All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Yakima exaggeration postcard, early 1930s

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Mount Rainier and its foothills falsely rise above the north end of downtown Yakima’s Second Street in this early 1930s exaggeration postcard. The 11-floor Larson Building at left entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Got an old exaggeration postcard? Scan and send it to ceals@comcast.net so that we can share it here. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW: The Art Deco walls of the Larson Building still reign over downtown Yakima. Since 2016, its Second Street façade has been illuminated with multiple colors at night under downtown’s Larson Light project. (John Baule)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 4, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 7, 2021)

With exaggeration postcards, we’re not in Kansas anymore
By Clay Eals

As springtime wanderlust beckons, so does a road trip. Just fill the tank and drive someplace civilized but close to nature. If the town seems nice enough, consider moving there.

That’s the underlying message of our 1930s “Then” postcard. It positions the Eastern Washington burg of Yakima as a gateway to recreation on the most topographically prominent peak in the then-48 states.

Oh, but what was a newcomer or out-of-stater to think? On the card, Rainier looks as close to downtown as the fictional Emerald City appeared to Dorothy and her cinematic compatriots.

Reality was quite different. This view of Second Street, anchored by the majestic Larson Building at left, looks north, while the mountain, as locals know, rises to the west. Even if someone standing at this vantage swiveled to gaze left, Rainier would be much more distant and invisible.

This is what collectors term an exaggeration postcard. Call it early-day Photoshop. Such mass-produced novelties often superimposed outrageously enormous vegetables or fake animals (“jackalopes,” anyone?) to promote fertile farming or abundant hunting. The intent was to bring a vacation laugh to folks back home.

The whimsical cards also fed tourism, as business districts everywhere strove to survive during the Great Depression. Yakima — at 27,000 population, part of a “trading territory” of 100,000 residents, according to a 1929 chamber of commerce brochure — was no exception. (Included were 3,000 Yakama tribal members on a 30,000-acre reservation.)

Adelbert E. Larson in the early 1930s. He died in 1934 at age 71. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)

If any downtown feature was a flashy draw for visitors, it was the Larson Building, constructed in 1931 by entrepreneur and civic leader Adelbert E. Larson, who devoted himself to the city he adopted in 1884 when he arrived as a 22-year-old, legendarily carrying all his belongings in a pack.

Though the financial crash had begun when Larson broke ground on the area’s first skyscraper, he “persevered because he wanted people to continue to believe in the future of Yakima,” says John Baule, archivist and longtime former director of the Yakima Valley Museum.

The resulting edifice rose to 11 stories. The Society of Architectural Historians says the detail and prestige of this John Maloney-designed structure is rivaled statewide only by Seattle’s 1929 Northern Life Tower. Inside and out, it stands as an Art Deco masterpiece.

Just north, the white Yakima Trust Building is the other remaining structure from the postcard. The massive Donnelly Hotel and other storefronts on the east side of Second Street fell victim to urban renewal in the 1970s and 1980s. A planned plaza was never built.

The result was street-level parking — the likes of which would never be seen in Oz.

WEB EXTRAS

John Baule (Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)

Below are a two-part Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, an additional photo, a National Register nomination and, in chronological order, 14 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to John Baule, archivist for and, from 1992 to 2016, the director of Yakima Valley Museum, for his assistance with this column!

1929 Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, part one. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)
1929 Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, part two. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)
A Boyd Ellis postcard of downtown Yakima’s Second Street from the same vantage as our “Then” postcard, circa 1937.
The 1984 nomination of the A.E. Larson Building to the National Register of Historic Places. Click to see full pdf file.
Aug. 12, 1930, Oregonian, page 9.
Oct. 6, 1930, Seattle Times, page 33.
Dec. 21, 1930, Seattle Times, page 19.
Feb. 1, 1931, Seattle Times, page 12.
April 17, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
May 13, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Oct. 18, 1931, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 18, 1931, Seattle Times, page 38.
Nov. 22, 1931, Seattle Times, page 30.
July 8, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14. The Larson Building is at bottom left.
Feb. 18, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 36.
June 8, 1934, Seattle Times, page 34.
June 9, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Feb. 23, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 96. She was an active socialite in Yakima.

Seattle Now & Then: Firland Sanatorium, 1934

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THEN: This Feb. 14, 1934, view looks northwest at 19 workers paving the entrance to Firland Sanatorium. The image is from an album of 93 New Deal-era prints of local sites purchased decades ago at a thrift store and recently loaned to this column for scanning — itself a gift of love for our region. (Courtesy Marvin Holappa family)
NOW: Standing before CRISTA’s Mike Martin Administration Building beside sanitation workers are (from left) Aaron Bard, great-grandnephew of author and former Firland Sanatorium patient Betty MacDonald; Paula Becker, author of an acclaimed 2016 MacDonald biography; Vicki Stiles, executive director of Shoreline Historical Museum, home of a Firland exhibit in 2007; Jan Screen, receptionist affiliated with CRISTA since 1957; and Kyle Roquet, facilities VP. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Feb. 18, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Feb. 21, 2021)

Inside and out, a stately, cross-topped edifice nurtures acts of love
By Clay Eals

We at “Now & Then” heartily proclaim that Valentine’s Day is worth not just 24 hours’ attention but rather a season — nay, a full year. So while the holiday fell last Sunday, we still can celebrate that our “Then” photo, taken 87 years ago on Feb. 14, represents the largess of love.

Most obvious is its esteem for jobless Americans during the Great Depression. Nineteen men are shown paving the road to the City of Seattle’s 44-acre Firland Sanatorium, west of Highway 99 in today’s Shoreline. The labor was funded by the federal Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), a New Deal relief program.

Also potent is the devotion inherent in the sanatorium, whose stately 1913 Administration Building was topped by the two-barred Cross of Lorraine, longtime logo for the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, later the American Lung Association.

In our coronavirus era, the word “sanatorium” seems obscure, but before the mid-20th-century discovery and distribution of antibiotics to combat TB, it denoted an institution for isolated treatment of the notoriously contagious and deadly lung infection.

In Firland’s heyday, those admitted for one of its 250 openings endured 24-hour bed rest, nonstop fresh air and other strict regimens and surgeries for months or years. Patients who beat the disease emerged deeply grateful for a new chapter of life.

“The Plague and I” book cover, 1948.

Its most famous survivor, author of the multi-million-selling farm chronicle “The Egg and I” and four Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, was Seattle’s beloved Betty MacDonald. In 1938-39, amid her own New Deal administrative employment, she spent nine months at Firland. A decade later, she wrote a second memoir echoing the title of her first: “The Plague and I.”

