Our Daily Sykes #233 – Another of Willamette Falls

One of the Sykes pleasures of holding his slides is that they have as yet not all been seen, and as time allows we continue to sort through the boxes. This view of Willamette Falls was found yesterday. Last August 12 we showed another look at the falls that Horace photographed from nearly the same place on the Willamette's east bank, but with a different tree and more flow over the falls - and at sunset. The following day we put up yet another look at the falls, one from an earlier black and white negative by an unknown photographer. It too came with no caption. I have only seen Willamette Falls from the train on trips between Seattle and California, most of them in the mid-1960s. I remember having plenty of time to study the falls. Perhaps the train pokes along here. And perhaps the smoke drifting in the sky above the falls here comes from a diesel engine, and Horace is snapping from the window of a coach on the Southern Pacific RR. Horace was raised in the Willamette Valley and after his move to Seattle in the late 1920s still had family attractions in Oregon. Maybe for this trip he put aside the Sykesmobile and took to the rails. (Click to Enlarge)

Our Daily Sykes #232 – Eda Christiansen

Searching for a title for another subject that Horace Sykes does not identify, a subject that might be found in a calender publisher's file for "autumnal scenes," I have named it for my maiden mother, Eda Christiansen, who prefered scenes like this one surely even long before she met dad. It reminds me of a landscape that hung in the hallway between the kitchen and the living room at 828 Jefferson St. during my own "maiden years" on Spokane's South Hill.

Our Daily Sykes #229 – Painterly Landscape

By some accounts modern art was, in part, a reaction to the camera and it powers of verisimilitude. Art would show it how to squint the eyes or look through impressionist's glasses to points of light. In this Sykes landscape we have a photograph nearly responding or acting like a painting, and it begins with the focus. It is soft. When the subject is examined up-close (closer than you will see it here, even with two clicks of your mouse) it seems to loosen and sometimes shake itself into dabs of paint. Such a photograph might be a way to teach impressions - with a brush. "Step one: Blow up., Step two: Find the points of light. Step three: Copy them with a plastic medium - oil pigments for instance - using a semi-stiff brush and be faithful to their order." And it is also appropriate and typical that we know neither when nor where this is. We do, however, given time, the size of that river, the habitat and Google Earth feel that we could find it. Perhaps you will find it first.

Paris chronicle #10 Happy Christmas holidays

It was tonight,  on the sixth floor terrace in Centre Georges Pompidou after a marvelous exhibition dedicated to Mondrian.

You can perceive Notre-Dame in the center, just behind the Panthéon and on the left the enlightened « Hotel de Ville »

Bonnes vacances de Noël.

C’était ce soir au sixième étage de le la terrasse du Centre Georges Pompidou après une merveilleuse exposition consacrée à Mondrian.

Vous pouvez apercevoir Notre-Dame au centre, juste à l’arrière le Panthéon et sur la gauche l’Hôtel de Ville tout illuminé.

Seattle Now & Then: The Labor Temple

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: “In what was then a neighborhood of hotels and apartments Seattle’s Labor Temple opened in 1905 at the northeast corner of 6th Avenue and University Street. (Pic courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: “The 36 floors of One Union Square were completed in 1981. What distinguished the structure at that time was it’s aluminum skin, which is still stormtight and shining.”

Throughout the first anxious year of World War Two, the local Federation of Labor Unions completed the construction of their new Labor Temple at the northeast corner of First Avenue and Clay Street, and in the fall of 1942 the member unions – nearly 50 of them – moved to it from their old quarters here at 6th Avenue and University Street.

Reporting on the move, the Post-Intelligencer noted that the old temple would continue to be used for some union meetings until the return of peace permitted an auditorium to be fitted into the new Belltown building.  The P-I also reflected “most of the important meetings and outstanding decisions made by Seattle labor leaders since 1905 have taken place in the old temple.  The general strike in February of 1919 was planned in the building . . . The streetcar motorman’s strike during the last war was also called from the building.”

The Labor Temple, left of center, seen from First Hill. This view of it was used in "Seattle 1900 to 1920," Rich Berner's first of three books on Seattle in the first half of the 20th Century. See below.

The 1905 dedication at 6th and University was two blocks south and four years late.  At the conclusion of the 1901 Labor Day parade a few thousand celebrants gathered at 6th and Pike (not University) to lay the cornerstone for the Western Central Labor Union’s new temple.  William H. Middleton, its optimistic president told the crowd, “In the name of the organized labor, in the name of the great trades union movement and in the name of the Western Central Labor Union, I dedicate this temple for the use of organized labor.  May peace be within its walls and good will always extend to mankind.”

