Seattle Now & Then: West Seattle School

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Built in 1893, West Seattle School kept teaching until ruined by the region’s 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
THEN: Built in 1893, West Seattle School kept teaching until ruined by the region’s 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
NOW: With the interruption of the 1949 earthquake students at Lafayette School – it’s name since 1918 – got a one week extension to their spring vacation, while the school looked for temporary classroom space, mostly in neighborhood churches.  A new and surviving Lafayette with Roman brick facing, was dedicated on the same corner on Dec. 11, 1950.
NOW: With the interruption of the 1949 earthquake students at Lafayette School – it’s name since 1918 – got a one week extension to their spring vacation, while the school looked for temporary classroom space, mostly in neighborhood churches. A new and surviving Lafayette with Roman brick facing, was dedicated on the same corner on Dec. 11, 1950.

Known popularly as “The Castle,” West Seattle School was built in 1893 with a bell tower but no bell, and eight classrooms for, that first year, twenty students.  For so few scholars and so many bricks the price of $40,000 seemed steep, especially after the national economy tanked with the 1893 financial panic.  Later Whitworth College proposed to take “The Brick School” (another popular name) off tax-payers hands for $20,000, but voters prudently determined to keep it, for West Seattle’s student population grew rapidly.

Soon after the 1902 introduction of the school district’s high school into the ornate structure, the West Seattle Improvement Club removed the bell from the neighborhood’s closed Haller School, a small fame precursor (1892) to this brick pile, and raised it to the Castle’s tower in 1903.  In 1909, or two years after West Seattle was incorporated into Seattle proper, eight classrooms were attached at the school’s north end.  That is the broad-shouldered landmark recorded here in 1910 by “real photo postcard” purveyor Otto Frasch. Still the facility was so packed that in January 1912 the district opened another three story brick primary, Jefferson School, one mile and a few blocks to the south.

The squeeze was also lightened in 1917 when West Seattle High School opened one long block to the south.  The Castle’s name was changed then to West Seattle Elementary School and one year later changed again to Lafayette, for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French general who helped the colonists fight the British.  It is that somewhat exotic name that still holds today on the same northwest corner of California Avenue and Lander Street, although with a rambling one story plant, which when it opened in 1950 welcomed 775 pupils through the first six grades into nineteen classrooms.

Clipped from The Seattle Times, April 15, 1949.
Clipped from The Seattle Times, April 15, 1949.
From The Seattle Times for October 12, 1949.
From The Seattle Times for October 12, 1949.

The collapse of the Castle came in 1949, fortunately during spring vacation. The earthquake of April 13, also damaged beyond repair, Cascade School, another of the local academies built here in 1893. The falling bricks were foreseen here at Lafayette in 1923 when the bell tower was removed and the third floor – with the school’s gymnasium – closed forever for concerns of safety.

The Seattle Times, April 25, 1949
The Seattle Times, April 25, 1949

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  A sampler of West Seattle features from years past, Jean, beginning with Lafayette’s neighbor, West Seattle High School.

1. WSHigh-1937-WEB

Above and below – text from 2003:

That little has changed in its front façade facing Stevens Street in the 66 years covered in this week’s comparison is heartening evidence that the forces of preservation were standing guard during the recent renovation of West Seattle High School. Historical photo courtesy MUSEUM of HISTORY and INDUSTRY. Contemporary photo by Clay Eals.

1. West-Seattle-H.S-now-web

WEST SEATTLE HIGH

(Spring of 2003)

 

Here, appropriately, is a Seattle Sesquicentennial puzzle for “now-then” readers. What do the initials “SSHSBSLHM” mean to the historian in you?  

 

The answer will be revealed for those who continue (or jump) to the end of this feature on what – its graduates claim – is the high school with the largest alumni association in the country.   There are about 27,000 of them, and most of the 18,000 with confirmed addresses will be attending (or wanting to) this year’s All-School Reunion next Friday, June 6th.  A record turn out is expected because this is first reunion to be held since the reopening of the school.  

 

And this week’s comparison reveals that the two-year renovation of West Seattle High School was also a restoration.  Besides the landscaping there is little that is different between the 1937 scene and the “now” that West Seattle historian Clay Eals photographed 66 years later.   The observant reader might notice that the cupola has changed.  After a 1983 fire that burned a hole in the roof consumed the original cupola with it, renovation-restoration architect Marilyn Brockman prescribed that the new cupola be constructed to the full size – 6 feet taller — described in the original architect Edgar Blair’s blueprints but not followed in the first construction.   

 

West Seattle High School opened in the fall of 1917 to about 400 students most of whom were coeds because many of the boys were then recently involved either as enlistees or with other jobs in the mobilization connected with America’s entry into the First World War.  

 

The stories of the West Seattle Indians (this past April renamed the Wildcats) will continue to be told after next Friday’s All-School reunion with cherished artifacts, ephemera and photographs in the new exhibit “Rich Traditions” just mounted at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Birthplace of Seattle Log House Museum.  And that is that SSHSBSLHM for short.   For those who have not visited the Log House as yet they may learn what those who have know that the shows put on there are worth the trip.  The corner address is 3003 61st Ave. S.W.  That is one long block off Alki Beach.  Call 206-938-5293

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2.-Hainsworth-Hs-WSeattleTHEN-WEB

Above and Below:

The older Hainsworth home (of the two treated here) in West Seattle on 46th Avenue SW north of Massachusetts Street is certainly one of the oldest residents in Seattle.  Although it has been added onto over the years the home is still distinguished and very fit.  Richard and Holly Grambihler, the present owners, are pleased to point out how the strange variation in the number of panes in the two front second floor bedroom windows survives.  On the left the pattern is four up and four wide.  On the right it is four up and three wide. Such are the pleasures of preservation.

Historical photo courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Log House Museum.

2. Hainswoth-home-early-NOW1625-46th-AveWEB

HOMES of MARY and WILLIAM HAINSWORTH on the WEST SEATTLE “PLATEAU”

         This week and next we’ll feature two William Hainsworth homes.  Here is William Henry Hainsworth II Victorian mans on 46th Avenue Northwest overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympics.  Next it will be “William the Third’s” home on S.W. Olga Street overlooking Elliott Bay and Seattle.   Both distinguished residences survive up on the West Seattle plateau although their neighborhoods are separated by one of the most enchanted and yet hidden natural features of Seattle, the deep and long Fairmount Ravine.  

         William and Mary Hainsworth, their daughter Betsy and two sons Will III and John moved to the West Seattle plateau in 1889 when, according to the recollection of Will III’s brother in law Arthur Stretch, it was still “covered with second-growth timber and brush.”   Both the Stretch and Hainsworth families lived on what the West Seattle Land and Improvement Company named Columbia Street — Arthur Stretch’s father Richard was the engineer who laid it out.   The name was changed to 46th when West Seattle was annexed into Seattle in 1907.  The fathers of both families – William II and Richard – were English immigrants and by Arthur’s accounting their’s were the first two families to settle there.  They and their families were very close with Will III marrying Arthur’s sister Florence.

         The 57-year-old Will II moved to West Seattle directly from Pittsburg where he had considerable success building a steel foundry when still in his late thirties.  Family tradition, at least, has Andrew Carnegie advising him to stay in Pennsylvania but Hainsworth declined and opened a new foundry in Ballard.  It might have taken a while then to get between Ballard and West Seattle but not forever.  The San Francisco based developers that promoted the West Seattle plateau outfitted it with cable cars and an 8-minute ferry ride to Seattle.

         This may not be the earliest photograph of that early Hainsworth home. Another appears in Chapter Three of the West Side Story (page 28) where there is much more about the two families and the early years of life on the plateau.

 

HAINSWORTH ENGLISH MANOR HOUSE on OLGA STREET

 

2.-Belvedere-Hs-WSeaMR

Apparently when the Hainsworth home on Olga Street was built in 1907 the streets were still only lines on the plat map.  The contemporary view looks southwest along 37th Avenue SW.  It was taken a stones throw (to the rear) from the Belvedere Viewpoint on SW Admiral Way. (Historical View Courtesy of West Seattle’s Log House Museum.)

2. HAINSWORTH-2-NOW-WEB3

 

Last week we featured an early view of William Hainsworth Senior’s West Seattle home on 46th Avenue S.W.  Built in 1889 it was one of the first two residences on the West Seattle plateau and it survives.  True to our promise then here is the English Manor Manse of William Jr and Florence Hainsworth.  Florence’s maiden name was Stretch, and with the Hainsworths the Stretches was the other of the first two families.  They also lived on 46th.  When the couple’s grand home was built in 1907 at the southwest corner of SW Olga Street and 37th Ave. SW it was still a different neighborhood from that of the older homes on 46th overlooking Alki Beach.  The new mansion was sited so that it could look directly over Elliott Bay to the Seattle waterfront.

The Hainsworth family motorcar posing with the family and their home on Olga.
The Hainsworth motorcar posing with the family and their home on Olga.

