Old Time Island Halloween

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My family moved to San Juan Island with a small surge in island population in the late seventies. We began by renting on San Juan Island to see if we liked the place. It wasn’t long before we decided it was prudent to buy since we knew we were staying. We were in our thirties and we had three young children.

We learned that Halloween wasn’t the same here. For one thing, the owner of many of the stores downtown dressed up in costumes for the business day. The owner at King’s Market, Vi King, was always a witch in black gown and high pointy hat. There was a funny attitude all the costumed people seemed to have, like it was perfectly ordinary and nothing was unusual in their dress.

Next, because many of us lived on acreage away from each other, it was necessary to go to our trick or treating exercises in a car. We would carefully plan on when each of us would be home, then work our car visits around that. The result was that we maybe went to somewhere between three and six places at the most.

Mostly, on Halloween, I remember taking the kids to Clyde and Ruth Sundstrom’s farm. They had such a great sense of humor they had named their barn the Barn Marche and that’s where they’d have garage sales. Clyde was one of the Sundstrom four brothers who had lived on the land since he was a boy. He married Ruth Guard, daughter from another farm family. Their turn of the century farmhouse was the scene of much family activity year round. Clyde was still farming then, and he had some nice horses. Every now and then he’d hitch up the horse to the cart and drive to the town of Friday Harbor, taking the cart down San Juan Valley Road. The special thing about Halloween was that Ruth would always make homemade donuts that night in honor of Clyde’s birthday which was on Halloween. There was no getting around the fact that you’d have to go into their warm kitchen for a spell and then each of your children would get a good teasing from him.

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