Several strikes and considerable strife between industrial and trade-based labor followed and probably confused the first attempts at building a temple.  Retired U.W. archivist Rich Berner’s first of three books on 20th Century Seattle is the best source for following the labor fireworks of those years.  Now a new illustrated edition of Berner’s “Seattle 1900-1920” can be read free on-line on this blog (click here to download – Rich’s complete book approaches 28 MB, which takes 20 seconds to download with cable, but possibly more time with slower connections) or purchased in hard copy at the University of Washington Book Store.  All proceeds after expenses go to the non-profit encyclopedia of Washington State history, historylink.org.

Here’s a larger rendering of the book’s cover.


Well, Paul, on this day after Christmas, I thought it appropriate to drag out a production we did together several years ago. It is, of course, our audio dramatization of O’Henry’s THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, which you narrated and I produced for Feliks Banel’s Holiday Express show on KBCS-FM, hearkening back to my days as a radio theatre impresario for NPR. For those who long for yet one more tidbit of Christmas, enjoy.  The rest of you can just cool your heels till next year.

Now, your turn, Paul.  Anything to add?

Jean, mostly another encouragement for readers to check out the book Seattle 1900 – 1920.  It is stuffed with illustrations that are almost always shown on or very near the pages to which they are most relevant.

As you know Jean, Rich begins his 10th decade this coming New Years Eve, Dec. 31.  He will be 90 years old.  Since they cannot find anything wrong with him he may be around until 112.  Here’s the picture you took last year at Ivar’s Acres of Clams.  We took him for lunch.

Rich Berner at the Acres of Clams Dec. 31, 2009, his birthday, with one candle "holding the candle" for 88 more.
The 1942 clipping from which much of the Labor Temple story above was borrowed.
A "buy a bond" float from WW1, which adds the alternative "or fight." The role of the weighty man at the rear is puzzling. Is he preparing to fight or pay out. Or is he there to hold up Uncle Sam? The photo also includes what is probably an "optical allusion." The curtains blowing vigorousy from the open window on the left, are probably not curtains but mutilated photographic print paper. And there on the flatbed is that Horrible Hun, followed below by a Dicks Drive-In (Wallingford) revolving bun and burger notice for a patriotic meal on Labor Day, 2008.

Our Daily Sykes #228 – Christmas Bush

We know neither where nor when Horace Sykes recorded this landscape, but we have chosen it for this Christmas Eve as our "Christmas Bush" or bushes. And the lighting at least intimates the miraculous. How, with the background of dark rocks mostly back-lighted, did Horace's band of bushes get lighted so? Now we simply turn on the fill-in flash in circumstances like this, if we wish. But Horace - as far as the evidence goes from hundreds of slides - did not use a flash outdoors.

Our Daily Sykes #227 – Snake River at but before Port Almota

(Click your MOUSE to Enlarge)   This landscape with the serpentine river and hills stepped to either side like artifacts reveals a nature so obedient to forces as predictable as a French Curve or as obedient as a bible college geologist  that it seems painted.  Whether idealized or recorded, where is it?  I first went for the Grand Ronde River in the northeast corner of Oregon.  It has scores of curves to explore looking for one that matches these.  But that river is not this big, and its sides are ordinarily steeper and its habitat kinder to evergreens.   The Grande Ronde is, of course, a tributary to the Snake River, and about thirty crow-flies miles northwest of where the Grande Ronde joins the Snake River south of Asotin, Washington, the by then slack water Snake reaches the Lower Granite Dam, the last of four dams built between the Columbia and Lewiston-Clarkston – all  of them with locks.  If the crow flies over the dam and continues towards the northwest in about another four miles the bird may wish to stop and rest here on this hill, which Horace took for his prospect.  It looks southeast through the curves that are now still evident in the river although without the sand bars.  Again, the Snake is now one long lake – or four lakes between Ice Harbor Dam, about ten miles up stream from the Columbia, and the twin cities of Lewiston and  Clarkston,  which because of the dams are now acting like ocean ports – small ones.   From this prospect today Horace would see the dam upstream and also directly below him the primarily wheat shipping port of Almota.   And about half way between the dam and the port he could not help but notice  Boyer Park and Marina on the left bank, a sturdy development with lots of room for power boats and camping too. Now below Horace’s hill three paved roads meet.  Washington Hi-w’y 194 comes through that cut bottom-left and meets the Almota Docks Road and the Lower Granite Road on the north (or here northeast) side of the Snake.  In all it took millions of years to create this spectacle but only an afternoon or two to parcel it with a fence.