Tomorrow I exchange homes and cars with a fellow traveler. A perfect stranger though she and I have been regularly communicating to finalize details. She and her two sisters will be doing exploration Kitsap from my home while I do exploration Florida from her’s. It’s one of the many strategies I use to travel far and cheaply – I exchange homes using Homelink, one of several reputable home exchange websites.
It’s a great way to become part of a community instead of passing through as a tourist in a nameless hotel. I save money by not paying for accommodations and by cooking in rather than eating out all the time.
Some home exchanges take me to places I intended to travel as part of a trip such as the Loire Valley of France in 2015. While there I stayed in a charming 300 year old home in a tiny village that was also the location of one of France’s premier lyceums (exclusive private boarding schools). The home owners, publishers and authors from England, were there living in their home on the property during my stay.
Three traveling friends joined me during this home exchange and we did what any visitor to the Loire Valley does: toured the valley’s many beautiful chateaus, sampled its famous wines and ate at its Michelin star restaurants.
Sometimes a home exchange takes me to places I hadn’t planned on traveling. While planning my 2015 trip to France and Germany I was contacted by a family in Solothurn, Switzerland interested in doing an exchange that timed perfectly with my trip. I had to look Solothurn up on the map. Their darling Swiss home was near a medieval town in the Jura Mountains near the French border; a train trip on the precise and comfortable French and Swiss rail systems.
I’d never been to Switzerland and the Jura Mountain hiking trails were every bit as Heidi and Sound of Music stunning as I hoped they would be.
The visitors who want to exchange homes with me have wanted to see the Olympic Mountains, downtown Seattle and Victoria. I live in a convenient place to see all three. I leave them a basket of tourist brochures about all of those places and a binder of information about Poulsbo where I live. It never fails. Poulsbo and the rest of Kitsap County are too darn charming; too varied and too beautiful to leave. They begin exploring and suddenly Victoria and Seattle are not the draw they anticipated. Their bucket list becomes less important. It’s usually the same with me. I become enchanted by their neighborhoods, their towns and their hiking trails. A home exchange becomes a small town cultural exchange.
I was recently in another country where English isn’t even the lingua franca answering the first question one gets when chatting up fellow travelers. “Where do you live?” Usually they’ve never heard of Poulsbo so I end up responding that I live across the water from Seattle when this one, a stranger on the train to Madrid, interrupted me with, “Do you live where that great licorice store is located?”
That great licorice store is Poulsbo’s Marina Market, home of The Licorice Shrine. So hip is the Shrine that it has its own Twitter handle @LicoriceShrine which regularly tweets out updates to its licorice followers: “we have WAYYY more #blacklicorice in stock now! and #buylicorice on Sale!” And a blog. And an online store carrying 502 licorice related products.
I live in Poulsbo and as you know from previous posts, I walk everywhere. Marina Market and The Licorice Shrine are on one of my routes and so I stop by on occasion to pay homage. There are rows of packages and tins of authentic licorice choices from around the world. Brightly colored packages of black licorice from Finland, Holland, Sweden and Germany (Marina Market makes it easy to identify the origin of the licorice by placing country flags on the displays).
There are licorices filled with blueberry, pomegranate and mango. Sweet licorices. Salty licorices. Extreme super hot licorices. Gluten free licorices. Hard and soft licorices. And for those of you who insist, Marina Market carries faux licorice – Red Vines and Twizzlers that don’t even list licorice as an ingredient. In fact, some candies that call themselves licorice are really flavored with anise, a seed similar to but with less flavor than licorice extract. Real licorice candies are made from the root of the licorice plant; an herbal plant originating in China and India and used for thousands of years to relieve pain and heal wounds. The root contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin that’s fifty times sweeter than sugar. When the roots are shredded and ground they create an extract used in the making of licorice.
Why in my Norwegian themed town is there a Licorice Shrine? Because Nordic people have a fondness for licorice. In fact Google any Nordic country + licorice and you’ll find that each has a favorite type and flavor. Marina Market caters to that multitude of tastes. And if you prefer your licorice in liquid form, the store has fifteen varieties of beer flavored with licorice among its stock of 1079 beers.
