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Colleen Slater

Colleen Slater

The Key Peninsula Civic Center Association turns 60 years old this year in a building that mostly turned 80 while parts of it turned 100. The association was founded in 1956, but the buildings have another 40 years of history behind them.

Sunday, 01 May 2016 07:00

Fuchsias and More at 21st Annual Sale

The Lakebay Fuchsia Society, established in 1995, holds its 21st annual sale May 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the lawn of the Key Peninsula Civic Center. A wide variety of fuchsias plus some annuals, perennials and vegetable starts will be available.

Saturday, 02 April 2016 00:23

Former Vaughn Union/PHS teacher turns 105

"I’ve lived all over the place," said Dorothy Lusby several years ago. She loved to travel and made many trips across the globe.

Born in Biggsville, Illinois, in 1911, Lusby graduated from Monmouth College and her first teaching job was near her home in Fulton.

Grant (Smitty) Smith, Tacoma mailman, organized the Explorer Search and Rescue (ESAR) team in Pierce County in 1966 with an Explorer Post of Boy Scouts.

The Key Peninsula park known as 360 Trails became the site March 5 for Course 4 recertification. Smitty, Operations Director for the county organization, arranged the setup and camped with participants at Gateway Park over the weekend.

Course 1 teaches trainees how to read maps and use a compass, producing associate members who can participate in evidence searches in Pierce County pending the arrival of someone with an emergency worker card.

Course 2 includes working in teams, including locating nighttime compass points, producing support members who can attend urban missions in Pierce County.

Course 3 tests endurance, locating about 15 sites in a specific order. Graduates are Conditional Brushmonkeys, who may attend all Pierce County missions.

Course 4 teams practice patient assessment, litter packing and carrying, and do a mock search and rescue. Completion of all four courses qualifies trainees to be Brushmonkeys, who may attend all search and rescue missions.

Adelle, Smitty’s wife, is a retired teacher who lived in Longbranch most of her public school years. Old-timers around here will recognize her as Adelle Paul: her father had a pharmacy in the Longbranch Mercantile. She went through the training with two of their three sons and another mom, opening the doors for women to become Brushmonkeys.

Adelle never went on an actual search, but drove participants to and from locations, operated phones and radios, and relayed information to the parents.

“We’ve had returnees with their kids and even grandkids,” said Smitty, “but today’s younger generation aren’t ‘joiners.’”

They now have more adults than teens in the program.

When a plane with skydivers crashed in 2007 at White Pass, their team of five volunteers were all over 80, Smitty said.

Students who are members of ESAR are allowed to go on searches for two days if their grades won't suffer, though some teachers frown on their release in spite of the good it does students, Adelle said.

“A lot of our boys went on to be park rangers, detectives and attended military academies,” said Smitty. “One was a deputy sheriff, one flew a Coast Guard helicopter, and we even have a full bird colonel in the Pentagon.”

“We only did wilderness locations to begin with,” said Adelle, “but after Ted Bundy and the Green River stuff, we expanded to evidence searches, missing kids and now even missing Alzheimer people.”

One memorable search was for a missing 20-month-old boy who wandered five miles from home in Belfair the day after Christmas. Eight hundred volunteers from ESAR, Belfair and surrounding areas looked for him. Smitty was the leader. The boy was found safe 30 hours later.

“What bothers me the most are the kids we’ve never found,” says Smitty.

Smitty is pleased to have served in this special organization for over 50 years.

Thursday, 03 December 2015 07:02

Trip of a lifetime

Arlene Babbitt of Vaughn enjoys her Swedish heritage and hoped to someday visit her grandparentshomeland.

Gunnel, first cousin of Arlenes mom, Violet Visell, visited the family here when Arlene was a young teen. Gunnel was daughter to Alfred, a brother of Arlenes grandmother Berta Lindgren.

Gunnels son Lars came to visit in 1983, so the family kept in contact with some Swedish relatives.

Arlenes sister Judy Bradshaw and husband Cliff took mom Violet to Sweden, but Arlene, in a new job, couldnt go at that time.

I cried, she said, because I was sure Id never get to go.

