All posts by Clay Eals

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: 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-and-a-half-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: 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 below. (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

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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.

 

Seattle Now & Then: Mack’s Totem Curio Shop, late 1930s/1940s

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JOIN US ON ZOOM!

This month, “Now & Then” columnists Clay Eals and Jean Sherrard will give illustrated Zoom talks, titled “An Insider’s Look at ‘Now & Then’ ,” for two local heritage organizations. Here are times, dates and registration links for the free presentations:

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(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Dating between 1938 and the mid-1940s, this postcard is a pre-Photoshop consolidation of two photos of Mack’s Totem Curio Shop, elevated above street level at 71 Marion Street Viaduct. In its first few years, Mack’s was a few doors west at 63-1/2. Be sure to click this photo twice to see the mismatch at bottom center. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
THEN2: Albert Angus “Mack” McKillop stands at the entry to his shop, which bears a slightly different name, likely at 63-1/2 Marion Street Viaduct in the mid-1930s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
NOW: Wearing an ivory pendant made by her grandfather, Victoria McKillop of Ballard stands on the Marion Street Viaduct where her grandfather operated Mack’s Totem Curio Shop from 1933 to 1971. The viaduct was truncated during the 2019 demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Pedestrians now walk between First Avenue and Colman Dock along a new elevated walkway that doglegs via Columbia Street. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Oct. 29, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Nov. 1, 2020)

Totem-shop postcard turns the corner on a curious puzzle
By Clay Eals

With this week’s “Then” photo, we present a visual puzzle whose clue is quite difficult to detect.

The subject is Mack’s Totem Curio Shop. Most Seattleites today associate the word “curio” with Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, for 121 years a tourist fixture with ghoulish attractions at several spots near or along the downtown waterfront, now at Pier 54.

But not much farther than a mummy’s throw away, Albert Angus “Mack” McKillop competed with Ye Olde for 38 years, from his store’s inception in 1933 to his death in 1971. His wares ranged from Native American carvings and Belfast cord (used in macramé) to fossils and walrus ivory (whose sale came under federal regulation in 1972).

Mack’s operated from the Marion Street Viaduct, a second-story bridge guiding countless pedestrians from First Avenue across Alaskan Way to the Colman Dock ferries and vice versa. Talk about storefront visibility.

That’s where the puzzle comes in. With carved panels, totem poles and bauble-filled windows, the shop stood near the middle of the elevated block. So why does this postcard depict Mack’s on a corner?

A detail of the mismatch in our “Then.” (Courtesy Ron Edge)

Our sleuths strained for clues by studying old maps, aerial photos and window reflections. Finally, Ron Edge enlarged the card to reveal that the lower bricks of the depicted corner do not exactly line up. Thus, discounting potentially poor masonry, we assume the card is a mash-up of two images, one facing east and the other facing south, to create a faux angle.

The postcard is among artifacts preserved by the family. Did McKillop create and sell the fabricated portrayal for his shop to be perceived as more conspicuous and prosperous? Did he assume newcomers, conned by the card, would forgive the deception upon their arrival? The answers remain … a curiosity.

Born in Manitoba in 1896, McKillop spent early adult years as a schooner seaman near Point Barrow, Alaska, before heading south at age 37 to start his Seattle business. His carved ivory gavels, earrings and belt buckles became a specialty.

His most celebrated showpiece, glaring from high on an interior wall, was a walrus head with four tusks. In 1956, McKillop told The Seattle Times he had found the rare remnant in a local tavern. His research indicated the animal was shot in 1915 in Siberia, and he claimed it was the world’s only known four-tusker.

McKillop was both craftsman and salesman. So one can wonder at the monogram — a mix of his A and M initials — visible at the base of the totem poles appearing at each end of the postcard. Did Mack commission or acquire the poles or carve them himself? Another unsolved puzzle!

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 Dan Kerlee, Ron Edge, Barbara Manning and especially Victoria McKillop for their invaluable help in assembling the elements and thrust of this column!