 

In visiting the old homes from the new the couple could not at first easily follow the crow for although there were probably plenty of crows in the deep Fairmount Ravine there was no substantial bridge over it.  The Hainsworths were leaders in getting the bridge built.

 

When Florence’s brother Arthur returned from the Yukon Gold Rush in 1899 he and his brother-in-law William Jr. opened the Coney Island Baths, one of the first on Alki Beach.  While Arthur had been digging in Alaska William had been playing it careful with real estate in West Seattle and obviously doing very well at it.   

2. Belvedere-House-recent-WEB

 

Arthur recalls their pleasant times together in the Hainsworth mansion. “Will and my sister were great ones for entertaining and my wife and I spent many happy times with them.  They would have community sings, dances and card parties and their tennis court and croquet field were popular.  Every year they held a fourth of July celebration for the whole community with games, picnic supper, and fireworks in the evening … It seems to me that Will Hainsworth always was involved in some civic project for the improvement of the district and he assumed that I would work with him.”  

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3. 1932-ca-Seattle-fm-West-Seattle-WEB

Above the bay, a key to comparing about 75-years of changes in the central business district is to find the Smith Tower.  It appears in both views roughly a third of the way in (or left) from the right border.  The northwest corner of Harbor Island protrudes into the bay directly beneath the tower.
In the foreground of the “then” but subtracted from the “now,” are the 1,150 foot long Colman Creosoting Wharf and the Nettleton Lumber Company just beyond it, both built above pilings and both long-time fixtures in this southwest corner of Elliott Bay.

3. West-Seattle-view-NOW-500x327

 

THE VIEW from BELVEDERE VIEWPOINT
(from June 12, 2010)

I will fudge some with this depression-time view of Seattle from West Seattle’s Belvedere Viewpoint, and date it circa 1934-35.   It includes at least one small structure (too small to point out) that was completed in 1933, and it shows Pier 48 near the foot of Main Street before it was widened and lengthened in 1935-36.  That’s my meager evidence.

Embracing the 1934 date may help explain why Elliott Bay is stirred here by but two spiffy white naval vessels, far left, and what I propose is the then nearly-new stern-wheeler Skagit Chief heading north, just above the scene’s center.  Perhaps this is a moment in the International Longshoremen’s Association coast-wide eighty-three day long Waterfront Strike that summer.  The strike inspired The Times to make this satiric account of its effects in the issue for July 8, 1934.

“Seattle exports of wheat, flour, salmon and lumber, produced by industries which give employment to many thousands in the Northwest, reached the same level in June they were when Capt. George Vancouver and his little band of explorers arrived on Puget Sound and began selecting names for mountains, bays and rivers.  They were nil . . . Twenty-five deep-sea vessels with a total net tonnage of 90,007 arrived in Seattle in June compared with 150 deep-sea vessels with a total net tonnage of 503,537 for the same month last year.”

For comparison, here a circa 1969 snap of Seattle's skyline across Elliott Bay, representative of the few months when the SeaFirst Bank Buildings black box stood up on its own.  Either Bob Bradley or Lawton Gowey took this.  Some of there slides got mixed - before they got to me, honest.
For comparison, here is a circa 1969 snap of Seattle’s skyline across Elliott Bay, representative of the few months when the SeaFirst Bank Building’s black box stood on its own. Either Bob Bradley or Lawton Gowey took this. Some of thier slides got mixed – before they got to me, honest.  [double click to enlarge – although the original is somewhat soft.]
Both the Federal Office Building and the Bank of California are underway although ultimately not a high a way at that set by the big black box in 1967-9.  The likely date is 1971/72.
Both the Federal Office Building and the Bank of California are underway although ultimately not as lofty a way as that set by the black box in 1967-9. The likely date is 1972.

Seattle Times veteran photograph Roy Scully took this aerial of the skyline in 1977 to show it additions since the SeaFirst Tower began making an impression.  Roy did a lot of the photography for Pacific Magazine in my early years of freelancing with "now and then."  Roy was known to us all as a real mensch.
Seattle Times veteran photograph Roy Scully took this aerial of the skyline in 1977 to show the additions made since the SeaFirst Tower began making an impression. Roy did a lot of the photography for Pacific Magazine in my early years of freelancing with “now and then.” Roy was known to all as a real mensch.  [click twice to enlarge]
Photographed from a ferry - perhaps by me or Lawton - on Feb. 28, 1984.  The Columbia Tower is underway - and not yet gone away.  The name, that is.  The Smith Tower, far right, is flying Ivar's Salmon Sock.  Ivar has a year to live and soon he will sell the tower, carrying a one million dollar check in his pocket - first payment - to show off.  It was almost as thrilling as opening his monthly social security check.
Photographed from a ferry – perhaps by me or more likely by Lawton – on Feb. 28, 1984. The Columbia Tower is underway – and not yet gone away. The name, that is. The Smith Tower, far right, is flying Ivar’s Salmon Sock. [CLICK TWICE] At the time this photo was recorded Ivar had a year to live and would soon sell the tower, carrying for show a one million dollar check in his pocket – first payment. Sharing the $$$million – to hold for the moment – was almost as thrilling as opening his monthly social security check.

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4,-Admiral-Way-Totem-Part-WEB

 

The Admiral Way totem on Oct. 13, 1960, and freshly painted, it seems. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
The Admiral Way totem on Oct. 13, 1960, and freshly painted, it seems. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
The Admiral Way Totem ca. 1960.  Since 1939 the popular West Seattle prospect of Elliott Bay at Belvedere Viewpoint has been marked by its own Totem Pole—or two of them. The current and slightly broader pole replaced the rotting original in 1966. Now it, too, is scheduled for replacement.
The Admiral Way Totem ca. 1960. Since 1939 this popular West Seattle prospect of Elliott Bay has been marked by its own Totem Pole—or two of them. The current and slightly broader pole replaced the rotting original in 1966. Now it, too, is scheduled for replacement.

4. Totem-Admiral-Way-c03WEB

Bella Coola Pole at Belvedere Viewpoint

Like the “Seattle Totem” at Pioneer Square, the West Seattle totem that overlooks Elliott Bay from the top of Admiral Way is a copy of the pole that was first placed there. (Since this writing, the pole has been replaced again, although we have as yet no “now” photo for the pole now standing.) The two poles, however, were both carved and”shipped” with different motives.

The "Stolen Totem" at its 1899 Pioneer Place dedication.  A. Wilse took the photo, and the Seattle Good Willl Committee while on its cruise to and back from Alaska during the gold rush, took the totem pole off of Tongass Island.
The “Stolen Totem” at its 1899 Pioneer Place dedication. A.Wilse took the photo, and the Seattle Good Will Committee while on its cruise to Alaska during the gold rush, took the totem pole off of Tongass Island on its return to Seattle.

 

The older and taller pole (by twice) at Pioneer Square was cut in two and “lifted” in 1899 from Tongass Island by a “goodwill committee” of local dignitaries while they were on a kind of giddy celebratory cruise of southeast Alaska during the Gold Rush. Two years later, in 1901, on the coast of British Columbia the smaller 25-foot high pole, shown here in the ca. 1958 view at Belvedere Viewpoint, was built by Bella Coola Indians to be sold, not stolen. Consequently, according to James M. Rupp in his book “Art in Seattle’s Public Places,” the West Seattle pole with its stacked figures—from the top a beaver, frog, whale and bear – does not tell an ancestral story.

Standley with other Totems.  He had many.
“Daddy” Standley with other Totems. He had many.
Standley's Ye Olde Curiosity Shop when it was lodged at Colman Dock.
Standley’s Ye Olde Curiosity Shop when it was lodged at Colman Dock.
The curiosities keep on coming - now on Ivar's Pier 54.
The curiosities keep on coming – now on Ivar’s Pier 54.

 

To continue the comparison between the two poles, in 1939 when “Daddy” Standley, West Seattle resident and owner of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, gave the original Bella Coola pole to the city, the replacement pole at Pioneer Square was being prepared for installation. The original was both rotting and torched by an arsonist in 1938. By the mid-1960s the Bella Coola pole at Belvedere View Point was only rotting, but it was replaced by a near duplicate in 1966 carved for free by Michael Morgan and Robert Fleishman, two Boeing engineers.

Celebrated photographer Mary Randlett's portrait of historian Murray Morgan (author of Skid Road and other classics) posing with two other Pioneer Place (or Square) totems.
Celebrated photographer Mary Randlett’s portrait of historian Murray Morgan (author of Skid Road and other classics) standing with two other Pioneer Place (or Square) totems.

 

Now this cedar pole is being eaten at its center by carpenter ants. The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department holds funds for its replacement, although it has yet to be determined who will carve it or whether the new pole will be a copy of its two predecessors or of a different design. The pole it will replace – the one showing here in the “now” view – will most likely get a second and more protected life at West Seattle’s Log House Museum.

