Seattle Now & Then: Motorcycles and Art on Third Avenue South

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Third from the right, Grace Loudon McAdams steadies her brother Max’s motorcycle for his recording of this fashionably snug line-up. Grace and her friends pose on a Third Avenue sidewalk about one-half block south of Washington Street, ca.1919.
NOW: About 90 years later, and following the close of the exhibit “Feast” at the Grover Thurston Gallery, the show’s artists – holding examples of their art – pose with friends on the same sidewalk. They are, left to right, Howard Lev, Nancy Harriss, Karel Bauer, Julie Paschkis, Joe Max Emminger, Dan Miles, Mimi Miles, Margaret Chodos-Irvine, and Margaret Bovingdon.

For this week’s especially convivial “repeat” Jean Sherrard and I persuaded our friends, artists Joe Max Emminger and Julie Paschkis, to walk a block.  In what Jean described then as the “pearl-like light” of that late September Sunday, the married couple, with a few friends, stand side-by-side on 3rd Ave. S. holding examples of their art taken moments earlier from the walls of the nearby Grover Thurston Gallery.  Julie and Joe had just concluded their joint show at the gallery with a potluck. Appropriately, the month-long exhibit was named “Feast.”

Same day, same sidewalk, and some of the same women and named - including Grace, third from the right.

About 93 years earlier Grace Loudon McAdams posed with a few happy friends on the same 3rd Ave sidewalk mid-block between Washington and Main Streets.  The storefronts are the same.  Her older brother Max took the photo, and Grace, third from the right, steadies Max’s cycle with her hand on its seat. While that ca.1919 day was equally sunny it was surely not as warm as our recent Indian summer – although the motorcycle is an Indian.

Still that day and curb and Indian but here Max poses his sister on her own while looking north on 3rd Ave south from between Main (behind him) and Washington Streets.

I first met Grace about thirty years ago.  She shared with me her brother’s albums, and the sportsman Max took lots of revealing photographs.  His camera recorded some of the best snapshots of his hometown’s sporting life: park visits, horse racing, circus parades, beach-life, back stage vaudeville and the semi-pro baseball team he managed. (If you care to visit, we have posted more of Max’s subjects on our blog, dorpatsherrardlomont.)

Some time later, Grace, on the right, and her best friend Elliott with their children.

Returning to our friends on the sidewalk.  Everyone attending the Feast’s last day potluck choose their own piece of “Salty Dough Sculpture” hung from one of the gallery’s walls.  Two examples can be found in Jean’s “repeat.” Jean and I also picked our pieces of artful hardtack for we have long been delighted by the imaginative adventures shared in both Joe’s and Julie’s art. You can read about the show and see all the work – including the wall of “salty dough” – and even get a recipe for making the bread pieces on the show’s own blog.

Artist Margaret Bovingdon stands before what it left of Salty Dough Wall. It is at the end of the show, moments before we adjourned with Jean to take the "repeat" shot above on the Third Ave. S. sidewalk. Margaret appears there, far right.


Anything to add, Paul?

Yes, again, Jean.  But may your first find some snaps of Joe and Julie’s show, or in that line of any show of theirs you have in your art horde (or mine).   Then I’ll pick up with three or four additional features from the neighborhood or to the “theme.”

Jean here again. I’ll add in a few thumbnails from several of Julie and Joe’s previous gallery shows starting in 2006.

Julie in 2006
Lev with Paprikash
Paul in Julie's lion
Jean with salmon
Joe, Dorpat, Dempsters
Joe and friend
Joe's show from above
Nuclear Joe
A processional to the 'Now' photo site, led by Julie
Paul compares Loudon's original to the current location


On the same sidewalk - on the east side of Third Ave. S. between Main and Washington Streets - some of the clerical staff of Stewart and Holmes poses both with and without their flu masks. The first floors of the City-County Building appear two blocks north on 3rd.
After I showed them the flu photos during the summer of 198, these two traveling men agreed to pose with their bedrolls near were Grace and her friends stood with the Indian for Max Loudon 63 years earlier.

THE FLU – 1918

(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 18, 1984)

During the last month of World War I, Seattle was under siege by a global force more deadly than bombers and tanks. The city was in the grip of la Grippe, or Spanish Flu. The 1918 global pandemic took twice as many lives as the Great War.

In Seattle, a young man at the University of Washington’s naval training station was the first to die. That was Wednesday, Oct. 2. By Saturday, Oct. 5 the alarming rise of disease and death prompted the city’s sometimes hysterical mayor, Ole Hanson, to react. According to a daily newspaper, the mayor “placed in effect the most drastic regulations to which the city has ever been subjected . . . the city forbids every form of public assemblage.”

