Seattle Now & Then: Dr. Jacob Benshoof, 1905

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: His buggy pulled by former racehorse Mabel Payne, Dr. Jacob Benshoof pauses in 1905 on hilly Madison Street at Fifth Avenue, backed by Providence Hospital, which operated there in various incarnations from 1877 to 1911. “There were few hospitals then,” Benshoof reflected circa 1976, “and it took forever to get to a real hospital such as Providence.” (Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: At the former Providence Hospital site, a dozen relatives of Dr. Jacob Benshoof stand next to the 2004 downtown Seattle Public Library and before the 1940 William Kenzo Nakamura U.S. Courthouse for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals at the northwest corner of Fifth and Madison. They are (from left): Eric Sprunk, Blair Sprunk, Jill Ashley, Jeff Ashley, Joel Rosas, Blyth Claeys, Bill Benshoof, Dina Skeels, Dylan Skeels, Chris Foster, Bob Benshoof and Bob Foster. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Jan. 26, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Jan. 29, 2023

Busy physician Jacob Benshoof relied on four-hoofed transit
By Clay Eals
Aug. 15, 1907, Seattle Times, p19.

Not yet 2 was tiny Rene Alarie. The evening of Aug. 13, 1907, she played in her South Park backyard as her mother focused on her 4-month-old sister. The tot opened a gate and toddled into the road, where returning to Seattle was a Route 5 streetcar.

The conductor and motorman, not yet aboard, ran to catch the car, but its fender knocked Rene down, and she was seriously injured. Fortunately, she regained consciousness while resting at a neighbor’s home, where she recognized her mom.

“Dr. J.A. Benshoof, the attending physician, believes she has a good chance to recover,” reported The Seattle Times.

THEN2: A portrait of Jacob Benshoof, likely in 1905, when he graduated from Barnes University in St. Louis. (Courtesy Dina Skeels)

With automobiles a blossoming curiosity, the phrase “attending physician” painted a rustic picture 115 years ago. The doctor, Jacob Andrew Benshoof (1882-1979), who began work in South Park two years earlier, reached a wide swath of patients — including uphill in forested White Center, where he was the district’s first doctor — via horse.

“I would start out for some cabin in the woods in the morning, and by the time I got there a neighbor might have sent for me to come on another two or three miles farther to their home,” Benshoof told The Times in 1955 on his 50th anniversary of practice. “I’d go out to some tent or cabin in the timber to care for a woman in childbirth or a man who had been hit by a timber or caught in a saw or shot. Things happened in the timber country in those days.”

THEN3: Dr. Jacob Benshoof is shown circa 1915 with family: (from left) son Allen, daughters Helen and Thelma, wife Neoma and daughters Geraldine and Genevieve. (Courtesy Dina Skeels)

Born and raised in Iowa and trained in St. Louis, the busy Benshoof served as surgeon for the long-gone Meadows Race Track south of Georgetown and as Seattle medical examiner. He also joined the early staff of Providence Hospital and established offices downtown.

And he acquired a car. (He placed a 1910 Times ad to sell his “buggy horse and saddle, sound and gentle; new buggy and harness.”) But while building a family and becoming known as a prolific deliverer of babies, he never lost his early reputation for four-hoofed service, carrying a medical kit and rifle while riding or driving an ex-racehorse named Mabel Payne.

Aug. 16, 1907, Seattle Times, p3.

Two days after Rene Alarie’s streetcar accident, the Times reported that another South Park girl, Helen Taylor, 7, visited a neighbor’s home to get milk.

The neighbor’s chained bulldog startled the girl and bit her as she fell into a hole. A key part of the report:

“Dr. J.A. Benshoof dressed the wounds, and the little girl was removed to her home, where she is now resting easily.”

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Dina Skeels of the Benshoof family and to Wendy Malloy of the Museum of History & Industry and streetcar historian Mike Bergman for their invaluable help with this installment!

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photos, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column.

Below are 4 additional photos and, in chronological order, 24 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Young Jacob Benshoof. (Courtesy Dina Skeels)
The Benshoof family (clockwise from Jacob): Jacob, Thelma, Clara Neoma (Jacob’s wife), Allen, Helen and Genevieve. (Courtesy Dina Skeels)
The Benshoof family (from left) Genevieve, Thelma, Jacob, Clara Neoma (wife of Jacob), Allen, Helen and, in front, Geraldine. (Courtesy Dina Skeels)
Jacob Benshoof in later years. (Courtesy Dina Skeels)
May 27, 1906, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
June 17, 1906, Seattle Times, p20.
June 4, 1906, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p7.
Aug. 16, 1907, Seattle Times, p1.
May 18, 1908, Seattle Times, p2.
April 29, 1910, Seattle Times, p29.
May 15, 1915, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1-10.
May 15, 1915, Seattle Times, p1-2.
June 22, 1917, Catholic Progress.
Nov. 12, 1920, Catholic Progress.
July 22, 1917 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p7.
Nov. 19, 1920, Catholic Progress.
Aug. 11, 1922, Catholic Progress.
Aug. 7, 1922, Seattle Times, p5.
Aug. 11, 1922, Catholic Progress.
Nov. 2, 1923, Catholic Progress.
March 18, 1925, Seattle Times, p16.
June 6, 1930, Seattle Times, p1-4.
June 7, 1930, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
March 13, 1931, Catholic Progress.
May 18, 1955, Seattle Times, p33.
April 3, 1979, Seattle Times, p66.
1979 White Center News.
April 14, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p37.

