Seattle Now & Then: Peter Ivanoff's Perpetual Motion Machine

Built for the manufacture of a fantastic engine that did not make it beyond its model, the Fremont factory’s second owner, Carlos Flohr, used it to build vacuum chambers for protecting telescope lenses.  Thirty feet across and made from stainless steel the lens holders were often mistaken for flying saucers.  (photo courtesy Kvichak marine Industries.)
Originally built for the manufacture of a fantastic engine that did not make it beyond its model, the Fremont factory’s second owner, Carlos Flohr, used it to build vacuum chambers for protecting telescope lenses. Thirty feet across and made from stainless steel the lens holders were often mistaken for flying saucers. (photo courtesy Kvichak marine Industries.)
Still easily identified, the factory is part of Kvichak Marine Industries expanded plant for the construction of elaborate aluminum boats. pd
Still easily identified, the factory is part of Kvichak Marine Industries expanded plant for the construction of elaborate aluminum boats. pd

The well-windowed Fremont factory surviving here is located on Bowdoin Place a few blocks west of “The Center of the Universe,” the other name for Fremont’s business district at the south end of its namesake bascule bridge.

Here Bulgarian immigrant Peter Ivanoff compared himself with Newton and Edison. (See Ivanoff’s obit at the bottom.) With floors polished smooth enough for ballet and potted plants decorating every lathe, Ivanoff built in his bright factory what he called his Co-Motional Motion Power Engine. His invention, he claimed, could run anything from a wristwatch to an ocean liner. After a minimal assisted start-up, his CMMPE would be forever on its own producing more power than it used. That is, it kept itself running and much more.

Here enters the Outlook, the long-lived newspaper the Stapp family ran out of their Wallingford home. Son Arthur, the paper’s reporter, learned from The Fremont Times, a rival weekly, about Ivanoff’s upcoming April 1, 1931 factory presentation of his machine. An enthusiast for both science and technology, Art attended the opening acting as a potential investor, and in the following day’s Outlook gave Ivanoff’s machine the name the inventor himself was, perhaps, careful not to use. The CMMPE was that impossibility, another “perpetual motion machine.” Stapp warned readers that investors were “april fools.”

But was Ivanoff also the “fake” that Art Stapp called his machine? The Seattle Times picked up the Stapp story; Ivanoff was investigated by the state and audited too. He lost investors and returned to unextraordinary machine work including making parts for Boeing during World War Two. When he died in1946 he left a trust for research into “co-motional power.” Peter Ivanoff, it would seem, was both industrious and a self-deceived true believer.

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Darius Kinsey took the photographs used here of Ivanoff’s Fremont factory in 1940.  The now-then factory interior repeat above is an “approximation.”  You can see the beams in both and the camera’s are aimed in the same direction.  That’s it.

Ivanoff died in 1946 and his Seattle Times obituary follows.  It gently touches on the perpetual motion episode.  It is followed by a short clip on the direction of his estate, in part, to continue his research.  Although we have no idea what became of it, $200,000 to continue research in “co-motional power” could be given desk space for quite a long time, although not perpetually.

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Seattle Now & Then: 'Seeing Seattle'

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THEN: By 1907 it was possible to bump about Seattle on spring seats visiting its favored attractions for a fee.  The ride included both a driver and barker – here the swell fellow in the flattop straw hat arranging his pose in profile second from the right.  (Pic courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: By 1907 it was possible to bump about Seattle on spring seats visiting its favored attractions for a fee. The ride included both a driver and barker – here the swell fellow in the flattop straw hat arranging his pose tending towards profile second from the right. (Pic courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Just beginning to dip its skirt into Lake Union, a captain-driver takes his decorated Duck and passengers for a little swim along the north shore of the lake.  (Picture by Jean Sherrard)
NOW: Just beginning to dip its skirt into Lake Union, a captain-driver takes his decorated Duck and passengers for a little swim along the north shore of the lake. (Picture by Jean Sherrard)

Probing “greater Seattle” became regular in the 1870s when it was first possible to walk directly through the woods to Lake Union along a narrow gauge railroad bed and also out to Lake Washington by worn and wide paths along Madison and Yesler Way.

Commercial sightseeing arrived in the 1890s with the development of a network of public transportation that reached scenic retreats on the same lakes.  The Seattle Electric Company promoted its cable cars and trolleys for both getting places and seeing them.

While it often took a generation for working families to afford motorcars, by 1907, the year this “Seeing Seattle” carrier posed along the new Lake Washington Blvd, all the necessary materials were in place to invest capital in a sightseeing venture that required neither tracks nor propellers.  Many streets were graded, some of them paved, tires were better, and powerful chain driven “auto cars” could manage Seattle’s hills.

Probably more than tourists the generally car-less but booming population paid the dollar to take the exhilarating ride.  It was not cheap and a souvenir photo was extra.  In 1907 a trolley worker made two dollars a day.  Of course, during the year of AYPE, 1909, many exploring choices were available, by rail, rubber and rudder.  And it has never – during peacetime – stopped.

In 1996 I “instructed” television producer Brian Tracy in the historical sites he hoped recycled amphibious “buses” would soon visit once he got his raucous “Ride the Ducks” tours clapping and singing through the core of this town.  Brian is especially proud of the Coast Guard certified Sea Captains that drive his web-footed fleet of dripping ducks. A friend, and sympathetic spouse of one of these talented captains, enlightened me, “Drive a 26,000-pound machine that gets very, very hot and makes incredible noises while trying to avoid traffic and humans swarming all around and oh yes, be hilarious, tell jokes and sing and clap while you are at it! – It is harder than it looks!”

THINGS having to do with SEEING SEATTLE

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Unidentified thespians play for a joke that is not explained, circa 1915.

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In 1909, the year of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, owning one’s own motorcar was still a rarity.  This booth at the Expo allowed persons to have their photographs taken at the wheel.  Judging by the several examples that survive, it was an attractive Pay Streak offering.

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An advertisement for the Gray Line tour of Seattle during the 1909 AYP.   To distinguishes their service they coined the expression “See Seattle With Us.”

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The AYP bug or logo is printed on the side of the open-bus above.

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The competing Green Line promotes its service with a company history.  The ornamental symmetrical design is a water stain.  [Thanks to Ron Edge for introducing this piece of ephemera. and not attempting to clean it.]

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A safe way to fly over Seattle and its waterfront.  The Golden Potlatch, 1911-1913, was Seattle’s first summer festival.

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Another way to fly – in Soper’s photo studio.

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A photographer’s set designed to parody Seeing Seattle tours, including those run by the local trolley company.

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The Seeing Seattle car run by the Seattle Electric Company circa 1908.  The pergola does not seem to be yet in place.   One of this specially-marked trolley’s destinations was the track that circled Green Lake.  It began its return downtown by passing over and under the rustic bridges of Woodland Park.  Here it waits for passengers in Pioneer Square.

Aurora Speedway, 1932

Here follows a “now and then” from Pacific Northwest Mag. for Dec. 18, 1988.  Until I find the negative for the “now” photo and/or until Jean returns to town to repeat the 1932 view, the scan from the Pacific clipping will have to do for a “now.”  “Speedway” was then ordinarily used as a general name for the oval tracks with bleachers attached that were used for racing mostly open cockpit motorcars.  We will conclude this selection with a piece of Aurora-appropriate ephemera sent by Ron Edge, our generous “Edge Clippings” provider.   The use of the term here on Aurora north from Denny Way was, then, more by analogy to those commercial racing urges and tracks.

(Click to Enlarge)

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This stretch of new highway was what the Dog House and the Igloo correctly expected would bring them a steady line of customers.  Again, the now below is a crude clipping scan from the 1988 repeat I took for the Pacific printing.

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Now we have got a up-to-date  NOW for the look north on Aurora thru its intersection with Mercer and Broad – before their grades were seperated.  David Jeffers send this today and notes, “My two cents are offered here for Paul’s benefit, with apologies to Jean for jumping in with an approximation of the “Now”.  Looks like I’m back and down a bit in my angle, but this is a terrifying spot on a weekday afternoon.”  This is most welcome and hopefully a sign of what’s to be too.  We hope to have more friends like David risking limb to get shots like this one and shots of all sorts.  Thanks much David.  It is most wonderful how the landscape siding “old dirty” Aurora has grown so since I snapped that “now” in 1988.   I am not yet familiar with Facebook but probably should be.  David says that this blog is linked to his facebook page.  Thanks again David. Here follows the 1988 “main story” on the historical view.

The historical view (top) north from Broad Street on Aurora Avenue was photographed in the first moments of the future strip’s transformation from a neighborhood byway into the city’s first speedway. One clue to the street’s widening is the double row of high poles. Old ones line the avenue’s original curb and new ones signal its new eastern border. Also look at the Sanitary Laundry Co. at the northeast corner of Aurora and Mercer Street (behind the Standard Station on the right). The business has cut away enough of its one-story brick plant to lop the “Sanit” from Sanitary on the laundry’s Mercer Street sign.

A photographer from the city’s Engineering Department recorded this view on the morning of June 10, 1932, nearly five months after the dedication of the Aurora Bridge. The widened Aurora speedway between the bridge and Broad Street was not opened until May 1933. Once opened, the speed limit on Aurora was set at a then-liberal 30 mph. Traffic lights were installed at both Mercer and Broad streets, and a visiting highway expert from Chicago declared the new Aurora “the best express highway in the U.S.” It also soon proved to be one of the most deadly.

By 1937, three years after safety islands were installed to help pedestrians scamper across the widened speedway, the city coroner counted 37deaths on Aurora since the bridge dedication in 1932. Twenty of these were pedestrians, and 11 more were motorists who crashed into these “concrete forts” or “islands of destruction.” For a decade, these well-intentioned but tragically clumsy devices dominated the news on Aurora. In 1944 the city removed those that motorists had not already destroyed.

On April 22, 1953, the city’s traffic engineer confirmed what commuters must have suspected, that this intersection was the busiest in the city. Traffic from the recently completed Alaskan Way Viaduct entered the intersection from both Aurora and Broad. (There was as yet no Battery Street tunnel.) Five years later this congestion was eliminated with the opening of the Broad and Mercer Street underpasses. The Standard gasoline station, on the right, was one of the many business eliminated in this public work.

Now pedestrians can safely pass under Aurora, although many still prefer living dangerously with an occasional scramble across the strip. Since 1973 they have had to also hurdle the “Jersey barrier” — the concrete divider (first developed in New Jersey) that has made the dangerous Aurora somewhat safer for motorists if not for pedestrians.

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A more pleasant connotation – than safety island death and/or mutilation -  for the speed and convenience of Aurora is registered on the billboard for this mid 1950s Aurora Avenue service station that clung to the eastern slope of Queen Anne Hill and served northbound traffic only.  The image was photographed by Roger Dudley, a celebrated name in commercial photography hereabouts for many years.  It comes from the collection of my by now old friend Dreamland and Lamar Harrington’s (the band Lamar not the person) own Dan Eskenazi.  The clouds are so in line and spaced that they might be all plopped in theatre seats enjoying the presentation of the new Ford Edsel.  Note the Edsel’s briefly familiar grill on the right.  To aid inspection of the Edsel’s features we drop in her an Ivar’s advertisement from 1957.  It seems with the failure of Ivar’s hopes that an atomic submarine would take the place of the ferries on Puget Sound, he turned his affections to the then new Edsel.  It has been noted that the new Ford product was a disappointment for many because it was not as great a departure from regular Fords as was generally expected.  Still the Edsel did have a curious front end that some remarked resembled a submarine or could be easily imagined diving.

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And as promised, this feature is for now concluded with a photograph from Ron Edge carrying its own hand-written caption,  “Aurora Speed Bowl, 1934.” [I confess to NOT finding the Aurora Bowl in any of my four city directories for the 1930s.  Ron?  This might make a good feature for Pacific.  Jean?

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Le Bouillon Chartier – In Sympathy with Dog House and Igloo

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Le Bouillon Chartier by Berangere Lomont

In populist – perhaps – sympathy with the Dog House and Igloo here from Berangere in Paris is a contemporary cafe interior and the menu too from . . . she explains.

