Happy New Year from BB!

(click to enlarge)

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Boulevard Haussman, taken tonight in Paris, with the rear of the Opera at center.

BB writes:

“…At least once a month, I want to photograph this little dome in color, but I’ve been working all month photographing romanesque chapels, day and night.

New Year’s Eve was my first day off.  I ran straight to the terraces on the 7th floor of the Printemps located on boulevard Haussmann.  From there, one can contemplate Paris and its magnificent 19th century domes; far from the crowded streets, we dream in a celestial field of buildings and monuments sculpted by light … Just before the new year !

Dear Ameer – Our 1902 Advance on Afghanistan

Here’s a double rarity for this media.  The attached is not from Ron Edge’s “clipping service” but from a microfilm reader at the U.W. Library.  The reason for sharing this page from the Jan 10, 1902 Daily Bulletin (a Seattle tabloid “devoted to Courts, Finance, Real Estate, Building and All Industrial Improvements”) is its clue to contemporary politics, which can be read directly below the part marked with a translucent red marker.  It expresses a sentiment that comes out of the joy of war got for Hearst and Roosevelt (representative citizens – pars pro toto – then for the nation) by beating up on Spain and the Philippines and so exhilarated the nation and brought such confidence that it was ready and eager for more broad-shouldered foreign jarring – or “big stick” jousting – in the name of “20th century progress.”  This was the first bloom and blush in the courtship of government and industry that soon gave birth to what we now call the “military industrial complex.”  Those that recall their world history will remember that 1902 was in the thick of the Age of Imperialism.  We never left it.

(Double click to Enlarge)

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Up the Down Chimney, Part II

Thanks to all who attended one of our shows this year!  The first, at Town Hall, sold out the downstairs space and was a ripsnorter, indulging in oodles of spirited holiday fare.  The second, at the Good Shepherd Center Chapel, drew a more intimate 70 or so, but revealed its own candid pleasures.

Performers included Julie Briskman, Frank Corrado, Paul Dorpat, and Jean Sherrard, displaying a wide range of seasonal tonics, anecdotes, and antidotes. Musicians included John and Tia Owen, Mark Kramer, Stu Dempster, and Ethan Sherrard. We particularly thank our tech support staff – artists both – the always inspired David Verkade and Jean’s brilliant former student Rhys Ringwald.

Here are a few photos from both events:

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Wier Harman exhorts the crowd at Town Hall
Frank Corrado reading 'Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid'
Frank Corrado reading 'Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid'
Jean with Julie Briskman singing "Christmas Island"
Jean with the remarkable Julie Briskman
Paul conducts
Dorpat conducts; Dempster's on his axe.
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Mark Kramer, John and Tia Owen, as the Town Hall show begins
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Mark, John, and Tia
Mark Kramer
Mark Kramer
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John, Ethan Sherrard, Jean, and Stu
Paul reads Thurber (photo from Rhys Ringwald's cell phone)
Paul reads Thurber (photo from Rhys Ringwald's cell phone)

Street Poet revisited

Vladimir Augustin near First & Main
Vladimir Augustin near First & Main

Vladimir Augustin, whom some may remember from an April post, walked into John Siscoe’s Globe Bookstore, looking cold and a bit blurred around the edges.

He writes poems on cards for passersby and lives rough. For the most part, the tourist trade has dried up, but he carries a small boombox (which was playing a Mozart concerto), and continues scavenging for customers.

Needle postcard
Needle postcard

John gave Augustin a postcard of the Space Needle and when I found him in front of the soon to be evacuated Elliott Bay Bookstore, he wrote me another poem. It was night and hard to decipher under the streetlight, but he read it to me aloud. ‘A Masterpiece of Christmas’ he called it, and I’d share it with you but I can’t quite make out the script.

UPDATE:

As per Maria’s request, a photo of the postcard poem — ‘A Masterpiece of Christmas’ – note it contains an acrostic: “The Collective Purpose” (click to enlarge):

'A Masterpiece of Christmas'
'A Masterpiece of Christmas'

Edge Clipping – READ ALL ABOUT IT – The Evening Dispatch for Monday Dec. 24, 1877

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For the occasion of this Christmas 2009 Ron Edge has pulled out the full four pages of Seattle’s Evening Dispatch for the Monday Evening of Dec. 24, 1877.   For those with the steady temperament to insert themselves into a small community of well under 4000 citizens – and yet still with five churches and many more bars – a close reading of these pages will take them away.