While etching droll portraits of fellow patients and staff, the thankful MacDonald also rendered the darkness of her experience. Life there, she wrote irreverently, would “make dying seem like a lot of fun.” A paean to public health, “Plague” became her favorite of four books she penned for adults. Ovarian cancer claimed her in 1958 at age 50.

Today, the Administration Building bears a single-barred cross under the private auspices of CRISTA (first called King’s Garden), which since 1949 has housed and cared for seniors and served students among its ministries based at the now-56-acre campus.  Of its own volition, CRISTA has preserved the edifice lovingly.

At its door in early days, a prescient plaque placed a heart on the building’s figurative sleeve: “Generosity and a liberal spirit make men to be humane and genial, open-hearted, frank and sincere, earnest to do good, easy and contented and well-wishers of mankind.”

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 more book covers, a movie poster, five additional photos and, in chronological order, 14 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Rex Holappa, Paula Becker and Vicki Stiles for their assistance with this column!

“The Egg and I” book cover, 1945.
“Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” book cover, 1947.
“Looking for Betty MacDonald” book cover, 2016.
“The Egg and I” movie poster, 1947.
Plaque depicted in 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Firland Sanatorium founder Horace Henry, depicted in woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Aerial sketch of Firland Sanatorium depicted in 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
The path from Seattle to Firland, depicted in front-endpaper woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
The path from Firland back to Seattle, depicted in back-endpaper woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Aug. 13, 1913, Seattle Times, page 4.
March 13, 1915, Seattle Times, page 3.
Dec. 27, 1925, Seattle Times, page 12.
Sept. 19, 1926, Seattle Times, page 9.
April 9, 1927, Seattle Times, page 5.
Feb. 2, 1931, Seattle Times, page 1.
Feb. 14, 1931, Seattle Times, page 6.
Nov. 14, 1937, Seattle Times, page 39.
Oct. 4, 1939, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 18, 1943, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
May 22, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
March 1, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
June 14, 1953, Seattle Times, page 72.
April 21, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.

Seattle Now & Then: Sixth & Pike, 1969

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THEN: In 1969, the two-floor brick building on the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike sparkled with colorful marquees, anchored the wraparound neon of Burt’s Credit Jewelers. The decorative black-and-white squares above gave the modest edifice an inexpensive focal point to draw eyes upward. (Frank Shaw / Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: With a welcoming gesture at the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike, which had been dominated by his grandfather Max Bender’s store, Burt’s Credit Jewelers, stands Scott Bender, who carries on the family business tradition with his jewelry in Bellevue. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 28, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 31, 2021)

Confident commerce of a colorful corner beckons from 1969
By Clay Eals

As we envision a post-virus time when the heart of the city can feel colorful again, this red-bricked beauty with its kaleidoscopic signage serves as a talisman.

The scene, the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike, is specific to the day — Sept. 21, 1969, an overcast Sunday afternoon with no one on the streets. But the stillness masks a season that was anything but quiet.

Richard Nixon was president, Woodstock had drawn 350,000 rock fans, Sen. Edward Kennedy had driven off the Chappaquiddick bridge, Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon, and the anti-war “Chicago Eight” trial was nigh. Locally, the first Boeing 747 had taken flight, the Seafirst Tower (peeking at top left) had opened, and the Seattle Pilots were finishing their lone baseball season.

Anchoring this modest corner with sparkling neon and a perpetually opening and closing ring box was Burt’s Credit Jewelers, “the Northwest’s only diamond cutters.” Latvian immigrant Max Bender started the store in 1926, operating it until its closure in 1975 after the family launched a Ballard outpost.

Next to Burt’s was the equally enduring Home of the Green Apple Pie. Opening on Union Street across from the post office in 1918 and arriving at Sixth & Pike in 1932, this restaurant and bar, founded by Myrtle and Floyd Smith, swelled with cheeky hype. For example, a Nov. 4, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer ad claimed “15 Million Persons (They Could Swing This Election) Have Eaten the Pies Baked on the Premises.” In 1971, the eatery bragged of having served up (urp!) more than 4 million pies. By decade’s end, it had closed.

On the second floor percolated an early outlet for Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), before the outdoors giant expanded to Capitol Hill and later to its flagship along Interstate 5.

Minnesotan Dick Swenson recalls carrying a folding camp tool he had just invented, called the Sven-Saw, as he bounded up the long flight of stairs to REI while visiting the World’s Fair in 1962. Greeting him was REI’s first full-time employee, Jim Whittaker, one year from becoming the first American to scale Mount Everest. Whittaker eyed the saw and said, “Why don’t you send me six?” When Swenson got home, Whittaker had ordered another six. REI remains Sven-Saw’s best retailer.

No surprise, the building eventually gave way to a high-rise, half-block business complex, City Centre. From 1995 to 2004, the corner’s newly rounded façade housed a flashy branch of FAO Schwarz toys, accented by a 15-foot-tall waving bronzed teddy bear outside.

With its legacy of commercial ingenuity, this charmed corner stands ready for post-virus life.

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 and, in chronological order, 39 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Linnea Swenson Tellekson for her assistance with this column!

Dick Swenson (right) displays the Sven-Saw, a folding camp tool, during a mid-1960s trade show in Chicago. (Courtesy Linnea Swenson Tellekson)
Dick Swenson and the Sven-Saw, summer 2020, at Namakan Lake in upper Minnesota. (Courtesy Linnea Swenson Tellekson)
July 26, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
June 22, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
May 10, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 40.
Sept. 26, 1954, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 76.
Feb. 19, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 79.
Sept. 30, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 138.
Aug. 11, 1958, Seattle Times, page 14.
May 15, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 70.
Oct. 30, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 78.
Nov. 4, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Feb. 23, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
March 16, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
Aug. 12, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Aug. 24, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Times, page 31.
May 18, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 59.
Sept. 12, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Dec. 8, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 26.
July 3, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
Nov. 10, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
March 30, 1965, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
Nov. 16, 1967, Seattle Times, page 77.
Nov. 26, 1967, Seattle Times, page 241.
Nov. 26, 1967, Seattle Times, page 242.
Dec. 24, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
Oct. 30, 1970, Seattle Times, page 33.
Nov. 26, 1970, Seattle Times, page 29.
June 20, 1971, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 92.
Feb. 6, 1972, Seattle Times, page 82.
May 19, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 30.
May 20, 1972, Seattle Times, page 9.
Sept. 16, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Nov. 25, 1972, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 3, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 41.
Oct. 6, 1976, Seattle Times, page 68.
April 10, 1977, Seattle Times
June 17, 1979, Seattle Times, page 180.
July 22, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 138.
Oct. 17, 1979, Seattle Times, page 120.
Nov. 7, 1979, Seattle Times, page 123.

