What Brought You to the Island?
Island Voices, January 2024

What Brought You to the Island?

By Kay Sherman

I first came to the Island in 1960, at age 19, with my younger sister Jeanne, who was 14. We only came to look. 

We were looking for a new place to live. The house we were renting in West Seattle was just down the road from the ferry dock. 

Just off the ferry, we met Dave, a realtor. He said, “Are you going someplace special?” and I said “Vashon.” I had a B52 hairdo and high heels on because I was in beauty school. Dave said, “Well, you’re going to have quite a fine walk. It’s a long ways to walk.”

We looked at several pieces of property that day. I liked Vashon because there weren’t many people here back then. I was raised in Craig, in southeast Alaska, so this is what I was used to. 

I left Alaska on my 42-foot boat when I was 18. My husband Jack and I were out fishing, living on the boat. Jack had an aneurysm on the boat. He was unconscious, there was a storm in Ketchikan, and planes and helicopters couldn’t land. So, we headed to Seattle by the inside passage. I brought him here all the way by myself, taking care of him and driving the boat, anchoring at night, and traveling during the day.

Jack was from Seattle. He was one of the original architects for the monorail. He also worked on the Space Needle; he knew German, and the space Needle was built by Germans. We made it to Swedish hospital in Seattle, where Jack survived for ten days.

After Jack passed away, I grew up in a hurry. I stayed in Seattle, and my family joined me. Mom and dad were kind of already looking for a property down here – they were just renting in Alaska and had been living on their boat for a while. 

After my visit to Vashon, I told my mom and dad, “There’s an Island out there, and there’s a ferry to the Island. Why don’t we take the ferry and go see what it’s like?” Well, we did, the next day. My dad fell in love. He liked the property with the creek in Paradise Valley and we bought it.

There wasn’t a house on the property; it was just raw land. So, we found a yellow rental house by the golf course. We lived there for probably three years, then we had a house brought over. At that time, the airport was being built, so there were a bunch of houses they had to move. We bought one of them for $2,000 and had it moved over on a barge. The landing was near the fishing dock in Tramp Harbor, and the house was trucked to us from there. After that, we moved in and started working on the property around us.

Vashon felt like home right away. I finally had a home; it was really nice. I got a job at the beauty shop. Then, I went to work at K2. I was a base trimmer, putting the bases into the frames. They liked my work, and I liked the work, too. 

The only thing to do at night on Vashon if you wanted to go out was the bar, The Alibi. That’s where I met my second husband. I wasn’t even a drinker, but if you wanted to meet someone on the Island, that was the place to go. That was the social life back then. 

January 8, 2024

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