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Joseph “Daddy” Standley built this charming Japanese teahouse for his daughter Ruby in the back yard of Totem Place, the family’s West Seattle home.  The posing children are not identified – a “history’s mystery.”
Joseph “Daddy” Standley built this charming Japanese teahouse for his daughter Ruby in the back yard of Totem Place, the family’s West Seattle home. The posing children are not identified – a “history’s mystery.”
The “now” backyard prospect at Totem Place required a slight move up the bank from the historical photographer Otto T Frasch’s position.
The “now” backyard prospect at Totem Place required a slight move up the bank from the historical photographer Otto T Frasch’s position.  An old friend, on the right, led me there.

 

THE RUBYDEAUX

(Fall of 2006)

 

           One of the great “originals” in the history of this city was Joseph “Daddy” Standley, the founder in 1899 of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the Seattle Waterfront.   Beginning in 1906 the curio collector became a West Seattle commuter, taking the ferry from the foot of Marion Street to its West Seattle dock on Harbor Avenue and from there the trolley directly up Ferry Avenue to the then new family home overlooking Elliott Bay at 1750 Palm Avenue.  It was a quick commute.

           “Daddy” Standley called the new home Totem Place and soon appointed the grounds with a great variety of artifacts, including 12 totems, mixed in an exotic landscape of fruit trees and berries of many sorts.  Two other charmed parts of this Northwest Eden were a miniature log cabin chinked with moss and this teahouse made exactingly authentic with bamboo imported from Japan.

           The teahouse was built for Ruby, the collector’s teenage daughter, and it was playfully named for her “The Rubydeaux.”   (The rustic identifying sign can be seen hanging from the roof, left of center.)   In the mid-1930’s the Rubydeaux was “inherited” by Standley’s namesake grandson, Ruby’s boy Joseph.  Today Joe James recalls how the teahouse was “converted into a kind of den for me with a cowboy and Indians theme.  They redid it in white pine and I had the cutest little iron stove in there.”

           Joe’s play, however, was soon cut short when his mother contracted tuberculosis.  Rather than being committed into the local sanitarium at Firlands the family returned Ruby to her Rubydeaux.  She was kept in isolation, as was then the practice, and her meals were left at the door.   After only three years of this regime Ruby was cured.  Joe recalls, “Following that she kept her attachment to the little house and pretty much stayed out there.  She enjoyed the fresh air.”

           After “Daddy” Standley’s death in 1940 Totem Place was sold, and the teahouse survived for a few years more.  Recently, Totem Place was again charmed when Erik and Katie Wallen purchased the old Standley home.  Erik’s mother, Anne Barnes, was for twenty-five years a favorite employee at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, and the shop’s recent publication “A Curious Alphabet, Amazing Oddities from A to Z!” is dedicated to her.

One more of "Daddy Standley."  This photographed by Arthur Lingenbrinck, who visited the purveyor with his friend, on the right.  Art did not tell me her name.
One more of “Daddy Standley.” This photographed by Arthur Lingenbrinck, who visited the purveyor with his friend, on the right. Art did not tell me her name.

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The below appeared recently in Pacific. Sometime after the Alki Playfield Softball for 2012.

6. Schmitz-PARK-Arch-mr-THEN-WEB

THEN CAPTION:  The Schmitz Park arch straddled 59th Avenue Southwest facing Alki Beach from 1913 to 1953. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)  NOW CAPTION: Players in the annual “Old Ball Game” at Alki Field break from the diamond to pose for Jean Sherrard at the corner now nearly 60 years without its rustic arch.  (By Jean Sherrard)

6. Schmitz-Park-ARCH-NOW-WEB

 

SCHMITZ PARK ARCH

 

           In a Seattle Times Classified Ad for August 1913, C.W. Latham, a dealer of West Seattle real estate, asks “Don’t you think it is a good time to come over and select that home site by the seaside?”  Latham’s list of reasons for moving to Alki was its new “$200,000 bathing beach, $60,000 lighthouse, and $75,000 new school.”  And it was easy to reach the beach. Direct 5-cent trolley service from Seattle began in 1908.  The dealer gave no address for his office.  His instruction that it was “near the Schmitz Park Arch” was good enough.

 

           The arch may have been better named the Schmitz Boulevard Arch for it was not in the park but rather faced the beach.  In 1908, one year after West Seattle was incorporated into Seattle, the 2,700 foot long boulevard was graded to the park proper, which was then first described as a 40 acre “cathedral” of old growth forest.  In 1908 the German immigrant-philanthropists Emma and Henry Schmitz donated both the park and the boulevard to the city.

 

           A stripped log spans the arch’s columns made rustic with a facing of river rocks.  The construction is here still a work in progress, for the two additional posts to the sides have not yet been topped with their keg-sized stone flowerpots.  The new Alki School, seen here far left across Alki Field, is partially hidden behind one of these incomplete shorter columns.  The school’s primary classes opened in 1913, also the likely year for this pubic works photograph, which we first discovered in “West Side Story,” the 1987 history of West Seattle edited by author Clay Eals.

 

         Clay, by now an old friend, along with David Eskenazi, Seattle’s baseball historian, lured Jean Sherrard and I to their annual summer softball game at Alki Field.  Jean and I, in turn, lured their players off the baseball field and onto 59th Avenue West.  Jean explains.

 

         “Herding the two dozen or so cool cats that comprised Clay and David’s annual baseball game/gathering was an amiable chore. We ambled from the diamond to 59th and SW Lander during the seventh-inning stretch, following rousing choruses of “Take me out to the ballgame,” the National Anthem and unanimous sighs of regret at Ichiro’s loss. On this glorious July day, the amenable players, on command and between passing cars, spread themselves across the avenue with one caveat from the photographer: ‘If you can’t see me, I can’t see you’.”  Both David and Clay can be seen.

Later
Later

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LAKE BALLINGER ADDENDUM – Bill White on the Island

We have learned from our friend Bill White – now living in Ilo, Pero (see the snapshot below) – that for a year of his early adolescence he lived on Lake Ballinger and remembers it fondly.   And he has written about it too, in CINEMA PENITENTIARY, his manuscript about growing up with movies.  Bill, you may remember, before moving to South American, wrote movie reviews for the Post-Intelligencer and other publications.   In place of Lake Ballinger, here Bill poses for Kelly Edery White, with his current waterway, the Pacific Ocean from the harbor of his home now in Ilo, Peru.

This recent snap of Bill White was photographed by Kelly Edery White.  She is related.
This recent snap of Bill White was photographed by Kelly Edery White. She is related.

Paul,
Although I was living on the lake the whole year, it seems than i mentioned it only in the first paragraph. so maybe it is not appropriate for the blog.  but here it is anyway,  there is a bit more about the region as a whole, which might be of interest to your readers.
Bill

 

EXCERPT from CINEMA PENITENTIARY

by Bill White

After my mom got married, her new husband took us so far North we weren’t even in King County anymore. The house was on Lake Ballinger and to get there we had to walk up a private street. We had a dock and a rowboat, and every day after school I’d row out to an island in the lake where I’d stay until dinnertime.

On the other side of the lake was the Shriner’s club.  If I came too close to the shore,  half  a dozen  fez-topped apes would run at me with waving arms and holy-war expressions. I had seen these characters before, passing themselves off as Seattleites as they waved demurely from their float during the Seafair Parades. I used to think they were harmless weirdos, like the clowns and the pirates, just some old men who liked to dress up and ride in parades.  It wasn’t until I had to share my lake with them that  I discovered them to be nothing more than hog-greased  tyrants.

My school was brand new, and so far away that I had to ride a bus.  There was no movie theater within walking distance, so I made do with television shows, which were the  main subject of conversation in the  lavatory. “So is the one-armed man real, or do you think Kimball really did kill his wife?” some guy  asked me while I was trying to take a leak between classes.  “What do you think?” I sneered, zipping up my pants and leaving without washing my hands or waiting for an answer.

On dead weekend nights, my stepfather took the family  to the Sno-King Drive In, which was North  almost all the way to Everett, a town famous for the stink that came from its paper mills. We saw some terrible junk up there, the worst of which was a Bob Hope double feature of “Call Me Bwana” and “A Global Affair.”  Now that I think about it, I don’t even know if my mom actually married the guy or not. I don’t remember any wedding or anything.  Just us being packed up and moved out of the Queen Anne mansion and into this house on the lake.  The girls were told to start calling the guy “papa,” but I wasn’t told anything, so I kept on calling him by his first name.  He always liked to leave the drive-in before the second feature had ended, and I learned quickly that it was no use to raise a complaint.

My real dad returned to Seattle on a temporary project with Boeing, and my older sister and I spent several weekends with him in Ballard, where he had taken an apartment to be near his mother, who was sick with cancer. My sister was already sixteen, and would spend most of the weekend with her friends from Queen Anne, while I went  to the movies with my dad.  Even after he moved on to his assignment in New Orleans, where he once got caught in a flood and spent two days in a tree fighting off snakes, I kept going out to Ballard to visit with my grandmother, who was nicknamed Mop Mop.

We even saw a few movies together. During the World’s Fair, she had taken me to the Cinerama Theater to see “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.”  Now we went, in  a party  of lesser relatives, for “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World.”  It appealed to the older people, who recognized all the old-time comics, but to me it was just a bunch of exaggerated expressions on oversized heads. Still, I loved those red, stuffed rocking chairs and a screen that wrapped itself right around my eyes.