Mrs. Nell Skinner taught one term at Mcdonald School. Then the school board told her they were against hiring married women so she was out of a job. She ran into the same opposition from the Illahee district but when she told them she had a sick husband and three children to support, they relented and hired her. To get to her job each day she would walk to Captain Anderson’s place and was rowed across the bay to Fletcher Bay. Then she took the little steamer Chickaree from the Fletcher Bay dock to the Illahee dock. After landing at Illahee she walked up to her school and made a fire in the wood stove to heat up the room before her pupils arrived.
In 1902 after graduating from the eighth grade, Chloe Sutton took the State Teachers Examinations, passed and received a certificate to teach. Her first school was located between Brownsville and Keyport.
My second year of teaching at Kitsap Lake School I served the children a hot lunch. Hot cocoa was always served on Mondays and I cooked vegetable soup at my cabin. I bought the soup bone and meat at Silverdale on Saturdays and cooked the stock. Each child brought a potato and 15 cents each week for lunch supplies. Eliza Jane Hanberg
On May 14, 1931, the Bremerton School Board adopted the following resolution: That a married woman having private means of support, income producing property or other property capable of producing an income, or a husband who is physically able to support her, shall not be hired as a teacher by the district.
Excerpts from The Way It Was in Kitsap Schools, Kitsap County Retired Teachers
The local newspapers have been busy covering public education issues in the county over the past month. South Kitsap School District lost its bond election to build a new high school for the second time. The North Kitsap Superintendent is under fire for ignoring teacher and community input. Central Kitsap School District has a bus driver shortage. And I’ve been reading a fascinating book that appears to be the sole resource of collected historical information and archived memories on Kitsap County’s public education history. What was it like back in the day?
Schools in the county were built before Washington achieved statehood and were mostly situated at population centers near lumber mills. Unlike today where the county is served by five school districts: South Kitsap, Bremerton, Central Kitsap, North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island, each early school in the county was a school district. By the time Washington was declared a state in 1889, there were already 615 students in the county and 24 schools located in 24 school districts. As the population grew and shifted, more schools were built. At its peak there were about 34 K-8 school districts in Kitsap County.
The first school was built in Port Gamble in the current North Kitsap School District, though the building that housed the school was used for “public worship, social enjoyment or fraternal communion and to educate the children.” Given the multi-purpose use of the building, Bainbridge Island lays claim to the first building erected as a school which was built in 1860 at Port Madison on Bainbridge Island. The third school was built seven years later at Seabeck in what is now the Central Kitsap School District.
Those earliest schools only served younger students. It wasn’t until 1902 that the first high school opened in Kitsap County. The school was located in an existing elementary building in Bremerton and in its first year there were four students who attended – three ninth graders and a tenth grader. By 1905, there were 61 students wanting to attend high school so Bremerton School District and adjacent Charleston School District voted to create a merged Union High School and agreed to open it in a Lutheran church in what is now downtown Bremerton. By 1908 the only high school in the county had it’s own building and a student population of 106. Students in the rest of the county who wanted to go to high school either attended high school in Bremerton or in Seattle or Vashon and boarded with family or friends.
In 1920 six of the fourteen school districts in what is now the North Kitsap School District joined forces to build Union High School. Over the next ten years, the remaining eight districts joined them and by 1930 a bigger high school was built. Port Orchard built its first high school in 1921 after a similar history of its eighteen school districts voting for one consolidated high school. Silverdale’s districts opened their first high school in 1925. Bainbridge’s eleven school districts opened a high school in 1916.
First Keyport School
Inside Keyport School
The school buildings changed as the county populations shifted. Some of the first schools took place in local residents’ homes such as the first Bethel School school in Port Orchard and the Bangor School near Silverdale. Others took place in a tent such as the Harley School on Bainbridge or a grocery store where the first Bremerton School operated. The earliest schools were small one room board and batten or log buildings constructed by volunteer labor on donated land with no insulation, no plumbing and a wood stove for heat. Water was usually carried in by the teacher or students from a neighbor’s well and the lack of heat often meant that the school only operated during the warmer months. The 1891 Crosby School in what is now the Central Kitsap School could only afford to stay open three months a year. Blackboards, books and desks came from donations and the local community raising money at basket socials to buy equipment. When the school building became too small it was sometimes dismantled and the materials used in the building of a bigger school or abandoned only to be reincarnated as something else as my previous post on an early Keyport school illustrates or the land and building was returned to the resident who donated the property.
