Title: Island historians present a new view of Vashon's past
Author: LESLIE BROWN
Publisher: Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber
The first account of Vashon's colorful past since Oliver Van Olinda took pen to paper 80 years ago will be released to the public Thursday.
Bruce Haulman and Jean Cammon Findlay, Island historians with deep roots on Vashon, have written a fresh account of the Island's storied past, looking at everything from the glaciers that shaped Vashon to the Native people who first lived here to the way the arrival of Euro-Americans altered the landscape.
"Images of America: Vashon-Maury Island," published by Arcadia Publishing, is largely a photographic account of the Island. Some 200 photos fill the 125-page book, each with long, descriptive captions.
But the two historians have also structured their slim volume as a narrative that captures the trends and developments that have shaped the Island over the decades. Six chapters, each beginning with a short essay, depict the overarching trends of the last few centuries -- including "Settlement: 1865-1890," "Boom: 1890-1920" and "Postwar Growth: 1945-1980."
Haulman, a historian who just retired from Green River Community College, said he's been writing and thinking about Vashon's history for nearly two decades and had a conceptual framework in mind for how such a book should be structured.
"I believed it was important to get a modern reinterpretation of Vashon's history for Islanders and visitors," he said.
Van Olinda, a man of his time, was dismissive toward the Native Americans who still lived in beachfront settlements at the turn of the 20th century, when he wrote his "History of Vashon-Maury Island." Haulman and Findlay provide a fresh look at early Native life, noting in the first chapter, "Though one may think civilization began with European settlement, the Coast Salish S'Homamish occupied the island for at least 3,000 to 6,000 years."
Both Findlay and Haulman said they found certain aspects of Vashon's history particularly fascinating. Findlay, for instance, noted that Islanders upset over a private ferry line run by Capt. Alexander Peabody helped launch the state ferry system. Early on, she added, "Ferries were seen as a stop-gap until the bridges could be built. We came so close to being just another suburban community like Mercer Island."
Other trends became apparent. The Island has long struggled with the sustainability of its businesses, questioned growth and have felt at odds with King County and the state, Haulman said.
"The issues we're facing today are not radically different from those when Euro-Americans first came to the Island: Who are we as an Island and how are we going to develop?" Haulman said.
Both Haulman and Findlay liked building the book around photographs, a requirement of Arcadia's "Images of America" line of publications. But the approach also presented challenges. Certain watershed events, Haulman noted, weren't photographed -- such as the famous incident at the north-end ferry dock in 1948, when a group of Vashon vigilantes wouldn't let Peabody's private ferry moor as part of an ongoing protest over the shoddy service his line provided.
"There are holes," he said. "Photos depend on time and place and a photographer being there."
Particularly challenging, both authors noted, was the difficulty of finding photographs from the last 20 to 30 years. "When we got to the 1980s, the photographic record almost disappeared. People don't think of that as history," Haulman said.
As a result, Haulman hopes to begin "a day in the life of Vashon project" four times a year, when photographers and writers are dispatched for a day to record life on the Island.
Both Findlay and Haulman said it was a joy to work together, poring over photos, writing and editing each other's work and striving to create what Findlay called "one voice that comes from putting our two styles together."
Meanwhile, they said, they're looking forward to discussing the books at gatherings and events, where they can elaborate on Vashon's rich history.
"That's what we can bring up," Findlay said. "The untold stories behind the book."
A book launch party will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the Vashon-Maury Island Historical Museum. The authors will also be on hand to sign their book at the historical association's booth at the Strawberry Festival on Saturday. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Vashon's historical association.
Title: History of Vashon-Maury Island Told Through Photographs
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
The newest addition to Arcadia Publishing's popular Images of America series is Vashon-Maury Island from local authors Bruce Haulman and Jean Cammon Findlay. The book boasts more than 200 vintage images and memories of days gone by.
Vashon-Maury Island lies between Seattle and Tacoma and is connected to the mainland by the Washington State Ferries. The bridge proposed in the 1950s and 1960s did not materialize, which helped retain the island's isolation and rural lifestyle. Like other Puget Sound islands, its original economy was based on logging, fishing, brick-making, and agriculture, especially its strawberries. Island industries included the largest dry dock on the West Coast, shipbuilding, and ski manufacturing.
Distinct from the other islands, Vashon-Maury is the only one whose major town is not on the water. Originally inhabited for thousands of years by the S'Homamish people, the island's first white settler arrived in 1865. Today, 145 years later, the population is more than 11,000.
The authors hope that the book will "provide insights into how the island became what it is today, what legacies from the past remain on the island, and help inform those who help shape the island's future to be always mindful of the past."
