All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Miller Park neighborhood, 1955

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THEN: This May 2, 1955, view, looking west from 21st Avenue East along the East John/Thomas street arterial, shows clearing to the right (north) for the expansion of Miller Playfield. A 1949 Buick anchors the left foreground. In the distance at center are the Coryell Court Apartments, featured in the 1992 film “Singles.” (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
NOW: Andrew Taylor, the informal Mayor of Miller Park for two decades, stands at the same intersection. (jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Sept. 17, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 20, 2020)

For an ever-changing neighborhood, we ‘single’ out Miller Park
By Clay Eals

These coronaviral days, when distant travel is discouraged, the elements defining our neighborhoods assume extra meaning. We more deeply value our collective, super-local identity even as it undergoes constant, if incremental change.

No exception is Miller Park.

The name may be unfamiliar to some. On the eastern side of Capitol Hill, the neighborhood embodies a trapezoid, bounded north-to-south by East Aloha and Madison streets and west-to-east by 19th and 23rd avenues. Its outskirts include business strips and high-profile hubs of health care (Kaiser Permanente, formerly Group Health), religion and education (St. Joseph Catholic Church and School, Holy Names Academy).

In the glen at its core lies a playground, the initial acreage for which came to the city in 1906 from namesake Mary M. Miller (see clarification below), whose descendants became major local landowners and conservation philanthropists. Next door is Edmund Meany Middle School, named for the University of Washington historian.

In our “Then,” taken May 2, 1955, looking west to the Capitol Hill crest, at right we see land recently cleared to augment the park prior to construction of a nearby community center. Sparse trees punctuate clusters of homes. In the distant center, the John/Thomas street arterial rises to pass a two-story brick building on 19th Avenue that nearly four decades later gained national fame.

Fronted by a communal courtyard, the Coryell Court Apartments, built in 1928, hosted Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda and other actors playing 20-something love-seekers in Cameron Crowe’s 1992 film “Singles.” While the film widened Seattle’s reputation for grunge music, it also is known for a breathtaking visual finale. Shot from a helicopter, it starts tight on the Coryell building and pulls up to reveal the neighborhood and city.

Nearly 30 years hence, encased by the heavy foliage of mature trees, Miller Park is a mix of single- and multi-family housing. Its residents have reckoned with drug dealing, broadcast towers, affordable housing and today’s influx of transient tents in the park.

Such topics drew Andrew Taylor into the role of nerve center. The now-retired Fred Hutch scientist has lived in the house at the left edge of our “Then” since 1983. Known as the neighborhood’s informal mayor, he launched its newsletter (later a blog) in 1990.

For family reasons, he will move five miles north this fall, but despite the challenges of his “eclectic” soon-to-be former neighborhood, he cheerfully salutes it.

“It’s a quiet, modest oasis,” he says. “It’s ethnically and economically diverse, close to everything, with much activity but still peaceful enough for quiet contemplation.”

In other words, an apt model for our time.

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!

Clarification: Jim Rupp of Seattle points out that while Mary Miller donated the initial land for Miller Playfield, the donation was made the family in the name of her son, Pendleton.

Below are two photos, a video link and a Seattle Parks historical illustration, as well as a clipping from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) or other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

For those interested in more details about Miller Park, the neighborhood association has a current website and a former website.

Here is an uncropped version of our “Then.” (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
Here is a reverse angle of our “Then” photo, looking east along the John/Thomas arterial. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
CLICK PHOTO FOR VIDEO: Andrew Taylor, the informal mayor of Seattle’s Miller Park neighborhood, talks about its characteristics and issues. (14:50, Clay Eals)
The Miller Park page of Seattle Parks’ Don Sherwood illustrated historical files. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
Dec. 9, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.

