Billingsley Family Home Movies 1926 – 1947

Film Edited by, Brian Brenno
Narration by, Brian Brenno

Scene 1
Paul I was born in Brooklyn NY in 1887 to the Reverend John and Lucy Billingsley, he was an only child. He graduated from Columbia University, in 1908. He was a geologist and began his career with the Anaconda Co. in Butte Montana. 1, 2

Paul married Harriett Bigelow who he met at camp Minawaska in upstate NY. They had three children Ann, Joy, Paul Jr. 1

Scene 2
These are Paul’s parents Lucy and John Billingsley. Lucy died shortly before Paul’s wedding and his father came west to Seattle with the family. His father found a suitable country home for the family on Vashon Island. 1, 2

In 1920 the Billingsley’s bought part of Solomon Sherman’s original homestead including the original Sherman house. Reverend Billingsley felt felt this was the families promised land and named it “Still Waters” after the 23 psalm. 1

Scene 3
This aerial shot shows the Billingsley property in green. Monument road borders on the right and Quartermaster Dr. cuts through the lower portion. In a 1964 real estate prospectus the property was described as 60 acres with 700′ of waterfront.

Scene 4
Shot from hill above house, looking south from west to east, and on right side you can see the Stanley house at the water, next to the left in the trees on the water is the Billingsley house, and just past it the Billingsley’s barn, that’s still there, on the east end of the Quartermaster Drive S curves.
Here you can see the Y intersection of Monument and Quartermaster Drive and the house that still stands at the bottom of Monument Road, and then the Billingsley barn.

Scene 5
This photo was taken from the same spot as the previous shots. 2
Starting with the near foreground is Billingsley’s hillside orchard that can still be seen on the north side of the Quartermaster Drive S curves. The area burnt the first year the Billingsley’s lived there and John Alva Billingsley established a vineyard and cherry orchard there. Below at the bottom of the hill is Billingsley’s barn, and to the left of the barn the chicken coops. Above the Coops is Fred Sherman’s house at the bottom of Monument Road, later owned by the Mooney’s. Quartermaster Drive is in front of the barn on the other side of Quartermaster Drive is a pasture that later we will see Ann feeding horses and Paul riding a horse. The Quartermaster Dock can be seen sticking out into the harbor from the group of trees. The house near the water to the left of the Quartermaster Dock is Captain Wiman’s. In the background is Maury Island, you can see Kinsgbury Beach area and the Kingsbury Dock. To the right of the dock you can see a light spot where the golf course has just been developed. 1, 3

Scene 6
They used horses on the hillside because it was safer than tractors. Here is the original horse team in the orchard, note here at the top of the hill above the orchard the burnt off area, this is how most of Vashon looked at the time due to logging and fires. Clarence and Irene Goldbeck, worked the orchard for 22 years. Here are the cherry trees in bloom in the orchard. 1, 4

Scene 7
The Quartermaster Dock seen from the front yard panning toward the house.
The house had had one other owner after the Sherman’s and was in disrepair. 1, 3
First we see an 1890’s Sherman addition to the original house. The Billingley’s added the porch and upper deck, then we see the original house in the center and then the Billingsley’s library addition. 1
Next we see the three car garage and storage built 1935 looking at thew back of the house from Quartermaster Drive. 1
Here is the house from the water, beach house, the dock, built in 1929, and the yacht Susie, a 36” Blanchard. 1, 5

Scene 8
Looking through the leaded glass windows of the log cabin just west of the main house, Burton and Burton Peninsula in the background, then looking east toward the Billingsley Dock
here panning to west from Cabin window north from Burton to the Newport area and Judd Creek.

