All posts by jrsherrard

Just a guy, ya know...

Seattle Now & Then: Willowmoor (later Marymoor) Farm, 1921

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THEN: Taken from the hillside overlooking the estate in September 1921, this east-facing photo features 28-room Clise mansion at its center. Inspired by Dutch landscape, James Clise constructed a functional windmill along the winding Sammamish Slough. (Webster & Stevens, Courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW1: An aerial view captured 100 years later displays colorful fall foliage. The windmill, partly hidden by leaves, stands above a deviated slough, glimpsed in the lower left corner. The city of Redmond peeks out below the Cascade mountains. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW 2: The windmill remains a beloved Eastside landmark. The distant rear of Clise mansion can be seen to its left. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW 3: The back of Clise mansion, with its Tudor-style gables, is framed by fir trees. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW 4: The Sammamish Slough, connecting Lake Sammamish to Lake Washington, was lowered by nine feet in 1916 with the completion of the Ballard locks and ship canal. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Nov. 25, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Nov. 28, 2021)

Model Willowmoor (later Marymoor) farm sparkled from the start
By Jean Sherrard

A crown jewel among King County parks, Marymoor Park has sparkled through several incarnations.

At the north end of Lake Sammamish, Marymoor’s 640 acres attract an estimated 3 million visitors a year, boasting sports facilities, performance venues and a 40-acre, off-leash dog park.

Our “Then” photo, taken a century ago, features a landscape carved from a verdant river valley first inhabited by the Duwamish Tribe for at least 6,000 years.

Wealthy banker and investor James W. Clise, who had arrived in Seattle one day after the great fire of June 6, 1889, was lured to the property by its abundant fish and game. In 1904, he built a hunting lodge on 78 acres along the Sammamish Slough and named the estate Willowmoor, after the trees flourishing near the water.

What began as summer retreat from city life, however, soon evolved into something more substantial. Within three years, Clise had embraced the role of a gentleman farmer. He added 350 acres, converted the lodge into a 28-room, Tudor-style mansion and proposed moving there with his family from their Queen Anne home.

In a 1961 Seattle Times interview, daughter Ruth Clise Colwell remembered her horror at the prospect: “It seemed to me that it would be like living at the end of the earth and that I would never see my friends again.”

Her fears soon eased when the estate became a bustling hive of activity. Her ambitious father imported “tough and wiry” Morgan horses from New England and filled the farm with hardy Ayrshire cattle imported from Scotland. Clise deemed the stock ideal for the Pacific Northwest’s similar climate. “Father’s great interest,” Colwell said, “was to improve the condition of the farm and better the life of the farmer.”

Willowmoor’s model dairy was considered years ahead of its time, and milk from the free-ranging cattle was roundly prized for a rich flavor and high cream content. Convinced of its health benefits, carmaker Henry Ford insisted on serving milk only from Clise cows at his hospital in Dearborn, Michigan. Visitors from around the world studied Clise’s innovative methods.

The showcase eventually expanded to 28 buildings and 40 employees. Clise traveled widely, particularly to agricultural countries, continually seeking to improve and expand upon his bold experiment.

In 1921, in failing health, Clise sold the farm. A later lessee, Walter Nettleton, changed its name to Marymoor to memorialize a daughter killed in a childhood accident. In 1963, King County voters funded Marymoor as a park. Ten years later, Clise mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


To view our 360 degree video, please click here.


Seattle Now & Then: Pike Place Market Buskers (featuring Artis the Spoonman), 1975

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THEN: In 1975, white-faced Artis the Spoonman spoon-feeds a crowd with his percussive legerdemain. He remembers several faces in the crowd, including the scowling woman at right, as regulars in “the commons.” The decrepit Corner Market Building in the background soon was restored. In the early 1990s, Artis was famously featured in Seattle-based Soundgarden’s breakout hit “Spoonman.” (Frank Shaw)
NOW1: Accordion Cat, a performer in the Market for 13 years, treats passersby to a plaintive rendition of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” where the Artis the Spoonman once played. Accordion Cat’s cat-head mask is worn not just for Halloween but all year round. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Jonny Hahn, a familiar Market presence who has played his piano on a Pike Place corner for 35 years, has a plea: Lower cell phones and hear the music. (Jean Sherrard)

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

Buskers bolster the Market soundtrack, but for how long?
By Jean Sherrard

Some sights peel back your eyelids and jet right into the brain, never to be forgotten.

