Ja-Da Jing, Jing, Jing

In 1904 Anton Myre Anderson and his wife Josephine (Olson) arrived in Langley. Anton, a Norwegian immigrant, and Josephine, who came to the U.S. as an indentured servant from Sweden, had originally settled in Texas.

Tragedy had struck the young couple as all three of their children died from typhoid-malaria and Josephine, then eight months pregnant, also became ill and miscarried their fourth child.

They heard that Washington State had an agreeable climate and moved to Langley by way of short stints in Ellensburg, Tacoma, Everett, and Camano Island.

Anton was a skilled blacksmith and carriage maker and he had no trouble opening a business on the main Street in Langley. He became known by the nickname “Blackie” because of his trade, and to differentiate him from “Gravedigger” Anderson — Anders Anderson — who also lived in Langley.

Anton’s blacksmith shop became one of the liveliest spots in Langley. Every so often word would spread over town, “the big horses are coming in from the woods and heading for Blackie’s place.” Folks from Bill Howard’s livery stable next to the blacksmith shop would come out to watch.

Youngsters would come run­ning from around and about. Frank Weber, the butcher, whose shop was next door to the blacksmith shop on the opposite side from the livery stable, would disappear into his storeroom and reappear with a batch of weiners. The youngsters would be hoping to munch on one while watching “Blackie” shoe the huge draft horses that were brought in from their duties in the logging operations. The butcher seldom disappointed them.

Farm horses, buggy horses and riding horses were a common sight on the streets and at the blacksmith shop and livery stable in Langley in the early 1900s but Mr. Barker and his four horse team of draft animals were something special. It was quite a sight to watch “Blackie” fit the huge hooves with iron shoes that would enable the horses to traverse miles of rough ter­rain pulling heavily loaded logging sleds.

There was a certain drama about Anderson’s blacksmith shop that intrigued young and old. “Blackie”, in his leather apron, with his dry humor and heavy Norwegian accent, had a flair for showmanship as he made his anvil ring and sparks fly with mighty blows on iron, red hot from the forge; or when he gentled down a ner­vous horse as he hoisted its foot onto his knee and nailed down a perfect fitting shoe. He also maintained a small social room at the rear of his shop overlooking Saratoga Passage where folks could wait in comfort and sip coffee while their horses were being shod, or their rigs repaired.

Although carriage making and blacksmithing were Anton’s profession his real love was boats. He was always building or tinkering with one in his spare time. His pride and joy was a sizable craft named “JJJ” which he used for fishing and for cruising with his family. His daughter Alma, in an interview in 1984, explained how the boat received its name.


The Andersons were a sociable family who loved music. Anton had purchased an organ for Alma and the house was usually filled with young people who would gather around the organ and sing the popular songs of the period.

At the top of the “Hit Parade” about the time Anton purchased his boat was the song, “Ja-Da Jing Jing Jing” which, it seemed to Anton was all he heard around his house for weeks. (See link to the song below.)

When he applied for a license for his boat and was asked its name he thought for a moment, then said, “Ve vill call it ‘Jada Jing Jing Jing’.” The clerk looked at him in puzzlement, “How do you spell it?” he asked. “Who knows,” Anton shrugged, “Yust call it JJJ”.

The following year, according to Alma’s recollections, her father had some problem about the license for the boat and he decided to take the matter directly to the then-governor, Roland H. Hartley. Anton had become acquainted with Hartley before he became governor and when they both lived in Everett.

Friends tried to dissuade the fiery Norwegian, pointing out that the governor of the state couldn’t be bothered with such a small matter but Anton was adamant. He went to Olympia and marched up to the governor’s office. The receptionist, upon learning that he had no appointment, said that the Governor wasn’t in.

“You’re a liar,” Alma quotes her father as saying in his heavily accented Norwegian. “I see him in there.”

The governor heard the disturbance, recog­nized Anton and not only attended to the matter of the license but also took Anton to dinner in the Capitol dining room where an im­pressive meal was served in semi-formal style.

After thanking the governor for his hospitality the spunky businessman from Langley promptly took the head of the state to task, say­ing, “No vunder our taxes are so high if this is the vay you spend our money!”

— adapted from Lorna Cherry’s book, “Langley, The Village by the Sea.”

Note: stop into the Museum this weekend to enter a drawing for your choice of a book in the museum’s bookstore.

Historical note: The Museum is the old 1902 bunkhouse built by Jacob Anthes for brush cutters which Anton and Josephine later bought and lived in. Their daughter, Alma (Anderson) Grist, donated it to the South Whidbey Historical Society in her will.

Click here to see a Youtube video about the song:

Maxwelton Grocery Stores

We sometimes receive requests by Facebook readers to post about certain South Whidbey places. This request was for the stores at Maxwelton.

The earliest photo we have is of the Maxwelton Grocery store and post office that was located near the end of the wooden dock that was built for the Chautauqua in 1910.

Two more stores followed: in the 1930s, the Sea Shell, and in the 1940s, the Cross Country Store.

The following article was written by Lorinda Kay in 1987 and appeared in the South Whidbey Record…


After half a century of serving the small community, the Maxwelton Store will be closing its door for the last time on March 15, giving up a long struggle to survive the changing times.

Owners Gerry and Karen Lutz had to make a difficult decision to close the store after three years of not making any profit.

“We work over 70 hours a week and still see no profit, which makes us wonder why we’re in business,” Gerry said, adding that they looked at other options, such as selling the store.

But Karen added that they could not honestly tell a prospective buyer that they could make any money at the business.

The influx of larger stores that can offer better prices has made neigh­borhood stores like Maxwelton unable to compete.

The big supermarkets, for example, can offer soft drinks at prices lower than wholesale for the Maxwelton Store. “We can’t compete with those prices,” Gerry said.

“The Mom and Pop stores are a thing of the past,” Gerry said. “I guess it’s a sign of the times.”

The history of the store goes back to the 1930’s when Julia Cross opened the store after her first husband’s death.

Cross’s daughter, Geraldine Miller, was born at Maxwelton and remembers the store when it was called the Sea Shell and hand-dipped ice cream was among the favorite items.

In those early days the store had a single counter and heavy drop leaf door used to lock the store at night. A small porch on the front had tables and chairs for sitting.

In the 1940’s a larger store was built, and the name was changed to the Cross Country Store.

Geraldine remembers when her mother used to fill orders for fresh meat by walking, sometimes over two miles, to buy chickens she had to kill and butcher.

Cross also offered fresh milk from a local farm owned by her grandfather, Peter Howard Mackie, which until recently continued to operate as a dairy farm.

Cross operated the store until 1947 when it was sold to the Reynolds, who added a restaurant to the store. In all, six owners have run the store, which was a hub of the Maxwelton community.

One regular customer of the store for over 30 years is Everett Green, who was born at Maxwelton in 1918.

“It was quite a treat to have pop and ice cream at the store after getting warmed up at the ball games,” Everett said.

In the early years on Saturday afternoons everyone from 8 to 80 would gather at the Maxwelton Park to play baseball.

“It was a Saturday afternoon tradition,” Everett said, adding that the front porch of the old store was “where I learned to swallow pop in one gulp.”

When the Sea Shell, which was only open in the summer, was later expanded to a regular grocery store and gas station in the 1940’s, Everett was a regular shopper.

“We bought everything there,” he said. “It was the only store we went to for years.”

That was the years before the big supermarkets opened. Then the closest stores were in Clinton or Langley.

The little grocery has continued to be a center for information, according to Karen, whose cheerful nature invites a conversation.

Whether it is an item to buy or sell, folks in Maxwelton come to the little store for information. New births or notices of death are always posted on the store’s bulletin board. When a community neighbor dies it is like the passing of an old family friend, according to Karen.

People who are accustomed to the neighborhood grocery store were surprised to hear it was closing.

“They usually say, ‘You’re kidding!’ when we tell them we’re closing,” Gerry said. “But they’re very understanding when we explain why.”

