Episode 23 Fremont 1959

Mission Peak in Fremont, CA

Our best friends as well as Sam’s family had all moved into this new community which incorporated in 1956 by merging five old farm districts. Business was booming with new doctors, dentists, banks etc. opening regularly. There were probably 6,000 people here when we moved; there is now an ethnic diversity of 225,000 many of whom come from nearby Silicon Valley.

We moved into our new home in Fremont and began to figure out what to do with all the additional space both in and out. I had been taking classes in Japanese Flower Arrangement for awhile, and we decided to take it another step forward and put in a Japanese Tea Garden with ponds, waterfall, arched bridge and eventually a Tea House. Dr. A took pick and shovel in hand and dug till we had a pond big enough to swim in, which ended when we threw in all the koi fish. The whole thing turned out so well various groups around town began asking permission to come take a look.

J Garden 4 (1)

I met a Japanese/American lady who was to become a good friend who was brushing up on her Japanese, so I began learning the language as well. My Campfire group began studying ancient Japanese culture whether they liked it or not!

What do you do about a gorgeous new neighbor wearing short shorts and high heels, and who looks like a TV model? Why, you make a friend as quickly as possible. Joan did not come as advertised though; she was one of the nicest and funniest girls I had ever met and we became good friends.

We tried to figure out what we could do to earn more money for Christmas, and explored all kinds of things including running a Christmas tree lot or perhaps a nursery school. I came up with the idea of painting store windows with seasonal greetings. She immediately said “I can’t paint”. But of course I could, so with her pretty face and personality she got the business and I climbed the ladders, did the work and collected the money, which was not always the easiest thing. I became known as “the hatchetman”.

We took over most of the stores in town as well as branching out into Oakland and San Jose. I received some strange requests while painting in the cold December weather. One was a book deal which I took, and several were for decorating entire showrooms. We made a real business out of it and eventually spread out into dressing department store windows, which is what I had done during high school in Alameda at J.C. Penney.

Meanwhile, our youngest daughter had a delightful Native American teacher with whom we became very close friends. She was from the Pueblo village of Isleta in New Mexico, and her husband, a commander in the Coast Guard and also a teacher, was a Quinault from the State of Washington. I have written about their stories in the past.

We began vacationing in the Seattle area and at their home on the Hood Canal which they graciously allowed us to use as our own on occasion. We fell in love with the area and eventually moved there for a time. The fishing was good, and the diving in the Canal was lovely.

We fished and hiked all over the Northwest and Canada trying all the while without a lot of success to capture the sheer beauty of the country.

Sitting around mellow with a glass of wine one evening, my friend Georgia said she was going home to New Mexico when school was out and would I like to go along? Her plan was to come back just before school started in the fall. Dr. Advice while working to get the OSHA thing going, had spend some time in New Mexico, and he agreed that it would be a good thing for me to go.

So the day after school was out we took off in Georgia’s car bound for the desert. We would be living with her various family members and traveling between Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos. We opted to do this as cheaply as possible, with me keeping track of the money which we would only use to buy books and artwork. The car was packed with art supplies and sun lotion.

PADDLE TO QUINAULT 2013 (Honoring Our Warriors)

“Emmett Oliver” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Back in 1989, Emmett Oliver, a Quinault tribal elder from Washington State, organized the “Paddle to Seattle” as a part of Washington State Centennial celebration, revitalizing a tradition which was lost for many years, which is canoeing. We know this now as the Canoe Journey, and it has become a symbol of cultural revitalization on a national level; we can expect 90 U.S. tribes, Canadian First Nations, and New Zealand to join the celebration.

