Much as today's economy is affected by the disappearance of salmon runs, this 1930 letter foreshadows how the loss of salmon impacted the people on Decatur Island and San Juan county. Fish traps were outlawed in Washington state in 1934, but not before some traps were abandoned by their owners, who had reaped thousands of dollars from the fishing industry. This letter was written to Helen Howell, elected clerk of School District 20, to inform her that funding for the school was lowered, in part because of abandoned fish traps:
Planning ahead for meals was an important part of living on Decatur Island in the early 1900s. Trips to a grocery store were infrequent, and most food was grown or raised on the farm. All cooking had to be accomplished on a sometimes cranky wood range, and there was no refrigeration. Below is a quote taken from Inez Howell’s well-worn cookbook she used during the years she lived on Decatur.
“Cookery means the knowledge of Medea and of Circe and of Helen and of the Queen of Sheba. It means the knowledge of all herbs and fruits and balms and spices, and all that is healing and sweet in the fields and groves and savory in meats. It means carefulness and inventiveness and willingness and readiness of appliances.
It means the economy of your grandmothers and the science of the modern chemist; it means much tasting and no wasting; it means English thoroughness and French Art and Arabian hospitality; and in fine, it means that you are to be perfect and always ladies – loaf givers”
From the Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer, published in 1916.