Mop Mop  lived in a spooky apartment complex filled with Senior Citizens, so the whole place had that old people smell. There was a manager who was always outside interrogating strange people who had wandered onto the property. He  was more like a gatekeeper  than a concierge.  The most memorable thing about her apartment was the T.V. Guide that was always on the top of the set.  I had never seen one of them before except in the check-out line at the supermarket, and didn’t realize anybody actually bought them.  I thought they were just there to browse through while waiting in line to buy groceries.

Ballard is a Scandinavian neighborhood adjacent to the Western end of the ship canal, a manmade waterway  connecting  two  freshwater lakes with the saltwater  Bay.   There is a difference in the water levels of the fresh and salt water bodies, so they built the Government Locks, an enclosure where the water travelers are quarantined  while the water level is adjusted so they can move from one body of water to the next.  The Locks are  a  popular tourist attraction that also boast a salmon ladder where kids and other curious characters stand around to try to get a glimpse of some fish. As it was  close to Mop Mop’s  apartment, we often went there  for a  Sunday afternoon picnic to eat some of the pies my stepmother had baked.

School  chugged along  until a day at the end of November when  the boys and girls gym classes were combined so we could learn square dancing.  I liked the way everybody got a turn to dance with everybody, but just as my turn came up to dance with the girl I had my eye on, an announcement came over the public address system to tell us that President Kennedy had been shot.

My dad came by to get my sister and me that weekend, and we watched the funeral on Mop Mop’s T.V. Dad started crying during the ceremony and I asked him why. “You didn’t even like Kennedy.  Why are you so sad about him being dead?”  He took me by the shoulders and answered emphatically.  “When a President of the United States is assassinated, it doesn’t matter what you thought of him, it is a national tragedy.”

Although I wasn’t in drama class, I  auditioned for the school play and got the lead role because I played the cornet and the play opened with the kid blowing some notes into the phone to impress a girl on the other end.  It had been written in the 1930’s and was called “Make Room For Rodney.”  I can’t remember a thing about it except for playing the first bars from “Blues in the Night” and then hollering egotistically into the phone.

We performed the play at in the middle of December and I got razzed by a lot of the guys in the hall for being in it.  Later, on a Monday afternoon right before Christmas vacation, a girl came up to me in the cafeteria and asked why I hadn’t been to school the previous Friday. I told her I hadn’t been feeling well so had stayed in bed and read Harold Robbins’ “The Carpetbaggers,”  and she answered that she hoped I was feeling better.  After I told her that I was, she said she had been planning to ask me if I wanted to go with her family to the drive-in movies that weekend. I asked her what was playing and she told me “In Harm’s Way.” I couldn’t imagine going to see a war movie with a girl, so I just walked away without saying anything, and she went back to the table where her friends were and she never spoke to me again.

It was unusual  to be approached like that, because hardly any  of the seventh grade girls wanted anything to do with the seventh grade boys. They were all hanging around with guys in the eighth or ninth grade.  But when I got to the ninth grade, all the girls had boyfriends in high school.  It seemed I never got old enough to do anything.

A movie theater opened sometime after the first of the year.  It was a warehouse of a building called the Lynn Twin because it was split into two auditoriums. It was set alongside Aurora Avenue, which was the primary interstate thoroughfare before the freeway was built. In order to get there, I had to be driven by new new-stepfather, and often would be asked to take my little sister along with me.

I liked taking my sisters to the movies, having been doing it since the oldest among them, who was four years younger than me, had the interest to come along.  As the other girls got older, I started taking them as well.  My older sister was usually too busy with her boyfriends to take them, but  before she discovered boys, she would frequently have charge over me at some parent-sanctioned event, such as Walt Disney’s “White Wilderness.”

That was 1958, and my dad drove us there and dropped us off.  We had to wait in line for almost three hours, as the next show was sold out.  Consider that the theater held 1,500, and you will get an idea of how popular  Disney pictures were back then.

Northgate was the country’s first open air shopping mall.  It had an Indian theme, and there was a big totem pole at the Northern entrance.  One of the things that mystified me about the theater was a section that was enclosed in glass.  I later learned this was the crying room, where mothers sat with  their crybaby kids.

My dad was always late picking us  up from the movies, usually because he would stop to have a beer at the tavern on the way and he could never have just one.  There were times we waited for hours outside a theater before he finally showed up.  This new stepfather was always on time, an attribute that did not make me like him any better,

My sister and I saw a Robert Mitchum movie at the Lynn Twin called “Man in the Middle.” Neither of us  got much out of it, but Keenan Wynn had one line that became a staple around the house.  He was playing a soldier accused of murdering a British officer in India near the beginning of World War Two.  Mitchum was the officer assigned to his defense.  “You make me want to throw up,” he said in answer to something Mitchum said.  I don’t remember  why he said it,  but we sure had fun saying it to each other  in the months after seeing  the movie.

We got a lot more out of the ”The Miracle Worker,” which we had seen the year before, shortly after being schooled with the blind children at John Hay.  That movie not only gave us some empathy for    the handicapped,  but lent us many gestures to imitate in play, especially  one in which Helen Keller curled her fingers and back-handed the side of her head.  We used to do that when we wanted to irritate our mother.

It was sometime in the Spring that our English teacher told us we had to write an essay for a national contest.  Remembering that movie about Helen Keller, I decided to read some books to find out more about her because I thought she would make a good subject.  My essay won the prize, but I didn’t get anything.  The prize went to the school, not the student.

One thing I found out when researching Helen Keller was that the movie was based on a play by William Gibson, the  guy who had written “Two For the Seesaw.”  That made me realize how much stuff we learn about just because some guy gets the idea to write a play, or a book, or make a movie or something.  Without that play, there would have never been a movie, and all those people like me and my sister who saw the movie might never have known about Helen Keller.  Even if we had learned something about her in school, we never would have thought of her as a real person.  We had even gone to school with blind people, but knowing them in real life didn’t help us to have any compassion for them.  But seeing the movie did.  Even though it might have looked like we were just making fun of Helen Keller when we played finger games and tried to say water, the truth was that somewhere deep down we were discovering what it meant to empathize with someone.

Once in a while the Lynn would show some scary stuff, and I got to go alone. The poster for  “Strait-Jacket” warned that it would vividly depict ax murders.  It didn’t.  At least not the way “Deep Throat,” a decade later, would vividly depict  blow jobs  There was one good shot of George Kennedy getting his head chopped off, but the rest of the murders were shown either in shadows on the wall or isolated shots of Joan Crawford swinging an ax.

“Dead Ringers” was the co-feature, with Bette Davis playing twins.  It was more serious, and much duller, that the Crawford picture.  I had seen the two actresses together a couple years earlier in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” but knew nothing of their past careers as glamorous movie stars.  I wasn’t yet old enough to stay up all night watching old movies on television.

Seeing  the titles  “Love With the Proper Stranger” and “The Stripper” on the Lynn Twin marquee gave me an instant boner.    When I found out  that “The Stripper” came from a William Inge play called “A Loss of Roses,” the movie made more sense to me.  As “The Stripper,” it was a cheat, but “A Loss of Roses”  signified that it was supposed to be a sad movie, not a sexy one.   “Love With the Proper Stranger” was, like “Two for the Seesaw,” a movie about a guy and a girl who did a lot of talking with each other. I was too young to understand a lot of what was going on, but I loved eavesdropping on the adult conversations, and looked forward to the time when I would be talking about things with girls as they lounged around my apartments in their underwear.

At the end of the school year, I went to my first party and kissed all the girls.  I went from one to another, trying each of them out and liking them all.  Unfortunately, we moved out of our house on the lake right after school ended, so I never saw any of those girls again, and had to start from scratch.

Seattle Now & Then: Lake Ballinger

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Julia and Richard Ballinger owned a “gas-powered” rowboat to reach their summer home on their namesake Lake Ballinger.  This 1911 view looks east from near the tracks of the Seattle-Everett Interurban.  (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
THEN: Julia and Richard Ballinger owned a “gas-powered” rowboat to reach their summer home on their namesake Lake Ballinger. This 1911 view looks east from near the tracks of the Seattle-Everett Interurban. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
NOW: Jean recorded his repeat from McAleer Lane, named for the family who first took up a post-civil war timber claim around the lake that was then also named for them.
NOW: Jean recorded his repeat from McAleer Lane, named for the family who first took up a post-civil war timber claim around the lake that was then also named for them.
The historical photographs original use in The Times for June 14, 1911.  Curiously the surrounding text is preoccupied with other "Charmed Land" subject.  Perhaps the Lake Ballinger illustration was used to compliment the paid for advertisement, bottom-right.  It is a promotion for the Everett Interurban.  Both it and Aurora appears in the 1936 aerial featured below the main text.
The historical photographs original use in The Times for June 14, 1911. Curiously the surrounding text is preoccupied with other “Charmed Land” subjects. Perhaps the Lake Ballinger illustration was used to compliment the paid-for advertisement, bottom-right. It is a promotion for the Everett Interurban. Both it and Aurora appear in the 1936 aerial featured below the main text.  (To read this, it is best to double-click it.)