 

Seattle Now & Then: La Quinta Apartments, 1929

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THEN: Two years after the complex opened, this photo of the La Quinta Apartments from a 1929 Anhalt Company brochure exemplifies the pitch therein: “ ’Every Man’s Home Is His Castle’ is an Ideal realized to an unusual extent for tenants of Anhalt Apartment-Homes.” (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)
NOW: Socially distanced and momentarily unmasked, two dozen current and past tenants of La Quinta Apartments (some leaning from windows) are joined by historian Larry Kreisman (left) and Historic Seattle’s director of preservation services, Eugenia Woo (fourth from left), in displaying support for landmarking the Spanish Eclectic-style complex. For more info on the campaign, visit vivalaquinta.com. Following are the names of everyone. On the parking strip (from left): Larry Kreisman, Jacob Nelson, Brandon Simmons, Eugenia Woo, Alex Baker, Lawrence Norman, Tom Heuser (Capitol Hill Historical Society president), Juliana Roble, Eliza Warwick, Rebecca Herzfeld, Gordon Crawford, Samantha Siciliano, Ryan Batie, Michael Strangeways, Chelsea Bolan, Jerry Jancarik, Sean Campos, Clea Hixon, Jenifer Curtin, Marta Sivertsen, Aaron Miller, Finn (dog) and Mariana Gutheim. In the windows (from left): Zach Moblo (above), Ryan Moblo (below), Carlos Chávez (waving flag), María Jesús Silva (above) and Begonia Irigoyen (below). (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 28, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 31, 2021)

U-shaped edifice courts its tenants in 1927 and today
By Clay Eals

How can a house feel more like a home if the home isn’t a house? That’s no trick question. It was a real concern for prolific Seattle developer Frederick Anhalt during the Roaring ’20s nearly a century ago.

Of note among some 45 buildings Anhalt constructed were 19 apartment complexes on Capitol Hill and in Queen Anne. Each exuded unique charm that eludes the modern tendency toward mega-unit boxes.

The first example of Anhalt’s approach and execution presides in our “Then” photo. Built in 1927, the La Quinta Apartments at 1710 East Denny Way in south-central Capitol Hill clearly reflect Spanish influences, with red-clay roof tiles and stucco embedded with colored stones and panels artfully arranged in arches.

Even more significant, however, is the early use of a U-shaped footprint surrounding an ample courtyard filled with foliage and places to sit. It’s long been a welcoming centerpiece for residents of the dozen apartments (two floors each), including units in the pair of turrets at the inner corners. This element creates the notion of “home” even today, when social gatherings are discouraged but an uplifting vision can provide at least the sense of belonging.

Frederick Anhalt, circa 1929. The self-taught builder, who lived to age 101, died in 1996. (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)

“I thought that people should have a nice view to look out to and the feeling that they were living in a house of their own, different from their neighbor’s,” the developer reflected in the 1982 book “Built by Anhalt” by Steve Lambert. “It didn’t seem to make sense … to spend a lot of extra money on a building site just because it had a pretty view in one direction. Somebody else could always put another building between you and your view.”

Small wonder that a for-rent ad in the Nov. 6, 1927, Seattle Times labeled La Quinta “the prettiest and best-arranged individual apartment building in Seattle.”

Today, tenants echo the sentiment. “I know all my neighbors, I talk to them all, I trust them,” says Chelsea Bolan, a resident since 2003. “You interact, you share, you see each other all the time.”

“There just aren’t places like this anymore,” says Lawrence Norman, who grew up there when his dad owned it in 1964-74. “It brings community together. That’s a special thing, and I think that should be preserved.”

Historic Seattle agrees and is nominating it for city landmark status. The first hearing is Feb. 3.

Heartily endorsing the effort is longtime architectural historian Larry Kreisman, who wrote the 1978 book “Apartments by Anhalt” and salutes the developer’s boomtime vision: “For an expanding middle class, Anhalt made dense city-living palatable.”

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 five additional photos, a brochure, a landmark nomination, a support letter and, in chronological order, 10 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Eugenia Woo, Larry Kreisman and the residents of La Quinta for their assistance with this column!

The 1937 King County assessor’s tax photo for La Quinta. (Puget Sound Regional Archives)
Panorama of the La Quinta apartments taken Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
Detail of La Quinta exterior art, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
La Quinta entry gate, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
La Quinta entry sign promoting landmark campaign, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
1929 Anhalt brochure cover. Click it to see full 16-page brochure. (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)
La Quinta landmark nomination cover, December 2020. Click it to see the full nomination.
Click to see pdf of two-page landmark support letter by Larry Kreisman.
Nov. 6, 1927, Seattle Times, page 54.
Oct. 31, 1931, Seattle Times, page 9.
April 17, 1932, Seattle Times, page 36.
April 24, 1932, Seattle Times, page 34.
Aug. 28, 1932, Seattle Times, page 15.
July 16, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 45.
July 30, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 41.
Nov. 18, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Nov. 8, 1976, Seattle Times, page 7.

Seattle Now & Then: President Hotel, 1937-38

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: The President Hotel rises on Olive Way in 1937-38, in this assessor’s photo rescued among thousands of others by now-retired county employee Stan Unger, of Magnolia. Below right, a New Richmond Laundry truck services the President, trumpeting Zoric fluid, “the most revolutionary dry cleaning process of all time.” The motherly laundry’s longtime slogan: “Sox, we darn ’em.” (Courtesy Stan Unger)
NOW: With Interstate 5 to their backs, descendants of Matthew Zindorf stand socially distanced at the former President Hotel site: (from left) Audrey and Adrian Tarr, Christine Brauner and Christine and Gus Marshall, all of South Seattle. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 14, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 17, 2021)

Builder Matthew Zindorf once installed a prudent President
By Clay Eals

On the cusp of Wednesday’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., we at “Now & Then” unequivocally commit ourselves to a peaceful transition — to a pertinent Seattle subject.

We reference, faithful readers might have guessed, the President Apartment Hotel. This seven-story brick building served a 34-year term from 1927 to 1961 while perched northeast of downtown on Olive Way atop what today is Interstate 5.

Though an elegant edifice, this was no overnight abode for the likes of Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, as its name could imply. With 36 single rooms and 58 two-room suites, each with pull-down wall beds, the President hosted longer stays starting at $30 a month.

Upon its opening, newspapers rallied public support. They touted electric refrigeration, radio outlets and hardwood floors and lauded “automatic elevator service to all floors,” including a basement garage, “doing away with the sometimes unpleasant necessity of going out of the building to reach the car.”

Matthew P. Zindorf as a young adult. (J.H. Blome Studio, courtesy Leon Blauner)

Headstrong entrepreneur Matthew P. Zindorf both designed and owned the President. Known as an engineer who constructed Seattle’s first reinforced concrete structure (the 1910 Zindorf Apartments, still standing at 714 Seventh Ave.), he had developed major projects here and in Canada since 1890.

