Sharing island stories in pictures and words

A collection of poems, personal stories, and photographs pay a loving tribute to the island.

  • Wednesday, December 18, 2019 5:26pm
  • Arts
A sculpture by Gene Amondson inspires work in the new book (Courtesy Photo).

A sculpture by Gene Amondson inspires work in the new book (Courtesy Photo).

There once was an island named Vashon

The residents loved it with passion

As visitors neared

They found it was weird…

In just Vashon’s own homegrown fashion.

— Lynn Walters

So begins the new book, “Heart of Vashon: Sharing Our Stories,” a loving tribute to the island told through poems, personal stories, and evocative photographs. The stories were originally solicited by Mary G. L. Shackelford and Shirley Ferris in 2015 for a community literary performance and were subsequently archived at the Vashon-Maury Heritage Museum.

“I was inspired by those heartfelt stories,” says Barbara Gustafson, an island educator and photographer. “I decided to pair them with my own photographs to create slide presentations for the Vashon Senior Center and Vashon Care Center.” Later, with encouragement from friends, she and Laurie Stewart, author of “On Fisher Pond,” created this book as a gift for and tribute to our island community.

“This book is truly a communal project and labor of love,” says Stewart. “All of the writers, photographers and artists involved have shared their work knowing that proceeds from its sale will benefit the Vashon-Maury Heritage Museum.”

The stories and poems range from childhood memories to spiritual ponderings, from humorous limericks to contemplative poems, from tender moments in nature to the “rules” of commuting. The earliest island story in the book is shared by Joy Sherman White, a direct descendant of one of the original island settlers, Salmon Sherman. Her story about her grandfather as a young boy in 1887 is accompanied by a photograph of Marshall Sohl’s handcrafted “First Settlers” wooden plaque, currently owned by Emmett Sherman. Erin Canfield and Tressa Azpiri share memories of their lives as island children, while Katy Jo Steward and Frank Jackson share thoughts on community activism. Photographs by Ray Pfortner share the page with stories about orcas and a deer-shaped pond brightly lit for the holidays. All of the stories reflect a love for this unique and special place that we call home.

Beauty splashed everywhere around me

Stars and rain

Smells of woods

I live here!


— Mary Kelly

“Heart of Vashon: Sharing Our Stories” can be purchased at Vashon Bookshop and other island stores. A community book release and reading will be forthcoming on Jan. 16, 2020.

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