In my mid-teens, I acted in a 1973 production of “Hamlet” at the tiny Stage One Theater in Post Alley, just north of today’s Gum Wall. Post-rehearsal, as I climbed narrow concrete steps up to Pike Place Market, a busker dressed all in white and sporting a mime’s makeup danced and lunged through a cheering crowd.

Armed with a set of spoons, he battered them against every available surface — from his knees, teeth and cheeks to pillars, sidewalks and banisters — scooping rhythmic staccatos out of thin air. He was Artis the Spoonman, and I was spellbound.

“I’d been playing spoons since I was 10,” recalls Artis, now living in Port Townsend, “and always wanted to be a performer.” Moving to Seattle from Santa Cruz, he frequented Fremont taverns, playing jukebox duets for tips, and soon established a fanbase.

Next stop: Pike Place Market, not yet a tourist haven but a place where locals gathered to shop and stroll.

“Aside from street fairs, the Market was one of the only venues for buskers in the early 1970s,” Artis says. “We had a busking community, share and share alike, performing in the commons for the people.”

Pianist Jonny Hahn, originally from Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, still shares that sensibility. Busking since 1986, he embodies the Market’s soundtrack.

“I play a combination of lengthy improvisational instrumental pieces and songs with lefty political lyrics,” he says. “The Market has been my home because of the artistic freedom quotient.”

Wrestling his 64-key acoustic piano onto a Pike Place corner every day, he bears bittersweet witness to a particular strain of social evolution.

“It started with smartphones,” he says. “People’s attention spans were diminished by orders of magnitude. Constant texting and Googling and taking photos completely altered public space.”

Dealing a further blow was Covid. In March 2020, Market busking was prohibited. Hahn relocated, playing his piano beneath the old Green Lake Aqua Theater until the Market reopened to performers last June 25.

Public response to his return moved Hahn deeply: “It was just heart energy spilling over. People just kept saying how glad they were to have me back. The music was something they really, really missed.”

However, few other performers have returned to a place once considered a busker’s paradise. Will they come back? Hahn is wary of predictions.

“I don’t have any idea what will happen next month or next year,” he says, “but I am committed to the Pike Place Market.”


Click through to our 360 degree video, featuring Accordion Cat playing a soulful cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

Plus a couple more photos of Artis the Spoonman in an earlier Market, along with 1983 video footage of Artis at the Winnipeg Folk Festival:

Another photo of Artis the Spoonman, taken on the same day in 1975. (Frank Shaw)
Artis playing with longtime partner Jim Page in 1992.
VIDEO (0:25): Click the photo to see Artis shredding the stage while Steve Goodman (right) looks on at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This link is to the entire 57-minute “Festival of Friends” video from Twin Cities PBS, and you can find the Artis footage at time code 47:03-47:28.

Seattle Now & Then: Eagle Falls on the Skykomish, 1916 & 1926

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THEN 1: Eagle Falls’ lower basin, to the right of our posing gent, provides a popular picnicking spot and local swimming hole. (University of Washington LIbraries, Special Collections)
NOW 1: An aspiring student filmmaker captured in mid-air vaults across “Hell’s Gate,” avoiding a plunge into the glacier fed Skykomish River. Today’s gap has widened by several feet due to railroad blasting. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN 2: Al Faussett tried to shoot Eagle Falls, but his cigar-shaped craft overturned halfway down. A single spectator can be seen at upper right, perched on a cliff across the river. (University of Washington LIbraries, Special Collections)
NOW 2: Young videographers find their footing across a much-reduced Eagle Falls. Today’s falls might not challenge Evel Knievel, but its dangers are still significant. Icy currents and a treacherous undertow have produced many injuries and several fatalities over the years. (Jean Sherrard)

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

Eagle Falls near Index: ‘An easy jump, but hell if you don’t make it’

By Jean Sherrard

Lee Pickett was surely the most prolific photographer to grace Snohomish County. His 1910 move from Seattle to the tiny mountain town of Index provided Pickett with opportunities aplenty to document the burgeoning highways and railroads and the booming logging and mining industries.

In the 1920s, he was appointed official photographer of the Great Northern Railroad. His stunning images recorded construction of eight-mile Cascade Tunnel (1929) — then the longest in the western hemisphere — and quickly cemented his reputation.

