front Street.
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?
The Grange was like a big country store. Everybody liked it. It had everything you could want. We also rented a frozen food locker there.
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?
My sister owned the Busy Bee.
What saloons or local bars did you and your friends frequent?
I knew the owners of Park Inn and so sometimes we would go in just to chat. There was a miniature bowling competition there once in which I won $47.00. That was a lot of money back then!
What do you recall about Lawill’s drug store?
Mr. Lawill was a very sweet and quiet man. Everyone in town liked him. Mrs. Lawill was very pretty.
What do you recall about Mayor Stella Alexander, the first female mayor of Issaquah (elected in 1933)? Were there any other local politicians or political activities that drew scandalous attention?
She was the mayor when we first moved here. All I can remember is that it was a very scandalous time.
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?
At the time, none of us liked the idea of the change.
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?
I remember having to pick berries to buy school clothes. My mom had to go to Olympia to work in the cannery. I worked at a cannery with my sister in Puyallup. At least once a week, we ate a big pot of beans and fresh homemade bread. It was a hard time for all.
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?
It seemed like everybody had a kid in the war. I knew boys in the war – they weren’t old enough to be called men. It affected everyone.
How did the Japanese Internment affect Issaquah? Did you know men and women who were taken to Internment Camps?
Yes, I knew the only Japanese family around here, the Nagasawa’s. Everyone loved that family. They lived by 12th Avenue and they had a pea patch and berry patch that a lot of our young people picked peas and berries in. As soon as the war started, they had to leave immediately. They were allowed only one suitcase apiece. Sadly, they never came back.
What kinds of jobs did the War bring to the area? Where did you work at this time?
People worked wherever they got a chance, but there were no jobs in Issaquah to be had. The only jobs possibly brought to the area by the war was Boeing.
Issaquah Round-Up—Salmon Days—Labor Day Celebrations
What do you remember about Labor Day Celebrations or Salmon Days?
At Labor Day there were always big crowds (they were nothing like the crowds at Salmon Days though), but everyone looked forward to it. Everyone always picked a lot of berries ahead of time so we would have money to spend.
Was there any year that these celebrations were especially memorable to you?
Every Labor Day was special.
What special activities were there at Labor Day Celebrations, or at Salmon Days? How has Salmon Days changed over time?
The parades and carnival were the big events at Labor Day. It was to me, by far, better than Salmon Days is. During the first few Salmon Days, only local people sold their wares and it was fun to buy from them. Over time, Salmon Days has gotten much bigger and turned too much into an arts festival.
What were some of the other memorable special events and occasions in Issaquah?
The coming of the airport in Issaquah was very exciting. The airport stayed here for many years. The kidnapping of the Weyerhaeuser baby was a tragic event. Another tragic event was the kidnapping and eventual killing of Issaquah’s Anita Houvar and her husband by bandits in Iran. Anita’s parents owned a motel where Skippers now stands.
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?
Gardening was fun and picnicking with my family and friends at Alexander’s Beach was always a highlight. All the men went hunting in the fall. They would go east of the mountains and stay for a week to ten days. A neighbor, Al Arndt, would hunt and camp out on the hill and bring back deer and bear. Quail and pheasant were also common.
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?
The trout were really big and very plentiful.
Did you go swimming in the local lakes in the summer? Or ice-skating at the Horrock’s Farm in the winter?
Alexander Beach on Lake Sammamish was a favorite. We also went to Horrock’s once on the Fourth of July for a picnic and 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?
My husband worked for a time at Red Hall’s Mill. My youngest brother owned his own logging company when he was in high school.
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 remember all of those mills.
Do you remember when there was a fire at the mill? Did you help fight it? Did you see the fire?
I do remember when it burned. I didn’t see the fire itself, but I could see the smoke.
How has the salmon hatchery affected Issaquah?
From the time we moved here, my dad worked at the salmon hatchery. It was beautiful then. There wasn’t a day that would go by without people lining up to see the fish. The hatchery was a great creator of tourism.
Did you travel frequently into Seattle? How did you get there? What did you do while in Seattle?
Yes, we went to Seattle frequently on the bus whether it was to see the doctor, dentist, or just to shop at J. C. Penney.
How did the construction of I-90 change life in Issaquah?
It really messed up the roads at the time, but after it was completed it was so much easier because you didn’t have to go through Renton to get to Seattle. I-90 really cut down on time.
What was your first car? Did you buy it from Hepler Ford Motors, Stonebridge Chevrolet, or the Kaiser-Frazier dealership?
I didn’t buy a car at any of these dealerships, but I do remember when my daughter and I were hit by a car while crossing the street by Hepler’s.
Fraternal Organizations—Local Halls
What are your memories of the fraternal organizations? Did you belong to the Elks Lodge, or Lions Club, etc?
I went to some really good dances at the Volunteer Fire Department Hall.
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 went to dances, benefit dinners, and wedding receptions at the Grange Meeting Hall.
Do you have any memories of Issaquah’s mining days? Were you involved in mining?
I remember having to wash extremely dirty clothes after my husband came home from the mines. There was nothing like it.
What were the working conditions like in the mine? Which mine did you work for, and what was your job?
My husband was a coal miner at the Bianco, Harris, Finn, and Superior Mines. The miners had to breathe in that awful black coal dust and many of them had permanent coughs.
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?
I saw many cowboy movies there, but the last movie I saw at that theater was Tammy, which I went to see with one of my sisters and my daughter.
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?
Lois Hines was a pastor at Bethel Chapel. She was always there for everyone and was an incredibly sweet woman.