Stuff your mind (and your gift list) with local books

  • Sat Dec 18th, 2010 12:42am
  • Life
Stuff your mind (and your gift list) with local books

2010 was a prolific year for authors from the San Juan Islands. And history was the hot topic.

Authors on San Juan and Lopez islands revisited the development of our local communities and the characters who added flavor to island life. Wolf Bauer, whose first job out of college was as an engineer at Roche Harbor Lime & Cement Co. in the late 1930s, wrote an entertaining autobiography about his experiences as a conservationist and outdoorsman. A book by Joseph R. Ornig chronicles the South American expedition of America’s greatest adventurer-president, whose legacy includes our system of national parks and wildlife refuges.

There are more. Here’s a list of new local books worth curling up with during the holiday break – and worth considering as holiday gifts.

— “San Juan Island,” by Mike and Julia Vouri and the San Juan Historical Society (Arcadia, 128 pages).

This book is a second for the Vouris and the historical society; they co-authored “Friday Harbor” last year, in time for the town’s centennial. For the latest book, the Vouris selected and conducted research on more than 200 photos from the historical society’s collection of nearly 2,000 photographs, as well as photos from private collections.

The cover features a photograph from the 1890s of the American Camp prairie. In the photo, workers gather cut grain for bundling, in preparation for threshing. Mount Finlayson rises in the background with the Jakle homestead on its lower slope.

“With sheltered harbors, open prairies, and secluded woodlands, San Juan Island has been a magnet for human habitation for thousands of years,” the book description states. “Salmon runs and rich soil promised not only an abundant food source but also a good living for those willing to work hard. But it was not until the islands became the focus of an international boundary dispute between Great Britain and the United States in the late 1850s that San Juan Island drew the attention of Europeans and Americans. These newcomers watched how Coast Salish and Northwest Coast peoples harvested natural resources and adapted their techniques. Settlers and Indians sometimes intermarried, and many of their descendants remain to this day.

“San Juan Islanders of all generations have worked hard to preserve their home, thus maintaining a sense of place that is as evident today as it was when the first canoes came ashore.”

“San Juan Island” is available at the historical museum and in local bookstores.

— “Lopez Island,” by Susan Lehne Ferguson and the Lopez Island Historical Society and Museum (Arcadia, 128 pages).

The story of Lopez Island is a story of community. And this book tells the story well, with 128 pages of never-before-published photographs.

“Skilled, brave, generous people like Sampson Chadwick, Mother Brown, Captain Barlow, and Amelia Davis carved a spirited, nurturing community out of seaside wilderness,” the book description states.

“Homesteaders cleared forests, built farms, grew food, and raised large families, surviving then thriving together. The hamlets of Port Stanley, Richardson, and Lopez emerged, creating hubs with stores, post offices, and schools as well as thriving fishing, canning, and shipping industries.

“The community fostered education, music, writing, dances, chivarees, baseball, quilting, a birthday club, and grand Fourth of July celebrations. Living self-reliant lives while helping friends, neighbors, and newcomers, Lopezians created a unique community character that abides today.”

“Lopez Island” is available at the Lopez museum and in local bookstores.

— “Within the Collection: Belle Vue Sheep Farm, San Juan Island National Historical Park,” by Theresa Langford, Mike Vouri and Heidi Pierson (Northwest Cultural Resources Institute, 66 pages).

“Within the Collection” contains photographs and descriptions of artifacts from Belle Vue Sheep Farm, a Hudson’s Bay Co. site before the joint military occupation of 1859-1872. The artifacts are stored at Fort Vancouver National Historical Site.

The items help the viewer better understand the daily life of settlers and military personnel who lived at what is now American Camp. There’s carved argillite, a stone harvested from Haida Gwaii, that was apparently used as a trade item. There are agricultural implements; beads and buttons; bowls, plates and tea cups; bottles, bottle stoppers and tumblers; building hardware; combs and razors; forks and spoons; a harmonica, marbles and toys; military buckles, buttons and insignia; needle cases and thimbles; tobacco pipes; and wagon parts.

“Within the Collection” helps tell the story of the site’s transition from Indigenous village to British farm to American military camp to homestead claim. “Within the Collection” is available at the National Park Office, and at English and American camps.

— “Crags, Eddies, and Rip Rap: The Sound Country Memoirs of Wolf Bauer.”

Bauer, now 98 and living in Anacortes, was chief engineer of Roche Harbor Lime & Cement Co. from 1936-40. In the ensuing years, he became a pioneer of climbing, kayaking, mountain rescue and skiing in the Northwest.

Kayaking introduced him to the plight of the region’s shorelines, sparking a new career in shoreline restoration. This year, Bauer was honored by the state Legislature for his contributions to conservation, kayaking, mountaineering, and the state’s parks.

This book is at times humorous, at times poignant, always entertaining.

— “My Last Chance to be a Boy / Theodore Roosevelt’s South American Expedition of 1913-1914,” Joseph R. Ornig, (Louisiana State University Press, 258 pages).

This book, by the uncle of Island Rec’s Rebecca Clarke, is not new, but in the flow of new books about America’s most adventurous president, this book still stands tall. Ornig conducted research for this book for 20 years, studying diaries, letters and first-hand accounts to piece together a story so detailed you feel you’re there, swimming with TR in piranha-infested streams.

— “Time Shadows & Tall Tales,” by Jack Crawford.

Nedell Lanros-Crawford published this collection of her late artist-writer husband’s book on island history and lore; Crawford’s illustrations are interspersed throughout the book chapters.

In “Time Shadows & Tall Tales,” Crawford – a PhD, insatiable bibliophile, lover of history, and student of the human condition, fleshed out the threads of documented historical events with warmth, humor, “and an untainted retelling of the facts; he was not one to cloak historical fact with ‘political correctness,’ ” his family wrote.

Over the years, Crawford’s lectures to Elderhostel groups visiting San Juan Island captivated audiences, and elicited many requests that he put these stories into writing, which motivated him to begin the writing of this book.

“Time Shadows & Tall Tales” is available at local bookstores.