Seattle Now & Then: Monorail dreams, 1918

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THEN1: A Webster & Stevens photograph, looking north from the third floor of the 1913 Joshua Green Building includes futuristic features added by an unknown designer. Imagined monorails snugly hug both sides of 90-foot-wide Westlake Avenue. The track veering left past the Hotel Plaza heads up Fourth Avenue toward today’s Seattle Center. (MOHAI, Webster & Stevens)
NOW1: Today’s Westlake Park, popularly known as Seattle’s town square, replaced Westlake Avenue in 1960. Surviving structures include the 10-floor Seaboard Building (1909) at far right. The former American Hotel (1907), now Westlake Place, is to its immediate north. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN2: A second proposed route of the Universal Elevated Railway Co. runs south along Second Avenue from Stewart. The new logo on the foreground train’s side panel suggests a rechristened “Safety Railway.” (MOHAI)
NOW2: While much of Second Avenue is now composed of glass and steel towers, original structures remain. The remodeled Standard Furniture Company Building (1907) still looms at right. On the southwest corner of Second and Pine, the Doyle Building (1919) is a terra cotta-faced marvel. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Jan. 19, 2023
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Jan. 22, 2023

Single-track minds imagine a Seattle monorail a century ago
By Jean Sherrard

In February 1962, a week after John Glenn orbited the earth and two months before the opening of the Century 21 Exposition (aka the Seattle World’s Fair), the Seattle-Post Intelligencer featured a mysterious photo in its Sunday magazine. Discovered in the archives of a “pioneer” photo studio, it depicted a familiar if antiquated Seattle cityscape but with futuristic alterations.

The article had it wrong. The adjusted photo was not from 1915 but 1918.

Skillfully added to the original photo, painted ribbons of monorail track snaked down Fourth Avenue and through Westlake, while cars atop the tracks bore a logo: “Universal Elevated Railway.”

Even keen-witted 93-year-old Joshua Green, from whose eponymous building the portrait had been taken, had no recollection of its provenance.

Challenged to solve the enigma, however, older readers soon supplied answers. A retired patent attorney recalled filing the original designs in 1918, and several early investors trotted out their now-worthless stock certificates.

Turns out the city’s nearly completed Alweg monorail, set to glide between Westlake and the World’s Fair, had been largely envisioned more than 40 years earlier by prescient inventors and entrepreneurs. Uncannily, one of their proposed routes even mirrored that of the Alweg.

This early monorail design was the brainchild of an unlikely crew, including noted physician Dr. Royal McClure, wealthy Sedro Wooley druggist Albert Holland, Capitol Hill garage manager David McClay and Seattle engineering professor Robert Rockwell. In May 1917, they incorporated as the Universal Elevated Railway Co. and declared their intension to make Seattle the world’s monorail capital.

By late 1918, after filing more than a dozen patents, the partners offered stock in the company, intending to fund a demonstration monorail downtown. Surely, the world would soon beat a single-track path to their door.

A bold-faced promotional flyer touted the advantages of elevated transit system: “SURFACE OBSTRUCTION such as floods, snow, railroad crossings, congestion … derailing and THIRD RAIL DANGER” largely would be eliminated by their innovative designs, intended to replace nearly 200 miles of perilous existing railway on Seattle streets.

Yet it was not to be. In the final year of World War I, the federal government imposed austerity measures across the nation, discouraging unnecessary capital investments. To boot, Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson was a decided skeptic. The gung-ho backers of the Universal Elevated Railway, though rich in imagination and ambition, could not raise enough out-of-pocket cash. In 1923, the struggling company closed its doors.

It would be another 40 years before a monorail car finally pulled into a station at Westlake.

WEB EXTRAS

For 360 degree narrated video version of this column, click here!

 

Seattle Now & Then: Narrow Bridge, 1951

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Observing the recently rebuilt Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1951 are Burien’s William Fogelstedt and his three daughters (from left), Julia, Helen and Gail. (Marjorie Fogelstedt, courtesy Lauren Koslowsky Bakken)
NOW1: With its fraternal-twin span (opened in 2007) to the south (left), family members match the 1951 Narrows Bridge pose from state Department of Transportation property: (from right) Gail Fogelstedt Koslowsky and husband Marq Koslowsky of Spokane; Helen Fogelstedt Hackett of Bothell; and Lauren Koslowsky Bakken of Shoreline, daughter of Gail and Marq. (Clay Eals)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Jan. 12, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Jan. 15, 2023

For his family,  a Burien father reveals ‘Sturdy Gertie’
and ‘how big the world is’
By Clay Eals

In this tranquil tableau that his wife captured with a camera, a father and the couple’s daughters gaze upon the newly completed Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1951.

For the girls, it was a surprise visit, like others their dad initiated on Sundays. However, little could they comprehend the notorious catastrophe that had unfolded there before any of them was born.

Relative newcomers accustomed to today’s pair of Narrows bridges may be forgiven for not knowing the riveting context of the solitary span that opened there on Oct. 14, 1950. It replaced a narrower Narrows Bridge that had opened on July 1, 1940, but had met a calamitous fate.

