Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Love This Place and a Letter to Evie

A recent note from Bill Stillgebauer to our fearless leader:

Hi Jim
Wanted to say thanks for your efforts and those of the reunion committee for a memorable, fun and enjoyable reunion. My last visit to Saltaire was in the fall of 1994 when John and I with spouses and some of my kids went to our house on Atlantic Walk to gather personal items from our home due to its pending sale. My father purchased the house on Atlantic Walk in the fall of 1956 from Art Moll .We had rented the previous 2 summers, but my association with Saltaire began in 1946 when my parents rented the Gerecke House, on Atlantic Walk almost across the boardwalk from our future home (possibly still owned by the Browns) for that summer. After that until 1955, we visited the Greers. Pop and Nanna Greer owned a home on Pacific Walk and their son Richard, owned a house on Surf Walk ( the one near harbor that was off it’s pilings during the late 50sor early 60s). Our children have been bugging me for years to return to Saltaire, but living in Salt Lake City for the past 25 years makes it less than convenient. I must admit that every summer since our departure from Saltaire , sometime during those hot dry Utah days my memories of Saltaire would come to mind and I would long to return. Thus this year return we did , my entire family including the grandkids. The reunion was icing on the cake. Seeing many childhood friends was wonderful and it was extra special to see friends of my parents who still call Saltaire home. Both the informal gathering at the Village Hall and the big event at the Yacht Club were great :so thanks again to all of you who put it together ! My 4 year old granddaughter came up to me the morning she was returning to Seattle and said “ Grandpa , I love this place.” My reply was” Evie, so do I.
Bill Stillgebauer



A letter to Evie:

Dear Evie:

Your Grandfather says you loved Saltaire when you visited it this month... And I know he told you that he loves it too. And I am sure he told you lots of stories about growing up there.

I am a friend of his and I grew up in Saltaire the same time as your grandpa, and we were friends. We had lots of friends there, and we still do, even though we have not been there together for a long long time.

And my parents were friends of your grandfather’s parents. You see, in that little village on Fire Island everybody knew everybody else. We all learned to play ball together. We all learned to swim together. We called your grandfather “Billy.” He had lots of friends and he was good at telling tall tales.

And once he tried to eat a blueberry pie without using his hands:

I would like to tell you a couple things that I remember about the Stillgebauers.

Like, your great grandparents's house was a kind of magic house. All the houses in Saltaire were kind of magic because everybody had such good times in them. Here is a picture of your great grandparent’s house, taken in the year 1957 by another friend of your grandparents, Mr. Bob Wright. Mr. Wright was standing on top of the roof of his own house when he looked around and took this picture of your great grandparent’s house. Did you see that house when you were in Saltaire this month? Here it is:
click pictures to enlarge

If you look carefully, you can see the Lighthouse far away in the back.

There was something magic in your great grandparent’s house I always remember, and I wonder if it is still there:

Inside the house, your great-grandfather had a giant fish, called a sailfish, hanging on the wall. They call it a “sailfish” because it had a giant sail on its back. I guess your great grandfather caught it somewhere, because I know he loved to go fishing. Only thing is, there were no sailfish at Fire Island, so I always thought that he brought it there by magic, and hung it on the wall. I remember it looked something like this:

And it was bigger than you.

I don’t have a good picture of your great- grandma, but I do have one of my favorite pictures from the old days. This is your great grandfather in the year 1961.

His name was Henry Stillgebauer, but everyone, even the kids, called him “Hank.”

Well, I have to go now, but I wanted you to know that if you have real friends, even after 50 years, they can still be there- somewhere.

So always remember when you have happy times and friends in Seattle, or in school, or if you come back to Saltaire—or anywhere-- —if you have happy times, and friends and parents and grandparents that you love-- you will always remember them and remembering them can make you feel happy and magic forever.

Sorry I have to go now, Evie, but thank you for coming with your grandparents to Saltaire.

Your friend,

The Speckled Veechie


jimmy said...

Bill: you kind of answered a question I have been wondering for along time: "What ever happened to Art Mol?"
He was one of the legendary 1940-1950 Saltaire giants: lifeguard, home run hitter, all american etc. But I could never figure what ever happened to him. Now you've told us: he sold his house to your parents in 1956.


Anonymous said...

Dear Speckled Veechie, Thanks for your very kind letter to my Granddaughter Evie, and for the kind words about my parents. I would have thanked you sooner, but I was out of the country for a few weeks. While I would never trespass, I want you to know that the " magic" fish was still on the wall in our old home on Atlantic Walk. Thanks again for your friendship and keeping alive the magic so many of us learned in Saltaire. Bill Stillgebauer