Scene 9
This is a trip to Paradise, at Mt Rainier in the Stutz, with a relative and guest, 1929. 1

Scene 10
In a shot from 1932 Paul Jr. marches on the beach at La Jolla, in his uniform of the San Diego Army and Navy Academy, He was in 8th grade and his sisters were in nearby Bishop’s School. His parents traveled and his daughter thinks he may have gotten in a little out of hand so they enrolled him in military school so he could get a bit of discipline. 1, 4
Here are Paul Jr and Harriett getting in the Stutz at Joy’s Bishop school graduation, 1933. 4

Scene 11
This is Paul Sr at Circle Z Ranch, Nogales AZ he and Harriet stayed there when the kids were in school in California, and Paul was examining copper mines in Bisbee Arizona. 4
Paul was remembered by friends and colleagues as a man of boundless energy, who greatly loved the outdoors and was an enthusiastic mountain climber and explorer

Scene 12
Joy dances a ballet in backyard 1929 in her Girl Scout uniform. 4
Joy in her car “Imp’ a 1931 Chevy. 4
Jack and Peggy Gabourel in a new 1934 Plymouth. 3
Joy in Imp with top up. 4
Harriett in Oldsmobile, as opposed to all the convertibles note the fake toy dog in her arms. 4
Paul Sr in 1937 Packard Phaeton. 4
Ann in 1927 Buick “Eleanor.” 4

Scene 13
Harriett on dock with puppy,
Pan shot, east to west looking at Burton Peninsula, Burton, Newport to Judd Creek.

Scene 14
1932 with the mouth of Judd Creek in the background Paul Jr skid boards. The skid board was attached to the boat with a rope and had a rope handle attached to the board, skid boarding had been around for many years. Waterskiing had been invented in 1924 but not popularized by the time of this shot. 6

Pete Peterson on the “Pete” board, he was a athletic coach at Paul Jr military school and a wrestler on the Olympic team, Paul Jr idolized him and invited him to visit Vashon, he came and stayed all summer. He turned a piece of plywood into a board they could tow behind the Susie which could reach 12 knots, they called it “Peter Boarding.” 1, 4
This was wake boarding 50 years before it was popularized in the 1980’s. Unlike modern wake boards this board had no bindings for the feet and no handle to hang onto making it a very difficult sport.

Paul II Pete-boards, slowly letting himself out from the side of the boat and into the wake knot by knot
Watch as he puts the rope in his moth and goes no handed Kingsbury area in the background as he leans out to get speed Burton Peninsula comes into view, then the Burton marina area.
Paul I tries Pete-boarding.

Scene 15
In 1929 Paul Billingsley built a new 150′ dock and bought two new speed boats equipped with Elto outboard engines, Duck Soup and the SeeBee II. 5

Paul Jr in Duck Soup racing on Lake Sammamish 1930, both he and Joy won that day, Joy in a borrowed boat ‘Half Pint.” 4

This is Joy going out in SEEBEE II, Joy’s son Roger became a hydro racer and for many years was part of the Fourth of July around the Island hydro race with Billingsley neighbor Roger Stanley a tradition that continues to this day.

In 1931 14 year old Paul Billingsley Jr nearly won racing on Green Lake, but it just wasn’t in the cards that Paul was to win, as he did last week in Bellingham. 5

Duck Soup racing by Susie. 4
Phil Green in Aqua Flyer. 1, 3

Scene 16
Paul Sr. carved this sail boat carved from beach logs and set up with sails and rubber bands to steer, chased by the row boat. 4

Scene 17
Here is Paul and Jim McPherson in 1937 sailing in Billingsley’s flattie “North Lilly” it was named after a mine in Utah where a mineral was found that was later named Billingsleyite.
McPherson who was a neighbor of Billingsley’s master and owner of the schooner Columbia, sailed round the horn from Nova Scotia to Alaska. 4

Scene 18
This is Joy’s graduation from Mill’s College 1937. This is Joy, Ann, Paul II, and Harriett. Here is Joy Paul Sr. 4

Scene 19
Christmas in Library, Paul I shows off photo of his first grandchild Paul III. 4

Scene 20
In the next shot notice the grapevines and barn in background, this is Ann with horse team Blackie and Baldie in the pasture on the water side of Quarternaster Drive. 4
Next Paul Sr rides by Fred Sherman’s house, then you see a house that still stands on the right hand side of Monument Rd, then past the Monument, now he rides it again heading toward the harbor
passing Capt Wiman’s house and in front of the inner harbor. 3

Scene 21
This is Paul I and Harriett golfing they were among the original investors in the Vashon golf course, with the Morgan’s, Beals and others. Paul Jr practice golf swing in yard, as an adult he was a 3 handicap golfer. 1, 4

Scene 22
Either Ann or Margaret Lowery tennis in Billingsley court, Quartermaster Drive was behind them just above head level brick posts mark where it was just west of the S curves on Quartermaster Drive. 1, 4

Scene 23
Flying over Vashon 1935 the dirigible Akron or Macon 800′ long passenger capable, dirigibles were hoped to be used for commercial air travel. 3, 4

Scene 24
In the next scenes we will see a slice of Puget sound marine history from a 1939 trip to Bremerton on the Susie with the Gabouriel’s and unknown guests. 4
Joy on the bow of Susie, and in row boat.