Nov. 7, 1940, Seattle Times, page 1.

After four months and 265,000 car crossings, the earlier bridge twisted for two hours (like a ribbon, corkscrew or hammock, onlookers said) in 42-mph winds, broke apart and plunged 190 feet into Puget Sound just before noon on Nov. 7, 1940. The only lost life was that of a dog mistakenly abandoned in a sedan mid-span.

The bridge’s failure pulled out the rhetorical stops. A reporter later termed it “the Pearl Harbor of American civil engineering,” but its enduring and endearing epithet was “Galloping Gertie.”

Newspapers, accordingly, termed the stronger, wider Narrows Bridge “Sturdy Gertie,” and it has stood for 72-plus years. (To accommodate more traffic, a fraternal twin to the south opened July 15, 2007.)

Eye-popping film of Gertie’s 1940 undulation and collapse became familiar to those in the 1950s who watched its repeated airings on the weekly ABC-TV series “You Asked for It.”

VIDEO (2:12) Click the image to see a clip from the movie serial “Atom Man vs. Superman,” in which the Man of Steel stabilizes the undulating Narrows Bridge to save a woman in danger on the span.

The electrifying footage also figured in an episode of the movie serial “Atom Man vs. Superman,” in which evil Lex Luthor destroys the bridge as a warning signal to Metropolis but not before the Man of Steel briefly grasps and stabilizes the span so that a woman on it can be rescued.

In 1951, the real-life girls in our “Then” photo possessed their own Sunday-drive context, imparted by their dad, railroad dispatcher William Fogelstedt of Burien.

“He would choose places that we had never seen before,” says daughter Helen Hackett of Bothell, who has no memory of the Narrows trip beyond its photos. “He would keep it a secret until we got there. It was always a buildup: ‘Now, just a few more miles down the road, and we’ll be there.’

“He would show us all the wonders of the world here in Washington. It always was followed up by an ice-cream cone on the way home. It was his way of expressing life and how big the world is.”

A simple snapshot. A lesson for a lifetime.

THEN2: Facing the camera are the Fogelstedt daughters (from left) Helen, Julia and Gail. (Marjorie Fogelstedt, courtesy Lauren Koslowsky Bakken)
NOW2: Facing the camera are Fogelstedt daughters Helen Hackett (left) and Gail Koslowsky, who hold a framed photo of their late sister, Julia Hick. (Clay Eals)

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Washington Department of Transportation staffers Robert Webster, Stan Zal, April Leigh and Stefanie Randolph, as well as Lauren Koslowsky Bakken, for their help with this installment!

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photos, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column.

Below are (1) links to a contemporary video interview, a Feliks Banel story (with vintage audio) and three historical accounts of the 1940 bridge collapse, (2) an additional photo, (3) a 1994 Paul Dorpat “Now & Then” column on Tacoma’s “other bridge,” (4) a link to a 2007 Seattle Times article by Mike Lindblom on 1950 Narrows Bridge steelworker Earl White, plus, (5) in chronological order, 22 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO (3:07) Click this image to see Gail and Helen Fogelstadt recall their father’s Sunday driving trips during which he would surprise them by visiting “all the wonders of the world here in Washington,” including Tacoma’s newly rebuilt Narrows Bridge in 1951. (Clay Eals)

 

Vintage audio from 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse

Seen looking northwest from state Department of Transportation property, the twin Narrows Bridges gleam in the morning sun, Dec. 7, 2022. (Clay Eals)
Dec. 25, 1994, Seattle Times, “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat.
Click this 1950 image to see a 2007 Seattle Times story by Mike Lindblom about steelworker Earl White, who helped built the “Sturdy Gertie” span. (Washington Department of Transportation)

 

Nov. 8, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
Nov. 8, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p3.
Nov. 8, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p32.
Nov. 8, 1940, Seattle Times, p15.
Nov. 17, 1940, Seattle Times, p6.
March 11, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p5.
March 23, 1950, Seattle Times, p53.
April 19, 1950, Seattle Times, p14.
April 28, 1950, Seattle Times, p33.
May 28, 1950, Seattle Times, p5.
May 31, 1950, Seattle Times, p36.
June 4, 1950, Seattle Times, p1.
June 8, 1950, Seattle Times, p2.
July 2, 1950, Seattle Times, p70.
Aug. 14, 1950, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p8.
Sept. 22, 1950, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p14.
Oct. 8, 1950, Seattle Times, p18.
Oct. 15, 1950, Seattle Times, p1.
Oct. 15, 1950, Seattle Times, p16.
Oct. 16, 1950, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
Oct. 22, 1950, Seattle Times, p32.
June 30, 2004, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p21.
July 16, 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p11.

 

Seattle Now & Then: The Recall of Hiram Gill, 1911

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THEN1: On Feb. 2, 1911, four days before his recall election, Mayor Hiram Gill addressed an overflow crowd of 2,200 in the Grand Opera House near Third and Cherry, then crossed Third to the packed Seattle Theatre to again deny charges of political corruption. The streets filled with hundreds of would-be spectators who were denied entry. The photo was taken from the new Hoge Building nearby. (Courtesy MOHAI)
NOW1: The Grand Opera House, built for legendary theater impresario John Cort in 1900, was gutted by fire in 1917. In 1923, it was converted to a five-story parking garage with an original capacity of more than 300 automobiles. Its façade is largely unchanged. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Jan. 5, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Jan. 8, 2022

Newly enfranchised women spark 1911 recall of Mayor Hiram Gill
By Jean Sherrard

Seattle was once the Wild West, bitterly divided between an “open city” that tolerated gambling and prostitution south of Yesler Way and a “closed city” that would enforce laws everywhere without exception.

