Arts and Entertainment

Encore performance: “Langley Life: 1890-1980” returns

Elizabeth and Mary McLeod, are living relatives of Langley’s early settlers. They pose with Margaret McLeod, one of their ancestors and Langley’s second female mayor.  - Photo courtesy of Sharen Heath
Elizabeth and Mary McLeod, are living relatives of Langley’s early settlers. They pose with Margaret McLeod, one of their ancestors and Langley’s second female mayor.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Sharen Heath

History repeats itself when the popular presentation “Langley Life: 1890-1980” comes back to Whidbey Island Center for the Arts for an encore performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23.

The first presentation of this material played to a sold-out audience in January. Because the show was a hit, the producers decided to bring it back to WICA for those who missed it the first time.

The production is presented by WICA and the Langley Main Street Association and co-sponsored by the South Whidbey Historical Society and Langley Historic Preservation Commission.

Jill Johnson, Gail Fleming and Bob Waterman created an original work that gives a first-hand look at Langley’s history through the eyes of Walter Hunziker, an early Langley resident, as well as his friends and family.

Hunziker arrived in Langley in 1899 and lived there until he passed away in 1980.

Langley historian Bob Waterman plays the part of Hunziker.

“Hunziker was a teenager when he arrived in Langley in 1899 by way of one of the Great Northern Railroad’s emigrant trains,” said Waterman. “His family knew Jacob Anthes, who basically owned the town then.”

According to Waterman, Anthes was Langley’s first postmaster and he hired Hunziker, then 14, to sleep at the end of the wharf at the foot of Anthes Street to meet the mail boat that arrived between midnight and 2 a.m. each day.

Later Hunziker served as Langley’s postmaster himself from 1922 to 1938 when the post office was housed in the building that is home to Moonraker Books on First Street.

“Hunziker played various roles in the town, and his story is the thread that carries through the development of the town from the early days to modern times,” said Waterman.

Hunziker raised his family in a little house on Sixth Street, part of a 10-acre parcel purchased from Anthes.

Seventeen of Hunziker’s descendants attended the first performance of “Langley Life: 1890-1980.”

The show’s cast includes Sophie Frank portraying Walter’s sister Nora Hunziker, and Amelia Weeks playing the part of Hunziker’s daughter Florence Alice, who attended local schools and died at the age of 90 in Oak Harbor.

Tom Churchill plays Adam Voelker, boyhood friend of Jacob Anthes, who helped build the U-shaped wharf at the marina and remained in Langley until his death in 1940. Kenneth Martinez portrays William McGinnis who wrote stories about Langley for the Record which were compiled into the book “Langleyites of Whidbey Island 1899-1921.”

Gail Fleming plays Helen Gove, niece of Langley’s first female mayor Helen B. Coe on whose land an artists’ compound thrived for 30 years. Gove retired and lived in Langley until her death in 1956.

Sara Saltee portrays Margaret McLeod, who became Langley’s second female mayor in 1922. McLeod survived the shipwreck of the ill-fated “Calista” when it was sunk by a Japanese freighter near Seattle.

Michael McVay creates a composite character named “Fisherman Jack,” who represents all the fishermen who enjoyed life in the heyday of South Whidbey beach resorts in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s.

Finally, Mully Mulally plays herself as one of the young, politically active, counterculture members who came to Langley in the early 1970s, and who stayed on to provide needed social services and make meaningful contributions to the community.

Jill Johnson is the narrator who ties the show together.

Waterman and Frances Wood will also sell and sign their book “Langley,” a collection of photos and stories from Langley’s early days through the 1970s.

Tickets are available through the WICA box office at 360-221-8262; $10 for adults or $5 for kids.

Anyone who missed the January event because it sold out can call Langley Main Street Association at 360-929-9333.

“Langley Life: 1890-1980” is the first event celebrating Langley’s Centennial in 2013, with more events planned throughout the year.


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