Arlington celebrates ‘Pioneer Days’ | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — The Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Hall and Museum welcomed visitors to celebrate the return of their annual “Pioneer Days” on Saturday, Sept. 15.

While the hands-on activities and artifacts drew attendees of all ages, what amused many parents and grandparents was how quickly their kids and grandkids took part in interactive demonstrations that the older folks had performed as chores when they were children themselves.

Alan and Miranda Hernandez of Hamilton, Wash., happened to be visiting their grandparents, Leighton and Christi Talbott of Silvana, when they decided to check out the exhibits and experts on early pioneer life in the region. Joann Gray guided Alan, 8, through cleaning clothes against a washboard before running them through a wringer by hand, while Ray Miller grabbed the other end of an old-fashioned saw so that he and Alan could cut firewood-sized logs together.

“I want to wash the clothes again,” Alan Hernandez told Joann, before scrubbing and wringing dry the demonstration clothes a second time. “I don’t like to fold laundry, but I like washing it.”

“This brings back a lot of memories,” Leighton Talbott said as he watched his grandson work. “We had a lot of these old things as toys that we handmade ourselves.”

Not only did Miller make sure his young partners in sawing stayed safe, but he even provided them and the adults accompanying them with a tip for removing wood pitch from their hands.

“Mayonnaise will get that right off,” Miller said. “Either that or vegetable oil.”

Dick Prouty was just as conscious of safety as he assisted tots through teens in splitting their own shakes, albeit with the aid of Sam Esperson.

“I’m too weak to do it myself,” Prouty said, in between writing children’s names on their shakes. “I tell the kids that I’m a great-grandfather, so they have to help me do it. I can start it for them, but they have to finish it.”

Fortunately for Prouty, he claimed that any child is “an expert at splitting shakes” as soon as they’ve hit the blade into the log once or twice.

Arlington’s Angie Miller and Wendy Hansen each brought two sons to the “Pioneer Days,” where they practiced hammering nails into wood under close supervision as soon as they arrived, but Angie’s son Silas, 6, didn’t take long to find another favorite activity.

“How about we have you make our flour during the winter?” Angie asked Silas as he cranked the handle of the grinder. “That could be part of your physical education.”

Emily Byrum, 10, received a quick lesson on writing with a fountain pen and soon concluded that it was easier than writing with a ballpoint.

“You have to have a light touch and make broader arm movements,” said Geri Elefsen, one of the experts on antiquity inside the Pioneer Hall that day.

“I love that our kids can see the old ways we did things,” said Emily’s mom, Carrie Byrum. “You don’t always need the computer or the TV.”

Alena Eldridge, 13, is an eighth-grade student at Haller Middle School who’s served as a docent at the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Hall and Museum for the past year and a half, and this year’s “Pioneer Days” saw her taking photos of kids in historic attire inside the recently relocated tree stump.

“I’ve learned a lot about the history of Arlington and really enjoyed the experience,” Eldridge said, before donning a period dress herself and demonstrating how to work the old-style water pump by hand. “It’s really cool to be able to show people around the Pioneer Hall and Museum, and teach them about the town by telling them things that even I didn’t know before.”

When compared to nearby Everett, or even her cousin’s hometown of Edmonds, Eldridge sees Arlington as a much more tight-knit community and hopes to continue with the Pioneer Hall and Museum at least through her sophomore year of high school, and possibly even through graduation.

“Our ‘Pioneer Days’ festival is a terrific opportunity to experience the rich heritage of the Arlington area with superb examples of early homesteaders,” said Myrtle Rausch, president of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association.

The Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Hall and Museum are located at 20722 67th Ave. NE in Arlington. For more information, call 360-435-7289 or log onto


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