Set on a three acre island off the west shore of the largest (160 acres) of five lakes that enchanted the Seattle to Everett Interurban Line, the photograph of this modest “summer home” for Julia and Richard Achilles Ballinger appeared first in the Seattle Times of June 14, 1911.

The photo’s caption does not peddle real estate, but simply describes the lake as “an ideal picnic and camping spot.” Printed on the same page is an advertisement for the Interurban.  Promising local trains every hour, it enabled its “Lake Route” riders to get off the train and make their way “along a sun-flecked trail through the silent arches of the Forest Primeval.”

[Double-click the Clippings below.]

The Seattle Times, June 27, 1910
The Seattle Times, June 27, 1910
The Seattle Times returns to the judge's island home on April 18, 1915 and in greater detail.
The Seattle Times returns to the judge’s island home on April 18, 1915 and in greater detail.

The forest showing here on the lake’s far eastern shore was probably reserved by Ballenger who owned the lake and all around it. Or the fire that destroyed for good the resident Chippewa Lumber Company may have saved it.  As late as 1924 this east side forest of cedars, firs and alders was distinguished with the claim of its then new owner, the Seattle’s Shriners, that “there is probably no prettier grove anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.” From this primeval start the Shriners began planning their golf course, although it took decades to shape the grove into eighteen holes.

[Click, Click to Enlarge] From the Seattle Times of Aug. 10, 1924
[Click, Click to Enlarge]
From the Seattle Times of Aug. 10, 1924
From The Times on November 30, 1924.  [& have you clicked and clicked again?]
From The Times on November 30, 1924. [& have you clicked and clicked again?]
It was along this the Lake’s straight west shore that the former Judge, and Mayor of Seattle (1904-06) started selling lots in the spring of 1914.

Here is the Judge / Mayor / Secretary of the Interior / & Land & Lake Speculator himself.  I believe I copied this from the Rainier Club's Archive of its early members.  Many of them were photographed by Edward Curtis - when he was free of the Indians.  At least part of the time, Curtis lived at the club - perhaps in trade out.  I did this club copy work for Walt Crowley, a club member, while he was preparing his history of the club.  Near the bottom of this week's feature we will insert a clipping from the first Helix published after the Labor Day weekend celebration named the Sky River Rock Fire Festival.  Walt was surely there as was I.  The Weltschmerz feature Walt wrote on returning from the festival says nothing about it, but plenty about Walt's mood and the tone of his temper on the day he wrote his splendid confession of Weltschmerz or "world pain."
Here is the Judge / Mayor / Secretary of the Interior / and Land & Lake Speculator himself. I believe I copied this from the Rainier Club’s Archive of its early members. Many of them were photographed by Edward Curtis – in those hours when he was free of the Indians.  Curtis sometimes lodged at the club – perhaps in trade out. I did this club copy work for Walt Crowley, a club member, while he was preparing his history of the club. Near the bottom of this week’s feature we will insert a clipping from the first Helix published after the Labor Day weekend celebration named the Sky River Rock Fire Festival.  The paper was printed in the first week of Sept. 1968. Walt was surely there as was I. The Weltschmerz feature Walt wrote on returning from the festival says nothing about those three days, but plenty about Walt’s mood and the tone of his temper on the day he wrote his splendid confession of Weltschmerz or “world pain.”
Back from Washington D.C. and on his lake in time to bivouac with the squads of Company D.
Seattle Times, April 24, 1914.  Back from Washington D.C. and on his lake in time to bivouac with the squads of Company D.
Bad Publicity - Seattle Times, March 25, 1919
Bad Publicity – Seattle Times, March 25, 1919

CLICK TWICE – to read the fine pulp print.

Front page notice of past mayor Ballinger gets small mention below current Mayor Browns fight with "reckless autoists."   (Seattle Times, June 7, 1922)
Front page notice of past mayor Ballinger’s death gets small mention below current Mayor Brown’s fight with “reckless autoists.” (Seattle Times, June 7, 1922)

It was a delayed beginning, for with his appointment to President Taft’s cabinet in 1909, Richard Ballinger was preoccupied as the country’s Secretary of the Interior.  Still his publically expressed hopes for developing a “residence park of high character” beside his lake, gave “opportunities by association” for real estate not on the lake but close enough, like the cunningly named Lake Ballinger Garden Tracks that the palmy agents Crawford and Conover began selling in 1910.

Introducing Conover, long-time real estate dealer - beginning in the late 1880s - promoter of the "Evergreen State", his nickname for it, and long-time columnist on subjects of local history for The Seattle Times.  Conover is sitting with an "x" marking his hat.
Introducing Conover, long-time real estate dealer – beginning in the late 1880s – promoter of the “Evergreen State”, his nickname for Washington, and long-time columnist on subjects of local history for The Seattle Times. Conover is sitting with an “x” marking his hat.  Next, thee example of Conover’s Lake Ballinger opportunism. (Double-Click)
Seattle Times, April 24, 1910
Seattle Times, April 24, 1910
Seattle Times, May 3, 1910
Seattle Times, May 3, 1910
Seattle Times, May 18, 1910
Seattle Times, May 18, 1910
Another lake, Soap Lake - hot note from the summer of 1945
A different lake, Soap Lake – A hot note from the summer of 1945

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Yup Jean.  For orientation lets begin with another of Ron’s look-from-above: the aerial from 1936.  Snug with that we’ll repeat our past feature about the Seattle Speed Bowl and the thrilling rides of Mel Anthony.  Ron notes that you can see the Speed Bowl “vividly” in the 1936 aerial – in the upper-left quadrant.  Following that I’ll put up a variety of the “and now for something completely different” sort of subjects, pulled from past shoots – most of it pickings from my walks around town – and especially Wallingford from 2006 to 2009.  Finally, we will remember Walt Crowley of Historylink and long ago of Helix too, by including one of his Weltschmerz features – the one that appeared in the Helix for early Sept. 1968.  We intend to put up the entire issue next week in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the 1968 Sky River Rock Fire Festival – the first one.  I also found in my browsing earlier today a 2006 snapshot I took of Walt with a beard – rare indeed.  And I’ll include the teen Walt at the entrance to the courthouse following some demonstration ca. 1965 or 66.

1936 aerial of Lake Ballinger with the Seattle Speed Bowl in the upper-left corner.  (Courtesy Ron Edge)
1936 aerial of Lake Ballinger with the Seattle Speed Bowl, upper-left, and again below on the ground. (Both subjects used courtesy of Ron Edge)

Midget racer Mel Anthony, inducted into the Golden Wheels Hall of Fame in 2002, stands on the pavement of Edmonds' 82nd Ave. West, a few yards south of 230th Street Southwest, and so repeating the historical view, above, of the Speed Bowl.
Midget racer Mel Anthony, inducted into the Golden Wheels Hall of Fame in 2002, stands on the pavement of Edmonds’ 82nd Ave. West, a few yards south of 230th Street Southwest, and so repeats the historical view of the Speed Bowl inserted above.

METHANOL MEL

[First appeared in Pacific not so long ago, in the summer of 2010.]

           After the high bridge over Fremont was dedicated in 1932, Aurora Avenue became the centerline for a wide and long swath of car culture with auto dealers, parts stores, drive-ins for burgers, drive-ins for movies, and more than one race track.  By the figuring of both collector Ron Edge, who lent us this subject, and the by now legendary racer Mel Anthony, this is the first day of racing at the Seattle Speed Bowl.  It opened in 1936 and that’s the date penned on the print.
Anthony, posing in the “now” at the uncannily fit age of 87 [in 2010], first raced here as an adolescent on his big tire bicycle.  He snuck onto the track – the gate was open – and boldly pumped passed a slow-moving grader only to be swallowed and upset in one of the tracks steep turns by sticky bunker oil applied moments earlier.  The operators of both the grader & the oiler enjoyed his fall and laughed.
Through the years Anthony’s wit has made him many friends, and gained him a unique “Sportsman Trophy” in 1950, while his dare-do both won races and put him in hospitals.  Mel always healed and, for our considerable delight, proved to be a very good narrator.  His book “Smoke Sand and Rubber” is packed with stories about racing and pictures too.  The book can be sampled and/or ordered through http://www.hotrodhotline.com/feature/bookreviews/07smoke/.
Before this track closed with the Second World War, Anthony competed on its oval in a 1939 Seattle Star Jalopy Race.  He explains “I was 16 and in the lead and then everything fell off.”
After returning from the war in 1946, Anthony raced the regional circuit until 1955.  I remember reading about his midget class exploits while I, an adolescent, was delivering Spokane’s morning paper, the Spokesman Review in the early 50s.  Anthony notes “In Spokane they gave us a lot of INK.”  Recently “Methanol Mel” returned to the track, and so far has remarkably won every midget race he has entered.  Jean Sherrard, who posed Mel in the “now,” describes him as a “wonder of nature and great testimony for genes, very good ones.”  Mel explains,  “Ten or fifteen laps for me now and my tongue is hanging out.  No fool like an old fool.  I have to be very careful.”