Arlenes husband, Martin, suggested she contact his cousin Judy Hunt, whod married a Swede and they went back to his country regularly.

You go, meet your family, have fun, hed say, but he wasnt interested in accompanying her.

One year prior to a Peninsula High School class reunion, Arlene and friends put together a memory booklet for their classmates who sent photos, updates and other information to share.

Arlene included in hers a lifetime dream to visit Sweden. She hoped classmate and friend (and cousin by then) Judy Hunt would read it and extend an invitation.

Judy didnt attend that reunion and perhaps never received a copy of the booklet.

The dream continued to exist, but without real hope of it coming true.

Earlier this year, Arlenes children told her she needed to have a special celebration for her 75th birthday.

Like what? she wondered.

You should go to Sweden!

Oh, no, I couldnt go to Sweden by myself, she said.

Well go with you! her daughters told her.

Arlene thought that a wonderful plan, and in August she, daughters Laurie and Bonnie and son-in-law Roy flew to Copenhagen and took a train to Hjarup in southern Sweden where cousin Sofia picked them up.

Sofia is related through Arlenes grandfather Helmer Lindgren.

Lars was a main contact for planning this trip.

Glasriket, a glass factory and clothes shopping were highlights of their southern stop, but visiting family was the top priority.

Arlene and Laurie took notes on Swedish spelling and pronunciation and rattle them off with familiarity. Arlene also kept a brief journal where she noted the food they were given, including Swedish meatballs that were so good I went back for more and didnt care if I didnt eat anything else, she said.

They met Larsbrother Nils and family and slept in a four-story 1880 windmill Lars is restoring in Loftahammar, near Vāstervik.

They drove to Stockholm and flew north to Umeå, a large city near where both Helmer and Berta were born and raised.

Arlene and family were met and taken to Peder Jonssons home for dinner. A marvelous smorgasbord buffet was shared with about 30 relatives, including Gunnel, now 92.

This woman is so lovingly amazing, says Arlene.

Many hours later they went to Gunnels summer stuga to sleep. This is a summer cottage on the Gulf of Bothnia.

At another cousins stuga, the hostess said, Ven ve finish eating, ve can go across the road and take a bath.

The Americans looked at each other and wondered about that, but learned bath was the word they used for a swim.

Laurie especially enjoyed meeting a cousin who could speak American and Laurie said, I stuck with her so she could explain what everybody was saying.

They visited the church in Bygdeå, built in 1539, where Berta was confirmed, Mjösjön,the farm where Berta was born and raised, the Selfors area and the Sjöstrom house where Berta's mother was born and raised and also the Overklinten Mill.The Sjöstrom home is still owned by descendants.

They attended a  small reunion of relatives on Grandpa Helmer Lindgren's side.

In Umeåas in other cities, bicycles are common and streets were lined with them.

These 80-year-old women on bikes, their skirts flying, going shopping, says Arlene. She asked Gunnel if she did that at 80, and Gunnel inquired of her daughter when did she put her bicycle away. When she was 85.

Back to Stockholm for more visits with Lars and Nils.

They gave us a tour of the little islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago, and took us to  Gamla Stan, which means Old Town, says Laurie, the Royal Palace, several churches and a tour of Prince Eugenes home and gardens.

Arlene and her daughters felt immediately accepted and we talked and laughed all the time, just like at home, she said.

It was an amazing trip and we enjoyed it so much, says Laurie. “The most wonderful part was the complete abundance of family love received there, she adds.

Home again, they love sharing the photos, the stories and the memories. Not only did Arlene get her trip of a lifetime, but she was able to share it with part of her family.

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 12:53

Local sculptor creates memorial in Ruston

Paul Michaels began his professional art career as a woodcarver. He first specialized in custom carousel horses, creating about a dozen, most of them displayed in clients homes.

The idea of the permanence of bronze sculpture appealed to me and in 1995, I went off in that direction, he said.

His first public bronze monument was a statue of Ben Cheney sitting in the stands watching the game at Cheney Stadium.  

Since then he has created others commemorating historic figures in the local area, including Puyallup berry farmer Ted Picha, Allen C. Mason and a monument on the site of the top of the Ocean Restaurant in old Tacoma.

