Valley couple embraces local history through new book

Bob and Laura Antone keep themselves busy. Between writing books on true crime, folklore and paranormal occurrences in the Snoqualmie Valley, they also offer tours and give presentations on their favorite topics.

Among their list of achievements is their book, “The Odd Man Up,” which was published in 2019. It’s a compilation of “folk tales, true crimes, prehistory, coincidences, jokes, poems, secrets, calamities, tragedies,” leaning heavily on stories passed down orally for generations. The couple will be discussing their book at a Valley Reads event sponsored by the Friends of the North Bend Library on May 25.

For Bob Antone, whose family has lived in the Valley for nearly 100 years, storytelling is a family tradition. He grew up listening to tales from both his grandparents, one of whom was born in 1905 and spent time living in hobo camps, hopping trains and working at logging camps.

“So it’s in our family, and there’s a history of I guess transferring oral history through storytelling in the great Northwest,” he said. “We felt the urge to document the culture of this area. It’s like the voices of the land.”

For him, a lot of history is exclusive, and doesn’t include those strange or fringe encounters, or gritty stories that make up the fabric of a place. The couple set out to tell those stories, whether they may or may not be factual. That includes everything from Sasquatch sightings to UFO encounters, crime scenes and body dumping sites, and more light-hearted tidbits.

“For us, they’re valuable because they’re pieces of history,” he said.

Laura Antone is part of the Dene Nation, and wanted to approach the subjects from an indigenous perspective. The couple have spoken with a number of people from tribes in Puget Sound. Bob Antone said that like the former timber camps in the Snoqualmie Valley — where indigenous and non-indigenous people would work together — their book draws on a wide array of stories and experiences.

The couple met as students when they attended Eastside Catholic in Bellevue, but didn’t reconnect again for 20 years. They reconnected about a decade ago, and got married in 2014.

The book was released digitally as an e-book, but Laura Antone said over the next year they’ll be working to get a print copy published. While the internet may give the impression of permanence, she said it’s easy for stories to disappear.

For now, those wanting to check out “The Odd Man Up,” Kindle copies are available on Amazon.

Their second book is in the works too. It will focus more on the relationships and family dynamics of locals in the Valley. Laura Antone said much of the text is formulated by their experiences giving tours of the Valley, and learning and reciting the oral history through the scripts.

“We’re definitely at the idea stage now, but we talk about it all the time,” Laura Antone said. “We’re actually documenting and writing the scripts in order to help us write the book.”

On top of this, the couple does their own research — tracking unsolved cases and following up with law enforcement to see if there’s any updates.

For the couple, their work is a way to put down stakes and preserve the history of the Snoqualmie Valley as it, along with the entire region, experiences sweeping changes.

“We’re both very proud to be here and be living here,” Bob Antone said. “I think that most local old-timers appreciate the effort. They want this to happen, so even the roughest around the edges folks are excited about logging stories and weird stories being written down.”