This is Emmett’s centennial year as he will turn 100 in December. His daughter, Marylin Bard, as she has done the past two Journeys, will be pulling in the Oliver canoe. Marylin is the Seattle delegate to sister city Perogia, Italy. His son, Marvin Oliver, professor of art at the University of Washington, is well-known for his monumental public art pieces and colorful North Coast prints. He recently installed a large whale’s tale in the city of Perugia. Much of his art can be seen in the beautiful parks in Seattle, and he is always a contributor to the artwork on the canoes of the Journey each year. This blog will be a reprint of a letter Marylin wrote me describing one day’s journey this year.

marvin Oiver
Marvin Oliver

The following is Marylin’s letter written at the end of a long hot day’s paddle:

Thursday, July 25, 8:52 AM

“I left last Friday from Golden Gardens, Seattle, to Suquamish, 10 miles. I decided when I saw all the pullers for the Oliver canoe to pull with the Duwamish canoe, the Raven. They only had 4 pullers and one skipper. I made up the 5th puller, all young guys around 16 to 24 years of age. All Duwamish. The skipper was around 40, from the Tulalip tribe, but his aunt is the chair of the Duwamish, Cecile Hansen, my cousin.

So off we went. Easy pull, got there, went to shore, took a bus back to Kingston, 15 minutes, and took a shower and Dave (her husband) drove us back for big salmon dinner and camping overnight since we had to leave between 5 and 6 a.m. for Port Gamble, which I thought was only 14 miles around Point No Point, but turned out to be more like 30 miles. Five pullers, including myself, one skipper, NO relief pullers, and our support boat was a sailboat to assist both canoes. The other canoe took off and we were left with no support, and radio did not work; but on we went; Determined Duwamish. Now seven of us, all guys except me, Elder Woman, but fit and more like 40 years! Took us six hours to get there, and it was HOT. We also took on the currents around the bluff and it was exciting.

Stopped at a beach to take a break and eat then off again. When we got there I rode home and washed my clothes, took shower then went back to site to camp. Tomorrow I will pay a young paddler $1 to blow up my air mattress! Next day we were off again for Port Townsend, when we had to pull through a channel of strong currents, but we pulled hard and made it through; and we were the last canoe to make it through the currents. Proud Determined Duwamish, we wanted to stop at a nice looking beach and take a lunch break but ran into a big sign NAVY PROPERTYNO LANDING OF BOATS> So we saw another nice looking beach a little ways further and landed there. There it was again: another sign NAVY PROPERTY<KEEP OFF. We pulled hard, so as not to be caught!

When we passed some fishermen with fishing poles we asked them if they had caught any fish, and I patted our ice chest “Right here,” And we did. LOL


As our adventure continued, we picked up more pullers for the Raven Canoe. Sometimes we stayed with the Oliver canoe, but they were faster since they had relief pullers, and our canoe was a dug out from 1989 Paddle to Seattle, and rocky, tippy, and with the sailboat always ahead of us.

After we went through some fog one morning, we made our way to Jamestown North. We were the first three canoes, one was Quinault. The next day we took off for Port Townsend, more fog in the morning. Canoes tried to stay together since we seemed to be lost. (Indians in canoes, lost! Not often.)

Then we found our way with the sailboat leading us, and made it to Port Townsend. That was when nine Canadian pullers went over and had to be taken back to John Wayne Marina (my story might be mixed right now as to places of landing), but it was when we left Jamestown to head to Port Angeles that we hit FOG, huge waves, rough water, and our sailboat could not locate us. Kept saying they were on their way. We only had a radio by that time.

The Oliver canoe asked to be towed, we also said we wanted a tow, but at this time, we were lost in fog, with currents, and waves getting bigger.

We thought we should turn left in the water to turn to shore, or what we thought was shore. Then we saw a canoe coming fast. It was a Quinault canoe, so we sang, we blew our whistles, we chanted and waved our paddles. They saw us and guided us out the other direction until we saw a huge support boat, towing the Oliver canoe. They weren’t sure who we were but we wanted on board. Luckily for me, I was spotted as Emmett Oliver’s daughter. “Come aboard!” One young puller sitting next to me was Cecile Hansen’s grandson, turned to me and said “I thought we would die!”

We were safe. The sailboat found us and towed the Raven and took some Duwamish pullers with Oliver relief pullers on board. We and the Oliver canoe were towed back to the John Wayne Marina back in Jamestown, Squim..

