Guemes Island Historical Society:

GIHS January 2019 Minutes



January 14, 2019


Present: Tom Deach (pres), Janice Veal (treas), Win Anderson, Carol Deach,  Barbara & Randy Schnabel, Dave & Shirley Margeson, Emma Schroder, Sally Stapp, Joan Palmer, Kathy Whitman, Ian Woofenden, Randy & Barbara Schnabel, Guru Bill Chamberlain [“life-long friend”], Jim & Barb Denovan, Sue Everett, Drew Norton, Bonita Smith, Julie Pingree, Sally Stapp, Michael Recyle Grennell, Shannon & Justice Hyland, Richard Houghton, Susie & Mike Gwost, Loalinda Bird, Marko Caputo, Jim & Lu LeMieux, Grant Brockmeyer, Mary Lasulles?, Morna McEachern, Sue O’Donnell (sec)


Show & Tell:  Tom brought a pre-1939 leather binder of papers from George Pinneo.  He lived in a house – no longer there - across form current church.  When he was in the ninth grade in Anacortes Middle School, he wrote a poem.

Guemes, The Isle of Liberty


            On Guemes, the isle of Liberty,

                        A land of golden corn.

            If I should have to leave,

I sure would be forlorn.

When at the dance hall,

We never danced too hard

Until the band plays the tune

            Anne Laure out on gourd(?)


We never are so foolish

to give a girl a hug

Until we all take a snort

out of the old brown jug.


Recently Tom found a brown bottle in the woods behind the Guemes Community Hall.  Tom found a website to date old bottles.  Appears to have had a cork stopper, rather than a screw top; the bottle was probably made between 1935 and 1964. Embossed on the bottle is:  “Federal Law Forbids Sale Or Reuse of This Bottle”.


Program:  Edward Michael “Banjo Eddie” Miklosh (1957-2018)

Displayed for all to see tonight in the church fellowship hall is the life-size cut-out of “Banjo Eddie”.  Jeff Winston commissioned Anacortes muralist Bill Mitchell to work from an early photo of Eddie to memorialize his life.  The mural is now being stored by Anchor Lindholm.


A large group of Banjo Eddie’s Guemes support group/family gathered to celebrate his life by telling stories about this musician, worker, talented friend and neighbor.  Tom introduced Michael McGuinness, fellow musician and friend who joined in the music making in the 1980s and has lived on Guemes since 1995.  His wife Barbara (Kjosness) and Eddie were “sweeties” when they were teenagers in the early 70s. 


Eddie was born in 1957 in the Seattle area to his folks, already parents to 2 sons and a disabled daughter.  Michael intimated that life at home was hard for Eddie and he didn’t feel much parental support.  His sister died about the time Eddie left home.  He ended up on Guemes, taken in by Guemes Islander Duke Torgeson, a friend of his father.  After about a year, Eddie left that situation and moved into a small cabin on the property across Eden’s Road from the schoolhouse playground.  Michael showed many pictures collected by Barbara which showed Eddie and his friends growing up, playing music, always enjoying the surrounding beauty of the area.  Emma Schroeder brought a photo album with more pictures of the era.


As Tom projected pictures, Michael described a life of adolescent troubles - and fun - as Eddie left his Seattle family to live on Guemes, enrolled at Anacortes Middle School (shaved his head into a “Mohawk” style for the first day of 7th grade) and became a member of the Guemes community.  Janice Veal described his work in the summers, helping to bring in the hay (mostly mornings . . . .).  Michael said people would pay Eddie to burn the yard clippings and cleared brush they brought to the property where Ed lived for 30+ years, corner of Eden’s Road and West Shore Drive (location of the Gilkey Store and Post Office from 19?? to 196?).   Eddie also worked on crabbing and fishing boats where he suffered several injuries.  A hernia caused him pain and trouble for the rest of his life.  Michael said he was in pain his last 5-6 years.


Eddie came to Guemes, having learned to play his brother’s guitar, and became part of the music world.  The first group of friends he played with were Dan McCracken, Ron Flint, Jeff Winston – the original “Dog Island Boys”.  One of Eddie’s injuries was compensated with insurance $$ and allowed Eddie to buy his own guitar.  At some point he switched to the banjo.  He got a loan to buy a “Gibson Mastertone Banjo”.  His friend Jeff Winston encouraged him by supplying him with other banjos like the “Bacon Long-neck”.