The Dispatch was not the first newspaper in Seattle, but it was an early one.  Clarence Bagley, the pioneer Seattle historian described its editor, Beriah Brown, as “one of the old school of newspaper men, a writer of editorials worthy of the great papers of the United States.  He was a friend of Horace Greeley . . .  His custom was to go to the case and put his articles in type as he composed them. It is hard to comprehend the difficulty occasioned by the dual processes of thought this brought into play.”

We will include now all four pages of this Dec. 24, 1877 issue, and separate them by short notices of some of what we found on each page.  The reader may, of course, skip our comments and go directly to Brown’s Dispatch.

First – the first page.

In 1877, Christmas fell on a Tuesday.  This made the call for profound messages especially taxing on the small community’s several preachers.  They could not very well avoid the Christ Child with their Sunday the 23rd sermon, but they then would also be expected to come up with new materials, and roughly on the same subject, for Christmas Day services.  Rarely, of course, did they have “new material” but were skilled for the great part in the twisting or adjusting of the old stories – most of them from the Bible.  Still if you read the Page One Evening Dispatch accounts of some of Seattle’s Sunday services, you will find differences of tone or emphasis in how, for instance, Rev. D. Bagley of the “Brown Church” and Rev. I. Dillon of the “White Church” and visiting Congregationalist  Rev. W. Steward handle their subjects.  J. Ellis, the local Congregationalist, also took to the pulpit, Sunday evening.  (The Baptists, Catholics and Episcopal churches were noted in other reports.)

Of these four, it was Steward, the visitor from the north, who after warming up gave the best example of a fire and brimstone sermon noting that “commonsense, sound philosophy and our home experience unite, in tones of thunder, ‘that heaven is no place for the ungodly.  The very thought of the atheist, the Deist, the liar, the murderer or blasphemer going to heaven is absurd.  There is nothing so much out of place and unfit, that would be justified for a moment by any respectable tribunal on earth, much less in the court of heaven, where nothing that defileth or maketh a lie can enter, and where ‘Holiness if the Lord’ is the imprint on every commodity.”  Commodity!?    Jumping forward to page three, we learn that Steward when relaxing with a cup of tea in the living room is a kindly “84 years of age.  He is visiting with Dr. Weed, Mrs. Weed being his niece.  Mr. Stewart has been an extraordinarily temperate (non-drinking) man all his life, and consequently is now in the enjoyment of a serene, healthful and happy old age.”  (You will find an advertisement for Dr. Weed, Steward’s host, on page three below.)

It was Ellis, the other and younger Congregationalist, who was kinder to mankind – and progress too – with his sermon.  Ellis told his congregation “Well, one thing is assured: (The coming of the Christ Child) is not a bolt from far aloft shot athwart the pathway of the race to smite it and cut if off from its onward march.  Christ is not a force antagonistic to man – He is Man Himself.  He gets the momentum of humanity, casts himself into a stream of life and comes to the surface a Babe!”

Also on page one and nearly directly to the right side of Dillon’s sober description of mankind is Fred Gasch’s announcement that he will open his “New Beer Hall” on Front Street (First Avenue) next to the North Pacific Brewery, and so also near the waterfront foot of Columbia Street. And for joyful encouragement Gasch includes in his advertisement his own sermon, of sorts, a rhyming one in song.   It goes . . .

Come to the Fountain to-night, boys, / And fill with foaming beer. / What if your heads get light, boys, / The pleasure of life is here. / Eat, drink and be merry today, boys, / The old-time philosopher said, / Then go to the Fountain and stay, boys, / Till the shadows of the night have fled.

Compared to Gasch’s New Beer Hall, William Lawrence’s Office Saloon and Billiard Room might seem a bit swanky.  It was on the south side of Mill Street (Yesler Way) opposite Yesler’s Mill.  “It is the place to get genuine J.H. Cutter, Old Golden and Gaines’, Old Hermitage Rye Whiskies, Three Star, Hennesy, and Martell Brandies, and the Best Wines and Cigars; also to have a game of Billiards on a first-class table.  We have a number of private Club Rooms for accommodation of guests.”

One more mention for Page one.  The Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad is listed with a charming little graphic for the train, and a schedule for its Seattle-to-Renton runs.  Of course, not once did it make it as far as Walla Walla.

(Please DOUBLE-CLICK to enlarge to a readable size.)