Amid this debate in March 1910, Hiram Gill was elected mayor but soon faced charges of corruption. Female voters, on the verge of acquired suffrage in our state, launched a successful recall petition. The campaign resembled a theatrical play, for which we’ve created a script with actual quotes from key players:

The cast:

 

Hiram Gill

 

Mayor Hiram Gill (1866-1919). Open-city proponent, former city councilman, lawyer noted for defending houses of ill repute, casually smoked a corncob pipe.

 

 

“Wappy” Wappenstein

 

Charles “Wappy” Wappenstein (1853-1931). Gill’s police chief, 5-feet tall, walrus mustache, considered genially effective if utterly corrupt.

 

 

Rev. Matthews

 

The Rev. Mark Matthews (1867-1940). Angular 6-foot-5 First Presbyterian preacher, popular denouncer of sin.

 

 

Alden Blethen

 

Alden J. Blethen (1845-1915). The Seattle Times owner/editor-in-chief, vigorous supporter of Gill.

 

 

Erastus Brainerd

 

Erastus Brainerd (1855-1922). Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor-in-chief, Queen City booster, open-city opponent.

 

ACT ONE 

GILL: I don’t pretend to be a very good man, but I know the law and will enforce it.

WAPPY: People don’t really want a clean city. They just say they do.

MATTHEWS: This city doesn’t want prostitution, gambling, all-night saloons or police corruption.

BLETHEN: Not one iota of testimony … prove[s] that Wappenstein has taken money as a public official.

BRAINERD: He would make a model chief of police were it not for his one known weakness — graft.

WAPPY: There will be a chance for all of us to make some money.

BRAINERD: [Gill] has allowed enforcers of the law to enter into lewd partnerships with breakers of the law.

BLETHEN: All the ranting of the P-I gang will never cause The Times to turn against these two men.

MATTHEWS: This is a campaign of decency versus indecency.

GILL: Public decency is not the issue. What do you care [about] some cuss shooting craps?

WAPPY: Mayor Gill is one of the most popular mayors Seattle has ever had, and there’s little danger of his recall.

GILL: If Charley Wappenstein had committed 100 murders, I will see that he holds his job.

MATTHEWS: Every ballot cast will be either for or against righteousness, civic purity and law enforcement.

BLETHEN: Gill’s fate lies with the women of Seattle.

ACT TWO

To his lasting regret, Blethen was correct. On Feb. 7, 1911, Seattle’s female voters resoundingly ousted Gill in the first mayoral recall election in U.S. history.

In 1914, Gill was re-elected mayor. Flexibly repentant, he had campaigned on a closed-city platform. Meanwhile, Wappy wound up in the state penitentiary in Walla Walla.

WEB EXTRAS

A few more photos to amplify:

Zoom in on the following astonishing portrait of the audience awaiting Hiram Gill in the Seattle Theater. The women are few though their voice would be heard days later.

THEN2: An overflow crowd awaits Mayor Hiram Gill in the Seattle Theatre on Feb. 2, 1911. (MOHAI)
THEN4: The Rev. Mark Matthews (left) and Hiram Gill (right) provide unlikely bookends to an unidentified newlywed couple on the Smith Tower observation deck, circa 1914.
NOW2: The exterior of the former Grand Opera House, now replaced by the Cherry Street Garage at 213 Cherry. While the arched entryway has been filled with concrete, original windows remain. (Jean Sherrard)

For our narrated 360 degree video shot on location, click right here!

And here are two related installments by our column founder Paul Dorpat:

Feb. 24, 1985, “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat.
Jan. 8, 1995, “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat.

Seattle Now & Then: Post-Intelligencer globe, 1948

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: The P-I globe glows in late 1948 at the southwest corner of Sixth & Wall downtown. When the paper moved to 101 Elliott Ave. W. in January 1986, the globe moved with it and remains today. The P-I ceased publication there in 2009 and operates online only. (Lawton Gowey / Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW2: Today, sans neon globe, the full-block building built by the P-I in 1947-1948 at Sixth & Wall and left behind in 1986 houses City University. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW3: In this north-facing view, Matt Hucke, author of the just-released “Seattle Neon,” stands before the immobile and deteriorating P-I globe on the roof of 101 Elliott Ave. W. Hucke will speak at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s free online series “Words, Writers & Southwest Seattle” on Jan. 12. More info: SeattleNeonBook.com and LogHouseMuseum.org. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Dec. 29, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Jan. 1, 2023

In light of history, Seattle’s neon signs scream, ‘Hey, look at me!’
By Clay Eals

For more than 13,500 nights, from November 1948 to January 1986 atop a building at Sixth & Wall, it glowed in hues of red, blue, green and yellow — a beacon of hope for journalism and the city itself. Once dubbed “the earth and eagle,” it was known more simply and affectionately as the P-I globe.

