April in Paris 2021, second lockdown

The method, this time, was to close all “non-essential” stores, cafés, restaurants, all places of culture : cinemas, theatres, museums, except schools and parks.

Paris became silent, disembodied.

The originality was to be “confined to the outside”.

The parks, gardens and banks of the Seine became incredible places of life, the blossomed trees enlighted our melancholic souls and helped us to resist.

Avril à Paris 2021, deuxième confinement

La méthode, cette-fois-ci, fut de fermer tous les magasins “non essentiels”, cafés, restaurants, tous les lieux de cultures : cinémas, théatre, musées, sauf les écoles et les parcs.

La ville est devenue silencieuse, désincarnée, déserte.

L’originalité a été de se trouver ainsi “confinés à l’extérieur”.

Les parcs, jardins et bords de Seine sont alors devenus des endroits de vie incroyables, les arbres en fleur ont illuminés nos âmes mélancoliques et nous ont aidés à résister.

The famous Sakura tree in Jardin des Plantes, Paris 5th

Parc Monsouris, Paris 14th

Jardin du Vert-Galant Paris 1st

Place Dauphine, paris 1st

Quai d’Orléans, Paris 4th

Place des Vosges, Paris 4th

Seattle Now & Then: The Naval Reserve Armory (aka MOHAI), a 1949 Aerial

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: On March 2, 1949, the Naval Reserve Armory anchors Lake Union. The USS Puffer, a legendary submarine, peeks out from its slip. Further north, the Seattle Gas Company’s gas plant puffs out smoke. Interstate 5 is a mere gleam in a planner’s eye. (courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW1: On the morning of Feb. 27, MOHAI holds pride of place in B. Marcus Priteca’s reinforced concrete masterpiece. Next door, the Center for Wooden Boats stands where destroyers once berthed. On Lake Union’s north side, Gas Works has become one of Seattle’s favorite parks. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN2: On its Sept. 29, 2012, opening day in the remodeled Armory, MOHAI sparkles. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Recently re-opened as pandemic prohibitions ease, the museum welcomes cautious but eager visitors. The Grand Atrium features Boeing’s original B-1 float plane, the Lincoln Toe Truck and the original neon Rainier Beer “R” that once shone at Exit 163 of Interstate 5. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW3: Jasper Stewart impatiently waits his turn at the MOHAI periscope while brother Tristan scans for enemy vessels. At right, sister Kathryn absorbs waterborne history in the McCurdy Family Maritime Gallery. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 13, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 16, 2021 )

To salute childhood memories of MOHAI, we go high
By Jean Sherrard

French novelist Marcel Proust famously described dunking madeleines — scallop-shaped cookies — in lime blossom tea, opening a sensory gateway to the lost world of childhood.

Our 69-year-old regional treasure, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI, pronounced by locals as if inversely greeting one of the Three Stooges) also evokes such transport.

To jog my memory, I recently posted a question on social media: “What do you recall from school field trips to MOHAI?”

The result: hundreds of citations from adults once bused as students to MOHAI’s original Montlake building. The top 10:

  • The fully furnished Victorian dollhouse.
  • The 10-by-24-foot painted mural of the Great Seattle Fire.
  • The actual glue pot that sparked the fire.
  • The hydroplanes (specifically Slo-Mo-Shun IV).
  • The diorama depicting the Denny Party’s arrival and Duwamish welcome at Alki.
  • The stuffed gorilla Bobo, formerly of Woodland Park Zoo (and an Anacortes home).
  • The 43-foot-long working periscope.
  • Suspended by wires, Boeing’s unique B-1 wooden float plane, built in 1919.
  • The original Rainier Beer neon “R.”
  • Carved figureheads from wooden ships.

Honorable mentions included a 5-inch deck gun from the USS Colorado, a J.P. Patches exhibit and ex-President Warren G. Harding’s pajamas.

Pulling back from the intimacy of memory to vertiginous spectacle, our twin aerial photographs —separated by 72 years — afford us a north-facing, bird’s-eye view of present-day MOHAI and its surroundings.

Our 1949 “Then” image, from photo historian Ron Edge, features MOHAI’s current home, the Naval Reserve Armory on Lake Union’s south shore. Designed by Seattle architects William R. Grant and B. Marcus Priteca (best known for his majestic Art Deco movie palaces),* the Armory was dedicated on July 4, 1942, during the uncertain months following the U.S. entry into World War II.

Post-war, its campus aided recruiting, training and mustering. Sometimes it served as a community dance hall. Docked in its slips might be decommissioned minesweepers, destroyers and the occasional submarine — significantly the USS Puffer, survivor of a record 38 hours of depth-charging and a perennial tour magnet until 1960, when it was sold for scrap.

MOHAI moved to the former Armory in 2012 after its original Montlake building, which opened in 1952, was shuttered to accommodate the expanding State Route 520 floating bridge.

In our aerial repeat, snapped from 1,200 feet, the museum is blooming in morning light just north of booming South Lake Union. Amid MOHAI’s imaginative redesign and relocation, many of its beloved treasures remain in rotation, fostering continued recollections for Seattleites young and old.

To revisit (and maybe add) your own MOHAI memories, join us at PaulDorpat.com.

WEB EXTRAS

To see our spectacular 360 degree video of this week’s column, click here. It includes the now and then photos as well as video of our extraordinary aerial adventure (shot by Clay). Jean narrates.

*A gentle correction from friend of the column historian Larry Kreisman: “I have to correct your mention of Priteca’s movie palace architecture because, apart from the Hollywood Pantages, his theater designs are primarily Greco-Roman classical (Coliseum and most of his work for Pantages) or Renaissance Revival (Orpheum). The Admiral and others he did in the 30s and 40s we’re streamline moderne and we’re neighborhood movie houses, not palaces.”

We blush and offer thanks, Larry!