Michaels bronze plaques are in sidewalks in the Proctor district and along Ruston Way, marking sites of historic sawmills.

The Tacoma Historical Society acted as fiscal sponsor for some of his projects, which allowed contributors to deduct donations.

In 1999 Elise and I built a house on the Key Peninsula and moved our family here from Tacoma, Michaels said.

He now works on his sculpture projects at a studio there.

I have enjoyed researching historical figures and using the facts I find when portraying them in Bronze, he said.

He checks clothing, personal items and tries to portray their personality in the facial expression.

I kind of like researching Tacoma history and wondered who Ruston was named for, he said.

He discovered Ruston was named after William Rust, but didnt know much about him.

The more I learned about him the more I thought he deserved a statue. Many people in Ruston can now find a bit of their towns history when they discover this monument, he said.

It turned out, Michaels said that he not only built the Tacoma Smelter, which for a time was the largest employer in Pierce County, but was a philanthropist and promoter of Tacoma and Pierce County.

Rust sold the smelter in 1905 for a tremendous profit, invested in mining interests in Alaska and sat on the boards of many local companies. He was instrumental in getting the Stadium Bowl built and influencing the Army to build Camp (Fort) Lewis in Pierce County, he said.

According to Michaels, Rust built a large business building in downtown Tacoma, was chairman of the board of Tacoma General Hospital and created the Rust Trust for the care of children at the facility.Money from the trust paid for half of the original Mary Bridge Hospital building and continues to generate support for the hospital, millions of dollars to date.

Michaels worked about two years on this project.Research took a while and finding enough photos of Mr. Rust to be confident the statue resembled him was a challenge.

It turns out there was an oil portrait of him hidden away at Mary Bridge Hospital, he said. I sculpted the image in clay in my studio and the sculpture was cast in bronze at Two Ravens Foundry in Tacoma.

Babe Lehrer, well known Tacoma community activist agreed to act as fundraiser for the project and the Tacoma Historical Society handled the money.

Contributors included MultiCare, the Point Ruston developers, Rust family descendants, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and the Ruston/Point Defiance Business District Association.

Wren & Willow, general contractors, made and donated the concrete pedestal.The City of Ruston now owns the monument that was installed in Juneat the corner of North 51st and Winifred Street.

 

Other artwork by Michaels is on his website at michaelsbronze.com.

Paul Michaels began his professional art career as a woodcarver. He first specialized in custom carousel horses, creating about a dozen, most of them displayed in clients homes.

The idea of the permanence of bronze sculpture appealed to me and in 1995, I went off in that direction, he said.

His first public bronze monument was a statue of Ben Cheney sitting in the stands watching the game at Cheney Stadium.  

Since then he has created others commemorating historic figures in the local area, including Puyallup berry farmer Ted Picha, Allen C. Mason and a monument on the site of the top of the Ocean Restaurant in old Tacoma.

Michaels bronze plaques are in sidewalks in the Proctor district and along Ruston Way, marking sites of historic sawmills.

The Tacoma Historical Society acted as fiscal sponsor for some of his projects, which allowed contributors to deduct donations.

In 1999 Elise and I built a house on the Key Peninsula and moved our family here from Tacoma, Michaels said.

He now works on his sculpture projects at a studio there.

I have enjoyed researching historical figures and using the facts I find when portraying them in Bronze, he said.

He checks clothing, personal items and tries to portray their personality in the facial expression.

I kind of like researching Tacoma history and wondered who Ruston was named for, he said.

He discovered Ruston was named after William Rust, but didnt know much about him.

The more I learned about him the more I thought he deserved a statue. Many people in Ruston can now find a bit of their towns history when they discover this monument, he said.

It turned out, Michaels said, that Rust not only built the Tacoma Smelter, which for a time was the largest employer in Pierce County, but was a philanthropist and promoter of Tacoma and Pierce County.

Rust sold the smelter in 1905 for a tremendous profit, invested in mining interests in Alaska and sat on the boards of many local companies. He was instrumental in getting the Stadium Bowl built and influencing the Army to build Camp (Fort) Lewis in Pierce County, he said.