Highlights of Vashon-Maury Island:
• All of the profits from the sale of the book are being donated to The Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association.
• The majority of the images are from the association's archives.
• The book identifies the nine major patterns that have defined Vashon-Maury's history.
• The book traces important developments and changes in the business, social, political, cultural, agricultural and transportation history of the island.
Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America's people and places. Have we done a book on your town? Visit www.arcadiapublishing.com.
Title: Vashon-Maury Island
Author: STEVE AMOS
Publisher: The Vashon Loop
Given the deep practical interest Island residents have in the Washington State ferry system (WSF) for obvious reasons, it would probably not come as any great shock to learn, somewhere in the sediments and mists of time-gone-by, that some Vashon-Maury Island residents actually participated, at least in some small way, in the creation of the Washington State ferry system. Yes, but did you know that some of those residents made their contribution armed with clubs and apparently quite prepared to use them in... well, in the way traditional for clubs?
And did you know that at one time the notion of a bridge to Vashon was so popular with Vashon residents that the Garden Club featured a model bridge to the Island, bedecked with flowers, as the centerpiece of its annual flower show? This was news to my wife, the current president of the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club.
These revelations and a surprising stream of countless others can be found in the pages of Vashon-Maury Island, a new book by Island historian Bruce Haulman and retired schoolteacher Jean Cammon Findlay, due out July 11. As noted on the back cover and back interior, this book is a new title in the Images of America series by niche publisher Arcadia Publishing which specializes in books on local history, typically written by local residents, in communities all across the nation. There are nearly 5500 titles in the Images of America series alone with thousands of other titles of historic interest in other series by the same publisher. Co-author Jean Findlay has another title in the Images series, The Mosquito Fleet of South Puget Sound.
As Bruce Haulman himself describes it, Vashon-Maury Island is a photo history of Vashon-Maury Island and the first history of the island published for over 75 years; Oliver Van Olinda's The History of Vashon-Maury Island was published in 1935.
This book is an absolute must-have for any Island resident with any affinity for the Island. You'll find your friends, neighbors and often your family members in the list of people who have contributed to its content and production process, and every page bears information connecting people and places and names you know today, and probably see or drive by every day, with their origins in the past. My wife has a social dinner in a local social club nearly on a weekly basis with a man who "led an effort to develop a scenic overlook at Inspiration Point". I did not know this. A local lumber company used to be owned by a recognizable family name, and two of their sons lost their lives in World War II. A name that you would probably associate with Christmas trees ties to a man shamefully sent off to an internment camp but who, even in the face of the insult, turned around and joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, "the most highly decorated unit in American history" and fought in Italy and France.
Almost every page in the book reads this way, every photo and every sentence connecting the Vashon of today to the Vashon of yesterday, yesteryear, and back through the centuries and millennia.
There were some elements of the book I found to be disappointing at first look. As it turns out, Vashon-Maury has a stunningly complex and deep history, and the book races you through it at breakneck speed. You no sooner bump up against some fascinating aspect than you are whisked away from it with the very next sentence. Countless topics and references shriek out for further detail but there is none. Additionally, I found the writing style sometimes distressing. A single paragraph would often contain ten entirely different topics more suitable to a bulleted list than a flowing paragraph.
I often found it quite difficult to discern satisfactory detail in many of the photographs. All the photographs are black-and-white, even if they were taken last year, giving one a disturbing sense that events you participated in only last year have suddenly become ancient history. No attempt has been made at photo restoration at all and many of the photographs could well benefit from modern techniques; I prefer to preserve the contents of historic photographs rather than to preserve how the photograph itself has been physically compromised.
As it turns out, criticizing the book over these issues would be completely inappropriate. There are exceedingly rigid formatting and content requirements from the publisher for the Images of America series. Each and every book in the series must be EXACTLY 128 pages, no more and no less. All books in the series SHALL contain 180-240 vintage photos specifically, they must be black-and-white, and there shall NOT be any restoration performed. Essentially, the authors had to perform their magic within arbitrary constraints which would have driven me entirely insane. The fact that the authors have operated within these limitations while at the same time producing a little miracle of a book constitutes a rather stunning accomplishment.
Potential readers of Vashon-Maury Island should, in my opinion, look at the book as a sort of photo-enhanced expanded index of Vashon-Maury history, a universal standard starting point to lay the initial foundational understanding of our local history and to plot sojourns of greater depth. The book is a literal treasure map that alerts you not only that there is treasure to be had, but it also yields clear pointers as to where you might go digging. The author's sources are well documented and the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association is close at hand. Personally, my copy of Vashon-Maury Island has sticky notes all over it already.
Locally, the book will definitely be available on publication day at Books By The Way.