 

Seattle Now & Then: Native American camp, late 1890s, and Benson Waterfront Streetcars, 2005

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THEN1: Pictured just north of today’s Broad Street on the Seattle waterfront by Norwegian photographer Anders Wilse in the late 1890s, Native Americans prepare dugout canoes for their waterborne trek to hop fields in the White and Puyallup river valleys. Queen Anne Hill peeks out at upper left. (Courtesy Museum of History & Industry)
THEN2: One of five George Benson Waterfront Streetcars leaves the Broad Street Station in 2005, just prior to the line’s demise. The 1962 Space Needle anchors the scene at top. (Eric Bell)
NOW: Straddling the two “Then” vantages, our contemporary view shows West Seattle bicyclist and photographer Eric Bell on Pier 70, before the seawall that fronts Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. To the right of the outsized human head of “Echo” by Jaume Plensa and below the vertical Pier 70 banner is the site of the former Broad Street station of the Benson streetcars. (Jean Sherrard)

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

Waves of waterfront change: canoes to streetcars to sculpture
By Clay Eals

It’s natural to mourn the loss of things from younger days – old homes, favored stores – as if they had “always” been there. Self-centered sentiment can steal our sense that something else existed before we entered the arena.

Case in point: today’s pair of “Thens.”

If you lived here from 15 to 38 years ago, you may gravitate to the “Then” depicting the green-and-yellow glow of a George Benson Waterfront Streetcar leaving its Broad Street station and motoring south (right) to Pioneer Square and the Chinatown-International District.

The rickety streetcars – five total – were themselves nostalgia pieces, built in 1925-1930 in Australia and first operated there. Here, tourists loved them, and locals were proud, none more so than Benson, the pharmacist-turned-city councilman for whom they were named and who championed their transition to Seattle as an attraction for the masses. They were a direct nod to our city’s own streetcar heritage, which screeched to a halt by 1941, eventually overrun by petroleum-powered transit.

But what preceded the Benson streetcars? One answer lies in our earlier “Then,” from the late 1890s, angled more directly north and revealing a temporary Native American camp north of Broad (then Lake) Street, long before the city built a seawall there in the mid-1930s.

Pioneer journalist-historian Thomas Prosch labeled this a “common scene.” Via dugout canoes, Prosch said, Native Americans headed from Canada to the White and Puyallup river valleys, where up to 1,000 received low wages to pick hops, fueling a booming industry.

One century later, this waterfront stretch had evolved into pier-based offices and eateries and a breathtaking park named in 1976 for Myrtle Edwards, another city council member, fronting the northern terminus for the Benson streetcars and their maintenance barn when they commenced in 1982.

Having died in 2004, Benson didn’t witness the 2005 demise of his streetcars, whose barn was razed when Seattle Art Museum built its Olympic Sculpture Park, shown in our “Now.”

Some have strategized to revive the streetcars. But trackage and stations fell victim to the 2019 teardown of the nearby Alaskan Way Viaduct for its replacement by a tunnel. Today, a modern, light-rail connector to parallel the waterfront along First Avenue – which some would like to include two retrofitted Benson cars – is stalled by money woes.

Just as those who remembered the Native American canoes are gone, those of us who recall the Benson streetcars will vanish, and the collective memory of the area will default to Olympic Sculpture Park. For the attractive and lucrative waterfront, however, we surely can forecast relentless waves of change.

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 eight 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, check out 18 additional photos, including 13 by West Seattle’s Eric Bell, that were helpful in the preparation of this column. Bell, who worked on the waterfront in 2005, says the failure to retain and incorporate the Benson streetcars was a huge missed opportunity for the city.

