Looking back: 125 years of Whidbey history

Here’s what was happening in the news this week 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago.

100 years ago

I.M. Howell, secretary of state, of Olympia, and F.M. Fretwell, secretary of the Washington Automobile Chamber of Commerce and secretary of the Auto Club of Seattle, visited Whidbey to discuss the ways in which they may direct tourists visiting Western Washington to stop by Whidbey. Their objective was to direct tourists to all “points of interest” in and around Tacoma and Seattle and not allow travelers to drift away into points with no attractions for the “inquiring stranger.”

A committee from the Oak Harbor cannery traveled to Burlington and Seattle to gain information regarding the market for beets and compare the expense account of Whidbey’s cannery with that of Burlington.

The Holstein-Friesan cow, Finderine Pride Johanna Rue No. 121083 was named the new queen of the dairy world, exceeding in yearly butter fat production over all other cows, regardless of age, class, or breed.

75 years ago

The City of Oak Harbor shut off water for nearly an hour due to an error made by a ditch digger. The digger was working on a sewer project and snagged one of the water mains on Barrington Ave. Most of the block was doused.

In a regular column entitled “We Women,” women of Whidbey were encouraged to consider the calorie content of their food in preparation for bathing suit season. A detailed list of 100-calorie food portions was provided.

Plans were established for the inauguration of the government’s food stamp plan for surplus commodities in Island County. Approximately 450 families in the county, including between 900 and 1,000 individuals, would be eligible to purchase the stamps.

50 years ago

Members of the Coupeville Garden Club held their annual picnic at the Gibson home. The club was expected to furnish bouquets, plants and hanging baskets for the Coupeville Festival.

Dr. and Mrs. Leslie Chaffee celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. The couple, who moved to Edmonds, had been married in Oak Harbor. Dr. Chaffee had practiced medicine in Coupeville for several years.

Berry picking at Greenbank Farm was underway. Currants were at their peak and John Sinema, farm manager, was experimenting with thornless blackberries.

25 years ago

Pablo Ruiz Juarez, a Guatemalan refugee  briefly held in the Oak Harbor jail after being denied refugee status in Canada, was scheduled to present his case in federal court in Seattle. Groups assisting Central American refugees from Bellingham to South Whidbey worked to help stall the man’s deportation, fearing he would be executed for his political activities without benefit of a trial. The Oak Harbor Police Department and Island County Sheriff’s Department routinely held federal prisoners, most often when for the Border Patrol, when there is space available in the jails.