All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Alki landing anniversary, 2000

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THEN 1: Performing Nov. 13, 2000, at the opening of “The Spirit Returns” exhibit at the Alki-based Log House Museum of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is the Suquamish Traditional Dance Group. In the mid-19th century, the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes were led by Chief Seattle, for whom our city was named. (Deborah Mendenhall)
NOW: At the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way are (from left) Heidi Bohan, curator for the Duwamish portion of “The Spirit Returns 2.0”; Jolene Haas, executive director of Duwamish Tribal Services and daughter of Cecile Hansen, tribal chair; and, from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, Kathy Blackwell, board president; Maggie Kase. curator of the historical-society portion of “The Spirit Returns 2.0”; and Michael King, executive director. Haas holds a cedar-bark hat worn by Chief Seattle that is part of the Duwamish display. The dual exhibit opened Oct. 9. Info: LogHouseMuseum.org and DuwamishTribe.org. (Jean Sjerrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on Nov. 18, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Nov. 21, 2021

‘The Spirit Returns 2.0’ unveils a dual look at landing anniversary
By Clay Eals

Time was, a round-numbered anniversary was a straightforward occasion to celebrate. No longer, in the case of our city’s birth. Today we can witness a more complex — and richer — commemoration.

THEN 2: Rolland Denny, a babe in arms when he was part of the Alki Landing Party on Nov. 13, 1851, inspects the “Birthplace of Seattle” obelisk in 1938. The 1905 monument, moved across Alki Avenue in 1926 and augmented by plaques unveiled by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society on Nov. 13, 2001, still stands today along the beach. ( Museum of History & Industry)

This month’s round number is 170, the number of years from Nov. 13, 1851, the cold and rainy day when the so-called Denny Party famously landed at Alki Beach after traveling west from Illinois and sailing north from Portland to establish a new home.

It’s the date carved into the “Birthplace of Seattle” obelisk that has stood at Alki since 1905.

Of course, complications arise from long-repeated references to that simplified tale:

  • The 22 who landed on Nov. 13 were not the first Euro-American settlers who arrived in what became known as Seattle.
  • Besides Dennys, other families were in the Nov. 13 group, with the familiar names of Boren, Bell, Terry and Low, calling into question the “Denny Party” designation. (All except the Lows later were rewarded with Seattle street names.)
  • The obelisk identified the married women in the group merely as “and wife.”
  • The 1851 landing does not denote Seattle’s official birth. The city was incorporated in 1865 and, after its charter was voided, was re-incorporated in 1869.

The most egregious error, however, lies in the story’s neglect for the presence of Native Americans for thousands of years prior to the landing. The obelisk’s “birthplace” reference thus reflected solely the perception of immigrants, many who forcefully dismissed (and later eradicated) the lives and culture that existed before their arrival.

On Nov. 13, 2000, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society began correcting the course, launching “The Spirit Returns,” an exhibit telling the Duwamish and settler stories at the organization’s Log House Museum at Alki.

One year later, it unveiled new plaques on the beach monument. The markers recast the settlers as the Alki Landing Party, added the wives’ names and honored the generosity of city namesake Chief Seattle and his Duwamish and Suquamish tribes.

This fall, the historical society and the Duwamish Tribe have teamed to go further, mounting a thorough follow-up: “The Spirit Returns 2.0: A Duwamish and Settler Story.” This venture is hosted at two West Seattle sites: the historical society’s 1904-vintage museum and the Duwamish Longhouse, which opened in 2009 on West Marginal Way.

In conversations that shaped their displays, the organizations decided to focus on differing aspects but also to weave a common thread — the early acts of friendship between the natives and settlers. The quest, as the historical society says, is to “uncover a new way to think about Seattle history.”

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 also are (1) a photo of the exhibit poster, (2) an “epilogue” by Alki historian Phil Hoffman and (3) nine more photos from the 2000 opening of “The Spirit Returns.”

Special thanks to West Seattle’s Deborah Mendenhall for preserving and sharing her 2000 slides of “The Spirit Returns” opening ceremony, and to Bruce and Emily Howard for their expert slide-scanning skills in helping make these images available to the public for the first time in color!

Poster for “The Spirit Returns 2.0” at the Duwamish Longhouse. (Clay Eals)
Click the image above to read a pdf of an “epilogue” by Alki historian Phil Hoffman.
The Suquamish Traditional Dance Group performs Nov. 13, 2000, at the opening of “The Spirit Returns” exhibit at the Log House Museum. This is an alternate version of our “Then” photo. (Deborah Mendenhall)
The Suquamish Traditional Dance Group performs Nov. 13, 2000, at the opening of “The Spirit Returns” exhibit at the Log House Museum. This is an alternate version of our “Then” photo. (Deborah Mendenhall)
Visitors watch the Nov. 13, 2000, opening ceremony of “The Spirit Returns” at the Log House Museum. (Deborah Mendenhall)
Cecile Hansen, chair of the Duwamish Tribe, speaks during the Nov. 13, 2000, opening ceremony of “The Spirit Returns” at the Log House Museum. (Deborah Mendenhall)
Lorelle Sian-Chin (left) visits with Cecile Hansen, chair of the Duwamish Tribe, at the Nov. 13, 2000, opening ceremony of “The Spirit Returns” at the Log House Museum. (Deborah Mendenhall)
Visitors peruse “The Spirit Returns” at its opening day Nov. 13, 2000, at the Log House Museum. (Deborah Mendenhall)
Visitors peruse “The Spirit Returns” at its opening day Nov. 13, 2000, at the Log House Museum. Artifacts included a cedar-bark hat worn by Chief Seattle, at back center. (Deborah Mendenhall)
Visitors peruse “The Spirit Returns” at its opening day Nov. 13, 2000, at the Log House Museum. Pat Filer, then-museum manager, stands at left, while present-day “Now & Then” columnist Clay Eals (red shirt) stands at right. (Deborah Mendenhall)
A TV news cameraman records “The Spirit Returns” at its opening day Nov. 13, 2000, at the Log House Museum. Artifacts included a cedar-bark hat worn by Chief Seattle at back center, and a model of the Schooner Exact, right. (Deborah Mendenhall)

 

Paul Dorpat celebrates his 83rd birthday!

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VIDEO (23:29): Click the photo to see the significant moments of the celebration of Paul Dorpat’s 83rd birthday, which took place Friday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2021, in the entry courtyard of Paul’s home, Providence Heritage House at the Market on Western Avenue. The celebration was held one day after his actual 83rd to avoid a monsoon.
Paul Dorpat greets friends at his 83rd birthday celebration
By Clay Eals

Because the Seattle Times has postponed the “Now & Then” column this weekend and next, for this week’s post we present an audiovisual account of the 83rd birthday celebration of column founder, legendary historian and avuncular contrarian Paul Dorpat!