May 18, 1980, Seattle Times, page 124.
July 18, 1980, Seattle Times, page 16.
March 13, 1981, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 56.
April 4, 1981, The Oregonian, page 1.
June 16, 1981, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
May 18, 1982, Seattle Times, page 67.
May 30, 1982, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
June 24, 1982, Seattle Times, page 72.
Sanborn plate #62 from 1893, showing the location of our first “Then.” (Courtesy Ron Edge)
A 1935 aerial view of the waterfront from Laidlaw and the Museum of History & Industry. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
A 1935 view of the waterfront seawall under construction. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Elliott Couden (left), further real-estate agent and civil-rights and heritage activist, stands in 1939 with George Benson, future Seattle City Council member, in front of their rooming house in the Green Lake neighborhood. (Elliott Couden collection)
An anachronistic George Benson Waterfront Streetcar crossing sign remains today along Alaskan Way. (Clay Eals)
A 2005 view of a northbound George Benson Waterfront Streetcar, W2-class car 512 leaving Vine Street. (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of a southbound George Benson Waterfront Streetcar. “The writing is on the wall,” says Eric Bell. “The background beckons the end of the line for the streetcars.” (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of a southbound George Benson Waterfront Streetcar and the maintenance barn. Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park now sits on this site. (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of a northbound George Benson Waterfront Streetcar. Eric Bell says, “The timber and windows of car 482 complement the glazing of the former Seattle Trade Center.” (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of the interior of a George Benson Waterfront Streetcar. “It’s a non-seasonal day,” says Eric Bell. “Gone are the lunch crowd and tourists.” (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of a southbound George Benson Waterfront Streetcar, W2-class car 512 in Pioneer Square, with the Alaskan Way Viaduct in the background. “To this day,” says Eric Bell, “I can still feel the car rumble by me.” (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of a George Benson Waterfront Streetcar at Jackson Street, the southern terminus in the Chinatown-International District. (Eric Bell)
A November 2005 view of two disengaged George Benson Waterfront Streetcars ready for transport. “The advertising,” says Eric Bell, “mocks instead of entices.” (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of a George Benson Waterfront Streetcar, W2-class car 605, zooming along at 25 mph along the waterfront. (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view inside a George Benson Waterfront Streetcar, indicating that the W2-class cars, produced in 1927 in Australia, largely retained their decor until service ended. (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of the car number of a George Benson Waterfront Streetcar. The cars retained their original numbers and 1920s headlight design. (Eric Bell)
A 2005 view of a George Benson Waterfront Streetcar logo, originally from the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. (Eric Bell)

Seattle Now & Then: a house move, the Magnolia Theatre, 1963, & new book!

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THEN: A house sits mid-move on 34th Avenue West just north of the Magnolia Theatre between June 11 and June 17, 1963, when “It Happened at the World’s Fair” and the Connie Francis vehicle “Follow the Boys” played the second-run house. The theater hit a peak in 1969 as the only place in Seattle to see “Oliver!” in first run, but it closed in 1974 and was razed in 1977. (Ken Baxter / Courtesy Magnolia Historical Society)
NOW: Socially distanced and most with masks down, (from left) Jeff Graham, Tab Melton, Brian Hogan, Gene Willard, Dan Kerlee, Kathy Cunningham, Sherrie Quinton, Mike Musslewhite and editor Monica Wooton from the nearly 70-member team that produced “Magnolia: Midcentury Memories” look southwest in front of Chase Bank, whose previous incarnation, Washington Mutual Savings Bank, opened a branch on the Magnolia Theatre site in 1978. For info on the book’s launch, visit magnoliahistoricalsociety.org. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Aug. 20, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Aug. 23, 2020)

For Magnolia baby boomers, it happened at the midcentury
By Clay Eals

Grab a giant popcorn. This week’s “Then” premieres a triple feature.

The photo comes from a project that enlisted 60 writers to document baby boomers’ youthful years in the Magnolia neighborhood. Just-released Magnolia: Midcentury Memories is the third coffee-table book assembled this century by volunteers and represented by the Magnolia Historical Society.

With 448 pages and 450-plus photos, the volume dives into everything from military family life at Fort Lawton (now Discovery Park) to peninsula-wide immigrant roots and racist redlining, from mudslides along the Perkins Lane cliffs to the demise of the Interbay garbage dump.

In our “Then,” the marquee points to the photo’s date (mid-June 1963) and our first feature, the Seattle World’s Fair. The book notes that Fort Lawton was considered for the 1962 exposition site and that from the Magnolia Bridge locals could see the eventual fairgrounds take shape.

Among memories of the fair from then-upper-grade students – most who attended Queen Anne High School, which peered over what is now Seattle Center – is that of Cheryl Peterson Bower. In the book, she tells of securing two autographs, for her and her sister, from Elvis Presley, who was at the fair to star in the marquee movie. But the crooner “signed both sides of the paper dead in the middle, making it impossible to share.”

Parked near the marquee is our second feature, a midcentury house mid-move. This symbolizes a time 14 years prior when Magnolians vigorously debated whether 20 homes to the north should be condemned to make way for a combined junior high school and fieldhouse. What The Seattle Times labeled “Seattle’s most explosive community controversy in many years” ended with a go-ahead. Some houses made dramatic treks in 1950-1951 to vacant lots nearby.