He also dabbled in public policy. In three 1934 letters to The Seattle Times, he proposed how to cast off the Depression: “I would keep every honest, willing worker at work. No children nor women would be needed. I would begin to reduce the hours of the employed to give work to the unemployed. I would keep them employed all the time.”

Politics on the home front earned him tabloid-style coverage in 1929. “Wealthy Realtor Sued for Divorce On Cruelty Charge,” bellowed The Seattle Times, as Zindorf conceded custody of a daughter, a house and alimony. A Seattle Post-Intelligencer subhead said his wife, Daisy, complained that “She Did Own Housework To Save Money.” Daisy reportedly testified that Zindorf had canceled her charge accounts, limiting her to spending $80 a month to run their household with no help. Zindorf’s side went unreported.

Zindorf died in 1952 at age 93, stepping down from work just three years earlier. While residing at the Elks Club, he often walked downtown with grandson Leon Brauner, now of Ocean Shores, who recalls, “Every time we passed a particular Fourth Avenue bank, he whacked his cane against the plate-glass window.” His granddad’s rationale is a fuzzy memory, but surely “it was his way of making a point.”

Power-cranes clawed away the President’s walls in March 1961, declaring another victory in the inevitable campaign to build I-5. Pardon the expression: All in favor?

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!

Our automotive informant Bob Carney discloses that our “Then” photo depicts (from right) a 1928-29 Ford Model A panel truck, a 1929-30 Chevrolet coupe and a 1935 Ford Tudor. The car at far left is unidentifiable.

Below are an additional photo, a map and, in chronological order, 38 historical 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 bottom, we include 27 additional clippings that convey the creativity of the anonymous advertising copy writer for New Richmond Laundry, who certainly wasn’t depressed during the Great Depression!

Special thanks to Leon Brauner and Diana James for their assistance with this column!

Matthew P. Zindorf as a young adult. (J.H. Blome Studio, courtesy Leon Blauner)
A section of the 1912 Baist map shows the future location of the President Hotel, indicated by red arrow. (Ron Edge)
July 24, 1905, Seattle Times, page 10. This ad indicates a five-room cottage stood on the site where the President Hotel was later built.
Sept. 3, 1911, Seattle Post-Intelligencer letter to the editor, page 7.
March 24, 1913, Seattle Times, page 19.
May 2, 1926, Seattle Times, page 80.
July 18, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 35.
Sept. 18, 1926, Hotel News of the West. (Diana James)
Feb. 20, 1927, Seattle Times, page 14.
Feb. 1, 1928, Seattle Times, page 2.
Feb. 15, 1928, Seattle Times. (Diana James)
Dec. 3, 1928, Seattle Times, page 28.
June 20, 1929, Seattle Times, page 7.
June 29, 1929, Seattle Times, page 2.
Oct. 11, 1929, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
Feb. 15, 1931, Seattle Times, page 3.
May 11, 1933, Seattle Times, page 24.
Aug. 7, 1934, Seattle Times letter to the editor, page 6.
Sept. 1, 1934, Seattle Times letter to the editor, page 6.
Sept. 17, 1934, Seattle Times, page 6.
May 8, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Feb. 27, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
May 18, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
June 22, 1945, Seattle Times, page 19.
Oct. 14, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 33.
March 1, 1946, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 21.
Feb. 16, 1952, Seattle Times, page 12.
April 13, 1952, Seattle Times, page 30.
July 5, 1953, Seattle Times, page 25.
Dec. 30, 1955, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 26.
Sept. 21, 1959, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 31, 1959, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
Jan. 2, 1960, Seattle Times, page 17.
March 15, 1960, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 28, 1960, Seattle Times, page 21.
Oct. 29, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Oct. 30, 1960, Seattle Times, page 52.
Nov. 5, 1960, Seattle Times, page 18.
Dec. 3, 1960, Seattle Times, page 21.
March 9, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.

New Richmond Laundry ads

Here is a selection of 27 creative classified ads for New Richmond Laundry, whose truck appears at bottom right in our “Then” photo. At the very bottom are an article and ad for Zoric, the fluid touted by New Richmond Laundry.

Jan. 20, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
Feb. 5, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
Feb. 7, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 51.
Feb. 13, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
Feb. 24, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
Feb. 28, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 46.
March 8, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
April 12, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
April 14, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
April 16, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
May 31, 1932, Seattle Times, page 23.
Dec. 20, 1932, Seattle Times, page 24.
Jan. 25, 1933, Seattle Times, page 18.
Feb. 5, 1933, Seattle Times, page 23.
March 23, 1933, Seattle Times, page 25.
March 26, 1933, Seattle Times, page 23.
April 7, 1933, Seattle Times, page 31.
April 16, Seattle Times, page 29.
April 22, 1933, Seattle Times, page 11.
Oct. 29, 1933, Seattle Times, page 31.
Nov. 3, 1933, Seattle Times, page 34.
Oct. 4, 1935, Seattle Times, page 40.
Dec. 31, 1935, Seattle Times, page 17.
Jan. 6, 1937, Seattle Times, page 21.
Aug. 6, 1937, Seattle Times, page 17.
March 9, 1940, Seattle Times, page 12.
April 19, 1944, Seattle Times, page 23.
Nov. 13, 1933, Catholic Transcript, page 11.
Nov. 13, 1933, Catholic Transcript, page 9.

Seattle Now & Then: rally for open housing, 1964

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: In an image featured in a journal article by historian Dale Soden, 1,500 open-housing advocates gather March 7, 1964, at the old Westlake Mall after a march from Mount Zion Baptist Church. An open-housing ordinance on the city ballot three days later lost by a more than two-to-one margin. Visible beyond the Monorail tracks are the old Orpheum Theatre and, more distant, the Trailways bus depot. (Harvey Davis, Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: Dale Soden chooses a Black Lives Matter sign to stand near the same spot as the 1964 rally. Behind him is today’s Westlake Center, a 4-story shopping center and 25-floor office tower that replaced the old mall in the mid-1980s while the Monorail was slightly truncated and a new Westlake Park stretched to the south. On the old Orpheum site rose today’s Westin Hotel. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Dec. 31, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 3, 2021)

Tracking the role of spiritual leadership in the public square
By Clay Eals

Here’s a New Year’s reflection as newly elected public servants take office this month:

While the First Amendment commands social distancing between government and religion, there’s never been a year they haven’t mixed it up. Indeed, spiritual leaders have long challenged citizens to use free speech and the ballot box for what they see as the public good.