Latecomers may find the hyphenated letters unfamiliar. But for 128 years, from the 1881 merger of the Seattle Post and Daily Intelligencer until the newspaper’s final press run on March 17, 2009, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer competed for citywide attention. Reinforcing this was the glimmering globe’s rotating slogan, profound in its brevity: “It’s in the P-I.”

NOW3: In repose today at the Museum of History & Industry warehouse in Georgetown, the P-I’s earlier neon sign, the city’s first, shone from the paper’s Sixth & Pine location from June 1927 through late 1948, when the P-I opened its new building (with neon globe) at Sixth & Wall. (Feliks Banel)

Allowing the 48-foot-tall worldly ornament to burn brightly was the 1898 British discovery of neon. The treated gas also had fueled Seattle’s first-ever neon sign, also for the P-I, which shone at its earlier site at Sixth & Pine from June 1927 through late 1948.

Today, neon is ubiquitous, as documented in a new, wildly colorful book, “Seattle Neon.” For three years, author/photographer Matt Hucke, a Chicagoan who arrived in the Queen Anne district in 2015, explored all corners of the city. The result: a 174-page volume with 460 annotated images, arranged by neighborhood and depicting the most noteworthy examples of the elemental art.

It’s also a snapshot of a fluid commercial landscape. “In an age where everything is being torn down and built again in a few years,” Hucke says, “it gives you a sense of place.” And illuminated neon, he says, can yield expressive insight. “It’s about screaming for attention in the middle of the night. It’s ‘Hey, look at me!’ ”

His array includes such icons as the chef and flapping fish of the now-closed Dahlia Lounge downtown and “everyone’s favorite,” the giant rotating sign at Denny & Battery for Elephant Super Car Wash. Hucke captured the pink pachyderm and its smaller, stationary sibling before closure of the business prompted the signs’ dismantling for preservation and restoration.

Unfortunately, his cover shot of the smaller elephant shows the scripted “Super” tubing burned out. Hucke finds that symbolic: “Not everything is perfect here.”

A similar fate is slowly befalling the P-I globe. Seattle landmarked it in 2012, and it still overlooks the waterfront from a five-floor office building at 101 Elliott Ave. W., where the paper moved in 1986 and operated until its 2009 print shutdown. But the battered sphere is largely unlit, and its slogan no longer rotates. A fix-up would be expensive.

In our New Year, where shines the beacon’s hope?

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Mari Rabung and Barbara Dorhofer of 101 Elliott Ave. W., staff of Mindful Therapy, Jeff Pattison of NW Work Lofts, Matt Hucke, Dora-Faye Hendricks, Casey McNerthney, Heather & Erik Pihl  and especially Feliks Banel for their help with this installment!

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photos, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column.

Below are 10 additional photos, the 2012 Seattle landmark designation for the P-I globe and 26 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column. PLUS: a surprise at the bottom.

Also check out these online articles for further background:

The back and front cover of “Seattle Neon.” (Everything Goes Media)
The P-I globe, seen from the corner of Elliott Avenue West and Denny Way. (Clay Eals)
A present-day close-up view of the P-I globe. (Jean Sherrard)
An alternate present-day view of the P-I globe. (Jean Sherrard)
Backed by Queen Anne Hill, an alternate present-day view of the P-I globe. (Jean Sherrard)
Looking north from atop the former P-I building, 101 Elliott Ave. W. (Jean Sherrard)
Looking south from atop the former P-I building, 101 Elliott Ave. W. (Jean Sherrard)
Two eagles perch atop the “earth and eagle” globe of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in January 2022. (Heather Pihl)
Two eagles perch atop the “earth and eagle” globe of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in January 2022. (Heather Pihl)
Two eagles perch atop the “earth and eagle” globe of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in January 2022. (Erik Pihl)
Click the page above to read a pdf of the 2012 Seattle landmark designation for the P-I globe.
June 18, 1927, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
June 9, 1928, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p17.
June 9, 1928, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p18.
Nov. 13, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p21.
Nov. 10, 1948, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p21.
Nov. 11, 1948, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
Dec. 7, 1948, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p3.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p4.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p11.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p34.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p36.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p44.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p46.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p70.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p76.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p108.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p109.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p110.
Jan. 2, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p113.
Sept. 27, 1955, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p17.
April 7, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p158.
Jan. 24, 1986, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p3.
Jan. 27, 1986, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p32.
April 11, 1986, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
March 17, 2009, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the final printed front page.
The front of a vintage Seattle Post-Intelligencer carrier coin.
The rear of a vintage Seattle Post-Intelligencer carrier coin.

‘Watch the Box’ – a haunted Christmas story for Boxing Day

A few years ago, I asked Paul Dorpat, Seattle Now & Then founder and noted raconteur, if he knew any ghost stories. He offered up the outlines of a haunted tale told by his dad, the Rev. Theodore Dorpat, about a man trapped inside a terrifying box threatened by another box.  I adapted it, filling in a few blanks.

Here it is, for those in Xmas doldrums or just exhausted by the exertions of the day! Click on the photo to begin…

Seattle Now & Then: Here’s to designer David Miller

(Click and click again to enlarge layouts)

The David Miller-designed “Now & Then” column, May 1, 2022.
The David Miller-designed “Now & Then” column, Oct. 17, 2021.
The David Miller-designed “Now & Then” column, Aug. 28, 2022.

