‘Coupeville’ authors present history, mystery and photos

Judy Lynn, Kay Foss and Rick Castellano celebrate their book “Coupeville,” a photographic history of the town. - Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times
Judy Lynn, Kay Foss and Rick Castellano celebrate their book “Coupeville,” a photographic history of the town.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

The photo on the front cover of Judy Lynn’s and Kay Foss’ photographic history book titled “Coupeville” says it all: Children pretend to be pirates on Ebey’s Prairie years ago, representing the maritime nature of Coupeville and one of its most historical places.

The book was published March 1 by Arcadia Publishing. One hundred years of Coupeville history came together in the book, with 227 photos from the Island County Historical Society and Museum, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, private collections and the University of Washington.

“The hardest part was winnowing down the pictures,” Lynn said. She scanned 400 photos, some of which solved mysteries for her.

The authors will share photographs that weren’t included in the book, as well as reveal these newly solved mysteries at a presentation at the Coupeville Library Tuesday, March 13, at 2 p.m.

Books will be available for purchase and the authors will sign and personalize them. Proceeds benefit the Island County Historical Museum.

The project started a year and a half ago when Arcadia Publishing contacted Rick Castellano, executive director of the Island County Historical Museum, to find someone willing to put together a book about Coupeville for their “Images of America” series.

“So he asked me if I would take it on and I said yes,” Lynn said. She was already immersed in Coupeville history and was compiling more than 200 oral histories of Front Street, which had given her access to photos from private collections

“She brought to life a lot of history that’s been hiding in people’s drawers,” Castellano said.

Foss joined in later after seeing a draft of the book.

“I said, ‘help,’” Lynn said.

“And suddenly, I was in it,” Foss added. She had taught English, journalism and history in Coupeville for 25 years.

That was a great decision, Foss said. Through the project, she learned the history of the place she’s lived for 30 years.

Lynn had no trouble pointing out her favorite photo, a 1942 photo of the last year of the original Coupeville Water Festival.

“The building featured in the back solved a mystery for me that I’d been looking into for a very long time,” Lynn said. It helped her trace the history of Toby’s Tavern to the buildings in that location before they burned in 1944.

Foss enjoyed a photo of a horse and buggy traveling the extension of Front Street --- the same location people can walk today.

“Same view, same street,” Castellano said, adding that his favorite photos were the old farming and Water Festival pictures.

The authors even spoke with people who were teenagers in the photographs and recorded their stories.

“The stories, I think, bring it alive,” Lynn said.

The trio learned unexpected bits of history, including the discrimination against the Chinese.

“The more we talk about and share history, the more we’re going to learn,” Castellano said.

“I think, too, the book has kind of brought an awareness, not just in the community but outside as well,” Castellano said, adding that the next book in the series will be about Langley history.

Last weekend, the authors sold nearly 100 books at the Penn Cove Mussel Festival and they are available to do more presentations for groups. Signed books are available for purchase at the museum, or get a personalized copy at the Coupeville Library during their presentation Tuesday.

For information, call the museum at 678-3310.


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