The earliest teachers were unmarried woman and men (who could be married); some who had only just graduated themselves from the 8th grade. They performed multiple duties beyond teaching; they were also the school janitors, cooks and according to the Rules and Regulations of the State Board of Education, air quality monitors: Every public school teacher shall give vigilant attention to the temperature and ventilation of the school room and see that the atmosphere of the room is changed frequently.
The county rule regarding the married status of female teachers didn’t change until 1942 when a regulation was passed entitled War Emergency Teachers. Because male teachers were called to military service, the change allowed districts to hire married women during the duration of the Emergency. Despite what would now be an illegal hiring practice, women who taught managed to serve in school leadership capacities. Most famous among them is Elizabeth Ordway who taught at the first schools built in the county and then became the Superintendent of County Schools in the 1880s and Jane A. Ruley, the first African American teacher in Kitsap County hired by the Sheridan School District in Bremerton in 1887 to open its first school.
Unlike today when collective bargaining determines teacher salaries, the first Silverdale teachers recalled that their salaries were determined by having them bid for how much they wanted to get paid with the job usually going to the lowest bidder. The average monthly salary of the county’s first teachers ranged between $30 and $40 per month and much of it was used to pay room and board to the families they lived with while teaching. In some of the first schools, such as the small 20 feet x 28 feet Seabeck School, an apartment for the teacher was part of the building and some students whose commute by boat or walking was too distant or dangerous boarded with the teacher when school was in session. (School transportation didn’t involve bus driver shortages back in the day. There are plenty of anecdotal memories in the book about students swimming to shore from overturned boats and getting charged by bears while commuting to school and teachers sinking in quicksand while walking home.)
In researching this post I discovered a website with old class photos from Kitsap schools in the early to mid 1900’s. Who do you know in these photos? What memories exist in your family records about early schools in the county?
The March 29th Kitsap Sunnewspaper article popped up in my news feed: Sound Brewery Will Take Over Campana’s Building in Poulsbo. Somewhere in an unused file on my brain’s hard drive was a file that said the building that was about to become a brewpub began it’s life as a school. More research was necessary. Luckily for me, Chris Campana, the restaurant’s owner, happened to be there when I dropped by to take photos and the volunteers at The Poulsbo Historical Museum were their usual helpful selves.
Built in 1908, the building formerly known as Campanas was one of the early schools serving the Keyport and Pearson communities which are located several miles south of the building’s current Poulsbo Viking Way location. The early schools in Kitsap County were divided into much smaller community school districts, each with its own school building constructed on donated property of a community member with donated labor. As each community’s population grew or moved, new schools were built and old schools were abandoned or dismantled and rebuilt closer to the population center. Today one elementary school serves the Keyport and Pearson communities but from 1886 to 1952 a total of five tiny schools served students in both communities. It took some sleuthing to determine precisely which one of them was about to be reincarnated as a brewpub.
First Keyport School
Inside Keyport School
The first Keyport school was built in 1886. It was a 16 x 18 foot one room schoolhouse that opened on July 12th and closed three months later because without insulation or heat it could only operate 3-4 months a year. By 1891, the community decided that a larger school was needed south nearer the population center. There are conflicting records about whether the first school was abandoned or if it was dismantled and rebuilt as the second school and if the above photos are from school number one or school number two known as Kitsap Lake School. What is clear is that neither School 1 or School 2 is about to become Sound Brewery.
By 1907 the community again decided it needed a new school. It levied itself $205.00 for building materials and labor for the one room building and held “basket socials” to raise money for blackboards, bookcases, desks and a heating stove. School 3, more commonly known as South Keyport School, opened in 1908. By 1911, the school needed to be expanded and a $1200 bond was passed to add a new classroom. South Keyport School operated from 1908 to 1941. By 1941 the various community school districts had consolidated as North Kitsap School District. Most students from South Keyport School were transferred to other schools and by 1949 South Keyport School was totally abandoned. But that’s when it began its second life.