His more whimsical portraits reveal Pickett’s playful side. This pair of “then” photos, snapped a decade apart, feature Eagle Falls along the Skykomish River, three miles east of Index.

The first, from 1916, features boulders at the falls’ base, a perennial picnic spot and swimming hole for locals. The gent in jacket and fedora poses stiffly while, across the bottom of the negative, Pickett has written, in the reverse script mastered by period photographers: “Hell’s Gate at Eagle Falls. An easy jump — but — hell if you don’t make it.”

In our “now” photo at the same location, the boulders have shifted position, their top halves seemingly lopped away. These changes are due not to erosion or earthquakes but to explosives intended to reduce steep grades for adjacent Great Northern track beds.

During a recent visit, a members of a videography class from Hillside Student Community watch as 15-year old Will Maltz, trained in the urban gymnastic sport of parkour, leaps the gap between boulders.

Our second “then” photo features the upturned canoe of local lumberjack (and Pickett regular) Al Faussett. In 1926, Fox Pictures offered $1,500 to anyone who would row through nearby Sunset Falls. Faussett built a sturdy craft to survive the ordeal, but Fox reneged on its offer.

Undaunted, the newly minted daredevil persisted, reveling in his growing celebrity, but cashing in proved elusive. On Sept. 6, 1926, hundreds of onlookers crowded the Eagle Falls banks to watch Faussett risk life and limb. Most declined to pay for the privilege, and the drama of his descent fizzled when his canoe stuck partway down the run. A friend soon dislodged it with a long pole.

Faussett spent the next three years shooting Northwest waterfalls, breaking bones and suffering repeated concussions until retiring on his waterlogged laurels.

The photographer Pickett (1882-1959) ended his career in the late 1940s, health ravaged by decades of exposure to developing chemicals. Today, his Index home houses the Index Historical Society’s Pickett Museum.

More videographer from Hillside pose near the ‘easy jump’
Debris left behind by the railroad

And for a 360 degree video view of Eagle Falls, along with Jean’s narration, head in this direction.

In a late breaking addition, photo historian Ron Edge sends along the following Pickett portraits.

Al Faussett, with his original craft, the Skykomish Queen

Click twice on the following panoramas to zoom in and explore. To create these spectacular images, Pickett used the Cirkut camera manufactured by the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company. Thanks, Ron, for these remarkable photos of a vanished landscape.

A panoramic view of Scenic, Washington, just west of Stevens Pass – now the starting point for a hike to some spectacular alpine lakes.
Pickett’s panoramic view of Tye (initially Wellington), Washington. After the completion of the tunnel in 1929, Tye was abandoned and now must be listed among our state’s ghost towns.


Seattle Now & Then: Clallam County Courthouse, 1914

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THEN: The nearly completed Clallam County Courthouse looms above the Lincoln Street ravine, whose elevated plank roadway provided temporary passage during the extensive regrading. Snow-topped Olympics suggest that this exposure is from late fall of 1914. The four-faced clock’s maker, E. Howard and Co., also supplied Seattle’s King Street Station Tower clock (1906). (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: Today’s courthouse at 319 Lincoln St. continues to house county administrative departments, the county prosecutor and county permitting office as well as courtrooms in use today. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. On this late summer day, the Olympics are largely smothered in smoke. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 16, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 19, 2021)

Tower lets Port Angeles hear a regular ring of promise

By Jean Sherrard

On a warm evening in mid-August, smoke from hundreds of British Columbian fires had crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca, turning the sun an unsettling red over Port Angeles, where I’d paused for a photo and a bite to eat. Offering solace, the Clallam County courthouse bell tolled the hour as it had for over a century.

For Port Angeles, 1914 was a banner year, pregnant with promise. A gleaming hydroelectric dam had just been erected on the Elwha River, supplying the county seat’s electrical needs. The city’s first large sawmill was built on the waterfront and connected by rail to stands of virgin timber to the west. A vast regrade was well under way, raising the waterfront, filling gullies and lowering the steeper hills. And work on the new courthouse, featured in our “Then” photo, was largely complete.

Evidence of the area’s human habitation reaches back almost three millennia, with two Klallam villages sharing the harbor for at least 400 years. They called it I’e’nis (reportedly meaning “good beach”), which morphed into two names now in use: Ediz Hook (the city’s long and protective signature sand spit jutting east into the Strait) and snow-fed Ennis Creek, which empties into the bay.