The party, publicized on Paul’s Facebook page, was held Friday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2021, in the entry courtyard of Paul’s home, Providence Heritage House at the Market on Western Avenue downtown. The two-hour outdoor event took place one day after Paul’s actual birthday to avoid heavy rains.

The celebration included champagne (including the popping of a cork), cake, a round of “Happy Birthday” and a reading of Facebook comments from those who were not able to attend.

The 23-1/2-minute birthday video (above) encompasses the significant moments of the celebration. More than 15 people attended, including (in alphabetical order) Kurt Armbruster, Joe Breskin, Rose Bushnell (who lived in the same apartment building as Paul in the 1970s), Clay Eals, Ron Edge, Buddy Foley, Patrick Ford, Marga Rose Hancock, Rena Ilumin, Howard Lev, Scott Rohrer, Jean Sherrard and Philip (Flip) Wells.

Apologies in advance for our dereliction in not knowing the names of a couple other friends who attended. If any of you dear blog readers can fill us in by sending us a comment, we would greatly appreciate it, and we will promptly add missing names.

Below, we add several still photos from Jean’s able lens. Thanks to everyone who came. We wish Paul another happy year in the city whose history he has chronicled vividly, with humor and verve!

The group (from left): Clay Eals, XX, Joe Breskin, Rose Bushnell, Ron Edge, Kurt Armbruster, Paul Dorpat, Marga Rose Hancock, XX, Rena Ilumin, Scott Rohrer, Patrick Ford, Buddy Foley, XX.
Philip (Flip) Wells
Marga Rose Hancock
(From left): Rose Bushnell, Paul Dorpat, Rena Ilumin.
Ron Edge
Kurt Armbruster
Scott Rohrer (left) and Joe Breskin
(From left) Philip (Flip) Breskin, Ron Edge, Patrick Ford.
(From left): Buddy Foley, Marga Rose Hancock, Paul Dorpat.
Buddy Foley
Rose Bushnell and Paul Dorpat.

 

Seattle Now & Then: Streetcar and cable car, Broadway and James, 1940

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THEN1: Taken in 1940 as the city’s street railway network neared its collapse, this north-facing view illustrates the intertwining of Seattle streetcars and cable cars. The Route 11/East Cherry streetcar (left) heads north on Broadway at James Street, while cable-car #11 lays over in front of its car barn and powerhouse, built in 1891. Transferring from the former to the latter let riders reach downtown’s south end. (Courtesy Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive, WWASMR-11-005)
NOW: Author Mike Bergman stands at the same vantage while a golden City of Seattle streetcar heads north along its First Hill route. The Wallingford resident’s new book, “Seattle’s Streetcar Era: An Illustrated History 1884-1941,” will be available after Dec. 1, 2021. The book’s launch event will take place 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at Highline Heritage Museum, 819 SW 152nd St., Burien. Proof of vaccination and masks are required. For more info, visit WSUPress.WSU.edu. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on Oct. 21, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 24, 2021

From Blanchard to Bergman, Seattle’s transit saga keeps moving
By Clay Eals

While leading historical tours in West Seattle’s shopping hub, which in 1907 was named The Junction for its streetcar intersection, I often assert that transportation fuels our very existence. It guides where we reside, work and play. To live, we’ve gotta move.

This, of course, applied at the turn of the 20th century, when autos were new and owned by only a few. So to quickly cross town, Seattleites frequently rode the rails of a cable car or electric streetcar. Originally charted by 13 companies, the routes evolved into a grid that gave shape to downtown and outlying neighborhoods (dubbed “streetcar suburbs”).

THEN2: Streetcar historian Leslie Blanchard, about 39 years old, as shown in a Seattle Times story on Aug. 10, 1969. He died in November 2011. (Seattle Times online archive)

To document this, historian Leslie Blanchard, a longtime city engineer, assembled a landmark book, “The Street Railway Era in Seattle: A Chronicle of Six Decades,” published in 1968.

Enter Mike Bergman.

Growing up atop Queen Anne Hill, Bergman pestered trolley-bus drivers about how their vehicles worked. Clerking at the downtown library in 1968 while a senior at the old Queen Anne High School, he repeatedly observed Blanchard examining documents and even introduced himself to the researcher. The seeds of Bergman’s future were growing.

Fifty-three years later, he is a retired planner, with 16 years at Sound Transit and 20 years at King County Metro. Emulating Blanchard with countless study hours at the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive in Burien, Bergman has produced his own large-format book, “Seattle’s Streetcar Era: An Illustrated History 1884-1941,” to be published by WSU Press.

The book’s launch event will take place 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at Highline Heritage Museum, 819 SW 152nd St., Burien. Proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Blanchard’s 1968 primer is long out of print. Surviving copies go for hundreds of dollars online. But Bergman’s book, with 130 crisply reproduced historical photos and 13 new maps, offers a fresh chance to, as he writes, “give the reader more of a feeling of being there.”

That feeling — in today’s city of 737,000 people, clogged with 461,000 cars — might be elusive. But Bergman’s book evokes the social and political trends of a time when citizens surmounted Seattle’s legendary hills aboard railcars, akin to San Francisco’s famed fleet but enclosed because of our chillier clime.

Highlights include the saga of the Queen Anne counterbalance, the ingenious, gravity-powered underground rig that propelled cars up and down the district’s 18%-grade hill. Its can-do ethic reflected the era.

Bergman also charts the city’s bumpy takeover of the streetcar network in 1919, when yearly trips peaked at 133 million, as well as the system’s demise and conversion to rubber-tired buses by World War II.

Then, as now, civic debate over public transportation was rife. But as Bergman notes, today’s multi-jurisdictional light-rail web is steadily expanding while shaping a Seattle that just keeps moving.

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 also are (1) a video interview of Mike Bergman, (2) a photo of his book cover and Leslie Blanchard‘s, (3) a 1925 Seattle streetcar map courtesy of Ron Edge , (4) video of a 2017 Bergman presentation and (5), in chronological order, 15 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that document Leslie Blanchard’s pace-setting streetcar research. Of these clippings, six are earlier “Now & Then” columns by Paul Dorpat, our column’s founder.

VIDEO (12:48): Click this photo to see a video interview of author Mike Bergman. (Clay Eals)
The covers of streetcar books by Leslie Blanchard (lrft) and Mike Bergman.
1925 map of the Seattle Municipal Street Railway. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
VIDEO (56:30): Click photo to see Mike Bergman present, for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society on May 21, 2017, “Streetcar Suburbs: History of the Highland Park & Lake Burien Railway.” (Klem Daniels)
Sept. 5, 1965, Seattle Times, page 95.
June 22, 1969, Seattle Times, page 166.
Aug. 10, 1969, Seattle Times, page 34.
Sept. 17, 1972, Seattle Times, page 17.
Dec. 31, 1972, Seattle Times, page 18.
April 21, 1974, Seattle Times, page 130.
Feb. 1, 1987, Seattle Times, page 23.
Aug. 2, 1987, Seattle Times, page 124.
Aug. 12, 1990, Seattle Times, page 182.
Oct. 13, 1997, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
Aug. 1, 1999, Seattle Times, page 199.
Dec. 20, 2000, Seattle Times, page 208.
Sept. 28, 2003, Seattle Times, page 211.
Oct. 31, 2004, Seattle Times, page 212.
Dec. 12, 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencers, page 12.

