Gleanings from Archie Satterfield

By John Owen | Dec 08, 2011

"Some newcomers to the area like to compare Edmonds with one of the more pleasant small coastal towns in California like La Jolla, Carmel, Sausalito among them.  

Similarities exist there, but Edmonds thus far has been able to resist an overdose of cuteness that has plagued other popular Northwest towns and small cities whose charm is as much a problem as a blessing because it attracts so many people who want to "change" or "improve" it.  

Edmonds remains a city small enough and personable enough for its residents to walk everywhere they need to go: to the grocery store, to talk with their accountant, their attorney, to drop off their car to be repaired and walk home, to the post office, and the movie theater," Archie Satterfield noted.

These qualities indeed attracted my wife and me to Edmonds.

It also attracted  Satterfield whose death recently robbed us of a great friend and matchless historian and travel writer.  

I knew him as a fellow employee at The Post-Intelligencer and renewed our acquaintance when we both moved to the "Edmonds Bowl."  

I had retired.  Archie never stopped traveling, writing and observing communities and lifestyles from his early years in  the Missouri Ozarks to the waterways of Europe and a temporary residence in France where he wrote his only novel, "Henri and the Old American."  

Archie was "the Old American."

He taught me a lot about Edmonds, some in lengthy conversations over a glass of wine, others from his photographs and historical notes contained in "Edmonds the First Century."

Did you know that the Chamber of Commerce  " cabin" next to the museum was designed to look like a small scale lodge in Yellowstone Park and was built in 1930 as a guest house for a gentleman named Gaston Ganahl?

Edmonds' first  ordinances when it was incorporated in 1890 were (1) liquor control, (2) gambling, (3) prostitution and (4) dogs.

Archie might have observed that we now have everything under control except the dogs.

The need for law enforcement was emphasized by former mayor Gordon Maxwell and recalled by Satterfield.

"In the early years when Edmonds didn't have a police department and the sheriff didn't have a deputy assigned to Edmonds, people would just take care of things themselves," Maxwell recalled. "Later on when we did have a town marshal we installed a red light on the corner of Fifth and Main that was turned on to get his attention when there was a problem.

"I'll always remember when the marshal asked the City Council to buy him a special hat, so people would know who they were beating up on Saturday nights."

Satterfield wrote more than 40 books.

Research required that he spend days, weeks, sometimes months in a "temporary" residence.  

But for several years he considered Edmonds his true home.

 And we should be proud to claim him.

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