Port Angeles’ natural, deep-water harbor was noted by Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza in 1791 and dubbed Puerto de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Port of Our Lady of the Angels). One year later, British Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver, a staunch Anglican, shortened the name to its current two words.

In the mid-1850s, the first permanent white settlers arrived, staking Donation Land Act claims near Native villages. Over succeeding decades, land speculators, shady political operators, a utopian colony and pulp and paper mill operations flourished while ejecting the Klallam from their ancestral homes.

Designed by early 20th century Seattle architect Francis W. Grant, the two-story neo-classical brick and terra cotta-trimmed courthouse was nothing if not aspirational. Built to replace a wooden structure destabilized by the regrade, its graceful, sturdy lines reflected bright boomtown hopes. Locals also appreciated its rock-bottom price of $64,000.

The four-faced clock/bell tower — today proudly featured on the Clallam County seal — was installed after a serendipitous discovery. Francis Grant unearthed an unclaimed, Boston-based E. Howard and Co. clock, manufactured in 1880 and shipped around Cape Horn to Seattle. It languished in storage for decades until the architect encouraged Clallam County to pick it up for a $5,115 song.

It continues to sing to this day, faithfully striking every half hour.


No 360 video this week due to the theft of my monopod on a beach near La Push. However, a few oceanside photos may help salve the loss.

Seattle Now & Then: University National Bank, 1925

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THEN: In 1925, streetcar tracks gracefully inscribe brick-lined curves in the paved intersection before the renamed University National Bank, which anchors the northeast corner of 45th and University Way. (courtesy MOHAI)
NOW: Michael Oaksmith, President of Development for Hunters Capital stands with the Beezer brothers’ creation across the street. The city-landmarked building has been lovingly remodeled, with a restoration of much of its early elegance. After 108 years as a bank, most recently a Wells Fargo branch, the structure is repurposed for shops and offices. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 9, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 12, 2021)

Twin architects banked on a legacy of faith plus finance

By Jean Sherrard

Keen to serve both God and Mammon, Louis and Michael Beezer defied scriptural maxims to the contrary. Twins whose architectural firm produced edifices for faith and finance, they skillfully negotiated the two worlds.

Born on July 6, 1869, in Bellefont, Pennsylvania, the Beezers arrived in Seattle in 1907. Different from competing firms, they were hands-on designers, overseeing every step of the construction process.

In 1908, their vision for a new “mosquito fleet” terminal at Colman Dock, with its Italianate clock tower and dome, drew acclaim, Thereafter, the industrious pair enjoyed commissions from Alaska to California.

The Beezers were devout Roman Catholics whose extensive work for the Archdiocese of Seattle included the Immaculate Conception School (1909), Dominican Priory of the Blessed Sacrament (1909–25) and Edward J. O’Dea High School (1923). After the St. James Cathedral dome collapsed beneath a 1916 record snow, a trusted Louis Beezer helped rebuild the destroyed sanctuary while improving its abysmal acoustics.

Financial institutions provided bread to match the ecclesiastical butter. The Beezers’ neo-classic banks throughout the West include the focus of this week’s column.

Having relocated from downtown digs in 1895, the University of Washington was booming — in both enrollment and revenue. Its beleaguered comptroller regularly ferried cash and checks to central-city repositories, spending a half-day or more in weary commute.

Providing a sober solution was the University District’s first financial institution, Washington State Bank, founded in 1906 by professors, administrators and business leaders — and we do mean sober. By state law, the sale of alcohol was banned within two miles of campus.

By 1913, the bank, expanding with the university, commissioned the Beezers to erect a stately, two-story structure at 45th and University Way. It was such a calm, rural intersection that neighbors described choruses of frogs serenading from nearby ponds and swamps.

The establishment’s ground floor and basement offered opulence and security, while a lofty, second-floor ballroom and concert hall welcomed fraternity and community dances.

Our “Then” photo depicts a livelier U-District, packed with shops and businesses catering to students. A banner stretched across 45th Street publicizing a “University Legion Frolic” accurately dates the photo to 1925. In late September that year, the new American Legion Hall on the southwest corner of 10th Avenue and 50th Street hosted the affair, which promised dancing, “free vaudeville” and a “Young Woman’s Popularity Contest.”

We offer a fiery footnote: In 1976, the legion sold its hall to Randy Finley, who converted it to the Seven Gables Theater. Shuttered in 2017, the charming moviehouse burned down last Christmas Eve.