This week’s “Then” photo, looking north at Seattle’s old Westlake Mall, is an apt demonstration. Led by Catholic, Jewish and Protestant clerics, some 1,500 opponents of racist real-estate covenants hoisted a sea of signs on March 7, 1964, to urge voter passage of a city open-housing ordinance.

“Voting against basic rights of men is against the will of God,” the Rev. James Lynch of St. James Cathedral told the crowd beneath the beams of the Monorail, which opened for the World’s Fair two years prior, and in front of the elegant 1927 Orpheum Theatre three years away from its razing.

With opponents stoking fears of “forced” housing, the 1964 measure failed, 115,627 to 54,448. But as vowed at the rally by the Rev. Dr. John Adams, chair of the Central Area Committee for Civil Rights, “We will not be deterred until we have the respect, dignity and freedom we deserve.”

The political tide turned in 1968 when the city council passed an open-housing ordinance whose ban on racial discrimination expanded in 1975 to gender, marital status, sexual orientation and political ideology; in 1979 to age and parental status; in 1986 to creed and disability; and in 1999 to gender identity.

Such issues captivate Dale Soden, a 35-year history professor at Spokane’s Whitworth University. He’s written two books and many articles documenting how religious activism — for good and ill — has shaped Northwest politics. His life’s work earned him the 2019-2020 Robert Gray Medal, the Washington State Historical Society’s highest honor, bestowed last September.

Soden, a white Lutheran, grew up in Bellevue, then nearly all-white. The earliest of his many career influences was his Black sixth-grade teacher at Robinswood Elementary School, the booming-voiced Don Phelps, a later KOMO-TV analyst and community-college chancellor in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Civil rights and Vietnam War protests fueled Soden’s adult direction: “I was always trying to figure out whether Christianity made any difference in how you looked at the world or lived your life.”

Clearly, he believes it has — and should. Though the Northwest is acknowledged as the least-churched region of the country, and while its religious leaders may seem less prominent in the public square than in 1964, Soden says their function “is still potent.”

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 an additional photo, a PowerPoint presentation from the Washington State Historical Society, a video interview of Dale Soden and a historical clipping from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, all of which were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Dale Soden for traveling to Seattle from Spokane to pose for our “Now” photo!

The covers of Dale Soden’s books.
A brief PowerPoint presentation on Dale Soden by the Washington State Historical Society.
Click this photo to see a 12-minute video interview of Dale Soden (Clay Eals)
March 8, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 77.

 

Black Santa, 1985

By Clay Eals

PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times is not running “Now & Then” in the Sunday print editions of Dec. 20 and Dec. 27, 2020.

So as one way to fill the gap for you, our faithful blog subscribers, I offer this “Black Santa” story of mine that appeared Christmas Day 1985 on the front page of the West Seattle Herald, for which I served as editor. The fine photos were by Herald photographer Brad Garrison. This is posted with the permission of Robinson Newspapers.

A couple months ago, thinking this story and photos might make the basis for a “Now & Then” column this month, I tried searching online for Tracy Bennett, the subject of this story, who would be 57 today. Alas, I turned up nothing.

Still, in our coronaviral time of health crisis and social, economic and political upheaval, this 35-year-old story about Tracy and his view on the Santa milieu remains timely, powerful and inspiring — at least that’s my hope.

At the time I wrote it, the story resonated quite personally, From 1985 to 1993, I volunteered more than 100 times to play Santa for children and adults at parties and in schools, community halls and private homes throughout Puget Sound as part of the American Heart Association’s “Santa with a Heart” fundraising program. As any Santa will tell you, it was a uniquely heartwarming and unforgettable experience. (See clippings at bottom.)

Please click any of the images once or twice to enlarge them for easy reading. And if you want to read the transcribed Black Santa text instead of reading directly from the images, scroll down.

Merry merry, and ho, ho, ho!

Dec. 25, 1985, West Seattle Herald, page one. (Posted with permission of Robinson Newspapers.)
Dec. 25, 1985, West Seattle Herald, page two. (Posted with permission of Robinson Newspapers.)

West Seattle Herald, Dec. 25, 1985

‘Just for you’

Black Santa relishes children’s happiness

Santa Claus, known as Tracy Bennett in the “off”-season, walks into a class of busy fifth- and sixth-graders at Hughes Elementary School in West Seattle.

“Hi, boys and girls,” says Santa.

“Oh, hi Santa Claus!” the students respond, almost in unison.

“Howya doin’?”

“Fine.”

“That’s good. I thought I’d drop in and visit you for a minute.”

“Yeah,” say a couple of students. “You changed colors.”

“Yeah,” answers Santa, “I sure did, didn’t I?”

By CLAY EALS

When most of those who are opening packages under the Christmas tree this morning think about “the man with all the toys,” their vision probably doesn’t look like Tracy Bennett.

That’s because Bennett is Black, while nearly all of the Santas in the world — at least in the United States — seem to be as white as the North Pole’s year-round snow.

Bennett isn’t bothered, however. He keeps an upbeat, optimistic attitude about the seasonal craft he’s practiced for the past 12 years. He says he’s encountered subtle prejudice from adults and skepticism from kids, but he boasts of being able to win over most of the doubters.

Exposure is what Bennett says he needs most. And so do the other Black Santas in America, he says.

Bennett got some of the exposure he desired last week when he walked the halls of both Hughes and Van Asselt elementary schools, the latter of which is attended by some students who live in southern West Seattle and the city side of White Center.

He roamed the halls at Hughes and, with the assistance of teacher Willa Williams, peeked into classrooms and dropped off sacks of candy canes, occasionally stopping for a few minutes to talk to kids on his lap. Bearing a staccato, smile-inducing “ho, ho, ho,” he almost resembled a politician, repeatedly extending his hand for a shake and greeting children with a steady stream of “Howyadoin’? … Howyadoin’, guy? … Hiya guys. Workin’ hard?”

The racially mixed classes responded in a generally positive way. Although one sixth-grader was heard to say, “I thought Santa Claus was white, because I saw a white Santa Claus at The Bon,” for the most part any negative comments centered on whether he was “real,” not on his skin color.

“He’s nice, but his hair’s made out of cotton. Weird,” said fourth-grader Jessica Canfield. “And he has clothes under his other clothes.”

“He’s fine, and I like him,” said fellow fourth-grader Johnny Cassanova. “He said that he would visit me, and he would try to get everything that I want for Christmas and to get good grades.”

Was he the “real” Santa? “Yeah,” said Johnny, “to me he is.”

“It went real good,” Bennett said afterward. “They were very polite. They weren’t skeptical. Mostly loving, you can tell.”

Bennett, who at 22 is unemployed and intends to go to school so that he can get a job either as a police officer or working with handicapped kids, began his Santa “career” at the young age of 10. “I started as a little dwarf and moved my way up,” the Rainier Valley resident said with a laugh.