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Page Two

At the top of page two the Evening Dispatch’s editor, the crusading moralist Beriah Brown, with an editorial on “Political Fault-Finders” makes an analysis of Pres. Hayes administration’s failure, in spite of promises, to replace the spoils system with an apolitical civil service administration.  Page two is also stuffed with advertisements including one for the watchmaker, jeweler and engraver Charles Naher, who is also selling the “largest and best selection of Musical Instruments in the Territory and will be sold at reduced prices.  The public are invited to call and convince themselves.”  The editor appears again on this page with “news” that he is the proprietor of patents of California, Oregon and Washington Territory for the “Great Invention. Lockwood’s Portable Steam Oven.  The Best Cooking Utensil Ever Invented. Burning or Scorching of Food Impossible.”  As witness to the still small size of Seattle, L. Reinig, a well-known pioneer baker, promised groceries, provisions, fruit and vegetables, bread, cake, crackers and goods delivered to all parts of the city free of charge.”

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Page Three

So much of page three is simply a “good read.”  This begins with the far left column under the heading “The City, A Merry Christmas” and its spirited report on what to expect with Christmas, 1877.  The page includes a number of shorter reports including one about a tunnel being built below Washington Street near Third Avenue in order to re-route spring water from First Hill directly to the tideflats rather than to the basements of the the homes and establishments in that often sodden part of town south of Mill Street (Yesler Way).   Page three shows a number of notices – e.g. T. Couter asks that “all persons are hereby requested to call and pay up, as I need the money to pay my bills by the First of January. ”  It includes a complete – we assume – list of “Hotel Arrivals.”  There are also more church announcements and one report of a street corner religious service with an assembly of doubtful believers.   When the service was interrupted by a “bunch of fire-crackers” the paper concluded that this “mischief was probably the work of a hoodlum as there were a number of them in the congregation at the time.”  And page three also shows more small advertisements, although not as many as page two.

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Page Four

Page Four features more small ads – always enlightening of the times to read.  The biggest among them is for Steel’s Pain Eradicator, which is described as “The Most Wonderful Discovery of the Age.”  The jumbled lesson of this medicine is “The World moves, and unless we Progress we must go Backward.  Nothing remains Stationary.”  The producers claim no intention “to deceive the people” that their medicine is “a cure for every complaint on earth; but a really scientific article of the greatest merit, which will prove a boon to suffering humanity – both on account of its adaptability to both man and beast, [this part an appeal to farmers] its readiness of application, and the price being within the reach of all.”  The list of “aches and pains” for which their solution is a great eradicator is wonderful – from “lameness” to gout and “soar throats.” (Persons who believe that such grandiose advertising is no longer possible are invited to listed to Seattle’s own KING FM through a few ad breaks.) For those Dispatch readers whose pains were not eradicated by this or any of the other promising solutions from bottled beer to Dr. Goulard’s “celebrated foot powders,” another ad on page four for John Keenen’s Seattle Stone Yard offers headstones and tombs.

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THIRTY YEARS AGO – THIS MINUTE!

CLICK to enlarge this and you will see by the clock on the porth that it is 1:35 pm.  Here is Frank Shaw's friend, we assume, Violet at her place (wherever) walking towards frank with a small ribboned gift in her right hand.  It is exactly 30 years ago - when I gently push the "insert" button for his little story onto the blog.  So it is countdown now with a minute to go.!!  My this is exciting.
CLICK to enlarge this and you will see by the clock on the porch that it is 1:35 pm. Here is Violet, Frank Shaw's friend, we assume, walking towards Frank and his Hasselblad from her home with a small ribbon decorated gift in her right hand. It will be exactly 30 years ago at the instant I gently push the "insert-publish" buttons for this little story sending it onto the blog. It is countdown now with a minute to go! My this is exciting - for me!

We follow Shaw’s Christmas afternoon snap of Violet with three more scenes he photographed in December 1979.  None of them are descernibly cheery.

Shaw names the photographer on the right, "Mike."  He does not name those posing for a "metro photoshoot."  The date is Dec. 12, 1979.
Shaw names the photographer on the right, "Mike." He does not name those posing for a "metro photoshoot." The date is Dec. 12, 1979.
Frank Shaw looks over the fleet of fresh Japanese autos and south through Smith Cove to the city skyline on Dec. 22, 1979.
Frank Shaw looks over the fleet of fresh Japanese autos and south through Smith Cove to the city skyline on Dec. 22, 1979.
Something has brough Shaw to the "Fort Lawton covered motor pool" on Dec. 28, 1979.
Something has drawn Shaw to the "Fort Lawton covered motor pool" on Dec. 28, 1979.

One more Frank Shaw contribution, and this from 1976.