 

Around the world with ‘Now & Then’: Vacations we can take vicariously

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The cover of the Oct. 10, 2021, PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times (“Then” photo courtesy Marti Dell, “Now” photo by Perry Barber)

We are delighted that the editors of PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times asked us to prepare a cover-story package for the magazine’s print edition of Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, on the topic of vicarious vacations. Call it an epic “Now & Then.”

Here’s the introduction:

The places we visited when we were young stand stubbornly, often joyously, in our minds and hearts.

In this collection, we delve into these memories as illuminated by long-ago travel photos — many of them submitted by readers of our “Now & Then” column.

We also return to these sites, in images kindly contributed by professional and amateur photographers in places that we collectively cannot or choose not to revisit at present because of the coronavirus.

It’s a way of taking vacations without leaving home. Enjoy the trip!

And below are links to 12 fully illustrated vignettes, including video interviews, preceded by the Backstory. Special thanks to the friends and others we called upon to snap “Now” photos out of the goodness of their hearts. We hope you enjoy it all.

— Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

BACKSTORY — by Jean
VIGNETTE 01 — by Jean
  • (Courtesy Hai Thi Nguyen)

    Mount Rushmore, 1994
    ‘When I was young, I wanted to hear about a place and wanted to see it’
    Hai Thi Nguyen

VIGNETTE 02 — by Clay
  • (Courtesy Marti Dell)

    New York harbor, 1963
    ‘I was obviously very secure in myself … that innocent confidence’
    Marti Dell

VIGNETTE 03 — by Jean
  • (Courtesy Astrid Anderson Bear)

    Copenhagen, 1965
    ‘A text of independence … I passed reasonably well’
    Astrid Anderson Bear

VIGNETTE 04 — by Clay
VIGNETTE 05 — by Clay
VIGNETTE 06 — by Clay
VIGNETTE 07 — by Clay
  • (Robbie Fletcher)

    Chicago lakeshore, 1988
    ‘To explore without having to go on an expedition’
    Elancia (Lancie) Williamson

VIGNETTE 08 — by Jean
VIGNETTE 09 — by Clay
VIGNETTE 10 — by Jean
  • (Richard Kyro)

    Banff, Alberta, 1979
    ‘I had never seen a lake that was so blissfully blue’
    Kara Kyro

VIGNETTE 11 — by Clay
VIGNETTE 12 — by Jean
  • (Courtesy Paul Dorpat)

    Paris, 1967
    A highlight of their lives
    The Rev. Theodore and Cherry Dorpat

Seattle Now & Then: Woman’s Century Club, 1925

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THEN: A half-dozen Woman’s Century Club members stand in 1925 on the steps of the club’s newly erected headquarters. Women-centric institutions with roots in the neighborhood include Nellie Cornish College of the Arts and the Rainier Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, all part of the Belmont-Harvard Historical District. (Pemco Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry)
NOW (with names): Club members (from left) Cindy Hughes, Cheri Sayer, Debra Alderman, Diana James, Michele Genthon, Sara Patton, Jackie Williams, Denise Frisino, Carla Rickerson, Janet Wainwright, Michael McCullough, Saundra Magnussen-Martin, Twila Meeks and Patty Whisler stand before the Woman’s Century Club building, now the Mexican Consulate, while protesters gather at right, seeking safety for displaced families. The club’s annual fall reception will take place at noon Friday, Oct. 22, either in person or online. For more info, visit WomansCenturyClub.org. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on Sept. 30, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 3, 2021

‘Important conversations’ fuel 130-year Woman’s Century Club
By Clay Eals

For whom is the 19th century known?

Answers abound, but a half-dozen progressive women from Seattle claimed it as their own during the century’s final decade.

Because of educational, occupational, social and political strides, especially the right to vote, this local group adopted the phrase “the Woman’s Century,” forming a club with that name in 1891. The designation also took off nationally throughout the 1890s.

Late 1899 or early 1900 Singer ad, McClure’s Magazine. (Courtesy Debra Alderman)

To no surprise, the appellation was appropriated commercially. The Singer Manufacturing Co. placed full-page ads headed “The Woman’s Century” in turn-of-the-century editions of McClure’s Magazine. The ads touted Singer sewing machines and typewriters for providing “increased time and opportunity for women’s rest and recreation or for other occupations from which they had been debarred.”

In Seattle, club founders were more high-minded. An early organizational history states that amid “the sordid atmosphere of a rapidly developing western city,” they felt the need to gather “for intellectual culture, original research and the solution of the altruistic problems of the day.”

Leading them was Carrie Chapman Catt, who soon took on coast-to-coast fame, succeeding Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and, when ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution was nigh in 1920, founding the League of Women Voters.

Logo for the Woman’s Century Club.

Such sturdy stock flourished in the club’s early decades. In 1926, members helped elect the first female Seattle mayor, Bertha Landes, a former club president. In 1933, they hosted a reception for famed aviator Amelia Earhart.

The club’s talks and teas held an additional purpose, to raise money for a permanent headquarters and theater on Capitol Hill. A three-story brick edifice, with “Woman’s Century Club” etched above its entrance, took shape in 1925 at the southeast corner of Harvard and East Roy.

Club events took place there for 40-plus years, but thinning membership prompted its sale in 1968 and conversion to what became the charming Harvard Exit Theatre, with movie auditoriums on two floors. The club still met in its parlor, but screens went dark when the building was resold in 2014 and renovated by Eagle Rock Ventures. The main tenant today is the Mexican Consulate.

Debra Alderman, club vice-president. (Clay Eals)

Now based at Dearborn House on First Hill, the club sponsors provocative presentations and funds an annual scholarship for a young woman “with promise.”

Members appreciate the club’s focus on history and the arts. They also revere its trailblazing legacy. In its 130th year, Debra Alderman, vice-president, says, “We need to continue to have important conversations.”

We are a little more than one-fifth of the way through the 21st century. For whom will it be named?

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!

Here are video interviews of three Woman’s Century Club leaders: (1) Cheri Sayer, treasurer and past president, (2) Debra Alderman, vice-president, and (3) Twila Meeks, scholarship chair.