Seattle Now & Then: from the air, West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail, 1920

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: With the Duwamish Waterway in the foreground, this 1920 photo shows, in superimposed green lines, the route of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. It is among 44 hikes in the expanded “Hiking Washington’s History” by Judy Bentley and Craig Romano (University of Washington Press). For book events, visit JudyBentley.com and CraigRomano.com. (The Boeing Company)
NOW1: A century later, the First Avenue South Bridge and a filled-in oxbow dominate the industrial foreground while green lines trace today’s West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail above. For videos and closer aerials of the trail, visit PaulDorpat.com. For trail maps and more info, including plans for a new Ridge to River Trail emanating from the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way, visit WDGTrails.com. (Jean Sherrard, via Helicopters Northwest)
NOW2: Four former and current staff of nearby South Seattle College walk the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail: (from left) guidebook co-author Judy Bentley, Randy Nelson, Monica Lundberg and Colby Keene. (West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 6, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 9, 2021)

From up in the air, we get down to the Duwamish earth
By Clay Eals

It’s fitting, perhaps spiritual, that our first use of aerial photography for “Now & Then” showcases the wooded walkways above our city’s only river — a waterway named for the Native American tribe whose early chief is our city’s namesake.

An established public trail lets us walk this hillside and imagine the homeland of the Duwamish people, whose name means “the way in” and who once numbered 4,000 along the river and its tributaries. This, of course, was before Euro-American immigrants brought dominance and disease that decimated the tribe, even burning some members out of their shoreline dwellings.

You can find this path, called the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail, along superimposed green lines in our “Then” and “Now” photos.

The older view, from 1920, provides a stunning glimpse of the eastern ridge of West Seattle, fronted by the Duwamish Waterway and precursors of West Marginal Way and the First Avenue South Bridge. At right swirls a U-shaped oxbow created by the river’s recent widening, deepening and straightening. Standing at center is Plant 1 of the fledgling Boeing Airplane Co. (sign on roof). Intruding at far right is the wing of an early biplane, from which the photo was taken rather courageously.

Book cover for the enlarged second edition of “Hiking Washington’s History.” (University of Washington Press)

But our focus is on the trail, a new one in the expanded, soon-to-be-published second edition of “Hiking Washington’s History,” a color guidebook detailing 44 hikes statewide, with 12 added treks.

The route, accessed by two trail heads, snakes along a steep slope, which by 1920 had been logged for profit as well as operation of a streetcar line (faintly visible in our “Then” photo) that from 1912 to 1931 crossed the expanse, connecting bridges at Spokane Street to White Center and Burien.

Judy Bentley and Craig Romano, co-authors of “Hiking Washington’s History.

Today, the trail traverses a 500-acre forest buffering two intensive forms of 20th-century development — housing above and industrial glut below. Over time, Seattle Parks acquired most of the greenbelt parcels. West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails volunteers and others regularly replant the land and maintain its path.

To create a matching “Now” image, Jean Sherrard and I literally got a helicopter view in late February, he making stills and I shooting video. Aloft, we quickly appreciated a 1970s city report that called the hillside a potential “gift of peace and quiet in our busy, noisy, polluted city.”

Also ringing true was the insight of guidebook co-author Judy Bentley:

“We hike historic trails for resonance: for connection to the people on the land before us and to a landscape relatively constant across centuries. We also hike out of curiosity: Who went this way before? Where were they going? Who made this trail and why?”

WEB EXTRAS

Because we were airborne, there is no 360 video for this week’s installment. But you can see Clay Eals‘ video of the “Now” prospect and above the trail, taken from the helicopter view, and hear him read the column aloud by visiting this video link:

VIDEO: Aerial view of West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail, Feb. 27, 2021, (Clay Eals)

Look below for 21 additional aerial photos by Jean Sherrard that showcase the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. In each one, can you spot the temporarily placed white bags that mark the trail route? You may have to click on each photo twice.

Also, look below for video by Matthew Clark of the helicopter from the ground, along with photos and maps provided by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails volunteers.

Special thanks to Craig Rankin, Judy Bentley, Kait Heacock from University of Washington Press and, from Helicopters Northwest, Anna Siegel, for their assistance with this installment.

In addition, we salute the volunteers present on the trail during the Feb. 27, 2021, aerial photo shoot, some of whom laid white plastic bags on the trail to make the route visible from the air. They were Judy Bentley, Asa Clark, Christine Clark, Matthew Clark, Mackenzie Dolstad, Alec Duncan, Susan Elderkin, Shannon Harris, Trissa Hodapp, Angela Johnson, Billy Markham, Karen Nelson, Randy Nelson, Antoinette Palmer, Craig Rankin, Hagen Rankin, Leela Rankin, Hans Rikhof, Holly Rikhof, Sarah Ritums, Shawnti Rockwell, Ruth Anne Wallace, Tom Wallace, Paul West and Barbara Williams.

Map of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail.
Map of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. The red line indicates the route of the Highland Park & Lake Burien Railway, which operated from 1912 to 1931.
West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail head at the foot of Highland Park Way Southwest, known locally as Boeing Hill. (Clay Eals)
Hikers on the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail.
Ken Workman (right), fourth-generation great-grandson of Chief Seattle, leads a group before walking the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Judy Bentley)
The Highland Park & Lake Burien Railway, looking northeast. The streetcar line ran from 1912 to 1931. (West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails.)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hiker Leela Rankin with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
VIDEO: This 30-second clip shows the helicopter from the trail below. (Matthew Clark)

Seattle Now & Then: Vaccination, 1957 & 2021

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: In May 1957, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, our state’s junior U.S. senator, receives a polio vaccine from Nurse Maria Schneider in Washington, D.C.. Observing is Dr. J. Morrison Brady, director of medical services for the National Polio Foundation. (Russ Holt, courtesy University of Washington Special Collections)
NOW: In March of this year, Ken Workman is inoculated against COVID-19 by volunteer pharmacist Dr. Dana Hurley at Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy. His face mask bears the portrait of his ancestor, Chief Seattle. A life-sized Dr. Anthony Fauci cutout seems to approve. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 29, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 2, 2021 )

Visualizing our victories over virus to ring out a new celebration
By Jean Sherrard

Born last summer at the height of the pandemic, my younger brother’s 9-month-old twins, Talia and Gavin, have not yet acquired what psychologist Jean Piaget termed “object permanence.” Bright toys supplied by distanced aunts and uncles are quickly forgotten — out of sight, out of mind.

