Editorial | The spirit of early days

Keewaydin Clubhouse, nominated for a National Historic Trust grant, is a place that has many names. Now more commonly known as the VFW Hall (or the Mercer Island Club in the 1930s), it reminds us of what we value and what we must hang on to. The Veterans of Foreign Wars have been good stewards of the building. They have spent a great deal of time and money on the hall. But the original roof has had its day.

The place is only 88 years old — not terribly historic by most standards. There are other places and even people who have been here longer. Yet the wood-framed building represents something that this community holds dear. A place to meet. A place were people can come to celebrate, talk and share ideas. It is a place built before television sets and the Internet began to erode the way we communicated with each other.

Any reference to early Island life, such as the story in today’s issue about the first Emmanuel Episcopal Church by Mary Ruth Close, describes the way that Islanders kept up with each other as they rode the ferry ‘Dawn’ to and from Seattle.

As Mrs. Close recounts early days here, she says: “community spirit was high on Mercer Island and there was no such thing as a stranger. Everyone met on the ‘Dawn.’ Discussing affairs of the day or visiting with friends and neighbors on the trip to and from work or a shopping excursion was a treasured part of Island life missed by many when the ferries and bridges took over.”

The Keewaydin Club was completed in 1922, the same year when ferry service was discontinued. Plans for building the first bridge to the Island were underway and it was finished in 1924. It was necessary. But more than a few Island pioneers will tell you that a good deal was lost as people got alone into their cars to drive.

We urge everyone to vote for the Keewaydin Clubhouse and keep our community spirit high.

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