Opinion

Back for your island summer

The novelty of folks actually living on Bainbridge Island year-round wore off a few decades back, when we were “discovered” by the outside world and the creep of population began to set in.

But there was a time when the island population saw an noticeable surge every June, July and August, as mainlanders showed up to air out their summer cottages and spend a few months in these “remote” environs. (A few of their abodes still dot the island; we now call them “affordable housing.”)

We thought of these holiday neighbors this week, as we were poring over back issues and stumbled across this

commentary from June 18, 1953. The editor welcomed the return of folks making their annual pilgrimage to Bainbridge, and endeavored to catch them up on all the latest news. That summer, the ferries had just added a mid-day “shopper run” – that’s what they called it – presumably for ladies heading over to the Seattle department stores. Civic leaders, meanwhile, were diligently lobbying for a second bridge, not from the Kitsap mainland, but across Puget Sound itself! One route in play would have reached Restoration Point from Vashon, while the preferred was to link Magnolia and the north end.

Such were the spirit of the times – Bainbridge loved the outside world. And in that spirit, for anyone just showing up for summer 2004, we offer our own “welcome back.”

* * * * *

“The Swallows at Capistrano have nothing on the Bainbridge Island summer resident. The day after schools close in Seattle, he is back with us for another summer.

“Welcome, friend. It’s good to have you with us again, home away from home.” Several things have been happening while you toasted by the fire in your Seattle winter home.

“In the first place, your island rounded a mighty important milestone in its history. Not only is your state celebrating a territorial centennial this year; your island is noting a century of growth too. The old Port Madison mill was started in 1853.

“In the second place, your year-round island neighbors had the scare of their lives last December when they decided down in Olympia that it would be just ducky if they took away the Bainbridge ferry and made all of us drive around by Vashon to get to Seattle. Well, we stood up and fought off that threat. Now we’re trying to make ‘em see the sense of a bridge to Bainbridge and another one at Hood Canal. But if we can’t win all that, we’ll settle mighty fast for the Hood Canal bridge and better ferry service between Winislow and Seattle. If you think that makes sense, drop your check in the mail ($5 annual dues, plus whatever else you want to go into a special Agate Pass “short route” fund) to Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, Winslow, Wn.

“Your taxes probably are a bit higher. But don’t get huffy at County Assessor Maston. He’s doing a fine job (you know darn well that assessment should have been raised a long time ago). Meanwhile, your tax money is being well used for better roads, good police protection and other things you want when you come to Bainbridge.

“Let’s see... What else is there to tell you? Oh yes, the ferries. We’ve got two good, fast ferries now. Isn’t the Illahee fixed up real nice? The schedule is a pretty good one, too. But it can’t keep up with the demand – especially since you’ve arrived. Please be patient with those line-ups on the commuter trips. And for heaven’s sake, avoid Sunday night trips to Seattle like you would the plague. Don’t be grumbling at all the folks you see on the ferries from Poulsbo, Port Townsend and Port Angeles. They’re using our Agate Pass “short route” and liking it fine. Be happy they are there. Their patronage is the only way you’ll ever get more frequent ferry service.

“Guess that’s about all. Next time you’re in Seattle, you might stop in at the weatherman and tell him he can turn on the sun any time now. Been a bit damp up to now. But things are looking up since you’ve come back to where you belong.

“Have fun...”

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