Over the years, Bennett said, he’s been Santa at private gatherings and community centers in Seattle’s south end, and he’s pieced together a costume he thinks is unimposing. The key part, he said, is his beard, which is a rather flat affair.

“The big Santa Claus beards and hairs are so flocky, so thick, that it scares some children,” Bennett said. “His color of his suit and his beard is so bright already, along with the brightness of his face.

“A Black Santa Claus with a white beard seems to bring out an older look, and the color of my skin makes it look like a normal Black man wearing a suit.”

Consequently, he said, kids warm up to him rather quickly. “Apparently I work out pretty good,” he said.

Children, both white and minority, raise the racial question fairly often, Bennett said. They usually just say, “Santa Claus is white,” expecting a response, he said.

“But I really don’t say nothing. I just look at ’em and smile, or I say ‘Ho, ho, ho,’ and they usually don’t ask anymore,” he said. “I’m used to it, so it’s no problem.”

Bennett does look forward to a day when more Black Santas are around to break the racial ice at Christmastime.

“I’m not the only one, but I never see ’em in stores,” he said. If just one major downtown store would feature a Black Santa, “that would mean the 12 years that I’ve been working on it has started to come through,” he said. “It would be a breakthrough. I want it to happen.”

He also would like to see children exposed to Santas of a variety of races. “If we bring the children Black Santa Clauses, Korean Santa Clauses, Japanese Santa Clauses, the kids will like it after a while,” he said.

For that to happen, however, some prejudices will have to be broken down gradually. “You can feel it’s there,” he said. “You try to believe it’s not there, but you can see it in people’s eyes.”

Like any Santa Claus, Bennett finds it a “thrill” to portray Saint Nick to children. “When kids are happy, I’m happy. When they’re sad, I feel for ’em. I’d like to give ’em more than I can.”

He insists, however, that it’s important not to insist that he’s the “real” Santa when kids challenge him. He tells children, “You don’t have to believe in me. But I’m doing this just for you.”

“Why ruin a kid’s mind and say, ‘I’m real, believe me’?” he said. “He (Santa) is a beautiful man, OK? No one can take that away from him. But we have to tell what’s real from not. We have to tell our kids we play Santa Claus because we love children.”

Bennett also said it’s important not to push the religious aspects of Christmas as Santa. “When we talk about religion, we have to let kids do what they want, do not force them.”

Williams, the teacher, took the same approach in deciding to invite Bennett, a friend of hers, to visit Hughes. While Christmas “is a fun time and should be a time for joy,” she said she’s well aware of the Seattle School District’s policy that’s intended to separate religion from school activity.

Bringing Santa to the classroom — and a Black Santa at that — was an attempt to get students to “understand each other’s differences,” she said.

“When I told them Santa Claus might visit, one student told me, ‘I don’t believe in Santa Claus.’ Another said, ‘Santa Claus is my mom and dad,’ and another said, ‘Santa Claus is Jesus’,” Williams said. “It was just the idea of general thought and letting them express themselves and learning to accept each and every person and their differences as long as there isn’t any harm.”

For Bennett, the delight of being Santa is that “guy is just a giving person, you know?

“He gives away things to make people happy. If a child’s sick in bed, he sees Santa Claus, he’s going to try to smile as much as he can because he’s happy. When they say, ‘Santa Claus, you didn’t give me so-and-so,’ I say, ‘Well, maybe next year, OK?’

“I don’t tell them I’m going to get this (particular item) for them and get their hopes up. I tell them that maybe somebody will get it for them very soon.

“One guy said he wanted to go to college, and I said, ‘Maybe next Christmas or a few Christmases from now, you’ll be going to college and be saying you got your wish.’ ”

Bennett clearly is hooked on his annual role: “As long as I live and as long as I stay healthy, I’ll always be Santa Claus.”

P.S. Clay as Santa

As promised at the top, here are tidbits from my eight-year volunteer Santa Claus “career” for the American Heart Association: two clippings in which I demonstrate for other Santas the best way to don the uniform, plus a sketch I created to provide step-by-step guidance. Click once or twice on the images to enlarge them. —Clay

Nov. 11, 1992, North Central Outlook.
Dec. 16, 1992, West Seattle Herald.
Clay’s sketched guide to the most efficient order for donning elements of a Santa Claus suit.

A bonus:

Just for fun and to keep with the theme, I also dug up and am including a Santa article I wrote that appeared on Christmas Eve 1980 in the Oregonian near the end of my eight-year stint as a reporter and photographer for that newspaper. Again, click once or twice on the image to enlarge it for easy readability. Enjoy! —Clay

Dec. 24, 1980, Oregonian, page B8.

Seattle Now & Then: Emerald Street Boys, Seattle hip-hop group, Westin skybridge, 1984

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Posing on the Westin Hotel skybridge in 1984 are the Emerald Street Boys, formed in 1981: (from left) Eddie “Sugar Bear” Wells, James “Captain Crunch” Croone and Robert “Sweet J” Jamerson. The span was built in 1982 at second-floor level above Virginia Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues to connect the circular 1969 hotel with its new parking garage. (Kristine Larsen, courtesy Daudi Abe)
NOW: With masks briefly removed, standing in for the late Eddie Wells at left is Daudi Abe, author of “Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle” (University of Washington Press), while the two surviving Emerald Street Boys, James Croone (center) and Rcurtis Jamerson, re-create their 1984 poses on the Westin skybridge. For a video interview of the three, see below. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Dec. 3, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Dec. 6, 2020)

Seattle helped hip hop cross into the cultural mainstream
By Clay Eals

Create a futuristic space in this Space Needle city, and you might launch more movement than you imagined.

Proof is the 1982 Westin Hotel skybridge, whose rounded roof ribbing seems to pull pedestrians into the world of tomorrow. So how fitting that Seattle’s celebrated early rap group, the aptly named Emerald Street Boys, chose the elevated walkway as the site for an early promo photo.

No one recalls why the shot was staged on the 66-foot, steel-beam span, but the image anchored the trio’s local roots and symbolized the professional beginnings of Seattle hip hop.

Tracing the saga of this 40-year cultural phenomenon — encompassing rap music, MCing, DJing, graffiti art and break-dancing — is a new book, “Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle” (University of Washington Press), by longtime Seattle Central College humanities professor Daudi Abe.

With voluminous detail in 262 pages, including a 40-page timeline and 21 pages of footnotes, Abe chronicles the previously undocumented rise of Seattle hip hop, from its national titans Sir Mix-A-Lot (from whom Abe secured a foreword) and Macklemore to less-known practitioners and trends. With a journalist’s eye, he weaves the growth of Seattle hip hop with broader events and tracks its evolution toward diversity.

