"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

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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.

12 July 2016

❖ HELLO BEAUTIFUL BELLINGHAM ❖ Written by June Burn

Words by author/historian/former San Juan County homesteader, June Burn.
From Puget Soundings May 1930.
Not a sound except the lirrup-lirrup of the lazy swells against the piling. Not a movement save the smooth flow of a gull overhead. I am sitting alone on the rail of the dock at Upright Head waiting for the return ferry to Anacortes. There is silence. A sound of silence as if some board creaked as the quiet one stepped in her stockinged feet across the water.
      Until, suddenly, the always-thrilling noise of a gasboat putt-putting into sight around the point, breaks the quiet into smithereens. It goes chugging steadily across the pearl-gray water out of sight southward and the hush of twilight returns to the most beautiful land int he world.
      Out there, between here and Orcas, the level rays of the sun strike the glossy breast of a duck as he lifts himself in the water to stretch and flap. A thin fog hangs over Mt. Constitution, the sunset tinting its streamers. The straight glare picks out the white houses of Olga across the channel. The Monticello slips suddenly and silently down the path of the sunset, white against the dark bluffs of Orcas, her blue steam blowing behind her.
      Now two cars have come down the steep hill onto the dock and I am no longer alone. It is a half-hour until ferry time. The man talk in a low mumble across the dock from me. There is still quiet and the waters are forever and forever lovelier. Not a ripple nor a swell on the glassy surface. I could skate on this mother-of-pearl––or dance.
      
The sundown on 4th July 2016 weekend 
looking west from the home of photographer
L. A. Douglas, Blakely Island, WA.
A pairing of "now and then" with the prose of June Burn.

Click to enlarge.
Courtesy of L.A. Douglas

High slack tide at sunset––I've said over and over that it is the most precious time in this most wonderful land. Every cloud in the east catches the sunset, reflects it again in a long quivering path across the water nearly to the foot of the dock. The paths shorten as the sun sinks, and on the west, reflections of the great firs of Upright Head make lengthening black paths that advance as the cloud paths recede. The black ones never quite overtake the white ones, though. By and by the waters darken and a little sundown breeze crinkles the bay, breaking up the pattern.
      The men no longer talk. Very faintly I hear the chuttering sound of the ferry coming through Upright Channel. In another bit she will round the head, swing her blunt nose towards the slip, work her clumsy self expertly into the lane of piling, lower her plank, take the cans of cream and me aboard. Here she is all shining with sundown, her throaty whistle announcing that she is here. City of Angeles––lovely name for a ship, isn't it?
City of Angeles
Shaw Island ferry dock, San Juan Archipelago, WA.

Click to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      It is just the luck of an undeserving gadabout that I should have come to Anacortes last night in the sunset and that I should be going on this morning to Bellingham in the sunrise. There is no stage out of Anacortes after 6 o'clock. But if every trip of the 5 o'clock Solduc is made down Padilla and Bellingham Bays in such splendor, you will not mind the overnight wait for it.
The calm of the setting sun.
Near Bellingham Bay, WA.
Original from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

      Here she comes now, a bit late, her forefoot treading the bright water like some sleek filly in a daisy field. Prettily she warps around to her place against the dock and without a second's delay a dozen men swarm out of her to begin trundling freight into the warehouse. Iron pipes, zinc tanks, tubs, boxes of produce, sacks of feed, auto tires, cartons of things, kegs, cases, crates, rolls of things, carcasses of dressed animals. In and out of the dark belly of the ship the men hurry.
      A man has come aboard to see one of the crew. The little Japanese steward is worried about him. He runs down the gangplank to punch the ticket of a passenger and runs up again to keep an eye on the man without a ticket. He thinks the man might have escaped him and he peers into the corners of the warehouse looking like a little bantam all fussed up over nothing.
      One belated passenger, looking sleepy and peevish and very English, comes out of his stateroom and goes ashore to board the City of Angeles for her first run to the islands.
     
P. A. F. dock, Bellingham, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

 At 5 o'clock we are ready. In the unhurried measured stride of a big boat we steam down the lake–smooth-Sound towards Bellingham. We overtake and pass a little black purse seine boat. I know how its little engine is going noisily while ours clicks off easy knots quietly. A man in an early rowboat––I can not hear his oarlocks click, but I'd like to. It is a good water sound.
      The smokes of Bellingham, and a great blue-and-black freighter coming out of the mist, gargantuan in this eerie cloudiness that had come over the sun. Four ships tie motionless at the P.A.F. docks, the masts tangling in the mist. I wonder if anybody in the world has ever got used to the sudden sweet beauty of a city studding the hills at the rim of a great harbor? Smokestacks and derricks, factories, a jungle of ships' masts, movement of small craft in and out of the harbor. Church spires, stacks of lumber, seagulls––the gangplank goes out. I am first ashore. Hello again, my beautiful Bellingham! How good you smell! How I love you!
June.

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