“It was quite a sight for a 5-year-old to see her house being driven down the street,” Karin Barter Fielding says in the book. “It was such a big event for the family. I still talk about it.”

Our third feature is the Magnolia Theatre itself. Opening Nov. 25, 1948, with Cary Grant in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,” it was the largest commercial building in the shopping district, dubbed “the Village.” Seating 985 people, it became a true community center.

Michael Musselwhite, who worked there 1959-1963 as a teen, writes that a tavern was barred from buying on-screen advertising “because children were usually in attendance” and that changing the marquee each Monday evening took two students, a tall ladder and 2-1/2 hours.

A Magnolia blockbuster, the book uses only the right half of our “Then.” So consider this photo the widescreen version!

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!

You can view the Aug. 23, 2020, online Zoom launch of Magnolia: Midcentury Memories by visiting the website of the Magnolia Historical Society. Also, by clicking on their names, you also can view portions of the launch devoted to chapters by authors Brian Hogan (part 1), Brian Hogan (part 2), Skip Kotkins, Whitney Mason, Michael Musselwhite, Greg Shaw (part 1) and Greg Shaw (part 2).

Below are three additional photos, as well as nine clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column. As a bonus, right at the top you will find a nearly five-minute video featuring Monica Wooton, editor of “Magnolia: Midcentury Memories.” Enjoy!

VIDEO: Click photo to see video of Monica Wooton, editor of “Magnolia: Midcentury Memories,” describing the book’s process and product. (Clay Eals)
Cover of “Magnolia: Midcentury Memories”
The Magnolia Theatre marquee shines in 1949. (Courtesy Magnolia Historical Society)
June 11, 1963, Seattle Times, page 17, listing for movies on the marquee in our “Then.”
June 11-17, 1963, an alternate to our “Then” photo, showing the same house being moved. (Courtesy Magnolia Historical Society)
Jan. 12, 1969, Seattle Times, locator graphic from Magnolia Theatre ad.
Jan. 28, 1969, Seattle Times, page 10, ad for exclusive Seattle engagement of “Oliver!”
Jan. 30, 1969, Seattle Times, page 10.
July 20, 1969, Seattle Times, Magnolia Theatre ad after “Oliver!” had won Best Picture at the Oscars.
Nov. 7, 1974, Seattle Times, page 545, announcement of closure.
Dec. 3, 1974, Seattle Times, page 38, closing night for the Magnolia.
July 17, 1977, Seattle Times, page 51, building demolition.
Sept. 8, 1979, Seattle Times, page 17.

Seattle Now & Then: ‘Doc’ Maynard’s letters and house, 1850 to post-1905

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THEN: “Doc” Maynard’s home at 3045 64th Ave. S.W., the oldest structure still standing in Seattle, replaced an earlier Maynard farmhouse that burned in February 1858. This photo, taken after 1905, when the home was moved a block south from Alki Beach, shows later owners, the Hanson and Olson families, ancestors of the late restaurateur Ivar Haglund, who gave the print to this column’s originator, Paul Dorpat. (Paul Dorpat Collection)
NOW: Ken Workman (left), board member and great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle, and other representatives of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society (left) join Maynard descendants (right), including Chris Braaten (second from right), last February in front of the Maynard home, renovated in 2019 by owner Mardy Toepke (center, light shirt). The home will be the focus Aug. 15 of the historical society’s “If These Walls Could Talk” tour, online because of the coronavirus. For details, visit loghousemuseum.org. Here are all the IDs: (from left) from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society: Ken Workman, board member and great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle; Phil Hoffman, Alki researcher; Nancy Sorensen, board member; Patty Ahonen, wife of Phil; Judy Bentley, Advisory Council; Rachel Regelein, collection manager and registrar; Marcy Johnsen, Advisory Council; Tasia Williams, curator; Dora-Faye Hendricks, board member; Michael King, executive director; Jen Shaughnessy, Gala Committee; Kerry Korsgaard, board member; Mike Shaughnessy, board member; Kathy Blackwell, board president; (center) Mardy Toepke, building owner and B&B proprietor; Justin O’Dell, Toepke’s friend and Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate agent; (right) Maynard descendants Mike Watson, Karen Watson, Erik Bjodstrup, Victoria Bjodstrup, Brian Bjodstrup, Ann Stenzel, Adam Bjodstrup, John Bjodstrup, Joanne Beyer, David Frost, Mary Braaten, Kai Braaten, Chris Braaten and Jana Hindman. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Aug. 6, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Aug. 9, 2020)

The unseen letters of ‘Doc’ Maynard reveal poignancy and pride
By Clay Eals

Talk about destiny.

