A Little Piece of History
I was cruising the web, trying to remember my old Mirrormont Estates address when I happened upon an old Spring 2006 edition of your newsletter. I found it because I’d put “Mirrormont Stables” in as a search. I was born in Seattle wayyy back in 1961, and lived in Mirrormont Estates. We moved to Texas in 1968. I remember the street we lived on, 158thSt., but I can’t remember the actual address. My family owned the stables; in fact, my mom and dad built it. (I remember that address because I still have one of the business cards!). I have pictures of the house and the stables, along with my little-kid-riding-her-horse-playing-Lone-Ranger-with-her-brother memories (I was Tonto, btw). In the newsletter there was a piece about the bridle paths: “The general belief is that these bridle paths were originally meant for the use of the neighbors who kept horses in the nearby Mirrormont Stables…”. My dad cut every one of those paths. He cut them with ax, machete and whatever else was handy, in other words, by hand! The trails were meant for everyone and anyone, neighbor, patron, or hiker.
I remember my childhood, full of cowboys, Indians and herds of wild horses. Of course, the memories of childhood are never exactly as we remember them. Luckily, I still have people around who still remember things a little clearer than I, who was all of three years old when we first moved to Mirrormont. My parents, Glen and Caroline Smith, along with my sister, Kathy, my brother, Mark, and myself, moved to Issaquah from Seattle in 1964. The house we were to live in, at 26328 SE 158th Street in the new Mirrormont Estates, was not even quite finished when they bought it. We moved in on the Saturday before Thanksgiving of that year. My mother, Caroline, remembers there only being about 20 occupied homes at the time. My father was one of those people who never met a stranger and every person he met was an instant best friend, and so it was with Mirrormont Estates sales agent John Temcov. The two discussed the need for the planned riding stables to be built as soon as possible and the next thing my mother remembers, “we were in the process of drawing plans for the barn and the whole project mushroomed from there.”
The stable, located directly across from the entrance to Mirrormont Estates, at 15401 Hobart Road, was to sit on a little over twelve acres of land owned by the developers of the estates. My mother and father cleared the brush and cut the trails themselves. Since there were so few houses, the trails wound up, through and around the estates. They also built the barn themselves, with occasional weekend help from a couple of friends from Seattle who had decided to invest a little time and money to help complete the project. Mom vividly remembers being up on the roof of the towering two-story structure, helping to hammer shingles into place. “When the barn was completed,” she recalls, “it had a huge hayloft upstairs and eight stalls and a tack room on the main floor.”
After approximately eight months of backbreaking work, the stables were ready to open. Ten horses were purchased, along with the appropriate tack. More stock were added during the next few months, including a baby donkey named Eeyore, a Shetland Pony named Copper King, and Tawney, a gorgeous golden buckskin Hackney Pony. I always thought of Tawney as my mother’s horse. My father’s horse was a huge Strawberry Roan named Brandy, and my brother’s a Tennessee Walking Horse named Whiskey. I think those last two may have been the only horses named for alcohol, though I won’t swear to it. My sister started out with a cute Welsh Pony named Smokey who loved to open gates. Smokey was the first of our beloved horses to die at the stables, from a twisted bowel. Kathy’s second horse was a black Appaloosa named Maverick. My horse, naturally, was the best of all the horses in the land. No little pony for me, I fell in love with, and claimed, a very old black and white paint mare named Comanche. Comanche was special, you see. She was that rare, wonderful horse that has a truly loving, gentle spirit. Just one example of this, and there were many, is the time when I, all of about four years old, decided to ride my lovely, faithful Indian Pony (I was always Tonto, to my brother’s Lone Ranger). In my zeal, I never stopped to think that Comanche was standing, unencumbered by tack, in the middle of a large corral teaming with a substantial herd of perhaps not so gentle horses. I made my way through them without a thought except riding Comanche, and after reaching her I did what any other stalwart Indian brave would do; I proceeded to try to climb up her leg. Truthfully, I have absolutely no memory of this, only the stories I’ve heard over the years, but my mother remembers it well. She tells me that Wes, an old cowboy who worked at the stale who, she says, was “the original horse whisperer,” saw me out there among the milling horses clinging to Comanche’s leg and came to get me. Comanche never moved the whole time. She was, I think, a bit like the equine version of Nana in Peter Pan. She died at the stables, of old age a couple of years later. She collapsed in the corral and all the horses gathered round her, paying homage to the grand old lady of Mirrormont Stables.
Alas, all good things come to an end, and, sadly, so did our time in Mirrormont. Although now it seems like I spent most of my childhood there, the reality is that we left in 1968 after a mere four years. With no warning, my father decided to pack up and move to Texas leaving my mom to sell the house and deal with the stable. She had to approach the investors and ask them to help, having no choice but to leave the animals in their hands. They promised that all would be taken care of and they would find good homes for our beloved horses, but to this day we have no idea what really became of them. This was an incredibly hard time for us all, losing our home, our friends (which included the horses) and our husband / father. All of us look back fondly on our time in Issaquah, the fun we used to have and the beauty of the place. Perhaps my childhood wasn’t exactly the way I remember it, but I do know it was pretty darn good!
Janine’s house in Mirrormont: