All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Masked Seattle 1918

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: A masked newsboy looks west outside the closed Pantages Theatre box office during the influenza pandemic of nearly 102 years ago. Likely, the photo was taken between Oct. 5 and Nov. 11, 1918. Seattle theater historians helped us identify the Pantages by matching the marble pattern in its box-office base with that in a later photo. (Courtesy Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: A masked Raquel “Rocky” Harmon-Sellers of Seattle holds a sign for a different cause at the site of the Pantages, built in 1915 at the former home of Plymouth Congregational Church. The theater was renamed the Palomar in 1936, razed in 1965 and replaced in 1966 by the parking garage behind Harmon-Sellers. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on July 9, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 12, 2020)

There’s no covering up the message of this masked boy
By Clay Eals

When we weigh how to respond to big issues, we often ponder the effect on children, who represent the future. That’s what makes this week’s “Then” so potent.

Standing alone, staring at the camera (and seemingly at us) is a nameless preteen, labeled only as a newsboy. Behind him is the box office of the vaudevillian Pantages Theatre, on the east side of Third Avenue near University Street. The stark sign reflects an order on Saturday, Oct. 5, 1918, by Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson to close theaters, churches and schools and cancel public gatherings to slow the flu pandemic.

We don’t know who posed the masked boy or why, and we can’t find evidence that a Seattle newspaper published the photo. But the boy’s example bears a plea: What will we do today for the sake of tomorrow?

Curiously, public policy on masks that autumn was halting. Masks were absent from initially publicized anti-flu tips, which included using handkerchiefs for sneezes and avoiding crowds. Kissing, too, was disfavored. With a straight face, The Seattle Times reported, “This practice should be stopped except in cases where it is absolutely indispensable to happiness.”

But momentum was building for masks. Their first mention in The Times (other than gas masks for overseas combat) came Oct. 10, when the Red Cross was said to be making them by the thousands. An “urgent appeal” bid women to assist in their manufacture. On the lighter side, a fashion article Oct. 18 proclaimed flu masks, especially chiffon veils, “a necessity in milady’s wardrobe.”

Finally came official action. On Oct. 24, the city ordered barbers to mask up. By Oct. 26, the order covered restaurant workers and counter clerks and, by Oct. 27, messengers, bank tellers and elevator operators. On Oct. 28, masks became mandatory on streetcars.

Noncompliance arrests began Oct. 29 (punishment: $5 bail). Stores capitalized on the cause. The Criterion millinery at Second and Seneca advertised, “You are as safe in this store as you are on the street.”

Some officials grumbled. Thomas Murphine, utility superintendent: “I know now how a mule feels when its head is shoved into a nosebag.”

Newspapers beseeched cooperation. “It is easy to be cynical and skeptical,” the Seattle Star said in a front-page banner on Oct. 30, “but knocking and scoffing aren’t going to keep down the toll of deaths.”

One day after the Nov. 11 armistice, in tune with jubilation over the Great War’s end, Seattle’s mask orders and theater closures were rescinded.

In today’s pandemic, who knows when or why masking will cease, but the century-old plea remains: What will we do for the sake of tomorrow?

WEB EXTRAS

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

We extend special thanks to Tom Blackwell, Ron Edge, Ann Ferguson, Eric Flom, David Jeffers, Lisa Oberg, Karen Spiel and Marian Thrasher as well as Jenn of Seattle Area Archivists and Joe at Seattle Public Library Quick Info for their invaluable help in digging up info to pin down the location of our “Then” photo.

Below are three additional photos along with 90 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column. As a bonus, at the very bottom is a 2007 “Now & Then” column on masks by Paul Dorpat!

This photo of the Palomar (formerly Pantages) Theatre at Third and University, contributed by Tom Blackwell of the Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society, and taken Oct. 3-9, 1949, provided the key clue allowing identification of the theater in our “Then.” The clue lay in the marble pattern at the base of the box office. (Courtesy Tom Blackwell)
Oct. 3, 1949, Seattle Times, page 27.
Here is another photo that verifies the location of our “Then.” From a distance, it shows the street-level Pantages Theatre at the middle of the frame in 1921. Also see next photo. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Here is a detail of the preceding photo, clearly indicating the sidewalk decoration and box-office pattern that match both elements of our “Then.” (Courtesy Ron Edge)

 

July 9, 1915, Seattle Times, page 4.
July 16, 1915, Seattle Times, page 8,
July 18, 1915, Seattle Times, page 21.
July 19, 1915, Seattle Times, page 6.
July 20, 1915, Seattle Times, page 9.
Oct. 5, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 5, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 5, 1918, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 5, 1918, Seattle Times, page 7.
Oct. 6, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Oct. 6, 1918, Seattle Times, page 10.
Oct. 9, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 10, 1918, Seattle Times, page 14.
Oct. 13, 1918, Seattle Times, page 26.
Oct. 18, 1918, Seattle Times, page 10.
Oct. 24, 1918, Seattle Times, page 9.
Oct. 26, 1918, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 27, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
Oct. 27, 1918, Seattle Times, page 6.
Oct. 27, 1918, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 27, 1918, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 27, 1918, Seattle Times, page 18.
Oct. 28, 1918, Seattle Star, page 1.
Oct. 28, 1918, Seattle Star, page 10.
Oct. 28, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 28, 1918, Seattle Times, page 5.
Oct. 28, 1918, Seattle Times, page 5.
Oct. 28, 1918, Seattle Times, page 5.
Oct. 28, 1918, Seattle Times, page 6.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 5.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 5.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 7.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 8.
Oct. 29, 1918, Seattle Times, page 10.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Star, page 1.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Star, page 10.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Times, page 9.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Times, page 9.
Oct. 30, 1918, Seattle Times, page 17.
Oct. 31, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Oct. 31, 1918, Seattle Star, page 10.
Oct. 31, 1918, Seattle Times, page 2.
Oct. 31, 1918, Seattle Times, page 6.
Oct. 31, 1918, Seattle Times, page 8.
Oct. 31, 1918, Seattle Times, page 18.
Nov. 1, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Nov. 1, 1918, Seattle Times, page 6.
Nov. 1, 1918, Seattle Times, page 6.
Nov. 1, 1918, Seattle Times, page 6.
Nov. 1, 1918, Seattle Times, page 8.
Nov. 3, 1918, Seattle Times, page 3.
Nov. 3, 1918, Seattle Times, page 19.
Nov. 3, 1918, Seattle Times, page 20.
Nov. 3, 1918, Seattle Times, page 38.
Nov. 4, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Nov. 4, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
Nov. 4, 1918, Seattle Times, page 8.
Nov. 5, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Nov. 5, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Nov. 5, 1918, Seattle Times, page 5.
Nov. 7, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
Nov. 7, 1918, Seattle Times, page 2.
Nov. 7, 1918, Seattle Times, page 8.
Nov. 8, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Nov. 8, 1918, Seattle Times, page 2.
Nov. 8, 1918, Seattle Times, page 10.
Nov. 8, 1918, Seattle Times, page 12.
Nov. 9, 1918, Seattle Times, page 3.
Nov. 9, 1918, Seattle Times, page 4.
Nov. 10, 1918, Seattle Times, page 24.
Nov. 11, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Nov. 11, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Nov. 11, 1918, Seattle Times, page 1.
Nov. 11, 1918, Seattle Times, page 7.
Nov. 12, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Nov. 12, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
Nov. 12, 1918, Seattle Times, page 9.
Nov. 12, 1918, Seattle Times, page 21.
Nov. 13, 1918, Seattle Times, page 12.
Nov. 17, 1918, Seattle Times, page 5.
Nov. 17, 1918, Seattle Times, page 47, society editor column.
Dec. 15, 1918, Seattle Times, page 78.
March 25, 2007, “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat on influenza masks.

Seattle Now & Then: Duwamish River, 1891

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THEN: Eight men, women and children, perhaps on a family outing, gather in 1891 at Cassell’s Point along the not-yet-industrial west bank of the Duwamish River. Beyond the group, to the southeast, is the Eighth Avenue bridge, which, starting in January 1892, carried a Grant Street Electric Railway streetcar connecting unincorporated South Park and Georgetown a half mile north of today’s South Park Bridge. (University of Washington Special Collections, LaRoche 159)
NOW: On the future site of a Seattle Public Utilities flood-reduction pump station and public open space along Riverside Drive in South Park, barges and docks cramp the view of the Duwamish. Socially distanced are (from left) author BJ Cummings; Paulina López, executive director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition; and James Rasmussen, Duwamish tribal leader. Cummings’ book, “The River That Made Seattle” (University of Washington Press) will be launched online July 11 from the Duwamish Longhouse. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on July 2, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on July 5, 2020)

Seattle arose from a tortuously transformed Duwamish River
By Clay Eals

When we think of waters that define Seattle, which ones come to mind? Puget Sound and Elliott Bay, with Lake Washington and Lake Union close behind. Perhaps Green Lake. Don’t forget the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

But what about the seemingly invisible Duwamish River, harnessed (some say ravaged) beyond original recognition and poisoned beyond palatability? Shouldn’t it rise to the top?

That’s the question behind a new social and environmental history book with a provocative title: “The River That Made Seattle.” Is it really true that the Duwamish “made” our city?

Author BJ Cummings – serving for 25 years in leading roles for Puget Soundkeeper, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, Sustainable Seattle and the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences’ Superfund Research Program – “makes” a potent case.

For starters, she says, most of the waterways that surrounded and fed Seattle once drained through the Duwamish. Also, and not incidentally, the river is named for the tribe whose chief’s bowdlerized name became that of the city.

Cummings further points out that, contrary to commonly told history, the city’s first white settlers (she calls them “immigrants”) were not those who alighted Nov. 13, 1851, at Alki Beach but rather those bearing the names of Maple, van Asselt and Collins, who roosted two months earlier along the Duwamish.

In time, city-builders’ projects diverted or dried up feeder rivers so that by 1920, a watershed of more than 2,000 square miles had shrunk to fewer than 500. The spaghetti-like course of the Duwamish itself also had been straightened and the channel widened and deepened to make way for enormous ships and an industrial identity that nearly erased a tribal homeland.

Even so, portions of the original riverbed survive – some barely. One is shown in our “Then,” taken in 1891 from a bend in the Duwamish west bank (present-day South Park) called Cassell’s Point, named for longtime Seattle railroad engineer John Cassell, who may be the gent pointing the umbrella. This spot also lies across from where Chief Seattle paid his final visit to the river.

Though we strain today to imagine the river before unwieldy industry and its persistent pollutants transformed it, Cummings bears a bottomless affinity for its past via her long ties to the tribe and others who care about the Duwamish.

“This trashed river made its way into my heart,” she says. “There have been seven generations of immigrant history and 10,000 years of native history here. The city was built on the back of the river. The river gave the city the riches and the infrastructure it needed to grow, and it’s time for us to give back a little of that love.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are two additional photos, a video link and a clipping  from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

The cover of BJ Cummings’ new book, “The River That Made Seattle.” (Courtesy BJ Cummings)
On May 13, 2020, Jean Sherrard (far right) shoots the 360-degree video for this column. Socially distanced are (from left) author BJ Cummings; Paulina López, executive director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition; and James Rasmussen, Duwamish tribal leader. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click this photo to view a four-minute video of BJ Cummings talking about her new book. (Clay Eals)
Dec. 19, 1924, Seattle Times obituary for railroad engineer John Cassell.

Seattle Now & Then: Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX Drive-In, 1936

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THEN1: Facing southwest, Otto A. Kuehnoel poses in 1936 with five female staff in front of his Triple XXX Drive-In Lunch Station at 2822 Rainier Ave. S. Two years later, Sick’s Stadium opened behind the eatery. Parked at right, says automotive informant Bob Carney, is a 1930 or 1931 Ford Model A roadster. (Courtesy Bob Kuehnoel)
NOW: Standing at the Kuehnoel’s site, now the Mount Baker Transit Center for King County Metro, are (left) Bainbridge Island’s Chuck Flood, author of “Lost Restaurants of Seattle,” pnwhighwayhistory.com, and North Bend’s Greg Kuehnoel, grandson of Otto Kuehnoel. Greg holds a colorized 1940 photo of another Triple XXX stand on Fourth Avenue South, in which his grandpa was partnered. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 18, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on June 21, 2020)

Five-cent Triple XXX took root here as a popular 1930s brew
By Clay Eals

Before Google, there was “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.” My aunt Dorothy Johnson, sensing my pending writing career, presented 17-year-old me with the red-covered, 970-page reference treasury for Christmas in 1969.

Today I reach for Brewer’s to seek the origin of the term “XXX.” The sober tome has a coherent answer:

“X on beer casks formerly indicated beer which had paid the old 10s (shilling) duty, and hence it came to mean beer of a given quality. Two or three crosses are mere trademarks intended to convey the impression that the beer so marked was twice or thrice as strong as that which paid this duty.”

Thus, in 1920, when Prohibition took effect nationally, a Texas firm took note, appropriating the term by marketing a new, non-alcoholic beverage by the name of Triple XXX root beer. Soon, capitalizing on the automotive craze, the soft drink spread throughout the South via sales at barrel-shaped drive-ins.