Twins Gavin and Talia

Similarly, when the terrors of infectious disease recede in the rearview mirror, the collective memory may not serve. Even as countless lives have been saved, a sizeable plurality of humans worldwide remains vaccine-hesitant.

Lest we forget, it was on April 12, 1955, that church bells rang out across the nation, celebrating clinical trials proving that Jonas Salk’s poliomyelitis vaccine had defeated a scourge that had been deadly for decades.

In a front-page banner headline, The Seattle Times shouted, “Vaccine is effective, potent, safe.” Below, an article said vaccination would “smash polio’s terror and tragedies … [ending] the fear that has long gripped the hearts of parents.”

Only three years earlier, in 1952, U.S. polio had peaked. Nearly 58,000, mostly children, fell ill. Of those, polio had paralyzed 21,000 and killed 3,000. Most outbreaks took place in summer. Infections seemed random and unpredictable. A child playing with friends one afternoon might end up hospitalized by evening.

But vaccines ended polio in the Americas by 1992, largely eliminating it across the globe. It was not the only viral killer brought to heel. Smallpox, which killed more than 300 million in the 20th century, was eradicated. Inoculation vastly reduced measles, yellow fever and hepatitis.

Today, however, vaccines may fall victim to their historical success. Some who have not personally witnessed a viral catastrophe apparently deem it unreal.

Hilary Godwin, dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health, faults social media for amplifying misinformation. “We in the sciences and in public health,” she says, “need to regain the trust of the general population, in a bipartisan way.”

Godwin also addresses an understandable mistrust of the medical establishment in Black and Native American communities: “We must not only recognize historical injustices and inequities but also elevate the conversation to talk about them openly.”

Joining the conversation is Ken Workman, fourth-generation great-grandson of Chief Seattle and a Duwamish tribal elder, who received his first COVID-19 inoculation in March.

“I’m alive today because my family survived the genocide of welcoming Europeans,” he says. “We survived gifts of smallpox blankets. We survived gentrification and displacement. The world may be all up in arms over COVID, yet for me this is just another day.”

Between tides of uncertainty and hope, will we someday be able to ring out a new celebration?

WEB EXTRAS

Just another photo of Ken Workman, snaring the traditional post-jab lollipop.

Workman gets his lolly

A few weeks ago, on March 14, 2021, I met Ken down at Golden Gardens and shot a few photos of his traditional farewell extended to a Tlingit crew and canoe. The rainy weather did not dampen spirits.

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: “Where’s the Beach” in Rainier Beach?

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This 1913 photo looks north to Pritchard Island. Three years later, Lake Washington was lowered nine feet, draining nearly 65 billion gallons of fresh water through the newly constructed Ship Canal to Puget Sound in a mere three months. Two men in a rowboat explore what is today dry land. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
NOW: Rainier Beach Action Coalition’s Clean Crew, (from left) Malcolm J Dunston, De’Shaun Valdry, Ryan Croone II, Jesiah Marks, King Nisby, and Tyree Abella, stands between the public restroom and untended blackberry brambles lining the shore. Signs designed by artist Mahogany Purpose Villars. After the lowering of the lake, Pritchard Island became a peninsula. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 22, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 25, 2021 )

Beach magic bathes Link2Lake quest in diverse Rainier Beach
By Jean Sherrard

Tucked between a boat launch, an adjacent parking lot and a beige restroom with all the charm of a quartered Quonset hut, the scruffy Lake Washington shoreline of Be’er Sheva Park might seem an unlikely place to find magic. Neither woo-woo nor hocus pocus, it offers an unexpected alchemy of earth, water and sky, arranged like lips pursed for a kiss.

On a recent visit, I happened upon what looked like an impromptu block party. In this cherished gathering spot, Rainier Beach neighbors were listening to music, picnicking and admiring the returning geese and waterfowl.

This story, however, begins much earlier, with melting ice. More than 16,000 years ago, receding glaciers shaped the Pacific Northwest — and Rainier Beach — into its current greenscape.

The first humans to settle the area were Duwamish. Members of one tribal branch calling themselves the Lake People had wintered along the lake’s shores for millennia. European settlers arrived in the 1860s, evicting the Lake People from their ancestral homes while appropriating the land for themselves.

Annexed by Seattle in 1907, Rainier Beach today is among the city’s most racially and culturally diverse neighborhoods. Eighty percent of its residents are people of color, while, in their homes, 57% speak a language other than English. These historically underserved communities reside in one of only two Seattle neighborhoods (the other is the Duwamish River valley) without an extended public shoreline or a signature waterfront park.

“Nevertheless, our neglected little beach has always been a focal point for community-building,” says Shannon Waits, who co-chairs the steering committee of a group called Rainier Beach Link2Lake. The nonprofit’s plans for lakefront improvements are shovel-ready, pending final funding. “The neighborhood,” Waits says, “is determined to make beauty in this place despite systemic oppression.”

Buoyed by the slogan “Where’s the Beach,” Rainier Beach residents have eagerly contributed design ideas, suggesting basic improvements to the parcel’s infrastructure that most other Seattle waterfront parks take for granted.

“The community envisions a green waterfront that celebrates the pedestrian experience,” says George Lee, project manager, who enthusiastically tallies the envisioned upgrades. “We’ll add basic amenities like picnic tables, barbecue grills and a covered stage that doubles as a shelter. Add to that a boardwalk and lighted walkways, not to mention a big natural beach for families to play on.”

The abracadabra begins this summer with a mural painting project, enlisting young community artists to enliven the exterior walls of the plain-Jane restroom. For more information on the capital campaign, visit rainierbeachlinktolake.org.

WEB EXTRAS

A few more shots from the park.

The Clean Crew on the east side of the restroom, soon to be repainted with a community mural.
Detail of sign designed by artist Mahogany Purpose Villars.
The lone bramble-strewn path to the water.

