Old Timer Stories

An Old Salt - Photo by Charlie Kellogg

An underlying theme at SanJuanSufficiency.com is products we love and recommend and the local businesses that we respect and choose to promote. But this post has nothing to do with commercialism or product review. It is dedicated to stories and recollections, sometimes first hand and at others, second or third hand, of the histories of a few of the people that interacted within the San Juan Islands in periods past. What has it to do with sufficiency in the San Juans? Frankly, I don’t know and don’t care, except that these individuals may represent the epitome of independence, self sufficiency, entrepreneurism and independent living. If nothing else, the stories should be entertaining!

I will start with some of my own family history, as related primarily to me trough my Grand Father, Edward White. Grandpa Ed was an entrepreneur, a businessman, a joker, a boat builder, and possibly a delightful scoundrel. He passed away in 1977. My Grandmother, Catherine, passed away in October 1997, at the age of 99. She was a remarkable woman as reflected in her obituary.

While my Grandmother was a remarkable person in her own right, she had to be an even more incredible and adventurous individual than documented histories might reflect, to thrive with my grandfather. If you can give any credence to the oral histories passed on to me by grandpa Ed, it must have been one hell of a ride. If she could put up with him, she’d have to be remarkable!

Grandpa Ed was a wonderful character. For one reason or another, I think he told me stories that he never shared with my mother, my brother or sister, and probably not even with my grandmother. I know that when he came to visit us in Zillah Wa, he would go down to the town pool hall and hustles the locals. He’d lose a few games at $0.50 a ball until the other players felt confident. About the time it came up to $5.00 a ball, he’d run the table, several times in a row. We had a pool table in our basement as did he, and he’d pretty much put any ball in any hole you wanted, including some incredible combinations. At the same time, he was tracking the ticker tapes from the stock exchange. He liked his whisky and he liked his cigars. He loved people, he loved his family, he loved a joke or a trick. I loved him.

By his stories, he was a rum runner during prohibition, interacted with the CIA during the course of his career as an international tour guide and agent, did a bit of “Wing Walking” in the Great Depression, built boats, had a seat on the Seattle Stock Exchange, founded his own travel and tour company, made a few million and probably lost just as many. My grandparents were accepted among the socialites of early Seattle. I know that I do not know even the half of it, but the few tid-bits I remember are precious and, I hope reminiscent for others of you out there.

While these initial stories must, by default, focus on my own family histories and recollections, I would welcome and endorse any and all comments, contributions, stories and histories of any who would like to comment or share a family story or history related to Puget Sound or the San Juan Islands.

This piece is introductory only. The entire history might contain many volumes, I hope it does. I’d like to create a forum for the shared oral histories of any and all who may visit this site. One of the things we’d like to do in the course of our cruising, is to meet some of the “Old Timers” in this area, and help to preserve their histories.

I will be posting specific short stories from time to time, giving what details I can remember from my own family. I will also be posting stories we pick up on our cruising adventures. We have met a lot of interesting people out here, and they all have wonderful stories to tell. We will try to share them.

Help us if you can!

Individual stories will be linked here, so please come back often and look for new posts. If you find something you like, share it. If you have something to add, do so.

Ken@sanjuansufficiency.com

Related posts:

Sailing in Solitude
Escape the Gilded Cage
Voyaging Challenges
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