The brand expanded west in the late 1920s, and the first of more than a dozen stands in our state took root along busy arterials. A Seattle Times ad called such franchises “a gold mine.”

The Triple XXX in our “Then” image opened in 1931. Owner Otto A. Kuehnoel (pronounced “KEE-no,” with a silent “L”) claimed a fortuitous site across McClellan Street from the Seattle Indians’ Dugdale Field and two blocks northwest of stately Franklin High School. The double-barreled drive-in drew droves of minor-league baseball fans and local teens to quaff 5-cent mugs of innocent brew.

Bob Kuehnoel in his late 50s in the early 1980s. (Courtesy Greg Kuehnoel)

Dugdale burned in 1932, but from its ashes Sick’s Stadium (later renamed Sicks’ Stadium) and the Seattle Rainiers arose in 1938, when Franklin phenom and future major-leaguer Fred Hutchinson became a draw. The late Bob Kuehnoel (Otto’s son) told me in a 2000 interview that “Hutch” and other players were mainstays at Triple XXX.

“That’s where all the action was,” said Kuehnoel, who washed dishes and swept the parking lot after school. “So many of these ballplayers practically adopted my mom and dad. It was like home to them.”

Intriguingly, the twin barrels were not a mere advertising shell. “One barrel was my parents’ bedroom, the other was mine, and my brother slept in the middle,” Bob said. “My bedroom was right over the pinball machines and the jukebox, so I learned at an early age to sleep through anything.”

Triple XXX barrels faded from the local scene by the 1960s. (A former barrel still operates as a Chinese restaurant on Lake City Way, and a Triple XXX thrives in Issaquah, though its barrel is flat, not three-dimensional.)

In these coronavirus days, all manner of take-out – and root beer – endure, and a fun mystery remains. Why the redundancy in “Triple XXX”? Not even the aptly named Brewer’s can say.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, 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, four vintage Triple XXX menus (including two from Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX) and one Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX calendar, as well as 14 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

The 1969 edition of “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” given to Clay Eals by his aunt, Dorothy Johnson, in 1969. (Clay Eals)
The cover of Chuck Flood’s book “Lost Restaurants of Seattle,” available at pnwhighwayhistory.com. Five pages of the book are devoted to local Triple XXX Barrels.
AUDIO INTERVIEW: Click the photo to hear Clay Eals’ interview of Bob Kuehnoel on Sept. 30, 2000, at his Bainbridge Island home. The early part of the 54-minute interview covers the Triple XXX restaurant, and the rest focuses on Fred Hutchinson. (Photo courtesy Greg Kuehnoel)
1941 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, outside, orange. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1941 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, inside, orange. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1941 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, back, orange. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1953 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX calendar, outside. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1953 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX calendar, inside, with Seattle Rainiers schedule. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
Undated Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, outside, tan. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
Undated Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, inside, tan. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
One side of a 1941 menu from the Triple XXX Barrel in Ballard. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
The other side of a 1941 menu from the Triple XXX Barrel in Ballard. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
One side of the 1951 menu of the Triple XXX Barrel on Fourth Avenue South. (Ron Edge)
The other side of the 1951 menu from the Triple XXX Barrel on Fourth Avenue South. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
An insert of specials from the 1951 menu of the Triple XXX Barrell on Fourth Avenue South. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
July 21, 1955, Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX. (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Rainier Valley Historical Society)
Feb. 14, 1958, Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX. (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Rainier Valley Historical Society)
The Triple XXX Barrell at Fourth Avenue South. (Courtesy Chuck Flood and Ron Edge)
June 20, 1930, Seattle Times, page 39.
July 13, 1934, Seattle Times, page 26.
April 17, 1940, Seattle Times, page 19.
May 1, 1940, Seattle Times, page 11.
May 1, 1940, Seattle Times, page 30.
Aug. 21, 1940, Seattle Times, page 15.
Sept. 29, 1940, Seattle Times, page 32.
Oct. 15, 1940, Seattle Times, page 12.
Sept. 27, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
June 18, 1945, Seattle Times, page 11.
Sept. 14, 1949, Seattle Times, page 27.
Feb. 13, 1955, Seattle Times, page 24.
April 28, 1955, Seattle Times, page 19.
Feb. 5, 1958, Seattle Times, page 14.

Seattle Now & Then: WWII scrap metal drive, 1942

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THEN1: “Armed” with a cap gun, Jerry Calnan, 5, guards a depleted pile of castoff metal near his Beacon Hill home for a regional, wartime scrap-metal drive in October 1942. (Seattle Times, courtesy Bob Carney)
THEN2: A billboard for the October 1942 scrap drive anchors an empty parcel that served as a drop-off site for metal between Denny Way and Broad Street between Second and Third avenues. Historian Bob Carney, who scooped up our “Then” photos, says the campaign reflected a time “when everyone pulled together for a common purpose.” (Courtesy Bob Carney)
NOW: Looking east at the billboard site is Dave Swaintek of nearby JDog Junk Removal and Hauling. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 11, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on June 14, 2020)

Keen-eyed kid embodies Seattle’s zeal for 1942 scrap drive
By Clay Eals

You might call Jerry Calnan a scrappy little sheriff.

The 5-year-old leveled an intense glare when photographed in October 1942 sitting on an old water heater and guarding other castoff metal near his Beacon Hill home in South Seattle.

With zeal similar to today’s quest to slow the coronavirus, Jerry spent two days protecting items amassed by his neighborhood for a massive regional scrap-metal drive to support the U.S. military during World War II. Overnight, however, before Army vehicles could arrive to pick up the load, metal rustlers made off with nearly half the heap.

“He had placed several of his toys – old automobiles and trucks – in the pile,” reported The Seattle Times on Oct. 15. “A neighbor boy took some of them, and Jerry, with his sister, Mary Ellen, marched right down and put them back.” A photo caption added, “That was when Jerry decided to buckle on his toy pistol and holster.”

Theft was a challenge addressed by the Oct. 4-18 volunteer drive, which matched efforts nationwide. Ads in Seattle’s three sponsoring dailies – Times, Post-Intelligencer and Star – urged “every boy and girl” to “appoint yourselves guardians of the scrap metal piles in your block.”

Stories, editorials, photos and cartoons displayed boundless fervor. Full-page ads cited scores of items to contribute toward recycling and military-equipment building, from vacuum cleaners and garden tools to golf clubs and washing machines. Visiting First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even cited the Seattle campaign in her national “My Day” column.

