In October we were honored with visits from two descendants of island pioneers. Jerry Hemphill, who we wrote about in our February 2012 Inn Newsletter, actually stayed with us in the original 1898 Tucker House, what we call the Lower Tucker House. Jerry’s father actually inherited the Upper Tucker House, which now is the center of our Reception and Guest Areas. Jerry visited that house often as a child in the late 20′s and early 30′s when his grandfather still lived there, and later when occupied by his aunt Edna and uncle John Nash.
Jerry wrote to us after his stay, “What you have done for the old homes is nothing short of magnificent. Grandpa Hemphill, a tightfisted old Scotch/Irishman, would never believe that his simple dwelling would get such a makeover. I should have used my Sony camera for the Interior photos; however, enough to say what is recorded demonstrates how much you and your husband have done to make a lasting and successful enterprise out of the old homes.” As he walked through the house, he told stories of Grandfather and his family living there. When we entered the parlor, our current reception area, he struck a pose and said, “This is how Grandfather would stand.” He then placed one hand on the mantle and outstretched his other arm. He held a camera in place of Grandfather’s pipe.
Jerry was kind enough to meet with those on the island who are determined to preserve the history of those who were here before us: Sandy Strehlou, Historic Preservation Coordinator for Town of Friday Harbor, and Kevin Loftus, Director of the San Juan Historical Museum. Joining them were two of our long-time islanders family members, Sam Buck and Guard Sundstrom. Lots of stories were shared and notes taken, all serving to bring island history alive.
Also visiting us was Patti Skene, who found us through a photo that we’d published on our October, 2011 blog, Are There Ghosts In Friday Harbor. The photo was of Adah Beeny and her sister, with a baby between them. According to Patti, that baby was her grandmother, and Adah was the nanny for 50 years to all the McMillan children at what is now Roche Harbor Resort. Patti and her husband Don stopped by on their way to Roche Harbor to meeting with three historians there.
We love hearing tales of the past because they give us a sense of place, and add a fascinating addition to these unique buildings and the island. We are grateful to all those who take time to share their photos and stories with us.