======

A FEW THINGS DIFFERENT

Sunflower at Tilth Gardens, Good Shepherd Center, Wallingford Neighborhood, ca. 2009
Sunflower at Tilth Gardens, Good Shepherd Center, Wallingford Neighborhood, ca. 2009

a - dandilions-white-strip-43-Sunnyside-WEB

CAUTION - southwest corner of N. 43rd Street and Eastern Ave. North
CAUTION – southwest corner of N. 43rd Street and Eastern Ave. North
Southeast corner N. 43rd Street and Eastern Ave. N., Nov. 5, 2009
Southeast corner N. 43rd Street and Eastern Ave. N., Nov. 5, 2009
PARKING DIRECTIONS - U.W. Underground
PARKING DIRECTIONS – U.W. Underground
PREPARATIONS for PATCH - N. 43rd Street, mid-block between Sunnyside and Corliss Avenues North
PREPARATIONS for PATCH – N. 43rd Street, mid-block between Sunnyside and Corliss Avenues North
Worn cover to King County Book of Ordinances  255 to 928. (Courtesy King County Archive)
Worn cover to King County Book of Ordinances 255 to 928. (Courtesy King County Archive)

AVAILABLE LIGHT - intersection of N. 43rd Street and First Ave. Northeast

AVAILABLE LIGHT - Intersection of N. 43rd Street & First Ave. Northeast.
AVAILABLE LIGHT – Intersection of N. 43rd Street & First Ave. Northeast.
SEA OF JAPAN - posing in the gutter on the north side of N. 42nd Street near its northwest corner with Sunnyside Ave. on a rainy fall day.
SEA OF JAPAN – posing in the gutter on the north side of N. 42nd Street near its northwest corner with Sunnyside Ave. on a rainy fall day.
MANDALA for GREEN MEDITATION - from a Wallingord Parking Strip
MANDALA for GREEN MEDITATION – from a Wallingord Parking Strip
MERIDIAN PARK PLUM (Rest in Peace]
MERIDIAN PARK PLUM
(Rest in Peace]
SMITH TOWER from Harborview Parking, ca. 1990.
SMITH TOWER from Harborview Parking, ca. 1990.
Half-broken Olympia Block from the alley, recorded by Frank Shaw, Feb. 7,1974.
Half-broken Olympia Block from the alley, recorded by Frank Shaw, Feb. 7,1974.
Tareyton Tear, on Eastlake ca. 1977
Tareyton Tear, on Eastlake ca. 1977
Golden Arches on Rainier ca. 1985 with cheerful attendant and watchful figure in the window.  (I ordered a cherry pie)
Golden Arches on Rainier ca. 1985 with cheerful attendant and watchful figure in the window. (I ordered a cherry pie)
UNIVERSAL WORK aka Tiger's Tail hanging from the Space Needle on Arts Day ca. 1971.  I collaborated with John Hillding and his Land Truth Circus who were frequent participants at the Bumbershoot Festival in the early year when the arts were more "spread out."  The worm as over 200 feet long and about 7 feet in diameter with inflated.  We got it to the top, but barely.  The plastic hit the concrete "blades" supporting the restaurant and punctured the tail which then flapped to the Seattle Center campus floor.  We made lots of film.  Someday all will be revealed.
UNIVERSAL WORK aka Tiger’s Tail hanging from the Space Needle on Arts Day ca. 1971. I collaborated with John Hillding and his Land Truth Circus who were frequent participants at the Bumbershoot Festival in those golden early years when the arts were more “spread out.” The worm was over 200 feet long and about 7 feet in diameter with inflated. John got it to the top of the needel, but barely. The plastic hit the concrete “blades” supporting the restaurant and punctured the worm which then flapped its way to the Seattle Center campus floor. We shot lots of film and John made many new worms, which we also often filmed as animated forms.   Someday all will be revealed.
Jean Sherrard (our own) reading at one of his Christan shows.
Jean Sherrard (our own) reading at one of his Christmas shows.
Left and right, Emmett Watson and Murray Morgan at the then new Acres of Clams preview in 1987.
Left and right, Emmett Watson and Murray Morgan at the then new Acres of Clams preview in 1987.
Priscilla Long - then Historylink editor, educator and author after meeting with historylink historian and King County archivist Greg Lange at Tullies - now defunct - at the Wallingford corner of 45th Street and Meridian Avenue on August 9, 2008.
Priscilla Long – then Historylink editor, educator and author after a meeting with historylink historian and King County archivist Greg Lange at Tullies – now defunct – at the Wallingford corner of 45th Street and Meridian Avenue on August 9, 2008.

=====

MONSTERS AT THE ID

WALT CROWLEY’S WELTSCHMERZ from HELIX, First Week of September 1968

Bill White and I are resuming – with Ron Edge’s considerable help at the scanner – our reading and commentaries on every issue of Helix.  With Volume Two No. Seven we have made it to the first issue following the first Sky River Rock Festival on Labor Day weekend, 1968.  We will put that issue “up” early this week – perhaps tomorrow, Monday.  Bill and I were both admiring Walt’s feature – we often do – and I decided to excerpt it in advance when I stumbled upon this photograph of Walt in his and Marie’s kitchen during their traditional Christmas season party for friends – lots of them – in 2006.  It is rare to see Walt with a beard, but as Marie explains he grew one while he was undergoing chemotherapy for his throat cancer.

Walt Crowley with beard,  2006
Walt Crowley with beard in 2006.  Behind him is Dan “Tugboat” Kerege.

CLICK TWICE

Walt weltschmerz

A young Walt at the bottom-right leaving a Viet-Nam protest at the Federal Court House, ca. 1966.
A young Walt at the bottom-right attending a Viet-Nam protest at the Federal Court House, ca. 1966.  The negative for this was found in a collection of police surveillance shots.

Seattle Now & Then: Sweet Fun at Bitter Lake

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Far-left, Playland’s Acroplane, a carni’ flight-simulator, stands admired by future pilots in 1932. Behind them sprawls the amusement park’s fated Fun House. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
THEN: Far-left, Playland’s Acroplane, a carny flight-simulator, stands admired by future pilots in 1932. Behind them sprawls the amusement park’s fated Fun House. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
NOW: For his “repeat’ Jean Sherrard has pulled back and wide with his subjects – the Playland experts noted above holding Playland souvenirs - in order to include part of Bitter Lake.
NOW: For his “repeat’ Jean Sherrard has pulled back and wide with his subjects – the Playland experts noted above holding Playland souvenirs – in order to include part of Bitter Lake.

Through this newspaper’s many years of sponsoring and promoting events, “The Trojans Big Day” for July 5, 1932 was exceedingly spectacular.  It drew more than 15,000 “youngsters” – mostly – to the then but two year old Playland amusement park at the south end of Bitter Lake & west of Aurora Avenue.   The kids got in free and were also given 13 rides, although the next day’s paper confessed that the event was so crowded that many could not use all their freebie tickets.

OES-07-02-13--Playland-WEB

OES-Playland-005-repaired-WEB

Among the attractions forming long lines were the Giant Whirl, the “Dodge ‘Em”, the “Water Scooter” a miniature railway, the mysterious “Ye Olde Mill,” and the Dipper, a sturdy roller coaster famous throughout the Northwest for its thrills.  (I first yearned to ride it as a young teen in the early 50s on a visit to Seattle from Spokane.)

Another and quieter day for the Giant Whirl.
Another and quieter day for the Giant Whirl.
All a-whirl
All a-whirl

full-page-on-playland-ST-May-22,-1930-WEB3

[To read the full-age clip above DOUBLE-CLICK it.]

I.E. Dill for Playland who rodes the rides - free to him - perhaps to excess.
Texan I.E. Dill, Director of Publicity and Booking for Playland, who rode the rides – free for him – perhaps to excess.
The Miniature Train. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
The Miniature Train. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

Playland-4-boys-in-plane-over-train-WEB

The Bitter Lake and Playland station on the Seattle to Everett Interurban.
The Bitter Lake and Playland station on the Seattle to Everett Interurban, itself a ride

Pictured here (far above on top) is Playland’s huge Fun House with its comedic architecture.  This is one of several press photos included in a next-day “Pictorial Story” the Times ran covering its picnic.  The both silly and sensational attractions to ride inside, including revolving barrels, spinning disks and “Shoot the Chutes,” were more free passages for limber young Trojans. On other Depression-era days it cost 15 cents to enter the Fun House, but not for long.  Near midnight, August 29, 1933, it burned to the ground.

Scene from the Playland fire of August 1933.
Scenes (above and below) from the Playland fire of August 29, 1933.

Playland-slides021-Fire-WEB

Playland, however, kept having fun thru the summer of 1960.  Its charms and thrills are, no doubt, still savored by many Pacific readers, including the trio in Jean’s “repeat” posing with examples of well-preserved chalk ware, they called it.  These were prizes won at Playland concessions. Kay and Hal Schlegel with, far-left, Vicki Stiles, director of the Shoreline Historical Museum, are Playland experts.

