2 fires mar history of Bainbridge Review

The current staff of the Bainbridge Island Review has had its struggles researching information for its 100th edition.

Copies from the first four years seem to be nonexistent, and microfilm of early papers is hard to read. Digital papers of different years can be found all over the place, including: the Library of Congress, State Archives, Kitsap County and Bainbridge libraries, the BI historical society and museum, and elsewhere.

Additionally, two fires occurred in the late 1940s and again in 1962 when Milly and Walt Woodward owned the paper.

Their daughter, Mary Woodward, wrote about the fires in her book, “In Defense of Our Neighbors: The Walt and Milly Woodward Story.”

A fire destroyed the Pleasant Beach printing plant of the Woodwards in the ’40s, and fire struck again when “my father and I were getting ready to go home for dinner. The long, two-story wooden building, where the Bainbridge ferry holding area is now, housed several businesses: John Rudolph’s architecture, Steve Wilson’s photography, an art studio, a dance studio and The Review in the basement. Very little was saved,” Mary Woodward says.

After the second fire, she said she witnessed islanders’ resourcefulness and generosity as bags and boxes of newspapers appeared. “Careful archiving of back issues each week since 1940 had turned to ash twice and left her parents with no physical record of ‘The Only Newspaper in the World That Cares about Bainbridge Island,’” she adds.

She goes on to say: “No one saves newspapers today. Why did they do this in the ’40s and ’50s? Because every week, the Woodwards searched out and published the news that mattered to Bainbridge.”

Bainbridge High School graduate and journalist Pat Dillon adds: “Week in and week out, the Woodwards got our names right, our events, the Little League scores and standings, the school bus schedules and lunch menus, the tide schedules, the direction of the economic, social and political winds.”

Kitsap Regional Library director Jill Jean said years ago that 50 volunteers spent 1,500 hours over three years trying to document the Woodwards’ years as owners during wartime. But the 1962 fire apparently resulted in the loss of 11 editions of the newspaper during those years.