Some people have wondered where they are going to shop for those little last-minute items.

“We tell them to support Bailey’s Corner,” Karen said. “I hope one little store in the area remains open.”

The couple has grown to love the Maxwelton community and their neighbors. They have developed a lot of friendships they do not want to lose. For these reasons, they have decided to continue to live at Maxwelton in their house next to the store.

“If we had to close the business and move, it would break my heart,” Karen said.

“It’s sad we have to close the business,” Gerry added. “But, when you close one door another opens.”

One door that will open is time off together, which the couple saw little of during the three years of running the store. The only days the store closed were Christmas and Easter.

“We have time to travel and go fishing,” Karen said, explaining that they have not even been able to take walks together on the beach.

The last week of business all the inventory in the store will be marked down from 30 to 50 percent. The store will also have new hours starting Wednesday, and will close at 6 p.m. instead of the usual 7: 30 p.m.

The Maxwelton store will be missed by many people who will have further to go to get air in their tires or to buy those few needed items. Gerry and Karen will miss their customers loo, including the gentleman who comes in daily to buy his newspaper and visit with them.

Those who do not live in the area will miss the store when they come to play at the baseball field or to the annual Fourth of July parade.

Gerry and Karen are typical of the store owners who feel the small local stores are doomed lo be replaced by larger, centralized grocery stores, highway oriented convenience stores and shopping malls. But it is a fate this couple can live with.

“This is only a business,” Gerry said. “Businesses come and go. Our friends we could not replace.”

Clinton-born Medal of Honor recipient Arnold L. Bjorklund

Arnold L. Bjorklund was born in a house near Deer Lake in 1918 and was later baptized at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton. Although he only lived in Clinton, WA until the age of 4 or 5, South Whidbey can be proud to claim this WWII Medal of Honor recipient as a native son.

His parents, Karl (1886-1946) and Anna Sophia Nyland 1889-1976), had emigrated from Jeppo, Finland, and lived in Clinton where Karl worked as a carpenter and was believed to have helped build the Deer Lake School.

After their seventh and final child, Fred, was born in 1922, the family moved to the Crown Hill area on the north side of the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle and Arnold attended Ballard High School.

He joined the army on February 20, 1941. Following basic and advanced infantry training, he was selected for the four-month Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. In July 1942, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. Second Lieutenant Bjorklund received additional training and in 1943 went with the 36th Infantry to Europe, part of the 142nd Infantry Regiment.

In September 1943, First Lieutenant Bjorklund was serving as a platoon leader in the 142nd Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. On September 9, the division landed at Salerno as part of the Allied invasion of Italy. Establishing a beachhead was a tough struggle and four days into the invasion the battle was intense.

On September 13, 1943, outside of the small village of Altavilla, Italy, a company of the 142nd approached its objective, Hill 424.

Lieutenant Bjorklund led the attack on Hill 424 with his platoon on the hill’s right flank. The troops attacked the hill’s defenders with rifle, machine-gun fire, and grenades. However, the defenses on the terraces and in the vines were difficult to neutralize. The German positions overlooked and fired down on the American advance.

The attacking platoon found itself trapped, unable to advance and now within the sights of the hill defenses, unable to retreat. Lieutenant Bjorklund ordered his platoon to cover him with heavy gunfire as he crept toward the enemy machine gun that was laying down devastating fire. Lieutenant Bjorklund ran in a weaving pattern and somehow was not hit by enemy fire directed at him. Near the enemy machine gun he threw a grenade into the position and silenced it. The machine-gun crew of three was killed.

The platoon then resumed its advance on the hill, but was again halted by intense fire, this time coming from a second machine gun higher up the hill. Lieutenant Bjorklund employed the same tactics of advance, lopping a grenade into the position and killing the crew.

This opened the way for the troops to advance to the top of the hill. Here they paused, but it was a short pause as mortar fire soon hit them. This time Lieutenant Bjorklund, who had proven his skill in grenade attacks, took his last grenade and snuck down the reverse slope of the hill to within 10 yards of the mortar position. He threw the grenade and it landed next to the mortar, destroying it and its crew.