From the balcony at the Food Circus/Centerhouse, Frank Shaw looks over the oversized winter model train set to the old Century 21 "Bubbleator" dressed as a snowman.  Shaw took this two days after Christmas, 1976, when the place is resting.
From the balcony at the Food Circus/Centerhouse, Frank Shaw looks over an oversized winter model train layout to the old Century 21 "Bubbleator" dressed as a snowman. Shaw recorded this two days after Christmas, 1976, when Seattle Center was resting.
Two two-and-a-quarter negatives side-by-side, and both by Frank Shaw on Dec. 4, 1976.  This is some perhaps short-lived Pioneer Square promotion of a "Father Christmas."  It readers look at the comment by Jana to this insertion they will find a link to photos of her's from 1978.  Included among them is a record of the "Father Christmas" booth at Pioneer Square in 1978, althought not, as far as I could determine, of the Father himself.
Two two-and-a-quarter negatives, side-by-side, and both recorded by Frank Shaw on Dec. 4, 1976. This is some perhaps short-lived Pioneer Square promotion of a "Father Christmas." If readers look at the comment by Jana to this insertion they will find a link to photos of her's from 1978. Included among them is a record of the "Father Christmas" booth at Pioneer Square in 1978, althought not, as far as I could determine, of the Father himself. Apparently this "Father Christmas" did not endure as a proliferation - after Santa - of gift-giving men with long hair. His ringlets look both attached and Scandi. And perhaps he is not giving gifts but taking ornaments from the children, which he then attaches to the P-Square tree.

Christmas (Edge) Clippings

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Ron Edge comes forward with a few Christmas related “clippings” from his collection.  They start boldly with three front covers for the once popular and studied Argus Christmas Issues, these from 1903, 1904 and 1907.  At 25 cents a copy it was not cheap, and note that by 1907 it had doubled to four bits i.e. 50 cents.  The weekly Argus began publishing in the 1890s and continued on as a respected and influential journal of local politics and culture.  The last I remember of it is from the 1970s when the then adolescent weekly – The Weekly – made it hard for the old and stiffened Argus to keep up.

(Remember: CLICK to Enlarge.)

The Argus Christmas Issue for 1905.
The Argus Christmas Issue for 1903.
For 1904 Argus again uses a big ship for its Christmas Number cover.  This is "Seattle's Own Battleship Nebraska" manufactured at Moran's Shipyard on the waterfront - near the foot of Dearborn Street.  The keel was launched in 1904, although it took much longer to install the superstructure.
For 1904 Argus again uses a big ship for its Christmas Number cover. This is "Seattle's Own Battleship Nebraska" manufactured at Moran's Shipyard on the waterfront - near the foot of Dearborn Street. The keel was launched in 1904, although it took much longer to install the superstructure, and by then was already obsolete. It was an expensive piece of post-Spanish-American War military hardware and never used except for some steaming about.
The grandly frigid outline of Alaska - terretorial still - is turned to curls and pulchritude for the 1907 Argus Christmas Number.  This was the year that construction on the 1909 Alaska Yukon and Pacific Expostion began in earnest, and as everyone may by now know three young women, although differently composed, were used in the AYPE's principal logo or symbolic bug.
The grandly frigid outline of Alaska - territorial still - is turned to curls and pulchritude for the 1907 Argus Christmas Number. This was the year that construction on the 1909 Alaska Yukon and Pacific Expostion began in earnest, and as everyone may by now know three young women, although differently composed, were used in the AYPE's principal logo or symbolic bug. A few of the many variations are printed directly below.
AYP BUG in Plaster.  The by then old description of Puget Sound as the protected waterway where "rail meets sail" was being turned over as steamships replaced schooners and such.  There was no easy rhyme to replace "rail-sail" but at least once "steam meets steam" was tried.
AYP BUG in Plaster. The by then old description of Puget Sound as the protected waterway where "rail meets sail" was being turned over as steamships replaced schooners and such. There was no easy rhyme to replace "rail-sail" but at least once "steam meets steam" was tried.
An officially staged tableau of the AYP symbol
An officially staged tableau of the AYP symbol
The Bug-Tableau on an AYP stage with chorus and minstrels.
The Bug-Tableau on an AYP stage with chorus and minstrels.
The bug pins were popular.
The bug pins were popular.
Another tableau, this one staged for the front page of the Post-Intelligencer for Sept. 9, 1909.  The caption to the screened photo reads, "From left to right: Miss Koye, representing the Orient; Miss Frances Sarver, representing Alaska and the Yukon; Miss Fannie Sarver, representing the Pacific Northwest."
Another tableau, this one staged for the front page of the Post-Intelligencer for Sept. 9, 1909. The caption to the screened photo reads, "From left to right: Miss Koye, representing the Orient; Miss Frances Sarver, representing Alaska and the Yukon; Miss Fannie Sarver, representing the Pacific Northwest."