Chris Braaten entered this world Aug. 14, 1950, inside Maynard Hospital, a long-gone First Hill facility named for Chris’ great-great-great grandfather – the storied Seattle physician and promoter David “Doc” Maynard, who befriended and named our city for Seattle, the Duwamish and Suquamish chief.

The birth merited a Seattle Times blurb quoting Chris’ mother, Margret. “We have a lot of Dr. Maynard’s letters and papers at home,” she said. “I think Chris will get a thrill out of looking them over a few years from now.”

(April 29, 1945, Seattle Times)

Today, Chris has delivered on his mom’s hunch, donating to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society 35 handwritten letters unseen by the public, including 25 by Maynard from 1850 to 1873, the year he died at age 64, and five by his second wife, Catherine.

It’s a priceless, scholarly gift to a fitting repository. The historical society’s Log House Museum stands just east of Maynard’s late-1850s farmsite near Alki Beach.

The letters total 112 pages that once had been slipped between magazine pages in a damp family shed at Seola Beach at the south end of West Seattle.

Chris, of Tucson, began to “look them over” 30 years ago. With a typewriter, he transcribed the earliest 17 of the faint missives. (A niece later transcribed two others. A brother-in-law digitized them all.)

Maynard’s letters addressed his grown children, Henry and Frances, whom he had left and failed to lure to Seattle from the Midwest. In 53 transcribed pages, the gregarious tippler whom “Skid Road” author Murray Morgan said “preached the gospel of Seattle’s certain greatness” waxes at length, with misspellings, about everything from coal mines to Catherine’s motherly instinct.

Throughout are poignant fatherly yearnings. “In you two,” he writes Feb. 26, 1854, “are wraped (sic) my troubles and anxieties & my bitter in these my latter days.”

Maynard also touts his territorial appointment as “agent” for local Native Americans, for whom he sought inter-tribal peace during their wars with settlers on Puget Sound.

There can be no avoiding his privileged promotion of white settlers at Native Americans’ expense. “They will fight,” he writes on Nov. 4, 1855. “There is no reason why they (sho)uld not, but we must conquer them.”

Still, on March 30, 1856, based on business and medical transactions with them, Maynard takes pride in building a “friendly feeling.” On Nov. 28, 1858, he says he must close because “the old Indian chief after whom I named the town of Seattle is here to talk with me.”

The museum will preserve and finish transcribing these unique letters and use them in exhibits and a possible book. As Chris’ mom foretold in 1950, this prospect will give students of Seattle “a thrill.”

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!

The “If These Walls Could Talk” tour of the Maynard house, held Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, was a wholly online experience via Zoom and a fundraiser for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

A follow-up Zoom session on the Maynard house, featuring Phil Hoffman, historian, and Mardy Topeke, owner of the house, is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, sponsored by the Mukilteo Historical Society.

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society panel was composed of three experts (see the next three photos):

Ken Workman, great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle and member of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society board. (Clay Eals)
Phil Hoffman, Alki historian and Southwest Seattle Historical Society volunteer, https://alkihistoryproject.com/. (Clay Eals)
King County archivist and Alki historian Greg Lange. (Clay Eals)

Below are seven additional photos, as well as six 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, you will find a 40-minute video of the Maynard letter-donation ceremony. Enjoy!

