All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Neil Armstrong Dial, 1969

(click once and twice to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Held by his mom, Patricia, and eyed by his masked dad, Dallas, the hours-old Neil Armstrong Dial poses July 20, 1969, in a Northwest Hospital room. Décor included a model lunar module made from an inverted Styrofoam cup, with Q-tips for legs. (Bruce McKim, Seattle Times)
THEN2: Nearly 18, Neil Dial visits the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, 1988. (Courtesy Neil Dial)
THEN3: Dial (left) meets his namesake at the Washington Athletic Club, 2007. (Courtesy Neil Dahl)
NOW1: Neil Dial stands beside the Apollo 11 command module Columbia at the “Destination Moon” exhibit on display through Sept. 2, 2019, at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Neal Dial stands in front of a “Destination Moon” display at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW3: Neil Dial stands at the entrance of Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, now operated by University of Washington Medicine. (Jean Sherrard)
‘Living with honor’ in the shadow of his hero
By Clay Eals

Where were you and what were you doing when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon?

For many, the moment is etched deeply in memory.

My own recollection of July 20, 1969, is indelible. On the eve of my 18th birthday, my girlfriend took us to see “Oliver!” at the Magnolia Theater (now razed), but the auditorium was empty. Instead, we all crowded together in the lobby, craning our necks to peer at Armstrong’s “giant leap,” broadcast on a tiny black-and-white TV set perched on a chair next to the popcorn counter.

An Auburn attorney also knows where he was that day but has no memory of it. The very minute the lunar module Eagle touched the moon, he emerged on Earth, feet first, from his mother’s womb.

His birth, at Northwest Hospital near Northgate, became a media sensation because of his given name. Among many options, his parents considered Buzz, for Armstrong’s fellow astronaut Aldrin, and Apollo, for the space program. What stuck was the ultimate personal salute: Neil Armstrong Dial.

Turning 50 this month, Dial enjoys pondering how a quirk of timing gave him a guiding shadow he has always embraced.

While growing up in Richmond Beach, in seventh grade he gravitated to wrestling, which, he reflects, “taught me a lot about discipline and hard work.” Inspired by his namesake, he became an Eagle Scout and toyed with entering flight school to become an astronaut. Instead, he was drawn to the law. A husband and father of three, he works in the Tacoma firm founded by Ed Eisenhower, older brother of former president Dwight.

Wrestling remains a touchstone. He is head coach for about 20 wrestlers at Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way, where he advises against “showboating or doing things in a way that would make you more important than the team. That’s kind of how I am. Doing things right and living with honor have been important to me.”

A dozen years ago, Dial encountered those qualities first-hand when Armstrong, passing through Seattle, met with him for 15 minutes at the Washington Athletic Club. Dial found him humble, unassuming. “He really didn’t want to talk about himself. He wanted to know about me.”

Five years later, Armstrong died. Today, Dial, with gentle lawyerly humor, perceives in his hero some universality amid the uniqueness:

“He had an opportunity that came to him. It could have been many people in the program, and it fell that way for him. In some respects, that’s how it’s worked out for me. Anybody could have been born at that moment. It’s nothing I did. I don’t even remember the event, so everything I could tell you is hearsay.”


To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then” photos, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below is a 14-minute interview of Neal Armstrong Dial from July 9, 2019, in which he reflects on how he was given his name, meeting his famous namesake and how the Neil Armstrong legacy has affected his life. To see the video, click the photo or here.

Video, July 9, 2019, Neil Armstrong Dial interview

Below are two photos and, in chronological order, four clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that among many others were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer front page, July 21, 1969
Seattle Times front page, July 21, 1969
This is the July 20, 1969, Seattle Times article that documented the birth of Neil Armstrong Dial.
Magnolia Theatre ad, July 20, 1969, Seattle Times
Nov. 7, 1974, Seattle Times
July 17, 1977, Seattle Times

Seattle Now & Then: Are these five streetcars in Interbay or Belltown?

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THEN: This view, probably looking southeast at five streetcars heading north, dates from 1890, 17 years before Ballard annexed to Seattle. (Boyd and Brass photo, Ron Edge Collection)
NOW1: In this southeast-looking view, Ron Edge stands in Belltown near the intersection of Cedar and Western Avenue, one of two possible locations of our “then.” (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Also looking southeast, this view shows Ron warily dodging traffic in Interbay near the busy intersection of West Boston Street and 15th Avenue West, the other possible location of our “then.” (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on July 4, 2019,
and in print on July 7, 2019)

Somewhere on the line between Ballard and Seattle
By Paul Dorpat

We begin our installment with indecision – is it Interbay, or is it Belltown? – and hope that one or more of Seattle’s rail fans eventually will expose which of our two “now” images comes closer to repeating this week’s featured historical photograph.

Ron Edge appears in both of our “nows” because he first introduced the “then” to us. He acquired this slumbering classic of five early Seattle streetcars from an internet dealer in Austin, Texas. It would be interesting to know the travels of this cabinet card over the last 129 years and how many hands it passed through before returning home.

You may know by now that Ron frequently contributes to this weekly feature. An impassioned collector-cartographer, he has become familiar with Seattle’s history through clues found in its artifacts and ephemera. These may include artists’ panoramas and the calculations, sketches and maps held in private hands throughout the world – all of them awaiting researchers.

Such efforts often are revealed to us with the uncovering of an old photograph like this one. Although this is clearly a Seattle classic, after a half-century of looking I had never seen it. Surely many more unknown historic images of Seattle have been distributed to the four winds and are slowly reappearing for sale on the internet.

For our two “now” images, Ron put his safety in the clicking hands of Jean Sherrard, who posed him near the centerlines of two Seattle arterials, Western Avenue in Belltown and 15th Avenue West in Interbay.

In 1890, the likely year for our “then,” both streets were sections of then-new West Street and served by North End Electric Railway Company’s fresh franchise between its suburban terminus in the new and burgeoning Ballard and the Seattle waterfront near West (now Western Avenue) and Madison Street. For evidence of the line’s Ballard origin, note the “Salmon Bay” sign painted on the front car.


So which “now” is it, dear reader? Eventually, Ron persuaded Jean and me that these trolleys, along with two-dozen hatted motormen and gentleman passengers, are posing on Western Avenue, somewhere near Cedar Street in Belltown. To make this claim, Ron compared the relative inclines of Denny Hill (then still standing) above Western Avenue and the still-steep Queen Anne Hill ridge above 15th Avenue West.

There are, however, other “considerations.” For the curious among you, we might have elaborated them in our blog, listed below. But we shall not. The last word here (in the printed feature) is the liberal suggestion from Ron. He advises, “Perhaps we are all wrong.”  Riding this reluctance, we will wait on your our readers’ calculation.  It this Western Avenue or 15th Avenue West? Jean assures Clay and me that you readers know how to respond, and so we will expect your selections — Western or 15th — and in a week or three  share the accounting with our first “readers’ report.”


To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Paul Dorpat, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Anything to add, fellas?  Sure, and easy, too — a few past links that touch on Ballard or approach it.











Seattle Now & Then: 100th anniversary of Fred Hutchinson’s birth

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THEN1: Mayor Allan Pomeroy is at the microphone, and Seafair Queen Carol Christensen stands center stage at this April 18, 1955, rally. Left of center, behind team owner Emil Sick and his trademark bowler, Fred Hutchinson peeks out. For IDs of others onstage, see “extra” photo below. (David Eskenazi collection)
THEN2: Fred poses in the 1955 Seattle Rainiers uniform, from the cover of the April 17, 1955, edition of the Seattle Times Pictorial magazine. To salute the 100th anniversary of Fred’s Aug. 12, 1919, birth, the Seattle Mariners will present Hutch bobble heads to the first 10,000 fans on Sunday, July 7, at T-Mobile Park. For the bobblehead itself, see “extra” photo below. (Josef Scaylea, Seattle Times)
NOW: Family and fans of “Hutch” –- (from left) Clay Eals, Jason Barber, David Eskenazi, Fred’s grand-nephew Brock Reed, Connor O’Shaughnessy, George La Torre, Fred’s niece Charlee Hutchinson Reed, Josh Belzman, Charlee’s husband Paul Reed, Jill Christensen, Tom Kim, Tara Palumbo-Egan, Dan Kerlee, Dave Kolk and Olin Gutierrez –- cross University Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues at the Metropolitan Theatre rally site, now the drive-through entrance of the Fairmount Olympic Hotel. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 27, 2019,
and in print on June 30, 2019)

Where’s Fred? 100th anniversary for birth of baseball hero ‘Hutch’
By Clay Eals

Time was, the name Fred Hutchinson stood for baseball excellence. You couldn’t grow up here and escape the “Hutch” legend. Often as a child, long pre-Mariners, I stood in the cavernous foyer of Sicks’ Seattle Stadium (now a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in the south end), looked up and admired Fred’s photographic portrait high on the wall in the Seattle Rainiers Roll of Honor.

Today, “Hutch” signifies cancer research and the pioneering Seattle center, founded by his surgeon brother Bill, that has borne Fred’s name for 44 years. Employing 2,700 scientists and staff, “the Hutch” memorializes Seattle’s first baseball star of national stature. If he were alive, this hometown hero would turn 100 on Aug. 12.

In late 1999, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named him Seattle’s Athlete of the 20th Century. The Seattle Times rated him second only to a recent phenom, Ken Griffey Jr.

Fred’s deep local significance is disproportionate to his short stints here in professional uniform, and minor league at that. One year was as a pitcher (his Cinderella season of 1938, post-Franklin High, when he went 25-7 for the new Rainiers), and one year plus half of another as a manager (again for the Rainiers, in 1955 and early 1959).

Still, he was the classic local boy made good. His big-league success (notching 95 wins as a pitcher, managing Cincinnati to the 1961 World Series), plus the respect accorded his alternately gentlemanly and fiery persona, gave him a lasting impression. The perseverant Fred also could turn a phrase. “Sweat is your only salvation,” he once told columnist Emmett Watson.

After his lung-cancer death in 1964, sportswriters created the Hutch Award. It didn’t hurt that the namesake’s nickname felt both informal and virile. (One original criterion for recipients, long ago discarded, was “manliness.”) The award grew into one of the Seattle center’s biggest fundraisers.

Our first “then” captures Fred at a peak of popularity, the day before the Rainiers’ 1955 home opener. This 1:30 p.m. rally at World War II-themed Victory Square – in front of soon-to-be-razed Metropolitan Theatre (circa 1911) on University Street – celebrated Fred’s return after 11 years in Detroit. Even the most hopeful fans could not have forecast his craftiness in shepherding a team with no .300 hitter in the regular lineup for the full season or 20-game-winning pitcher to the 1955 Pacific Coast League crown.

In this photo, before a sea of adoring fans (mostly male, mostly fedoraed) and on a stage crowded with business-suited players, the Barclay Girls can-can troupe and the Jackie Souders Orchestra, Fred is a “Where’s Waldo” figure. Try to find him. If you give up, we’ll help you in the first “then” caption and in the “extra” photos below.


To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are three additional photos, plus, in chronological order, seven clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that among many others were helpful in the preparation of this column.

In the interest of public disclosure, I should note that I worked at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a curriculum writer and publications editor from 1990 to 2003. From 1999 to 2001, I conducted more than 100 interviews with family, friends and professional baseball figures, with the intent of writing a biography of Fred Hutchinson. I still nurture that intention. –Clay

This photo is a crop of the first “then” above, with a more complete accounting of those who are onstage (names are in maroon). The IDs are courtesy of David Eskenazi, from whose collection the photo originates. Double-click on the photo to make the names legible.
Here is a closer-in photo of the same scene depicted in our first “then.” Fred Hutchinson (center right) is waving. Looking on are (from left) pitcher Elmer Singleton, catcher Bob Swift, infielder Gene Verble, catcher Joe Ginsberg, coach Alan Strange, owner Emil Sick, pitcher Bill Kennedy and one of the Barclay Girls. (David Eskenazi collection)
This is the Fred Hutchinson bobblehead that will be given to the first 10,000 fans attending the Seattle Mariners game on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at T-Mobile Park. It depicts Fred in 1938, when he went 25-7 in his only season as a pitcher for the Seattle Rainiers. Note that the photographer, Ben VanHouten, positioned the oval on the stanchion to create the illusion that the ball that Fred has just thrown is heading toward you. As the photo depicts, Fred also appears in mid-pitch on the end of each 100-level seat stanchion at the ballpark. (Ben VanHouten)
Feb. 23, 1911, Seattle Times, page 19
Nov. 7, 1911, Seattle Times, page 22
Dec. 26, 1915, Seattle Times, page 18
April 28, 1942, Seattle Times, page 26
Dec. 6, 1954, Seattle Times, page 25
Dec. 7, 1954, Seattle Times, page 25
April 10, 1955, Seattle Times, page 55
April 17, 1955, Seattle Times, page 36


April 18, 1955, Seattle Times, page 28
February 13, 1956, Seattle Times, page 34




Seattle Now & Then: Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909

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Count the flags, big and small, strewn throughout this glimmering 1909 “then.” We calculate at least 75. For detailed maps, engaging narrative and stunning photos on the A-Y-P, check out a centennial book by Alan J. Stein, Paula Becker and the staff of HistoryLink. (MOHAI Panorama Collection)
This vantage, slightly higher than the A-Y-P Ferris wheel, looks north from atop the Unversity of Washington Physics-Astronomy Building. Rising in the foreground is the new UW Population Health Facility, set to open in late 2020. Peeking to its right is a portion of the UW Architecture Building, formerly Fine Arts Building. It, along with the UW Cunningham Building – formerly the Washington Woman’s Building, which was moved north in 2009 to a spot just left of the construction crane in this view – are the only remaining public structures on the  A-Y-P fairgrounds. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 20, 2019,
and in print on June 23, 2019)

A fairly wide view of the A-Y-P from 110 years ago
By Clay Eals

Back in 1962, the glitz of the Seattle World’s Fair filled my 11-year-old eyes with wonder. I still treasure its curios, including a souvenir tabloid with a custom banner headline, printed on the spot, employing the six-month show’s crowning landmark to convey whimsy: “Clay Eals Jumps Off Space Needle.”

I’m grateful it was fake news.

At no time, in visits that summer, did my child’s mind grasp that this was the city’s second world’s fair. But a nod to its precursor lay in the final word of its alternate name: the Century 21 Exposition.

Fifty-three years before, in 1909, Seattle’s – indeed, Washington state’s – first world’s fair embraced the sprawling title of Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition to salute the 1897 Gold Rush and what today we call the Pacific Rim. The A-Y-P opened 110 years ago this month at the University of Washington, which had relocated from downtown 14 years prior, in 1895.

The fair transformed the campus. With attractions from fine art to lowbrow amusements, it also instigated neoclassical (if largely temporary) architecture, Olmsted Brothers gardens, a new statue of the UW’s namesake and a stately promenade and fountain pointing to Mount Rainier.

The sweep was as wide as our “then,” taken atop the A-Y-P Ferris wheel by official photographer F.H. Nowell. It looks north and east, the western border of 15th Avenue slicing by at far left. But this panorama holds irony. While it conveys the fair’s grandeur, it covers only a fraction of its grounds.

Visible are the main entrance at 40th Street, off 15th. A short walk east reveals the George Washington statue (today one block north) and an array of gleaming structures: the Fine Arts Building (center-left), the domed U.S. Government Building, the Alaska Building (center), the smaller Washington Woman’s Building, the Klondike Circle, the Agriculture Building (behind a foreground spire of the Swedish Building) and an unintended presage of World War I, the Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama (“War! War! War! Replete with the Rush, Roar and Rumble of Battle”).

“It’s the greatest cultural event that has ever taken place in the city’s history,” asserts Magnolia’s Dan Kerlee, A-Y-P researcher and collector who runs, an educational website. He says the 3,740,551 people who attended over 138 days enjoyed a uniquely inspiring, even elegant experience. “If people could walk the A-Y-P today, they would be beside themselves.”

World’s fairs, a prolific phenomenon of the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries, have fallen out of fashion here, the most recent U.S. fairs being 45 years ago in Spokane (Expo ’74) and in Knoxville and New Orleans in the early 1980s. A few hours north, Vancouver, B.C., put on Expo ’86, the last world’s fair in North America. Still, we can smile that Seattle hosted a spectacular pair.


To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below, in chronological order, are clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that among many others were helpful in the preparation of this column.

These are just five of the 54 stories in the Seattle Times that mentioned the A-Y-P during the six-month 1962 fair. Of course, I wish I had paid more attention to these stories back then! Click on any clipping to enlarge it. –Clay

April 21, 1962, Seattle Times, page 1
April 22, 1962, Seattle Times, page 105
June 22, 1962, Seattle Times, page 2
Sept. 14, 1962, Seattle Times, page 52
Oct. 19, 1962, Seattle Times, page 24

Anything to add, fellas?

Seattle Now & Then: Judkins panorama, 1880s

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Careful readers may spot clothes hanging on two backyard lines at lower center of this 1885 or 1886 cityscape. This could narrow the time of year Judkins made his recording, but I remember my mother hanging clothes in the backyard during the winter in Spokane. (Paul Dorpat collection)
This prospect looks south from above the entrance to the alley on the south side of Stewart Street between Second and Third Avenues. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 13, 2019,
and in print on June 16, 2019)

Stacking up evidence of Seattle’s growth in the 1880s
By Paul Dorpat

This week’s “then” photo looks south toward early downtown Seattle from halfway up the southern slope of then-Denny Hill. With his extension pole, Jean Sherrard lifted his “now” camera to approximate the prospect used by pioneer photographer David Judkins for his panorama – close but, Jean and I agree, still a few feet below Judkins’ roost.

After studying the crowd of clues showing in Judkins’ prospect, Ron Edge, our feature’s frequent sleuth, agrees that Judkins’ photo was recorded in 1885 or 1886. That was three or four years before the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, destroyed about 30 city blocks, including almost everything shrouded here behind the industrial smoke ascending from the right (west).

In early photographic cityscapes, stacks were frequently embraced as the most obvious signs of a community’s industrial success. They stood as booming pillars of pride, and a study of Seattle’s demographics from that time – city directories, tax records and such – confirms it.

In his typewritten “Chronological History of Seattle from 1850 to 1897,” Thomas Prosch, the owner/editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the city’s busiest booster, included a panegyric to the growth of his city, which since the 1880 national census was the largest town in Washington Territory, surpassing Walla Walla by a few hundred citizens.

“The boom that began in 1886 and grew in volume and force in 1887 continued with unabated activity and vigor in 1888,” Prosch wrote. “It was manifested in a thousand ways, but particularly with real estate speculation, in the platting of additions to the city, hundreds of new buildings, scores of graded streets, the new railways, banks, hotels, stores, factories, shops and people.

“The inhabitants of Seattle, who numbered 3,533 in 1880 and 9,786 in 1885, increased in number to 12,167 in 1887 and to 19,116 in 1888. Much as this great increase signified, it was dwarfed by that of the next two years, for the census of 1889 showed Seattle to have 26,740 inhabitants and that of 1890, 42,837.”

(Such rapid growth some 130 years ago should excite a “Wow!” from some of our readers. Want more? Our blog features a complete copy of Prosch’s thick chronology from the mid-1890s.)

The most striking aspect of this “then” photo may be the two hand-drawn Mount Rainiers, the result of merging the panorama’s two halves, each of which sported a peak. Did Judkins believe anyone would fall for his manufactured substitutes? In 1885, it was still difficult to photographically record bright, snow-covered icons such as “The Mountain That Was God” (title of a 1910 guidebook self-published by John H. Williams).


To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Paul Dorpat, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Anything to add, fellas?

This morning Jean it will be alas and good night, aka nighty-bears (copy write: Bill Burden).  That is we will soon  again climb the stairs to our small bed resting beside a full-wall reflection – a ballet practice mirror.  (The sometimes frightening effect some early mornings is to awaken with sunrise and face myself.  At eighty it is not a flattering confrontation.)  Now Jean reminds me that this week we promised something more about the Thomas Prosch’s sustained contribution to recording Seattle history.  That will need to wait for later this week.  Now, I’ll be climbing the stairs, again to nighty-bears.  At eighty I use two canes.  Below, as a consoling custom we will again attach some relevant clips.













Seattle Now & Then: DAR Rainier Chapter House, 1930

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Five years after the Rainier Chapter House was built, nearly 90 women pose on its portico, illustrating the age-old photographer’s challenge of getting everyone to face the same direction. In the middle, can you also spot a costumed George Washington? (Rainier Chapter House)
Beneath the cupola (unfortunately sliced from the top of our “then”), 34 chapter members attending their annual spring brunch emulate the pose of their ancestors. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on May 23, 2019,
and in print on May 26, 2019)

Registering a replica in honor of George and Martha
By Clay Eals

If you have flown to America’s Other Washington and taken the popular tourist trip 10 miles south to Mount Vernon, your mind’s eye can see the mansion of our first president and first lady, George and Martha Washington. Though its construction and expansion coincided with the beginnings of our egalitarian democracy, the manor overlooking the Potomac River was, and remains, majestic – 10 times the size of the average home in mid-1700s colonial Virginia.

We needn’t trek 2,800 miles to get an in-person approximation of the experience. Here we have what the Seattle Times once called “Seattle’s Own Mount Vernon,” embodied in the 94-year-old Rainier Chapter House of the Daughters of the American Revolution. A faithful reproduction of George and Martha’s famed residence, it simultaneously salutes its eastern counterpart and our state’s namesake.

When this replica was dedicated on April 11, 1925, in a ceremony attended by Gov. Roland Hartley, the Seattle Times favorably compared it to the original, “lacking only its water border and great expanse of grounds.” Today it retains a striking stature while surrounded by a city streetscape bearing three other treasures: the Loveless Building, the Cornish School and the Women’s Century Club (site of the former Harvard Exit moviehouse), all part of the Harvard-Belmont Landmark District atop Capitol Hill.

It also recently scored a coveted countrywide standing. On March 20, the Rainier Chapter House became listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is not merely a promotable honor. It also paves the way for valuable tax credits and grants. To celebrate, the 167 chapter members are inviting the public to a plaque unveiling on Sunday afternoon, June 2.

These women, all descendents of Revolutionary warriors who struggled for independence from Britain, embrace an inspiring legacy. Their ancestors formed the chapter in 1895 and raised money after World War I to build their elegant local headquarters. They even scoured attics to find items to sell at Pike Place Market. As a result, Seattle’s DAR chapter was the only one in the nation, at the time, to own the ground for its building.

Daniel Huntington, coming off nine years as Seattle’s municipal architect, infused a classical design, with wood siding grooved to resemble stonework. The edifice was erected in just four months, after which chapter members filled it with period furniture, dishes, art and historical objects. They also began an enduring tradition – renting the facility, including its second-floor ballroom, to groups that seek immersion in a sumptuous past.

If George and Martha themselves were to appear on its doorstep today, they might momentarily mistake Rainier Chapter House for their home. Their clue otherwise would be our urban milieu.


For even more great history, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Here, in chronological order, are a flier for the June 2, 2019, public celebration, plus three clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column. Click on any clipping to enlarge it. –Clay

Flier for June 2, 2019, public celebration of National Register of Historic Places recognition
April 5, 1925, Seattle Times, page 52
April 12, 1925, Seattle Times, page 19
April 12, 1925, Seattle Times, page 48

Anything else to add, gents?


For Emmett Watson, ‘Lesser’ is more

This caricature of the legendary Seattle newspaper columnist Emmett Watson by the equally legendary former Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist Bob McCausland appeared in Watson’s 1988 Lesser Seattle wall calendar.

The following story, an interview of longtime Seattle newspaper columnist Emmett Watson, appeared Dec. 16, 1987, in the West Seattle Herald/White Center News. More than 30 years later, Watson’s comments have a lot of resonance given today’s development boom. The interviewer, Clay Eals, was editor of the papers at the time. The story is reprinted here by permission of Robinson Newspapers. To see the story as printed, click here or scroll to the bottom.

For Watson, ‘Lesser’ is more

Columnist comes home Saturday to sign calendars
By Clay Eals

One of the West Side’s more famous/notorious native sons returns to his home turf this weekend.

He comes hat in hand, however, looking for holiday shoppers who are having trouble finding just the right item for those remaining on their lists.

