On January 1, 1918, W. Eugene LeHuquet (1885-1967) publishes the first issue of The Lake Washington Reflector. With the help of his wife and children, the “magazette” -- as he calls it -- provides news and town gossip three times a month for the small community of Bellevue, until 1934.
A Ray of Sunshine
LeHuquet had been a printer in New York state before moving to the Bellevue in the 1910s. After the onset of World War I, he thought that a newspaper in Medina and Bellevue would be a nice item that local subscribers could forward to servicemen overseas.
The first issues carried news of the national influenza epidemic and its effects on the Eastside. Subsequent issues told of small events and happenings around town. When asked why the paper carried no news of the war, LeHuquet responded that larger newspapers covered that topic, and that “The Reflector aims to be a ray of sunshine in a world of strife.”
Besides publishing the newspaper, LeHuquet also ran the first motion-picture projector in town. Every Friday night he would play a film at the Bellevue clubhouse. Admission was 10 cents. LeHuquet also served on the local school board.
Small Town News
During the first 10 years of publication, the paper was printed in a shop on Yesler Way in Seattle, where LeHuquet worked. His editorial office was originally a tent outside of the family home in Bellevue. In 1928, he bought a small printing press and moved his entire operation into the house. Shortly thereafter the printing press was moved to old Bellevue on Main street.
The press was run by foot power, and type was set by hand. The oldest of Mr. and Mrs. LeHuquet’s nine children helped in the print shop, and also scoured the town looking for news -- usually stories about cows getting loose from pastures, or visits by out-of-town guests. One time, one of the daughters heard of a man in town who was arrested for assault and battery. Not knowing what that was, she printed it up as “a salted battery,” and was teased by her chums for years to come.
The Lake Washington Reflector ended publication in 1934. By that time the children ranged in age from 13 to 22, with all but the youngest involved with the newspaper.
The Bellevue American had begun publication in 1930, and LeHuquet had no desire to compete for subscriptions. He moved to New Jersey circa 1930. His wife and children remained in Bellevue.