Historical Society, 2017 - December Minutes



December 11, 2017


Present: Tom Deach (pres), Janice Veal (treas), Win Anderson, Yadi Young, Julie Pingree, Randy Schnabel, Shirley & Dave Margeson, Morna McEachern, Nancy & Al Bush, Barb Ohms, Bob Anderson, Sue O’Donnell (sec)


Show and Tell: Tom showed a book – The Devil and the Graftor  written by C. R. Woolridge and published in 1907, from the collection of items out of the Kager house (farm at 5331 Edens Rd. sold by the family to Margi Houghton in 2016).  The Kager family gave many items of historical significance to the Historical Society; now stored in various places, waiting for the new museum to be built.


A very large painting of St. Nick has been found in attic of the Community Center.  Barb used it to decorate at the Community dinner last weekend.  The artist’s signature is very hard to read, although “2002” is clearly part of the signature.  Tom intends to post a picture of the painting and signature on Linetime as we investigate the history of the painting, hoping someone will know the artist.


Program: Christmas Traditions Near and Far


Yadira Young started our program with softly playing music from her home country of Costa Rica.  “Yadi” has been a Guemes resident for 37 years.  Her family (Mom, Dad, and 2 brothers) came to the U.S. in 1960 and settled in Kansas.  Yadi graduated from Friends University in Wichita Kansas with a degree in secondary education of French, Spanish and English as a second language.  While on vacation in Costa Rica, Yadi met her husband-to-be Gerald Young.  They were married in 1972.


Yadi said she is so happy to be thinking back to her childhood at Christmastime in Costa Rica! 


December is a lovely month in Costa Rica, just after the wet season of May through November and before the extreme heat of January through April.  Yadi says it is typical to have cooling winds from the north then, but CR is a tropical place – lots of sun, palm trees and beautiful beaches.  Christmas is a good time to go to the beach!  The Christmas season began, back then, December 1 with Christmas carols from Spain.


Yadi’s poster said: “Feliz Navidad” and “Prospero Ano Nuevo”.  The main Christmas décor was the portal, small figures depicting the nativity scene from Bethlehem, familiar in many Christian traditions.   In the tradition, El Nino (Jesus) was the one to whom letters were written, requesting gifts at Christmastime.  The portal was often embellished with “everyday items” like miniature cars, toys, clothes.  Gifts were placed around the manger of the portal.


There were no Christmas trees and St. Niclolas was not part of the tradition until years later as worldwide advertising and trade began to make an impact.  Yadi’s parents did not approve of the Christmas tree! 

Special holiday food memories: Yadi recalls a certain, very fragrant fruit called the "Cohombro".  Tamales were a special treat made of corn masa, then stuffed with pork and vegetables; they were wrapped in banana leaves and tied with string and they looked like presents.  There was a kind of egg nog with rum.  And imported fruit – grapes and apples.  Yadi remembers the apples in boxes with labels from Wenatchee in Washington state.


For Epiphany (January 6) Yadi said they celebrated “Candlearia” and “Rosario de Nino” when the rosary is prayed.

Yadi’s last “true” story was of encountering a parrot when she was very young.  She was out with her family, but having a little girl’s bad day which wasn’t made any better when the parrot, hoping around from branch to branch in a courtyard, came swooping down and screamed at her (in Spanish, of course . . .): “Jesus won’t bring you anything!”  Yadi ended her memories of Christmas in Costa Rica by leading us in singing “Felix Navidas”, accompanied by her tape of Christmas music.


Nancy has memories of going to Yadi’s house to help un-decorate after the holidays so they could both get back to teaching in January!


We had several Swedes in the group.  Nancy’s childhood included Swedish traditions.


Barb Ohms brought a charming painting of a little blond girl wearing a crown of candles, Santa Lucia.  She grew up in Tucson AZ once her parents emigrated from Sweden in the 1940s.   As the youngest girl in her family, it was her role to be Lucia.  Barb remembers green corn tamales being a part of their tradition in Sonara Mexico as well as in Tucson. 


Win remembers a trip to Sweden with his father and 2 brothers at Christmastime 1952-53.  Growing up in Minneapolis, Win also had memories as a 6-year-old, plotting to receive many gifts from St. Nick by using his long johns as a Christmas stocking.  Only one orange would fit in!


Bob Anderson said his family always had Swedish meatballs.  He offered an invitation for all present to come to his house after the Guemes Church, 4 pm Christmas Eve service for visiting, food and refreshment.  Perhaps he will serve Swedish meatballs!


Julie Pingree remembers her girls, Kelly and Stephanie, being in the Sunday School Christmas plays at the Guemes church.

Dave & Shirley Margeson had 2 funny stories of their little grandsons in the Guemes Church Christmas service – the funny things kids say!!!!!

Holly & Kevin Green donated a crèche scene (made by island artist Julie deRoche) to the Guemes Church collection.  The church is high-lighting nativity scenes in the church foyer from the collections of church members.