It helps if the toughies on the list are from Seattle – now or sometime in the past.

That’s because Watson is pushing his new Lesser Seattle wall calendar for 1988. It’s a fanciful look at the not-so-attractive aspects of the Queen/Emerald City as detailed by Seattle’s consummate newspaper columnist. The $9.95 calendars also feature more than a dozen caricatures of Watson by ex-Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist Bob McCausland.

Watson will sign copies of the calendar at Pioneer West Book Shop, 4510 California Ave. S.W. in the Junction, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Those who miss him there can find him scribbling his signature Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 at Frederick and Nelson downtown.

Watson, who spent his youth in West Seattle, was one of the dignitaries featured in the West Side Story history book published this year by the West Seattle Herald and White Center News.

The history book is on sale at the News-Herald office, 3500 S.W. Alaska St., during the holiday season. It also is on sale at Pioneer West Book Shop, along with Watson’s calendar, and Watson will sign both on Saturday for those who are interested.

Watson, who lives next to the Pike Place Market, sat down for an hour to reflect on the mythical Lesser Seattle organization and on West Seattle earlier this month, over a cup of coffee at his favorite haunt, Lowell’s cafeteria in the market. Here is an edited transcript of the interview:

You’ve had Lesser Seattle around for quite a while.

Yeah, and a couple of times guys have come to me and said they wanted to market it, and I said no. But Fred Brack, a freelance writer, he does those cookbooks with Tina Bell, Taste of Washington, he’s a hell of a reporter and writer, worked for Sports Illustrated and the Washington Post, in fact he even had a hand in hiring Carl Bernstein. Anyway, he was trying to figure out a way to make some dough.

So we talked about it, and I had to go to the (Seattle) Times to get the OK, and I did, and we began to fool around with it. We already had those T-shirts out, sweatshirts and stuff, so we knew the designer, a guy named Tim Girvan, and Tim is one of the hot young designers in the country. Nice guy. I don’t know why Tim fooled with us. I think he just liked the concept of it.

So he went to working on it, then we got Bob McCausland out of retirement. (The caricatures) are all new. Some of them look like the old ones, but he did ’em all new. He really outdid himself.

Then I sat and wrote the stuff and took about two months or so to get it out.

With the flood of calendars on the market, what is this one’s appeal?

It’s a novelty calendar. We tried to get some tongue-in-check fun into it. That’s all Lesser Seattle is anyway, a tongue-in-cheek spoof.

There’s a serious message in it, too. A lot of people feel that way about the city. They don’t want it to balloon up. See, at the rate they’re going, why, they’re going to really make the streets deserted around here with all those high-rises. High-rises just wipe out a whole block of shops. And now we’re getting these elaborate plazas and a bunch of upscale shops that the ordinary person can’t afford. See, Third Avenue’s going to be wiped out.

Do you have any answers for the situation?

It’s too late now. Hell, they got so many new high-rises going in. They’ve got about four going up right now, and to some people that’s OK. I don’t like it that way. I like it the way it was on Third Avenue with the cigar store and the pool hall right around the corner. That’s all being moved out.

Does the character of a city stem from its downtown?

All you have to do is imagine what Seattle would be like if we didn’t have the Pike Place Market. Really.

Do you get into painting outlying areas with the Lesser Seattle swath?

Oh, yeah, we talk about Lesser Poulsbo, Lesser Winslow.

How about Lesser West Seattle?

Oh, I don’t know. Is it growing over there? It’s very much of a mix over there. I don’t know how dramatic the bridge has been, but it looks like it would have an impact. What I’d say there probably is, “Tear down the bridge.”

So far, how is the Lesser Seattle sentiment appealing to people through the calendar?

We were hoping that people would get carried away and buy four or five of them and send them to their relatives as sort of a tongue-in-cheek joke. And that’s happened. They give ’em to friends who have moved away. I always sign ’em, “Come back soon. Lesser Seattle welcomes you back.”

I was signing at Union Station the other night, and a lot of younger people bought ’em for their parents. There is that feeling. People don’t like to see Seattle get big.

Memories are funny things. We all think back on what it was like in the ’50s and the ’40s and ’30s, and I guess it’s kind of a growing-up process. We look back with nostalgia and fondness. I suppose it was just as hard to find a parking place in those days as it is now, but it doesn’t seem like it, y’know? People don’t like to have their lives disrupted.

Has Lesser Seattle had any tangible effect on the way things develop?

No, if anything, it’s probably counterproductive. I don’t think it has that much influence anyway. But people enjoy it because it’s a vehicle for saying a lot of things, like denouncing the high-rises.

And why do we want a Super Bowl here? All we’re going to do is get a bunch of drunken football fans in here for a week, and we’re going to subsidize them with free rent and parties. God, I really hate to see that. You just fall on your face in front of ’em and say, “Please come.” It’s just one big bash.

Anyway, you can always take off on it and use it that way.

Coming to West Seattle for a calendar signing, do you look forward to seeing people you know?

I was amazed when I did the book over there (five years ago) at how many people showed up who I’d forgotten, people I’d gone to school with.

West Seattle always was sort of a city in itself. See, when I grew up, we had the streetcar like everybody remembers, and it was a fair task to go downtown or to the U district. You had to ride that thing on those trestles, and it would take you 45 minutes to get downtown, and another 40 minutes to get to the U district.

I used to do that when I went to college. It was a bit of an isolation, and I’m convinced there are many, many families who grew up in West Seattle and never left, never went to any other part of the city.

West Seattle was also semi-country, really, and that wasn’t all that long ago. In the ’30s, there were an awful lot of wooded areas. In those days, as kids, we just ran loose. Back behind (James) Madison Junior High, there were little paths and trails, and you could walk almost clear to the Junction that way.

You once wrote, “I have never known anyone who moved to West Seattle for the sheer status of it, only because they liked it.”

I think that’s true. I really. You never got the feeling that there was any Highlands or Broodmoor mentality in it. At least I never did.

The people who had enough money would get beach property in those days. West Seattle always struck me as a mix, because you had people with real money down on the beach: the Schmitz family, the Colman family down along Fauntleroy. But then not very far away from that, very close, would be a middle-class and blue-collar neighborhood.

About Admiral Way and 45th, 46th, a lot of that is still with us. Once in a while, when I was recovering from my heart attack, I’d go over and go for walks around there, and it’s amazing how little of it has changed. A lot of rehabs everywhere. But the same kinds of people were there.

What do you remember best about West Seattle?

Well, I was born on Duwamish Head, and in college I lived with my brother and sister up on 35th. You could see down, and it was always kind of industrial, but I don’t think as kids we appreciated a lot of that. We didn’t think too much in terms of views. We thought too much of our own little problems.

Several years later, you get away from it, you go back over there, and Holy Toledo, the views.

The Dec. 16, 1987, interview as printed.

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle Transfer, 1893

(click to enlarge photos)

In this 1893 image showcasing Seattle Transfer Company, a few steeds are blurry, oblivious to the need to stand still for the exposure. (Ron Edge collection)
South of the Chinatown International District, cars replace horses in this westerly view along South Charles Street from Seventh Avenue South. Rising from where tideflats used to wash are the tan Inscape building (formerly U.S. immigration) and, behind it, CenturyLink Field. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on May 16, 2019,
and in print on May 19, 2019)

How to haul goods in the 1800s? By horse, of course
By Clay Eals

Today, we think nothing of hauling boxes, baggage and all manner of business and household goods with motor vehicles. But 130 years ago, a mere blink of an eye in the world’s history, vehicle power was of the four-legged variety.

One firm providing equine infrastructure, founded in 1888, was the Seattle Transfer Company. Its barn and warehouse stood at the edge of southern tideflats that soon would be filled by the city’s massive regrades and dredging, a process that took decades.

To burnish its reputation, Seattle Transfer probably could have fared no better than to pose its fleet, staff and stock for the camera of Frank La Roche. In 1893, the year of our “then,” the city was four years on either side of arguably the two most momentous events of its early days – the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and the 1897 onset of the northern Gold Rush, for which Seattle served as the jumping-off point. La Roche, arriving in Seattle after the fire, would earn fame by traveling more than 100 times to Alaska and the Yukon to capture 3,000 images of Klondike fever.

Here, in La Roche’s warm sepia, we look west to find 57 gents (and five tykes) with an equal number of top hats, bowlers and other chapeaux, even a straw skimmer. Most of the men sit on 27 lanterned rigs pulled by at least 33 horses.

By 1900 and fueled by the Gold Rush, Seattle Transfer employed 79 men and 85 horses. In Seattle and the Orient/Souvenir Edition, a 184-page book published by The Seattle Times and sold for 25 cents, the firm elicited praise: “The company has the right – in fact, are the only people in Seattle who have it – of boarding all incoming vessels and trains and soliciting baggage.” With no intended distaste, the book also noted how the firm dispatched the waste of its charges: “All the refuse is carried to the rear of the building and from there dumped into the Sound, the waters of which rise with each succeeding tide.”

Seattle Transfer did garner attention for more savory, constructive deeds. In 1898, when New York Evening Telegram readers balloted with nearly 300,000 coupons to proclaim firefighter F.A. Louis and rail conductor R.C. Dodge “the most popular men in the American metropolis,” their prize was a celebrated trip through Seattle to the Klondike. Seattle Transfer handled their 16 pieces of excess baggage.

One year later, in what The Seattle Times termed “a most peculiar accident,” two horses fell into and were imprisoned for nearly 10 hours inside a sewer excavation at Pike Street and Broadway. Who rode to the rescue with a block and tackle to extricate the steeds? Hi ho, Seattle Transfer!