Playland-ad-NoCent.Outlook-WEB

ST-5-4-1960-Playland-Open-for-the-'60-SeasonWEB

ST 9-2-60 Last Day - sept 5th 1960 playland

The coverage of the amusement park in the Shoreline Museum is proof of Kay, Hal and Vicki’s expertise.  A visit to the museum is also recommended for its repeated showing of Greg Brotherton’s hour-long documentary “Finding Playland.”  The museum, which may be first sampled on its webpage www.shorelinehistoricalmuseum.org is located at 18501 Linden Ave. N.. That’s somewhat near Bitter Lake. On director Stiles authority, one folksy explanation for how Bitter Lake got its unsweetened name was that it lost a long and sour argument with its nearby neighbor Haller Lake.

A May 16, 1961 clip describing the state - abandoned - and foretelling the fate - cleared away - of Playland.
A May 16, 1961 Seattle Times clip describing the state – abandoned – and foretelling the fate – cleared away – of Playland.

WEB EXTRAS

I’ll add a few close-up shots of the “chalk ware” prizes you mention above. These examples were in pristine condition and, according to Hal Schlegel, quite rare. What’s more, to my mind, each had an uncanny resemblance to its bearer.

Hal Schlegel with noble canine chalkware.
Hal Schlegel with noble canine chalkware.
bitter-2
Kay Shlegel with her chalkware pirate girl
bitter-3a
Vicki Stiles cradles a Playland usherette

Anything to add, Paul?  We inserted most of our extras into the body of the text, but may still conclude with a few more, including at the bottom another aerial study, these times over Bitter Lake in 1929, before Playland, in 1936, well after the Playland fire of 1933, and for comparison another thankful borrow from Google’s sky.

Playland-slides019-fm-top-of-chute-WEB

Playland-circle-ride-near-front-gateWEB

Parts of the several hundred "panels" that make up the city's vertical aerial survey from 1921.  As I write Ron Edge is working on merging the parts - hundreds of them - into one large aerial, which we will link to when he has it at last up on his web page of aerials and other regional attractions.  This, can be compared, of course, with what follows: side-by-side aerials of Bitter Lake in 1936 (after the fire) and recently used courtesy of the Google sky.
Parts of the several hundred “panels” that make up the city’s vertical aerial survey from 1929, and so before Playland was built up at the lake’s southeast corner. As I write Ron Edge, while waiting for the new paint to dry on this Lake City home is working on merging the parts – hundreds of them – into one large aerial, to which this blog will link once Ron has put it all up on his website of aerials and other regional attractions. This, can be compared, of course, with what follows: side-by-side aerials of Bitter Lake in 1936 (after the fire) and also recently, which we use courtesy of the Google sky.  WHAT’S MORE: Vicki Stiles, director of the Shoreline Museum, has identified that oddity at the bottom right (southeast) corner of the 1929 aerial as a thrill that preceded Playland, the WHOOPSY RIDE.  (We will check the spelling later.)  For this one paid to drive ones auto onto the long loop of a roller-coaster track for a thrilling ride that resembled some of the early byways that passed thru a section of low ridges for which little grading had been done beyond grooming the road’s surface by dragging a log over it.  I remember such ups-and-downs very well, always anticipated them and drove them as fast as was approximately safe.  It was cheap thrills compliments of the highway department. [Click TWICE to enlarge]
Bitter Lake recently from space, on the left, and on the right from high above Playland in 1936.  [We suggest that to study it you click it  - twice.]
Bitter Lake recently from space, on the left, and on the right from high above Playland in 1936. [We suggest that to study it you click it – twice.]
THEN:

Ron Edge has linked the above photo of Melby’s Echo Lake Tavern to our feature about it last Spring.  Included as “extras” for it are a number of other images and stories that relate to the neighborhood.  Once more thanks to Ron.

As coda, Playland couple in their kitchen.  Years ago someone share this with me, but without interpretation.  It is at least possible the they were involved in also running the place in its later years.  But wait!  Are their clothes and kitchen appointments post 1960?  If so these are fond memories.
As encore, a Playland couple in their kitchen. Years ago someone shared this with me, but without interpretation. It is at least possible the they were involved in also running Playland in its last years. But wait! Are their clothes and kitchen appointments post 1960? If so these are fond memories.

Seattle Now & Then: Hizzoner's Long Home Run

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Craftsman bungalow at 1910 47th Ave. S.W., shown in the 1920s with an unknown adult on the porch and two tykes below, is now 100 years old. The house beyond it at the southeast corner with Holgate Street was for many years clubhouse to the West Seattle Community Club, and so a favorite venue for discussing neighborhood politics and playing bridge. (COURTESY OF SOUTHWEST SEATTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY)
THEN: The Craftsman bungalow at 1910 47th Ave. S.W., shown in the 1920s with an unknown adult on the porch and two tykes below, is now 100 years old. The house beyond it at the southeast corner with Holgate Street was for many years clubhouse to the West Seattle Community Club, and so a favorite venue for discussing neighborhood politics and playing bridge. (COURTESY OF SOUTHWEST SEATTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY)
NOW: With Sharon Nickels’ hand on Clay Eals’ shoulder and her husband Greg’s on hers, Clay, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, kneels on the sidewalk, from which Jean Sherrard dips his camera to reveal at least some of the Nickels’ front porch near the scene’s verdant center.
NOW: With Sharon Nickels’ hand on Clay Eals’ shoulder and her husband Greg’s on hers, Clay, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, kneels on the sidewalk, from which Jean Sherrard dips his camera to reveal at least some of the Nickels’ front porch near the scene’s verdant center.

As many alert readers of this periodical will know, Craftsman-style homes are wonderfully commonplace in Seattle. During the early 20th century in the many working and middle-class neighborhoods burgeoning in this boomtown, they sprouted by the hundreds. (I live in one built in Wallingford 101 years ago, and there are five more on the block.) While many Seattle Craftsmen have been surrendered to one miracle siding or another and/or fit with vinyl windows, many still hold to their intended angles, stained glass and shingles. A few, like this one at 1910 47th Ave. S.W., have been blessed with tender care.

This West Seattle Craftsman is also quite unique for the service and lessons that it is about to give. On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 18, this home two lots south of Holgate Street will celebrate its centennial with a fundraiser for one of our community’s happiest nonprofits: the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. The hosts are our penultimate (former) mayor, Greg Nickels, and his wife, Sharon. The couple has lived in this Craftsman since 1986 and added significantly to its zestful story with what Greg attests were hundreds of campaign events, drawing political luminaries such as Al Gore and countless volunteers to gatherings that included all-night mailing parties and more than 20 meetings of their “First Barbecue of the Season,” a fundraising feast each February.

The artful builder of the historical society’s benefit is Clay Eals, its executive director. The event’s name is most promising: “If These Walls Could Talk: The Centennial of Hizzoner’s Home.” With the help of Carolyn Smith, Bethany Green and Brad Chrisman, other members of the event committee, the story of this Craftsman will be interpreted with posted illustrated panels and tours led by Greg and Sharon.

Like many Craftsmen, this one is considerably larger than it appears from the street. The benefit – and there is, of course, a price for admission – is also bigger. For details, call the historical society’s Log House Museum at (206) 938-5293 or consult its website at loghousemuseum.info.

WEB EXTRAS

As you know, Paul, our friend Clay Eals has kindly provided us with some snapshots of the Nickels house, revealing more of its history.

The home stands nearly barren of shrubbery in this late 1930s photo taken for the King County Assessor's office. Photo from the state's Puget Sound Regional Archives at Bellevue College
The home stands nearly barren of shrubbery in this late 1930s photo taken for the King County Assessor’s office. (Photo from the state’s Puget Sound Regional Archives at Bellevue College)
Greg Nickels hosts an early installment of one of his and Sharon's  many backyard barbecues. Photo by Sharon Nickels
Greg Nickels hosts an early installment of one of his and Sharon’s many backyard barbecues. (Photo by Sharon Nickels)

 

Prior to its remodeling, Sharon and Greg gather in their kitchen in  2001 with their son, Jake, and daughter, Carey. Enlarging the kitchen,  including removal of a wall, was the largest project the Nickels took  on at their home. Photo courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels
Prior to its remodeling, Sharon and Greg gather in their kitchen in 2001 with their son, Jake, and daughter, Carey. Enlarging the kitchen, including removal of a wall, was the largest project the Nickels took on at their home. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
In 2007, former Vice President Al and Tipper Gore, right center,  visited the Nickels home. Greg and Sharon Nickels are left center. Photo courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels
In 2007, former Vice President Al and Tipper Gore, right center, visited the Nickels home. Greg and Sharon Nickels are left center. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
Former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, for whom Greg worked as an aide, and  his wife, Constance Rice, Seattle Community College District vice  chancellor, flank Sharon Nickels in the Nickels living room Photo courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels
Former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, for whom Greg worked as an aide, and his wife, Constance Rice, Seattle Community College District vice chancellor, flank Sharon Nickels in the Nickels living room. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
Campaign volunteers sort a mailer in the Nickels dining room. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
Campaign volunteers sort a mailer in the Nickels dining room. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
To the strains of Hank Williams, Greg Nickels steams wallpaper in an  old office area, now part of the kitchen, in 1989. (Photo by Sharon Nickels)
To the strains of Hank Williams, Greg Nickels steams wallpaper in an old office area, now part of the kitchen, in 1989. (Photo by Sharon Nickels)
Rust-colored shag carpet greets visitors Kelsey Creeden and father  Mike shortly after the Nickels moved in. The Nickels soon peeled up  the carpet to reveal wood flooring. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
Rust-colored shag carpet greets visitors Kelsey Creeden and father Mike shortly after the Nickels moved in. The Nickels soon peeled up the carpet to reveal wood flooring. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
The Nickels home in 1990.(Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
The Nickels home in 1990. (Courtesy of Sharon and Greg Nickels)
1910 47th Assessor's record, back and front (Courtesy Puget Sound Regional Archives at Bellevue College)
1910 47th Assessor’s record (Courtesy Puget Sound Regional Archives at Bellevue College)
Assessor's Record, back page
Assessor’s Record, back page

Anything to add, Paul?