Aug. 17, 1950, Seattle Times, page 23.
Chris and wife Pamela Braaten in front of the Maynard house, Dec. 13, 2019 (Clay Eals)
The Maynard descendants (back, from left) Adam Bjodstrup, Chris Braaten, Kai Braaten, Erik Bjodstrup, Brian Bjodstrup, (the rest, from left) Victoria Bjodstrup, Mary Braaten, Ann Stenzel, John Bjodstrup, Joanne Beyer, Karen Watson and Mike Watson on the porch of the Maynard home, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jean Sherrard)
The Maynard descendants (from left) Chris Braaten, Mary Braaten, David Frost, Kai Braaten, Erik Bjodstrup, Mike Watson, Karen Watson, John Bjodstrup and Joanne Beyer on front steps of the Log House Museum of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, Feb. 8, 2020. (Clay Eals)
Chris Braaten (left), great-great-great grandson of “Doc” Maynard, speaks at the Feb. 8, 2020, ceremony about his donation of original, handwritten letters by “Doc” and his second wife, Catherine. The ceremony was held at the Log House Museum of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click above to see video of the complete ceremony on Feb. 8, 2020, regarding the donation to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society of handwritten letters by “Doc” Maynard and his second wife, Catherine. Run time: 40:55. (Clay Eals)
A “Doc” Maynard family tree assembled by the Maynard descendants. Click twice to enlarge.
A plaque embedded in the sidewalk at 64th Avenue Southwest and Alki Avenue Southwest denoting the Maynard house, the oldest structure still standing in Seattle.
The Maynard house before it was moved one block south in 1905. (Caption by Phil Hoffman)
Nov. 4, 1908, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 67.
Dec. 5, 1908, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
April 27, 1937, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
The Maynard house as it stood in April 1945. (Seattle Times, courtesy of Bob Carney)
April 29, 1945, Seattle Times, page 32.

Seattle Now & Then: Joe DiMaggio at Fort Lawton during WWII, 1944

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THEN: Joe DiMaggio stands along the first-base line in a Fort Lawton uniform in late May 1944, at what is believed to be the original baseball field at the south end of the fort’s Parade Grounds. The photo was first published in The Seattle Times Dec. 13, 1951, after DiMaggio announced his major-league retirement. (Seattle Times, courtesy Mike Bandli)
NOW: Fort Lawton researcher and Magnolia resident Mike Bandli chokes up on a DiMaggio bat (loaned by Dave Eskenazi) while donning a Yankees cap. A meteorite hunter and dealer, Bandli pinpointed what he feels certain is the precise repeat location based on shadows, topography, GPS and a 3D laser (LIDAR) image of the park grounds. In back, Mark Lucas and daughter Stella play kickball. (Jean Sherrard)

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

Joltin’ G.I. Joe DiMiaggio was once on Fort Lawton’s side
By Clay Eals

Where have you gone, big-league baseball stars? Our nation turns pandemic eyes to you. Woo-woo-woo.

This lyric update of Paul Simon’s “Mrs. Robinson” may capture the mood of diamond fans who, because of a season stalled by the coronavirus, have been left with visions of the past.

One such apparition is Joe DiMaggio. Some call him baseball’s best. He also could be the most fabled, not just because Simon enshrined him in song. Joe’s troubled marriage and poignant devotion to second wife Marilyn Monroe, post-divorce, is the stuff of legend.

DiMaggio’s 13-year big-league career – topped by a 56-game hitting streak in 1941, never equaled in the majors – came in New York Yankees pinstripes, after three stellar seasons with the Pacific Coast League San Francisco Seals.

So why, in our “Then,” is Joe in uniform for Fort Lawton, the longtime Army post on Magnolia Bluff that Seattle transformed in 1973 into Discovery Park?

The answer lies in World War II patriotism. Like other stars facing a new draft, DiMaggio enlisted instead. He played in Army Air Forces exhibition games in 1943-1945 to entertain troops in California, Hawaii and New Jersey.

En route to Honolulu in early June 1944, the elegant outfielder played at least two games at Fort Lawton. He arrived May 16, four days after finalization of a divorce from his first wife, movie actress Dorothy Arnold, and soon suited up for the fort.

Coverage of his Seattle stint was cryptic. “A team of soldiers which could probably win the World Series played a baseball game here yesterday, civilians barred,” stated a May 25 blurb by Royal Brougham, Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports editor. “Price of admission to the diamond performance by Joe DiMaggio, … etc., was an Army or Navy uniform. There are times when being a G.I. isn’t so bad.”

The wartime games were not Joe’s sole Seattle stops.