The abandoned school was purchased by the North Kitsap Baptist Church in 1951. The church intended to move the entire structure to land it had purchased on Viking Way, but the roads were too narrow to move the building intact and so it was dismantled for the relocation. Much of the lumber, the windows and the bell and bell tower were salvaged and used in the new church. By the early 1970s, the church had outgrown the building and so they purchased property on Little Valley Road in Poulsbo, built a new building and held their first service there on March 3, 1976. Again, what was once the little South Keyport schoolhouse sat vacant.
In 1976 the Campana family who already ran a successful restaurant in Bremerton, bought the schoolhouse building and opened it as an Italian restaurant.
As a tribute to the building’s origins, the Campana bar was decorated with school memorabilia.
Twenty-five years later the family closed the restaurant and leased the building to Sound Brewery who intends to move their brewing operations with the addition of a small food menu. School to Church to Restaurant to Brewery. It’s an auspicious start for the brewpub’s new location.
A Note: The helpful volunteers at the Poulsbo Historical Museum let me borrow an amazing book called The Way It Was in Kitsap Schools. Written and published by The Kitsap County Retired Teachers this heavily researched archive of stories, facts, school board minutes, photos and memories is a treasure for anyone researching the history of public education in Kitsap County. Many of the details for this post came from the book. It’s dedication reads, “This book is dedicated to the past, present and future people involved in education.” Because I’m so intrigued with its contents, you’ll be reading more blog posts that connect their labor of love research to current events.
You may have noticed a gap in my posts??? Blame it on 2.5 months of travel in India and Spain which I cover over here at my other travel blog Peregrine Woman. Since my return a week ago, I’ve been trying to recapture the essence of Spain with food and have found it surprisingly easy to to eat comida espanola in my hometown of Poulsbo, a community known for its Norwegian roots.
Central Market has a large selection of made in Spain items including chorizo and Iberian ham, Spanish cheeses, quince paste and wines. In Valencia, Spain I took a class on making paella with a fellow blogger who specializes in food. His blog posts about paella (how to make it, information about paella pans and rice) can be found here. Central Market has all the ingredients for making Valencia’s specialized paella including Bomba rice shipped from Valencia, Spain to the pasta section of Central Market.
You can always count on World Market in the Silverdale Mall for a global selection of groceries, but I was pleased to find an entire section of wine from Spain and Portugal at prices comparable to what I could buy them for in Spain. Why can’t its neighbor to the north (….France, that’s you I’m talking about) do the same thing?
If I don’t feel like cooking Spanish, I can walk 10 minutes to Poulsbo’s popular downtown Spanish restaurant, Paella Bar for tapas, sangria and paella. I loved this addition to Poulsbo’s growing restaurant scene before I traveled to Spain the first time three years ago. I appreciate it even more now. On a warm, sunny evening sitting at it’s tiny outdoor patio, a glass of sangria before me, I can close my eyes and and imagine I’m in a village on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
On my walks I’ve been watching the slow progression of Poulsbo‘s newest public art, the mural under the Lindvig Bridge bordering Fish Park. Did you know Lindvig Bridge is named after Maurice Lindvig, the Mayor of Poulsbo from 1970-76? The progress has been slow because it was originally proposed as a mural of trolls but the artist ultimately decided that it was more appropriate to paint outdoor scenes to complement the adjacent Fish Park scenery.
Work has been suspended temporarily because the rains and winds this winter make painting (even under a bridge) uncomfortable.
However some graffiti artist has been at work in the interim using the blue plastic tarp as their medium.
If you read last week’s post you know I’m a Kitsap urban dweller who walks to almost everything. Two weeks ago I found myself sans auto for three days while it was in the shop (I was even able to walk round trip to the auto body shop). Now I’m an avid traveler who relies heavily on mass transit wherever I find myself and so it was with some surprise that I found myself feeling a tad abandoned and desolate without my car. I came up with all sorts of out-of-walking-radius errands that couldn’t wait for three days.
I was on my daily walk to the post office when I noticed this sign.
I was on my way back when I spotted this one.
I counted the steps back to my house. 240. Within 240 steps I had my choice of stops for four Kitsap Transit bus routes! I’d vaguely noticed the signs before and paid even less attention to the green Kitsap Transit buses that made their way around the county. I got on their website, downloaded the schedules and routes for 32, 33, 43 and 44 and walked 240 steps to wait for the #44 just to see where it went.