VIDEO: Click on photo to see Cheri Sayer, treasurer and past president, reflect July 19, 2021, on Woman’s Century Club, 2:27. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click on photo to see Debra Alderman, vice-president, reflect July 19, 2021, on Woman’s Century Club, 4:07. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click on photo to see Twila Meeks, scholarship chair, reflect July 19, 2021, on Woman’s Century Club, 2:29. (Clay Eals — apologies for poor framing in spots)

And here, in chronological order, are 21 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Sept. 26, 1896, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 2, 1897, Seattle Times, page 13.
Jan. 30, 1898, Seattle Times, page 2.
May 21, 1899, Seattle Times, page 16.
June 4, 1899, Seattle Times, page 16.
Sept. 30, 1899, Seattle Times, page 29.
Oct. 21, 1899, Seattle Times, page 19.
February 1900, McClue’s Magazine ad for Singer. Different ad from above. (Issuu Archive)
July 27, 1902, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
May 25, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
May 25, 1925, Seattle Times, page 9.
May 27, 1925, Seattle Times, page 5.
May 30, 1925, Seattle Times, page 71.
July 26, 1925, Seattle Times, page 96.
Sept. 13, 1925, Seattle Times, page 63.
Oct. 13, 1925, Seattle Times, page 14.
Oct. 18, 1925, Seattle Times, page 70.
Jan. 8, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 50.
Jan. 29, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 51.
Feb. 2, 1933, Seattle Times, page 4.
Nov. 11, 2007, Seattle Times.

Seattle Now & Then: Horiuchi mural, 1965

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THEN1: On a visit to Seattle on Aug. 28, 1965, three years after the Seattle World’s Fair, and posing in front of the mural created for the fair by his great uncle, is a grinning 3-year-old Brian Horiuchi, second from left, with family members (from left) Brian’s mother, Maynard Cooke Horiuchi; aunt, Gloria Lewis Horiuchi; cousin, Mark Shigetoshi Horiuchi; grandmother, Takeko Horiuchi; and uncle, Arthur Horiuchi. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi)
NOW1: Cosima Horiuchi, 5, twirls as 15 other Horiuchi descendants join her on July 13 in front of the Paul Horiuchi mural at Seattle Center. Cosima’s dad, Brian Horiuchi, fourth from right, beams as he stands not far from his great uncle’s corner signature. Here is the full lineup (from left): Cosima Horiuchi, Trish Howard, Karen Ooka Hofman, Grant Wataru Horiuchi, Halli Hisako Horiuchi, Hiro Hayden Horiuchi, Hannah Amaya Horiuchi, Ottilie Horiuchi (purple hair), Cheryl Ooka (obscured), Naomi Ooka Bang, Greg Bang, Lucius Horiuchi (boy), Brian Horiuchi, Rowan Manesse, Mark Shigetoshi Horiuchi and Kassie Maneri. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on Sept. 23, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Sept. 26, 2021

In celebration out of darkness, Horiuchi mural inspires reunion
By Clay Eals

Memorable moments abound naturally at Seattle Center, our collective keepsake from the 1962 World’s Fair. And for me, its touchstone is the amphitheater west of the Space Needle, anchored by the rich hues and galvanizing composition of its 60-by-17-foot mosaic mural by Paul Horiuchi.

Both arresting and unifying, the juxtaposed Needle, green grass and mural bear a timeless appeal, enveloping us like a hug. Where else, over the past six decades, could we rather have passed time alone in urban contemplation or enjoyed an outdoor experience with a festive crowd?

I’ve long presumed that the mural’s warmth and complexity derived from the art itself, but thanks to a recent reunion of Horiuchis at the mural, I know it also springs from a stinging saga.

THEN2: Paul Horiuchi relaxes Oct. 6, 1978, while visiting Kobe, Japan. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi)

Born in 1906 in Japan, Horiuchi first delved into ink-wash painting as a boy. He came to the United States in 1920, becoming a railroad worker in Wyoming until World War II, when he was fired for being Japanese and lived largely in hiding with his young family in a truck while laboring as a janitor and gardener.

Postwar, after a move to Seattle, Horiuchi’s artistic career took off. Fifteen years later, the Century 21 Exposition commissioned what became the soft-spoken collagist’s best-known and most beloved piece. His melding of odd-shaped and multi-colored chunks of glass from Venice, Italy, was touted in 1962 as the largest single work of art in the Northwest.

Brian Horiuchi, a descendant and L.A. screenwriter-director who organized the reunion, sees accessibility and emotional truth in his great uncle’s creation.

NOW2: Paul Horiuchi’s 1962 mural signature. (Clay Eals)

“Though it’s abstract, it doesn’t strike me as intellectualized or at all forced,” he says. A family gathering at the amphitheater, he says, becomes a pilgrimage to a tangled but triumphant legacy: “I think there’s celebration with the darkness, for sure.”

His 5-year-old daughter, Cosima, a budding artist, catches the symbolism while twirling before the parabolic mural: “It’s about feelings.”

NOW3: Horiuchi mural plaque, 1962. (Clay Eals)

My own feelings about the mural hover to amphitheater events such as Pete Seeger inspiring a 1997 Northwest Folklife audience to sing along to “Amen/Freedom/Union” with the new Seattle Labor Chorus, as well as, more recently, the perennially mesmerizing performances of Eduardo Mendonça and Show Brazil.

The long ribbon of such occasions bespeaks permanence — and survival amid sporadic talk of redesigning Seattle Center, especially a scuttled late-1980s Disney scheme.

The mural’s endurance also breeds comfort that its maker expressed in a handwritten message, shared at his 1999 memorial service:

“I have always wanted to create something serene, the peace and serenity, the quality needed to balance the sensationalism in our surroundings today.”

NOW4: This view matches and expands the straight-on vantage of our THEN. Those posing are (from left) Grant Wataru Horiuchi, Halli Hisako Horiuchi, Hiro Hayden Horiuchi, Hannah Amaya Horiuchi, Lucius Horiuchi held by Rowan Manesse, Ottilie Horiuchi (purple hair), Cosima Horiuchi, Brian Horiuchi, Mark Shigetoshi Horiuchi, Kassie Maneri, Karen Ooka Hofman, Trish Howard, Cheryl Ooka, Naomi Ooka Bang and Greg Bang.

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!

Also please click here to see a Queen Anne Historical Society story on the mural’s 2011 restoration.

We present an array of additional extras related to this column’s topic.

Here are video interviews of four Paul Horiuchi descendants attending the July 13, 2021, family reunion at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater: (1) Brian Horiuchi, (2) Mark Horiuchi, (3) Grant Horiuchi and (4) Trish Howard.

VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Brian Horiuchi, 7:07. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Mark Horiuchi, 14:47. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Grant Horiuchi, 8:27. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Trish Howard, 3:06. (Clay Eals)

We also present two other videos from the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater: (1) a May 25, 1997, Pete Seeger performance of “Amen/Freedom/Union” at Northwest Folklife Festival and (2) a May 28, 2018, performance, also from Folklife.