We visit 45th and University Way for a 360 degree video featuring the column. To watch, click here.

Mike Oaksmith and Noah Macia admire the downstairs vault of the University National Bank.
The spacious second floor was once used as a ballroom.


Seattle Now & Then: Waterfront Fiction, 1936

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THEN 1: Vessels representing several classes populate this postcard: (from left) the steamer Iroquois, the ferry Kalakala, the tug Goliah, a pair of mystery craft that stumped even our experts, the Coast Guard cutter Tallapoosa and the Army Corps of Engineers dredger Michie. Also note the painted-on (and super-sized) Mount Baker. This historical postcard is still quite popular on eBay. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
THEN 2: Charles F. Laidlaw’s unretouched 1936 original bears a handful of docked ships: (from left) at Pier 6 (now Pier 57 with the Great Wheel), the British freighter M.S. Devon City; at Pier 3 (now Pier 54, home to Ivar’s), the Bureau of Indian Affairs cutter North Star; and at Pier 1 (now Ferry Piers 50-52), the freighter SS Susan V. Luckenbach. Mid-World War II, on May 1, 1944, the military renumbered all the piers. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW: This aerial photo was taken on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. The Washington State ferry arriving at Colman Dock is the genuine article. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Aug. 19, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Aug. 22, 2021)

An aerial depiction of Seattle’s too-busy bay feels right for its time
By Jean Sherrard

The camera never lies, so goes the maxim. Yet photographers have stretched the truth on occasion, long before Photoshop made fakery a breeze.

Last Feb. 27, Clay Eals and I chartered a helicopter, the left door removed for photography. This week’s “Now” photo, from 800 feet above the waterfront, illustrates the potential for spectacle and perspective.

Seeing this elevated view, photo historian Ron Edge responded by sending me our serendipitous first “Then” photo — a shot I’d never seen. “Pretty close!” Ron marveled.

It was a prevalent postcard of a vibrant Elliott Bay, taken Sept. 15, 1936, by pilot/aerial photographer Charles F. Laidlaw, who apparently captured a miracle of near-misses. In it, various crisscrossing vessels provide visual bon-bons for today’s maritime historians.

Most recognizable at lower left is the beloved, streamlined ferry Kalakala, placed into service in 1935 and departing Colman Dock on the Bremerton run that she would make for 30 years. Above left, the night steamer Iroquois arrives from Victoria via Port Angeles. Puffing from Pier 3 (now Pier 54) is the sturdy oceangoing tug Goliah, built in 1882 and later converted from steam to diesel. Barreling south is the Coast Guard cutter Tallapoosa, fresh from fleet duties with the Bering Sea Patrol. At lower right, the Army Corps of Engineers dredger Michie heads due west.

Whew! Such a spectacular view of Seattle’s busy port.

Trouble is, it’s mostly fiction. Skillfully inserted, complete with brushed-in wakes and waves, none of these vessels (identified by veteran ship historians Michael Mjelke and Paul Marlow) were present in Laidlaw’s original photo, our second “Then.”

One explanation for the empty bay lies in the widening ripples of the Great Depression. Imports and exports had plummeted since the 1929 crash, threatening maritime commerce with ruin.

By the mid-1930s, widespread labor unrest sporadically shuttered ports along the West Coast. Under sympathetic President Franklin Roosevelt, unions flourished. William Randolph Hearst’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer even paused publication for the first time since its 1863 founding due to striking writers and editors.

What’s more, Puget Sound’s Mosquito Fleet, dozens of lively craft ferrying passengers and cargo bowed to grander but fewer vessels. “Suddenly, in the mid-(19)30s, people found that their Fleet was gone,” wrote marine historian Gordon Newell. “(Seeing) the quiet reaches of the Sound, they began to feel that something fine and exciting was missing.”

In that context, Laidlaw’s marine manipulations feel right for the time, a quiescent harbor being no subject for a popular postcard. With no end in sight to the Depression, maybe Seattle was ready for a boost, even one fabricated with a photographer’s fib.


In place of Jean Sherrard‘s usual 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect, below we have aerial video of downtown by Clay Eals.

Here is a two-and-a-half-minute video tour of downtown Seattle from the air on Feb. 27, 2021. Jean Sherrard takes stills while Clay Eals takes video.