For a $2.00 fare I can take a bus to Olympic Community College, Office Depot, the medical plaza, my favorite out-of-walking-radius grocery store and it travels my daily walking route through downtown Poulsbo. It also stops at the Poulsbo Transit Center where I can catch buses to Bainbridge Island, the ferry to Seattle and to Jefferson County across the Hood Canal Bridge. The #44 is Poulsbo’s newest route and the bus running the route is painted distinctive blue with Viking characters instead of Kitsap Transit green to identify it. It runs every 30 minutes.
Since I was the only rider for much of the round trip, the friendly driver and I had a great chat. When I told him I was now noticing all the bus signs on our route, he told me it was reticular formation which I had to Google when I got home. Britannica Encyclopedia says its a neurological function that, as an example, rouses a sleeping cat to alertness.
As I disembarked the bus after riding the entire route, the auto body shop called to say my car was ready. I walked to get it, but I could have taken the #43 now that my cerebral cortex is in a general state of wakefulness about local mass transit.
I passed by it every day enroute to work. The small sign at the entrance to the business park on Highway 305 – St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church. There it was along with signage about a hot yoga business, a Crossfit facility and an auto repair shop. Then it moved but was still on my daily driving route. Now the sign was was posted at the Breidablick Hall, the old rural community building that was most recently used for square dancing and an occasional wedding. Also burials since a cemetery established in 1904 was on the property. St Elizabeth Orthodox Church. What would an Orthodox church be doing an a community largely settled by Scandinavian Lutherans?
I’ve traveled a lot in countries where the Orthodox religion was a significant part of the country’s history and culture. Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Greece, Albania and Macedonia all have ancient, ornate churches steeped in tradition. The Orthodox religion claims to be the oldest Christian church, its roots going back to 33 AD. For its first thousand years the church was run from five centers called Patriarchs located in Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), Alexandria in Egypt and the ancient city of Antioch in Greece. The Roman Patriarch broke away in 1054 AD to form what is now the Catholic Church. In 988 AD, Orthodox missionaries made their way to Russia and then in 1794 the first Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived on Kodiak Island, Alaska to introduce the religion to the North American continent. Today the church is a single body with self-governing entities: Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox and Orthodox Church in America. St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church is part of the Orthodox Church of America, but it’s roots come from those Russian Orthodox missionaries.
It’s patron saint, St. Elizabeth was a German princess who married into the Russian royal family and converted to the Orthodox religion. As Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia (1864-1918) she saw her husband assassinated, gave away all of her possessions and became an Abbess in an Orthodox convent. In 1918 she was executed by Russia’s new Communist government.
St Elizabeth Church was having a a Christmas Eve service open to the public (as are all of its services). In advance of Christmas Eve I convinced my not particularly religious dinner guests that we should attend. We asked Google if there was any protocol we needed to know. It advised modest dress for men and women (no tank tops, short skirts, cleavage or tight pants). St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church maintains a very informative website with links that explain their Christmas Eve service called Christmas Vigil. Earlier in the day was the celebration of the Eve of Nativity which includes the tradition of Vale, a twelve course dinner served just before the Vigil service begins. Though we opted out of the church’s Vale, it was still in progress when we arrived. From the moment we set foot in the door we were graciously greeted, invited to join the holy supper and to participate in the choir’s practice of familiar Christmas carols for the next day.
After the meal, the lights were darkened and everyone entered the nave (the part of the church where the congregation assembles) which was lit with candles that were reflected in the many Orthodox icons displayed all over the room.
Though not made of ancient stone and minus the domes, rotundas and murals found in older Orthodox churches, the wooden, square, former square dance hall in Breidablick has been magically transformed into an Orthodox setting. St. Elizabeth’s has a fundraising plan to eventually build a more traditional church on the site which they purchased five years ago.
There is an iconstasis, the carved and painted partition that separates the sanctuary from the nave. There are large icons, particularly of the patron, St Elizabeth. The clergy wore traditional vestments that changed throughout the service and the tiny choir had glorious voices for coming from such a small congregation.
