Seattle Now & Then: The Bartell’s Motorcycle Courier

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: A motorcycle courier for Bartell Drugs poses before the chain’s Store No. 14, located in the Seaboard Building at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street, circa 1929.  (Courtesy Bartell Drugs)
THEN: A motorcycle courier for Bartell Drugs poses before the chain’s Store No. 14, located in the Seaboard Building at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street, circa 1929. (Courtesy Bartell Drugs)
NOW: Motorcycle historian Tom Samuelsen explains that the “END” written on the starboard side of his Suzuki is half of a discarded street sign.  “DEAD,” the other half, hangs on the out-of-sight port side.
NOW: Motorcycle historian Tom Samuelsen explains that the “END” written on the starboard side of his Suzuki is half of a discarded street sign. “DEAD,” the other half, hangs on the out-of-sight port side.

By the authority of Northwest motorcycle historian and enthusiast Tom Samuelsen – standing by his Suzuki dirt bike in the now – the cyclist in the older photograph, wrapped in leather under a billed hat, is none other than Joe Williamson, one of the founders and first president of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.

PSMHS-Founders-WEB

Tom, a fisherman, is also a lover of maritime history, but it as a motorcyclist that his name may be familiar.  Tom is one of the founders of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling, and currently the curator of the museum’s thousands of motorcycle-related photographs, ephemera and gear.  With the help of others in the nonprofit, he has organized and mounted many exhibits, including “Fastest Corner in the Northwest,” at the Museum of History and Industry in 2002.  More than once I have asked for, and received, Tom’s help in historic motorcycle matters.

2.-MOTORCYCLE-at--Madison-Park-WEB

2.-MOTORCYCLE-RACE-at-Madison-Park-WEB

It was not, however, Tom Samuelsen who first shared this photograph with Jean and me.  Rather, it was Marie McCaffrey, the executive director of our state’s on-line encyclopedia, Historylink.  The photo appears on page forty-two of The Bartell Story (Historylink’s most recent book of now more than a dozen titles since its debut in the spring of 1998), in which local author Phil Dougherty and the Historylink staff recount Bartell’s “125 Years of Service” in 140 pages between hardcovers.

Left-to-right, historylink's Marie McCaffrey, Priscilla Long and Paula Becker.
Left-to-right, historylink’s Marie McCaffrey, Priscilla Long and Paula Becker.

On the awning above Williamson and his circa 1929 Indian Scout motorcycle, the “Seattle’s OWN Drug Stores” sign is especially true here on Pike Street.  In addition to this Bartell No. 14 in the Seaboard Building at Fourth Avenue, in the 1929 Polk City Directory, the drug store chain had three more stores nearby on Pike: No. 3 at First Avenue, No. 9 at Second Avenue, and No. 7 at Fifth Avenue.  Bartell Drugs, to read from the book’s protective dust jacket, is “The oldest family-owned drugstore chain in the country.”  It is celebrating its 125th birthday with the issuance of the Historylink book.

Also in the historylink book, Bartell Store Nol. 9 with the Olympic Oscilator, which may make you a champion, in the window nearby at Bartell Store No. 9 at Second Ave. and Pike Street.
Also in the historylink book, Bartell Store No. 9 with the Olympic Oscillator, which may turn you into a champion, in the window at Bartell Store No. 9 nearby at Second Ave. and Pike Street.

When Joe Williamson first showed this featured (at the top) photograph to Tom Samuelsen, he explained that he used his Indian Scout to deliver prescriptions for Bartell, and that they paid very well, good enough to help support his love of photography. Tom claims that Joe could “charm your sox off.”  I first met Joe in the early 1980s and was similarly taken by his generous ways.  Born in 1909, Joe died in 1994, age eighty-four.

11-SEABORD full Westlake face WEB

WEB EXTRAS

Let me mention what a gas it was taking Tom Samuelsen’s picture at Westlake. We couldn’t quite get to the exact prospect of the original photo because of existing street sculpture, but we got close. In the following shot, Tom waves goodbye headed east on Pike.