Published in The Seattle Times online on Dec. 15, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Dec. 20, 2022

Like a visit from Father Christmas every Tuesday night

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” — John Keats

By Clay Eals and Jean Sherrard

To write a column with accompanying photos is one thing. To see all the elements juxtaposed for print is quite another.

For us, receiving David Miller’s proofs for our forthcoming “Now & Then” columns in The Seattle Times was like receiving a cherished Christmas gift every week of the year.

Each Tuesday, a proof arrived as early as 8 p.m., but more typically after midnight. His creations were so expertly crafted that both of us often stayed up to view the magic as soon as possible.

Our responses usually centered on fine-tuning text or captions, but we also sought to salute the visual splendor David had wrought. His work so consistently and effectively showcased our work that we embraced a delicious challenge: finding new phrases with which to thank him. A sampling:

  • Jean: “Remember that feeling you’d get cracking open the Sunday paper and digging out the funny papers? … I’ve pretty much lost that sense of wonder and anticipation, except when I receive an original David Miller!” (For a column on the downtown waterfront.)
  • Clay: “With apologies to John Lennon, ‘All You Need is David.’ You did an unbelievably perfect job with this layout. … From Me to You, I Feel Fine.” (For a column on the Beatles in Seattle.)
  • Jean: “Dagnabbit, David! Now you’ve done it. I’m going to have to teach this morning without socks, because you’ve knocked them right off!” (For a column on Eagle Falls.)
  • Clay: “This looks beautiful, especially given your vertical emphasis. It’s as if the spread were a retaining wall for the magazine itself.” (For a column on Queen Anne’s Wilcox Walls.)

From his end, David communicated with warmth, cleverness and humility. Samples:

  • “I love this one. We’ll make the horizontals work. No trubble at all. … When La Push comes to La Shove, your [photos] are still way better than mine.” (For Jean’s Olympic Peninsula columns.)
  • “As a Kansas native, I appreciated the ruby slippers.” (For a “no place like home” column on Clay’s grandparents’ former house.)
  • “You’re probably giving me too much credit for creativity and subtlety. … It could be that I was subliminally directed by the shape and didn’t even know it!” (For a Virginia V column for which David initially had fashioned a V-shaped headline.)
  • Finally, “Thanks for all the nice compliments. I’m not sure I deserve ANY of them,” and, “Some days, I go whole minutes between screwups.”

We also are grateful that David voted with his feet on our behalf, choosing to break bread with a jolly group at Ivar’s Salmon House to celebrate column founder Paul Dorpat’s 81st birthday in 2019.

Suffice to say, we will continue to honor — and miss — David Miller more than just “now and then.”

Seattle Now & Then: Lake Keechelus road, 1911

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: In 1911, an old wagon road runs along the eastern shore of Lake Keechelus. Between 1907 and 1912, ferry operators E.J. and S.J Finch charged as much as $5 (more than $100 in 2022 dollars) per automobile for a trip of less than two miles, outraging vehicle owners. In 1912, urged by Kittitas and King County commissioners, the Finches agreed to halve their rates. (Asahel Curtis, Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: Replacing the Sunset Highway, six-lane Interstate 90 passes high above Lake Keechelus, just east of Snoqualmie Pass. In both “Now” and “Then” photos, the railroad cut is visible across the lake. The line was abandoned in 1980. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Dec. 8, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Dec. 11, 2022

To grandmother’s house we swerve — around Lake Keechelus
By Jean Sherrard

“Lewis!!!”

This scream from my grandmother-to-be was followed, a split second later, by a swerve from my grandfather-to-be to avoid a head-on collision. He skidded off the gravel road and barreled toward a 100-foot cliff.

Let us freeze that instant of white-knuckled, bug-eyed terror and pause to consider life’s random fragility. From near-miss bullets and plane flights not taken, to Spanish flus and rattlesnake bites, every family history is replete with “what ifs” upon which threads of destiny dangle.

My maternal ancestors’ fate hinged for several seconds on the reaction time of my 21-year-old gramps, who drove a Model-T Ford in the late fall of 1927 on a treacherous switchback of the Sunset Highway, high above Lake Keechelus’s eastern shore.

Heading home to Seattle for the holidays from Whitworth College in Spokane, Lewis Randal and his fiancé —  Dorothy Dailey, then a senior — were taking a much-traveled road with a long and checkered past.

For likely thousands of years, Snoqualmie Pass (elevation 3,010 feet) offered a trail from east to west. In the 1860s, it was expanded to accommodate pack trains and cattle drives and later used by cross-state travelers and nascent automobiles. Early in the 20th century, however, traffic over the pass slowed to a crawl.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had designated Lake Keechelus, a primary source of the Yakima River, as the ideal reservoir to irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres of parched valley farmland. They erected a temporary wooden coffer dam in 1907 at the lake’s mouth, raising the water by 10 feet — just enough to make the existing road unusable.

THEN2: In 1917, the permanent, concrete Keechelus Dam undergoes construction near the head of the Yakima River. The water was projected to rise up to 50 feet above the lake’s pre-dam levels. (MOHAI)

The recently formed Washington State Highway Department, led by Joseph Snow (who engineered Seattle’s first major regrade) found itself between a rock and a wet place. Travelers on the east/west road, now partially flooded, were hostages to a private ferry operator who offered lake crossings at usurious prices.

Meanwhile, on the west side of the lake, astute managers of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad had planned ahead, carving railbeds well above the dammed waters. By 1909, their trains ran on a busy schedule, taunting bottlenecked traffic on the opposite shore with every steam whistle.

With convict labor, the state’s re-routing of the wagon road, part of the proposed Sunset Highway, was not complete until 1915. It remained unpaved until 1934, years after my grandparents flirted with terror.

A merciful thaw of the freeze-frame reveals that the Model-T was halted by a stump at the cliff’s edge, allowing them to proceed toward their (and my) destiny.

WEB EXTRAS

Just follow the link to watch our 360 degree video version of this column.

For your enjoyment, Jean added a few photos taken on the same late October trip of the eastern side of the Cascades in the Yakima Canyon near Ellensburg.

 

Seattle Now & Then: The USS Constitution, 1933

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: The three-masted USS Constitution (far center) sails in Elliott Bay in mid-1933 as part of a three-year tour of 76 ports. This west-facing view looks down Yesler Way from the Smith Tower. Skylights are visible on the Pioneer Building, as is (bottom center) the “Seattle” top of the sign for the old Seattle Hotel, site of today’s sinking-ship parking garage. Flaws at right could indicate the photo was taken inside a window. (University of Washington Special Collections)
NOW1: This view, from midway up the Smith Tower, matches the vantage of the 1933 photo. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Dec. 1, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Dec. 4, 2022

Treasure and mystery set sail in yard-sale images from 1933
By Clay Eals

When unexpected photographic treasures arise, sometimes they bear more than a modicum of mystery.

John Gerhard, a retired Boeing intellectual-property manager who lives in West Seattle, went on one of his usual prowls last summer, combing yard sales for finds. On a table at a house bordering Admiral Way, spilling out of an envelope was a set of 12 thin items, tiny and shiny.

They were medium-format photo negatives from long ago. Squinting while holding each one skyward, he discovered a negative with an airborne perspective of downtown and boat-packed Elliott Bay, backed by the West Seattle peninsula.

Gerhard grinned.

The seller, Caty Burt, had purchased the negs at a Georgetown sale years earlier but knew nothing about them. Gerhard asked her if he could donate them to University of Washington Special Collections, where he has volunteered for six years and which has a ships collection. Sure, she said.

The images centered on the 1797 warship USS Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides because, while it sank a British vessel during the War of 1812, its thick, oak hull survived a barrage of cannonballs. Restored, it toured 76 ports for three years starting in 1931. Its Seattle visit from May 31 to June 14, 1933, drew an astounding 201,422 visitors. Today, it’s on permanent exhibition at the Boston Naval Shipyard.

Of the 12 negatives, only one had the helicopter view, having been taken from the West Coast’s then-tallest building, the Smith Tower. Seen looking east down Yesler Way, the 2,200-ton, 175-foot, three-masted USS Constitution stands out among fishing boats, tugs, small craft and even a ferry.

THEN2: This image of the stern was John Gerhard’s first clue that the 12 negatives he acquired at a yard sale depicted the U.S. Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, while in Seattle in 1933. (University of Washington Special Collections)

Gerhard had no prior knowledge of the famous frigate. But he got up to speed after spotting, in another of the negatives, the ship’s name on its stern.

NOW2: With an archivist’s white gloves, John Gerhard examines one of the 12 negatives he acquired last summer at a West Seattle yard sale. This one shows the stern of the USS Constitution, which bears its name. (Clay Eals)

Six of the images depict Old Ironsides hosting tours while anchored at Pier 41 (now 91) at Magnolia’s Smith Cove, where cruise ships dock today.

One even reveals, in the distance, the remains of West Seattle’s Luna Park Natatorium, destroyed by fire in 1931.

THEN3: Docked at Pier 41 (now 91) at Magnolia’s Smith Cove, the USS Constitution takes on a lineup of visitors. A total of 201,422 toured the frigate during its two-week stay in Seattle. (University of Washington Special Collections)

But riddles remain: Who took the photos?

The negatives are unmarked. They include four images of a model sailboat. One of them shows a man examining a camera, seemingly about to photograph the model. Did he take the other 11 photos? He’s standing in front of a Spanish-style, stucco home near a bluff. Where was this house?

THEN4: Who is this man, shown with a medium-format camera, possibly about to photograph a model sailboat, and where are the house and front lawn where he is standing? The set of 12 negatives is unlabeled. (University of Washington Special Collections)

Gerhard speculates the guy was an engineer, interested in the mechanics of vessels. Perhaps, like Gerhard, he worked at Boeing?

“There’s a story here,” says Gerhard, a determined sleuth.

Can any of you come aboard with more details?

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Lisa Oberg and John Gerhard for their help with this installment!

No 360-degree video for this week’s installment.

Below are 5 additional photos, 9 collector’s envelope covers, an online scrapbook, further links and 8 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

With an archivist’s white gloves, John Gerhard examines one of the 12 negatives he acquired last summer at a West Seattle yard sale. This one (see THEN3 above) shows the USS Constitution docked at Smith Cove while visitors queue to climb aboard. (Clay Eals)
Another view of the mysterious model sailboat, with a peek at further clues to the neighborhood. (University of Washington Special Collections)
Another view of visitors lined up to board the USS Constitution at Pier 91 at Magnolia’s Smith Cove  in June 1933. In the background can be seen the remains of the Luna Park Natatorium, destroyed by fire in 1931. (University of Washington Special Collections)
Another image from one of the 12 negatives, this one a total mystery. Where was it taken, by whom and of what relevance is it to the others? (University of Washington Special Collections)
The USS Constitution in Elliott Bay, 1933. (Lynn Couch of Olympia)
Collector’s cover from Anacortes. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Bellingham. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Everett. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Grays Harbor. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Longview. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Olympia. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Seattle. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Seattle. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
Collector’s cover from Tacoma. (Universal Ship Cancel Society)
The cover of a USS Constitution scrapbook. Click it to see the full 126-page pdf, available from the USS Constitution Museum website.

Here are links to other websites relating to the USS Constitution:

May 28, 1933, Seattle Times, p2.
May 30, 1933, Seattle Times, p14.
May 30, 1933, Seattle Times, p15.
May 31, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p12.
June 1, 1933, Seattle Times, p1.
June 1, 1933, Seattle Times p11.
June 4, 1933, Seattle Times, p4.
June 15, 1933, Seattle Times, p16.

Seattle Now & Then: Octavia Butler in Lake Forest Park

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: The Lake Forest Park house that writer Octavia Butler lived in from 1999 to her death in 2006, pictured here in 1958, was built in 1957. (Courtesy Puget Sound Branch, Washington State Archives)
NOW1: Matt Milios stands in front of the house that Octavia Butler owned between 1999 and 2006. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Nov. 24, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Nov. 27, 2022

Ninety years before Octavia Butler moved in 1999 from sunny Pasadena, California, to Lake Forest Park, 10 miles north of Seattle, then-real-estate developer and future Seattle mayor Ole Hanson (1874-1940) envisioned a neighborhood that would provide an escape from frenetic city life. In a promotional pamphlet, Hanson described an environment removed from “the sordid commercialism of today.”

THEN2: A portrait of Lake Forest Park developer and future Seattle mayor Ole Hanson. Resigning after a brief but eventful 18-month term, Hanson moved to California, where he is recognized as one of the founders of San Clemente. (Seattle Municipal Archives)

In 1909, Seattle was booming. During the first decade of the 20th century, its population had nearly tripled (to 237,194 from 80,671 in 1900) in time to host its first world’s fair, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The Queen City had emerged as a major metropolis, with accompanying growth pains.

Hanson intended that his proposed development provide an antidote to the urban hustle and bustle: “Forget your schemes for a moment; lay aside your business; let the telephone ring; allow your callers to wait in the ante-room; Read — Ponder — and Dream.

Butler could have heeded Hanson’s call when choosing her ideal neighborhood. Her mid-century modern home, built in 1957, nestled within easy walking distance of a notable bookstore, grocery stores and Lake Washington. It also offered a green refuge for the nature-loving writer.

Mike Daly, her across-the-street neighbor, moved into the neighborhood within months of Butler’s arrival. “We got to know Octavia little by little,” he says. “She didn’t have a car, which fit with her environmentalism. Sometimes I’d see her walking home from Albertson’s with two bags of groceries and offer her a ride. ‘I need the exercise,’ she’d say.

NOW4: With a collection of motorcycles, Mike Daly lives directly across the street. An active 74, he recently completed an 11,000-mile ride to every corner of the United States. He recalls Octavia Butler as “a reclusive sweetheart.” (Jean Sherrard)

“We invited her over for dinner on numerous occasions, but she always politely declined. … A great neighbor, very personable but more of a private than a social-type person.”

Deborah Magness of Third Place Books concurred. While Butler attended reading and signing events, she also was a regular customer. “I very clearly recall ringing Octavia up at the cash register,” Magness says, “but between being starstruck and having the feeling she wished to go about her business quietly and anonymously, I did not interact with her at length.”

Susan McMurry, a neighbor several doors north of Butler’s former house, wasn’t aware of her presence in the neighborhood until reading her obituary in local papers. “After she passed, our local book club decided to read her wonderful novel ‘Kindred,’ in which a young Black woman travels through time to the era of slavery. I’m not very well versed in science fiction, but for me Octavia’s books transcend the genre, with their mix of history, philosophy and ethics.”

NOW2: Matt Milios greeted more than 500 trick-or-treaters for Halloween this year. His Christmas decorations are already in place. (Jean Sherrard)

Matt Milios, who owns Butler’s former Lake Forest Park property and has been a devoted reader of science fiction since childhood, was delighted to discover that a favorite author once shared his home. While little trace remains of Butler’s tenure, several times a year ardent fans show up on his doorstep, seeking posthumous connection.

NOW3: Milios gazes out the window of what was once Octavia Butler’s study. (Jean Sherrard)

A nudge from the past arrived in Milios’s mailbox last summer. In a letter addressed to Butler, sent 16 years after her death, a local bank sought overdue payment for a safety deposit box. Milios forwarded the request to her California estate managers, who paid the time-traveling debt.

Now & then here and now…