According to Michaels, Rust built a large business building in downtown Tacoma, was chairman of the board of Tacoma General Hospital and created the Rust Trust for the care of children at the facility.Money from the trust paid for half of the original Mary Bridge Hospital building and continues to generate support for the hospital, millions of dollars to date.

Michaels worked about two years on this project.Research took a while and finding enough photos of Mr. Rust to be confident the statue resembled him was a challenge.

It turns out there was an oil portrait of him hidden away at Mary Bridge Hospital, he said. I sculpted the image in clay in my studio and the sculpture was cast in bronze at Two Ravens Foundry in Tacoma.

Babe Lehrer, well known Tacoma community activist agreed to act as fundraiser for the project and the Tacoma Historical Society handled the money.

Contributors included MultiCare, the Point Ruston developers, Rust family descendants, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and the Ruston/Point Defiance Business District Association.

Wren & Willow, general contractors, made and donated the concrete pedestal.The City of Ruston now owns the monument that was installed in Juneat the corner of North 51st and Winifred Street.

 

Other artwork by Michaels is on his website at michaelsbronze.com.

Camp Woodworth, on the east side of the Key Peninsula, celebrates 70 years of existence this year. It was created in 1945 as a summer camp for youth, starting with young men mainly from Tacoma.

Harold Woodworth of Woodworth Sand and Gravel, whose company did work for the first two Tacoma Narrows Bridges, donated the acreage with more than 400 feet of waterfront.

Early campers used tents, but now cabins that hold 12 to14 campers each are available.

Campers have included girls, adults and families for many years now.

Boats, kayaks, archery and basketball are all available at the camp, plus some wide open spaces for group activities.

There is a large dining hall with an industrial kitchen, as well as cooking and picnic space near the beach.

The Chapel by the Bay is being used Sunday evenings for services this summer.

Music, shared testimonies and prayers, similar to evening church services of 50 years past, are the basic plan, with special presentations included, too.

Country Lovin Ministries will present a patriotic evening with puppets, music and a message from God's word on Sunday, July 5, 6 to 7 p.m., said Judy Sherman, co-director with husband Mike.

Child Evangelism Fellowship of Pierce County will present a five-day club at the camp, July 6 through 10, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. for those going into grades first through grade six. This is a free event, but organizers recommend calling to register your children.

All teachers and helpers have been trained and screened to ensure your child's protection, Judy Sherman said. Parents are welcome to attend. To see an actual schedule and activities, visit 5dayclub.com

Jeff Olive, a former teacher at Burley Christian School and Lighthouse Christian School will be the guest speaker on July 12, at 6 p.m.

He is and was a pastor in this area before moving to Tacoma, Sherman added.

For future speakers and events, visit the Woodworth Facebook page.

Mike Sherman was on the camp board and became president four years ago. He said they had no money, but bills.

The camp was empty, needed a caretaker, and as one board member said, needed a presence.

They prayed for someone who was passionate about the camp to appear.

Judy Sherman was school manager for New Hope Christian School in Graham for 21 years when she said God called them to sell their home and move out to Camp Woodworth.

Their son, who'd been asking when he could buy their home, was said to be delighted with their decision.

The Shermans live on the property as unpaid staff, and other volunteers join them to do repair and maintenance work as time allows. There are Saturday volunteer work parties.

Mike Sherman takes care of the mowing, but has a full-time job off the peninsula. He's worked Fred Meyer since 1976.

The cabins need updating and improvement, and the gymnasium –– although quite useable –– is undergoing some changes for more efficient use.

Money, lumber and supplies seem to always be needed, and as the word goes out some provisions arrive.

The camp is an independent organization, so income is strictly from facility rentals and donations. Theres no money owed on the camp now, Judy said. Its freeing to not worry about repair bills. They've been the recipients of rich blessings she added.

There have been no overnight youth camps for four years, but next summer they plan to hold regular summer camps. Churches with youth groups, women and men's retreats, pastor conferences are all on the planning schedule.

Judy Sherman said she greatly loves the peace and quiet of the location.

Of course with 100 kids, it won't be quiet, she said, but that's not a daily situation.

Staff alumni will enjoy a picnic in August to share memories and note the changes over the years.

