Islanders still 'welcomes' you

— image credit:

If you’ve driven onto the island from points north anytime over the past year, you’ve no doubt followed the evolution of the new “Gateway Park” near the bridge.

The service project of Bainbridge Rotary transformed a cheerless triangle of field grass into a minor landmark, offering a pleasant visual greeting for visitors and a nice wayside for motorists and others seeking respite from highway travel. A brilliant glass mosaic highlights scenes of island life, testament to the refinement of our student artists. And then there’s the obligatory Rotary wheel, so big that it’s probably visible from space...but who’s measuring? The park will be dedicated at 10 a.m. today, a welcome addition to our cultural landscape.

Of course, the park’s most prominent feature is the bold “Bainbridge Island” sign, which replaces a dilapidated billboard put up by the state highway department decades ago and long overdue for retirement. A few long-timers may even recall other displays still, “Welcome” signs that have gone up, come down and slipped from collective memory. In the spirit of preserving local lore, here is one such tale.

Back in 1955, a community group known as the Winslow Boosters Club decided that the island needed a new sign to greet folks coming over on the ferry, and thus erected, at a cost of $300, a marvelous billboard at the intersection of Winslow Way and Olympic Drive. The display was adorned with a comely Indian maiden and some stylized iconography of Northwest native culture, and proclaimed in a jaunty script typical of the period:

“Bainbridge Island and Winslow

Welcomes You”

The sign became the talk of the town – unfortunately, for

the dubious grammatical skills of whoever commissioned or painted it. In the next issue of the Review, in a commentary entitled “We ‘welcomes’ you,” the editor mused:

“As we remember our English primer, it went something like this: ‘Bill welcomes Sue.’ But if Sue was greeted by more than one person, it went this way: ‘Bill and Joe welcome Sue.’ That was the good old days. Probably they’ve repealed some of the English grammar rules since we went to school.

“Anyway, the new sign atop Olympic Way reads: ‘Bainbridge Island and Winslow Welcomes You.’ Regardless of whether there is a superfluous ‘s’ in there, we’re quite sure everyone understands that Bainbridge Island, including Lynwood Center, Eagledale, Island Center, Rolling Bay and other commercial

centers as well as that portion of Winslow to which the sign points, welcomes the visitor.”

We’re not sure how long the sign stood; news accounts show it was badly vandalized soon after it went up. We asked the folks over at the museum this week, but they couldn’t find any photographs of it, and we had to scan the image shown here directly from the pages of an old newspaper. Perhaps some of our erstwhile Winslow Boosters Club members can recall its longevity or fate.

In any event, we trust the proud new display put up by Rotarians near the bridge will enjoy a more wholesome

reception. The club has seen fit to convey our identity – “Bainbridge Island” – in one succinct stroke encompassing both geography and community, its greeting implicit.

It’s a fine sign, in a fine new park. And in true island

tradition, long may it “welcomes” our visitors.

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