Kalakala passing by, the Puget Sound Navigation Co bought the SF ferry Peralta after she burned to the waterline and redesigned it into the Kalakala a futuristic “Flying Bird”art deco ferry she began service between Bremerton and Seattle 1935. In her career she carried over 100 million passengers and was known for teeth shattering vibrations and poor maneuverability. 7, 8

Navy ships passing by, in 1933, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard built a huge hammerhead crane, and the largest machine shop west of the Mississippi River. By 1939, the shipyard was employing more 6,000 workers. Between 1929 and 1939 the shipyard built new ships including five destroyers, in an effort to build up the fleet.
Susie at dock Bremerton. 9, 10

Kalakala passing again, after her retirement in 1967, the Kalakala was sold to a seafood processing company and towed to Alaska to work as a factory ship. She was re-floated and towed back to Seattle in 1998 by a group who hoped to save her but they weren’t able to raise enough funds to refurbish her. In January 2015 she met her end in a Tacoma marine salvage yard. 7, 8

Passing the WT Preston, Army Corps of Engineer’s sternwheel boat, now preserved on the beach in Anacortes.

Gabouriel’s and Billingsley’s on deck. Unknown guests in Susie wheel house.

Beginning in mid December 1929 the USS Lexington aircraft carrier gave the city of Tacoma power for about a month after a drought severely cut the power from dams that supplied Tacoma. 11

Scene 25
Here is Harriett and dogs in the yard.
This is Joy sculpting the family dog in plasticine later it was cast in bronze. 1, 4
Ann on the left, and Joy with the dogs on dock. 1
Charlotte and Janet Green in Como No. The fishing boat Janet G built in Dockton was named after Janet Green. 1, 3

Scene 26
Sailing on flattie “North Lilly.”
Color house, harbor.
Susie on Qmaster, note Mt Rainier golf course, Burton background.
Sunrise and Mt Rainier from front yard.

Scene 27
Ann and dogs behind the house.
This is Paul Billingsley the III and his mom Betty Sue, who came from a long time Vashon family the Lee’s who ran the Madrona Lodge in Elisport, Betty Sue’s mom Angenet Lee was a school teacher at the center school. 1, 3
This is dad Paul Jr and Paul III.
This is three generations of Paul Billingsley’s; Paul Jr Paul II and Paul Sr.
Betty Sue Lee/Billingsley and Paul III.
Anngenet Lee, holding Paul III’s sister Caryl.
Betty Sue, Caryl.
Anngenet Lee and Paul III and Barnum elephant .
Harriett and Caryl.
Paul III on beach.
Carly on beach.
Paul III on beach.
Carly, Paul III and Paul II play in front yard.
Paul III in wagon.
Grandma Harriett.
Caryl, Betty Sue, Raymond, Joy, Paul III.
Joy Ray, Raymond, Caryl.
Joy, Raymond on beach. all 1,4

Scene 28
Paul Sr. riding horse down Monument Rd
This is the Mill and Nickel Plate mine at Hedely B.C. 1, 4
Paul I first worked for Anaconda in Montana then he worked for Anaconda in the Seattle office.
Later he worked for a subsidiary of Anaconda in Salt Lake City. In 1927 he became an independent consultant. After 1937 all his activities were directed from Vashon.

Paul I died 1962 on his 50th wedding anniversary.
Harriett died 8 months later.
In 1964 the family sold Still Waters.