For our accompanying 360 degree video, click here.

Seattle Now & Then: Quickly engineering the Space Needle, 1961

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: These two images of the Space Needle under construction may look other-worldly today, but they were just part of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in summer 1961 as organizers and construction workers hustled to prepare for the April 21, 1962, opening of the Seattle World’s Fair. (Fora Meredith, courtesy Denise & Brad Chrisman)
ALMOST NOW: Gary Curtis (top right), one of the Needle’s Pasadena-based engineers, poses with his son and daughter-in-law, Gart and Deb Curtis, and grandchildren, Margo and Leland, at the Needle’s base in 2015. Curtis says when he was drafting Needle drawings, Gart was “in diapers.” (Courtesy Gary Curtis)
NOW: The Space Needle rises behind Alexander Liberman’s bright-red 1984 Olympic Iliad sculpture at Seattle Center. For an in-depth account of the Needle’s history, dig into Knute Berger’s colorful book “Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle,” Documentary Media, 2012. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 15, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 18, 2021)

One Space Needle, coming right up! A 60th anniversary tale
By Clay Eals

It was an era of courageous quests: Nationally, landing on the moon within the decade. Locally, building a bold, enduring beacon.

Sixty years ago, ground was broken for our city’s 605-foot Space Needle — on April 17, 1961, to be exact. A year later, on April 21, 1962, the Seattle World’s Fair opened, and so did the Needle.

Today’s warp-speed endeavors have little on this one. It’s hard to fathom how fast the fair’s signature symbol went up, but Gary Curtis has a grasp.

The 24-year-old was two years out of Walla Walla University’s engineering program in March 1961 while working in the five-person Pasadena office of structural engineer John Minasian, an expert in the wind and seismic loads of towers. There, Curtis began pumping out detailed drawings that guided the Needle’s assembly.

From the get-go, adrenaline fueled the overtime pace. “Thirteen months later, the structure’s going to be done,” Curtis says. “They hadn’t even rolled the steel yet in Chicago.”

Daily, Curtis and others produced and overnighted tubes of oversized documents to Seattle at 11 p.m. for use by 8 a.m. “We would look at where they were, the actual construction, the guys putting steel together, and we’d be detailing stuff 150 feet above where they were working,” he says. “You didn’t mess around.”

Instead of cutting corners, however, the engineers strengthened them.

“We just threw the steel at it,” he says. “What we did was brutal. It was a beautiful design, but we didn’t have time to do a refined analysis. If you found out that a quarter-inch plate was going to probably be about right, use three-eighths, use five-sixteenths. You didn’t skimp on anything. If 50 bolts made a connection, 75 went in. There was no time to try to figure out how to save money. Saving money wasn’t the point. Getting it done on time was the point.”

Through the Needle’s decades of wear and renovation, the work has held up — and so has Curtis. Now 84 and living 80 miles and a ferry ride north of Seattle, Curtis lovingly preserves copies of his drawings and the tools he used to create them: a slide rule, triangle, drafting pencils, a pencil sharpener, erasers and an erasing shield. Eyeing his 1961 lettering and “GNC” initials on the plans, he breaks into a grin.

“It was really exciting,” he says. “You’re 24? Come on! Good grief, that’s just what you do.”

Though he’s worked on high bridges and geodesic domes and consulted at the South Pole, for him the Needle stands supreme: “It’s the most dramatic project that people know most about.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Gary Curtis, Denise and Brad Chrisman and Bruce and Emily Howard for their assistance with this installment.

Below are a link to an in-depth video interview of Gary, two additional “Now” photos by Jean, five additional photos by Gary, two additional photos by Fora Meredith and a book cover.

Also, to vividly illustrate the intense interest and excitement over the speedy construction of the Space Needle, we present, in chronological order, 102 historical photo clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: Gary Curtis is interviewed by Clay Eals on Feb. 20, 2020, at his Guemes Island home about his engineering work on the Space Needle. Click image to view the 58-minute video!
The Space Needle under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
The Space Needle under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
The Space Needle under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
A worker is transported to a lofty spot while the Space Needle is under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
Curved steel beams await placement while the Space Needle is under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
The Space Needle under construction in late summer 1961. (Fora Meredith, courtesy Denise & Brad Chrisman)
The Coliseum under construction in late summer 1961. (Fora Meredith, courtesy Denise & Brad Chrisman)

 

Additional NOW of Space Needle. (Jean Sherrard)
Additional NOW of Space Needle. (Jean Sherrard)
Cover of “Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle” by Knute Berger (Documentary Media, 2012)
A full year of newspaper clippings, documenting the Space Needle under construction, April 22, 1961, to April 22, 1962:
April 22, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
May 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 4.
May 18, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
June 16, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 21.
June 21, 1961, Seattle Times, page 8.
June 27, 1961, Seattle Times, page 8.
June 30, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 1, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 7, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 18, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
July 18, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 19, 1961, Oregonian, page 32.
July 21, 1961, Seattle Times, page 4.
July 22, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
July 27, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Aug. 8, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
Aug. 20, 1961, Seattle Times, page 5.
Aug. 22, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
Aug. 26, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Sept. 2, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 9, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
Sept. 13, 1961, Seattle Times, page 20.
Sept. 14, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
Sept. 14, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 23, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Sept. 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 4.
Sept. 28, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Sept. 28, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 2, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Oct. 2, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, pae 1.
Oct. 2, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 3, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 7, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Oct. 13, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 14, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
Oct. 14, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 16, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 17, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 18, 1961, Seattle Times, page 52.
Oct. 21, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 29, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 29, 1961, Seattle Times, page 15.
Oct. 31, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 31, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Nov. 2, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
Nov. 6, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
Nov. 7, 1961, Seattle Times, page 31.
Nov. 20, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Nov. 21, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
Nov. 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 111.
Dec. 3, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Dec. 3, 1961, Seattle Times, page 22.
Dec. 4, 1961, Seattle Times, page 14.
Dec. 6, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Dec. 7, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Dec. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Dec. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Dec. 15, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Dec. 20, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
Dec. 31, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 55.
Jan. 10, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Jan. 10, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Jan. 11, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Jan. 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
Jan. 30, 1962, Seattle Times, page 9.
Feb. 1, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Feb. 1, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
Feb. 1, 1962, Seattle Times, page 5.
Feb. 3, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Feb. 7, 1962, Seattle Times, page 5.
Feb. 11, 1962, Seattle Times, page 123.
Feb. 12, 1962, Oregonian, page 4.
Feb. 15, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Feb. 18, 1962, Seattle Times, page 105.
Feb. 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Feb. 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 104.
Feb. 26, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
March 4, 1962, Seattle Times, page 52.
March 8, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
March 11, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
March 11, 1962, Seattle Times, page 115.
March 21, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 161.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 108.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 125.
March 27, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
April 1, 1962, Seattle Times, page 1.
April 4, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 4, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Times, page 228.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Times, page 232.
April 13, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
April 16, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 16, 1962, Seattle Times, page 19.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
April 21, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 22, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 68.