Mes Chéris,
Here is a menu from one of my favourite restaurants : “Le bouillon Chartier ” 7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre Paris 9th, it is an institution for every good Parisian, the restaurant has been opened since 1896 , served 50 millions meals, and was classified a Historical  Monument in 1989. It is very cheap, simple food ,   ” bouillon” was meaning in the 19th century  a mix of meat and vegetables for workers. I like the ambiance where everyone feels comfortable.
Let’s go !!! Big bisous et bon appétit. BB

[Now Berangere has added the wine list, shown below the menu proper, and notes . . . "The wine list presents simple traditional wines, and modest  prices compared to any other restaurant,  just to see  kir royal at 4,90 euros seems a miracle... Appellation d'Origine Controlée is a french label , which means the geographic origin of  food and/or wine is garenteed.]

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Igloo & Dog House Menus – An Edge Clip

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Appropriate to the features recently inserted here regarding the Igloo and Dog House, two cafes positioned at the south entrance to the Aurora Speedway, we draw on collector-researcher Ron Edge’s archive for menus that reveal what both were serving and for how much.    First the Igloo covers and inside.  The main menu is copyrighted 1941, and the “special” insert is for July 21, 1946.  For economy new post-war prices have been hand-written next to the old ones.  The several cartoons may be enjoyed as examples of humor that was probably introduced by the cafe before Pearl Harbor rather than after.  The war had its own preoccupations and humor.  One of the drawings uses the popular theme of an out-of-control husband flirting with a waitress in the presence of his peeved wife.  Another honors the old joke of a refrigerator salesman making a pitch to Eskimos outside their igloo.  How appropriate.  There is also a rendering of another popular cartoon subject: the predator food chain.

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The Dog House menu below does not reveal its age, although it is about the same as the Igloo’s.  The prices may be compared.  The illustration of the adorable puppy was used probably to good effect many times through the years of the Cafe’s fairly long life.  In dog years it was biblical.

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One more Dog House from Edge’s collection – this one in Everett, and considering the prices on the menu it was probably printed during the Great Depression. Imagine! an oyster sandwich with salad for twenty cents, or a Denver or Hickey sandwich for five cents more.  But what is a Hickey sandwich?

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The Normandie from Above

This is placed to elaborate our essay of Aug. 15, 2009 titled “First Hill Exceptions.”  The view looks northwest from the upper level of the “intersection” of University Street and 9th Avenue, ca. 1912, to the Normandie Apartments when the ivy that covers the south facade (on the left) has reached the band between the first and second floors, went counted up from 9th Avenue.  In the principal photograph used last Aug. 15, that south wall is covered with that creeper, and probably the east wall too.  Here we may note the planters on the roof and on the far left the canvas shelter open for studying the skyline in any weather without high winds.

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Seattle Now & Then: "All Roads Lead to the Dog House"

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THEN: The Dog House at 714 Denny Way was strategically placed at the southern terminus for the Aurora Speedway when it was new in the mid-1930s.  (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch.)
THEN: The Dog House at 714 Denny Way was strategically placed at the southern terminus for the Aurora Speedway when it was new in the mid-1930s. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch)
NOW: Near the southwest corner of what some refer to now as Allentown, a new business block has recently replaced what was for many years the site of a strip club.  (Photo by Jean Sherrard)
NOW: Near the southwest corner of what some refer to now as Allentown, a new business block has recently replaced what was for many years the site of a strip club. (Photo by Jean Sherrard)

When it became certain that Aurora Avenue would be chosen for the city’s principal speedway north from the business district, the neighborhood around its southern origin at Denny Way began to fill in with automotive enterprise: car parts, gas, beer and hamburgers.

Bob Murray sited his new highway Dog House on the best short block available, on the north side of Denny Way between Aurora, where a driver would soon be allowed to reach speeds of 30 mph, and Dexter Avenue, which was also wide and strait and almost as convenient as Aurora for reaching the new – in 1932 – George Washington AKA Aurora Bridge over the ship canal.

Throughout its length the Aurora speedway profoundly affected not only this neighborhood but also whatever it cut through, like Queen Anne Hill, or flew over and cut through, like Fremont.  With the opening of the Aurora cantilever bridge in 1932, northbound traffic switched nearly en masse from the Fremont bascule bridge.  Already floundering from the Great Depression Fremon then lost its traffic too.