Author Daudi Abe, in t-shirt with our “Then” image of the Emerald Street Boys from 1984.

“It could be argued,” he writes, “that Seattle is one of the more inclusive environments in all of hip hop, as over time African Americans, Africans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, whites, Latinos, women, the disabled, homeless and others have all been represented. … There is no question that misogynistic attitudes and inappropriate behavior — a characteristic of hip hop and society in general — were also present in Seattle.”

Though Abe says Seattle hip hop originally was seen as a fleeting fad, like disco, he affirms its enduring stature amid other forms of expression. His book supplies myriad examples, from a landmark Seattle Symphony show to an annual mayor’s award.

Of this progression, Abe stands in awe: “I’ve been teaching the history of hip hop for 20 years, and sometimes I find it difficult to get across how exciting it was. Nobody knew what was going to happen. There was no formula, no road map. Everything was so new. … Now it’s so natural. It’s so part of the mainstream.”

The Garfield High School graduate says that in his pre-teens, hip hop emerged as a “weapon against social and political oppression” that taught him about earning respect. With an unintentional nod to the Westin setting, he adds, “It also helps bridge our cultural gaps.”

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 an additional photo and, in chronological order, 19 historical 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.

Also, here is a link to the Facebook page of “That Guy” Rcurtis Jamerson, singer /songwriter / music producer / lyricist / drummer / host / vocal coach / trainer / booking agent / actor / emcee.

As a bonus, here is the link to a 9-1/2-minute video interview of Daudi Abe, James Croone and Rcurtis Jamerson. If you click the photo below, you will open a pdf with a partial transcript of the interview. Enjoy!
Click on the photo to see a partial transcript of the video interview of author Daudi Abe and the two surviving members of the Emerald Street Boys, Rcurtis Jamerson and James Croone.
Here is an alternate NOW: With masks briefly removed, standing in for the late Eddie Wells at left is author Daudi Abe, while the two surviving Emerald Street Boys, James Croone (center) and Rcurtis Jamerson, re-create their 1984 poses on the Westin skybridge. For a video interview of the three, see above. (Jean Sherrard)
April 27, 1981, Seattle Times, page 53, Westin Hotel skybridge
June 28, 1981, Seattle Times, page 130, Westin Hotel skybridge.
April 9, 1982, Seattle Times, page 71.
April 9, 1982 Seattle Times, page 61.
April 23, 1982, Seattle Times, page 66.
Nov. 2, 1982, Seattle Times, page 33.
June 27, 1982, Seattle Times, page 51, Westin Hotel skybridge.
Nov. 3, 1982, Seattle Times, page 27.
Nov. 12, 1982, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 49.
Feb. 18, 1983, Seattle Times, page 54.
April 29, 1983, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 53.
April 29, 1983, Seattle Times, page 70.
May 27, 1983, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
June 27, 1983, Seattle Times, page 70.
June 3, 1983, Seattle Times, page 65.
June 6, 1983, Seattle Times, page 43.
Sept. 25, 1983, Seattle Times, page 143.
Feb. 19, 1984, Seattle Times, page 114.
Feb. 19, 1984, Seattle Times, page 115.
April 29, 2010, Seattle Times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: Pioneer Hall, 1904

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Facing west in front of the wooden predecessor of Pioneer Hall on June 21, 1904, are 39 members (top) and 60 members (bottom) of the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington. Twelve years hence, the level of Lake Washington, behind the hall, dropped by 9 feet with the opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (University of Washington Special Collections)
NOW: Posing before Washington Pioneer Hall are 15 leaders and members of the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington: (from left) Randy Sleight, Junius Rochester, Gary Zimmerman, David Brazier, Sally Irving, Roy Pettus, Nancy Hewitt Spaeth, Alan Murray, Betsy Terry Losh, Liz Blaszczak, Lea Stimson, Steve Ellersick, Saundra Selle, Caroline Kiser and Regina Cornish. An online toast and talk will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the organization’s incorporation. More info: wapioneers.com. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Nov. 19, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Nov. 22, 2020)

In their 125th year, these pioneer ancestors
are a study of history in repose
By Clay Eals

When I first saw this juxtaposition of “Then” images, I had to smile. It’s tough enough to get a large group to pose pleasantly for just one photo. But this is a pair, taken before and after a 1904 reunion. Why two? Doubtless some turned up later and wanted to be represented, and someone wisely reckoned that pasting together both shots would please everyone concerned.

These days, with renewed urgency over ensuring equal standing and justice for all, it’s difficult for any pursuit — particularly an exclusive club — to achieve universal harmony.

Enter the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington, the state’s oldest history organization, having first gathered in 1871 and incorporated on Dec. 5, 1895.

That date points to a 125th anniversary, which the members plan to celebrate with an online talk and toast at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, with a focus on their artifact-filled Washington Pioneer Hall, built from brick in 1910 on the site of an earlier wooden hall, in Madison Park along the western shore of Lake Washington.

The word “pioneer,” common in historical conversation, statuary and sites (Pioneer Square, anyone?), denotes someone who discovers a new place or founds something. For some, the synonyms “explorer” and “trailblazer” conjure inspiration and heroism.

One person’s pioneer, of course, can be another’s oppressor — which, as everyone knows, was exactly the case in the settling of our state in the 19th century.

The association focuses its three-story hall on families whom its voting members can trace to ancestors living in Washington or Oregon territories prior to Washington statehood on Nov. 11, 1889. Those lacking such roots can join as nonvoters.

Chief Seattle portrait and chair. (For more info, see brochure below.)

Inside the hall is a forest of exhibits, early furniture, framed photos and an extensive genealogical library. Prominent in the entry, a portrait of Chief Seattle hangs near a replica of a wooden chair that the city namesake used in later years on his Suquamish porch.

Over time, a few voting members with Native American ties have joined. Teresa Summers, with 9% lineage to the Yakama Nation, has edited the association newsletter. Her membership “means I can help honor all my ancestors,” she says. The late Norman Perkins, association president in the mid-1980s, traced his roots to Chief Seattle.

Pioneer Hall, says Junius Rochester, past president, “acts as a kind of viewpoint from today backwards, and I think students — adults, too — should be reminded that our roots are important.”

That’s an inclusive “our,” even when some turn up later.

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 a video, a brochure, 5 supplemental photos and, in chronological order, 12 historical 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.

