Seattle Now & Then: Armistice Day Parade, Nov. 11, 1918

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: With feet nearly touching the Madison Street Cable Railway’s cable slot, five “happy workers” squeeze on to the front bumper of an improvised Armistice Day float.  (Photo courtesy Grace McAdams)
THEN: With feet nearly touching the Madison Street Cable Railway’s cable slot, five “happy workers” squeeze on to the front bumper of an improvised Armistice Day float. (Photo courtesy Grace McAdams)
NOW:Practically all the early 20th Century structures built along the wide Second Avenue have been replaced and the retail street lined with trees.  (Now by Jean Sherrard)
NOW: Practically all the early 20th Century structures built along the wide Second Avenue have been replaced and the retail street lined with trees. (Jean Sherrard)
The Seattle Sunday Times for Nov. 10, 1918 was packed with wartime stories. This newspaper, like most others, had been preoccupied with the war since the U.S. declared it against “the Huns” (also known as Germans) 19 months earlier. But The Times was also beginning to introduce lighter touches in its war reporting, like quotes this Sunday from a Seattle soldier’s happy letter to his mother about “naughty Parisians” and another about Yankees not fancying the “Pink Teas” with which some Brits attempted to entertain them.
A much greater playfulness was announced early the next morning — not in print but by The Times whistle. Awakened sleepers knew the meaning. The war was over.

The “monster impromptu parade” began when the early shift in the shipyards was let go to celebrate. By ten a.m. thirty thousand shipyard workers, joined clerks, trolley conductors, teachers, doctors, bankers, and bakers in a parade that circled the business district accompanied by sirens, horns, the back-firing explosions of opened mufflers and a percussive orchestra of garbage cans “borrowed” from every alley.

It was an “ecstasy of joy,” an “orderly disorder,” “a spontaneous combustion of Seattle’s heart and soul.” And there were, The Times noted, “autos and trucks crowded with flag-waving pretty girls” like we see here crossing Madison Street southbound on Second Avenue.

This snapshot by grocer Max Loudon is but one of about two hundred captioned photographs included in the new illustrated version of Richard Berner’s local classic “Seattle 1900 – 1920 From Boomtown, Through Urban Turbulence, to Restoration.” The book appears now on dorpatsherrardlomont, the blog-webpage routinely noted at the end of this feature. Take a moment to examine this important part of the “Seattle Canon” and you may read it all.

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