VIDEO: Click photo to see folk legend Pete Seeger lead the newly formed Seattle Labor Chorus in “Amen/Freedom/Union” on May 25, 1997, at the Mural Amphitheater, 6:44. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see a short glimpse from May 28, 2018, of another Mural Amphitheater performance, 0:15. (Clay Eals)

Below we present three examples of other Paul Horiuchi artworks from the private collection of Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness.

This 1944 Paul Horiuchi painting depicts Brian Horiuchi’s father, Lucius Horiuchi, and aunt, Marie Horiuchi, walking by the guard tower of the Minidoka relocation camp in Hunt, Idaho. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness)
This July 21, 1976, Paul Horiuchi collage is done with paper strips. On its reverse side, the piece is titled “Reflections” and is dedicated to Brian Horiuchi’s mother and father, Maynard and Lucius, on Lucius’ 48th birthday, from Paul and his wife Bernadette Horiuchi. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness)
This Paul Horiuchi watercolor was painted in 1952. On its reverse is this note: “This watercolor was done after WWII by Paul Chikamasa Horiuchi (represents an area of Alkai (sic), outside Seattle). Paul gave this to Lucius in either 1957 or 1959 in Seattle. (Lucius was visiting Paul’s shop; and Paul was grateful for little favors Lucius extended to Paul’s mother who lived in Oishi, Yamanashi-ken, Japan.)” (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness)

Here, in chronological order, are 22 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

July 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 27, 1961, Seattle Times, page 15.
July 28, 1961, Oregonian, page 12.
July 28, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Sept. 10, 1961, Seattle Times, page 160.
Oct. 22, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 106.
March 2, 1962, Seattle Times, Lou Guzzo column, page 13.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 32.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 112.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Times, page 229.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
April 22, 1962, Seattle Times, page 123.
April 23, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
June 2, 1962, Oregonian, page 19.
Feb. 24, 1964, Seattle Times, page 20.
Dec. 8, 1964, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 14, 1965, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 50.
Aug. 13, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 61.
Aug. 13, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 62.
Feb. 16, 1969, Oregonian p88.
Dec. 21, 1979, Tacoma News-Tribune, p26.
Sept. 12, 1986, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Aug. 31, 1999, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 27.

Seattle Now & Then: The Tacoma totem pole, 1927

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: In this Tacoma Historical Society lobby card for the 1927 silent film “Eyes of the Totem,” filmed in Tacoma, actress Wanda Hawley, playing a homeless single mother, wears sunglasses while sitting at the base of the Tacoma totem pole, searching for the killer of her husband. This view is at 10th and A streets looking east to the Municipal Dock and tideflats, including Tacoma Lumber Co. (The pole was moved one block north in 1954.) The historical society has just released a digital version of “Eyes” for rental or purchase. (Courtesy Tacoma Historical Society)
NOW: A Tacoma Power worker uses a chainsaw to slice a midsection from the 118-year-old Tacoma totem pole. (Jean Sherrard) See below for many more NOW photos.

Published in the Seattle Times online on Sept. 2, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Sept. 5, 2021

Tacoma’s totem-pole takedown aims to ease tribal trauma
By Clay Eals

All the arguing over tearing down what some consider to be inappropriate public monuments becomes palpable once you hear the revving-up of chainsaws.

The roar came to Tacoma’s Fireman’s Park, the South A Street vista overlooking the port’s industrial tideflats, at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3. That’s when Tacoma Power workers hoisted cherry-picker buckets and began slicing into pieces a 118-year city landmark — the Tacoma totem pole.

Capped by an eagle, it was erected just before then-President Teddy Roosevelt’s May 22, 1903, visit to Tacoma as a lasting way to promote the City of Destiny in favorable comparison to northern neighbor Seattle. Described as 75 to 105 feet long, with some 15 feet underground, the pole bore a plaque calling it “the largest totem pole in the world,” a status touted for decades but eclipsed elsewhere.

First it stood at 10th Street next to the old Tacoma Hotel, then was moved one block north in 1954. It came down in 1974-76 for extensive restoration and was steadied in 2014 by a tall metal brace.

Its most prominent national role came in the 1927 silent film “Eyes of the Totem” (working title “The Totem Pole Beggar”), helmed by famed director W.S. Van Dyke and restored and re-premiered in 2015 by the Tacoma Historical Society. As shown in our “Then” photo, the pole figured strikingly in the melodrama.

NOW: The carved eagle atop the 118-year-old Tacoma totem pole is held by a strap around its neck as a Tacoma Power worker below uses a chainsaw to cut the uppermost slice off the pole. (Jean Sherrard)

Trouble is, the pole, long said to have been carved by Alaskan Natives hired by Tacoma businessmen, recently has been deemed both inauthentic in origin and purpose and unrepresentative of the indigenous Puyallup Tribe, which sought its exile. “There has been a lot of trauma,” tribal council chair Annette Bryan has said, “and we have to tell the true story to be able to heal.”

Tacoma officials agreed. They plan to commission new Coast Salish art for the park while storing the pole’s pieces and working with the historical society to display them with appropriate interpretation.

Debate rages on, however. Doug Granum of Southworth, who led the pole’s mid-1970s restoration, calls its amputation tragic. “Destroying history,” he says, “is right out of the Communist playbook.”

The feelings of Don Lacky, former member of the Tacoma Arts Commission who fervently pursued the pole’s preservation, are more mixed. “I can understand why the Puyallup nation finds it offensive,” he says. “It would be like Russia putting up a monument here in the United States.”

Meanwhile, 46-year Tacoma resident Verna Stewart, one of a few non-city staff or media witnessing the two-hour chainsaw takedown, was grateful to see removal of what she calls “another American history lie.”

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 present a huge collection of extras related to this column’s topic.

Below are 14 additional NOW photos (in chronological order), four other photos and, in chronological order, 119 historical clippings from the Tacoma News Tribune and other online newspaper sources (including two period reviews!) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

We also present four videos: (1) comments from Amy McBride, Tacoma’s arts administrator, (2) comments from Don Lacky, former Tacoma arts commissioner, (3) comments from Verna Stewart, 46-year resident of Tacoma, and (4) a start-to-finish, 43-minute account of the totem pole’s takedown.

In addition, we present a provocative essay by Southworth artist Doug Granum, who led the restoration of the totem pole in 1976 and strongly opposed its takedown. Below the essay are photos of the pole taken by Granum prior to its 1976 restoration.

We also present (1) an Aug. 5, 2021, press release from the Tacoma Historical Society announcing the ability to see online its restoration of the 1927 silent film “Eyes of the Totem” and (2) extensive packets from three recent meetings of Tacoma’s arts and landmarks preservation commissions. The packets include letters from citizens, staff assessments and historical photos and graphics.