MUSIC!!!  Adam Veal brought a video from October 8, 2017 of Adam playing with Eddie’s band. Adam loved the music and said music is what “brought him back to Guemes” after living elsewhere for 12 years.  He soon joined in with his guitar. Adam said they eventually had 100 songs in their repertoire and that Banjo Eddie knew 200 songs! 

Musicians have come and gone, joined in, moved away.  Some of them were Mike Gwost, Susie Gwost, Michael McGuiness, Adam Veal, Andy Gladish, Randy Rinehart, Kit Marcinko, Jack Sparrow, Jake Baird, Daniel Burnett, Toby Smith, Chris Lindberg, Jakob Ereitdarch, Yusuf Kilgore and others.


Anderson’s Store hosted the “Flotsam Faire” the summers of 2005 and 2006 which brought musicians and celebrities from far and wide to Guemes.  Eddie, his brothers and fellow musicians were participants on the “Jetsun” stage. The musicians had several different names for their group over the years: “Dog Island Boys”, “Doc Pyling and the Creasotes”, “Almost Colorful”, “Banjo Eddie and 1 Too Many”, “Island Angels”, “Turkey Point Blue Grass Band”.


Julie Pingree remembered that Eddie even played one Sunday at the Guemes Church.  Rev. Darrel Berg talked him into that.


One year Eddie and friends, inspired by Bill Westenhaver, had a TIKI Bar sign made for the property.  Weekends were a great excuse for partying and making music ‘til the early hours of the morning.  His landlords, the Baums, were very kind and enjoyed the weekends of music.  Eddie used his monthly social security checks to keep his bar well stocked.


There was a story of Eddie once jumping off the moving ferry, “Almar” to impress a girl.  The ferry slowed down and he was scooped out of the channel.


The week Eddie died, he was not found for 2 days.  It was surmised he collapsed and fell to the floor where he was found.  A very sad day for his many friends and the greater Guemes Community who had been blessed to experience his talents.


Old Business: 

Treasurer’s Report (attached) Janice reports current balance of $38,038.16              A fourth CD has been purchased and we have investments of ~$7000.  There have been recent donations to the Society of ~$400.

Community Hall Displays – Tom has scheduled next Saturday for a work party to finally get an historic display on the “history wall” in Community Center.  The Guemes relief map which has been repaired by Carol Deach and 3 ferry renderings by Bill Westenhaver will be placed.  We will remove the inadequate display case already there and will look into installing a video monitor for showing a loop of photos or videos.  The Kager family donated $500 in 2017 for this purpose.  Dave moved to have Tom research the equipment needed and get permission from GICCA to do the installation.  Passed.

Storage of Artifacts – Much of our collection is stored in various barns and storerooms on Guemes.  As our collection increases in size (farm implements . . .) we realize a need for more room.  Tom continues to look into buying an 8’ x 20’ container (new or used), still researching prices. This will be placed on his property off Edens Road and will be a place where our widely scattered items can be safely stored.  Also on his property we will have use of a heated space, 8’X24’ for some of the things now stored in church closet.  The closet will then become a work room with a desk for projects and cataloguing.  By the next meeting (February), we may be able to make a decision on the container.

New Business:

Dog Show 2019 – will be on August 24 at School House Park.  Carol and Loalinda Bird are working on a dog luminary.  Tom is researching “duck penning” for a half time demo.

Anacortes Museum and Maritime Heritage Center – Dave reports that Bret Lunsford, museum director, is interested in partnering somehow with the Guemes Hist. Soc. to help bring the Museum’s mission full circle: “The Anacortes Museum and Maritime Heritage Center exist to preserve and interpret the history of Fidalgo and Guemes Islands and to nurture in the community an awareness and appreciation of its heritage.”    In discussion could be the question Bob Anderson has raised about “intellectual property”.  Win told us that back in 2002 when the Historical Society was being organized, one of the ideas was to learn the way items were cataloged in Anacortes Museum.  Dave and Tom will meet with Bret Lunsford in the near future and report back on the ideas for bringing us into some form of partnership.

The oldest editions (1830-1913) of the Anacortes American newspapers have been digitized and are now available for browsing online –  Great news is that research will now be easier for locals interested in history and that research of the past will be more fun!  Perhaps old Guemes news in the TheTillicum and The Beachcomber  will one day be easier to access.


Recent Guemes Losses:

Charles “Chuck” Loyd Martin (1937-2019)

Respectfully submitted,

Sue O’Donnell (secretary)   1/14/2019