Qi Lou had agreed to come tell about Christmas in China but was unable to attend the meeting.  Instead she wrote up her memories.  Tom read the following to the group:


Hi Tom,


I am very sorry that I would miss the Christmas topics tonight. I would feel better if I could contribute my part to it through this email.


Christmas celebration in China is getting more and more popular. However, it means differently to different people and different social status. As you know, there is quite a Christianity population in China. So, the churches would be full of the Christianity believers to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we do the same church activities as the western churches, serving the spirits of joy, peace, caring, giving and love. It would also be attended by the people who want to know about Christianity and by young generations who think it is a fashion.


You would see Christmas decorations everywhere in the store, hotels and restaurants to get people coming to shop. You would see Santa’s hat everywhere on the street worn by people. It is mostly a fun and fashion for young people. Kids in school would prepare gifts to their friends as a symbol of friendship and good wishes. It is also a good chance for people to take it as an excuse to organize banquets and parties for social and business networking.  The majority of the Chinese are not celebrating as a religious event, even though we know all about it, it is more celebrated as an international festival for joy, shopping, fashion and social networking. It does not mean much for the elder generation though, the crowded street is too much for them. And, not much Christmas decoration inside the family house, like fresh Christmas trees and the Christmas lights. Some do, for fun, joy and for kids.  Some young parents would prepare Christmas gifts for kids, either under their pillow, under the Plastic Christmas tree or in the Santa socks.


There is also a very small amount of elder generation people are anti Christmas. They think deeply about the history in Qing dynasty when the foreign countries invaded China and killed Chinese people and grabbed our national treasure. During that period, there are also some western priests stayed in China in name of spreading culture and religion and help the invaders to steal our historical treasure and spy our government.  So, these old generation intelligents would warn people to be aware of the history and the shame we have experienced by the western cultural invasion.


My personal opinion is that in the past, the Qing government should take more responsibility for their policy to invite the failure and the national shame. Their lock the door policy blinded people’s eyes to see the development of the world and their ruthless rule on people blocks the view of democracy and humanity. Every religion is doing their job to reveal the truth of the life and of the world from different angle.  We see the beauty from different angle for the same truth of universe. If we could be more open to see what it is about, we would learn more from our inner heart and nourish our soul deeply. The awareness of kindness and love, the open mind and acceptance of different cultures glue us to be one firm global family.


Merry Christmas!


Qi Lou

White Loft®

HeQi Imports, Inc.




After the sharing, Win read a letter from 1888 describing the first Christmas party ever recorded on Guemes Island!  Win has researched the probable circumstances at that time in our history.  Although we have found no pictures of them, the (DATE?) book – Skagit Schoolma’am by Callie Rathbone describes 2 different school houses, constructed of logs.  Callie was a teacher on both Cypress and Guemes Islands in the early 1890s.


The letter-writer was Clara March Brown, a schoolgirl on Guemes at the time.  We do not know how the letter survived all these years and finally made it to the Historical Society archives.  Perhaps in boxes of papers and photos stored in different attics and which were moved from house to house, thought too precious to toss out.



Treasurers Report:  (attached) Janice reported on the very successful Holiday Bazaar sponsored by the Guemes Island Historical Society.  Profit from vendor rental ($700); donations ($29); sales of calendars and mugs ($327); Sally’s seeds ($45); Bake/Soup sale ($890) minus expenses  brought in $1,747!  (Added to this will be $10 from bake sale leftovers sold at church the next day.)

Total value of our 2 CDs [Washington Federal], $4429.83.  

Current balance [Skagit State Bank], $31,986.04


Old Business:

Guemes Ferry Captain calendars:  150 were printed and about half of them have been sold so far.  Push on for all to keep selling!  Bob A. suggests we look into a different format for calendars.

Bazaar – many positive comments!  Next year we may shorten the day by one hour.

Treasury audit - to be prudent and be up-to-date for our non-profit organization status, we are looking for a volunteer accountant to have a look at our “books”.

Photo display – still researching the perfect device for storage and display of historical photos, artifacts and documents.

New Business:


Guemes phone book – has been published nearly every year since 1977 by Women’s Fellowship of the Guemes Isl. Community Church.  The current version, “2017-2018”, published by the Guemes Isl. Property Owners Association will be the last.  Unless someone steps forward to continue this service.  It is a great way to advertise local businesses and services as well as keeping us close to friends and neighbors.  It will be missed . . .


“Waiting In Line” - Tony Kubena and Lori Steel are interested in reviving this play from 1982.


Coming Events


January meeting – Kim Westenhaver will talk about his artist father, Bill.

February meeting – Mitercraft

March meeting – Everett family

April – Morrison family


DOG SHOW – August 18, 2018

Cruise -?



Recent Guemes losses:  Maureen “Mo” Halpin (1942-2017)





Sue Stapp O’Donnell, secretary               

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