Sammamish 1955

 

 

Pine Lake Community Center photo 1

SAMMAMISH, 1955

What? There was no Sammamish in 1955. True--but while you might know what WASN’T here in 1955, you might be surprised to find what WAS here in 1955.

What wasn’t here can be summed up in a paragraph. Much of the wasn’t was between Southeast Eighth and Redmond Fall City Road There were a few farmhouses and a lot of trees. But there was no Timberline neighborhood, no Mead Elementary, no Highlands Shopping Center, (and no Safeway, either, in spite of what the erroneous “serving Sammamish since 1950” sign inside the store says). 228th Avenue was a narrow streak of pavement, barely wide enough for two cars, coming up from Pine Lake and dead ending in a T intersection at Inglewood Hill Road.

In 1955 the population in what would become Sammamish numbered somewhere in the hundreds, most of it south of Southeast Eighth, which in 1955 was the boundary between Redmond and Issaquah. The homes here were still so remote in 1955 that they all had “rural route” addresses. Scattered through the area were a couple of small communities, some good-sized farms, and, in an era before supermarkets, small general stores. These stores typically sold a few canned goods, milk and bread; some sold beer and gas. Brady’s store (which would become known as Sadlier’s in the ‘60s) was located roughly where the Golden Wok is now at Pine Lake Shopping Center. Barker’s store was on the southeast corner of 212th and SE 32nd. Farther west, off the hill and nearly to the lake, was the Monohon General Store, where the 7-11 is today. Nearby, the Monohon logging mill was still logging on, though the town was long gone.

In 1955 the big chicken and dairy farms that had been here for several decades were still here, but wouldn’t be for much longer; improving technology would soon reduce the need for the farms here and nudge them into history. “1955 was about the end of an era here”, remarks long-time resident Dirk Forbes. Forbes’s grandfather Al had had his farm on 212th just southwest of Pine Lake for over 20 years by 1955. In 1955 he had 15 acres of peaches and several more acres of boysenberries and raspberries. He ran a profitable “u-pick” operation where people came in droves and picked their own in the high summer months. But even the orchards’ days were numbered. Al Forbes died in December 1955, and though his family ran the u-pick operation for a few more years, it was gone by 1960.

The “population center” here--- I use the term “population center” tongue in cheek-- was around Pine Lake. Remember that in 1955 Pine Lake was Issaquah, but Pine Lake was important enough to merit its own corner (the Pine Lake News Briefs) in the weekly Issaquah Press. The News Briefs were meticulously detailed updates about who was visiting who, who got married or who was ill with what. Occasionally there were more worldly briefs, such as updates on a road trip Mr. & Mrs. Eno Tanska took to the American South and Cuba early in the year. Not to be outdone, Beaver Lake had its own column, Beaver Lake News, in the Press by December 1955; one of the first columns invited people to come to a meeting on December 18 at Andy’s Beaver Lake Resort to organize the Beaver Lake Community Club.

The Pine Lake Community Center was the happening place. The Pine Lake Community Club had popular theme dances every few months in 1955 (want to go to Klondike Night ? Dial EXbrook-3394 for more information). These dances were always a big draw and a lot of fun--- 50 years later people who were there still remember them with great fondness. Nearby, Reiff French had French’s LaPine Resort (affectionately called “Frenchie’s” by some) in full swing that spring and summer.

Pine Lake Community Center fire house

But the Big Event of 1955 at Pine Lake was the opening of the Pine Lake Fire Volunteer Fire Department in February. It was located in the basement of the Pine Lake Community Club, and staffed by four to six volunteers. The Club gave the Fire Department permission to install a siren on the roof of the building, and every Thursday evening the siren sounded the signal for the volunteer’s weekly meeting. Then, real action-- on December 22, 1955 the Department was called to put out a nearby chimney fire. Some people forgot about the fledgling Pine Lake Fire Department and instead called the Issaquah Fire Department to fight the fire, resulting in some community squabbling and wounded pride in the next two Pine Lake News Briefs.

What would you see if you stepped into someone’s house here in the spring of 1955? Most families by then had their first TVs; you could get a decent black and white picture if you had an antenna on your roof to receive the signal from Seattle. Phones, of course, were here, but were on “party lines”. Each residence had its own phone number but several different residences shared a common phone line. You identified an incoming call by the number of rings- one house might have two short rings, the next house three. Watch out for nosy neighbors picking up their phone and listening in on your conversation! Finally, many homes here were still on well water in 1955. Oscar Freed was running Water District 82 by then out of his farmhouse just northwest of Pine Lake, but many people, not wanting to pay the water connection fee the District charged, hadn’t bothered to hook up yet.

It was a different life here in 1955, but a vibrant one, with a sense of community and purpose unique to what would one day be Sammamish.

---Phil Dougherty

 

 

Freed House Freed House