What we didn’t read in our research was that we needed to stand for the two full hours of the service. Or what we could and couldn’t do about the icons and the communion. However, we were each given a very informative pamphlet as everyone extended their goodbyes to us, First Visit to an Orthodox Church: 12 Things I Wish I’d Known. It explains:
You stand up for the whole service. As the pamphlet emphasizes, “Really.” Many Orthodox churches have no pews and only a few chairs scattered about for those who can’t stand. St. Elizabeth had pews arranged in a U shape around the iconstasis and I ultimately sat for half of the service – who knew two hours of standing was so hard?
It is appropriate to kiss the icons though only on the feet and hands of the image.
Everyone has communion. A portion of the loaf of bread is soaked in wine which is reserved for attendees who have been baptized into the church. The remainder of the loaf is blessed by the priest and distributed to everyone attending.
Perhaps the most impressive thing I learned was how this Russian Orthodox influenced church is part of the greater Poulsbo and Kitsap community. Founded in 2001, it’s the first and only Orthodox church in the county. Beyond its informative and up-to-date website (source of all my photos) St Elizabeth Orthodox Church maintains an active Facebook page. It also has a booth at the Kitsap County Fair and during Poulsbo’s May Viking Fest celebration.
Did I ever find out how a Russian Orthodox church ended up in a community pioneered by Scandinavian Lutherans? No. I never asked. I’m sure there’s an answer, but frankly I don’t need to know. I’m celebrating our growing diversity and inclusivity here on the western shores of Puget Sound and its enough to know the welcoming St. Elizabeth OrthodoxChurch is emblematic of that.
They were still there. Standing like sentinels as though it was the African wetlands. As I waded closer I could see they were both sporting Seahawks gear – a scarf on the giraffe and a sort of Turkish Seahawk fez on the elephant – the 12’s in inanimate animal form. It’s football Sunday in Seattle and likely about the end of the first quarter. I wonder if they can tell me what the score is? But more realistically I wonder, yet again, how they got there -two life size wooden African animals in the bush known as the Clear Creek Trail in Silverdale, Kitsap County. I’d seen them many times before the torrential fall and winter rain had turned the Clear Creek savannah into a wetlands. It’s a mystery how they got there. Even Google doesn’t have an explanation.
Clear Creek Trail is one my my favorite walking trails in the county. While the entire trail system amounts to seven miles, my favorite section is the northern end. It’s easily accessed just off Viking Way NW (aka Silverdale Way NW) between Poulsbo and Silverdale and has a habit of nagging me to take 30 minutes to park and walk whenever I drive by.
I love that the changes of the season are on constant display there. When it’s monsoon season as it has been lately, there are parts of the trail side that look like the Louisiana bayous, all dark with submerged signs of civilization. On some days galoshes are required footwear on the main trail. It’s a valley formed in the last ice age 13,000 -15,000 years ago and in that section Clear Creek moves slowly because the watershed is low lying. When it rains heavily the creek overflows its banks.
I also love that the entire trail system is maintained and is being restored by a variety of volunteer organizations including twelve trail adoption groups. Donated to the Great Peninsula Conservancy by the last private owners of the land, it was not until the Clear Creek Task Force was created in 1993 that a vision of how to manage and restore the vast Clear Creek ecosystem was developed. Each time I walk the trail it seems as though a new interpretive sign has been installed or a bench that was an Eagle Scout project.
Restoration is a major undertaking. The valley was originally the fishing and hunting area of the local native Suquamish people who called parts of the current Clear Creek ecosystem, Duwe’iq and Sa’qad. In the 1850’s loggers moved in and clear cut the valley turning lush forest into fertile farmland, but in the process destroying wildlife habitat and resources for the native tribe. The efforts to replant the valley are visible everywhere and today the Suquamish Tribe is part of the Clear Creek Task Force.
Whenever I walk the trails I get to witness the slow healing taking place. Part of that healing process is the return of native animal life like the coho salmon who return to Clear Creek between October and January annually. My favorite encounter occurred two weeks ago as I rounded a turn in the boardwalk and came upon this blue heron. The photo was taken with my cellphone so you can see how close the heron let me creep. We spent five minutes staring at each other (me hoping nobody else would interrupt our special moment) before it spread its magnificent wings, cast me one last glance and took off in the air. I wonder how it co-exists with Kitsap County’s African wildlife?