Whether you’re a regular commuter into Seattle or an occasional day-tripper, the Washington State Ferries are a way of life for we islanders, or you would-be islanders.
Back in the day – circa the late 1980s to the mid-1990s – I jumped aboard the Bainbridge ferry every workday and sailed into downtown Seattle, where I strolled on foot from Coleman Terminal to my Bell Town neighborhood office about a mile away.
Like lots of commuters, I had a group of “ferry friends” I regularly sat with on the boat. On most days, we’d either read the paper, catch up on work, or chew the fat about politics, business, kids, sports or someone’s new car, girlfriend, wife or husband.
Some of these folks became lifelong friends, while others I haven’t seen in years and wonder what ever happened to them.
But I digress. While islanders, and others living on the Kitsap Peninsula – along with thousands of annual tourists – take the ferry to work, or to play in the big city, everyone walks down the long ramp from the Bainbridge terminal building to the actual boat entrance and gangplank.
This 50-to-75-yard stretch of foot-worn carpeting and opaque windows is somewhat narrow and has the look and feel of a mass transit corridor – which, in reality, it is.
About a decade ago, the Bainbridge Island Historic Museum hit upon a good promotional idea that ended up serving both the museum and the public equally: dressing up the dingy tunnel-like structure by putting up signage that at a quick glance tells the story of the island’s diverse history.
Recently, our local historians took out a dozen or so of the walkway signs that had been in place for most of the 2010s and replaced them with a whole new series of pictures and short stories.
“We rotate signage and exhibits in order to showcase the many different stories of the Island,” says Merilee Mostov, acting Executive Director of BIHM. “We hope you get a chance to see the new signs.”
If people take the time to look up as they are rushing for a morning ferry or coming back from a long trip at night, they will be educated, entertained and informed about the island they live on, or the one they are visiting or passing through. The theme of the new exhibit is “Celebrating the People of Bainbridge Island”.
So, who were these people that once lived and worked on Bainbridge and are our forebears?
Well, check them out the next time you ride the ferry. There are fun pictures from yesteryear like “Young Helen Waterman and family and friends in 1919”; “Lilly Abrahamson, Ariel Henderson Stranne, and Salema Komedal Hansen” dancing it up on the South Seabold dock circa 1930; “Zenhichi Harui with friends and family” on his Island Center property in the 1930s, which later became Bainbridge Gardens.
Some of those names are now familiar street names on certain parts of the island. Does anyone know where Komedal Lane is?
From the 1950s, there’s a wonderful four-color shot of “Fusako Horishigi and Mary Koura” planting strawberries in what is now the Meadowmeer Golf Course; later, historically speaking, is a shot of “Pickleball co-inventor Barney McCallum and his wife Carol McCallum” playing in the early 1970s; and a cute photo of “Malfunkshun” band members Andrew Wood, Regan Hagar and Kevin Wood from the 1980s.
There are more historical snippets to check out on the walkway, or you can visit BIHM at its physical location on lower Ericksen or visit its website at www.bainbridgehistory.org. Indeed, there’s much to like and much to see in this timeless exhibit.