Seattle Now & Then: Wallingford Fisticuffs

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Stan Stapp, publisher of the North Central Outlook, recorded this fistfight in the spring of 1952. In this instance the story came to him. The fists were thrown for the half-witted amusement of other boys soon after Lincoln High recessed for the day. The scene is on North 42nd Street just east of Ashworth Avenue North.

NOW: As John Sundsten posed where the witness in the letterman's jacket stood in 1952, a neighbor walked by and happily agreed to play the part of an anonymous angry fighter. John first thought that the lad in the jacket might be himself. He had one and the timing was right - or close to right he discovered - for the 1950 Lincoln grad. But he could not remember the fight only the street dances and so gave up on the jacket correspondence even before he found the date for this generally grinning blood lust.

I first saw this snapshot of high-school fisticuffs years ago. The venerable North End journalist Stan Stapp shared it with me for possible use in The Seattle Times or an exhibit. It was one part of a thick handful of mostly Wallingford glossies he used as editor, columnist, reporter and photographer for his family’s neighborhood newspaper, The North Central Outlook.

I don’t remember Stapp explaining the circumstances of the scene — whose fist, whose chin, when and where. But Stapp was a 1936 graduate of Wallingford’s Lincoln High School; the family home and newspaper office were two blocks from Lincoln, and the bungalow behind the impetuous teens is also very Wallingfordian. Stapp passed in 2006.

Recently I stumbled upon my copy and showed it to John Sundsten, a 1950 graduate of Lincoln. On first glance, the retired University of Washington neuroanatomist thought, “The boys are dancing. Isn’t that odd.”

After quickly surrendering to the idea that this was a fight not a dance, the peace-loving musician-scientist carried the print to the Fremont Public Library where back issues of the Outlook are stored. Sundsten started with the issues in 1950, the year he graduated. Thumbing forward he soon found the picture and its story on page 3 of Stapp’s weekly tabloid, published May 2, 1952.

It was, not surprisingly, Stapp who took the picture and wrote the copy. He gave no names except that of Wallingford’s juvenile officer, Walter J. Hauan, who took the two pugilists to a Wallingford precinct room. Stapp leaves his story with a happy ending, we assume. He concludes, “Hauan’s fatherly manner of approach has helped clear things up for thousands of local youths in the past.”


Anything to add, Paul?…..(for the rest of the story, click here)

6 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Wallingford Fisticuffs”

  1. Look at the sixth guy from the right. He not only appears to be holding a bowling ball in his left hand, but appears to be “flipping off” the combatants for the camera. Funny!

  2. To me the person in the lettermans jacket is just a bystander. The two boys in the center of the photo are the ones fighting. The boys have blurred arms that the speed of exposure of the photo didn’t freeze. Could the person in the lettermans jacket with his hands in his pockets be officer Hauan?

  3. Looks like he’s holding a basketball to me – you can just make out the stripes. I also think he has something in his hand, and that’s not his middle finger. A pen, perhaps? A little thick for a pencil, I think.

    I’m curious what the fellow to his right is holding.

  4. Brian, I think that Gavin is correct about the basketball, and I, like he, wonder what the fellow to his right is holding. James thanks for catching the ambiguity in my fuddled caption. I have corrected it. Of course he was not fighting with his hands in his sports coat, nor did I mean for him to fight. Neither is he repeating as theater the swings of the two fighters, as a few others are.

  5. Thank you for this article because it brings back some wonderful memories. I recall delivering the North Central Outlook during this period and I was so proud that my name appeared at the bottom of the first page every week as the “deliver person”. I remember picking up my papers in the basement of Stan Stapp’s home – it always smelled of printers ink. Now that I know that the Outlook is on file at the Fremont Library, I plan to look up the earlier editions of the paper.

    Interesting that you should mention Walter J. Hauan – during this period since most students new him as “Hawkeye” – he cruised the adjacent neighborhood looking for students that were skipping school and/or smoking in the alleys around Lincoln HS. Everyone would run when they saw him driving his “shiney, black city car”.

    I, too, was a 1950 graduate of Lincoln. Keep up the good work on the Now and Then Articles.

  6. Thanks for the memories Paul. Indeed “Hawkeye” does not sound so “fatherly.” Did you even spend any time with him in the precinct station. Tell the truth Paul.

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