Seattle Now & Then: “We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration”

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The cover of “We Hereby Refuse”

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Aug. 5, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Aug. 8, 2021)

In wartime fear, ‘empathy is the only thing that can bind us’
By Jean Sherrard

This week we interview Frank Abe, author of the graphic novel ‘”We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration” (Chin Music Press and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, 2021), illustrated by Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki, and co-authored by Tamiko Nimura.

This powerful account of courage and confrontation offers compelling lessons for us today.

THEN1: In Ishikawa’s illustration of departure from King Street Station, detained immigrant husbands and fathers clutch paper sacks they were given to replace their confiscated suitcases. At right are the outstretched arms of wives and children screaming their goodbyes in Japanese and English.
NOW1: Seattle writer Frank Abe (left), also a documentarian and ex-KIRO reporter, stands beside illustrator Ross Ishikawa, cartoonist and animator, on the King Street Station platform. (Jean Sherrard)

Jean: When and where does this story begin?

Frank: It begins with the FBI arresting 150 immigrant leaders in Seattle in the hysteria following the start of World War II. The men were marched in the pre-dawn hours from the U.S. Immigration Detention Building to King Street Station, where The Seattle Times captured a photo of them on the platform boarding a train for the Department of Justice alien internment camp at Fort Missoula, Montana. When I first saw this photo, I knew it would be central to the story of Jim Akutsu, one of our three main characters.

THEN2: The Seattle Times photo of March 19, 1942, that inspired Abe and Ishikawa.

Jean: Why a graphic novel?

Frank: It matches the epic sweep of a movie at a fraction of the production cost. I asked Ross to draw Jim’s mother as clawing through the bars and screaming to her husband after reading the description in the Times of “tear-stained eyes” and the din of “staccato chatter” in the morning air.

Jean: Your book takes an uncompromising view of systemic exclusion and racism.

Frank: Many fathers were separated from their families, who were themselves incarcerated at camps like Minidoka, Idaho. Jim and his brother Gene refused to be drafted until the government restored their citizenship rights, starting with their freedom. We emphasize that the government was responsible for targeting these families based solely on their race.

A full page from ‘We Hereby Refuse’

Jean: The storytelling has a documentary feel to it but also feels intensely personal.

Frank: Everything is drawn from the historical record. Readers can immerse themselves in the personal stories of our characters in a way that generates empathy. Empathy is the only thing that can bind us when the same elements of wartime fear and ignorance of the “other” survive to this day.

Jean: So the empathy signals a warning bell along with possible remedy?

Frank: Our book opens with the FBI knocking on the door to arrest Jim’s father. It ends with ICE breaking down the door to deport unwanted immigrants. In 1941, America feared a second attack from the Pacific. Just one year ago, we had a pandemic-era president dog-whistle “China virus” and “Kung flu,” received by some as permission to kick and punch Asian Americans on the street. Some things haven’t changed.


This week features a special 360 degree video of Jean’s 12-minute interview with Frank Abe at King Street Station. Includes select illustrations from “We Hereby Refuse” plus Frank’s reading from the John Okada’s classic “No-No Boy.” Not to be missed. (And if you’d prefer to hear just the audio of Frank’s chat with Jean, click right here!)

Illustrator Ross Ishikawa and writer Frank Abe pose in the courtyard of King Street Station.


Seattle Now & Then: Jimi Hendrix plays Sick’s Stadium, 1970

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THEN1: Little did 16-year-old Dave DePartee, standing near the front of the centerfield stage, know that he would be snapping one of the few surviving photos of Jimi Hendrix’s final Seattle concert on July 26, 1970. Over Hendrix’s shoulder, apartments with a view into Sicks Stadium stand atop Tightwad Hill. At upper right, a corner of the stadium scoreboard advertises Chevron gas. Jimi’s orange-red outfit provides the sole splash of color on a gray day. (Courtesy Dave DePartee)
THEN2: Erected in 1938 by Rainier Brewing Company owner Emil Sick for his Pacific Coast League baseball team the Seattle Rainiers, Sick’s (then Sicks’, then Sicks) Stadium stood between Rainier Avenue and today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This view looks west from Tightwad Hill on June 15, 1938, when the Seattle Rainiers played their first home game in the new stadium. (Courtesy David Eskenazi)
NOW: In a southeast section of Lowe’s Home Improvement on Rainier Avenue, Dave DePartee, playing air guitar with an axe, and local sports historian David Eskenazi pose near the original location of Hendrix’s stage. Eskenazi is also an artist and Hendrix fan. In 1980, while attending the University of Washington, his original pencil drawing was made into a poster by Tower Records to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hendrix’s death. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on July 22, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 25, 2021)

Jimi Hendrix makes his final home run at Sick’s Stadium
By Jean Sherrard

On Sunday, July 26, 1970, it was a typical outdoor Seattle scenario, rainy but right.

