Last year my wife Helen and I took a Road Scholar Tour of Alaska. It was the only state I had not seen in these United States. I am working on a notebook of my impressions, rating my country’s 50 states and find that my residence here is still Numero Uno, despite Alaska’s splendid mountains, wildlife and Northern Lights, and California’s Bay Area, Yosemite and Hollywood. Washington still beats them despite their claims.
When I first came here to visit in 1975, the late Glenn Ranson, who worked with me at the Palo Alto Times, was selling real estate and sold me a lot at Cape San Juan. My late wife and I decided then that this was where we would retire.
Four years later, I quit the Palo Alto Times, after 30 years. I have no regrets. I went to work for the Friday Harbor Journal, owned at the time by Frank Leeming. He was a pro. Several other firms have owned the paper since then, but our present owners are the first who seem to have the knack of what has kept newspapers alive through all the threats of technology, like radio, television, and now blog-ishing via internet, and the like.
I know, some people think newspapers are kaput. Not this cowboy.
The County Fair is a good example of why it won’t happen here. We’ve had a County Fair for over a hundred years, just as we’ve had a strong newspaper for more years than that. It is just one example of how we all pitch in to make things work. One of the first things Glenn Ranson asked me to do when I got here was to transfer to the Lions Club here, from my Palo Alto Club. I was sitting at the Lions steak dinner at the fairgrounds, at the time with the late Ross Miner, my neighbor. I’ve done something there annually in my 54 years as a Lion.
Then Ross Miner, a retired Marine colonel who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, had me join the Yacht Club along with another neighbor, the late Jim Hitch. I bought a boat from the late Dick Barnes, at Snug Harbor, so we could fill our crab nets, fish and do stuff with the Yacht Club and the Power Squadron. As a former 4H member on the farm in Eastern Shore of Maryland, I felt obliged to help on their Fair activities (bidding for duck eggs against the Roche Harbor kitchen, in particular).
There soon became a Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club to pitch in on community affairs, scholarships and the like. Former county commissioner Darcie Nielsen spoke out against the male service clubs “Mens Only” rules. I went to-bat for Darcie, and won. The Friday Harbor Lions invited her to join. In return, I applied for membership in the Soroptomists and was a member until our publisher (a woman) chose to be a representative.
Purple & Gold, Farmers Market, Medical Guild, CATS, Island Artisans, Friends of the Library, Mullis Center… what more could you ask for?
Think about the tens of thousands of impoverished children and adults who have received eyesight through glasses collected by the late Lion Roy Matsumoto. Think of the sidewalk the Lions put in on Spring Street, alongside the clinic and convalescent center years ago and the fishing and mooring dock The Leos and Lions clubs built and maintain on Egg Lake.
I could list equal accomplishments by all the other 90-plus non-profits that flourish on our island, but we all know who you are and we’re all a good part of why the proud people of the San Juans love it here.
See you at the Fair.
— Go with the F.L.O.W. (Ferry Lovers Of Washington)