Hill 424 had been taken with the heroism and skill demonstrated by First Lieutenant Bjorklund, and for this heroic action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Lieutenant Bjorklund was the first infantryman from Washington to receive the Medal of Honor.

Lieutenant Bjorklund continued to lead his platoon and three days later was seriously wounded in battle, with 16 wounds to his feet and right arm. He was sent to a field hospital and then returned to the United States for recovery. He spent eight months recovering at McCaw General Hospital in Walla Walla.
During his recovery at the hospital he was selected to command a recreation camp in the northeast Oregon Blue Mountains at Tollgate. It was a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp converted into a fishing and recreation retreat. The mountains were considered ideal in the rehabilitation process.

While in the hospital he met the sister of a fellow patient and his closest friend, Army Air Forces Captain Leo L. Sawyer (1924-1986) of Walla Walla. Captain Sawyer received regular visits from his family that included his older sister, Darl E. Sawyer (1919-1997). Sawyer introduced his sister to Bjorklund and soon she was visiting both of them. When Bjorklund had a weekend, he stayed at the Sawyer home.

Arnold L. Bjorklund was medically discharged from the army on March 6, 1945. In April 1945, he and Darl Sawyer returned to McCaw General Hospital for their wedding.

The Bjorklunds moved to Seattle and built their home in the Crown Hill neighborhood next door to his parent’s home and his own prewar home.

Arnold went to work at Pacific Resin Company, which produced glues for plywood manufacture. He worked at the firm’s Harbor Island plant. When he advanced within the company to assistant plant manager, the Bjorklunds moved to Edmunds. They had two children, a son, Kent E. Bjorklund (b. 1950), and a daughter, Susan (b. 1953).

In March 1963, Bjorklund became plant superintendent at the company’s Portland, Oregon, facility. The family moved to Vancouver, Washington.

In May 1963 President John F. Kennedy sent a special aircraft to Portland to transport Medal of Honor recipients and their wives to Washington D.C., for a White House Rose Garden Medal of Honor event. President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy greeted 234 Medal of Honor recipients and their wives. The Bjorklunds considered it one of the high points of their lives.

Arnold Bjorklund died at Vancouver in 1979 and is buried in the Willamette National Cemetery, Portland.

Most information was courtesy of and the following sources:
“President Awards Congressional Medals To 6 Outstanding American War Heroes,” Oregonian, August 31, 1944, p. 7; Donald K. and Helen L. Ross, Washington State Men of Valor (Burley, Washington: Coffee Break Press, 1980); “Medal of Honor for Bjorklund,” The Seattle Times, August 27, 1944, p. 30; “Medal of Honor Winners Give Special Thanks,” Ibid., November 25, 1948, p. 1; “Honor Medal Winner Winged By Cupid; He Builds in Ballard,” Ibid., April 27, 1945, p. 17; “Plaque to Honor 30 Medal Winners,” Ibid., p. 32; “Medal of Honor Man’s Son Kills Himself,” Ibid., December 4, 1962, p. 22; “JFK Calls State Medal of Honor Winners,” Oregonian, May 2, 1963, p. 10; Duane Denfeld, telephone interview with Susan Bjorklund, March 3, 2016.
On this Veterans Day…

The South Whidbey Historical Museum has a roster of South Whidbey veterans who served during World War I who became members of the South Whidbey Barracks, No. 1210 organized in 1958 and located in Langley, WA. Many area founding family names are on the list. (See photos.)

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I, when the Armistice (end of hostilities agreement ) was signed on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.

Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a U.S. public holiday in May; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service. It is also not to be confused with Armed Forces Day, a U.S. remembrance that also occurs in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.


Docent Meet-and-Greet on Sunday, October 1 at the Museum

Enjoy learning about South Whidbey history?

Looking for ways to serve your community?

You are invited to attend our Docent Meet-And-Greet on Sunday, October 1 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the South Whidbey Historical Museum in Langley at 312 Second Street.