In addition, here are two “Eyes of the Totem” video links:

NOW: In this southeast-facing view in the post-sunrise haze of Tuesday, Aug. 3, the 118-year-old Tacoma totem pole stands in the city’s Fireman’s Park one half-hour before its takedown by a Tacoma Power crew. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: Prior to the cutting, the 118-year-old base of the pole proudly proclaims “Largest Totem Pole in the World.” (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: In this south-facing view early Tuesday morning, Aug. 3, the 118-year-old Tacoma totem pole is framed by artist Lance Kagey’s new Port of Tacoma sculpture called SWELL, which was installed last December in the city’s Fireman’s Park. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: A Tacoma Power crew lifts a cherry-picker bucket to the top of the Tacoma totem pole in preparation for slicing it in pieces on Tuesday morning, Aug. 3. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: A Tacoma Power worker steadies the top (eagle) section of the pole after it was sliced off, while a second bucketed worker looks on. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: The top (eagle) portion of the pole is eased downward to a waiting truck. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: The top (eagle) portion of the pole is eased downward to a waiting truck. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: A Tacoma Power worker eyes a mid-section where it is attached to its metal brace. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: Tacoma Power workers tie off a midsection of the pole before slicing it with a chainsaw. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: The carved eagle that made up the top portion of the 118-year-old Tacoma totem pole rests with other pieces on a Tacoma Power truck, ready to be stored by the city for possible later display by the Tacoma Historical Society. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: A Tacoma Power worker wields a chainsaw to slice another midsection off the 118-year-old totem pole. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: Pieces of the 118-year-old Tacoma totem pole rest in a city truck next to the pole’s stump. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: A Tacoma Power worker uses a chainsaw to slice off the pole’s stump. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: The moon rises on the evening of Aug. 15, 2021, near the top of the metal brace for the Tacoma pole in Fireman’s Park. The brace was installed in 2014 and was not removed on Aug. 3 because city officials say it may be used later in conjunction with Coast Salish art. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click above to see Amy McBride, arts administrator for the City of Tacoma, explain the city’s perspective on Aug. 3, 2021, the morning of the city’s removal of the Tacoma totem pole from Fireman’s Park downtown. Video length: 1:56. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click above to see Don Lacky, a former arts commissioner for the City of Tacoma, explain his perspective on Aug. 3, 2021, the morning of the city’s removal of the Tacoma totem pole from Fireman’s Park downtown. Video length: 5:29. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click above to see Verna Stewart, a 46-year resident of Tacoma, explain her perspective on Aug. 3, 2021, the morning of the city’s removal of the Tacoma totem pole from Fireman’s Park downtown. Video length: 1:24. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click above to see the entire takedown of the Tacoma totem pole on Tuesday morning, Aug. 3, 2021. Video length: 43:01. (Clay Eals)
TWO-PAGE ESSAY: Click above to download and read a pdf of the case made by Southworth artist Douglas Granum, who led restoration of the Tacoma totem pole in 1976, for why it should not have been removed.
THEN: This is a composite photo of the Tacoma totem pole as it lay in Doug Granum’s care for restoration in 1976. Double-click it to see the full detail. (Doug Granum)
THEN: The deteriorated top (eagle) portion of the Tacoma totem pole lies in Doug Granum’s care for restoration in 1976. (Doug Granum)
THEN: The deteriorated top (eagle) portion of the Tacoma totem pole lies in Doug Granum’s care for restoration in 1976. (Doug Granum)
NOW: The four lobby cards for the restored 1927 silent film “Eyes of the Totem” are sold by the Tacoma Historical Society. (Tacoma Historical Society)
Click above to download and read the Aug. 5, 2021, press release from the Tacoma Historical Society for details about the online opportunity to see the organization’s restored version of the 1927 silent film “Eyes of the Totem.” (Tacoma Historical Society)
Click above to download the extensive packet from the June 4, 2013, meeting of the Tacoma Arts Commission in which the Tacoma totem pole was a prominent topic.
Click above to download the extensive packet from the May 12, 2021, meeting of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission in which the Tacoma totem pole was a prominent topic.
Click above to download the extensive packet from the May 26, 2021, meeting of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission in which the Tacoma totem pole was a prominent topic.
May 25, 1903, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
April 25, 1923, Tacoma News Tribune, page 17.
April 2, 1925, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
April 4, 1925, Tacoma News Tribune, page 4
May 23, 1925, Tacoma News Tribune, page 7.
Dec. 23, 1925, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Jan. 11, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
Jan. 22, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 12.
Jan. 29, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
Feb. 11, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 14.
Feb. 18, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
Feb. 20, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 16.
Feb. 23, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
March 6, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
March 6, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 2.
March 13, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
March 29, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 23.
April 9, 1926, Tacoma News Tribune, page 12.
May 13, 1927, Motion Picture Daily review.
May 15, 1927, Film Daily review.
June 11, 1927, Tacoma News Tribune, page 4.
Sept. 5, 1929, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Dec. 16, 1938, Tacoma News Tribune, page 17.
July 24, 1940, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
July 25, 1943, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
July 25, 1943, Tacoma News Tribune, page 11.
Jan. 31, 1945, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
June 2, 1945, Tacoma News Tribune, page 4.
May 13, 1949, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Nov. 1, 1950, Tacoma News Tribune, page 7.
March 16, 1952, Tacoma News Tribune, page 67.
Aug. 19, 1952, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Sept. 24, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 14.
Oct. 3, `953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 16.
Oct. 9, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 20.
Oct. 23, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 46.
Oct. 28, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 7.
Nov. 1, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 23.
Nov. 4, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 2.
Nov. 19, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Nov. 30, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 4.
Dec. 3, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Dec. 3, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
Dec. 6, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 6.
Dec. 16, 1953, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
July 13, 1954, Tacoma News Tribune, page 14.
July 28, 1954, Tacoma News Tribune, page 15.
Nov. 21, 1954, Tacoma News Tribune, page 33.
Nov. 25, 1954, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
May 8, 1955, Tacoma News Tribune, page 28.
May 24, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 22.
July 7, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 9.
July 12, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 64.
July 29, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 18.
Aug. 2, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Aug. 16, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Aug. 16, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 10.
Aug. 17, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Aug. 23, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 77.
Aug. 23, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 78.
Sept. 1, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 10.
Aug. 2, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 2.
Sept. 2, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 41.
Sept. 6, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 9.
Sept. 10, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 12.
Sept. 12, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 6.
Sept. 17, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 44.
Oct. 25, 1959, Tacoma News Tribune, page 60.
April 10, 1960, Tacoma News Tribune, page 72.
June 19, 1960, Tacoma News Tribune, page 65.
June 19, 1960, Tacoma News Tribune, page 66.
Dec. 11, 1960, Tacoma News Tribune, page 33.
June 24, 1962, Tacoma News Tribune, page 69.
July 3, 1966, Tacoma News Tribune, page 12.
March 19, 1969, Tacoma News Tribune, page 54.
March 23, 1969, Tacoma News Tribune, page 20.
April 26, 1969, Tacoma News Tribune, page 2.
June 10, 1969, Tacoma News Tribune, page 4.
June 27, 1969, Tacoma News Tribune, page 95.
June 29, 1969, Tacoma News Tribune, page 37.
Feb. 1, 1970, Tacoma News Tribune, page 32.
Jan 4, 1973, Tacoma News Tribune, page 25.
Aug. 17, 1974, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Oct. 27, 1974, Tacoma News Tribune, page 5.
Nov. 1, 1974, Tacoma News Tribune, page 2.
March 12, 1975, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
March 22, 1975, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
April 15, 1975, Tacoma News Tribune, page 13.
July 17, 1975, Tacoma News Tribune, page 4.
Dec. 11, 1975, Tacoma News Tribune, page 55.
March 17, 1976, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
July 10, 1976, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
Sept. 12, 1976, Tacoma News Tribune, page 7.
March 20, 1977, Tacoma News Tribune, page 13.
May 19, 1978, Tacoma News Tribune, page 23.
Nov. 1, 1981, Tacoma News Tribune, page 116.
Nov. 1, 1981, Tacoma News Tribune, page 117.
Click to download pdf of article  from June 7, 1996, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
Click to download pdf of article  from May 2, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from May 17, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from May 19, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from May 23, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
Click to download pdf of article  from June 2, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from June 5, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from June 5, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune.
Click to download pdf of article  from June 13, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune.
Click to download pdf of article  from Sept. 26, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from Sept. 29, 2013, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from May 9, 2014, Tacoma News Tribune, page 3.
Click to download pdf of article  from May 24, 2015, Tacoma News Tribune, page 1.
Click to download pdf of article  from Sept. 18, 2015, Tacoma News Tribune, page 20.
December 2017 article in Grit City online.
Click to download pdf of article  from March 17, 2021, Tacoma News Tribune.
March 21, 2021, Tacoma News Tribune, page 4.
Click to download pdf of article  from June 30, 2021, Tacoma News Tribune.
July 1, 2021, Tacoma News Tribune, page 2.
July 7, 2021, Tacoma News Tribune, page 7.
July 11, 2021, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.