Seattle Now & Then: Prescott-Harshman House in Fall City, 1940

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Signs saying “Telephone Office” and, in faded letters, “Fall City Telephone,” along with the old Bell system logo, adorn this 1904 home along the Snoqualmie River in unincorporated Fall City. The photo, taken May 9, 1940, is hand-labeled “Falls City,” in popular use at the time. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
NOW: With smartphones to their ears, celebrating Prescott-Harshman House’s receipt of the John Spellman historic-preservation award for adaptive reuse (named for the late King County executive) are (from left) Aroma Coffee Co. proprietors Kelsey Wilson, Sara Cox and Emily Ridout and Fall City Historical Society members Cindy Parks, Donna Driver-Kummen and Paula Spence, along with Sarah Steen, King County landmarks coordinator, and her niece, Ellie Steen. In the background at right is Fall City Library. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 8, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 11, 2021)

Can we talk? Fall City celebrates communication in any form
By Clay Eals

Because of its expense and spam, I’m ready to shed our household’s telephone landline. “It’s about time — LOL,” my nephew Chris chides me. He’s probably right, but as a history writer, maybe I get some leeway.

No question: Landlines were once a big deal. More than a century before so-called smartphones and other technology, and in an era of telegraphs and handwritten letters, a telephone tethered to other phones through switchboards in country homes and wires strung along roadways from pole to pole was … well, revolutionary. People hearing real voices in real time over really long distances? Imagine that.

Our “Then” photo hints at how vital this was for tiny towns like Fall City, 25 miles and two lakes east of Seattle. With laundry rippling on a backyard clothesline and a manual lawnmower leaning against the side porch, this lived-in home also displayed three signs (can you spot them?) that it was communications central.

Fledgling telephones in Fall City date to 1900. By 1905, residents banded together, with $300 from lawyer-lumberman Newton Harshman and wife Julia, to connect phone lines from their stores to the local Northern Pacific Depot. In 1912, the Harshmans moved the switchboard to the 1904 home in our “Then” photo, first occupied by Martin and Parthena Prescott, at River and Mill streets along the Snoqualmie River.

Newton died in 1929, and Julia in 1933, when her Fall City Telephone Company sported 250 customers. Keeping the business afloat were their daughter, Gertrude Harshman, and her husband, George Satterlee, until 1947 when a new dial system soon would eliminate the need for a switchboard and operators.

The house was restored as office space, became a county landmark in 1984 and later hosted a Montessori school. Last fall, after 13 years of planning and hands-on fix-up, the building (known as Prescott-Harshman House and owned by Judy and Emily Nelson of nearby Preston) took on a retail persona that hearkens to its chatty roots.

Run by three local women, Aroma Coffee Co. aims to build connections — even with takeout only during the pandemic — at the busy intersection, now 335th Place Southeast and Redmond-Fall City Road (state Highway 202).

“More communication,” observes Metropolitan King County Council member Kathy Lambert, “is always going to be buzzing through here, and it’s very exciting.” So, too, is the county’s 2020 John Spellman historic-preservation award for adaptive reuse, bestowed to Prescott-Harshman House in December.

Like the rest of us, Aroma yearns for a post-virus day when friends and neighbors can gather in homey quarters for eye-to-eye conversation over a hot drink. Now that’ll be revolutionary.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to the Fall City Historical Society, the Snoqualmie Valley Museum and the King County Historic Preservation Program for their assistance with this installment!

Below are two video links, nine photos, five documents and seven historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: Click the image to see the full 24-minute video on the 2020 John Spellman King County Preservation Awards. The segment on Prescott-Harshman House is at time code 6:55-11:50.
VIDEO: Aroma Coffee Co. proprietors (from left) Kelsey Wilson, Sara Cox and Emily Ridout explain how and why they opened a coffeehouse inside the renovated Prescott-Harshman House in Fall City. Click the image to see the two-and-a-half-minute video.
1878 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, squib on “the telephone.” (Courtesy of Ron Edge)
Sept. 15, 1921, Seattle Times, page 15.
Aug. 24, 1929, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
July 23, 1950, Seattle Times, page 78.
The porch of the Prescott-Harshman House. (Fall City Historical Society)
An early view of the Prescott-Harshman House. (Courtesy Fall City Historical Society)
This is the state Historic Property Inventory Form for Prescott-Harshman House. Click the image to see the full pdf file. (King County Historic Preservation)
History of telephones in Fall City. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
Excerpt from Jack Kelley’s history of Fall City. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
The telephone chapter of the Fall City oral-history memory book. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
Obituary of Gertrude Harshman. Click the image to read the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
An early view of Prescott-Harshman House. (Snoqualmie Valley Record collection, Fall City Historical Society)
Newton Roswell Harshman and Julia Gertrune Camp at Prescott-Harshman House, Nov. 17, 1915. (Fall City Historical Society)
Satterlee wedding party, 1919. (Fall City Historical Society)
Undated newspaper ad for Fall City telephone exchange. (Fall City Historical Society)
George Satterlee and Gertrude Harshman wedding article, 1919. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Gertrude Harshman Satterlee with her children outside Fall City Church. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Gertrude Harshman, 1917. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Newton Rosewell Harshman. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Newton Harshman. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Obituary for Gertrude Harshman Satterlee. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)