Scene 29
Vashon WWII Civil Defense, This is George McCormick and Kenny Beall. 3
Preparation for Vashon’s part in Civil Defense during WWII began in October 1941 when Paul Billingsley and several Islanders met in the back room of the Alibi and mapped out all utilities and infrastructure on Vashon. 13A

Later Billingsley, seen here walking in the trench coat, along with John Ober, the Boy Scouts and others developed a large scale map out of plywood of the Puget Sound area creating an Aircraft Warning System based on one used in Great Britain. The system involved spotting planes from ground and a telephone filtering center. 13A, 14

This is John Ober, for whom Ober park was named. 3, 11

In 1942 Billingsley was named head of Civil Defense for Vashon.
Here is Paul Billingsley’s daughters Ann and Joy with another woman.
Joy served as a Wave during the War as an engineering specialist overseeing vessel’s being built for the Navy. Ann joined the Air Force Woman’s Army Corps as an air combat intelligence officer. 1
Joy Billingsley.

Scene 30
The following scenes are from a drill that was being filmed
Billingsley created look out observation Points and trained Islanders to spot enemy and US planes.

The Lookout tower seen here is the tower at Heights, it had a lookout, machine gun nest, guard shack, bomb shelter and personnel quarters. 13B

The post on the West Side was at Cove, it started in Herman Omans garage until a tower was built on the point above the Cove Dock. As a teenager Barbara Steen was a look out there, and proudly remembers how the teens that were involved were very dedicated and believed in the cause. She fondly remembers receiving her service award pin from Paul Billingsley. 11

Reports say that the men of the Island were so over worked they asked the women for help, after which the woman did daytime shifts and men the night shifts, there were 521 men and 425 women who had been trained. 13A

Since the Island was so spread out warning bells and sirens didn’t work well so Billingsley developed a warning system using 14” aerial rockets that flew 400’ in the air from 8 strategic spots where everyone on the Island would be able to hear and see them. 13A, 13C

Burton, Dockton, Vashon, Maury, Colvos, Cove, Heights, Tahlequah, Center, Elisport, Glen Acres, and Paridise Cove all had directors in charge of the neighborhood, each community had its own equipment, supplies and funds. 13A

Here they rehearse with incendiary devices, both men and women were trained to handle bombs.

Frank Beutgen, and Robert Eckman were sent to an Army training on chemical warfare, they trained enough Islanders so there was one person in each of the districts that knew what to do in a gas attack.13A

An old school building was turned into an emergency hospital with eight beds and an emergency operating room staffed by three physicians and ten nurse volunteers. There was an evacuation system to empty every school in 60 seconds and provide transportation home for every child. 13D, 13E

This scene shows the new fire truck involved in a drill. Before the war the Island had one fire truck, they needed another but because of the war they were hard to find Billingsley was adamant that the Island form a permanent volunteer fire department with working fire truck and ambulance. In 1942 a fire district was formed they bought an old oil truck and converted it to fire truck, and a year later they had saved eight houses. 13A

All women’s activities were placed under a single division headed by Sheriff Finn Sahttuck’s wife Frankie Shattuck seen here. 13D

Drill in front of the County Jail house, still standing at the beginning of Cemetery Road.

Here Billingsley and other Civil Defense commanders review the troops.
The Island’s hunters had been put into a sharpshooter company just in case any paratroopers landed. They knew they would be no match for an invading force but they worked out sniping maneuvers for defense. 13A

It was reported that Captain John Metzenberger headed Vashon’s axillary police force noting that in other places axillary police are not armed but those on Vashon carry high powered hunting rifles and some of them revolvers. 13E

Ann Billingsley at Maury Island lookout 1942.
The Maury Island lookout post was located just east of the Maury Island cemetery above present day Gold Beach. Since it was high on the bluff there was no lookout tower.


1 Caryl Billingsley Bangsund interview
2 Billingsley family photo
3 Gene Sherman interview
4 Paul Billingsley III notes
5 Vashon News Record, 1929, 1931
11 Barbra Steen interview
12 Joy Billingsley Compton, “Still Waters”, The Past Remembered
13 Vashon Maury Island Heritage Museum, “White Pages”
A Sigrid Arne, World Feature writer, article
B Civil Defense Military questions, emailed from Reed Fitzpatric to Peg Sherman
C Island System Model For All Communities, Seattle Times Story 1942
D Vashon Civil Defense Group Allways Ready, R.B. Berman, Seattle PI, 1942
E Vashon Ready If The Japs Come, Seattle PI, 5/17/42

One thought on “Billingsley Family Home Movies 1926 – 1947”

Leave a Reply