Mike and Judy look forward to sharing the gospel and their affordable facilities with families and church organizations who share the similar visions.

For programs, call (253) 686-6029. For general information on the camp, call (253) 691-3535

Editors note: As the local communities developed on the Key Peninsula, people wanted a place for meetings and social gatherings. Community halls were built to serve many functions. This is story two of a two-part series.

Longbranch

Edward Yeazell built a dance hall decorated with Japanese lanterns on his proposed City of Long Branchproperty before 1895. Children shaved candles and skated around to make a good dancing surface, and locals rowed to the dances.

Red Hall, painted red, was built in 1906 near Weisers Cove in Longbranch. It soon became Library Hall with a collection of books to avoid paying taxes.

On dedication day, young girls raced across the new bridge at the facility.

Club meetings, dances, fairs, silent films, masquerade and holiday parties took place there. Visiting baseball teams and their families were entertained.

When Longbranch and Lakebay schools combined, the gym became The Hall.

Penrose Hall in the first Longbranch church, built in 1908, was also used as a community social place until the building began to slide.

Wauna

The Wauna dance hall built near the hotel and store in the late 1890s became a place for fun and entertainment. Dances were hosted, of course, but during World War I, bandages were rolled there by neighborhood women. Plays, sing-alongs and box socials also took place there, perhaps some arranged by the Wauna Social Club that outlasted the hall by many years.

Lakebay

Bert Berntson was a member of Modern Woodmen who helped build the Lakebay Hall in 1922, on property donated by the Ernest Cooper family. It was to revert to the Cooper family if the use as a hall was discontinued.

The hall was the center of celebrations and various meetings.

Berntsons daughter ,Virginia Seavy, said she learned to dance there. The musicians, a pianist and a fiddler, all came from Longbranch.

A woman was once kicked out for smoking at a time when even the men didnt smoke inside public buildings.

When VFW Post No. 4990 of Lakebay was organized in 1946, the members took over management of the hall for a time. They later met in Home Hall, then moved to the KP Civic Center.

The Ladies Auxiliary and Lakebay Ladies Club held meetings in the hall.

After it was unused for many years, Harry and Juanita White converted it into a roller skating rink in the late 1940s.

Weyerhaeuser provided plywood flooring, with regular inspections to test the durability. The company also repaired any damage.

The building was torn down by the then current owners in 1970.

Doorknobs from this hall now grace the office door of the KP museum.

Lewis Lake

In the area settled by Montanans in the mid 1820s, a chicken house was converted into the Lewis Lake Community Hall, where various gatherings were held. Charles Flotten played violin and his wife, Ada, played piano for dances and other occasions.

Victor

The ladiessewing circle, local grange and community club of Victor managed to raise enough funds and donations in the depression days of 1932 to build a community hall in a matter of months.

They picked a date for the first dance to celebrate the opening and advertised, even in the Tacoma newspaper.

Completed a few days before the dance, only the floor needed finishing. The day before the special event, five coats of shellac were laid on the hardwood floor, topped with a layer of wax.

It really shined,said Emma Dahl. It looked great. Unfortunately it never dried.

People arrived for the dance and a big band played. The dancersfeet stuck to the floor.

They threw down sacks of cornmeal so people could move, and a grand time was had by all.

The next day, they scraped up all the ground in cornmeal to re-sand the floor.

A kitchen and bandstand were added several years later.

The hall became popular, with people from all surrounding areas attending dances and other events.

Its still there as the community center, holding an annual yard sale with hot dogs and the best burgers aroundevery Saturday of Fathers Day weekend.

These halls, where a whole community could gather, including children who fell asleep on the benches during a dance or late program, were an essential part of our early Key Peninsula history when travel was slow and limited. Our current facilities –– the Key Peninsula Civic Center, Longbranch Improvement Club, McColley Hall and Victor Hall –– continue to fill some of the roles of our beloved early halls.

Want to know more?

For information on these halls or to provide additional information, visit the KP Historical Society museum in Vaughn, call (253) 888-3246 or write kphsmuseum@ gmail.com.