Next Ron Edge shares a few clips from the Bon Marche as Santa sanctuary early in the 20th Century.

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When the Bon was at Second and Pike.
When the Bon was at Second and Pike.

Every new “big thing” like Northgate needs “the biggest” of something, and the northend mall found it’s.

The "Tallest Christmas Tree" in the world needed a parking lot to parody the mere trees we put up in our mere living rooms.  Both shots - consecutive by their numbers - were photography by the prolific Ellis out of Arlington.
The "Tallest Christmas Tree" in the world needed a parking lot to parody the mere trees we put up in our mere living rooms. Both shots - consecutive by their numbers - were photography by the prolific Ellis out of Arlington.

Season's Greetings – A Century Ago

Most of the postcards shared here – and often with their messages – were published in the first years of the 20th Century.  With few exceptions they are of the “divided back” variety, meaning that the side for writing was flip to the art side, and that the writing side was divided between a message portion – usually on the left – and a portion for addressing the card and attaching the stamp.   These divided cards were first allowed in England in 1902, followed by France in 1904, Germany 1905, and the U.S. in 1907.  It will be possible to search out the postmarked date on many of the cards below.  Many perhaps most of the better cards – like these – were published in Europe, and German cards were generally thought to be the best.   I have a few hundred cards stacked in boxes and it was a delight to pull a few out for this little exhibit.  After stamps and coins, postcards are the most popular of collectibles.  The formal name for this – sometimes  mania – collecting is deltiology, a name derived from Greek word for “writing tablet.”

(Please CLICK to enlarge)

"Whitney Made Worcester Mass" a simple message "To Alice from Harriet" and handed to her, most likely.  This card features neither stamp nor postmark.
"Whitney Made Worcester Mass" with the simple message "To Alice from Harriet" and handed to her, most likely, for this card features neither stamp nor postmark on either side.
Another "USA Made" card but without postmark of personal message.  The featured message with the art, however, may be contrasted with that on the card above it.  This is the one time a year a child may be considered virtuous and not naughty for cutting down a tree.
Another "USA Made" card but without postmark or personal message. The featured message with the art may be contrasted with that on the card above it. This is the one time each year when a child may be considered virtuous and not naughty for cutting down a tree.
The card back for this card has fallen away, perhaps from heat.  The message is a synergy of pagan, Christian and exposed shoulders.
The card back for this art has fallen away, perhaps from heat. The message printed on the art side is a synergy of pagan, Christian and hour glass exposure.
Clearly a "split message" card, and both sides of its are shown.  This is a Tuck's Post Card, a prolific English producer who yet printed this card in Saxony not Sussex.  Tuck's cards also got their own titles.  This one they have named "Wonderful White Winter."  Like this one many cards end with a supplication that the pesons getting it write back more often.  This one has a penny stamp but is not postmarked.  Perhaps the author had second thoughts about sending it, or sid not want to be separated form this wonderful winter.
Clearly a "split message" card, and both sides of it are shown. This is a Tuck's Post Card, a prolific English producer who yet printed this card in Saxony not Sussex. Tuck's cards also got their own titles. This one the company has named "Wonderful White Winter." Like this postcard many others end with a supplication that the person getting it write back more often. This one has a penny stamp but is not postmarked. Perhaps the author had second thoughts about sending it, or did not want to be separated from this wonderful winter. Meanwhile Nelda Yaeger in Tacoma may have been wondering "Why doesn't Mabel write me more often?"
The postmarked date on his card out of Chicago is 1912.  One can also feel this card for much of its design is embossed.
The postmarked date on his card out of Chicago is 1912. One can also feel this card, for much of its design is embossed.
This lovely card was printed in Germany.  The postmark is smudged but it most likely is dated 1910.
This lovely card was printed in Germany. The postmark is smudged but is most likely dated 1910.
This card left Oklahoma for Missouri in 1908.  We have taken the liberty to stack the text differenty than its arrangement for publishing so that we could enlarge the art, which is titled "Violets."
This card left Oklahoma for Missouri in 1908. We have taken the liberty to stack the text differently than its arrangement for publishing so that we could enlarge the art, which is titled "Violets."
In this most fetching of cards the man in the middle is not fixing a ski but pouring some snaps. Everyone is evidently happy. Dated by hand 1900 it was given by Ella without a postmark of any kind.
In this most fetching of cards the man in the middle is not fixing a ski but pouring some schnapps. Everyone is evidently happy that neither a ski nor a pole are broken. Dated by hand 1900 it was given by Ella without a postmark of any kind.
"Printed in America" it is date 1908, a year after such split cards were first allowed in the U.S.A. The producer identifies this as one of its "Xmas-Birds Series."
"Printed in America" it is dated 1908, a year after such split cards were first allowed in the U.S.A. The publisher identifies this as one of its "Xmas-Birds Series."
Another Tuck's card this one, however, has been printed in England.  It is numbered "Postcard 9936" and named "Oilette."  What could be more cheery than waiting in the snow for one's man to return with a rabbit to skin and a pheasant to pluck.
Another Tuck's card, this one, however, has been printed in England. It is numbered "Postcard 9936" and named "Oilette." What could be more cheery than waiting at the door and in the snow for one's man to return with a rabbit to skin and a pheasant to pluck?
As you may well have figured we have fidgeted with this and reduced the side with the art so that it could rest beside the message side in one "frame."  Sent from Czeskolovakia to Portland, Oregon, the text is in German, and the penmenship delightful.
We have fidgeted with this and reduced the side with the art so that it could rest beside the message in one "frame." Sent from Czechoslovakia (perhaps Sudetenland) to Portland, Oregon, the text is in German, and the penmanship delightful.
A textured & embossed card from Tuck's Post Card, again, ("art publishers to their magesty the King and Queen"), it has been "chromographed in Bavaria"
A textured & embossed card from Tuck's Post Card, again, ("art publishers to their majesty the King and Queen"), it was "chromographed in Bavaria." Here we conclude this exhibit of century-old cards repeating this last card's season's greeting. "I don't know you, but guess it will be all right."