In our early teens, my friends and I hunkered on Tightwad Hill, the steep and legendary bluff across Empire Way (today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Way) from Sicks Stadium. Generations of baseball fans had preceded us there, finding catbird seats for minor-league games in Rainier Valley.

Today, however, rock was the draw. Two groups, Cactus and Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, opened the show. But we were there for the headliner — Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix, playing his fourth-ever hometown concert.

Raised in the Central District, the throbbing heart of Seattle’s Black community, self-taught Hendrix had never learned to read music. Left-handed, he turned his guitar and the world upside-down. In just four years, he’d become a superstar, astounding audiences with revolutionary (sometimes incendiary) musicality. At 27, he was one of rock’s greatest instrumentalists, though the pressures of his meteoric rise were mounting.

Inside the post-Rainiers, Angels and Pilots ballpark, thousands of eager fans including today’s “Then” photographer, 16-year-old Dave DePartee, were watching from the muddy infield. This column’s founder, Paul Dorpat, then a concert promoter and underground newspaper publisher, stood backstage.

From Tightwad Hill, the stage was a postage stamp, but the loud rock pummeled us. Fans repeatedly tried to sneak over chain-link and wood-slat fences, painfully confronted by rent-a-cops spraying mace from catwalks. Barriers were breached only once, by a trio who lifted a fence and slid under to Tightwad huzzahs.

Just before Hendrix began, harder rains fell from a steel-wool sky. The mix of water and electric instruments was worrisome, but after rubber mats were installed, the show resumed.

And here’s where the narrative flips. Consider, if you will, an exhausted, moody Hendrix playing before a home audience, the backstage jammed with family, friends and obligations. What followed was a note of generosity echoing from Jimi’s youth.

On Sept. 1, 1957, Elvis Presley had played Sicks’ Stadium for an ecstatic crowd of 16,000. Short the buck-fifty admission, 14-year-old Hendrix watched the show perched atop — you guessed it — Tightwad Hill.

Thirteen years later, Hendrix instructed the stadium crew to throw gates open and let in hundreds of young cheapskates, including me, from the same bluff. Roaring approval, we scrambled down the incline and inside, thumbing our noses at the defanged rent-a-cops.

Tragically, this was Hendrix’s last concert in the continental United States. Less than two months later, on Sept. 18, he died in London of an accidental drug overdose. His sonic earthquake continues to shake and inspire to this day.


A handful of treats, including Jean’s 360-degree video accompanying this column, recorded on location at Lowe’s Home Improvement (not far from the stage in Sick’s centerfield). To see it, click right here.

Also, check out David Eskenazi’s artwork for the poster printed by Tower Records on the 10th anniversary of Hendrix’s death.

Tower Record sold many hundreds of these posters. Dave recounts that Jimi’s brother Leon and father Al Hendrix stopped by and added their own signatures at a signing event
A Seattle Times article about David’s poster scribed by rock critic Patrick MacDonald
More original art by David Eskenazi
There must be some kind of way outta here / Said the joker to the thief…

And if we ask nicely, Clay Eals may relate the story of his letter which appeared in Life magazine. (Happy birthday, Clay!)

= = = = =

Clay here on July 29: Thanks, Jean, and I apologize for posting this section a week later. My daughter’s six-day visit from Philly to celebrate my birth put a lot of stuff on hold, and I’m just catching up!

Indeed, as anyone who was around in fall 1970 can well remember, the overdose deaths of counterculture rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin hit hard and stirred a range of emotions. In particular, the essay below by Albert Goldman struck a chord, in part because it appeared in well-known and well-read Life magazine . (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Essay by Albert Goldman in the Oct. 16, 1970, edition of Life magazine.

On a whim, I decided to write a letter for Life to consider publishing. Imagine my delight to receive this hand-signed reply:

Oct. 26, 1970, letter from Life magazine’s A. Mate Scott to Clay Eals.