VIDEO (1:37): Junius Rochester, historian and past president, addresses why Washington Pioneer Hall is important. Click the photo to see the video. (Clay Eals)
This is the six-panel brochure of the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington.
ALTERNATE NOW: Posing with masks before Washington Pioneer Hall are 15 leaders and members of the Pioneer Association are (from left) Randy Sleight, Junius Rochester, Gary Zimmerman, David Brazier, Sally Irving, Roy Pettus, Nancy Hewitt Spaeth, Alan Murray, Betsy Terry Losh, Liz Blaszczak, Lea Stimson, Steve Ellersick, Saundra Selle, Caroline Kiser and Regina Cornish. The group will hold an online toast and talk at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the organization’s incorporation.  (Jean Sherrard)
From the association’s December 2018 newsletter, here is a brief history of its headquarters before the brick hall was built in 1910. (Pioneer Association of the State of Washington)
Interior entryway sign. (Clay Eals)
Interior entryway sign. (Clay Eals)
Early photo of 1910 brick Washington Pioneer Hall. (Pioneer Association of the State of Washington)
May 18, 1905, Tacoma News-Tribune, page 4.
May 18, 1914, Seattle Times, page 11.
June 8, 1932, Seattle Times, page 3.
June 19, 1932, Seattle Times, page 44.
June 7, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
June 5, 1949, Seattle Times, page 5.
June 8, 1952, Seattle Times, page 19.
March 30, 1958, Seattle Times Charmed Land magazine, cover.
March 30, 1958, Seattle Times Charmed Land magazine, page 2.
June 10, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
June 11, 1967, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 13, 1970, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 65.
Sept. 13, 1970, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 66.
June 13, 1971, Seattle Times, page 19.

Seattle Now & Then: Early Bruce Lee, 1963-1964

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: In late 1963 or early 1964, close to his 23rd birthday, Bruce Lee stands with gung-fu student and future wife Linda Emery as they look north outside Lee’s studio at 4750 University Way N.E. The storefront later housed a ballet studio, a metaphysics school and a plasma center. Today, it’s an art boutique. (Courtesy Bruce Lee Foundation)
NOW1: Doug Palmer and his wife, Noriko Goto Palmer, long active in the local Japanese and Japanese American communities, replicate the pose of Bruce Lee and Linda Emery in the same spot. Note the Bruce Lee posters in the windows. Doug will speak about his memoir, “Bruce Lee: Sifu, Friend and Big Brother” (2020, Chinn Music Press), at an online event at 2 p.m. Dec. 5, sponsored by the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN2: The apartment building at 4750 University Way N.E., completed in June 1958, is shown Jan. 9, 1959. (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Barbara Manning)
NOW2: The apartment building at 4750 University Way N.E. today. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Nov. 12, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Nov. 15, 2020)

The Seattle roots of Bruce Lee flow on his 80th anniversary
By Clay Eals

He was a global martial-arts hero, showcasing strength for Asian males while living in Seattle. And undergoing a 2020 revival is the late Bruce Lee.

Nationally, he’s the focus of a book by daughter Shannon and a documentary film, the titles of each invoking Lee’s fluid metaphor for mortality: “Be Water.” In Seattle, where Lee lived from 1959 to 1964 (he is buried at Lake View Cemetery), a Lee exhibit continues at Wing Luke Museum, and a local former student of Lee just released a memoir of their friendship. All of this precedes the 80th anniversary of the superstar’s Nov. 27 birth.

Doug Palmer’s new memoir on Bruce Lee. (Chinn Music Press)

The memoirist, retired Mount Baker attorney Doug Palmer, was a Garfield High School senior when he began to bond with Lee. Four years older, Lee was building a local reputation with gung-fu shows in person and on public-TV’s KCTS Channel 9.

Lee’s time in Seattle, Palmer says, was pivotal. While working at and living in a walk-in closet above Ruby Chow’s restaurant at Broadway and Jefferson, Lee atypically welcomed students of all races to his gung-fu classes in the eatery’s basement, area parks and a garage.

In October 1963, as a University of Washington drama/philosophy student, Lee expanded to a live-in studio for 10 months on the ground floor of the three-story University Way Apartments at 4750 University Way N.E.

In our “Then” photo, Lee stands at 4750 with gung-fu student Linda Emery, whom he married in August 1964 in Seattle. Two years later, he played Kato in the “Batman” and “Green Hornet” TV series, soon cascading to Hollywood fame, followed by an untimely, mysterious death in 1973 at age 32.

Palmer’s memoir brims with anecdotes about Lee, who was born in San Francisco and raised in Hong Kong. Lee’s father was Chinese and his mother Eurasian. Palmer says Lee proudly identified as Chinese, while his parents urged him to embrace diversity.

This helped him in December 1963, when Lee was dating Emery, who is white. Palmer, who is white, was dating a Chinese woman at the same time. Both women’s parents objected to interracial dating, so Lee and Palmer picked up each other’s dates at the parents’ homes, then switched partners.

Lee, Palmer writes, could be a challenge: “He liked the limelight and had a tendency to suck all the oxygen out of the room.” This, he says, was “a small price to pay” to experience Lee’s magnetism and a cross-cultural vision. As Palmer notes, “We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”

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!

Big thanks to Barbara Manning, househistories@icloud.com, for suggesting this column topic, for compiling an impressive dossier on the 4750 University Way N.E. site and for her stellar research skills, curiosity and generosity. Check out her 38-page report:

This is the cover of a thorough report on the history of 4750 University Way N.E. by Seattle house-history researcher Barbara Manning, househistories@icloud.com. Click the cover to access the 38-page report. (Courtesy Barbara Manning)

Below are 7 supplemental photos and, in chronological order, 11 historical 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.

Fall 1963, Bruce Lee (center right) leads class in studio at 4750 University Way N.E. Doug Palmer is third from left. (Courtesy Doug Palmer)
Fall 1963, Bruce Lee (back to camera, right) leads class in studio at 4750 University Way N.E. Doug Palmer is at far left.  (David Tadman, courtesy Doug Palmer)
Fall 1963, Doug Palmer (front right) takes part in Bruce Lee class in studio at 4750 University Way N.E. (David Tadman, courtesy Doug Palmer)
Fall 1963, class under way at Bruce Lee studio at 4750 University Way N.E. Doug Palmer is at far right. (David Tadman, courtesy Doug Palmer)
Membership card for Bruce Lee’s Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in Seattle. (Courtesy Jeff Chinn)
1937-1938, predecessor home at 4750 University Way N.E. (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Barbara Manning)
2020, Bruce Lee portrait by Desmond Hansen, aka Graves Hansen, on city signal box at northwest corner of 35th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Morgan Street in West Seattle. (Clay Eals)
May 28, 1961 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 42.
May 29, 1961, Seattle Times, page 8.
May 29, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
March 4, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 55.
May 18, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
March 6, 1963, Seattle Times, page 18.
March 15, 1964, Seattle Times, page 135.
July 20, 1966, Seattle Times, page 14.
Dec. 29, 1966, Seattle Times, page 58.
Dec. 31, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
July 3, 1967, Seattle Times, page 11.