On Saturday night the dance halls were closed, the theaters dark. On Sunday morning, church services were suspended and on Monday the school bells were silent. The front page of the Monday Post-Intelligencer announced, “Gloomy Sunday is Result of the Influenza Ban.” The law against assembling had had its ironic reversals. “There were aimless, peevish crowds that strolled up and down Second and Third avenues Sunday afternoon, sat in hotel lobbies and collected in doorways and on street comers. They talked about the war . . . but mostly they lambasted the mayor.”

A tent city somewhere in Seattle for the quarantine of the coughing.

Sunday’s toll was four dead; Monday’s eight. On Tuesday 401 new cases were reported; on Wednesday that tally climbed to 424. The siege continued and citizens were ordered to wear masks. Newspapers reported on a possible connection between the war and the disease: “Mrs. A.B. Priest says that the pandemic is the result of a wicked suggestion sent out by the Kaiser’s psychologists . . . it is German propaganda in its most subtle form.” On Oct. 21, 30 deaths were reported. The toll had peaked, the grip loosened.

On Armistice Day, Nov. 11, the ban of public gatherings and the order to wear masks were lifted. “Seattle need be masked no longer,” the P-I reported and added that “the order has been more or less of a farce as far as the masks are concerned.” That afternoon and evening, Seattle was one parading public assemblage of unmasked revelers celebrating the double victory over death by war and death by disease. Mrs. A.B. Priest no doubt noted the connection and felt confirmed.


Above: Neighbors pose on the front steps of photographer Lawrence Lindsley’s Wallingford home sometime in October 1918 when the city was “dark” and closed-down during the Spanish Flu’s Seattle visit.  The masks were required although the law was rarely enforced.  (Picture courtesy of Dan Eskenazi)

Below: Wallingford neighbor’s repeat the 1918 flu shot behind masks pulled from one of the group’s mask collection.   Only one among the seven is neither hidden nor unnamed: the Chihuahua Sparky.   Here Jean has handed the camera to me and taken one of the seven places on the porch.  At the bottom, all is revealed.


(First appeared in Pacific during the spring of 2007)

Dan Eskenazi, Seattle photo collector and old friend of mine, first shared with me these masked ladies posing with masked cats on the unlikely chance that I might know the porch.  Had the snapshot revealed a street number the choices would have been narrowed city-wide to a few hundred front steps.  But Dan’s little 3×4 inch print does better.  The names of the women are penciled on the back.  The flipside caption reads,  “Top row, Anna Kilgore, E. K. Barr, Ms Anna S. Shaw.  Lower row, Penelope and Tommy, Mrs Shaw and Golly.”

So seven creatures including the cats Tommy and Golly and all of them wearing masks by order of the mayor.  By the time the 1918 flu epidemic reached Seattle at the end of September la Grippe had caused more deaths world-wide than the First World War. When the rule about masks was lifted for good on Armistice Day, Nov. 11 the streets were quickly filled with bare-faced revelers.  Still Dr. T. D. Tuttle, the state’s commissioner of health, warned that “people who have influenza are in the crowds that are celebrating victory.  They will be in the street cars, in the theaters, in the stores.” Tuttle also confessed, “the order had been more or less a farce as far as the masks are concerned.”  (This explains, perhaps, why there are so few mask photos extant.)

Returning to the snapshot’s penciled caption, four of the five women are listed in the 1918 city directory living at 108 E. 43rd Street, in Wallingford.  Since that address is about 100 steps from my own I was soon face to face with Dan’s unidentified porch, except that it was one house west of 108.  But this slight move presented an opportunity.  It hints, at least, of the photographer.

104 E. 43rd Street was built in 1918, the year that the photographer Lawrence Denny Lindsley, the grandson of city founders David and Louisa Denny, moved in.  Perhaps Lindsley took the snapshot of his neighbors sitting on his new front steps soon after he took possession with his bride Pearl.  Married on September 20, 1918, tragedy soon followed.  Both Pearl and their only child Abbie died in 1920.  Lindsley married again in 1944 and continue to live at 104 into the 1970s.   When he died in 1974, this son of the pioneers was in his 90s and still taking photographs.


The two workers posing in the back of delivery van most likely worked either for Steward and Holmes Drug Co. or Grocetaria, a long time employer for Max Loudon, the photographer. As the text notes below, these were two of his favorite subjects, perhaps for the big hair. The truck they pose in is parked in the alley between Main and Washington Streets where it overlooks the train tracks that lead to and from the south portal of the railroad tunnel that runs between here and Virginia Street nearby the Pike Place Public Market.
The part of the elevated alley that supported Max Loudon's subjects, circa 1919, was gone by the time I reach it - or tried to - in 1997. This scene looks north from Main Street.



(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 19, 1997)

The bachelor life of Max Loudon is revealed in the albums he carefully filled with snapshots he took of his many adventures. Included are records of joyful events: the spontaneous November 1918 Armistice Day celebrations on the streets of downtown, the arrival of the circus to the lower Queen Anne fields (now Seattle Center), and skating on Green Lake during the long freeze of 1916.

A Grocetaria van converted into a joyous float for the spontenous Armistice Day Parade.

Born in Nebraska in 1881, Loudon dropped out of Omaha High School at the age of 15 and headed west to Seattle. Here his personable intelligence (aka charm) carried him through an assortment of vocational adventures including manager of a semi-professional baseball team, traveling superintendent for a grocery wholesaler in Montana, manager of the general store for a logging company in Yacolt, Wash., and a trip north to Nome, Alaska, seeking – what else? – gold. As revealed in his letters home, this last adventure soon turned hellishly cold when his steamer stuck in the ice for two weeks.

A few Yacolt sawyers
Max Loudon's baseball team - perhaps

Here in Seattle, the young Loudon cut his commercial teeth working nine years for Schwabacher Bros. Wholesale Grocers. He became warehouse superintendent for the Grocetaria Stores, in charge of all departments. His salary – whopping for the time – was $150 a month. Enough, perhaps, to support his sporting life as an amateur boxer for the Seattle Athletic Club, an expert fencer, a medalist marksman and – at least from the evidence of his albums – a womanizer.

Another favorite subject and friend at Luna Park
Trading shots

Loudon’s subjects here are two of a dozen or more Stewart and Holmes Drugstore employees he posed on the alley trestle that runs above the railroad tracks entering the southern end of the city’s railroad tunnel, below Fourth Avenue and Washington Street. Of all the distaff subjects gathered for his alley shoot, these were most preferred; he took several snapshots of both, together and separate. Loudon did not, unfortunately, identify either of them.

Trusting each other and the guardrail above the railroad tracks. The view looks east to 4th Avenue.

backstage alley


The primary block treated above, that on Third Ave. S. between Washington and Main streets, takes the center of this look north across Main St. ca. 1913. (Courtesy, Municipal Archives)


(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 9, 1994)

The most likely subject for this official photograph of the city’s Public Works Department is the street light. “Seattle’s cluster lighting system is one of the finest in existence,” the lighting department’s 1911 report said. “This design gives a beautiful effect of festoons of decorative lights along the sidewalks . . . The illumination, which is ample, is produced by using 50-watt tungsten lamps fed from a small transformer in the pole base.”

This pole transformer, a Seattle City Light innovation, was quickly adopted nationwide. It allowed use of low-voltage lamps that gave over 2,000 hours’ life. At the time of the 1911 report there were 1,631 poles lighting 25 miles of city streets; more than two-thirds were five-ball clusters like this one.

This view along Third Avenue South looks north across Main Street. The Seattle Fire Department’s headquarters is at the northwest corner, far left. The station’s third story was added in 1912, dating this photograph between that year and 1914, when construction began on the here not yet apparent City County building at Third and Jefferson.  (You will find it in many of the posing shots on third, at and near the top.)

The slice of the five-story sign just beyond the fire station is painted on the brick south wall of Stewart and Holmes Drug Company’s manufacturing headquarters, advertising its products and services, which roamed well beyond drugs to laundry and cannery supplies.

One block north on Third, on the southeast corner of its intersection with Washington Street, is the Union Hotel. This four-story structure has been recently renovated by the Downtown Emergency Service Center.

In 1928 the Third Avenue sidewalk south of Main Street was replaced by the pavement of Second Avenue, which was extended then to connect with the train depots on Jackson Street. (An displace of those changes recorded from the Smith Tower follows below.) The regrade also destroyed the fire department’s headquarters, which that year moved to its present location one block west on Main Street.


[NOTE: Both views include – by arrangement – far left a glimpse of our sidewalk on the east side of 3rd Ave. S. between Washington and Main streets.  CLICK to ENLARGE!]

Dated March 14, 1928 soon after work on the Second Avenue Extension began. Not the razed corner at the southeast corner of the old intersection at Second Ave. S. and Washington Street. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
Dated June 11, 1929 with the Second Avenue Extension handling traffic.
Looking back and north from the Great Northern Tower ca. 1929-30. Our block of primary interest appears here right-of-center. (Courtesy: Municipal Archive)
For comparison another and earlier look north from the Great Northern tower, ca. 1906. The corner of 4th and Jackson Street is on the right. Third Ave. extends north up the center of the panorama. The railroad tunnel is nearly new - and the GN station too. Seattle Gas is completing its last year on the right to either side of Jackson Street between 4th and 5th Avenues. At this point they are building their new gas plant on the Wallingford peninsula on the north shore of Lake Union.
Grace, now half-sitting on the Indian and holding it with both hands, poses with most of the same friends in the snapshot at the top, but this time with masks. Again, like most of the others, this one was by Max Loudon.


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