The word “scrap” blanketed headlines, sometimes rhyming with the racist pejorative for the war’s overseas enemy. Others declared: “If you want to keep these fighters ‘in the scrap,’ then you must get busy and ‘get out the scrap.’ ”

Humor also held sway. Sports columnist Sandy McDonald wrote, “One unhappy baseball fan telephones to point out that in his opinion there is a lot of old junk on the Rainiers squad that well might be scrapped.”

Oct. 25, 1942, Seattle Times

The total haul, divvied among West Seattle’s Bethlehem Steel, Ballard’s Northwest Steel Rolling Mills and other processors, was enormous: 67.4 million pounds, “or about 133 pounds for every person in King County,” said Leo Weisfield, salvage chair for the Civilian War Commission.

“Beyond any question, this unselfish, patriotic effort was the greatest promotion or drive ever held in Seattle,” he claimed. “The campaign not only made highly significant contributions to the nation’s war effort, but it developed a unified spirit among our citizens.”

Surely the success pleased young Jerry Calnan. He died far too soon, of cancer at age 17 in 1954, but today relatives recall an intelligent, adventurous, inventive lad with dark eyes and eyebrows – and that glare.

WEB EXTRAS

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

We extend special thanks to Bob Carney and Michelle Weinhardt (niece of the late Jerry Calnan) for their assistance in the preparation of this column.

Below are 16 additional photos as well as 64 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column. The initial extras relate to Jerry Calnan, and the rest address the scrap drive.

Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 9
Oct. 17, 1942, wire-service caption for Jerry Calnan photo.
May 9, 1946, Seattle Times, page 9, Jerry Calnan in list.
Nov. 21, 1949, Seattle Times, page 38, obituary for Jerry Calnan’s father.
Feb. 24, 1950, Seattle Times, page 22, Jerry Calnan’s sister Mary Ellen.
Jerry Calnan at eighth-grade graduation. (Courtesy Michelle Weinhardt)
Jerry Calnan in race car, circa 1953-1954. (Courtesy Michelle Weinhardt)
Jerry Calnan with race car, circa 1953-1954. (Courtesy Michelle Weinhardt)
June 6, 1954, Seattle Times, page 61, obituary for Jerry Calnan.
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive, including sign with racist pejorative. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. See caption below. (Seattle Times, courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. Caption for photo above. (Seattle Times, courtesy Bob Carney)
August 1943 scrap. See caption below. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
August 1943 scrap. Caption for photo above. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 7, excerpt from Sandy McDonald column.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 18.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 18.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 26.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 27.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 40.
Oct. 5, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 5, 1942, Seattle Times, page 5.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 2.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 6.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 6.
Oct. 7, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 7, 1942, Seattle Times, page 2.
Oct. 7, 1942, Seattle Times, page 15.
Oct. 8, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 8, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 8, 1942, Seattle Times, page 17.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 9.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 18.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 11, 1942, Seattle Times, page 7.
Oct. 11, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 11, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 13, 1942, Seattle Times, page 14.
Oct. 14, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 8.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 16.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 23.
Oct. 16, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 17, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 17, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 17, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 62.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 14.
Oct. 20, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 25, 1942, Seattle Times, page 15.
Oct. 23, 1944, Seattle Times, page 3.

Seattle Now & Then: Front Street Cable Railway after Great Seattle Fire, 1889

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THEN: With inscrutable countenances typical in photos from the era, 15 men look southeast along Front Street (now First Avenue) while surrounding the #6 grip car and #2 trailer car of the Front Street Cable Railway in June 1889 following the Great Seattle Fire. Framing them is the gloomy façade of Merchants National Bank. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee and Orv Mallott)
NOW: In place of the 1889 cable-car posers and on the cusp of the 131st anniversary of the Great Seattle Fire, historical photo-collecting friends Dan Kerlee (left) of Magnolia and Orv Mallott of Federal Way stand at First and Cherry. The 10-story parking garage behind them was built in 1968. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 28, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 31, 2020)

Cable-car bells signaled ‘back to normal’ after Great Seattle Fire
By Clay Eals

Have you ever unearthed an old family photo you’ve never seen before? Instantly, it’s a treasure.

Seattle has its own family album, with familiar images of legendary events. To the many photos depicting the aftermath of the devastating June 6, 1889, Great Seattle Fire, this week we add a rare stunner.

Its focus is crisp, its vertical orientation unusual and its composition arresting. The torn corner even contributes charm. Best of all, in spotlighting the fledgling Front Street Cable Railway, it symbolizes the Seattle’s resilience and determination to rebuild after the fire destroyed the city’s 30-block core.

Backed by the peaked façade of burned-out Merchants National Bank, this view looks northwest along Front Street (today’s First Avenue) just north of its intersection with Cherry Street, along what had been Seattle’s showpiece commercial strip. Behind the photographer was what would become the resurrected Pioneer Square.

Contrary to a handwritten caption that denotes the fire date, the photo likely was taken days afterward, perhaps on Tuesday, June 18. That’s when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the private cable line, which had opened three months prior to the fire, was resuming service after repairing its heat-warped underground guide-irons.

Jacob Furth, president, Front Street Cable Railway (Seattle Times)

The firm’s nattily dressed executives seem to have been among the posers, including what appears to be Jacob Furth, president, the only bareheaded gent.

Echoing our present-day desires during coronaviral times, local street-rail historian Mike Bergman says the photo’s message is clear: “Hey, folks, things are getting back to normal.”

More efficient electric streetcars were to prevail in the coming century, but in 1889 cable cars were the height of urban transit. Rides cost 5 cents, and cars traveled up to 10 mph. This line ran to and from the terminus depicted here, north along Front Street, jogging to Second Street (now avenue) and over then-Denny Hill (now the regraded Belltown) to a car barn at Depot Street (Denny Way).

For this line, cars traveled in pairs. An open “grip car” generated movement when a gripman pulled a handle to grasp a moving underground cable, while an unpowered, closed trailer car tagged along. Shown here are #6 of the firm’s six grip cars and #2 of its six trailers. The gripman stands, center, in dark uniform. Above his right arm is a cord he would pull to ring a bell alerting the conductor, in striped hat, and pedestrians of a change in speed.

Today, the only such manually operated cable railway in the world is, of course, in San Francisco, where 27 single cars propel no trailers. In times when we’re not social distancing, it is the only way to come close to experiencing the cable-car page of Seattle’s family album.

WEB EXTRAS

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

We extend special thanks to Mike Bergman and Ron Edge for their assistance in the preparation of this column.

Below is an additional photo as well as 22 clippings from Washington Digital Newspapers and The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

A combined map and photo from 1889 show the vantage and location of our “Then” photo, indicated by a small, red “X.” (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Jan. 18, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 2, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 7, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3
April 11, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
June 7, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer front page
June 10, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2
June 11, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1
June 12, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1
June 18, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4
June 25, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4
Nov. 10, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8
Oct. 24, 1896, Seattle Times, page 8
Feb. 24, 1897, Seattle Times, page 5
May 21, 1897, Seattle Times, page 5
Dec. 24, 1898, Seattle Times, page 8
Jan. 2, 1899, Seattle Times, page 8
April 5, 1899, Seattle Times, page 10
April 26, 1899, Seattle Times, page 5
Jan. 3, 1912, Seattle Times, page 10
Nov. 1, 1959, Seattle Times, page 143
Aug. 8, 1965, Seattle Times, page 110
Oct. 10, 1971, Seattle Times, page 36

Seattle Now & Then: West Seattle drawbridges, 1978

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THEN: Rerouted westbound traffic clogs the 1930 West Seattle drawbridge during the afternoon rush hour of Monday, June 12, 1978, some 36 hours after the freighter Antonio Chavez rammed its companion 1924 span (right) and stuck it upward and beyond repair. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald, courtesy Robinson Newspapers)
NOW: The West Seattle Bridge dwarfs the approach (right) to the low-level West Seattle swing bridge, which opened in 1991, replacing the 1930 drawbridge that had remained after the ramming of its companion. When closing the high bridge, the city reserved the low bridge for transit, freight, bicycles and emergency vehicles. The electronic sign on the bus reads, “Essential trips only.” (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 21, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 24, 2020)

For West Seattle’s bridge, if at first you don’t succeed, secede!
By Clay Eals

Sounds screwy, but having reported on it when it was built, I still call it the new bridge:

  • The busy West Seattle Bridge, until recently second in city traffic only to Interstate 5.
  • The span swooping 157 feet over the Duwamish Waterway that linked a massive peninsula with the rest of Seattle.
  • The arch that elevated West Seattle to hipness from relative obscurity, ensnaring the district in a citywide development boom.
  • The towering roadway that opened not that long ago – can it really be 36 years?

And now, to protect the public, it’s been closed since March 23 for incalculable, indeterminate repairs. Not to reopen until 2022, if at all.

Coping with the coronavirus and now possessing only a circuitous way out, West Seattle could be said to be on double lockdown. It’s a fine time to reflect on a dramatic juncture from 1978 that makes today’s bridge turmoil seem like Yogi Berra’s “déjà vu all over again.”

After years of scandals and broken city promises to build a high bridge to replace two run-down but frequently opening, traffic-clogging drawbridges built in 1924 and 1930, the peninsula’s civic leaders were fed up. On March 29, 1978, a who’s who of West Seattle launched a campaign to secede from Seattle.

Though some thought it a joke, it had a straight-faced rationale: A separate West Seattle would become the state’s fourth largest city, with stronger status to secure money for a high bridge to connect with top dog Seattle. Secession required citywide balloting, including by those outside of West Seattle not anxious to shed a hefty tax base. But the secession campaign, said chair Dick Kennedy, was “deadly serious.”

Quickly, petitions filled with signatures approaching half the number to force a secession vote, when at 2:58 a.m. Sunday, June 11, an enormous freighter rammed the east end of the opened 1924 drawbridge, freezing it upward and beyond repair. The culprit was the now-legendary three-minute “lack of concentration” of 80-year-old pilot Rolf Neslund, who, bizarrely, later was murdered by his wife.

The ramming produced the best pun in West Seattle history: “the night the ship hit the span.” The immediate result – eight lanes of traffic squashed into four on the remaining, functioning 1930 low bridge – is depicted in our “Then” photo.

Officials leapt into action. Warren Magnuson, our longtime U.S. senator, secured $110 million for a freeway-like high bridge. Other jurisdictions chipped in lesser amounts. Secession fizzled. Construction began in November 1980. Eastbound lanes opened in November 1983, westbound lanes in July 1984.

Fast living, however, takes a toll. The high span was to last 75 years but hasn’t made it halfway. How long before the city builds another new bridge?

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are two video links and four additional photos as well as 14 clippings, mostly from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge history, 15:19. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
VIDEO: “Bridging the Gap” panel discussion featuring former Mayor Charles Royer, Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen and others, July 14, 2014, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the high-level West Seattle Bridge, moderated by Clay Eals, 1:41:18. (Southwest Seattle Historical Society)
The first pour on footings for the new, high-level West Seattle Bridge, early 1980s. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
An ironworker climbs a pier of the high-level West Seattle Bridge under construction in the early 1980s. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
A fisheye view of removal of the the rammed, stuck-open 1924 span of the low-level Spokane Street Bridge, early 1980s. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
The 1924 span of the Spokane Street Bridge soon after the June 11, 1978, ramming stuck it open. The recently opened Kingdome is seen in the background. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
July 11, 1936, Seattle Times, page 21
March 29, 1978, Seattle Times, page 1
April 5, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
April 16, 1978, Seattle Times, page 27
April 18, 1978, Seattle Times, page 18
April 19, 1978, Seattle Times, page 51
April 22, 1978, Seattle Times, page 1
April 27, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
June 12, 1978, Seattle Times, page 1
June 12, 1978, Seattle Times, page 3
June 24, 1978, Seattle Times, page 13
July 6, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
Sept. 4, 1978, Seattle Times, page 15
Dec. 17, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
April 20, 1983, West Seattle Herald/White Center News, photos by Peggy Peattie, story by Clay Eals, page 3
Clay Eals (left), reporting for West Seattle Herald and White Center News, and Bob Rudman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer, stand inside the east end of the under-construction, high-level West Seattle Bridge on April 7, 1983. The gap shown in the photo is 65 feet. It was joined on July 13, 1983. (Peggy Peattie, West Seattle Herald)
With reporting clipboard stuffed in his jacket, Clay Eals (right), then editor of the West Seattle Herald and White Center News, looks south with his dad, Henry Eals, in the gusty winds atop the high-level West Seattle Bridge on Nov. 10, 1983, the day its eastbound lanes opened. (Peggy Peattie, West Seattle Herald/White Center News)

 

 

Mount St. Helens erupts: The 40th anniversary!

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The cover of the May 17, 2020, PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times

We are fortunate that the editors of PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times asked us to prepare a cover-story package for the magazine’s print edition scheduled for Sunday, May 17, 2020, one day prior to the 40th anniversary of the mountain’s May 18, 1980, eruption.

Below are links to what we came up with. We hope you enjoy it all.

We also invite you to use the comment section to send us your own St. Helens stories and photos!

— Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

1. The Cover Story
  • “Love, Loss & a Lodge: Rob Smith and Kathy Paulson continue to feel the aftershocks — and the awe — of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens”
2. The Sidebar
  • “The Grateful Dead song ‘Fire on the Mountain’ shakes Rob Smith — and Portland”
3. The Backstory
  • “Forty years later, the stories of St. Helens unearth the wonder and dread of a lifetime”
4. Forty stories for the 40th
  • Most of these stories originated via the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, thanks to interpretive specialist Alysa Adams. They are edited by us and  are presented in alphabetical order.

Seattle Now & Then: Suess & Smith Art Glass, 1906

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THEN1: Smith descendant Curt Green photographed this immense Suess & Smith three-panel window in about 1980 when it hung at the Frye Hotel. Its whereabouts are elusive. When was it made? Does it depict a real-life scene? If you have clues, please enter them below! (Curt Green)
THEN2: Workers at Suess & Smith look eastward outside their storefront at 2421 Western Ave. in about 1906. The firm’s move to Virginia Street near Westlake Avenue in 1909 came none too soon, as an eight-block fire on June 10, 1910, destroyed this building, including next-door Wall Street House, causing a total of $500,000 in damage. No one died. (Courtesy Curt Green)
NOW: Grouped across Western Avenue from the Belltown Apartments, where Suess & Smith Co. once stood, are (from left) Suess descendants Gloria Elda Suess Abbenhouse, Martin Suess Abbenhouse, Susan Marks and Keetje Abbenhuis, and Smith descendants Sebastian Schaad, Barbara Schaad-Lamphere, Theo Schaad, Deborah Riedesel, Paula Green, Curt Green, Jessica Murphy and David Green. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 7, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 10, 2020)

Help us solve the mystery of this Suess & Smith masterwork
By Clay Eals

This week, we present a puzzle. It centers on a national innovator in aesthetic glass that brightened downtown Seattle more than a century ago.

The glitter of the Gold Rush lured members of two German families, named Suess and Smith, to Seattle from Chicago in the late 1890s. But physical gold was not their destiny. Their Klondike expedition produced meager earnings, so in boomtown Seattle they marched to a different shimmer.

During the height of the international Art Nouveau movement, Suess & Smith Co. opened in 1901 on Western Avenue near Wall Street (in today’s Belltown), specializing in leaded, cut and stained glass. Soon it branched into plate and window glass for major buildings as well as memorial windows, lampshades, mirrors and “glass of all descriptions.” The business morphed in October 1906 to Suess Art Glass Co. and moved to Virginia Street near Westlake Avenue in fall 1909.

The firm’s display at that year’s Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University of Washington campus drew acclaim from The Coast magazine as “one of the most attractive and interesting art exhibits upon the grounds, appealing to the truly artistic and demonstrating the high grade and excellence of the home product of a Seattle industry.”

Three years later, for the city’s second Golden Potlatch industrial parade, the company mounted an all-glass, award-winning float with an impact “never before seen in this country,” reported The Seattle Times. “Had the sun been shining as brilliantly as it did a few days before, it would have been almost impossible for anyone standing in the direct rays to withstand the brilliancy of the different prismatic effects from the reflection of lights on this float.”

Inspirational commissions abounded, from a triple window depicting recently slain President William McKinley for a Bremerton church in 1902 to the gleaming cupola for The Coliseum theater (today’s Banana Republic store) in 1916. The enterprise continued until at least 1951.

Cover of “Suess Ornamental Glass” by Deborah Suess Weaver, 2019.

Today, descendants have dug into the genealogical and commercial history of both families. This work produced a book, “Suess Ornamental Glass: Chicago~Seattle,” by Deborah Suess Weaver of Tonasket. On the Smith side, Theo Schaad of West Seattle also has written a lengthy narrative.

Here’s the puzzle: The families seek details about a Suess & Smith stained-glass masterwork they feel deserves public display. It’s a gold-hued, 7-by-10-foot, three-panel piece (see top of page) depicting a couple in what might be a Bavarian courtyard. It once hung at the Frye Hotel at Second and Yesler. Clues to its whereabouts lead to Skagway, Alaska, “Gateway to the Klondike,” but the coronavirus might limit access there for now.

Might you, kind readers, have information or insight to keep this inquiry aglow?

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column, when it is posted Thursday afternoon!

As a special treat courtesy of the Fall City Historical Society, we present a complete scan, in three parts, of the 80-page sales book “Ornamental Glass: Suess Ornamental Glass Company, Chicago, Illinois” (1904). You can access the three parts here:

Also, see this link to a Fall City Historical Society brief on that town’s Neighbor-Bennett House, which features Suess glasswork.

Below are nine additional photos as well as 31 clippings, mostly from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

To read more about Suess & Smith, click here. And to order Deborah Weaver’s, “Suess Ornamental Glass: Chicago~Seattle,” click here.

An alternate Suess & Smith exterior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Suess & Smith interior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Suess & Smith interior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Suess & Smith interior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Feb. 7, 1902, Seattle Times, page 12
May 13, 1902, Seattle Times, page 7
June 15, 1902, Seattle Times, page 31
Aug. 7, 1903, Seattle Times, page 4
Sept. 5, 1904, Seattle Times, page 12
July 9, 1906, Seattle Times, page 13
Sept. 10, 1907, Seattle Times, page 14
Dec. 1, 1907, Seattle Times, page 35
Aug. 21, 1908, Seattle Times, page 3
March 11, 1909, Seattle Times, page 11
March 11, 1910, Seattle Times, page 27
April 28, 1910, Seattle Times, page 3

June 11, 1910, Seattle Times, page 8
June 11, 1910, Seattle Times, page 8
June 12, 1910, Seattle Times, page 1
Aug. 21, 1910, Seattle Times, page 39

 

Jan. 18, 1911, Seattle Times, page 19
Aug. 2, 1911, Seattle Times, page 9
July 1, 1912, Seattle Times, page 11
July 21, 1912, Seattle Times, page 20
Sept. 19, 1915, Seattle Times, page 11
Sept. 26, 1915, Seattle Times, page 9
Jan. 2, 1916, Seattle Times, page 23
May 6, 1917, Seattle Times, page 11
July 1, 1917, Seattle Times, page 10
Dec. 9, 1917, Seattle Times, page 59
Dec. 16, 1917, Seattle Times, page 63
October 1909, The Coast magazine, describing Suess & Smith exhibit at Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
From 1910 onward, Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver and Ron Edge)
1915, Suess Art Glass (Seattle Municipal Archives, courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
November 2015, Fall City Historical Society newsletter (Courtesy Fall City Historical Society, Deborah Suess Weaver)
Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)

