To The Present

Margit Thorvaldson – A Most Progressive Woman (1928-2016)

Margit Thorvaldson
Margit Thorvaldson

As many already know, we recently lost a former teacher a dear member of the community, Margit Thorvaldson. Below was provided by Margit’s niece, Anne Kristoffersen.

July 19 1928 – August 27 2016

Margit Thorvaldson, age 88, passed away on August 27, 2016. She was predeceased by her parents Leif and Margit Thorvaldson, brother Leif Thorvaldson, niece Karen Kristoffersen, and her loving cat Petunia. She is survived by her sister Elsie Kristoffersen of Tacoma, nephew John Kristoffersen (Bernadette) of Walla Walla, niece Anne Kristoffersen (Charlie) of Tumwater, great-nephew Kristoffer Rice of Tacoma, great- niece Ann (LuAnn) of San Diego, CA; great-niece Nikki Hafezi (Feri) of Switzerland and great-great nieces Leilah, Lili, and Lola, great-nephew Jon Erik Kristoffersen (Randi) of Guam and great-great niece Sophia, and Norwegian cousins Bjorn Arve, Ase, Sigrun and their families.

Miss Thorvaldson was born in Rye, New York, on July 19, 1928. Her parents both emigrated from Norway in 1922. Her father was a master cabinet maker who built two alters for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Miss Thorvaldson graduated from New Paltz State Teacher’s College in New York in 1946.

Thorvaldsons take over
Thorvaldson family

In 1950, Miss Thorvaldson was hired as an elementary school teacher for the Eatonville School District. In the early 1950s, she was offered an opportunity to teach overseas for two years. She taught in Germany for one year and transferred to another teaching job in Libya for another year. Since the schools were located on Air Force Bases, she could catch a ride to just about anywhere in the region to explore other countries, specifically Egypt and around the Mediterranean Sea. Upon her return from overseas, she was rehired to her teacher’s position for Eatonville School District. For the next 37 years, Miss Thorvaldson built a reputation as a tough but fair English teacher dedicating countless hours to help educate her students. In her honor, the Senior classes of 1982 and 1987 dedicated their school annuals to her.

In 1989, Miss Thorvaldson retired. The Eatonville School District presented her with a plaque to be placed outside her classroom which states “This plaque is placed at the door of the classroom where Margit Thorvaldson taught at Eatonville High School from September 1950 to June 1989. It is given in thanks for her teaching, her love of learning, and her devotion to her students, challenging them to be the best they could be. It was in this classroom that she taught the children, the parents, and the grandparents of Eatonville”.

Through the years, Miss Thorvaldson crossed the Atlantic Ocean four times by ship, and countless times by air to her beloved ancestral home in Norway. Working with her cousin, Eva and her husband Olaf, they built a cabin on an ocean island, which she spent over 35 summers enjoying her home country and her Norwegian cousins and “Tantes” and “Onkels”.

First Bootstrap meeting and Editorial
First Bootstrap meeting and Editorial

Miss Thorvaldson remained active in the Eatonville community up until her passing. One of her more historic contributions was her University of Washington Master’s Thesis regarding the history and consolidation of the pioneer schools in the Eatonville area. This document was later used in the recorded history of “Operation Bootstrap”.

Operation Bootstrap was a joint venture between the University of Washington and the Town of Eatonville to determine what economic opportunities Eatonville might attract due to the closure of Eatonville Lumber Company. Miss Thorvaldson became a leading volunteer in this undertaking. Always being the teacher, she and her students were responsible for reproducing the historic interviews taken from various community members at the time. Today, this transcript, The Tacoma Eastern, is regarded as one of the most accurate historic references of this area.

Miss Thorvaldson’s philosophy was to strive to always be kind to people. She could never imagine living a better life than she had lived. She remained strong in body, hopeful and positive in mind, and very grateful for those in her life.