 

Sources for this article include Along the Waterfront, Early Days of the Key Peninsula, Glencove and various stories from the Key Peninsula Historical Society museum archives.

Editors note: This is part one of a two-part series

As the local communities developed, people wanted a place for meetings and social gatherings. Community halls were built to serve many functions.

Vaughn

The Vaughn Library Hall, at the juncture of Van Slyke and Hall roads, began when Henry S. Coblentz gave the young men of the neighborhood permission to build a dance floor for the July 4 celebration in 1889. They called it The Boweryafter decorating it with branches and ribbon bows.

In 1893, walls and a roof were added to make a community center. A corner room, with its own entrance from the porch, was designated the library and housed books the ladies of The Library Association had gathered over the years. 

This group met only on nights of the full moon so the women could walk safely home after dark, although some of their menfolk gathered in the tower to play cards.

The building was home to a church and Sunday school, with the boysclass in the bell tower. The Episcopalian Vaughn Church was built in 1898, but Presbyterians continued to meet in the hall until the Rev. Applegate invited them to use his beautiful building, too, in 1908.

High school plays and graduations took place in the hall until the gymnasium was built in 1937.

The Ladies Aid Guild met to tie quilts made to raise funds for a church bell. Other organizations using the hall included Good Roads Club, Vaughn Garden Club and Amaranth.

In the depression years, Elsie Olson was in charge of a government program where neighbors came to make mattresses for their families from surplus cotton batting and materials.

Films were shown at the hall as early as 1930 and into the 1940s. Harm and Helen Van Slyke paid 15 cents each to see the latest production from Hollywood.

During World War II, women gathered to make and roll bandages and other items needed. After the war, they continued to meet to make quilts for low-income families.

Health clinics were held, too.

The building was sold for $500 in 1958 and is now a private residence. The money was used for a library in the newly designated Key Peninsula Civic Center.

Home

Home lays claim to three halls. Nightly meetings dealing with intellectual and cultural ideas were hosted at Liberty Hall, constructed in 1903. A debating society; a band; and classes in drawing, Esperanto, yoga, German, flower culture and spiritualism took place there.

The two-story building was 60 by 30 feet. At 25 feet high, it had an upper floor used for  plays, dances, school pageants, social events, lectures and discussions.

Two school rooms and The Demonstrator print shop occupied the lower floor. Classes met there until a school was built at 6th and D.

Women speakers were popular there. It was, with just cause, called the most indispensable institution of the Home colony.

Condemned in 1916, the building was replaced with Home Hall, also called Peninsula Social Hall, set on stilts on the waterfront. A pecan dance floor graced this building, which was taken down in 1970.

Phil Halperin built Harmony Hall for dances in 1923. No alcohol was allowed.   

 Want to know more?

For information on these halls or to provide additional information, visit the KP Historical Society museum in Vaughn, call 888-3246 or write This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sources for this article include Along the Waterfront,” “Early Days of the Key Peninsula,” “Glencoveand various stories from the Key Peninsula Historical Society museum.

A flyer claimed dancing every Saturday night as well as Sundays and holidays.

Sylvia Retherford wrote that dinners were served for the visiting team after every home baseball game, then on to the dance.

Glencove

In April 1906, Louise Petersen and Fred Nelson were in charge of collecting money and overseeing construction of a community hall on land donated by the Petersen family in Glencove. Ulysses Oles pledged the first money, $20.

Built at the head of the bay, the one-story building consisted of a large room with a stage, a smaller meeting room and a kitchen heated with a wood stove.

Floyd Oles, in his book on Glencove, recalled signs posted that said, Come one, come all, come great and small, down to the dance at Glencove Hall.

Before the event, volunteers decorated with Japanese lanterns and bunting and filled the coal oil lamps.

Dances, dinners, school programs, Sunday school classes and Upper Sound Grange meetings were held there. A library was included, too.

Joyce Niemann recalls being at a Halloween dance when her uncle, Jim OHara, came in to announce the arrival of his new daughter.

In 1957, the Glencove Hall Association met and discussed demolishing the building and selling the property.

 

A small marina was then built near the water on that property. A building, purported to be the original hall much remodeled and moved back, still exists on the site.

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