Images from a scrapbook of the Burd Family

Flicker and Tad: A Mother-Daughter Story from Paradise Cove, Vashon Island, Washington

In celebration of Mother’s Day, Washington Rural Heritage is looking back on a fascinating document from the Vashon Island Heritage Collection: a lovingly detailed scrapbook compiled by Florence “Flicker” Burd for her daughter Florence “Tad” Burd.

Documenting their life from 1923 to 1927, the scrapbook documents the mother and daughter’s journey from Michigan to Seattle by rail when Tad was just four and Florence a recently separated single mother. Upon arriving in the Pacific Northwest, they spent several months at the Mt. Baker Sanitarium in Seattle, where Florence was a patient. After a brief residence in Seattle’s University District, the two moved to Vashon Island, where Florence purchased a small piece of land at Paradise Cove on the island’s west shore and began construction on the small beachside cottage that became their home.

Digitized in 2009 by librarians Rayna Holtz and Laurie Tucker at the Vashon Library, the scrapbook is a touching gift from mother to daughter, much of it written 10 years after the events described within. It contains writing, correspondence, photos, children’s art, and clippings.

“There is that very wonderful relationship between a mother and a child that is reflected on these pages,” said Holtz in a 2009 Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber article. “It’s very intimate. It’s very immediate. It was the accretion of the actual moments they shared, the day-to-day reflections and experiences.” 

Scrapbook page titled "Movie" - Dec. 1924, Studio of Gail Gordan 1309 3rd Ave, Seattle, Washington

Written largely in the second person, the scrapbook combines photos and narrative descriptions of their day-to-day lives, including many humorous anecdotes about young Tad. Her verbal precocity charmed the doctor and nurses at the Mt. Baker Sanitarium:

“Dr. Fick is an unusually large man and the first day you met him you looked very small indeed. I had taught you how to meet people. Afterward you said, ‘Aren’t you proud of Dr. Fick? Did you notice how he stepped right up and put out his hand—just as if he had good manners? His mother must be teaching him.’ One of the nurses told this to Dr. Fick and after this he never met you without bowing very low.”

Image from a scrapbook, hand written "Mt. Baker sanitarium, Seattle"
The Mt. Baker Sanitarium occupied the historic Thompson House, still standing today at 3119 S. Day St., Seattle.
Scrapbook page. Tad with Helen Brown and second picture, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Demoresh
Tad with staff at the Mt. Baker Sanitarium, Seattle

While it is unknown what caused Florence to enter the institution, a sanitarium at the time was often a place to convalesce from any number of physical and mental illnesses, tuberculosis being the most well known among them. After six weeks, she had gained 20 pounds and was able to leave the sanitarium, but returned soon thereafter to perform clerical, then nursing, work for the institution. Florence and Tad built a large network of friends and associates during this period — from the Brown sisters who ran the sanitarium to local playmates, fellow patients, neighbors, and schoolteachers.

Another scrapbook page with pictures of Miss Edna Morse, a nurse at Mt Baker Sanitarium
“Your beloved friend, Miss Eda F. Morse, nurse at Mt. Baker Sanitarium”

The Burds’ social calls, neighborly interactions, and playdates are all faithfully described in the scrapbook, illuminating the lives of Washingtonians moving through the world — from traveling businessman Chas. E. Hamilton and his wife to Mrs. Henrietta McCloy, a visually impaired neighbor living in their building on 15 Ave. NE in Seattle.

Seattle, Oct. 8th 1925. My Dear Florence: It seems a long time since I found a little girl curled up asleep in my very own bed. You have no idea how much you are missed. Your rooms are still vacant, waiting for you, I fancy. When I think of you I see a very sweet picture of a little girl playing with her dog or cat, or running along the beach having the very best time possible.
Part of a letter to Tad from former neighbor Henrietta McCloy, who learned to touch type after losing her vision

In summer 1925, Florence and Tad moved to Vashon Island for some fresh sea air; Tad had suffered from endless colds during the previous winter. Florence bought a lot at Paradise Cove on the west side of the island and began construction of a home while living in a neighbor’s cottage. She also worked for a time at the nearby Camp Sealth, a Camp Fire Girls summer camp that had just begun operation in 1920. Photos of Tad during this period portray a child often at play with her stuffed animals and pets or exploring the beaches with adults such as the local caretaker nicknamed “Happy.”

Scrapbook pictures of Tad playing
Tad at play outside the Bates Cottage, Paradise Cove, Vashon Island
Pictures of Tad and Ed "Happy" Burrow
Tad, Ed “Happy” Barrow, cat Pan, and dog Snooks

Mother and daughter enjoyed a peaceful life at Paradise Cove. Florence described their days in great detail. An entry in the scrapbook from May 1926 reads: “We spent part of the morning gathering beach wood. You sorted out the nice smooth pieces of pine and spent part of the afternoon painting pictures on them. For your school lesson today I wrote you a letter and you read it several times aloud. For supper you had biscuits with jelly, a crushed banana and a glass of milk. May 5, 1926. Yesterday you completed a little book for Uncle Howard’s birthday and mailed it to him at Sacramento. This afternoon you built a house on the beach, when the tide was way out. It was a stone structure with a barnacle porch, seaweed roof, shell gables and artistic curtains of another variety of seaweed. At bedtime I read to you ‘Adventures of Mr. Mocker’ by Burgess.”

In September 1926, Florence sent Tad by train to visit her father and paternal grandparents in Jackson, Michigan. Tad stayed in Michigan for the entire 2nd-grade school year and wrote regularly to her mother. The scrapbook ends with Tad’s return to Vashon Island in summer 1927.

Pictures of Tad in boots at the shore of Paradise Cove
Tad wearing her favorite red boots at Paradise Cove

Despite her happy childhood, Tad’s life was marked with misfortune. Both of her parents died when she was a young woman, and she would later survive two of her own children. She graduated from Stadium High School in 1937, attended college at the Pasadena Playhouse of Theater, Whitman College, and the College of Puget Sound. She met her husband, Stephen Truselo, while working at Paradise Inn on Mount Rainier. They married in 1941 and lived in the cottage at Paradise Cove as well as Hawaii.

Tad passed away in 2003, having lived on Vashon Island for roughly 80 years. Her mother’s scrapbooks, preserved by the Vashon-Maury Heritage Association, portray a child surrounded by love and embraced by a close-knit island community.

Picture of Tad, Florence and Edith (a friend)
Florence, Tad, and friend Edith, outside cottage at Paradise Cove

Explore the full scrapbook here:

Washington Rural Heritage is a community memory project based at the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. The project brings together unique local history materials from libraries, museums, and private collections of citizens across Washington state.


Secretary of State
Steve Hobbs

Image of Secretary of State Steve Hobbs

Connect with Us

Search Our Corner

About this Blog

The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services.

This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Steve Hobbs and his staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

Comments Disclaimer

The comments and opinions expressed by users of this blog are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Secretary of State’s Office or its employees. The agency screens all comments in accordance with the Secretary of State’s blog use policy, and only those that comply with that policy will be approved and posted. Outside comments will not be edited by the agency.