Edmonds pioneer dies at 103

By Pat Ratliff | Mar 14, 2013
Photo by: Pat Ratliff Aletha Yost Hathaway Handran 1909 – 2013

One of the last surviving members of a pioneer Edmonds family has died, after living most of her 103 years in Edmonds.

Aletha Yost Hathaway Handran died March 11, 2013. She was born in Edmonds on Oct. 12, 1909, to Jacob and Maude Yost. She was the oldest living grandchild of Amanda and Allen Yost.

After 100 plus years, Althea had many memories of growing up in Edmonds, and of changes that occurred in her lifetime. Her stories of life in early Edmonds are a time capsule of the last century.

She related some of those stories to the Edmonds Beacon on her 100th birthday.

She grew up in a house just outside Edmonds’ city limit where they had room to provide for themselves.

“We lived just outside of town,” Aletha says, “because they couldn’t restrict your animals out there.”

She noted how the town had changed a lot since her youth.

“When I was a little girl, there wasn’t much above 5th Street,” Aletha said.  “An Oddfellows Hall, a telephone office, a boarding house and a VFW or Masonic Hall, that was about it.”

But Edmonds had its conveniences.

“We had two grocery stores, Roscoes, which later became Edmonds Grocery & Market, and another one. There was also a light office and a lumber yard,” she said.  “And there was an old hotel downtown, and a laundry across from where the ferry is now.”

Schools had changed a lot, too.

“I went to school where the library is now,” she said.  “They talk about big classes today – my classes were 50 to 60 students!”

Her high school didn’t have a fieldhouse, either.

“They used a cow pasture on 3rd Street for athletics,” she said.

Aletha didn’t participate in sports; her favorite remembrances of school were just being there with her friends.

“My friends would stay after school at my house,” Aletha said. “My dad managed the bus line and could take them home.”

That bus line later became the Suburban Transportation Co.

After she finished school, Aletha worked in Seattle at the bus depot’s information booth, and later at Frederick & Nelson. But she had other work as well.

“Most of those years I was at home raising kids,” she said.

Of all the changes she’d seen, Aletha thought the all-encompassing buildings were the biggest difference.

“All these buildings – they’re everywhere,” she said.  “I don’t even know what most of them are for.  I wouldn’t recognize the old neighborhood.”

That old neighborhood includes the house she was born in, on Alder between 6th and 7th streets, and there were lots of memories from that house.

“I got rheumatic fever when I was 5,” Aletha said.  “The doctor had the death certificate all made out for me, waiting to be signed.”

She said, “That was the same doctor who delivered me.  He told me later that I got there before he did. When he arrived at the house, I was already yelling.”

She struggled to recall the doctor’s name.  “Smitt, I think – Oscar Smitt!”

Other notable major changes included transportation.

“There weren’t many cars around Edmonds back then,” Aletha said.  “My grandfather had one, and one of the two doctors in town had one.”

She also remembered the kids calling a doctor who drove a buggy the “Horse Doctor” (when he couldn’t hear them).

And she remembered a waterfront filled with mills and eight different boathouses between Mukilteo and Edmonds.

In the 4th grade, Aletha’s class went on the first ferry ride to Kingston.

“There was a grand opening,” she said, “and the whole school took the ride!”

Aletha was also a Campfire leader and a Cub Scout den mother, taking over the job when the leaders got drafted during World War II.  And she was a charter member of the local PTA.

Aletha is survived by a daughter Monta and husband Tom Manney, son Bob Hathaway, son Gary Hathaway and wife Biz, sister Evelyn Ewing and sister Mollie Howlett.

She has 14 grandchildren and many great and great great grandchildren.

No immediate plans are made for a memorial at this time.  She will be buried at Washelli Cemetery.

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