"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
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and the extent of our care of them marks the
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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

20 January 2014

❖ FISHERMAN ISLAND ❖

Fisherman Island, early 1920s
Photograph by James A. McCormick
Photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S
"Finally, seven years, well, really seven and a half years, had gone by––my parents and grandparents had come a long way since my youth––I felt sure that they could be left alone for a day while I did some serious exploring.
      I had a ship, a mature skiff that could be rowed some distance before requiring serious bailing; my "crew" was a twenty pound mutt that lacked smarts but made up for that with enthusiasm for any adventure. The sail was truly a bed sheet and very adverse to the thought of speed.      
      Before setting sail, mother had suggested that I wait until the fresh bread came out of the oven. I could include a jug of raspberry Kool-Aid, which was well known for it's medicinal qualities on long voyages. Then––to sea!
      The island sat a half-mile off shore, jeweled by the green-gray of the harbor, ready to show the new explorers its unique beauty long hidden by the great distance.
      The crew scampered ashore, anxious to confer with the local residents, which by then were high up in Madrona trees. All around us heavy moss covered the rocks, Easter Lilies filled the hollows and bright red Indian Paint Brush mixed with uncountable varieties of other spring growth. Wild vetch filled in all the gaps, reaching higher than our heads, so progress was slow. Scrub Juniper scented the air, giving off an aroma of my Grandmother's yarn chest. We struggled on over downed trees and under brush until reaching the outer side of the island, to a gravel beach just right for explorers our size.     
      There we found a sun bleached sun log of the proper size. Here the badly crushed ship-stores could be put to their intended use in peace and comfort. Of course, peanut butter is good anywhere on Mom's fresh bread, but here shared with my crew, it was especially satisfying. 
      My crew would vary with time, but the scene would remain much the same for many years to come. With a couple of friends, we caught four rabbits from another island and released them on "our" island. They became many fat and happy vetch mowers until the crew from a summer boat shot them all and left the piles of carcasses among the Juniper scrub. After that event I didn't return to the little beach until I was 22, following most of three years in Korea in the early 1950s. It was the finest place on earth that day for serious reflections of my war service and on that day, to enjoy once again, Mom's fresh bread.
      Old timers called it Fisherman's Island because it served as a retreat for two old fishermen brothers. One was Chris; this was where he could escape from the tourist noise and summer dances, but in the winter old Chris returned to putter on his quarter acre tucked between Pearmain's homestead and the cannery [Deer Harbor]. He built, among other things, a snug three-room cabin to rent to those same tourists. The bedroom was mostly windows that looked out on "his" island. He called the cabin Bonnie View with a large sign on the front insisting others should do so, too.  That was 1938. After many remodels, my bedroom, still with many windows, looks out on the harbor with the island in full view, only now it is called Fawn Island and is mistress to someone in Hollywood."
Above text by early-timer islander L. W. "Corkey" North 2010.
  

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