Illuminating Another Christmas Tradition – How to Light the Tree & What Tree

The Brown family tree, ca. 1904.  The Browns lived across Dexter Avenue from Denny Park. Father played clarinet in the Pop Wagner concert and marching band.  (courtesy, Bill Greer)
The Brown family tree, ca. 1904. The Browns lived across Dexter Avenue from Denny Park. Father played clarinet in the Pop Wagner concert and marching band. (courtesy, Bill Greer)
Bruce reflecting on this year's choices with the family tree - in Wallingford (a Seattle neighborhood).
Bruce reflecting on this year's choices with the family tree - in Wallingford (a Seattle neighborhood).

About 105 years of Christmas trees divide the two living-room scenes above.  The top Brown Home “set” – Brown was a skilled amateur photographer and almost surely designed his subject for his shot – can be compared to Bruce’s tree above, although in the latter the gifts have not yet been opened to spill their toys and such.  It will be worth your while to double click the Brown living room to examine the surely typical gifts, like a drum for the son (or daughter), an elaborate doll table with tea serving and sumptuous doll bed besides, a carving set for mom (or dad) and much else.  And also note the family photos on the wall, the variety of ornate framing then popular, and the painting of Snoqualmie Falls, upper left.  Hereabouts it was then a popular sign of the sublime.

Next.  When visiting my “just down the block” neighbor Bruce yesterday late afternoon and his family tree I was struck by the surreal qualities of its lights and compliment him on them.   Remembering the Brown set (above) I asked Bruce – known for his wit – to recount whatever decisions may have been involved in purchasing that tree and those lights.  Here is his response.  Enjoy with good will.


Hi Paul-

Sorry I didn’t get this to you last night… I fell asleep while putting my daughter down.  A common problem for me.

First something about the tree.  One of my favorite holiday traditions is the annual series of Christmas tree debates that ensues between my wife and I.   Most families simply have the traditions of procuring their tree, and trimming them in some sort of familial, time honored fashion.  But in my family’s Christmas traditions, there are three pillars that are the foundation for our holidays.  1.  What we did last year, or on any other year in the past, will have no bearing on actions taken this year.  2.  There will be much discussion, aka debate.  3.  And most importantly, I will purchase more, new and different Christmas lights each year.
As for the tree itself, my wife grew up in the South Pacific and as such always had a fake tree.  Please note the use of the word “fake” verses the manipulative term, “artificial” which my wife likes to use.   It was a necessary tradition born from the complete lack of any pine or fir being indigenous to the island where she lived.  Needless to say, my wife regularly advocates for a fake tree, stating unverified environmental benefits and ease of installation.  Of course I, born a Protestant Norwegian, need to remind her, born an Agnostic Swede, that if you don’t work hard and suffer for something, it is not worth doing.   As such, fake trees have less value because they are so easy to “pop up”.
Now because we have yet to settle this little matter and because we must return to the topic each year, the tree itself changes each season.  Do we cut from the forest, do we cut from a farm, do we go to a tree lot and if we go to a lot, which one, benefiting what organization?
In case you are curious, this year is a 7.5 foot Noble Fir from Hunters tree lot in Wedgwood.  No charity benefits from Hunters but they have really nice trees.