Tom Samuelsen rides away easy...
Tom Samuelsen rides away easy…

Anything to add, boys?   Sure Jean.  Ron is putting up five, I think, links.  The first one begins with the American Hotel on the east side of Westlake Avenue and looks back (to the south) at Westlake’s origins at Pike Street.   Again, there may be some repetition between them, but again and again we remember my Mother Eda Garena Christiansen Dorpat’s advice, “Boys (she had four sons) repetition is the mother of all learning.”   Jean did you know that the first feature we put up was about the aftermath of a parade through this five-star intersection, and we have returned often with looks in most directions through it.   We’ll attach that first feature from January 17, 1982 at the bottom of all this.  And Jean did you also know that the last feature that touched on this corner was featured hear a mere months ago, on Dec. 6, 2014.  Ron did not offer a link to it.  We figured you could just scroll down to get to it.  Please do.

THEN:  Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill.  Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner.  (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

https://sherrlock.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/max-loudons-girls-on-3rd-s-w-motorcycle-then-mr1.jpg

=====

One of the most popular historical photos of Westalke Ave looking north from Pike Street.
One of the most popular historical photos of Westlake Ave looking north from Pike Street.
I took this "now" repeat for the "cop" picture in 2005 while on my way to a historylink staff meeting.   The link's office was then in the Joshua Green Building at the southwest corner of the intersection.
I took this “now” repeat for the “cop” picture in 2005 while on my way to a historylink staff meeting. The link’s office was then in the Joshua Green Building at the southwest corner of the intersection.
This Pacific feature first appeared in The Times on August 24, 2005.
This Pacific feature first appeared in The Times on August 24, 2005.

=====

THE FIRST NOW AND THEN FEATURE- FROM JAN. 17, 1982

5-FIRST-SNT-Westlake-Mall-WEB-500x367

Westlake-1st-Feature-Jan-17,-1982-WEB

[Note: the “103” in the title at the top of the above text refers to its position in the book from which it was scanned,  Seattle Now and Then, Volume One.]

=====

THE WESTLAKE DEATH THERMOMETER: 1939-40

THE SEATTLE TIMES caption for the above reads, "Grim reminder of what might happen to reckless and drunken drivers in heavy traffic tonight, the above wrecked automobile, involved in a recent collision, was parked today at the base of the death termometer which has beenused by the seattle Traffic and Safety Council to record the city's traffic toll.  The thermometer is at Fourth an dWetlake Avenues. Perched atop the car is "Safety Pete," official mascot of the Safety Council."
THE SEATTLE TIMES Dec. 31, 1940 caption for the above reads, “Grim reminder of what might happen to reckless and drunken drivers in heavy traffic tonight, the above wrecked automobile, involved in a recent collision, was parked today at the base of the death thermometer which has been used by the Seattle Traffic and Safety Council to record the city’s traffic toll. The thermometer is at Fourth and Westlake Avenues. Perched atop the car is “Safety Pete,” official mascot of the Safety Council.”
Later it appears that 1940 has outdone 1939 and even borrowed a few deaths.
Later it appears that 1940 has outdone 1939 and even borrowed a few deaths.

======

SNOWSCAPE WITH THE TRIANGULAR BARTELL DRUGS

Readers with an interest in local snow may wish to visit the front page of this blog and find there a button for calling down a history of Seattle snows.  It is detailed enough that you may be able to figure out what snow this is with the help of the photographs dated subjects, like the automobiles.
Readers with an interest in local snow may wish to visit the front page of this blog and find there a button for calling down a history of Seattle snows. It is detailed enough that you may be able to figure out what snow this is with the help of the photograph’s dated subjects, especially the automobiles.

=====

WE STAND GUARD – DRIVERS OF THE BLACK OUT

Called-up following Pearl Harbor, Seattle's Blackout Patrol were on call for the few nights that the lights were all turned off.
Called-up following Pearl Harbor, Seattle’s Blackout Patrol were on call for the few nights that the lights were all turned off.

 

4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Bartell’s Motorcycle Courier”

  1. In 1961 my stockbroker dad bought me 5 shares in Bartell Drugs (I was 10 years old) in the hope that I would develop a keen interest in following the stock market. It didn’t work, but I have always had a soft spot for Bartell Drugs, and would have been even more keen had I known about their motorcycle delivery!

  2. Joe Williamson was a good friend of my dad, Robert Bebee. They shared a love of steam engines and were active in the Puget Sound Live Steamers and Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. Joe’s photo demonstrating how to wear a life jacket was on every Washington State Ferry for many years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s