As a boy, Ed Scott always longed to return to his “worshipped island paradise” when the family would summer at his grandparents’ cabin on Lummi Island. Now Ed lives here year round in that same house. Some dreams come true.
Lummi Island Summer Memories is a selection of childhood adventures beginning in the late 1940s, such as how to smoke driftwood, building an upside down stump house, and the discovery of Television at the Beanery Cafe—a TV that protected viewers from radiation.
Listen to Ed as he reads and comments about two of the stories, Chief Kwina and Big Red, recorded in the in his house in view of the ferry dock.
The book includes stories by his sister, Karen. She remembers the "chuggity-chug" sounds of the ferry Chief Kwina, "all these ferry noises my brother and I learned to imitate so we could reproduce them back home—a valuable bedtime skill for dropping off to sleep without our island comforts."
A selection from Lummi Island Summer Memories
I used to drive the Lummi Island Ferry. Not our current modern steel, Whatcom Chief, but it’s predecessor, the Chief Kwina. It was a beautiful vessel. White with black trim, with a small structure in the center, with a restroom, and crew office. There was a ladder on the back, that went up to the pilot house. You walked across the roof of the lower room, past the smoke stack, and in a small door to the pilot house. The pilot house had windows all around, which could be lowered into hidden channels with leather belts. There was a huge wooden steering wheel, with a shiny brass bolt in the middle.
On the floor, was a wooden milk bottle crate, and Jack Miller, or Floyd Tuttle would slide it over in front of the wheel, and pick me up and position me in front of the wheel, so I could drive. I think I was about 4 years old.
There were levers that Jack or Floyd would move back and forth to make us back out of the slip, and then shift into forward, so I could start driving across Hale Pass. They would control the speed of the old three cylinder Atlas down below decks, and we would chug-chug-chug for the ten minute trip to Gooseberry Point.
When we drove out to Gooseberry Point from Bellingham, there was no Haxton Way, or even a Highway I-5. My dad just drove our ’41 Ford out Marine Drive, across the double wooden bridges in Marietta, past the white Catholic Church, and out Lummi Shore Drive, past the saw mills along the mouth of the Nooksack. Around Portage Point, past the Stommish Grounds, and finally, clickety clicked down the ferry dock, to await our trip to paradise.
The ferry could hold six cars. Three on each side of the house. But if there were a couple Nash’s or Henry J’s, they might be able to get 8 cars in one trip! Some days, I’d drive the ferry three or four times before I’d get bored, and go back to the floats next to the ferry slip, and return to fishing for bullheads.
The ferry dock was in front of Harold Long’s Beach Store, and Mr. Long would always give me a few pieces of bacon rind to use for bullhead bait. The wooden dock was probably about 200 feet long, and about 20 feet above the rocky beach below. While folks parked on the dock, awaiting the next ferry, many would dump their garbage from the previous day, off the side of the dock. This really made the bullhead fishin' good there!
Also, it provided many hours of treasure hunting on the beach at low tide. You could find Prince Albert cans, to keep your marbles in, and beer and soda bottles that Mr. Long would give us “deposits” on, if they didn’t have too many barnacles.
At the end of the long dock was a big building, that the ferry crew stored tools and supplies in. Next to the building were two outhouses, and directly under their toilet seats was a 20-foot straight drop to the water below. The loading ramp was at a 90 degree angle from the dock, so the ferry approached from the north. The ramp was made of wood and had curved arches on each side to support it. Some of the big kids, like Bob Busch, Craig Smith, and Tim Lockwood, used to climb up the arches, then up the towers that held the counter weights to raise and lower the ramp, and they would jump or dive into the water below, and swim over to the fishing float and pull themselves out, laughing and shivering.
When my dad first started coming to Lummi Island in 1908, he and my grandparents would ride the Mail Boat from Citizens Dock. Later, there was a “tug” named the Imp that was tied along side a flat barge, that served as a ferry from Gooseberry Point, and my grandfather would drive the family out in his Franklin automobile.