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Bonney Lake area’s history rich in the minds of residents
T here are stories. And then there are Leota Musgrave’s stories.
Her stories – her life – aren’t very interesting, she said. But her lifestyle, at 82, says otherwise. Musgrave is a 40-year resident of Bonney Lake, an active member of the Bonney Lake Senior Center and one of the driving forces behind a campaign to construct a historical museum within city limits. Her contagious sense of humor is evident from a T-shirt she’s been known to wear that reads, “Where the hell is the Bonney Lake Museum?”
With a strong belief that communities are strengthened by stories from the past, Musgrave agreed to share a few of her own, along with her descriptions of the city as it appeared four decades ago.
Born in 1926 and raised in the lower Yakima valley, Musgrave attended Gleed School in her early years. “When I went to school, I really did walk four miles there and four miles back after I was in fourth grade,” she said. “For the first three years it was a one-room school. My teacher had all five of us at one time for a while – my three brothers, my sister and myself.”
When spring heat grew too intense, Musgrave and her friends headed down to the river.
“Yakima got so hot back then; it’s not so hot, now,” she said. “But the river was ice cold when we went.”
Musgrave’s dad owned Haysom’s Garage. “People bought equipment to work on and paid with fruit,” she said.
The food was always appreciated. “We canned a lot of it – we had a fruit cellar filled with it,” she said. “The only meat we ate was rabbits and chickens, because we raised them. Sometimes, Dad had enough money to buy some coffee and a loaf of bread. Other times, Mom made drop biscuits for our bread. She had a bad heart, and they were quick to make.”
A family adventure
Some of Musgrave’s favorite childhood memories occurred in 1940, when the family loaded up their LaSalle touring car and headed south to Portersville, Calif. To earn their way there, they picked produce.
“We had to earn the money for our gas,” she said. She picked tomatoes in Oregon, hops in Moxee, Wash., knocked olives in Lodi, Calif., and cherries along the way, too.
“We made our sandwiches and ate and slept in the car,” she said. “We drove straight-right through, except to pick. We loved every bit of it, although I was ill at the time,” she said. “I liked it because I was seeing new things.”
The trip across the Cascades was fascinating, she said. At 15, it was her first view of life west of the mountain range. It also led her to the Pike Place Market in Seattle, where the family discovered their first bunches of bananas.
“My dad and uncle each bought a bunch for $4,” she said. “We just had a ball.”
Musgrave married Jay, who passed away in 1988. They moved to Bonney Lake in the late-60s and raised four children, including an adopted daughter.
Just as her family grew, so did the area. “We were one of the first residents in Cedarview and the first with children,” she said. “It was supposed to be a retirement area.”
Through a family connection, the couple purchased two lots in the neighborhood, located north of Fred Meyer.
“All we had to do was take over payments of $33 a month,” she said.
Glance to the past
As new residents, the Musgraves lived in a city that had no gas station. “We had to drive down to Sumner for gas,” she said.
Grocery stores included Worley’s, now a construction site at South Prairie Road East and state Route 410, and Bonney Lake Food Mart, which once operated where Diamond Lounge is now located on the Sumner-Buckley Highway. The only restaurants were Rose’s Café, at the corner of Main Street and SR410 and the Hill Top Café, which became the Royal Inn before being replaced by Chevron, she said.
There were probably two or three churches, only one school – Bonney Lake Elementary, and one tavern, the present-day Bonney Lake Tavern. The police department was located at the present site on Sumner-Buckley Highway, she recalled.
The city’s main thoroughfare, SR410, consisted of a two-lane road.
“It used to wind up along 410,” she said. “If you look up at the power lines on the hill, that’s part of the old highway.”
Looking to the future
Of all the changes, Musgrave said two are most dominant: the population and the traffic lights. Still, she’s happy to call the city home and hopes her dream of a historical museum will come to fruition. “I’ll probably be dead before it’s built, but I know the mayor is doing everything he can to help,” she said.
“It’s always been about how I love the city,” she said. “For me, this is God’s country. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”