Rosehill friends gather annually to share memories

Patsy Hill remembers visiting a friend who lived at the Mukilteo Lighthouse. Delores Holt recalls paying a dime for a ferry ride. And Claudine Yonke has memories of seeing tidal mud flats out the windows of Rosehill School.

They share common memories of classmates and teachers. They share a common history, too.

Now in their early 80s, they haven’t forgotten what it was like to leave Mukilteo’s Rosehill School in 1947. Long before the Boeing Co. was here, or the Harbour Pointe neighborhood was developed, it wasn’t easy to go from Mukilteo to Everett — the big city — for high school.

“We went through ninth grade at Rosehill,” said Joy Gregorich, 81. “At Everett High, we were the country bumpkins. They were the city kids.”

Mukilteo students didn’t have a closer high school until long after Gregorich’s 1950 graduation from Everett High. Everett’s Cascade High School opened in 1961, followed in 1970 by the Mukilteo School District’s Mariner High. Mukilteo’s Kamiak High wasn’t built until 1993.

Rosehill, which had long been a community center, was demolished in 2010 before Mukilteo opened the new Rosehill Community Center.

Gregorich is visiting from her home in California’s Bay Area to see her sister, Julie Lasley, of Marysville. The visit included a special gathering that’s now an annual event. On Saturday, Lasley hosted her sister’s girlhood friends from the Rosehill class of 1947. They get reacquainted at a yearly potluck.

When Gregorich — her maiden name was Joy Searle — started at Everett High, she said the city kids already had established friendships from North Junior High or South Junior High. Although she moved away long ago, Gregorich still holds tight to Rosehill friendships.

The women’s get-together tradition started in about 1963. Gregorich was a young wife and mother. Her husband was in the military, and she was visiting from Alaska.

That first gathering was held at her mother’s home. Joy and Julie Searle and their brother grew up in a house on Naketa Beach, south of what is now Mukilteo’s Lighthouse Park. By 1963, their mother lived in Everett.

“So we had this little get-together. We were doing it every three years or so. Now that we’re getting so old, and are losing people, we do it every year,” Gregorich said before Saturday’s gathering.

Sometimes 15 women have come; other years it’s been as few as eight.

“When we were in school, we talked about boyfriends. Then it was marriage, babies and in-laws,” said Gregorich. “Now we talk about replaced hips and knees.”

One classmate they lost was Mildred Corey Holtgeerts — “Millie,” said Patsy Thomas Hill of Snohomish. “She lived in that little house at the lighthouse. We used to visit her,” Hill said.

Hill has a favorite Rosehill memory. “The principal kind of favored me,” she said. Once when a first-grade teacher was sick, the principal asked her to take over the class. At lunchtime, she made a joke of sitting in a small desk. “I got stuck and couldn’t get out. Two boys had to pick me up by the shoulders,” Hill said. “Everybody knew each other. The teachers always tried to make things fun.”

Marysville’s Delores Holt, whose maiden name was Jennings, was born in Mukilteo. She started school at Rosehill but attended Everett’s Roosevelt School after her family moved. She came back to Rosehill when bus service started.

“Mukilteo was always my home,” Holt said. “I learned to swim in the bay.”

Her Camp Fire group rode the ferry to Whidbey Island and ate lunch on the beach.

Her grandparents lived where Arnie’s Restaurant is now, on Mukilteo’s Second Street. There were emergency drills during World War II. Rosehill students would run in groups to safe places. Holt’s group went to her grandparents’ basement.

Yonke — Claudine Varney in school — now lives in Everett. She said she didn’t have many close friends from Everett High until after graduation. She’ll see them at her 63rd Everett High class reunion later this month.

She remembers coming to high school as an out-of-towner. “We really didn’t fit in,” said Yonke, who remembers her hometown being called “teeny-weeny Mukilteo.”

Maryann West, of Kenmore, has been friends with Yonke since Rosehill days, when she was Maryann Thomas. Friendships saved the day when she was a new kid at both Rosehill and Everett High. She eventually became an Everett High cheerleader and homecoming queen.

West came to Rosehill in seventh grade from South Junior High. There weren’t enough desks on her first day. The Rosehill teacher asked if anyone would share a desk.

“Six arms shot up,” West said. “I felt so welcomed by all the girls. It’s one of my never-to-be-forgotten memories.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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