But not the Dog House.  It survived with comfort food, a comforting name and its convenient location.  In 1940 it was joined, one block to the west by another eccentric, the Igloo. Together they flourished until their gateway to the Aurora speed way was bypassed in the mid-1950s with the opening of the Battery Street tunnel.  “All roads (still) lead to the Dog House” but would you stop?  Traffic heading north then through this tunnel-connector between the new – in 1953 – Alaska Way Viaduct on the waterfront and Aurora passed under Denny Way at a speed inconvenient for circling back to either the Dog House or the Igloo.

While the Igloo closed, the Dog House moved nearby to 7th and Bell and survived until the last whiskey was served to the sing-along organist on Jan. 31 1994.  It was still a workingman’s and workingwomen’s bar filled with tough sentimentality even on that last night.  The bartender’s closing hour instructions are quoted in Floyd Waterson’s historylink reminiscence, article #3472,   “It’s time folks – get the X out of my bar.  I wanna go home; they quite paying me.”

DOG HOUSE EXTRAS

Here, for your kind canine consideration, we include more dog (and one cat) photos.

Under whitewash and a new roof sign, the Dog House in 1945 with its legal address  (Addition – Block – Lot) scrawled above what will be its street address for a few years yet.
Under whitewash and a new roof sign, the Dog House in 1945 with its legal address (Addition – Block – Lot) scrawled above what will be its street address for a few years yet.
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Odman’s Fine Foods, 1953

Reuben and Richard Odman moved their namesake “fine food” restaurant into the Dog House once Bob Murray moved out to his new and nearby location on 7th Avenue.  Murray made certain that former customers kept with him by lifting a billboard shouting – seen here on the right -  “The Dog House has MOVED” with a big arrow pointing towards 7th avenue.   From the east the sign blocked any easy view of Odman’s.  It must have peeved the brothers.  The Odman’s Westernaire Room was one of only thirty-three cocktail lounges listed in the City Director for 1955.  This tax photo dates from 1953, and it is clear that the art of taking snapshots for the county assessors office has continued to slip significantly since the late 1930s WPA survey.

Paul's 2001 repeat
Paul’s 2001 repeat

I snapped this repeat of the old Dog House site in 2001, safely from my car, keeping well away from the lure of the posted banner that indicated I could “Make Big $$$, Earn $1,000 or More a Week” while the Déjà vu (which seems to have been there for decades but could not have been) was “contracting entertainers.”  Most of the cash promised would have been in very loose change.

It was unseasonably hot during Folklife last Spring, and here are two tired dogs to prove it.
It was unseasonably hot during Folklife last Spring, and here are two tired dogs to prove it.
Here’s a potential – last fall – Wallingford instance of pet owner’s abuse by a neighbor’s dog.  Copies of this sympathetic and yet anxious flier were posted on power poles requesting that the unnamed owner of an unnamed Wallingford dog living somewhere near 4th Avenue and 43rd Street do the right thing and share the mid-sized nipper’s health history.
Here – from last fall – is a potential Wallingford instance of pet owner’s abuse by a neighbor’s dog. Copies of this sympathetic and yet anxious flier were posted on power poles requesting that the unnamed owner of an unnamed Wallingford dog living somewhere near 4th Avenue and 43rd Street do the right thing and share the mid-sized nipper’s health history.
Patsy the seal with dog
Patsy the seal with dog and Ivar

In the late 1930s when Ivar Haglund first opened his waterfront aquarium (Then on pier 3, which was renamed pier 54 during WW2, and this might be a reminder to consult this DSB site’s generously illustrated history of the Seattle Waterfront.) his star baby seal Patsy went moody and refused to feed.  As with almost every turn or happenstance in his professional life as a fish monger (both swimming and cooked) Ivar turned the problem into an opportunity for promotion.  Here a generous dog owner has pulled his generous dog from her pups for Patsy’s nutrition.  Did it work?  The answer to that requires more research.

Dog with cat by Sykes
Dog with cat by Sykes

From Dog House to dog in house with a cat.  This peaceable kingdom was photographed by Horace Sykes, long-time Magnolia resident and a “master of the picturesque” with his landscape Kodachromes, which we will soon feature on DSB.  Horace took this snapshot sometime in the 1940s or early 50s.  He rarely either dated or named his subjects. Horace passed in late 1956 at the age of 70.  Too young for such an artist and Mutual Insurance Company Inspector – retired.

