Our Daily Sykes #310 – A Rare Commonplace

Running low on Sykes I explored another box of his slides, one I’d not searched before.  Inside were a few slides grouped by subjects and captioned – minimally.   For these subjects we have already seen slides “without words” in Our Daily Sykes.   There was a grouping for “Snake River,” another with many close-ups of flowers and a third of sunsets, of which the above was one.  It is that rare photograph of a sunset that breaks the commonplace of the sinking sun sensations with a very satisfying composition and what editors and ad-agents like to call “human interest” too.  But where is it?  Again, Horace does not tell us.  However, after “reading” the horizon I remembered it from a Washington State real photo postcard we used in our book “Washington Then and Now.”  With the help of Google Earth I think I figured out within a few feet from where Horace took this sunset sometime in the 1940s.  However, I’m not telling.  Rather I’ll include a good clue below – another display of the same horizon and in full daylight.  So where is it?  (Click TWICE to Enlarge)

Our Daily Sykes #309 – Intelligent Design

We know that Horace Sykes was not always sizing up the picturesque in nature, but sometimes taking grotesque breaks too. This sturdy little tree in the mid-ground holds its own against the river and our habit of consuming Sykes either for the picturesque or the sensational parts of his Kodachrome slides. Here it seem Horace takes hold of this subject for its irony and brave good humor.

Our Daily Sykes #308 – "Clouds at Sunrise #4"

One more of those rare Sykes subjects that are titled in Syke's hand on the cardboard cover of his Kodachrome. It reads in a lower corner "Clouds at Sunrise H. Sykes #4." A different number written in a higher corner has been blotted out. The slide is also accompanied by another sunset subject that is also given a low number, which suggest that Horace Sykes was creating a collection of such. (Click to Enlarge)

Our Daily Sykes #306 – Marshall's Hobby Oil Set

Syke's original slide of this subject was underexposed. A scan of it pumped with Photoshop steroids has it looking like a black and white soft focus photograph hand colored with Marshall Oil paints - the kind we purchased legally over the counter in art stores without written notes from either our parents or teachers. I never had the knack for it neither did I compensate by learning the hang of it all. Especially the trees in the foreground look painted. The mountains seem asleep in dreams of mountains. There may be snow there but it has all gone light blue squeezed from a Marshall tube, or so it seems. The colors and the subject also remind me of the paper place mats given in the 1950s to those who filled their tanks at Chevron service stations. My dad - and many others - collected them.

Seattle Now & Then: The Floating Bridge Inauguration

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: After twenty years of debate about whether to build it and where and how, the first bridge across Lake Washington took 18 months and a few days from ground breaking to accepting its first tolls from drivers happy for the short cut. (Photo courtesy Washington State Archive.)
NOW: For his repeat, Jean Sherrard got within a few feet of the original prospect (now hidden behind bushes) taken by a Port of Seattle photographer at the bridge’s dedication.

Three thousand men got depression-time jobs building the Lacey V. Murrow Bridge – aka the Lake Washington Floating Bridge.  Forty-five percent was paid with a federal public works grant and the rest by revenue bonds secured by the 25-cent tolls. The bridge was formally dedicated and opened in the early afternoon – judging by the shadows – of a sunlit July 2, 1940.

About 2000 people watched from the tunnel plaza area here on the bridge’s Seattle side and hundreds more gathered around the toll booths at the bridge’s Mercer Island end.  Broadcast by radio nation-wide, the floating bridge was christened like a ship. After cutting the red ribbon, Kate Stevens Bates, daughter of Washington Territory’s first governor, Isaac Stevens, let swing and crash against the concrete bridge a yellow urn in which were mixed the waters of fifty-eight of the state’s waterways: lakes, bays and rivers.

With a smile about as wide, turned up and fixed as the grill work of his inaugural chariot, an open 1940 Lincoln Convertible, the state’s Governor Clarence Martin rode twice across the new bridge.  At half way Martin was the first to pay a toll.

We could compare the public effort required to build “the largest floating structure in the world” with our recent struggle to replace the feeble Alaska Way Viaduct with a deep bore tunnel, except that it would take too long.  Instead, we suggest that readers consult Genevieve McCoy’s fine chapter on the state’s bridges that is part our book “Building Washington.”  You can read it for free on the blog noted here below.

One more toot – an announcement.  This “now-then” comparison is one of about 100 such selected for an exhibit of “repeat photography” opening Saturday, April 9th, at the Museum of History and Industry.  Most of the exhibit’s Seattle examples were first published here in Pacific.  But the exhibit – most likely the last one for MOHAI in its old Montlake quarters – also includes examples from Washington State and even from Paris, the birthplace of photography.


Anything to add, Paul?

Let me coyly answer my own question. I know Paul has some treats hidden away; including one of my favorites: a delightful photo of grinning then-governor Clarence Martin, as described above. For that and much more, click on ‘Web Extras’….

Our Daily Sykes #305 – Return to Steptoe

[Click to Enlarge]   This may be our fourth or fifth visit with Horace Sykes to the top of Steptoe Butte.  The view is to the south and, I believe, a little to the east too.  Sykes’ decision to include a horizon of the hill as well as the quilt of Palouse wheat fields below it is typical of his often displayed urge to when shooting something far off to also include something nearby.  And here the lift of that upstanding cloud plays parallel to the rise in the butte’s horizon.   All is right with the world and heaven above.