Another support boat was pulling in with 6 pullers who had gone over in the water by three big waves. Another support boat picked them up in two minutes. All safe and sound.

I am in Port Angeles at a friend’s house, after warm bath, clean dry clothes and even went for manicure, pedicure. But of course I dropped my cell phone in water. Both canoes will be trailered to next spot today. I am still here. Thinking about going back to Kingston or getting the next spot to come ashore with the Raven at the end of Journey.

Taking my Dad by car to the landing of all the canoes on August 1 at Taholah. Hope no other canoes will go over, but this is the ocean.

Owen, age 14, Marvin’s son, is on a canoe going down the Columbia River and into the ocean to Ocean Shores to arrive on August 31.

So the adventure continues.”

She also sent the news release regarding the nine Canadian paddlers who were washed overboard. Fortunately one had a cell phone which they used while in the water, and a helicopter was sent to the rescue.

When I think of paddling a canoe, I get the picture of a warm summer afternoon, gliding softly through calm beautiful water, and perhaps drifting into a grassy bank to lift out your picnic basket, filled with delectable goodies and a perfectly chilled bottle of bubbly. Much as I love the Journey, I don’t think I will be volunteering as a puller. I will stand on the shore cheering each colorful canoe with its exubarent and exhausted crew and know that they have braved FOG, huge waves, cold water, to continue Emmett Oliver’s dream.


emmett canoe journey

canoe dourney 1 Many artists have contributed artwork towards advertising the Journeys. This mural was painted by a young Fremont artist, Kevin Bouton.

canoe 6

canoe 7

canoe 2


Emmett Oliver by Kayti Sweetland Rasmussen

For at least 8,000 years before Euro-Americans arrived, there flourished on the western shores of the North American continent a people and a culture highlighted by the omnipresent dugout canoe.  They hunted the sea, the woods were full of game and berries, and the air with fowl.  Food was easy to find.  They created masks and totems and made their houses and canoes from the wood; they shared an essential friend in the cedar tree.

They made clothes and blankets from its thick brown pelt.  They created masks and totems and made their houses and canoes from the wood.  They built strong seaworthy racing canoes to engage in annual competitions between the villages.

All the young strong men helped paddle the large canoes, and one of the best and strongest was Emmett Oliver, a young Quinalt Indian from the Western coast of Washington state.

By 1985 dugout canoes were almost a lost art in the Pacific Northwest, found mostly in museums.  Some had not carved a canoe for over 50 years, and some tribes had never done so.

Emmett Oliver, then the Superintendent of Indian Education for the State of Washingon, remembering the unifying effect the canoe races had had in the early years, decided to return the  event, giving particular pride back to the various tribes.  Each group would of course be responsible not only for carving their canoe, but for obtaining permits, raising money, and cutting their own trees.  Carving workshops were formed and finally, framed by the rising skyline of the city of Seattle, 18 canoes were ready to paddle across the Puget Sound.  With Emmett aboard a Coast Guard command vessel, and with 5,000 people ready to greet them, Paddle to Seattle was accomplished on July 21, 1989.  The paddlers performed as though they had manned those canoes lifelong.  Their shoulders bore the traditions of 8 millenia.

This year Emmett’s son, Marvin Oliver, well known artist and professor of Art at the University of Washington, has designed a North Coast painting on the sides of the Oliver Family canoe, and Emmett’s daughter Marylin Bard, along with 2 granddaughters, will be included in the crew.   The race has grown exponentially year by year, with 89 canoes taking part in 2011.

This year in July,  when the first of 100 canoes are spotted, and with sunlight reflecting off the waters of Puget Sound, a very old man in his 100th year will be on the shore, waiting for the first canoe to beach.  The strong muscles of his youth have long been absent, his eyesight may be weak, but his heart is strong, and in his memory he feels the pull of the water, the sunlight on his back, and the thrill of the race as each paddler chants and shouts out his encouragement to his companions.  The pride in his family is strong, knowing that this race is part of the legacy he has left for his family and for his people.