EDITOR’S COLUMN | Whidbey roads are a path to island history

Like many middle-aged, working-class family men, I have a few defining and perhaps stereotypical characteristics. I like watching TV, my dirty socks never seem make it to the clothes hamper, I spend too much time at work and I like to eat. A lot. Yup, being the man of the house and finishing off that extra scoop of rice at dinner — I can’t responsibly let it go to waste — have taken a hefty toll. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say the days of weighing a trim buck-60 are long gone.

Reining in the ole muffin top has been a years long affair, particularly since I became editor of The Record. So when my wife recently suggested daily, 6 a.m. walks, I groaned an OK. I only agreed because I figured it wouldn’t last more than a couple of days. We’re on our second week and about 15 miles in.

She’s perfect, by the way, and only going along to keep me company.

One thing that’s become crystal clear is that I enjoy eating a lot more than exercising. But, I admit it’s been a lot of fun too. We walk on Cameron Road in Freeland, a small but quiet backroad that’s completely free of all the NASCAR racers who roar down Fish Road. It’s also picturesque; 6 a.m. is too early to see the full sunrise but fog over the blueberry farm and pasture land of Mutiny Bay is quite lovely.

But the best part has been the people.

Our first walk, the initial scouting mission made on a Sunday afternoon, we bumped into Betty Discher. Her maiden name is Cameron. No, it wasn’t a coincidence. She is the descendant of the original Camerons, who settled in Freeland in the early 1900s and for which the road is named. She lives in the very house her folks built in 1944. An older home constructed by her grandparents is on the corner of Shoreview and Cameron and still stands today. In fact, it was her family that built the small building that became Frank Nichols’ famed machine shop, the place where Nichols Brothers Boat Builders got its start. The facade still decorates the yard.

I’m a bit of a history dork, so naturally I thought this was very cool. But it got even better. She said two of her ancestors first came to the area and stayed in a tent north of Freeland along Holmes Harbor. It was their honeymoon. Ever since, that specific area has been known as Honeymoon Bay.

By this point, I was totally geeking out and mentioned how you don’t see many old South families still living on the roads which bear their name. She dutifully informed me that I was incorrect, and that Brian Grimm runs a community potluck series (see story on page 10) on this very topic. Who’d have thought?

So, on my first day of regular exercise I learned some fun island history and got a story out of it to too. All that’s left is to lose a few pounds. Maybe that’s expecting too much.