Elsie, Anne, and Kristoffer, would like to express their heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the support, love and assistance given to Miss Thorvaldson, especially in her last days, by her dear friends, Rich and Ruthie, “Angel” Elaine (Ron), and “Angel “Carol (Bob). We also extend thanks to all of Miss Thorvaldson’s many other dear friends, including Margo, Leona, Theresa, Kim, her neighbors, mail person, and former students in the Eatonville Community.  You made a big difference in her life and ours as well.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Animal Care of Eatonville (ACE), c/o Bob Walter, PO Box 131, Eatonville, WA 98328 or Eatonville Dollars for Scholars, PO Box 1155, Eatonville WA 98328.

A celebration of Miss Thorvaldson’s life will be held at the Ohop Grange 41608 Mountain Highway E Eatonville WA 98328 on October 30th from 1:30p – 5:00p .

The Driver Training Car (1961)

John Van Eaton and Hans Olson
John Van Eaton and Hans Olson

John Van Eaton and Hans Olson shake hands in front of the Methodist Church on Mashell Ave. in September 1961. The plaque on the car reads: The Driver Training Car, Provided as a Public Service by Van Eaton Chevrolet, Inc.

Did anyone out there learn to drive in this car? If so, please speak up!

Photo courtesy of the Baublits family and the image was taken by Joe Larin. 

John Van Eaton & Hans Olson in front of Methodist Church
John Van Eaton & Hans Olson in front of Methodist Church

Click on images to enlarge.

First Eatonville School House (ca. 1905)

Eatonville's First School
Eatonville’s First School

The Eatonville School District has come a long way in the last 100+ years. This was Eatonville’s first schoolhouse. You can find it today at Glacier View Park. 

Here is some information about the little school house from Dixie Walter’s blog, written in 2006:

The following historical excerpt is from the History of Tacoma Eastern Area by Jeannette Hlavin and Pearl Engle written in 1954. “The first school was the log house built from logs and nails and on ground donated by T. C. Van Eaton. It stood across the Mashell Avenue from the present grade school building. Some of the Scandinavian settlers were “Broad axe men,” experts at hewing logs or lumber, and they hewed the material for the school house.

First School House (photo taken 2006)
First School House (photo taken 2006)

“The first teacher was Miss Alice Dodge. School was conducted only three months a year. Two other teachers taught in the log school house, Miss Hortense Oliver and Miss. P. Messinger.

“Some towns neglect their historic buildings but this cannot be said of Eatonville. The old log school house has been tenderly cared for and is often referred to sentimentally in writings and speeches of local people.

Clyde Williams says that when it was to be removed from its original location, he said to T. C. Van Eaton, who with a team of horses, was his partner on the job: “Let’s save it” and Van Eaton replied: “All right, we have plenty of room.” Accordingly, they hitched it to the horses with chains and pulled it to the spot where it now stands.

Mensik family school photo
Mensik family school photo

“Before 1912 church services were held in it.

B. W. Lyon told the Community Day audience in 1923 that when he was school superintendent here, an orphan boy was permitted to live in the old school house. He was placed in charge of the agricultural class’s poultry, and was allowed to keep what money he made from it. In this way he was enabled to complete the high school course here. His name was John Kruger and in 1923 he was head of the Agriculture Department of the Sumas public schools.

“The Fortnightly Club used the building as a club house for some years, and it is now used for the same purpose by the Girl Scouts.”

For decades the old school house stood in the area behind the present day tennis court at the high school. Eventually, through the efforts of the Dogwood Garden Club it was moved to it’s present site. The log building has been used as the Eatonville Cooperative Nursery School for thirty-one years.

Photo courtesy of the Baublits family and Bob Walter.

Click on images to enlarge.


Launch of Documentary on Eatonville Rock Festival (aka Buffalo Party Convention and Pig Roast)

Buffalo Rock
Buffalo Rock

Hi everyone,

Because of all your comments and interest in the Eatonville Rock festival over the last couple years, I’m excited to announce we have officially started work on the documentary Buffalo Rock.

The film will look back at the rock festival, how it shook up the little town of Eatonville, and the impact the event had on peoples’ lives.