Similar, but more robust is the great Christmas tree light debate.  I grew up in a home in which the Christmas tree bore the warm glow of all red lights.  As a child I recall thinking it was like the glow of the fireplace fire illuminating our entire tree.  My wife… My wife… I actually don’t know what type of lights she had on her tree.  I only know that she is of the opinion that all red lights on a tree cast a brothel inspiring, red light district effect.   So the debate that ensues is simple but endless.  I would like to continue the traditions of old with a tree all in red and she…. Would prefer not.
The bi-product of this debate is my annual pilgrimage to the hardware stores looking for some new or better string of lights that I can hang in the hole left in my soul, from where the red lights used to glow.  My garage is a graveyard of old lights from Christmas past, large and small, ceramic and glass.  I have flame tip, berry, and gum drop.  Spanning from all white, to specific sequences to completely random color combinations.
This year I boldly grabbed the latest and greatest, the newest light technology, the L.E.D. (Light Emitting Diode).   They were billed as “jewel” tones that are safer, last 5X as long and use 1/12 the electricity.  They were also 3X more expensive and remind me of the neon colors, so popular in 80s fashion.  Interestingly, I’ve been advised by multiple people they simply have too many of the wrong color.  The problem is that if I were to add the colors that everyone has advised, I could simply buy another string of random bulbs.   So far it has been suggested I simply need, more green, yellow, white, blue, orange and yes of course, red.
Suffice it to say, while Christmas may yet be 4 days away, next years debate has already begun with my wife’s traditional first voile, “I want to talk about a budget for your Christmas tree lights”.  To which my traditional return sortie comes, “Don’t the red lights have an especially nice warm glow?”

Seattle Now & Then: Fifth and Westlake

(click to enlarge photos)

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THEN: The Seattle Electric Company’s sprawling “campus” for trolleys once covered most of the two blocks between Fifth and Seventh Avenues and Pine and Olive Streets. By 1910 trolleys were being parked and repaired in new barns at places like Fremont, Lower Queen Anne, and Georgetown. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
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NOW: The monorail terminus parked above Westlake Avenue north of Pine Street may serve as a reminder of the importance of this location for public transportation. The last direct reminders of trolleys here on Fifth Avenue were erased with the 1918 opening of the Frederick & Nelson department store (now Nordstrom, at right) and seven years later the Medical Dental Building Seattle (on the left) just north of the store. (Jean Sherrard)

Starting with its simplest part – the bottom – here in a view that looks east towards Capitol Hill, a nearly new Westlake Avenue intersects on a slant with 5th Avenue.

Next, on the far side of 5th the car barns and repair sheds of the Seattle Electric Company, once the city’s trolley monopolist, are half buried. Pine Street on the right and Olive Way on the left, were both raised atop dirt “borrowed” from the nearby Denny Regrade. And so also by 1907 were most of the avenues showing here – from Fifth to Ninth. More than raised, Westlake – still at the bottom – was created or cut through the city grid from 4th and Pike to Denny Way, as we know it now. (Or rather as we knew it up until a few years ago when Westlake Mall and the rest were developed, in part, over the first block of Westlake, the part that ran from 4th and Pike on a slant through Pine to Olive.) That work began early in 1905 and was completed in November of the next year. Perhaps this view was recorded in order to show these street changes.

An approximate date for this subject is 1908. The Waldorf Hotel was completed in 1907. It is the largest structure on the right at the northeast corner of 7th and Pike. The car barn half-sunk below 5th Avenue on the far right was built in 1896 to replace another that was built in 1889 when the trolley company moved here and replaced horse power with electric. (That first plant and much else on this block was destroyed in a 1896 fire.) In a 1909 photograph of an Alaska Yukon Pacific parade, a Chinese dragon twists along in front of that barn at the northeast corner of Pine and 5th. It is significantly different than how it appears here, ca. 1908. (This dragon-parade scene with its own extended description is included below.  It first appeared in Pacific, Jan 7. 1983 – more than a quarter-century ago!)

Eventually a super-sized Westlake Market used these old barns to sell groceries. It was in competition with the Pike Place Market until evicted for the 1916-18 construction of the first five floors of the Frederick and Nelson Department Store.