Below are 53 supplemental photos, a map, four certificates and, in chronological order, 43 historical clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that relate to Mack’s Totem Curio Shop, A.A. McKillop and the Marion Street Viaduct and that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

A detail of the mismatch in our “Then.” (Courtesy Ron Edge)
1905, site of future Marion Street Viaduct, looking west on Marion Street. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Pre-1930s Marion Street Viaduct, looking west. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Nov. 29, 1951, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop along the Marion Street Viaduct, looking west. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
1950 Sanborn map address numbers for Marion Street Viaduct (north is up). (Courtesy Ron Edge)
A.A. McKillop and son John (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
April 1, 1931, A.A. McKillop seaman’s application. (Courtesy Barbara Manning)
Undated A.A. McKillop registration. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
April 2, 1931, A.A. McKillop seaman’s protection certificate. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
July 27, 1939, A.A. McKillop marriage registration, Victoria, B.C. (Courtesy Barbara Manning)
1934 McKillop listing in city directory. (Courtesy Barbara Manning, Ron Edge)
Undaetd, Albert Angus McKillop at his counter. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Albert Angus McKillop at desk with ivory. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Albert Angus McKillop outside shop with bird totem. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, A.A. McKillop at shop entry. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
1954 Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking east. (Courtesy Seattle Public Library)
Undated, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking east. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking east. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking east. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking east. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking south. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking south. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Mack’s Totem Curio Shop looking south. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, seven masks at Mack’s exterior. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, totem outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, masks outside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, inside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, inside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, inside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, four-tusk walrus inside Mack’s. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, four-tusk walrus postcard. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
Undated, Mack’s panel detail. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel detail. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel detail. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel detail. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Victoria McKillop with Mack’s panel. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel detail. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel detail. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel detail. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel. (Clay Eals)
Undated, Mack’s panel. (Clay Eals)
Mack’s two-tusk walrus head. (Clay Eals)
Andrew Angus “Mack” McKillop signature on letter to wife. (Courtesy Victoria McKillop)
March 10, 1909, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
March 11, 1909, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
July 3, 1909, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
Oct. 17, 1909, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 25.
Dec. 18, 1910, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
Oct. 27, 1910, Seattle Times, page 76.
Oct. 18, 1911, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
April 10, 1914, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
Nov. 17, 1914, Seattle Times, page 17.
July 20, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
Oct. 7, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
March 4, 1917, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Sept. 30, 1917, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 30.
Oct. 6, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Nov. 3, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 30.
Dec. 8, 1918, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 39.
Jan. 1, 1920, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
April 24, 1920, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
June 9, 1921, Seattle Times, page 20.
Dec. 5, 1923, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Sept. 10, 1939, Seattle Times, page 25.
Aug. 7, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
June 7, 1942, Seattle Times, page 24.
Sept. 6, 1943, Seattle Times, page 17.
Nov. 24, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
Oct. 30, 1949, Seattle Times, page 23.
June 22, 1955, Seattle Times, page 31.
Dec. 30, 1955, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
March 6, 1956, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 6, 1956, Seattle Times, page 115.
Oct. 20, 1959, Seattle Times, page 23.

 

Feb. 1, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
Feb. 2, 1965, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mike Mailway column, page 8.
Dec. 10, 1967, Seattle Times, page 75.
Oct. 20, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 21, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
July 17, 1971, A.A. McKillop obituary, Vancouver Sun. (Courtesy Barbara Manning)
Nov. 17, 1971, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Emmett Watson column, page 11.
May 17, 1972, Seattle Times, page 60.
Dec. 19, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 31.
March 16, 1979, Seattle Times, Mack’s successor The Legacy, page 78.
March 8, 1981, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mack’s successor The Legacy, page 84.
July 13, 1982, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mack’s successor The Legacy, page 29.

Seattle Now & Then: car-sales lots, 1957, and today’s Amazon Spheres

JOIN US ON ZOOM!

