Posts Tagged ‘Sumner’
Posted on July 16, 2010 - by Nadia
July 15, 2010
Sumner wrap up
Been here three days trying to verify Josie’s existence here, to get a sense of the place and its surround, the get a feel for EJ Whit. Vicki Connor at the Ryan House and the Heritage Quest Research Library on Main Street have been very helpful.
SUMNER — Almost at the end of the reel. Almost at my wit’s end. I found her: Josie. Josie! I almost yelled my relief out loud.
For two full days I’d wandered through the year that brought the summer of 1890 to the summer of ’91. On the big screen microfilm, The Local Matters section of the Sumner Herald – the only section that really mattered to me – read like a year-long 19th century Twitter feed:
Seed potatoes hard to come by.
Weather for walking alone with the moon.
By way of a mild suggestion we would respectfully call attention to the present condition of the walk in front of Ryan’s hall.
The Sumner baseball club will play a match game with the Puyallup club on the latter’s grounds tomorrow, (Saturday) morning Bet on the Sumners as success is sure unless energy fails.
A.M. Rousseau returned Tuesday night from a two weeks’ visit to friends at Tenino. During his absence he devoted his time to hunting, fishing and getting sunburnt.
Never mind that the man she would marry, who would become, among other things, my great grandfather, was present on almost every page. Elmer John White founded the Sumner Herald in 1889. He owned half of it, served as editor to his partner’s publisher, and wrote columns under the pen name Eli, and some people called him that, though he generally went about daily life by his initials, EJ.
He is a funny guy who urges temperance. Any topic that gets too heated deserves to be taken with “sugar and lemon.” He is well liked. Well enough to run far ahead of the rest of the Democratic ticket in his 1890 bid for the state house, but not well enough liked to to actually win, as Republicans swept Pierce County, as they were wont to do back then.
I enjoyed getting to know EJ in Sumner, but I’ve always known more about him. In the life that lies ahead of him, he keeps writing in his distinctive down-home, third-person style and is noticed and written about, so it’s fairly easy to feel like I know him. It’s her about whom I know so little. Every confirmation of a fact is a bit of grout that holds the fragile tower I’ve been building together. Every correction knocks a clinker to the ground and puts the enterprise on stronger footing. (more…)
Posted on July 13, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 39: July 12, 2010
Packwood to Sumner, Washington
Moss-covered trees, ferns, wildflowers and waterfalls lined Skate Creek Road for the first 20 miles of the morning for a mostly uphill start to the day. Mount Rainier made a cameo appearance toward the end of that stretch, upstaging the throngs of daisies that cheered me along. Rolling highways then until a surprise cutoff from Alder to Eatonville made for a really fun roller coaster ride for 10 miles that flew by despite many logging trucks. Ortonville Road cutoff from Eatonville to the bike path to South Prairie, wrong turn on the bike path, then doubled back, continuing on through suburbab rhubarb and strawberry fields to Puyallup and on to neighboring Sumner, the end of my trip.
Hooray! Sumner. This bedroom community of Puyallap has been in my sights for almost seven weeks now. This is where Josie got off the train she boarded in Clayton, New Mexico. This is where her sister lived. Where she worked as a typesetter. Where she married Elmer John White. Where she started the next chapter of her life. This two-block town, this is my destination.
I got in toward 8 after navigating suburbia for the first time in a long while. I took a bath. Unpacked. And at 10 went to find dinner at the only place open, and found my self being rewarded with a knuckle bump from the unlikely character of Johnny Rocket. The journey never ends.
Gliding along Skate Creek
Skate Creek Road skirts the south side of Rainier National Park from Packwood to Ashford. It is a flatter, forested version of Hwy. 123, which runs into the park’s south boundary and contains some steep climbs, or so I heard. So close to the end, I didn’t feel that getting a few miles closer to Rainier was worth the delay and hills to see for myself. Now, I was focused on my suburban destination.
All the locals I talked to about Skate Creek said the same things: It’s beautiful, but not safe for riding. No shoulder. Tight turns. This, it seems, is a concerted effort to keep it to themselves. The windy pavement affords very short sightlines, so I did put of riding it until the weekend traffic was done or asleep, but Monday morning I had the road mostly to myself until the very end. Its pavement is compromised by underground springs and it slumps and buckles in large drooping swaths here and there that are all but invisible at high speeds. I saw an RV hit one and the ensuing fight for control was momentarily scary.
Along the way, vast crowds of daisies cheered me along, vigorously nodding and waving in the breeze, shouting their floral, Allez! Allez! The Nisqually River roared.
And a deer came out to see what the fuss was all about. It was lovely, if (yes, I have to say this after so much heat,) a little chilly. Finally, I was in the true Pacific Northwest.
Thanks everyone for reading along. It’s been a remarkable experience