For the PCL Seals in 1933-1935, says historian Dave Eskenazi, he hit .411 (30 for 73) against the Seattle Indians at grassless Civic Field, site of today’s Seattle Center. In 1933, at just 18, he played there in eight games while compiling a 61-game hitting streak, still the second longest such feat in pro baseball history. (The longest: 69 games by Joe Wilhoit of the Western League’s Wichita Jobbers in 1919.)

In retirement, the Yankee Clipper often revisited our city. He lunched with Seattle baseball legend Fred Hutchinson in 1959, coached for the Oakland A’s against the Seattle Pilots in 1969, dedicated the “Hutch” cancer center in 1975, golfed in a 1980 tourney and tossed out first pitches for the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome in 1978 and 1985.

What’s that you say, local baseball fans? Joltin’ Joe was never far away. Hey-hey-hey.

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, as well as 35 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, as a bonus, see the four images at bottom of a signed Fort Lawton ball from 1943-1944!

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) image of Fort Lawton shows the location of the baseball field in the fort’s south parade grounds. (Courtesy Mike Bandli)
A 1936 aerial photo of Fort Lawton shows the location of the baseball field in the fort’s south parade grounds. (Courtesy Mike Bandli)
A 1946 aerial of the Magnolia peninsula, including the ballfield. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
May 5, 1959, Joe DiMaggio has lunch in Seattle with local baseball legend Fred Hutchinson. (George Carkonen, courtesy Dave Eskenazi)
April 1969, prior to an Oakland A’s/Seattle Pilots game at Sicks’ Seattle Stadium are (from left) A’s hitting coach Joe DiMaggio, former Cleveland Indians slugger Jeff Heath, Hall-of-Famer Earl Averill Sr. and Pilots coach and former New York Yankees legend Frank Crosetti. (Dr. Bill Hutchinson, courtesy Dave Eskenazi)
These games took place at Sicks’ Stadium between the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Pilots in 1969, when Joe DiMaggio served as the A’s hitting coach. (BaseballReference.com)
April 26, 1969: Joe DiMaggio receives the Fred Hutchinson Major League Award at Sicks’ Stadium from Seattle restaurateur Bill Gasperetti. See stories below. (Courtesy Dave Eskenazi)
May 13, 1944, Seattle Times, page 12.
May 17, 1944, Seattle Times, page 16.
May 20, 1944, Seattle Times, page 8.
May 21, 1944, Seattle Times, page 24.
May 23, 1944, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Royal Brougham column.
June 8, 1944, Seattle Times, page 11.
June 10, 1944, Wilmington Morning Star.
July 16, 1944, Seattle Times, page 14.
July 24, 1944, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Royal Brougham column.
Sept. 9, 1944, Jackson Advocate.
Nov. 12, 1944, Evening Star, Bob Hope column.
Nov. 30, 1944, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
Dec. 6, 1944, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 167.
Dec. 23, 1944, Wilmington Morning Star.
Dec. 29, 1944, Wilmington Morning Star.
Dec. 31, 1944, Wilmington Morning Star.
Dec. 13, 1951, Seattle Times, page 35.
May 5, 1959, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 8, 1959, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
April 23, 1969, Seattle Times, page 72.
April 27, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
April 27, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 25.
April 27, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 28.
April 27, Seattle Times, page 37.
April 28, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 42.
July 10, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 51.
March 5, 1970, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 54.
Sept. 6, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Sept. 6, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
March 30, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 28.
April 5, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 47.
April 6, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 49.
April 6, 1978, Seattle Times, page 18.
July 1, 1980, Seattle Times, page 14, Walter Evans column.
May 11, 1985, Seattle Times, page 17.
May 22, 1985, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 50.
Signed baseball used in 1943 or 1944 at Fort Lawton. See red lettering in middle. (Courtesy Dave Eskenazi)
Signed baseball used in 1943 or 1944 at Fort Lawton. (Courtesy Dave Eskenazi)
Signed baseball used in 1943 or 1944 at Fort Lawton. Note signature of local favorite Earl Torgeson. (Courtesy Dave Eskenazi)
Signed baseball used in 1943 or 1944 at Fort Lawton. (Courtesy Dave Eskenazi)

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

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

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

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

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

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

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

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

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