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Originally published in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, November 16, 2005

Wally’s World

By Wally DuChateau

Pick and Shovel restaurant and bar in Wilkeson.

Thirty years ago, over drinks with some local friends, I predicted the imminent demise of small-town Enumclaw. There wasn’t anything especially insightful about this prophecy. In fact, most of my friends agreed with me.

At the time, I also suggested that anyone nostalgic for Enumclaw’s vanishing small-town ambiance should migrate to Wilkeson or Carbonado. In general that advice has also proved sound.

Until recently. (more…)

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Originally published in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, August 31, 1994

Wally’s World by W.J. DuChateau

You may recall the time Evelyn pelted her husband, Joe, with eggs. It happened at one of the Black Diamond’s “egg contests,” in which couples try to softly catch eggs that are lofted back and forth between partners. But toward the end of this particular contest, things disintegrated into a general free-for-all; to paraphrase Ken Kesey’s popular observation, the game turned into a first-class egg-storm. Just ask Joe. (If you’re so inclined, it’s a wonderful way to garner revenge on your spouse.)

Or maybe you recall scrambling about in a pile of straw or shavings, anxiously searching for a few pennies, nickels, or dimes—the exact denomination depending upon the year and inflation rate at the time. But no matter how valuable the coins, you literally beamed with the joy and excitement of finding them.

It was called, perhaps inaccurately, a “penny hunt.” (more…)

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Originally published in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, June 12, 1986

Black Diamond Store (left) and Saloon.

Black Diamond Store (left) and Saloon.

The Black Diamond city council Thursday unanimously granted a cabaret license to one tavern in the city, and in a split vote denied a license to another tavern.

The action came at the regular council meeting at city hall which was preceded by a public hearing on the licensing.

The council gave Jay Lewis of Black Diamond, who owns the Boots Tavern, a license to operate based on a police department report on the tavern located at 31119 3rd Street.

Councilmen Ben Gingrich and Rich Palmer voted against a license requested by the Black Diamond Saloon, however, located at 32707 Railroad Avenue. The vote was 3-2. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, April 10, 2002

By Barbara Nilson

Rainbow Sparkles Campfire group of Glacier Park Elementary pause before planting flowers along the driveway at the new Ravensdale post office, April 2. Back row: Lindsay Hanson, Annie Harris, Jenny Harris, Amanda Stam, Brittany Ferguson, and Desiree MacKinnon, assistant; front row: Emily Gillmore, Kaylie Holcomb of Shadow Lake, Samantha MacKinnon, and Elizabeth Burianek. — Photo by Barbara Nilson.

Streams of visitors surveyed the spacious new Ravensdale post office, April 2, some bearing gifts to the open house. Maple Woods Polygon donated two 6-foot cedar trees, Maple Valley Campfire troop planted bulbs, and guests contributed plants.

Guests were treated to cake decorated with a picture of the post office by CJs Bakery in Black Diamond. Jim Storer, owner of CJs, donated doughnuts for the occasion. The cake noted that the post office was celebrating 100 years of existence.

Postmaster Jennie Lee Noonan mused that the community has certainly changed from the first of the of 18 postmasters to today. The number of boxes in the new post office has doubled from the 547 when Noonan started in 1995 to 1,098 now.

At the turn of the century, the company town of Ravensdale was the third largest in King County and the nearby community of Georgetown supported 11 saloons and three dance halls, catering to the miners before the disaster of 1915 killed 31 miners. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Star, March 19, 1908

Hold-up man attempts to rob Maple Valley saloon, but bartender resists—robber escapes and is arrested in Seattle

After having on Tuesday night engaged in a desperate hand-to-hand fight with the bartender of Pat Quinnan’s saloon at Maple Valley, while attempting to hold up the place, as a result of which he escaped minus his coat, mask, and hat, Ben Dixon, aged 26, was captured last evening in his room at the Alaska Commercial hotel in this city. The arrest was made by Deputy Sheriff Matt Starwich and his assistant, Matt O’Grady, of Ravensdale. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Sunday Times, December 7, 1941

Matt Starwich, King County jail superintendent and one of King County’s most colorful police officers, died at 11:22 o’clock last night in Swedish Hospital. He had been in the hospital since early last week, suffering from a complication of ailments.

Starwich, known affectionately for years as the “Little Giant,” had been in failing health since March 7, when he fell five feet on the roof of the County-City Building during Seattle’s test blackout.

The 62-year-old officer’s death ended a vigil that had been kept by his wife, son, and daughter at his bedside for more than 24 hours.

Starwich was the Americanized version of the family name. He was born Mateo Starcevis, son of a shoemaker, at Lich, near Flume (then in Austria), 62 years ago. When he was 12 years old he immigrated with a cousin to LaSalle County, Ill., and at an early age became a coal miner.

Starwich later moved to Marshfield, Or., and from there to Ravensdale in 1901, when there was little law in that mining community and less demand for it. Shootings, stabbings, and free-for-all fights were almost a daily occurrence there. The residents of the town used to brag about “riding” law-enforcement officers out on a rail. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, November 12, 1986

By Eulalia Tollefson

Dan Palmer, shown with his dog, Puppu, singing ‘Black Diamond Mines.’

Dan Palmer, shown with his dog, Puppu, singing ‘Black Diamond Mines.’

Dan Palmer’s distinctive style of easy listenin’ folk music and a catchy, nostalgic song called “Black Diamond Mines” have earned exposure on radio KEZX—exposure Palmer hopes will draw the interest of music scouts.

Palmer and his trademark—a devoted 15-year-old pooch named Puppu—are familiar to area folk who frequent local restaurants, taverns, and night spots.

Everywhere from Boots Tavern, the Black Diamond Saloon, and the Amber Inn to the Pick and Shovel in Wilkeson, Palmer draws crowds with a variety of folk music.

From old time blues to bluegrass he entertains with old favorites and originals like “Black Diamond Mines,” a song he wrote in honor of Black Diamond’s 100th birthday celebration.

The ballad was born of Palmer’s fascination for the town’s coal mining history. Much of it is a tribute to Dooda Vernarelli, a colorful town character much loved by old and young alike. (more…)

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