(click to enlarge photos)
Aside from its internal evidence, that found in the photo itself, there is no surviving caption or credit for this record of the “N.W. – Cor. of 9th & Union St.” The 4×5 inch print came to me from Stan Unger, a generous enthusiast of regional history. More than a history buff, he is a preservationist, who more than a half-century ago saved an important part of our recorded heritage. When Unger was working in the county assessor’s office in the early 1950s, he was invited to retrieve, and so also preserve from the ‘circular file,’ about 4,000 tax photos, most dating from between 1937 and 1941.
Here at its intersection with 9th Avenue, Union Street completes a 3,000-foot run from the waterfront to a grade on First Hill too steep for a street. Instead, one must climb a path – behind the photographer – that reaches Terry Avenue one block east and seventy feet higher. Well into the twentieth century the precipitous hill at this point was relatively useless for easy development. It
stood out and up, covered with a remnant of virgin forest after the land around it was clear-cut in the 1880s. On the 1904-5 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, the southeast corner’s surviving verdure is marked as home for an “Old Timber Reservoir” and not an “old timber reserve”, which I first misread from the 1904 map. (Photos taken from Denny Hill of the evergreen verdure that did
distinguished this steep section of First HIll are found in the first of the “Edge Features” lined up below this short report.) Kitty-corner to the antique reservoir, and what landscape endured near it, there was as yet nothing on this northwest corner in 1904, but soon would be. A foundation outline of the wholesale florist showing here appears on the 1908 Baist Map, above. (And so also on the 1912 Baist five photos up. A Works Progress Administration photographer almost certainly recorded the featured photo in 1937.
Below a second floor of steam-heated apartments, and next door to Sing Kee’s Chinese hand laundry (far-left), the Union Street addresses of 820-824 were held by the florist wholesaler David Lloyd Jones. Born in 1897 in Carbonado, WA, he was the son of a Welsh immigrant coal miner. David Jones became a Presbyterian leader, beginning in his twenties, of the church’s youth activities and continued into the 1960s as chairman of the planning committee for building the denomination’s Park Shore retirement home on Lake Washington. In 1933 Jones was named Secretary of the Northwest Florists’ Association. His flourishing sales on Union attracted other wholesale florists to the street.
In one of the cherished “Faces of the City” nostalgic features John J. Reddin wrote for the Times in the 1960s & 70s, the columnist remembered Union Street and “the many wholesale florists with their wares piled high outside on sidewalks, especially during the days prior to Easter or Mother’s Day when retail florists trucks and automobiles made repeat trips to the wholesale house for cut flowers, plants and florist supplies. But, alas, the Freeway’s ‘dog leg’ took part of upper Union Street and ‘Florist Row’ moved to a new location.” Actually, the surviving florists scattered to varied locations.
In 1974 the 77-year-old David Jones rolled his car twice on Interstate 90 in eastern Washington, 50 miles west of Moses Lake. He may have been returning from a meeting at Whitworth College in Spokane, where he served as a trustee for forty-one years. The wholesale florist did not survive the wreck.
(Not fatally but comically, my reverend father, Theodore Erdman Dorpat, also rolled his car in the 1970s, and also on I-90 west of Moses Lake – the long relatively boring stretch before the drop to Vantage and the Columbia River. But dad rolled once, not twice, and survived as he did ten years earlier when he rolled his car into a snow-bank north of Sandpoint, Idaho while rushing to get to a scheduled Sunday service sermonizing in Bonners Ferry. We never knew if Dad’s frequent Guardian Angel explanation for his survival of mishaps like these was an expression of his sense of humor, for he was a performer, or his faith. Or some theological mix of of the two.)
Anything to add, boys? Yes Jean including some flowers at the bottom in memory of David Jones – and my Wallingford Walks of years past. First, however, we hope that our readers will CLICK to open at least the first of the 26 Edge Links directly below. It includes a few looks at our steep and long forested corner of 9th and Union recorded long ago from Denny Hill across what is now the retail section of the Central Business District.
WALLINGFORD WALKS FLOWERS in memory of DAVID JONES and GOOD KNEES