December 3, 2001
Front row view of Bothell's past
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
Throughout its 255 pages, Northshore history abounds: riverboats wind the course of the slough ... Dr. Chase makes house calls on horseback ... five Bothell High School girls stage a play on women's suffrage, the hot topic of the day, at their 1907 graduation. The book, "Squak Slough, 1870-1920," offers a front row view of what life was like around the Sammamish River, once known as the Squak Slough, about 100 years ago. Published in 1977, the book has been studied by teachers, artists, students and city personnel. It's frequently checked out at King County libraries.
"This has actually become the historical bible for Bothell, and for Kenmore and Woodinville," says Sue Kienast, Bothell Historical Museum president. "It's an incredible resource for the school district."
The book is co-authored by Amy Eunice Stickney and Lucile McDonald, but it was Kienast who first imagined it back in 1976. That year, the Northshore Bicentennial Committee formed and discussed projects that would honor the nation's bicentennial. Kienast was one of its members and recalls suggesting, "Let's write a book." She adds, "It was the light bulb idea."
Kienast goes on to say that she knew Amy Stickney, a longtime Bothell resident who had taught at Bothell High School during the '50s. While teaching, Stickney had discovered there was very little recorded local history and began collecting old photographs and biographical sketches of local pioneers. She amassed boxloads of biographies, anecdotes, diaries and recollections.
With the committee's go-ahead to create a book from Stickney's collection as a bicentennial project, Kienast searched for a publisher. She thought of Betty Green who had knowledge of the publishing business. Green is currently president of the Friends of the Bothell Library and was an officer even back then. The two women collaborated on the book's production, along with four other Friends of the Bothell Library.
But they needed a writer, someone to put the historical accounts in chronological order and narrative format. Says Green, "[Stickney] had all the vignettes but we needed some way to put it together. We didn't know how to write a book." They decided to hire a professional writer and chose Lucile McDonald who had authored numerous books. "Lucile wrote many wonderful books on the history of Puget Sound," Green mentions.
As McDonald wrote the manuscript for the book, the group edited and assembled each page. Green sized all the pictures and cut and pasted the whole book. Together, the group brainstormed captions and subtitles. Explains Kienast, "We'd sit there and say, 'Okay, this chapter is about boats. What are we going to do about this?' Someone would say 'From boats to blowout' and we would say, 'Yes!'"
It took two years to write the book and get it ready for the printer.
"We decided we'd make 2,000 copies. And, of those 2,000 copies, we'd make 100 hardbound copies," says Green. "We went out to the business community and asked them to buy a hard copy for $50 each. We made a decision not to ever lower the $50 price, to honor the people who put out the money to make it possible to publish it."
The book went on sale at the Bothell Library, the Bothell Historical Museum and Alex Sidie's Pharmacy on Main Street. A paperback copy sold for $8.75.
Since that time, Stickney and McDonald have passed away, leaving behind 50 years of Bothell history preserved for all time. "Talk about leaving a legacy for future generations," says Kienast. "This is an incredible way to do it."
"Squak Slough" provides a connection to the past for today's generation as well.
As an example, local residents may have wondered about the piece of brick road near Wayne Golf Course. The book explains the history behind it. On page 101, V.J. Berto remembers the construction of Bothell's highly touted red brick road, a four-mile stretch between Lake Forest Park and Bothell. As a boy in 1912, he watched immigrant workers down on their knees setting the bricks.
The book elaborates his account by describing Bothell's Good Road Blowout festivities when the road was completed and the reason for its demise in 1934.
"What was fascinating to me, and why I got involved with history, is because it was so recent," says Kienast, adding that it was fascinating for her to sit down and talk with people who lived when riverboats provided transportation to Seattle and when roads and electricity first came in.
A group of Bothell residents, also fascinated by history, realized there were more memories to record beyond the Squak Slough. They wrote a sequel called "Slough of Memories," which covers the years after 1920. "They printed it, sold it and it's done," says Kienast. The museum, she says, plans to reprint the sequel in the future, however.
The city of Bothell has also recorded local history. They will soon release a video called "A Sense of Time and Place" to schools, libraries and the general public. "It's absolutely wonderful," Kienast remarks. "It has the slough races and a reenacted bank robbery."
Softbound copies of" Squak Slough" are still available, now $22, and can be purchased at the Bothell Library or the Bothell Historical Museum. About 25 original hardbound editions, autographed by Stickney, go for the 1977 price of $50.
For further information, contact Sue Kienast at (425) 488-8408 or Betty Green at (425) 483-0910.