Seattle Now & Then: Local TV’s original cartooning weatherman, Bob Hale, 1956 and 1962

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: Bob Hale creates a weather cartoon in 1956 at the KING-TV studio at 320 Aurora Ave. N. (Courtesy Peter Blecha)
NOW: As engineering tech Bob Konis trains a camera on them, KING-TV meteorologists Rich Marriott and Rebecca Stevenson (holding her own weather cartoon) watch as Peter Blecha stands in for Bob Hale, displaying an original 1962 KING weather cartoon by Hale outside the KING studio in SoDo. Blecha has aggregated more than 200 Hale artifacts. He showcases Hale’s art on Facebook and penned a recently posted Hale essay at HistoryLink.org. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on Aug. 26, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Aug. 29, 2021

Old Sol came alive in Bob Hale’s wild art on early Seattle TV
By Clay Eals

Many of us ride a media treadmill, ingesting recorded events that we re-run at our command. But the most astonishing stuff of life often is ephemeral, solely in the moment. In other words, “You have to be there.”

Like the weather itself, Bob Hale, Seattle’s original cartooning TV weatherman, once wove such momentary magic. Maple Leaf-based historian Peter Blecha, though just a tyke at the time, was “there” to revel in it. He methodically collects all things Hale to keep his hero’s legacy alive.

Early TV weather reporting, Blecha says, was retrospective, documenting yesterday’s rain with only a touch of Farmer’s Almanac-like prediction. Hale helped change that. A commercial artist who left Bellingham for Seattle in 1938, Hale began doing illustrated forecasts for KING-TV’s fledgling news shows in 1955.

THEN 2: One of Peter Blecha’s many Bob Hale finds is this cover for a 1962 cartoon booklet, “Web Feet and Fir Trees.” It incorporates a trademark Hale self-portrait. During the World’s Fair year, he did many of his comic weather segments from the Coliseum (today’s Climate Pledge Arena under renovation), depicted here along with other fair symbols: the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center and the Monorail. (Courtesy Peter Blecha)

Hale’s magic derived from delivering jokey meteorological details while drawing wildly comic cartoons with personified characters such as Sammy Seagull. It was all live, in real time. Adults and kids alike couldn’t take their eyes off him.

His personal appearances, ad work and zany products (cans of “Pure Puget Sound Air”) ballooned. Clients ranged from Sunny Jim peanut butter to Seattle Rainiers baseball. His fame matched that of local TV’s other stars, from child-focused Wunda Wunda to sportscaster Rod Belcher.

A warm smile gave Hale a genial persona, while his eyeglasses and balding dome conveyed authority. But his calling card was a sharp visual style.

“He loved drawing people and critters in motion, Old Sol grimacing, shaking its fists, clouds angry with menacing eyes,” Blecha says. “It wasn’t just cutie-pie, easygoing fun. He was purposely adding drama to what otherwise could be a dry situation. He also was possibly projecting tensions from his own life.”

The tensions, Blecha says, included being a closeted gay man who battled alcohol addiction. His KING reign ended in 1963, the station eventually replacing him with cartoonist Bob Cram. Short stints followed in California TV and, in 1968-69, back in Seattle at KIRO-TV. Alcoholism recovery became a late-life cause. In 1983 at age 64, he died in obscurity.

Hale’s broadcast tapes do not survive, and he typically gave thousands of his KING drawings to kids. Undeterred, Blecha is preparing a cartoon-heavy Hale biography. It will reflect the quaint, in-the-moment sentiment of E.R. Babcock of Vashon Island, who, in a 1969 Seattle Times letter, lamented KIRO’s dismissal of Hale:

“In a world and area where protests, taxes, wars, politicians and you-name-it hog the news programs, it was a real pleasure to have a little humor on something, thank God, we mortals have no control of yet — and that is the weather.”

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!

Special thanks to Denise Frisino, Harry Faust, Barbara Manning, Libby Sundgren and Peter Blecha for their invaluable help with this installment.

Below are three additional photos and, in chronological order, 64 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

We also present two special videos: (1) a 360-degree Bob Hale residential room mural from 1946 previously unseen until now and (2) an assemblage of images and footage of Bob Cram that was shared at Cram’s 2017 memorial service.

