Letters to the Editor

Bainbridge’s idyllic past seems to have been lost | Letters | Nov. 12

Recently, my husband and I drove to one of our favorite spots, near Lynwood Center, parked our car and began our evening walk and chat.

Near the entrance to Fort Ward, we encountered a road block caused by a fallen tree. The fire department and the power company were engaged in clearing the mess from the power lines, so we took a detour via a clearly marked, road-end beach access. As we walked, we met others doing the same thing and we continued on the beach until we reached the boat ramp, at which time we resumed our walk on the road.

On our return, we took the same route and passed a woman tending a fire on her lawn (on, or adjacent to, the bulkhead). She called out to us, “Do you live here?” I answered that we did not, but were passing the road block on her street. “This is private property,” was the reply. “You’re trespassing.”

My family has owned waterfront property on Bainbridge Island for nearly 60 years. Our family home is adjacent to a road-end. My husband and I also live on the water, and we know the law. We know about the mean low-tide line, about shellfish, about crab pots, licenses and trespassing.

The tide was not low enough for us to walk at its mean low, so we were a bit higher on the beach. We were not in any way threatening this woman, defacing her property or imposing on her. We were simply using the only available means to get home safely.

In 1952, my newlywed parents rented a motorboat in Ballard and brought it across the Sound to Bainbridge Island. They pulled up on a beach and were greeted by an older man - an immigrant from Iceland.

They asked him whether he knew if the property was for sale. It belonged to him, and he not only sold them a piece of his waterfront, he helped them to build the cabin that became my favorite place on earth. He also became a father- and grandfather-figure in our lives.

Our neighborhood shared resources, including the only telephone on the entire road. It belonged to the Icelanders and they shared it with all of us. There was coffee time for the women, fresh-baked goodies for children and cocktails and cribbage for the men. We fortunate children of the neighborhood roamed freely about one another’s homes and gardens. It was idyllic. That is my vision of what Bainbridge Island is about.

I do not know what problems this woman was experiencing, but they were not caused by two walkers crossing in front of her property at dusk on a clear evening. We have experienced similar unfriendliness and aggression from people on other beaches in the recent past. It breaks my heart.

We have never treated beach-walkers in this fashion. If our dear Icelandic neighbor had treated my parents as this woman treated us, we might never have experienced three generations of happiness on Bainbridge Island.

I hope that attitudes like hers do not foretell the ruin of island spirit for future generations.

Karen Boren Gerstenberger

Bainbridge Island

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