This was originally posted to: Guemes Island Historical Society

Minutes - Guemes Island Historical Society, September 10, 2018



September 10, 2018



Present: Tom Deach (pres), Janice Veal (treas), Bill Mitchell, Carol Deach,  Al & Nancy Bush, Bob Anderson, Carol Harma, Bob & Jacquie Prescott, Jeff Winston, Philip Fenner, Ian Woofenden, Kathy Whitman, Emma & Rob Schroder, Steve Orsini, Jim & Lu LeMieux, Gary Rainwater, Morna McEachern, Fred Siever, Terry VanDyk, Sue O’Donnell (sec)


Show and Tell:  Carol Deach had been to Jack Smith’s Estate Sale and found a framed picture of the Blackinton house.  Written on back: ”Gramma Blackinton, Maxine Blackinton Wilson”.  Tom presented it to the gathered folks to see if anyone could determine the current location of the house.


Program:  “Wild Bill Mitchell”  - Murals, Motorcycles and Marriage!  presented by Anacortes resident, Bill Mitchell.  Bill came with photos and examples of some of the more than 150 murals he has produced in the past 35 years for the city of Anacortes.  They are positioned along Commercial Avenue and the side streets from the waterfront out to 34th street, along 12th Street and out to the State ferry dock, at the Anacortes Museum (1305-8th Street), around the Marina and Seafarer’s Park as well as 4 murals on Guemes Island!


The murals on Guemes are of:


Charley L. Gant (1867-1928); poet laureate of the region as well as publisher of the Guemes newspapers, The Tillikum (1912) and The Guemes Beachcomber (1916).  This mural was finished in 2006.


Flora Woodcock Mangan (1855?-1911); her mural is attached to the log cabin on Anderson Store property.  She and husband, Timothy Mangan opened the first post office (1877) and store (1885) on Guemes.  Flora divorced Mangan and later married Jack Kidd.  Bill says this is the best “pretty girl” mural he ever made, saying Flora is his Mona Lisa.


Bobby Holloway (1933-1996); a popular Anacortes bartender, expert gardener and the island’s “1st hippie”; died of cancer and lived on Guemes.


Bubbles’s Dragon; from painting on bottom of swimming pool at one-time West Beach home of Henrietta Blaisdale Finley (1902-1995). Mural now attached to porch-surround of Guemes Library.


Bill gave a brief description of the weather-proofing process necessary for the murals to withstand the Northwest climate (only 3 of the murals are indoors).  Bill brought 2 actual murals – his grandfather William H. Bessner (1891-1983) on his 1908 Indian motorcycle (there are 2 Anacortes murals of Grampa Bessner, the one on the “Indian” and also one of him sitting on his 2nd Ford Model T, Torpedo).  The 2nd mural Bill brought is the beginning of one to be on Guemes of “Banjo Eddie” Miklosh (1957-2018).  Jeff Winston says the placement will be at the not-yet-finished stage near Schoolhouse Park.


Bill charges $500 to create a mural ($100 less if he knows the person).  The Anacortes Museum is making a documentary about Bill and the mural making process.  Bill was encouraged in his art by his Grandmother, Ann Bessner (Anna Marie Schwarz, 1899-1977).  She gave him a Hal Foster how-to-book on cartooning and Gil Elvgren pin-up art.  Bill enjoyed cartooning until he began the murals at age 35.


Motorcycles – When Anacortes began to welcome motorcycle riders to Anacortes for the “Oyster Run” weekends, Bill drew motorcycles to decorate the cover of The Clam Digger, the local advertising brochure.


Bill did lots of research on “Indian” motorcycles.  His Grandfather had owned a Harley, two “Indians” and a Henderson IV.  He always had more than one motorcycle since one was always in the repair shop.  He bought his first brand new car (at age 20) in 1911 – a 1911 Ford Model T Torpedo with the zig-zag windshield.


Bill’s first motorcycle was a 1957 Cushman Eagle (it was blue), owned by Charles “Chuck” Brown (1925-2014) on Guemes.  Grandpa Bessner helped pay for it with the grass-mowing $$ Bill and brother Paul earned working on Guemes.  Bill rode it until he sold it to friend Hal Petersen and bought his first Honda 160. Bill had saved up $300 and his Granddad gave him another $300 to buy the brand new Honda.  It had an electric starter.  When Bill got his first traffic ticket for reckless driving, he lost his driver’s license for 2 months, then again for 6 months and Grandpa Bessner locked the Honda in his garage. 


There were many adventures on motorcycles on Guemes, including one night 2 deer were hit by the same bike.  The deer were dressed out by Bill and friend Steve Dunn and the meat donated to Northern State Hospital.