VIDEO: Harry Faust of north Seattle describes the room of his house that is decorated with a 360-degree mural of skiing images drawn by Bob Hale in 1946. (Clay Eals)
This panorama shows the 360-degree mural of skiing images drawn in 1946 by Bob Hale on the bedroom walls of Harry Faust’s north Seattle home. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: This collection of video and images of Bob Cram was distributed at Cram’s memorial service in 2017. (Courtesy daughter Robin Hall)
Frames from 1959 TV commercial for a weight-loss product. (Courtesy Peter Blecha)
Frames from 1959 TV commercial for Tirend, a caffeine product. (Courtesy Peter Blecha)
May 9, 1951, Seattle Times, page 6.
April 11, 1954, Seattle Times, page 60.
April 29, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 94.
Dec. 2, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 63.
Jan. 9, 1957, Seattle Times, page 7.
July 3, 1957, Seattle Times, page 30.
Sept. 13, 1957, Seattle Times, page 22.
Jan. 27, 1958, Seattle Times, page 10.
Aug. 8, 1958, Seattle Times, page 36.
Sept. 17, 1958, Seattle Times, page 14.
April 22, 1959, Seattle Times, page 33.
July 30, 1959, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
March 19, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
July 15, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 54.
Aug. 1, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17, Emmett Watson column.
Aug. 29, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17, Emmett Watson column.
Sept. 9, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 119.
Oct. 14, 1962, Seattle Times, page 87.
Nov. 25, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 28.
Nov. 25, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 34.
Nov. 25, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 30.
Dec. 4, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Dec. 30, 1962,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 34.
March 24, 1963,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 71.
March 24, 1963, Seattle Times, page 61.
Aug. 27, 1963,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15, Emmett Watson column.
Sept. 2, 1963, Seattle Times, page 30.
Sept. 3, 1963,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19, Emmett Watson column.
Sept. 10, 1963, Seattle Times, page 16.
Sept. 29, 1963, Seattle Times, page 27.
Feb. 12, 1964,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6, Mike Mailway column.
Feb. 23, 1964, Tacoma News Tribune, page 8.
June 26, 1964, Seattle Times, page 43.
Sept. 30, 1965,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8, Emmett Watson column.
Jan. 30, 1966, Seattle Times, page 97.
Feb. 6, 1966, Seattle Times, page 100.
April 24, 1966,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 134.
May 9, 1966, Seattle Times, page 28.
July 14, 1966, Seattle Times, page 28.
Nov. 23, 1966,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2, Emmett Watson column.
Sept. 1, 1967, Seattle Times, page 20.
March 13, 1968, Seattle Times, page 57.
March 14, 1968,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5, Emmett Watson column.
March 29, 1968, Seattle Times, page 29.
April 30, 1969, Seattle Times, page 38.
May 1, 1969,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 50.
May 4, 1969,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 63.
May 9, 1969,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4, Emmett Watson column.
May 18, 1969, Seattle Times, page 146.
June 1, 1969,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 131.
June 5, 1969,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 64.
July 21, 1969,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6, Emmett Watson column.
Nov. 27, 1970,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 65, Emmett Watson column.
Dec. 17, 1970, Seattle Times, page 20.
July 2, 1972, Seattle Times, page 61.
Jan. 17, 1973, Tacoma News Tribune, page 34.
Feb. 1, 1973,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11, Emmett Watson column.
Aug. 18, 1974, Oregonian, page 167.
April 20, 1975,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
July 17, 1975,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11, Emmett Watson column.
Sept. 7, 1975,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
May 27, 1979, Seattle Times, page 168.
Dec. 6, 1981, Seattle Times, page 44.
June 13, 1982, Seattle Times, page 274.

Seattle Now & Then: entrance archway to Schmitz Park, 1918

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: This 1918 view looks south and slightly east along 59th Avenue Southwest through the Schmitz Park arch, which stood from 1913 to 1953. Alki Elementary School, which was built in 1912 and stands in upgraded form today, is faintly visible behind the 1917 Paige auto, whose slogan was “the most beautiful car in America.” (Debbie Lezon collection)
NOW1: At the same vantage, the northwest corner of today’s Alki Playfield, present-day family matriarch Vicki Schmitz (left) provides a human welcome while leaning on the hood of a gleaming 1940 Mercury convertible coupe owned by Lee Forte (second from right). In the driver’s seat is his son, Omri, and behind Lee is their neighbor and this column’s automotive consultant, Bob Carney. They are West Seattleites all. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on Aug. 12, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Aug. 15, 2021

Backed by a bustling beach, old-growth endures at Schmitz Park
By Clay Eals

Next time you pull out your phone and aim it to snap a picture, consider the scene playing out in exactly the opposite direction. Sometimes what’s behind the camera is as important as what’s in front. Context can be everything.

Our 1918 “Then” photo illustrates the point. We are in West Seattle, looking south and slightly east to a unique, old-growth preserve, Schmitz Park. Yet over our shoulder lies our city’s sandy, saltwater showcase, Alki Beach.

Beneath a stone-pillared arch leading to the park, three gents in hats, suits and ties, with an equally fashionable woman in the driver’s seat, are eyeing the camera — and the beach. These unknown adventurers have pulled a 1917 Paige touring car to the side of 59th Avenue near its intersection with Lander Street, beyond which the park’s sturdy trees are visible in the distance.

The philanthropic Schmitz family donated the hillside property to the city in portions from 1908 to 1912, with the proviso that it be maintained largely in its natural state. The arch, erected in 1913, served as a grand entry through which motorists could parade their vehicles and pedestrians could stroll to the sanctuary.

NOW2: The reverse view today, with Alki Beach one-half block away. (Clay Eals)

But how did visitors get here? Likely via the beach directly in back of the photographer, one-half block away.

Of course, Alki was the site of the city’s first non-Native settlement in 1851, thus its vaunted “birthplace.” When this photo was taken, 11 years after West Seattle’s annexation to Seattle, Alki had become a crowd-pleasing daytime destination and summertime retreat. Easing access was a just-opened wooden swing bridge across the Duwamish River mudflats, augmenting a streetcar that had served the coastline since 1908.

Alki Beach Park had opened formally in 1911, its bathing pavilion drawing 73,000 visitors in 1913 alone. A mile northeast, on piers above lapping waves stood the private Luna Park amusement center, all of which but a natatorium (saltwater pool) closed in 1913 after a raucous, seven-year run.

Given the pressures of Seattle’s gargantuan growth, it’s astonishing that bastions of beauty survive intact near this photographic site. Creek-centered and trail-lined, 53-acre Schmitz Park remains a sensory refuge from urban life.

Likewise, Alki Beach Park encircles the peninsula’s northern tip on the water side of Alki and Harbor avenues, still providing a panorama nonpareil. One shudders to envision the vanished vistas had the city not acquired and protected these precious parcels.

So as we navigate and reinvigorate our society post-virus, we might do well to express gratitude for the context of our lives, before and behind us, a century ago and now.

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 several interpretive signs from Schmitz Park plus, as provided and annotated by our ace automotive informant Bob Carney, a complement of vintage photos of cars on Alki Beach. Thanks, Bob!

Entry pillar to Schmitz Park. (Clay Eals)