May we leave it with the bare-kneed Nickles, above – and a few Democratic classics?  It is swell to get closer to the still penultimate mayor, and appropriate too during this year’s mayoral go-around, but we will not leave it at that. Jean we carry on with more of Ron Edge’s good works, beginning with another button/link to our 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, this time, for the part of it that covers the Nickel’s neighborhood.  And from the ’12 map we go one to three aerial surveys – the parts of them that also cover Duwamish Head.

Long long ago in the mid 1970s I came upon an aerial survey of Seattle that is rare indeed, from 1929.  It is almost certainly the earliest.  I stumbled upon it in the public works archive – or records morgue – of the city’s engineering dept in the old city hall.  I saw it briefly.  Then it went lost for more than a quarter century, until found again last year.  Ron has scanned the hundreds of photographs that comprise the several passes over Seattle made by the aerial photographer and is now undertaking – and sizable it is! – to merge them.  For this feature he has stitched the Duwamish Head aerials not only for 1929 but also for 1936 and 1946.  On the 1929 “button” below (which leads you to the pdf) Ron has also marked with a red circle the position of the Nickles home long before the future mayor  took residence in West Seattle or on this planet.

We all hope that you the dear reader will enjoy making the comparisons between them, and look forward to the day that Ron Edge can merge them all and share them too – after he has painted his house.

 

1912

Plate 27 web

1929

1929 Aerial of West Seattle Admiral Neighborhood web

1936

1936 Aerial of West Seattle Admiral Neighborhood web

1946

1946 Aerial of West Seattle Admiral Neighborhood web

 

Seattle Now & Then: Stan Sayres on Broadway

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN:The front end damage to the white Shepherd Ambulance on the right is mostly hidden behind the black silhouette of either officer Murphy or Lindberg, both of whom answered the call of this morning crash on Feb. 18, 1955.
THEN: The front end damage to the white Shepard Ambulance on the right is mostly hidden behind the black silhouette of either officer Murphy or Lindberg, both of whom answered the call of this morning crash on Feb. 18, 1955.
NOW: After nearly a quarter-century at the northwest corner of Broadway and Madison, Stan Sayres sold his Chrysler-Plymouth dealership.  Stephen Lundgren, First Hill historian and Program Coordinator for Harborview Hospital Patient Relations, reminds us that the Sayre’s corner later became home for Harborview’s Madison Clinic and its pioneer treatments with AIDS/HIV.
NOW: After nearly a quarter-century at the northwest corner of Broadway and Madison, Stan Sayres sold his Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. Stephen Lundgren, First Hill historian and Program Coordinator for Harborview Hospital Patient Relations, reminds us that the Sayre’s corner later became home for Harborview’s Madison Clinic and its pioneer treatments with AIDS/HIV.

The tableau of milling pedestrians, crashed cars and two cops scattered before this Moorish “temple” to the American Automobile (the name is written in tiles across the top) was roused by Mrs. Sally Jo Nelson who badly turned her ankle while decamping from a city bus at Second Ave. and Columbia Street on the Friday morning of February 18, 1955.

An earlier year at the intersection, this time looking east on Madison and thru Broadway.  We don't know the date.  What you think - judging by the motors?
An earlier year at the intersection, this time looking east on Madison and thru Broadway. We don’t know the date. What you think – judging by the chassis?

Once called, Shepard Ambulance driver George Gagle sped to Nelson’s rescue, with red light flashing and siren sounding.  Barreling west on Madison Avenue, Gagle had the right-of-way.  More fatefully for his passenger and young assistant Abel Haddock, Gagle crossed Madison’s busy five-star intersection with Harvard and Broadway Avenues through a red light with these results.  And the 21-year-old Haddock was seriously injured.

1 ST-2-18-1955-ambulance-Broadwy-Madi-wreckWEB

The gleaming backdrop here is Seattle Gold Cup legend Stan Sayres’ Chrysler-Plymouth dealership.   In part because of his showmanship, the sportsman Stanley St. Clair Sayres’ sales career at this corner was a great success in spite of starting in 1932 during the Great Depression.  Designed and built by two more legends, Ted Jones and Anchor Freeman, Stan Sayres’ Slo-mo-shun IV won the American Power Boat Association’s Gold Cup in Detroit in 1950 with Sayres in the cockpit.  The victory brought the annual race to Seattle where it stayed until the year Mrs. Nelson fell from the bus.

2 American-Automobile-Co-Broadway-&-Madison-Stan-Sayres-1950-WEB

Above and below: Staging the Slow-Mo in Sayer’s automart for publicity in many directions.   Roger Dudley – an old acquaintance since passed – took both pictures.

2 Slo-mo-shun-IV-American-Automobile-Co-Broadway-&-Madi-Dubley-2-1950WEB

1955 was Stan Sayres’ tough year.  Days before the August race, the Gold Cup Committee upheld the decision of the race’s referee.  Slow-mo was no longer allowed to enhanced starting speed during count-down by passing directly under the Mercer Island Floating Bridge along Lake Washington’s West shore.  Then during the race, Sayres’ Slo-mo V flipped and his Slo-mo IV, while leading the race, conked out on the sixth lap of the final heat.  Seattle lost the Gold Cup back to the Detroit River.   A year later Sayres died of a heart attack in his sleep.

Strikers from the Ron Edge Collection
Strikers from the Ron Edge Collection

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Yes Jean – a few pix and clips about Sayres and his hydroplanes and also a few candid shots of Broadway in the 30s – mostly.

I know not the year, but I assume it is a scene from the Gold Cup when it was still in Seattle.
I know not the year, but I assume it is a scene from the Gold Cup when it was still in Seattle.

1955-Gold-Cup-Program-cover-regattamag-wEB

1955-Gold-Cup-Program-Stan-Sayres-WEB

1955-Gold-Cup-Program-Stan-Sayres-2-WEB

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A classic interview by P-I's ancient sports editor, Royal Brougham with Stan Sayres on Jan. 20, 1955, the year of more great expectations.
A classic interview by P-I’s ancient sports editor, Royal Brougham with Stan Sayres on Jan. 20, 1955, the year of more great expectations. [CLICK TWICE to Enlarge]
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NEWS of STAN SAYRES DEATH by HEART ATTACK, Seattle Times Sept. 17, 1956

obit Please-Lord-Sayre-pits-9-17-1956-WEB

obit Stan-Sayers-Obit-page-2-8-17-1956dsWEB

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More From  RON’S COLLECTION – A GENUINE MODEL SLO-MO-SHUN

kidkit Stan-Sayres-Slo-mo-shun-ModelWEB

kidkit Slo-mo-shun-model-Trade-mark-WEB

kidkit Slo-mo-shun--nameTrade-mark-WEB

Aqua-Follies-program-1955-2k-web

Not a model - the real Slo-mo at MOHAI with the original Boeing Mail plane beyond hanging from the ceiling.
Not a model – the real Slo-mo at MOHAI with the original Boeing Mail plane beyond hanging from the ceiling.

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Ron Carver-photo-of-Miss-Thriftway-II-signed-to-Ron-&-Don-Ted-Jones-and-Bill-Muncey-WEB

ABOVE: Ron Edges glossy of the “revolutionary” Thriftway with its cabin at the bow’s end.  The driver Bill Muncey and the hydro’s celebrated designer, Ted Jones have signed the print over to Ron and his brother Don.

 

The Gale wins the Gold Cup in 1955 by a few seconds and confounds Muncey, the Thriftway driver.
The Gale wins the Gold Cup in 1955 by a few seconds and confounds Bill Muncey, the Thriftway driver.
How times change.  One year earlier, in the 1954 Gold Cup, the Gale wound up in a rose garden.  (Courtesy again, Ron Edge)
How times change. One year earlier, in the 1954 Gold Cup, the Gale wound up in a rose garden. (Courtesy again, Ron Edge)