“Now & Then” columnists Clay Eals and Jean Sherrard soon will give illustrated Zoom talks, titled “An Insider’s Look at ‘Now & Then’ ,” for three local heritage organizations. Here are times, dates and registration links for the free presentations:

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(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: This property-value assessor’s photo, looking west and slightly north from the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Lenora Street north of downtown, was taken Dec. 18, 1957. Car details from our automotive informant Bob Carney: (from left) on street 1953 Chevrolet, 1956 Buick Special and 1953 Chevrolet 210 sedan. To left of Lee Moran building: 1953 Chevrolet. To right of building: 1955 Mercury. The lineup of used cars facing the street: 1956 Lincoln, 1956 Mercury, 1954 Mercury, 1956 Mercury, 1955 Oldsmobile 88, 1955 Studebaker coupe, 1950 Buick (can barely see the portholes) and, at far right, 1957 Ford. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
NOW: Opened Jan. 30, 2018, the Amazon Spheres complex serves as the signature structure for the internet-based colossus. Standing three to four stories tall, the spheres mix 40,000 plants with meeting spaces and stores, but the orbs are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Oct. 15, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Oct. 18, 2020)

Who could have predicted what these car lots would become?
By Clay Eals

Will Ferrell is mortally worried. Using the phrase “little did he know,” a stranger’s voice in his head is foretelling his death. He consults a literature professor, Dustin Hoffman, who warms to the puzzle by saying that he “once gave an entire seminar on ‘little did he know’ .”

Dustin Hoffman (left) and Will Ferrell in the 2006 film “Stranger Than Fiction.”

We jump from that scene in the 2006 film “Stranger than Fiction” (left) to our “Then” photo from Dec. 18, 1957. It captures a gent in a fedora driving a 1956 Buick Special and in momentary contemplation while stopped on Seventh Avenue at Lenora Street. Little did he know — or could anyone conceive — of the transformation 60 years later of this down-to-earth commercial tableau.

A stone’s throw from post-World War II downtown, this block is a typical 1950s tribute to the internal combustion engine, featuring the Lee Moran, W.R. Smith and ABC Fair-Way businesses and their symphony of signs: from “Cash for Cars” and “Cars under Cover” to “Highest Price for Used Cars” and “All Makes All Prices.” Car dealers had covered the block since the early 1940s, preceded by rental housing back to the century’s turn.

On the day this photo was taken (for use by the county to aid in assessing property tax), the weather forecast was familiar: “mostly cloudy with a few showers, occasional sun,” with a high of 45 to 50 degrees.

Gov. Albert Rosellini was inviting Seattle and King County to lead construction of a controversial second bridge across Lake Washington. Nationally, the first Atlas intercontinental missile was launched at Cape Canaveral, Alabama voters allowed the state to abolish a county in which Blacks outnumbered whites by more than 7 to 1, and actress Elizabeth Taylor underwent an appendectomy. Internationally, NATO delegates pushed Russia to resume disarmament talks.

Dec. 18, 1957, Frederick & Nelson ad, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16. (Illustration by Bob Cram.) The “ultra-chrome dome home” resembles, among other things, the legendary Kalakala ferry.

Among newspaper ads this day was one for the classy Frederick & Nelson department store (right). The pitched product was women’s stockings, but the accompanying Bob Cram illustration was a huge, pre-Jetsons cartoon featuring a “man of tomorrow” having landed in a space vehicle and his wife dashing to greet him — in “Round-the-Clock superb sheers” — at the front door of their “ultra-chrome dome home.”

One might say that the many round-topped sedans in our “Then” photo serve as figurative domes, each one a sphere to represent the life of a driver or family.

Today we find the block dominated by the triple-orb greenhouse of Seattle-based Amazon. The online giant is doing everything it can — including, most recently, dabbling in drone delivery — to encompass all of us in its shopping sphere.

Where will that lead? Little do we know.

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 supplemental photos and, in chronological order, 21 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.

