It's been 30 years of what has been a weekly responsibility that brought with it, for Now & Then writer Paul Dorpat, a life of guaranteed zest.

A FEW OF you Pacific Northwest veterans may recognize this “then” as a repeat of itself. That is, the subject first appeared in this feature 30 years ago, minus nine days. Pioneer Sara Yesler stands on the front porch of her and husband Henry’s home at the northeast corner of First Avenue and James Street.

E.A. Clark, the pioneer photographer who recorded the scene, was also a sometime schoolteacher, justice of the peace and King County auditor. Several copies — and copies of copies — have been made, but it seems that the original did not survive the bumps of pioneer life.

I chose this “oldest photo” as a marker for 30 years of what has been a weekly responsibility that brought with it, for me, a life of guaranteed zest. What wonderful people and subjects I have met! And, if they will allow it, I thank my editors, Kathy Triesch Saul and Kathy Andrisevic. It was the latter of “the two Kathys” who decided to give this “now-and-then” idea a try in late 1981. I also thank Times writer Erik Lacitis, who acted as my go-between then. Those of you who read bylines and/or credits know that they are all still at work.

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Finally, I thank my friend Jean Sherrard, who started helping with the “repeats” in 2004. I am standing in the “now” at Jean’s recommendation and posing with my mentor, Rich Berner. When I started studying regional history in 1971, Rich, the founder and then still head of the University of Washington Archives, was welcoming. Rich is now a lesson in productive longevity. Born in Seattle in 1920, this graduate of Garfield High wrote and published his trilogy on community history, “Seattle in the 20th Century,” after he retired in 1984. Rich and I are now assembling illustrated versions of all three volumes.

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