Seattle Now & Then: Jefferson School, 1985

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THEN: The pre-demolition photo event on June 1, 1985, at Jefferson Elementary School drew 175 students, three teachers and a secretary. After separate photos were taken for each decade of the school’s 1911-1979 existence, 130 former Jeffersonians – including Lisa McCandless Bernardez, Karen Arthur White and Myra Bowen Skubitz – stayed to assemble for this final image. (Brad Garrison, West Seattle Herald / Courtesy Robinson Newspapers)
NOW: Vehicles and shoppers clog the entry parking lot for Jefferson Square, opened in August 1987 on the former school site. Retail anchors are Safeway (right) and Bartell Drug. From Seattle Public Schools, the complex holds a 99-year lease that began in December 1982. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 30, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 3, 2020)

Jefferson school days echo in the May memories of its students
By Clay Eals

In our coronaviral days of school closures and social distancing and with May Day here, this week’s “Then” image might be poignant. It depicts 130 people posing for a group photo at West Seattle’s Jefferson Elementary School on Saturday, June 1, 1985, just 17 days before it fell victim to the wrecking ball.

As editor of the West Seattle Herald, I organized the gathering to document the passing of a building in which thousands of students spent formative years, from its opening in 1911 until 1979, when plummeting enrollment and soaring renovation costs sealed its fate.

The former Jefferson students and staff who turned out faced 42nd Avenue while our fearless photographer, Brad Garrison, perched atop an 8-foot wooden stepladder to capture the scene. The print’s upper edge is irregular because, for effect, the photo ran large on the front page, extending up into the newspaper’s nameplate.

The school, named for our third president, designed by Edgar Blair and built one block east of West Seattle’s Junction business district, had an enduring effect of its own – on its students.

“We bleed Jefferson,” says Lisa McCandless Bernardez, who attended in the mid-1970s. Every five years since, she has reunited with her best friend, Jefferson classmate Sue Haynie Craig, at the salad bar inside the Safeway anchoring the full-block complex that replaced the school and opened in August 1987.

“It was a great, mysterious, humongous school,” Bernardez says. “When they tore it down, it broke our hearts.”

Some recall the edifice’s crowded baby-boom classrooms (nearly 1,000 students in 1953-1954), wooden desks and worn stairs, along with the “old smell you never forget.” Others cite civil defense (atomic bomb) drills and sneaking into the basement to discover long-abandoned rations and body tags.

Students also exploited the neighborhood’s business milieu to create meandering walking routes. Wayne Hagler, who attended in the late 1960s, says, “We’d go through the showroom of Gene Fiedler Chevrolet, then Lucky’s grocery, then the auto-parts store to get STP stickers, so a 20-minute walk home took 45 minutes.”

Most wish Jefferson could have been preserved and repurposed as were schools in Queen Anne, Wallingford and elsewhere. But the latter-day impact of its 33-year-old substitute, Jefferson Square, is undeniable. The five-level structure serves thousands of customers, workers and residents via retail storefronts (80,000 square feet), offices (67,000 square feet) and residential space (78 apartments).

Nevertheless, lingering today in the memories of Myra Bowen Skubitz, who attended in the mid-1940s, and Karen Arthur White who attended 10 years later, is Jefferson’s annual spring jamboree. It brought every student in the school to its enormous asphalt playground for dancing with streamers around a maypole and other fun. One can still imagine.

WEB EXTRAS

Below are two more memories of former Jefferson Elementary School students, 11 Jefferson-related photos and 16 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

At the bottom is an official three-page history of the school from Seattle Public Schools Archives.

Also, here is where you can find the Facebook page for Jefferson Elementary School alumni.

Robert Terrana. uncle of Lisa McCandless Bernardez who attended in the 1940s during World War II, recalls air-raid drills. ” We had to go down to the basement floor under the first floor. We had to stay there until they rang the bells when it was safe to go upstairs.” He also recalls the “nice, big, wide playground.” He recalls walking to school in the snow. “We had some big snowstorms, more than we have now. Winter used to be winter.” A lifelong West Seattleite, he will be 85 in August. “I used to be in some of the little skits they used to put on for the children in the auditorium. … When they had the March of Dimes campaign in January, they had those tables at California Avenue and Alaska, and I used to volunteer with that, helping with the announcing: ‘Give to March of Dimes. Put your dimes on the table.’ That was probably in sixth grade.”

John Carlson, longtime talk-show host for KVI, attended kindergarten and first grade in the 1960s. “I brought my copy of the album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ to Show and Tell, but (kindergarten teacher) Mrs. Price said it was inappropriate. The following week I brought my collection of troll-sized Beatles dolls, pointing out that they were dolls, not Beatles toys. Mrs. Price was not impressed with my logic and said that if I brought any more Beatles memorabilia to class, it would be confiscated. Loved those days.”

April 24, 1949, Seattle Times, page 94
During the 1951-1952 school year, Jefferson students gather, looking south, with Gene Fiedler Chevrolet in the background. (Courtesy Les Bretthauer)
May 18, 1955, Seattle Times, page 36
An aerial photo from 1957 showing Jefferson Elementary School in the foreground. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
Feb. 22, 1961, Seattle Times, page 2, John J. Reddin column
Oct. 23, 1964, Seattle Times, page 14
June 11, 1969, Seattle Times, page 79, ad for Lucky’s across from Jefferson Elementary School
Dec. 31, 1969, Seattle Times, page 28, ad for Gene Fiedler Chevrolet across from Jefferson Elementary School
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 1 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 2 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 3 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 4 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
June 6, 1972, Jefferson Elementary School audio-visual certificate for Wayne Hagler (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
June 12, 1972, Jefferson Elementary School crossing-guard certificate for Wayne Hagler (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
Aug. 10, 1972, Seattle Times, page 28
Oct. 1, 1972, Seattle Times, page 4
Feb. 15, 1973, Seattle Times, page 59
march 10, 1973, Seattle Times, page 5
March 22, 1973, Seattle Times, page 52
Sept. 6, 1978, Seattle Times, page 3
March 9, 1979, Seattle Times, page 9
March 22, 1979, Seattle Times, page 14
Aug. 14, 1979, Seattle Times, page 13
June 6, 1985, West Seattle Herald, listing of participants in final group photos (Photos by Brad Garrison)
In June 1985, when demolition of Jefferson Elementary School began. (Grace Fredeen)
In 1985, Lisa McCandless (left) and Sue Haynie stand in front of partially demolished Jefferson Elementary School. (Courtesy Lisa McCandless Bernardez)
In 1990, Lisa McCandless (left) and Sue Haynie reunite at Safeway on the site of former Jefferson Elementary School. (Courtesy Lisa McCandless Bernardez)
On May 2, 2020, former Jefferson students Lisa McCandless Bernardez(left) and Sue Haynie Craig display artifacts from Jefferson school while visiting Jefferson Square on May 2, 2020. (Courtesy Lisa McCandless Bernardez)
Jefferson Elementary School chapter of “Building for Learning / Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000, page 1 (Courtesy Seattle Public Schools Archives)
Jefferson Elementary School chapter of “Building for Learning / Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000, page 2 (Courtesy Seattle Public Schools Archives)
Jefferson Elementary School chapter of “Building for Learning / Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000, page 3 (Courtesy Seattle Public Schools Archives)

