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San Juan Island Memories

Archived San Juan newspapers are stored at the San Juan Island Historical Society and Museum on Price Street in Friday Harbor.  As a volunteer and part time researcher for the Society, I have the opportunity to review some of these newspapers, dating back to the late 1800’s.  So I am now transporting you back in time with some snippets of news stories from days past on our Island:

July 1955 – “Dial Telephone Service coming to Friday Harbor”

Before dial service, residents would pick up their phone, an operator would answer, and the resident would ask the operator to connect them to a number.

December 1971 – “John Wayne and Dan Blocker were seen at Roche Harbor Resort

A number of celebrities dropped into the Roche Harbor Resort, located on the north end of San Juan Island over the years.  Reports from 2014 and 2015 reveal sightings of Jon Bon Jovi and  Tom Hanks

June 1957 – “Family Circle article results in 300-500 letters to Orcas Chamber of Commerce” 

A travel piece about the San Juan Islands, highlighting the beauty of Orcas Island, brought a flurry of requests for information from potential tourists. The tone of the article hints this attention from the mainland was not that welcome.

December 1971 – “Jaywalking becomes illegal on Spring Street”

The Town Council decided to no longer tolerate pedestrians crossing busy Spring Street in Friday Harbor where they weren’t supposed to cross.. People were wandering about, holding up traffic, stopping in the middle of the street to talk to neighbors, and the Town Council decided to take action.  Glancing around Spring Street in the summer of 2015, I would imagine that 44 year old law has been less than effective.

December 1961 – “The Postal Service asks Island residents to check for mail during the tidal changes.”

The Mail Boat sank.

January 1921 advertising – “Dinner prices start at 35 cents”

The Tourist Hotel (now Bird Rock) is one of the few buildings in Friday Harbor that was built in the late 1800’s as a hotel, and has never been anything but a hotel.

November 1971 – “Hi Diddle Diddle seen at Erbe’s Toggery”

Friday Harbor has always been a pet friendly town.  Hi Diddle Diddle was the community cat and made a visit to the local dress store (and yes, that was news).

Visitors to Harrison House Suites will find the San Juan Island Historical Society and Museum at 415 Price Street in Friday Harbor.  Call 360-378-3949 to make an appointment.  If you are interested in having assistance in tracing your family tree to its San Juan Island roots, there are researchers available.

If you have any San Juan Island history to share with us, please let us know – we might be able to arrange a historic tour and meeting with some local historians.  In the meantime, become part of the Island lore by making your reservations at Harrison House Suites today!

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