By Polly Keary, Editor
There aren’t many people who remember the Sky Valley the way Nancy Senner does.
When she came out to Monroe in 1961 to marry the man she met while attending the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Monroe was a fraction of its current size.
“Monroe was nothing back then,” said Senner. “I kind of liked it.”
She and her husband, Jerry Senner, founder of Monroe’s Western Heritage Museum, are afraid that soon the memories of early Monroe will be lost to history.
So she and museum supporter Anita Flickinger have begun a project called The Old Timers Month.
During all of June, the pair will interview people who have lived in the area 50 years or more, to collect and record those memories in an audio archive.
“This is something we’ve talked about trying to do for the last few years,” said Flickinger.
Her husband, Eric, is an amateur sound technician with a full suite of recording equipment.
The museum is soon to begin charging for entry, instead of offering entrance by donation, so now is a good time to increase the things the museum has to offer, Flickinger and Senner thought.
They are trying to get commitments from longtime valley residents to come in and record in June.
“We have just some general questions,” said Flickinger. “It’s about where they are from; where they were born; when did they come to the Sky Valley and what they did for a living.”
“It gets us back before Monroe become a metropolis,” said Senner. “Back when you could get through town.”
The volunteers will set up recording equipment at the museum at the east edge of the fairgrounds Wednesdays and Thursday through the month of June, but will also record to suit the schedule of any old timer willing to come in and share.
The project is low-cost, but there is still a need for funds to pay for recording supplies and a website for the recordings and perhaps for a program for interactive technology between the recordings and museum displays.
So the volunteers are selling commemorative bricks for $50. The brick will be engraved with the donor’s name and placed at the museum.
A dozen such donors is all it would take to foot the bill for the whole project; the costs come in at about $600, all told.
One of the people they will be sure to interview, they said, is Jerry Senner himself.
Jerry said he remembers that, for fun, he and his kids used to go fishing a lot.
“Storm Lake was the best, but we fished a lot at Wagner because it was right around the corner,” he said.
He also remembers when paddlewheel boats were a ubiquitous sight on the Skykomish River.
“They went all the way up to Sultan,” he said. “The Mini M went to Sultan, and the Monte Cristo. They used to race.”
As much as Jerry remembers an early time in the Sky Valley, his grandfather remembered even further, he said.
“My grandpa came from Oklahoma to Kansas in a covered wagon, and then up to Washington,” he said. “He went up to Van Brocklin and saw the most beautiful big salmon in the river, and he went down to the river and while he was there he saw this beautiful yellow flower. And he dug it up and planted it by the front door.”
The flower was skunk cabbage, said Senner with a laugh.
Stories like his own are what museum volunteers are hoping to collect.
If you or someone you know has memories of the Sky Valley between Everett and Steven’s Pass that you would like to share, call (425) 232-3494 to make an appointment for a half-hour interview.