Edmonds students gather history from those who made it

EDMONDS — Jo Ann Rossi’s long-ago childhood started coming to life in a cramped office at the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce building Saturday as soon as two Edmonds-Woodway High School students pushed the recording button on their digital camera.

Rossi, 79, of Edmonds, smiled as she shared her memories of growing up on a poultry farm in Alderwood Manor. The farm stood where the Lynnwood Transit Center is located now, the famous Interurban Car roaring by right at the edge of the property.

Caitlin Maury and Sydney Ohly, who are about to enter their senior years, both wearing gray “History Starts Here” T-shirts, asked pointed questions from a prepared list they held in their laps.

The two are part of the history club Edmonds-Woodway High School assistant principal Geoff Bennett started last fall with the goal of getting young people interested in history and learning from the older generation.

Students in the club have spent the year visiting people at Brighton Court retirement home and recording their stories. For the summer, they teamed up with the Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society to interview people during the Saturday farmers market.

People who share their stories get a digital copy of the interview.

Bennett, a former Everett High School history teacher, started the club hoping a handful of students would sign up. He got 25.

Students have since recorded more than 50 stories as part of the Oral History Project.

“I grew up in Edmonds and have easy access to old-timers in the area,” Bennett said.

Maury personally interviewed about 20 people for the project.

“Ever since I was small I always hung out with my grandparents, and they are so wise,” she said. “They gave me the most valuable life lessons.”

Her favorite interview was a woman named Grace, who talked about what Edmonds, Maury’s hometown, looked like in the old days.

Back at the Chamber of Commerce building on Saturday, Rossi, whose maiden name is Smith, talked about walking more than a mile to Alderwood Manor School when she was a first-grader.

“I’m sure you don’t relate to any of this, but that’s the way it was in 1937,” she told the interviewers.

She showed the students a photo of her class,, now in sepia tones, and another one with some of the same people 60-some years later.

The farm’s previous owner built a pool on the property, a novel sight in the area. Local authorities in the early 20th century advertised Alderwood Manor as the place to be “a gentleman farmer,” Rossi said.

She teared up as she talked about first falling in love with her husband of 57 years and laughed as she recalled going with her father to Chinatown in Seattle to sell chickens.

Next up was Gary Crymes, 78, of Lynnwood. The interviewers sat wide-eyed as Crymes reminisced about all the trouble he got into when he way a boy.

“When I was 14, I got a speedometer for my bike,” he said. “It went up to 50 mph and there was only one place in town where I could get it up to that speed — the Main Street hill.”

And sure enough, Crymes managed to speed down that hill at 50 mph and stay alive.

He shared serious memories, too, like the one about two young Japanese-American women who were friends with his older sister and who were taken to an Idaho relocation camp during the World War II.

Crymes took many dives off the Edmonds ferry dock and other local spots in his years as a competitive skin diver and spear fisherman.

He also said he took some of the first color underwater photography in the Puget Sound.

The late Frances Anderson, a long-time educator in Edmonds who is the namesake for a community center in town, was Crymes’ first grade-school teacher and later principal.

Getting a peek into how people used to live gives students a perspective beyond their high school years.

“Us teenagers, we are all about homework, high schools, colleges,” Maury said. “Talking to people who are older, they just show us that we don’t need to stress out as much, and life will go on.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

A photo of "Tazz," an Argentine white Tegu still missing near Granite Falls. (Provided photo)
Tazz the missing tegu reunited with owner in Granite Falls

The 4-foot lizard went missing Friday evening. Searchers located him in a barn, 1 mile away from his home.

A closing sign hangs above the entrance of the Big Lots at Evergreen and Madison on Monday, July 22, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Big Lots announces it will shutter Everett and Lynnwood stores

The Marysville store will remain open for now. The retailer reported declining sales in the first quarter of the year.

President Joe Biden speaks at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, 2022. Biden plans to nominate Michael Barr  to be the Federal Reserve's vice chairman of supervision. The selection of Barr comes after Biden's first choice for the Fed post, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination a month ago (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Washington Democrats voice support for Biden’s decision to drop out of presidential race

Some quickly endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him on the ballot.

Teenager in stable condition after Everett drive-by shooting Saturday

Major Crime Unit detectives were looking for two suspects believed to have shot the teenager in the 600 block of 124th Street SW.

Miners Complex tops 500 acres in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Nine lightning-caused fires force trail closures and warnings 21 miles east of Darrington. No homes are threatened.

FILE — President Joe Biden arrives for a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 3, 2024. Biden abandoned his campaign for a second term under intense pressure from fellow Democrats on Sunday, July 21, upending the race for the White House in a dramatic last-minute bid to find a new candidate who can stop former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Biden drops out of race, endorses vice president Kamala Harris

The president announced the decision on social media Sunday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.