Enjoy a cup of homemade chicken soup or harvest stew from Grandma’s kitchen plus delicious apple cider while you learn about becoming a volunteer docent at the South Whidbey History Museum for just one afternoon a month.

This is a great way for prospective volunteers to learn about the South Whidbey community, and for existing docents to share their knowledge.

An RSVP would be appreciated so that we may plan accordingly. Thank you.


To RSVP, please click on the evite link below:

Bill Hunziker presentation of SW Whidbey early ferry system

A turntable for cars on a ferry? Ferry service at Sandy Point? A ferry on fire that almost burned the dock as well…

These and other interesting stories are part of a presentation that the late William “Bill” Hunziker (1922-2016) gave on behalf of the South Whidbey Historical Society in 2005 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland. Bill’s father, Stanley Hunziker, was a South Whidbey Ferry captain who worked on the ferries for four-and-a-half decades.

It’s a little long, but well worth watching. The first 30 minutes cover some of the ferry personnel, and the rest covers the history of ferry system development for South Whidbey.

Come and visit us at the Fair!

The South Whidbey Historical Society is staffing the parking lot opposite the Fairgrounds for the Whidbey Island Area Fair running this Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23. When you park in the SWHS lot, you help to support the efforts of your local Historical Society.

The McLeod and Brooks Hill cabins will be open, as well as the Ray Gabelein, Sr. Antique Farming Equipment Barn which SWHS also staffs. If you are not already a member of SWHS, membership forms will be available at the McLeod cabin and the Farm Equipment building.

See you at the Fair!

Two local history presentations on Saturday, July 1

Just a reminder about this Saturday night’s “Then & Now” presentation on the naming of Gedney/Hat Island at Langley United Methodist Hall at 7 p.m.

The following Saturday, July 1, it’s a double-header with two presentations on local history.

From 4 to 5 p.m. on July 1 at the South Whidbey Commons bookstore in Langley, SWHS President Bill Haroldson will give an author presentation on the “Fishing Resorts of South Whidbey” and “The Big One That Got Away. ” Copies of his book (which benefits the Historical Society) will be on hand for sale.

Then at 6:30 p.m. at the Little Brown Church (corner of French Rd. and Maxwelton, George Miller presents part II on the pioneer families of the lower Maxwelton Valley. This presentation will cover the Burley family, with descendant and offshoot familes including the Wildes, the Kinskies, the Grubbs, and the Crawfords.

Admission for both events is free.

“The Naming of Gedney/Hat Island” talk June 24 at 7 p.m.

A link to the slave ship Amistad, the murder of French Peter – a Hudson’s Bay fur trapper, a feud over firewood, rum-runners, a practice bombing run during WWII… who would have thought little Gedney/Hat Island just east of Langley held such intrigue?

And who would ever guess that the Naval officer (Lt. Thomas Gedney) that the Island was originally named for would engage in an endeavor that ultimately (and unintentionally) strengthened the abolition movement and helped lead to the Civil War.

Come to this Saturday’s “Then and Now” presentation on June 24 from 7 – 9 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the Langley United Methodist Church. It’s sponsored by the South Whidbey Historical Society and features guest presenter Peter Van Giesen.

The talk is free, but donations are appreciated and help us present events such as these as well as providing for the upkeep of our museum, fair buildings, our website and Facebook page. Thank you.





“Origins & Memories” video traces development of early Langley Schools plus LMS

With the closure of Langley Middle School June 16, it seems a fitting time to share this video explaining the origins of schools in Langley, the history of the Langley Middle and High School campus, and memories of students and staff.

The first part traces the development of South Whidbey Schools, with a focus on the Langley campus containing Langley Middle School and the former Langley High School.

The second half of the video contains recollections of Langley Middle School teachers and staff, including Kathy Gianni, Erik Jokinen, Debbie Richards, Charlie Davies, Susie Richards, Patti Sargent, Rachel Kizer, Jack Kniseley, and Rocco Gianni.

This is a partnership video project of the South Whidbey Historical Society and the South Whidbey Schools Foundation.