“Life is real in Stanwood, and not everyone makes it to graduation. Sometimes kids die. Just in the last few years we’ve lost teens to sickness, to accidents, and to violence…”
by Ginger Kauffman
You could call Stanwood a small town. According to the census our population is just 6,231. Most small towns like traditions — you know, parades and car shows and soap box derbies and decorating the water tower for holidays. These things bring people together and Stanwood has them all.
We have another tradition too. It’s not planned by the city or a volunteer committee. But it affects the whole community. You might call it the Mourning Barn.
It stands just outside of town on Marine Drive. It hasn’t sheltered animals for years, yet the fields all around it are farmed and the nearby apple and plum trees, their trunks wrapped in mesh to keep critters away, bear lovely fruit.
Some time in the last twenty or thirty years it became a place for high school seniors to paint their names and their graduation year. I’m told that the farmer didn’t take kindly to this tradition at first, but as time passed the barn has become something of a community reader board, and the farmer now offers no resistance.