Sept. 29, 1943, tax assessor’s photo of the same site as our “then” but taken from Sixth Avenue at the address 2016 Sixth Ave. Car details from our automotive informant Bob Carney: (from left) 1934 Studebaker, 1940 Plymouth, 1939 Ford Standard, and 1930 Studebaker Dictator. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
Dec. 18, 1957, tax assessor’s photo of the same site as our “then” but taken from Sixth Avenue at the address 2016 Sixth Ave. Car details from our automotive informant Bob Carney: (from left) 1956 Ford Fairlane, 1954 Chevrolet 210 station wagon, 1951 Nash and 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
Sept. 8, 2020, Amazon Spheres, facing east from Sixth Avenue. (Jean Sherrard)
May 31, 1903, Seattle Times, page 26.
June 12, 1904, Seattle Times, page 13.
June 3, 1910, Seattle Times, page 23.
April 30, 1911, Seattle Times, page 39.
July 9, 1911, Seattle Times, page 22.
Oct. 5, 1913, Seattle Times, page 43.
Dec. 14, 1913, Seattle Times, page 38.
March 1, 1914, Seattle Times, page 43.
Sept. 2, 1926, Seattle Times, page 27.
Sept. 3, 1926, Seattle Times, page 29.
Feb. 1, 1944, Seattle Times, page 19.
Sept. 3, 1948, Seattle Times, page 35.
May 19, 1954, Seattle Times, page 48.
Feb. 25, 1955, Seattle Times, page 39.
May 19, 1957, Seattle Times, page 56.
Dec. 17, 1957, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 28.
Dec. 18, 1957, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Dec. 18, 1957, Frederick & Nelson ad, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16. (Illustration by Bob Cram.)
Dec. 18, 1957, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17. (Illustration by Bob Cram.)
Dec. 18, 1957, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 27.
Dec. 19, 1957, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 40.

Seattle Now & Then: Mount Baker tunnel, 1940

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: This nighttime view of the eastbound Mount Baker tunnel shows that the original twin tubes had two lanes apiece. The photo was taken at least a few weeks after the tunnel’s July 2, 1940, opening because the 3-foot wide interior sidewalks, with high curbs and pipe guardrail, were not installed until later that month. (University of Washington Special Collections)
NOW: Repeating the original path of our “Then,” this daytime view shows only two of the Mount Baker tunnel’s four present-day eastbound lanes for auto traffic. The other two, not pictured, emerge from the formerly westbound tunnel immediately to the north. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Oct. 1, 2020
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Oct. 4, 2020)

In 1940, tunnel vision created a connection to the Eastside
By Clay Eals

As spooky as it is ethereal, our “Then” photo suggests Seattle barreling through a spacey cylinder to meet the future. The scene typifies our city’s bent for transforming its topography to satisfy urban dreams.

Eighty years ago, on July 2, 1940, an audacious dream — twin tunnels drilled through Mount Baker Ridge to connect Seattle to Mercer Island and the greater Eastside via an innovative bridge with floating concrete pontoons that crossed Lake Washington — became a reality that countless motorists take for granted today.

From the outset, the inextricably linked tunnels and bridge personified popularity, drawing 11,611 vehicles in the first 10-1/2 hours alone. To sustain this full-to-bursting stretch of what became an interstate artery, a companion tunnel and span were added a half-century later while, astonishingly, the original bridge sank and was quickly rebuilt.

Time was, Seattleites traveled east only by ferrying across or circumnavigating the elongated next-door lake. Some, including James Wood, Seattle Times associate editor, wanted to keep it that way.

“Just about the wildest dream ever to afflict an engineering mind is the proposed 8,000-foot concrete fence,” he wrote on Aug. 13, 1937. He called the tunnel-bridge project “a gross and wholly unnecessary obstruction.”

Prevailing, however, were campaigners for commerce. “The future prosperity of Seattle depends upon removing the barrier of the lake in order to gain easier access to the hinterland,” wrote Medina mogul Miller Freeman in the Jan. 9, 1938, Times. “It will providentially afford Seattle room for expansion in the only direction it can grow successfully.”

Thus the bridge and tunnels joined Seattle’s indelible identity. We of a certain age recall holding our breath through all 1,465 feet when parents drove us through one of the tunnels. Sometimes our elders humored us, generating a riotous echo by honking the car horn. But all was not childish fun.

As the neon indicates in our “Then,” when crossing the bridge to Mercer Island, drivers faced a variable toll of 25 to 45 cents, which ended in 1949. The curved arrow pointed to an abrupt “Lake Shore” entrance/exit opportunity tucked between the tunnels and bridge both east- and westbound at 35th Avenue South. A treacherous invitation to high-speed fender-benders and worse, it was curtailed in 1989.

