Fourth of Quintilis
Can you imagine watching the big Oak Harbor fireworks display
on the Fourth of Quintilis?
might have happened if the Romans had not changed the name
of our seventh month to July. More specifically, Mark Antony
renamed the month in honor of Julius Caesar. The name went
into effect in 44 B.C., the year that Caesar was killed
'Et Tu Brute?' Could that be where we get that beastly word
Until the end of the 18th century, the accent in pronouncing
July was placed on the first syllable. The English poet
Wordsworth, writing in 1798, rhymed July with truly.
nations were born in July, two on the same day. July 4,
1776 was the birthday of the United States; 170 years later,
July 4, 1946 became independence day for the Republic of
the Philippines after it was liberated from the Japanese.
Midway in the month, French independence is celebrated on
July 14, Bastille Day.
is noted for a number of battles, particularly during the
Civil War. July 1 is the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg,
marking the farthest point north for Confederate forces.
At month's end, July 30Ñknown as Crater Day, recalls
the unsuccessful attempt by Union troops to take Petersburg,
Virginia by tunneling under Confederate positions and blowing
up tons of gunpowder. Also in the martial vein, the Korean
War Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.
of famous Americans during July include the following Yankee
Doodle Dandys: Presidents John Quincy Adams, July 11 and
Gerald Ford, July 14; Naval hero John Paul Jones, July 6;
sewing machine inventor Elias Howe, July 9; automotive pioneer
Henry Ford, July 30; and artist James McNeill Whistler,
who was best known for the painting of his mother, July
July is a busy month all over Whidbey Island. Every year
Oak Harbor has its own Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration,
with the great 'Fourth of Quintilis' fireworks at City Beach
Park, starting at about 10 p.m. . . . or whenever it gets
dark enough. There's a big parade down Pioneer Way in the
morning, and an all week carnival, food booths and crafts.
Then July 20-25 is the famous Race Week Sailing Regatta,
starting from the Oak Harbor Marina and filling Oak Harbor
Bay with sails . . . colorful and exciting!
most exciting of all, the 4th of July is on a Friday this
year. Does that mean we all get a 3-day weekend? Incidentally,
you can buy your safe and sane fireworks this year at the
Soroptimist Fireworks stand, just west of 7-11 South on
Highway 20. All proceeds go to fund the club's community
In 1942, the "building of Oak Harbor" began in
earnest as the Whidbey Naval Air Station burgeoned, and
civilian workers and Navy men poured into the area.
Harbor, with a population of about 600, was ill-equipped
to handle those who needed housing. Barns, chicken houses,
and extra bedrooms became living quarters that were gratefully
used while the Navy began building its own housing. The
first two Navy enlisted men, who came here from Sand Point,
had to bunk in with construction workers in the dormitory
sheds hastily together for the purpose.
what is now Whidbey Avenue East in Oak Harbor, just south
of the North Whidbey Junior High (it was then Neil Road
built by logger James A. Neil to reach from his farm to
the local grade and high school), a small housing development
builder by the name of Nichols came down from Bellingham
to erect a duplex and some small frame houses. Nichols dubbed
his project "Little Bellingham," a name that is
not heard much today because none of the original occupants
are still living there . . . although a few of the small
houses still stand.
the people who bought houses in "Little Bellingham"
were the Lloyd Clines, Judd Taylors, L. R. Everetts, Howard
Tolers and Dan Dillard Seniors. They had moved here from
Lynden and Concrete to make their homes, raise their families,
and work as civilians at the Naval Air Station.
Pansy Taylor told Dorothy Neil how they had lived for four
years in the little community, long before North Whidbey
Junior High was built as the "new Oak Harbor High School,"
and before the Midway Shopping Center was developed, on
what was then pasture land.
three Taylor boys were among 10 boys in the small neighborhood,
but boys will be boys, and the Taylors thought 10 boys together
were too many for comfort, so they moved to the Pete Ploegsma
place out in Clover Valley next to the Howard Walker farm.
There the Taylor boys and the five Walker girls grew up
together. The Taylors and Walkers had been good friends
in Lynden before coming to Oak Harbor.
The name "Little Bellingham" gradually died as
the original settlers moved away, but some of its small
houses still remain as a testimony to World War II housing
needs on North Whidbey. They were tiny, but much better
than the quickly remodeled chicken coops some of the workers
families had to live in before housing finally caught up
or not . . .
An Oklahoma newspaper once printed a picture of a deserted
farmhouse in a sand-swept field and offered a prize for
the best essay on land erosion. This won the contest:
"Picture show why white man crazy. Cut down trees,
make too big teepee."
"Plow hill. Water wash. Wind blow soil. Grass gone.
Door gone. Window gone. "
"Whole place gone to hell. No pig. No corn. No pony."
"Indian no plow land. Keep grass. Buffalo eat grass.
Indian eat buffalo. Hide make plenty big teepee. Make moccasin."
"All time eat. Indian not hunt job. No work. No hitchhike.
No ask relief. No build dam. No give damn."
"White man heap crazy."