For even more great history, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Here, in chronological order, are eight clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Seattle and the Orient/Souvenir Edition that were helpful in the preparation of this column. Click on any clipping to enlarge it. –Clay

Dec. 11, 1895, Seattle Times, page 11
April 27, 1897, Seattle Times, page 2
Feb. 23, 1898, Seattle Times, page 10
May 28, 1899, Seattle Times, page 23 (juxtaposed with “Manhood Restored” ad)
Sept. 17, 1899, Seattle Times, page 5
1900 “Seattle and the Orient” excerpt
April 7, 1904, Seattle Times, page 14
Jan. 30, 1905, Seattle Times, page 12

Anything else to add, gents?

Here’s a few more from the general neighborhood.  Oh have so many more to pull and share – after we complete our first vacation in 38 years.  It is a vacation we hope to survive.

















(ABOVE:  Pouch in Pompei – by Genevieve McCoy)


Book wins two awards! RSVP to attend AKCHO ceremony April 30 at Northwest African American Museum

Great news: Paul Dorpat’s and Jean Sherrard’s recently released coffee-table book Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred won two awards this month!

The first award is from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs), with a ceremony in Chicago. The second award is from the Association of King County Historical Organizations — and you can join us at the presentation early next week. For details, read on!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
AKCHO Virginia Marie Folkins Award

The Association of King County Historical Associations (AKCHO) has awarded Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred its Virginia Marie Folkins Award for 2019. The award is presented to authors and/or sponsoring organizations of an outstanding historical publication.

The award is to be presented from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at the annual AKCHO awards ceremony at the Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts St, Seattle. Doors open at 5 p.m. and galleries will be open for viewing. Light refreshments will be served from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m.

Please RSVP to or call Judie at 206-465-1798 by Wednesday, April 24, 2019, to attend this free event. See event details, including driving instructions, at our Awards page. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Independent Publisher Book Awards
Bronze for West-Pacific / Best Regional Non-Fiction

The Independent Publisher Book Awards (known as the IPPYs) has announced that Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred won a 2019 bronze award for the West-Pacific region in the category of Best Regional Non-Fiction. The award was announced at the annual awards ceremony in Chicago.



So far, as you can see from our Events page, we have completed 30 events since the book’s launch last October, including one on March 27, 2019, at the Washington Athletic Club:

Paul Dorpat chats with Washington Athletic Club members at March 27, 2019, presentation.

All but four of the presentations were videotaped, so if you want to see or re-live any of them, just go to the Events page and click away.

Please know that more events are forthcoming. Presentations are set for Tuesday, May 7, and Tuesday, May 14. For details, see the Events page!



Thanks to everyone who has helped make Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred such a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns over 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

Join us Thursday night in Burien for next event!

The events

Paul flings a baseball hat as the prize for a history question during his Jan. 24 event with Jean at Aegis Living of West Seattle. Click the photo to see video!

Already this month, we have had two book events (including one at Aegis Living of West Seattle, seen above), and five more are scheduled from now through May. The next one is 7 PM this Thursday evening, Jan. 31, at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Burien/White Center. Stay tuned on the events page of our website!

Books on display December 14, 2018, in Ballard. Photo by Gavin MacDougall

You can re-live an event or experience it anew! Videos of 21 of the book’s 25 events from November and December 2018 are posted on the events page of our website.

The media

Peggy Sturdivant and the photo she took to accompany her column. (From left) Ken Workman (great great great great grandson of Chief Seattle), Paul Dorpat, Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals. Click it to see the column.

This month, longtime Westside Seattle columnist Peggy Sturdivant provides a unique look at one of our recent events in Ballard. To see links to all the print and broadcast media coverage of the book so far, click here.

The blurbs

A total of 25 Seattle notables have weighed in on Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. Here are two samples:


Anne Frantilla

Longtime readers of “Seattle Now and Then” will love perusing these 100 greatest hits for their favorites.

New readers will be entertained not only by the fascinating corners of Seattle’s history but also by Dorpat’s sense of humor and Sherrard’s sharp eye.

Anne Frantilla,
Seattle city archivist


Kji Kelly

Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred inspires Seattleites to utter the all-too-familiar statement, “I remember when…”

We can hope that this work inspires more of us to put down our phones, raise our heads, look at the ever-changing urban landscape and ask a more substantive, less sentimental question: ”What can we do to ensure that Seattle does not destroy its own soul?”

Kji Kelly,
executive director, Historic Seattle


For the rest of the blurbs, check out our blurbs page.

The blog

You already are subscribed to this blog (better known to all of us as, but have you considered signing up someone else or offering him or her the opportunity?

Now it’s easier than ever. Just go to the home page, and in the upper left corner enter an email address and click the green “Subscribe” button (as shown in the black box here). That’s all it takes.

As you know, each subscriber receives regular updates with links that lead to scores of photos that supplement each week’s “Now and Then” column in The Seattle Times!

How to order

Want to order a book online? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page. You can even specify how you want Paul and Jean to personalize your copy. Books will reach your mailbox about a week after you order them.

As Jean looks on, Paul signs a book for Nancy Guppy of The Seattle Channel’s “Art Zone.”


Big thanks to everyone who has helped make this book a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns for nearly 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred