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Memories linger after Roslyn fire destroys home

Sat., July 18, 2009

ROSLYN, Wash. – Long before her family moved into a home on North Second Street in Roslyn – a structure that burned last weekend – Harriet Joyce Hawkins knew it was the house she wanted to live in.

“When I was a young girl walking to school in the early 1930s I would go by and every time I went by I said, ‘I’d sure like to live in that house,’ ” Hawkins, now 81, recalls. “And years later, I was there,” she says, her voice filled even now with wonderment at how the family made it happen.

The year was 1943. Sam Craven, her father, told the family he and their mother Ethel wanted to buy it.

“I had just turned 15,” Hawkins says. “I was elated that we were finally going to live in the house that I’d always wanted to live in.”

Sam had picked cotton in Texas before coming to Roslyn to work in the mines. In the fall if work in the mines was slow, he would go to an area outside of Yakima to pick hops.

“The way we got the house is we went to the hop fields,” said 75-year-old Kanashibushan (formerly Iona Craven), Hawkins’ sister. “There were five of us girls who went.

“They only paid a penny a pound, you understand. The house was approximately $350. He said, ‘I think I can pick $150. Do you girls think you can make up the rest of the money?’ We said, ‘Yeah.’ ”

That November, the sisters say, the family moved in.

“It was actually two small houses that had been put together,” Kanashibushan said. “A lot of houses in Roslyn were like that, small houses put together to make a bigger house.

“The downstairs on the front right in back of the porch, that was part of one house that was my mother’s bedroom. Then the living room and dining room downstairs were part of another house.”

Moving in, Kanashibushan said, “was like heaven.”

There was good reason. The family had lived for a time in their grandmother’s 12-room rooming house, then moved into their own home – “a raggedly little house on the hill,” Kanashibushan called it, on Third Street.

The home had no bathroom, only an outhouse. Living conditions were difficult. The family bathed in a “No. 3 metal tub” filled with water that Ethel heated in pots on the stove.

The move to the house on Second Street changed that. There was more living space, four bedrooms and a bathroom. It was a dream come true for a family that still had nine children at home, the sisters say.

Kanashibushan was the only one living there last Saturday when it caught fire and burned.

Firefighters from Roslyn, Cle Elum and Ronald battled the blaze.

On Tuesday night at a meeting of the Cle Elum City Council, council member Jim Eidemiller, a member of the Cle Elum Fire Department, called it “a beautiful example of the spirit of cooperation between Roslyn and Cle Elum. We arrived up there and they were already on the fire. They did a really fine job.”

On Thursday, the Craven family was still waiting for word from its insurance company before making a decision on whether the home will be rebuilt.

“What bothers me most is that it was our family home that we had helped purchase and we had for more than 60 years,” Hawkins said. “But I wasn’t bothered as much as I would have been if my sister hadn’t gotten out.

“So God is good.”


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