Bill’s next bike was a 2nd hand Honda 150 which needed work.  He lost it in a crash on Christmas day 1967 but was able to sell the wreck for the same amount it cost him to buy.  Five days later, Bill married Beth Armstrong at the Guemes church. 

Next he bought a “305 Super Hawk”.  It was a ‘weak’ bike and Bill sold it after seeing the movie “Easy Rider”.  He was inspired by the movie to hit the open road on a Harley, but had no luck finding the parts to build his own Harley motorcycle.


Marriage – Bill had been encouraged by his family to attend the San Francisco Art Institute.  However, the summer (1967) he graduated from high school, Bill met Beth Armstrong, visiting Guemes from California. They wanted to be married but their parents had reservations and wanted them to give school a try.  They did try but then married December of 1967 at the Guemes Church.  They honey-mooned and lived in Everett for 2 months before moving to Guemes.   Bill commuted to Skagit Valley College from the island every day, of course, on his motorcycle.  Bill and Beth stayed married for 2 ½ years.


Bill’s next marriage – 30 years later - was to Andrea in 1997.  Bill was 50 and Andrea was in her early 30s; Bill called her his “trophy wife”.  They married at the Anacortes Eagles Hall during Bill’s 30th high school reunion. 


Bill showed pictures of both of his brides.  Both wives were born on the same day of the same month.


Bill’s next presentation will be called Hitchiking, Hills and Headaches!





Treasurers Report - (attached) 

Current bank balance is $38,850.00


Dog Show proceeds ~ $1600.


One of our Washington Federal CDs came due.  We bought 2 new ones ($1144.70 each) at an interest rate of 2.25%.

As of end of August, CDs total value ($1144.70 + 1144.70 + 2228.22) = $4517.62


Win moved to have Janice buy a 4th CD, $2500 for duration of 19 months.  Passed.


We will give it another look in 6 months.


August Dog Show - August 18, 10am – 2pm.  The 2018 D.I.D.D.O.S.D.S. was a marvelous success.  Lots of dogs, lots of people, music, food and fun.


History closet – Carol Harma has been working on organizing the growing collection of all things Guemes. 


Topic of a possible Historical Museum on Guemes was again raised.  Conceptual drawings are in the beginning stages.  Many steps between now and our dream of having a place for all of the artifacts and a proper place for researching family and island history.  We will continue with the fund-raising and the storing of many items in various places on the island.  The Deach’s have recently provided a temporary storage space.  Thank you Tom and Carol.  And Win.  And Marv.


We will soon be changing the display in Community Center and mounting the relief map found in attic.  It was fashioned by Dunthorn in the late 1950s and has recently been repaired by Carol Deach.


Coming Events:


CIRCLE CYPRESS ISLAND CRUISE, 2018 – Friday, September 14, 5:30 – 9pm; an historical look at Cypress Island, delicious dinner and dessert.   Glen Veal is accessing some Cypress information from the collection of Don Strom [1929-2010] (cousin of Bud Strom [1922-2017]) and will narrate the tour as we dine in comfort on the Mystic Sea.


Nancy and Janice are doing their usual magic when it comes to refreshments for people!  Dinner wilI be catered by Gere-A-Deli restaurant, there will be an open bar, appetizers and other refreshments supplied by the Society.

There will be name tags for all.  A shuttle from Guemes ferry dock to Cap Sante Marina - Dock A where the Mystic Sea is berthed – will be run by Bob Anderson, Tom Deach and Kit Harma.


The 2017 Harvest Moon Cruise raised $3200 for the Guemes Island Historical Society.


New Business:  Holiday Bazaar (10am-2pm, November 24) will be organized by Nancy Bush and Lorraine Francis.  Tom and Janice have the layout for the tables all organized and set-up will be Friday evening, November 23.  We will advertise on Linetime and on My Guemes websites.


New Signs: We are in need of some new signs to advertise events – 4’ X 4’.  We will buy some new plywood.  We are very appreciative of Barb Ohms who has shared her artistic talents in advertising our events.


History Outings:  in the spring Tom organized a field trip to the Sedro-Woolley museum while they were having an open house and showing of some old time films owned by the S-W Historical Society.  Now Tom proposes we explore another local museum, Arlington in Snohomish County; details to come, possibly for October.


Next meetings: 

October 8, 2018, 7pm; Fellowship Hall, Guemes Island Community Church.  Program will be “History of Cypress Island”.


Recent Guemes losses:


Shirley Gladish, 1926-2018


Robert Bradley, 1935-2018


Respectfully submitted,

Sue O’Donnell (secretary)   9/10/2018