BLOG ADDITIONS

Looking east at the same neighborhood, but from the then new Standard Furniture store at the Northwest corner of 2nd and Pike (now the Gap). The seven-stroy Ritz Hotel, on the left is the prospect from which the neighborhood photograph use above was recorded about two years earlier. Here Pine Street leads east (up) into the center of the view.
Looking east at the same neighborhood, but from the then new Standard Furniture big store at the Northwest corner of 2nd and Pine (Now the Rack). The seven-story Ritz Hotel, on the left, is the prospect from which the neighborhood photograph used above was recorded about two years earlier. Many other structures appear in both views. Here Pine Street leads east (up) into the center of the view.

ALASKA YUKON PACIFIC DRAGON at 5th and Pine, 1909

Looking south on 5th Avenue across Pine Street, 1909.
Looking south on 5th Avenue across Pine Street, 1909.

With the last reprinting of Seattle Now & Then Volume 1, I returned to many of the subjects and updated their "repeats" including this look south down 5th Avenue into its intersection with Pine Street.  Frederick and Nelson Dept. Store was still in place, although barely.
With the last reprinting of Seattle Now & Then Volume 1, I returned to many of the subjects and updated their "repeats" including this look south down 5th Avenue into its intersection with Pine Street. Frederick and Nelson Dept. Store was still in place, although barely.
This print and the one directly below it were both - I believe - photographed in late 1982 as alternative "repeats" for the 1909 dragon story when it first appears in Pacific, Jan 7, 1983.  I cannot explain why I put myself to close to the intersection except, perhaps, to get closer to the pedestrians.
This print and the one directly below it were both - I believe - photographed in late 1982 as alternative "repeats" for the 1909 dragon story when it first appears in Pacific, Jan 7, 1983. I cannot explain why I put myself to close to the intersection except, perhaps, to get closer to the pedestrians.
Looking south on 5th at Pine Street, also, most likely, in late 1982.
Looking south on 5th at Pine Street, also, most likely, in late 1982.

Slaying a dragon is the single most heroic achievement – potentially crowning – for any European hero. Legendary champions have been rescuing damsels from the too hot embrace of these beasts and then putting down the girl to also plunder the treasures the beasts fiercely failed to protect. But in the East, the dragon is often different. It is the most persistent symbol of vital power, fertility and well-being. It is also ordinarily a vegetarian and inclined to share its carrots. However, in our scene of the Chinese dragon dance, we see the lead bearer carrying a staff tipped with a symbolic fruit. The dragon wants it, and will dance through many city blocks to get it.

Here it is on Seattle’s Fifth Avenue, with tail still crossing Pine Street. It is many blocks from the International District where it was released on Chinese New Year to dance through the streets south of Jackson amid fireworks and the persistent beat of drums and cymbals. The event pictured here is part of another celebration: the city’s 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Ex­position. This is – perhaps – China Day. But what is this dragon doing on Fifth Avenue? In 1909, Second Avenue was Seattle’s parade street. It was not planked but bricked, and “canyoned” by sky­scrapers like the still-standing Alaska Building, and the New Washington Hotel (today’s Jose­phinum.)

What, we also wonder, might the man in the European costume, on the right, be thinking. Could he be confusing this happy procession of the Asian monster with the fire-breathing histo­ry of its European cousin? Or could he be carrying beneath that derby another kind of demon? That old mean stereotype of the Chinese ‘coolie boy,” or the crude image of the opium-eating heathen, who worked more for less and then gambled it away. Those were the stock Euro-American responses to these Asian immigrants.

By 1909, this attitude had resulted in more than a half-century of prejudicial treatment. First Asian immigrants were used as cheap labor to mine the gold and coal, build the railroads and do domestic service. Then when the work was scarce they were peculiarly taxed and prevented from owning property, gaining citizenship and sending for relatives and wives. Often they were railroaded out of town — both in Seattle and Tacoma in the mid-1880s — on the very rails they had laid.

Here, on Fifth Avenue, some of them are back. Both their costumes and cut-back hairlines are from the Ching Dynasty, which in 1909 was in its 265th year, but with only two years to go. In 1911 demonstrators in Seattle’s Chinatown would replace the dynasty’s dragon flags with the new republic’s single white star floating on a field of blue and red. The design was inspired by the Stars and Strips.

The bottom two of the three “semi-now” scenes above I photographed in 1982 crowded with Christmas shoppers.  The top one for a reprint of Seattle Now and Then (the book) in 1997.   The Westlake Public Market, behind the dragon’s head, has been replaced by Frederick & Nelsons Department Store (long since Nordstroms). Across Pine, the Olympic Stables and behind it the Methodist Church have left for Jay Jacobs. But the building, which in 1909 held the Hotel Shirley, is still a hotel.  (Or was in 1982.) The dragon, of course, still can be seen dancing every Chinese New Year, although ordinarily not here on Fifth Avenue.