 

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle Yacht Club clubhouse, 1926

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THEN: Sixty women and three children, dressed in finery to greet Queen Marie of Romania, pose Nov. 4, 1926, along the west side of the then-six-year-old clubhouse of the Seattle Yacht Club. The hunch of our auto informant, Bob Carney, is that at left, the touring car in front is a 1924 or 1925 Cadillac, and the car behind it is a 1925 or 1926 Lincoln. For more info on the clubhouse and its centennial, visit the website of Seattle Yacht Club. (Museum of History & Industry, courtesy Seattle Yacht Club)
NOW: The Seattle Yacht Club high-school sailing team, representing the club of the future (and backed by staff who keep the club humming), approximate the pose of their 1926 predecessors. Major changes since 1920 to the clubhouse and grounds, officially landmarked by the city in 2006, include enlarged windows (1946) and an expanded dining room (1967) at right. The photo looks more directly east than the “Then” image because the tree at left would obscure a more accurate repeat. Here’s who is in the photo: The high-school sailing team (front, from left): Matteo Horvat, Alex Shemwell, Ryan Milne, Anna Lindberg, Blake Weld, Taylor Burck, Aurora Kreyche, Isabel Souza, Caroline Schmale, Andy Roedel, Filippa Cable, Alvaro De Lucas and Alden Arnold. Staff (back, from left): Jose Cadena, Devon Cannon, sailing coach Cameron Hoard, Lynn Lawrence, Jorge Vallejo, Annee King, Carlos Sagastume, Jody Tapsak, Chef Alex Garcia, Mason Pollock, Natalia Ruiz-Jiminez, Kevin Martinez-Jara, Coner Hannum, Jenne Lawrence, Alicia Kern, Geoffrey Moore, Quang-Ngoc Tran, Shyheem Mitchell, Ellen Beardsley, Anthony Navarro, Juan Abrego-Hernandez, D’Andre Miller, Tiffiney Jones, Benjamin St. Clair, Jade Lennstrom, Jeremy Witham, general manager Amy Shaftel, Josie Weiss, Mike Young and Penny Slade.

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 23, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on April 26, 2020)

Yacht club’s 1926 Montlake reception had a crowning touch
By Clay Eals

Royalty fueled the roar of the 1920s in Seattle on Nov. 4, 1926. That day, the city welcomed a woman whom The Seattle Times called the “most beautiful and gracious of all Europe’s feminine monarchs,” Queen Marie.

For the 51-year-old regal representative of Romania (then spelled Rumania), Seattle was but one destination on a cross-country tour. Accompanied in an open touring car by our first female mayor, Bertha Landes, the queen zipped through an afternoon of stops initially intended for a full day.

Queen Marie in 1926. (British Pathe)

She drew record crowds, and the city delighted her: “In all the towns I have visited, I have found none so beautiful as your Seattle. In each corner today, I have found a place where I should like to live.”

The fitting finale was the home of the Seattle Yacht Club. Its clubhouse, perched on Portage Bay, south of the University of Washington and north of today’s Highway 520, had opened six years earlier, on May 1, 1920. For a reception put on by “club women of the city” to honor the queen, the building burst with autumn blooms, its veranda rails draped in dahlias.

Only 200 of the 1,500 assembled women could greet Marie, however, because what was to be a one-hour stay lasted “scarcely more than 15 minutes.” This did not prevent 60 women – bonneted, like the queen – from posing outside with three youngsters, as our “Then” photo shows.

It’s no accident that a lighthouse-shaped cupola topped the clubhouse, which The Times called “the finest on the Coast and one of the finest in the United States.” Famed architect John Graham, Sr., certainly intended for the Colonial Revival/Shingle Style structure to complement the recently opened Lake Washington Ship Canal, including nearby Montlake Cut, which connected Portage Bay to the lake.

The parcel, formerly marshland and a landfill for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition at the UW campus, became available for the club’s purchase after a casino proposed for the site fizzled. The club deemed the calm, freshwater setting a buoyant change from the rough weather, railroad noise, oil dumping and swells of passing steamboats that its boaters and craft had endured at saltwater bases on Elliott Bay and along the West Seattle shore since its founding in 1892.

Today, with 2,800 member families and myriad programs for all ages, Seattle Yacht Club is the oldest and largest such local organization.

The coronavirus scuttled its traditionally sponsored early-May merriment for Opening Day, but the club optimistically has rescheduled an elaborate celebration of its clubhouse centennial for Sept. 26. Sailing and motor vessels from the 1920s are to be on display, including one that participated on Opening Day in 1920.

One might envision the pending party as fit for a queen.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are a “Now” identifier photo and two other photos as well as 11 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

And at the bottom, see a book excerpt relating to Queen Marie’s visit to the Seattle Yacht Club clubhouse on Nov. 4, 1926!

Here is an identifier photo for the “Now” photo above.
Early clubhouse of Seattle Yacht Club at Duwamish Head in West Seattle, built in 1892. (Courtesy Seattle Yacht Club)
Early clubhouse of Seattle Yacht Club and Elliott Bay Yacht Club in West Seattle, 1909. (Courtesy Seattle Yacht Club)
April 25, 1920, Seattle Times, page 62
May 3, 1920, Seattle Times, page 13
Oct. 12, 1926, Seattle Times, page 13
Nov. 2, 1926, Seattle Times, page 1
Nov. 2, 1926, Seattle Times, page 7
Nov. 4, 1926, Seattle Times, page 1
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 11
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 12, mainbar excerpt
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 12, sidebar
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 12
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 13
Nov. 6, 1926, Seattle Times, page 5
Excerpt from “On Tour with Queen Marie” (Robert M. McBride & Co, New York, March 1927), by Constance Lily Rothschild Morris, who accompanied Queen Marie on her tour of the United States and Canada in 1926. It is not known if the tree referenced here is the tree shown at left in our “Now” photo above. (Courtesy Mike Young)