 

Seattle Now & Then: Mukilteo monument and its missing plaque for Point Elliott Treaty, 1931

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: The May 2, 1931, ceremony to dedicate a monument to the consequential Point Elliott Treaty on hillside Mukilteo included Gov. Roland Hartley, left in suit, and University of Washington historian Edmond S. Meany, right of the monument, who wrote the plaque text and who is largely hidden by Native American headdress. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
THEN2: The event, organized by the Everett-based Marcus Whitman chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, drew more than 3,000 people, including 300 Native Americans. The chapter relinquished custody of the monument to the city of Mukilteo in 1977. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
THEN3: Attendees filled much of the block at 304 Lincoln Ave., then the site of Rosehill High School, now a city park and home of Rosehill Community Center. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
NOW: “What happened to the plaque?” asks Ralph Wittmeyer of south Everett, who stopped recently at the monument while in town to get a haircut. Down the hill at left is the Mukilteo Lighthouse. To the right, out of frame, stands the new Mukilteo state ferry terminal, designed like a Coast Salish longhouse, with interpretive signage about the Point Elliott Treaty. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 1, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 4, 2021)

Treaty monument in Mukilteo is plaqueless — perhaps forever?
By Clay Eals

Sometimes history isn’t where you think you’ll find it.

Case in point: the Jan. 22, 1855, accord known as the Point Elliott Treaty, signed with an “X” by Chief Seattle and 81 other Puget Sound tribal leaders.

While it conferred tribal sovereignty and later was judicially interpreted to protect tribal fishing rights, it also ceded countless acres of land to European newcomers and has long been considered a lordly license for settler supremacy.

Nearly 90 years ago, a ceremony commemorated the treaty with a granite monument. The marker was installed at Third and Lincoln in downtown Mukilteo, a site thought to be near the place the treaty was signed. A Daughters of the American Revolution event on May 2, 1931, drew more than 3,000 people, including 300 Native Americans, some who were descendants of the treaty signers.

THEN4: The treaty plaque, before it vanished last October. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. (Andrew Ruppenstein, (Historical Marker Database)

To absorb the dedication’s hillside milieu, I recently drove north to see the marker at its Mukilteo city block. Imagine my surprise when I reached the stone and found its plaque missing. All that remained in its rectangular frame were three screw holes and a washered pin.

The plaque has been gone since October, when the city discovered its absence, along with graffiti that covered the monument. The scrawls included an anarchist symbol, an expletive and the phrase “BROKEN TREATIES.” Staff scrubbed off the defacement but have puzzled over the plaque’s whereabouts.

Jennifer Gregerson, two-term mayor of Mukilteo, issued a statement hinting that the plaque would not be replaced: “The signing location itself has an important significance in our shared history with the Northwest tribes. I believe this act of vandalism can provide an opportunity to spur our community forward into a new conversation. I hope that we can find a different way to explain and acknowledge that history at this site in Mukilteo.”

The Mukilteo Historical Society doesn’t plan to weigh in on the monument’s future, but Joanne Mulloy, president, is curious about what, if anything, the city will do.

Leaving the marker plaqueless appeals to Ken Workman, fourth-generation great grandson of Chief Seattle, whose Duwamish Tribe still lacks federal recognition. Lyrically, Workman notes that granite and computer memory chips both contain silicon.

“Granite holds the memories of people,” he says. “It’s a symbolic link to the genetic pain of 170 years.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are a photo, brochure, a HistoryLink backgrounder, a map, a DAR timeline and, in chronological order, four historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to local historian Phil Hoffman and his Alki History Project for the initial idea for this installment and for invaluable assistance. He reminds us that the formal name of the Point Elliott Treaty is “Treaty between the United States and the Duwamish, Suquamish, and other allied and subordinate tribes of Indians in Washington Territory.” Hoffman adds, “I am operating on the premise that what we call things reveals what we really think and our biases.”

Joanne Mulloy, president of the Mukilteo Historical Society, offers this additional information and insight: “John Collier, our past president, wrote a quote that I quite like: ‘The Point Elliott Treaty remains a significant historical event for both the Tulalip people and the City of Mukilteo. As such, it should be remembered and, more important, continue to be studied as a means of strengthening cooperation and progress today.’ There are several plaques down at Lighthouse Park still. One was leftover from a bench that was on the beach in the 1950s, but the bench washed out in the Sound.”

Mukilteo monument, March 15, 2010. (Andrew Czernek)
Point Elliott Treaty brochure. Click image to see full pdf. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)
Signatures of territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens and Chief Seattle (“X”) on 1855 Point Elliott Treaty. (The Indigenous Digital Archive)
HistoryLink article on Point Elliott Treaty monument in Mukilteo. Click image to see full article.
Map showing boundaries of land ceded by Native American tribes in the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty. (Courtesy Phil Hoffman)
Timeline of the connection between the Marcus Whitman chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Point Elliott Treaty monument in Mukilteo. Click image to see full document. (Courtesy Teri Lynn Scott)
Jan. 25, 1925, Seattle Times, page 24.
April 20, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
May 1, 1931, Seattle Times, page 13.
Nov. 11, 2020, Mukilteo Beacon. The expletive in the graffiti has been digitally obscured. Click image for full story.

Seattle Now & Then: Our first April Fool’s Quiz

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 28, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 25, 2021 )

Then you see it, now you don’t — our first April Fool’s quiz
By Jean Sherrard

(For those visiting this blog following The Seattle Times link, we offer extra tomfoolery! Perhaps you’ve discovered the editing error in the print edition of the magazine. If so, add a fourth category to our grading rubric: consider yerself a Queen City Queen/King!)

We at “Now & Then” admit that we can be lured into April folly any old day of the year. While fishing the currents of popular history, we occasionally pull in old boots and dogfish. This year, we extend the opportunity to our dear readers to troll along.

Our “Then” photo, looking north at Seattle’s downtown business district, is a revelation. Fearless photographer Frank H. Nowell arranged for an early ride up to the unfinished (and unwalled) 35th-floor observation deck of the famed, pointed Smith Tower. In 1913, one year before the tower opened, Nowell captured this early panorama from the loftiest human-made structure on the West Coast.

Following in his footsteps 108 years later, I repeated the panorama (“Now 1”) and made several telling discoveries — of alteration, misinformation and exaggeration — ideal for an April Fool’s multiple-choice challenge in which we peel back a layer or two of the Smith Tower’s terra-cotta clad onion.

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This 1913 view is from the Smith Tower’s unfinished 35th-floor observation deck. (Frank Nowell)
NOW 1: This “Goldilocks” view (not too high or too low — just right!) from the Smith Tower’s 35th-floor observation deck has lured generations of photographers. (Jean Sherrard)

Question 1
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

In our primary pair of photos, several decades of growth have obscured the northern prospect. Which of the following can still be seen?

A: The Central Building

B: Queen Anne High School

C: Lake Union

D: The Rainier Club

E: St. James Cathedral

NOW 2: These views looking north along the Second Avenue canyon were taken in 2018 and 2021. In the earlier photo (left), the Needle’s saucer is scaffolded for renovation. (Jean Sherrard)

Question 2
NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK

Our second pair of photos reveals a more recent switcheroo. In a view north along the Second Avenue canyon, the Space Needle has seemingly disappeared. Where has it gone?

A: Magician David Copperfield followed up his Statue of Liberty vanishing act.

B: The Space Needle was returned to the box it came in.

C: Yet another condominium joined the fray.

D: Amazon created a new pop-up Seattle headquarters.

E: Regraded Denny Hill re-emerged to assume its rightful place.

NOW3: Text of a plaque installed at the Smith Tower’s entrance in 1989 is not entirely accurate. It reads: “Seattle’s first skyscraper opened on July 4, 1914. The 42-story Smith Tower was the tallest building outside of New York City and Seattle’s tallest for nearly fifty years. It was built by Lyman Smith of Smith-Corona and Smith & Wesson fame, from Syracuse, New York. Sheathed entirely in terra cotta, the building was designed by the Syracuse firm of Gaggin & Gaggin. In a race to construct Seattle’s tallest building, Smith also hoped to anchor the “Second Avenue Canyon” area as the center of downtown. He died before the tower was completed.” (Jean Sherrard)

Question 3
FISH TALES

At the Smith Tower’s front entrance, a brass plaque has misinformed passersby since 1989. Which of the following statements are not true:

A: Lyman Cornelius Smith was from Syracuse, New York.

B: The Smith Tower is 42 stories tall.

C: Smith was a founding partner of Smith & Wesson.

D: L.C. accumulated much of his wealth manufacturing typewriters.

E: In 1914, Smith Tower was the tallest building outside of New York City.

(scroll down for the correct answers and a grading rubric)

 

 

(keep going)

 

 

(a bit further)

 

 

(Burma Shave!)

 

 

Answers

1: A, D and E

2: C

3: B (even a generous observer counts no more than 38 stories)
C (Horace Smith founded Smith & Wesson) and
E (at 495 feet, Cincinnati’s Union Central Tower was 30 feet taller).

The Rubric

One correct answer: You’re a Mercer Mess
Two correct answers: You’re a Pike Pundit
Three correct answers: You’ve attained Seattle Chill

WEB EXTRAS

For a spectacular 360 degree view from Smith Tower’s 35th floor Observation Deck (along with Jean’s dulcet narration), click on through.

Seattle Now & Then: Baseball’s ‘Western Wonder’ Vean Gregg — 1922 and 1925

(Click and click again to enlarge photos — and these severely horizontal gems fairly demand to be enlarged!)

THEN1: When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer printed a closer image from this March 28, 1925, photo shoot for Vean Gregg Service Station at 2006 Rainier Ave., the headline read “3 Gallons and You’re Out.” However, Vean is not in the picture. The station bore the Gregg name through 1927. (David Eskenazi collection) Here, thanks to automotive informant Bob Carney, are the years and makes of the cars (from left): 1920-21 Dodge touring car, 1922-24 Studebaker roadster (behind front row), 1923-24 Oldsmobile coupe, 1922 Chandler two-door sedan, unidentified, 1925 Nash two-door sedan, 1920s Model T Ford with cargo box (behind front row), 1925 Willys-Knight touring car, 1922-1925 REO Speedwagon truck, 1920s Model T Ford.
NOW: On the same triangular lot, celebrating the Vean Gregg Service Station site 96 years later are (from left) baseball historians David Eskenazi and Eric Sallee, the owners of eight vintage cars from the Evergreen As and Gallopin’ Gertie Model A clubs and Daniel Tessema and Mesh Tadesse of today’s YET Oil and Brake Services. Here are the names of the car owners and their cars (from left): Win & Cathy Brown, 1931 Tudor Delux; Christy & Robert McLaughlin, 1931 Blindback Sedan; Rich Nestler, 1930 Coupe; Steve Francois, 1931 Delux Roadster; Ahna Holder & Tammy Nyhus, 1931 Roadster; Don Werlech, 1931 Coupe; Dale Erickson, 1931 Coupe; and John Hash, 1931 Victoria.

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 18, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 21, 2021)

Baseball’s ‘Western Wonder’ knew how to fuel a negotiation
By Clay Eals

On a late-1950s Saturday morning when I was a tyke, my Kentucky-born dad beckoned me to the living room and pointed at the CBS Game of the Week on TV. “Take a look: The pitcher’s a southpaw.” I peered at the screen and blurted out, “He’s left-handed, too!”

This lefty appreciated the impromptu vocabulary lesson. And trust me, in this righty world, lefties give each other a certain recognition and respect. Of course, that extends to Vean Gregg.

What, you haven’t heard of Gregg? Obscurity can’t dim the fact that among early big-league pitchers, the Chehalis native, raised mostly in the Eastern Washington border town of Clarkston, was a phenom.

THEN2: Vean Gregg, the lanky, 6-foot-2, 180-pound “Western Wonder,” shown at age 37 in 1922, winds up for the Seattle Indians. Newspaper crop marks are intact in this scrapbook photo. (David Eskenazi collection)

Nicknamed the “Western Wonder,” Sylveanus Augustus Gregg dazzled in 1911 as a Cleveland Naps rookie. The 26-year-old won 23 games and topped the American League with a 1.80 earned-run average. The fierce Ty Cobb called him the toughest lefty he ever faced. Gregg became the only 20th century hurler to win at least 20 games in his first three years in the majors.

Then came severe, mysterious arm pain and so-so seasons. A plasterer by trade, he even abandoned the pro game for three years. But he built a delightfully local comeback.

For the Seattle Indians based at Dugdale Park (future site of the storied Sicks’ Seattle Stadium and today’s Lowe’s Home Improvement on Rainier Avenue), he won 19 games in 1922, led the Pacific Coast League in earned-run average in 1923 and, with 25 wins, spurred the team to its first PCL pennant in 1924.

Gregg could taste a big-league rebound. In February 1925, with the Washington Senators calling, his brother, Dave, a journeyman righty who ended up pitching just one inning in the majors, opened a service station one-half mile north of Dugdale on Rainier Avenue. In this owner-dominated era, the siblings hatched a plan.

The trick was to name the station for Vean. “The idea,” says Eric Sallee, who with fellow Seattle diamond historian David Eskenazi has written extensively about Gregg, “was to prove to the Seattle and Washington team owners that he had another way to earn a living besides baseball.”

The ploy worked. The Senators snagged him for $10,000 and three players. But arm pain and humdrum performances soon resurfaced. He split that season with Washington (his last stint in the majors) and a Class A minor-league team. Other than one-third of an inning with Class AA Sacramento in 1927, his professional career was over. After pitching for semi-pro teams, he retired in 1931. For 37 years, he ran a Hoquiam sporting-goods store and cafe called The Home Plate. He died in 1964.

The triangular lot on Rainier still hosts a service station. It all reminds me of my usual advice to my daughter: Life is negotiable. And lefties get frequent practice.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are 25 additional photos, two book chapters and, in chronological order, 31 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to local baseball historians Dave Eskenazi and Eric Sallee , Rich Nestler of the Evergreen A’s Model A Club and automotive informant Bob Carney, as well as Joseph Bopp, Albert Balch curator and Special Collections librarian at Seattle Public Library, for their assistance with this column!

With vintage clothing and equipment, Eric Sallee (left) and Dave Eskenazi have a catch on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Win & Cathy Brown and their 1931 Tudor Delux on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Christy & Robert McLaughlin and their 1931 Blindback Sedan on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Rich Nestler and his 1930 Coupe on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Steve Francois and his 1931 Delux Roadster on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Ahna Holder and her 1931 Roadster on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Don Werlech and his 1931 Coupe on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Dale Erickson and his 1931 Coupe on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
John Hash and his 1931 Victoria on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Three Greggs (from left) Vean, circa 1924; Vean, 1910 with Portland Beavers; and Dave, circa 1912, Vaughan Street ballpark. (David Eskenazi collection)
Cy Young (left) and Vean Gregg, 1911. (David Eskenazi collection)
Plows Candy card of Vean Gregg, 1912. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg in The Sporting News supplement, Nov. 2, 1911. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg with Portland Beavers on Obak cigarette baseball card, 1910. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg on Portland Beavers, postcard, 1910. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg (left) with Boston Red Sox rightfielder and pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, 1914-1915. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., 1925-1926. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg autograph. (David Eskenazi collection)
Matchbook cover from Vean Gregg’s The Home Plate, Hoquiam. (David Eskenazi collection)
Matchbook cover from Vean Gregg’s The Home Plate, Hoquiam. (David Eskenazi collection)
Token from Vean Gregg’s The Home Plate, Hoquiam. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg portrait from the collection of Sam Thompson, who writes, “He was a friend of my dad’s many, many years ago. They owned service stations on Rainier Avenue at the same time. I remember going to see him in Hoquiam, probably around 1960, and being lifted into his arms. Haven’t thought about him in years until reading your article. Thanks for bringing back fond memories!” (Courtesy Sam Thompson)
April 21, 1910, Oregonian, page 8.
April 24, 1910, Oregonian, page 3.
Jan. 14, 1912, Billy Evans article. (Eric Sallee collection)
December 1912 Baseball Magazine article on Vean Gregg. Click the page to open the pdf. (Eric Sallee collection)
June 21, 1913, Cleveland Press. (Eric Sallee collection)
Jan. 12, 1922, Seattle Times, page 15.
Feb. 20, 1922, Seattle Times, page 10.
March 19, 1922, Seattle Times, page 19.
April 23, 1922, Seattle Times, page 34.
June 7, 1922, Seattle Times, page 14.
Jan. 14, 1923, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 37.
July 13, 1924, from a Seattle newspaper. (Eric Sallee collection)
July 7, 1924, Seattle Times, page 17.
July 13, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 54. (It turns out that the P-I was one year early with its 40th birthday celebration.)
Jan. 7, 1925, Washington Post. (Eric Sallee collection)
Feb. 17, 1925, Seattle Times, page 17.
Feb. 18, 1925, from a Seattle newspaper. (Eric Sallee collection)
Feb. 18, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
March 29, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 34.
March 29, 1925, Seattle Times, page 22.
April 21, 1925, Seattle Times, page 28.
April 25, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
May 8, 1925, Washington Post. (Eric Sallee collection)
June 8, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
July 19, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
June 27, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
June 31, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Dec. 28, 1925, Seattle Times, page 17.
Feb. 19, 1926, Seattle Times, page 29.
June 5, 1931, Tacoma News-Tribune, page 21.
Aug. 31, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
July 5, 1949, Oregonian, L.H. Gregory column, page 23.
Vean Gregg chapter of “They Tasted Glory” book. Click image to read pdf. (Eric Sallee collection)

Now & Then here and now