Another Sykes home view, this time with two dogs and a Christmas Tea  - with eggnog or rum – and unidentified friends.  Horace’s wife Elizabeth is on the right.
Another Sykes home view, this time with two dogs and a Christmas Tea – with eggnog or rum – and unidentified friends. Horace’s wife Elizabeth is on the right.
Okanagon parade with dog
Okanogan parade with dog by Horace Sykes

Another and rare snapshot by Horace perhaps while on an insurance investigation.  Typically, he neither named nor dated the scene. But from internal evidence we know that this is the town of Okanogan and that’s the local high school band coming on.  To keep to our dog motif, the man in logger’s wear parading nearly alone in the foreground presents, with the help of a dog, his allusion to a real parade commonplace, posts: like marching veterans from local VFW posts and marching bands from posts too.  Here his dog carries a sign that reads, “Any Old Post.”  And that is brilliant parody on the sometimes smug military variety.  The broad rope required to handle this “float” is a nice touch too.

Seattle Now & Then Bonus: The Igloo

I took an extended pause before choosing this snapshot over another of the once popular Igloo.  (That last was written for the Pacific Magazine of March 27, 2005.  Here we may show both views of the Igloo, and one of Irene, an Igloo employee, as well.)  The view looks north across Aurora Avenue in 1942; a long and prosperous year after construction began on this roadside attraction in the fall of 1940.  Unlike the second and sharper view, here the focus is a little soft, indicating perhaps the compromises a taxman must make rushing with his or her camera through the day’s list for needed snapshots of new taxable structures.

The Igloo (actually two igloos with the conventional ice tunnel door between them) was made of steel sheeting, and their texture and “knitting” are evident in the second photo.  Also in the 1954 photo two oversized penguins on the roof seem to be running for the “good food” advertised also on the roof.  An awning has been attached above the windows with a transforming effect.  With the overhanging and circling shades the icehouse resembles two nesting eggs with eyelashes.  It is more surreal than Eskimo.

Like its longer-lived neighbor the Dog House, the Igloo was set at the Denny Way gateway to the Aurora Speedway section of the Coast Highway expecting to lure motorists while becoming a Mecca for locals as well.  Still the Igloo closed about the time that the Battery Street Tunnel opened in the mid-1950s connecting Aurora with the Alaska Way Viaduct and bypassing Denny Way and the penguins.

Readers interested in some of the humanity attached to this architectural fantasy will enjoy a visit to historylink.org.  One delight is Heather MacIntosh’s interview with Irene Wilson who found work and a new family at the Igloo in 1941 after the petite teenager fled a difficult step mom in North Dakota.  After this first appeared in 2005 I got a fine letter from Kim Douglas, Irene’s granddaughter.

Here follows most of that letter, and the snapshot of its shy – in some ways – subject, which Kim explains.

I’m writing this as a personal (and rather belated) thank-you to you for your March 27 “Now and Then” article on the Igloo Drive-In. I’ve enjoyed your photos and writings for years, but this one was personal, as you made mention of Irene Wilson and her historylink.org interview; Irene was my grandmother.

Irene passed away in October of 2001, and she’s sorely missed by many…but she was always the same fierce, funny (sometimes inadvertently so!) woman who emerged in her historylink interview profile. I was really delighted to have the opportunity to share her with Seattle again, for a moment.

I’m attaching a photograph we found after her death–Irene in full Igloo uniform! She is, unfortunately, hiding her face, as she continued to do for the next 60 years…

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We have a multitude of pictures of Grandma’s hand, or the back of Grandma’s head, or Grandma holding up a hat or a baby to obscure herself. But this is the only one of her in her carhop days that survived…hair-bow, tassled boots, and all.

Thank you again, and best wishes,
Kim Douglas

The Igloo in '42
The Igloo in '42

From 1954
From 1954
Now melted
Now melted

The Igloo, the once popular provider of Husky Burgers and ice-cold Boeing Bombers, was a lure to both motorists on Aurora and locals.   The older view of it looks north across Denny Way to the block between 6th and Aurora Avenues.  It is used courtesy of the Washington State Archive, the Bellevue branch of it where the tax photos are kept.  I took the repeat in color but divested it of it for the Times grayscale purposes.  The newer view of the Igloo is from 1954, and was recorded from the parking lot.  It is used courtesy of the Seattle Public Library.   No “now” is included of this later recording.