(click to enlarge photos)
Intermittently, Kodachrome slides by Lawton Gowey may be expected with this weekly feature. Lawton was a good friend with whom I often compared and shared photographs. He began his clicking with his father before the second World War and continued exploring Seattle with his camera until his death in the mid-1980s. Lawton was both a creator and a collector, and Jean’s and my illustrated lectures – what we used to call “slide shows” – are elaborately enriched due to Lawton’s many interests, including this one of Seattle’s waterfront and its diverse navy.
Lawton worked as an auditor for Seattle City Light, at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Madison Street, about five blocks east up First Hill from this Elliott Bay slip between Piers 55 and 56 at the foot of Seneca Street. His office was an excellent prospect from which to keep an eye on the waterfront. It was Lawton’s helpful practice to consistently and clearly name and date his subjects on the borders of his slides; for the featured photo at the top the caption reads “The Nippon Maru, Pier 56, June 29, 1965.” It was the last full day of the Japanese training barque’s visit to Puget Sound before it returned to Tokyo by way of Honolulu. Capt. Isao Kieda, the ship’s master, thanked the 29,849 persons (by his count) who had boarded his ship during its stay. “My young cadets have been deeply impressed by your good will and kindness.”
Parked to the reader’s side of the Nippon Maru in the featured photo at the top are two vessels belonging to Lynn Campbell’s Harbor Tours, long since renamed Argosy. Campbell was stocked with zest, and long-lived. Self-taught, he lectured his passengers on waterfront history or anything else that came up. Following WWII, he started a tugboat business hauling logs across Puget Sound that soon developed into the popular showman’s affordable and interpreted floating tours, most of them around Elliott Bay and/or between it and Lake Washington. Campbell’s daughter Charlotte, a wharf rat, was often aboard. She recalled that in the early 1950s, “This was a working waterfront. Train cars backed into docks. The bows of great ships loomed over our heads.” That soon changed.
By 1965, the year of the Nippon Maru’s visit, Seattle’s waterfront was well into its metamorphosis from traditional maritime work into a midway of cafes like the Cove and import curio shops like Trident – both seen here on the south side of Pier 56. Ted Griffin’s Waterfront Aquarium had opened on the bay-end of Pier 56 for the 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair. The general scramble hereabouts to fill the entertainment holes left by the Fair when it closed in the fall of 1962, included the ambitious Griffin’s aquarium followed in 1965 by his Namu. Griffin’s well-reported convoy pulled Namu, a net-caged killer whale captured in Alaska, down the inside passage to a new pen at the water end of Pier 56. Griffin paid for the prized critter out of a gunnysack filled with $8,000 in loose change he had gathered from friends and businesses on the Seattle waterfront. Along the way, news of Namu spread rapidly (and professionally), and an excited flotilla of naturalists, reporters, and happy hour celebrities formed, with nothing more pressing on their schedules than to follow a killer whale to Seattle.
Anything to add, guys? Dearest Jean Randal Sherrard, and hoping I have got the spelling for you middle name correct. Ron Edge, I, and our readers – I’m confident – wish you a happy 60th Birthday – so Young! And so fit. Here we will insert a late photo of Elvis Presley that dates surely from before his death at the age of 42 in 1977. We will also hang from (or below) Elvis a photo of you about seven years ago (so around age 54) we’ve pulled from a promotional card for one of the many Rogue’s Christmases you have produced at Town Hall. And let the reader know that you look even better now, having lost many pounds at the hands of no one or nothing but your own diet that includes some nearly magic low-cal jello. And now you exersize as well – exploring the city for …
… pictures at an exuberant and often enough joyful pace as you repeat – and re-repeat – 100 locations for the “Seattle Now and Then, Best Of” book that we hope to have completed and delivered to its readers sometime this coming October. And yet Dear Jean feel confident that should some other concern press upon you at school or somewhere else off the Cougar Mountain Campus of Hillside (dear reader, the school is described in a bug near the top) we can always postpone for a season or even a year. For now, though, we pause at the waterfront. Stay happy , healthy and salty – enough.
Here’s the topper – another happy mass of Edge Clippings of apt and old features.