Other tunnel-bridge idiosyncrasies, inconceivable today, triggered repeated fatalities. An awkward mid-bridge bulge to allow boat crossings was mercifully removed in 1981. Unprotected reversible lanes, instituted in 1960 to ease commuting, finally were eliminated in 1984.

Momentarily inattentive to the latter, as a fledgling 16-year-old driver in 1967 I barely avoided a head-on crash one afternoon.

The prospect still spooks me.

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 seven present-day photos and, in chronological order, 62 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.

Traffic heads eastbound out of the two original Mount Baker tunnels on Aug. 28, 2020. Westbound traffic uses newer tunnels out of view at far right. (Clay Eals)
A car emerges from the southernmost original Mount Baker tunnel, Aug. 28, 2020. The original “Portal of the North Pacific” concrete artwork is barely discernible at upper middle. (Clay Eals)
Traffic crosses the Mercer Island Floating Bridge in this eastbound view from atop the Mount Baker tunnels, Aug. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
Now a mere side street, 35th Avenue South dead-ends on the south side of the original Mount Baker tunnels, on Aug. 28, 2020. Here is where, for decades, eastbound drivers could enter the highway bridge or exit immediately after driving through the tunnel. Such access to the tunnel and bridge today is blocked and restricted to emergency vehicles. (Clay Eals)
A plaque dedicating the bridge to designer Homer Hadley, Aug. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
A plaque designating the bridge and tunnel a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, Aug. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
With bridge traffic roaring in the distance, this plaque dedicates the bridge to state highway director Lacey V. Murrow, Aug. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
Aug. 13, 1937, Seattle Times, page 6.
Jan. 9, 1938, Seattle Times, page 8.
May 15, 1938, Seattle Times, page 1.
May 15, 1938, Seattle Times, page 4.
June 26, 1938, Seattle Times, page 11.
April 1, 1939, Seattle Times, page 27.
Aug. 13, 1939, Seattle Times, page 42.
Sept. 3, 1939, Seattle Times, page 35.
Oct. 13, 1939, Seattle Times, page 16.
Oct. 21, 1939, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 21, 1939, Seattle Times, page 2.
Jan. 26, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
Feb. 5, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Feb. 26, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
April 12, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
April 13, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
April 13, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, pages 1 and 3.
May 19, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 27.
May 31, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
June 8, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
June 14, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
June 14, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
June 14, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
June 30, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
June 30, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
June 30, 1940, Seattle Times, page 17.
June 30, 1940, Seattle Times, page 19.
July 3, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 3, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
July 3, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
July 3, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
July 4, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
July 10, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
July 21, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 66.
Sept. 2, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Sept. 19, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Oct. 11, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 31.
Oct. 13, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 58.
Dec. 17, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 28.
July 19, 1949, Southeast Missourian.
Aug. 24, 1954, Seattle Times, page 4.
Jan. 7, 1955, Seattle Times, page 8.
May 31, 1955, Seattle Times, page 8.
Feb. 3, 1957, Seattle Times, page 2.
May 31, 1957, Seattle Times, page 21.
Dec. 30, 1959, Seattle Times, page 17.
March 16, 1960, Seattle Times, page 13.
Feb. 22, 1961, Mercer Island Reporter.
March 25, 1963, Seattle Times, page 5.
Dec. 17, 1963, Seattle Times, page 10.
Dec. 25, 1963, Seattle Times, page 67.
Dec. 26, 1963, Seattle Times, page 10.
Jan. 3, 1964, Seattle Times, page 10.
Sept. 23, 1970, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Jan. 17, 1974, Seattle Times, page 4.
May 20, 1974, Seattle Times, page 11.
Feb. 27, 1979, Seattle Times, page 12.
Jan. 30, 1980, Seattle Times, page 10.
Sept. 4, 1981, Seattle Times, page 98.
Sept. 7, 1981, Seattle Times, page 1.
April 13, 1984, Seattle Times, page 10.
Aug. 16, 1984, Seattle Times, page 56.

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

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

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.