There’s a website, and a Facebook page, Buffalo Rock, as well as a Buffalo Rock blog. You’re invited to check them out and share any additional memories, pictures or thoughts you might have.

You are all a part of this event and the reason behind this documentary. I hope to get a chance to speak personally to all of you—that’s if you want to talk to me. 🙂

Thank you for all your help, and great mojo so far. Please join me on this journey.

Diane Mettler

Frank Van Eaton and BW Lyon Sr. (Oct. 1962)

BW Lyon Sr. & Frank Van Eaton (1962)
BW Lyon Sr. & Frank Van Eaton (1962)

This wonderful shot of Frank Van Eaton and BW Lyon Sr. was taken in front of the Eatonville High School in October, 1962.

Frank Van Eaton was born in Eatonville in 1894, and played a big role in the community throughout his life. There is a whole write up about him here. 

BW Lyon, was a former superintendent of the school and had a tremendous impact (more later on that.)

Photo courtesy of the Baublits family, and taken by Joe Larin.

Click on image to enlarge.

Hotes Masonic Temple, Post Office and Dispatch 1964

Hotes Masonic Temple
Hotes Masonic Temple

In 1964, the year Mary Poppins hit the screen and Elizabeth Taylor was marrying Richard Burton for the first time, Eatonville was fairly quiet.

This shot of the Hotes Masonic Temple (next to the Roxy) on Mashell Ave., looks much like it does today, except that the tenants are different. Back then The Eatonville Dispatch the Pierce County Public Library were doing business there.

Photo courtesy of the Baublits family, photo by Joe Larin.

Click on image to enlarge.

Low Water, No Diving at Alder Lake

Sunny Beach Point 1987
Sunny Beach Point 1987

Last summer Alder Lake was way down, but it wasn’t the first time. Here’s a shot at Sunny Beach Point that ran November 2, 1987.

The text reads: 

The drain is plain: Alder Lake, 12 feet below its usual October level, displays a poignant reminder of this dry fall. The swimming hole at Sunny Beach Point has been closed since Labor Day as Tacoma’s lighting division draws the lake down to maintain stream flow on the Nisqually River. The lake is behind Alder Dam, one of Tacoma’ power-generating dams.

Photo courtesy of Diane Mettler.

Click on image to enlarge.

Sunny Beach Point Text
Sunny Beach Point Text

George Henley, King of the Hydroplanes

George Henley
George Henley with the Pay N’ Pak

George Henley remains an Eatonville hero. He secured a place as on of the greatest unlimited hydroplane racers of all time in the 1970s. Here are a couple shots of “Smiling George”.

To read more about George and his career, just click HERE.

Photos courtesy of Rich and Ruthie Williams.

Click on images to enlarge.

George Henley aka "Smiling George"
George Henley aka “Smiling George”

Eagles Boys Baseball Team, August 1961

Eagles Boys Baseball
Young Eagles Baseball Team –

The Eatonville Eagles had two baseball teams in 1961.

Younger Boys Team
In this first shot pictured are:

Back Row:  Coach Vormestrand , Unknown, Herb Jones, Bob Miller, Ron Dick, Loren Vormestrand, Coach (Unknown)

Front Row:  ? Coburn, Bruce Coburn, Tommy
Miller and Stan Nelson
(If you have additional names, please share!)

Older Boys Team
The second shot is of the older team. Pictured are:

Eagles Boys Baseball
Older Eagles Boy’s Baseball team

Back Rock: Coach Jack Chappell, James Taylor, David Hollinger, Don Fisher,
Rick Hermsen, Don Rose Jr., Frank Games, Sunny Morrison, Chuck Chappell,
Coach Don Rose Sr.

Front Row: Loren Simpson, Herbie Wilson, Mike Hermsen, Steve Rose, Unknown,
unknown, Coach Woodrow Wilson

Again, if anyone has names for some of these individuals, please comments.

And to the boys in Eatonville playing baseball this season — good luck!

Photos courtesy of the Baublits family. Photos taken by Joe Larin.

Click on images to enlarge.