Sunday, July 21, 2024

“Greater Lake Wenatchee Area History'' author to debut historical memoir

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CASHMERE – Local historian and author Rolland “Rollie” Schmitten will be debuting his latest book, “A Cashmere Kid,” during Founder’s Day Weekend at the Cashmere Valley Museum. 

“I hope you see I had fun writing this book. And it's so different, I'm curious how the public will accept it,” said Schmitten.

“A Cashmere Kid'' is Schmitten’s third historical book on the area, but with a more personal and humorous twist. While his books “Lake Wenatchee Early History'' and “Greater Lake Wenatchee Area History'' explore the general history of the Upper Valley and beyond, Schmitten’s latest book intertwines personal anecdotes of growing up in Cashmere from 1944 to 1962 with the history of the town.

Schmitten begins at the very beginning, with a Wenatchee Daily World headline, “PARIS LIBERATED BY THE ALLIES,” paired with the Cashmere Valley Record announcing his birth on page five. From there, Schmitten illustrates life in Cashmere during the late 1940s to early 1960s, with personal and historical depictions of everyday landmarks for a Cashmere child in the 1950s: the schools, the swimming pool, the movie theater, and “the Pink Store.” 

As he tells the history of these places, he recounts humorous anecdotes of the time he was forgotten and locked in the school building or had to learn the accordion. Each chapter is accompanied by historical images, humorous sayings, or a comic drawn by local artist and Cashmere High School student, Riley Acheson.

As the readers are transported into Schmitten’s childhood, the author also explores historical moments, people, and businesses, both before and during his life, and often with a broader historical context. Schmitten tells the stories of when Nazi German prisoners of WWII were relocated to Cashmere, or when the Ku Klux Klan came to town in the 1920s.

Schmitten also introduces influential community members such as the Baker Family, the last remaining Wenatchi, or P’Squosa, family in the area, and Glen Fleming, who worked under J. Robert Oppenheimer on nuclear weapons before becoming the Cashmere High School principal. 

As he speaks about the impact of major businesses in the area, he also shares their own histories, such as the Armenian roots of Aplets and Cotlets, or Cashmere Valley Bank’s inspiring post-Depression opening.

In writing this book, Schmitten hopes readers walk away with an appreciation for Cashmere and encourage those who grew up in the heart of it to look back fondly on the friendships and values that were shared.

“And I'm hopeful, since I only covered an 18-year period, that [of the] future classes, maybe someone will take from ‘62 to ‘82, and so it would go on with what Cashmere looked like when they were there,” said Schmitten.

Schmitten will be signing copies of “A Cashmere Kid” at 1 p.m. at the Cashmere Museum on June 29. The book signing will be followed by the museum’s rededication of the Tree of Peace, which was planted in 1989 for the Washington State Centennial to honor the first peoples of the land.

Schmitten plans to distribute the book across locations such as A Book for All Seasons, Martin's Market Place, and the Leavenworth and Cashmere museums. 

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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