Imagine my further delight to receive this letter four days later:

Oct. 30, 1970, letter from “RFG” at Life magazine to Clay Eals.

Then came publication of the Nov. 6, 1970, edition of Life magazine itself. (The cover featured then-President Richard Nixon in youthful days, holding a violin.) My letter appeared at the top of page 21:

Letter by Clay Eals published in Nov. 6, 1970, edition of Life magazine.

Particularly in retrospect, my letter seems inartful. (Why did I use the word “thing”?) But I’m sure my 19-year-old self was trying to drill down to the emotions of the matter. I suspect the Life editors printed my missive because it had a more positive tone than a previous letter from someone else who slammed the Goldman essay.

Only two years later, Life magazine (which had started up in 1936) shut down. It rebounded in 1978 but shut down for good in 2000. This means that there are people in their mid-20s who have never seen a copy of Life magazine on a newsstand. In our short-attention-span society, surely many don’t even know what Life magazine was.

Much the pity. Large-format, photo-filled Life magazine was once a big deal, certainly a pace-setter. Where is today’s Life magazine? Probably in a zillion pieces spread out all over the internet.

Reminds me of a joke told from the stage by Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. His arms spread wide, he said the most important magazine used to be Life. Narrowing his arms, he said the most important magazine became People. Narrowing his arms further, he said People had been supplanted by Us. And he predicted the future’s most important magazine would be — you guessed it — Me!

Seattle Now & Then: An A-Y-P Aerial, 1909

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: From his lofty perch in the A-Y-P’s “captive balloon” (at least as high as the Space Needle’s 605 feet), photographer Vern Grinnold captured the central hub of the fair. Geyser Basin dominates at lower center. The UW’s Parrington Hall, built in 1902, can be seen at top, partly cropped above the U.S. Government building’s imposing dome. (courtesy MOHAI)
THEN2: The “captive balloon” was tethered southeast of the main A-Y-P grounds. (courtesy Dan Kerlee)
THEN3: The balloon’s basket provided tight quarters and certainly was not for the faint of heart. (courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW: Squared off by dignified structures of academia, Drumheller Fountain today is a central feature of Rainier Vista, a long walkway of wide lawns and cherry trees. At top, just left of center, Parrington Hall still can be seen through greenery. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 27, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 30, 2021 )

Up, up and away in our AYP Balloon
By Jean Sherrard

To mark this week’s return to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held on the University of Washington campus, we must give credit where credit is due — to French ingenuity. From coq au vin to kitesurfing, movie cameras to motorcycles, France has perennially delighted the world with marriages of innovation.

The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne, had launched the first piloted aeronautical ascent in 1783 (to this day, hot air balloons in France are called montgolfières). Meanwhile, Louis Daguerre, creator of the daguerreotype photographic process, had captured the earliest cityscape portraits in 1838.

In 1858, an inspired Paris photographer, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (known by the sobriquet “Nadar”), wedded the two technologies. Leveraging unwieldy equipment into a hot-air balloon basket, he singlehandedly invented aerial photography. Fifty-one years later, this came in handy at Seattle’s first world’s fair.

Our A-Y-P aerial, though not high-tech for its time, offered breathtaking spectacle, showing off the exposition’s Beaux Arts structures (merci again, France) that partially encircle Geyser Basin. Looking northwest, this view features the imposing, domed U.S. Government Building, while the ornate, curved structures on both sides of the basin focused on mining and agriculture.

The UW’s Drumheller Fountain (aka Frosh Pond, where first-year students once were dunked in ritual initiation) later was constructed on the watery footprint of the 1909 basin. But few other A-Y-P artifacts endured. Meant to be as ephemeral as a stage set or a wedding cake, the A-Y-P’s gleaming “white city” soon gave way to the more permanent and austere structures of Collegiate Gothic architecture.

A wider version of this panorama appeared Sept. 19, 1909, in The Seattle Times, filling the front page below a banner headline, “Remarkable View of Exposition Taken from Captive Balloon.” A subhead explained, “After Many Futile Attempts Camera Artists Succeed in Getting Fine Bird’s-Eye View of Exposition Grounds.”

At first, the weather had refused to cooperate, ruining hundreds of negatives. But finally, the Times reported, “the haze which has been hanging over the grounds for the last month lifted, and atmospheric conditions for aeronautical photographs were ideal.”

The balloon’s cramped basket accommodated no more than two photographers outfitted with bulky cameras (sans tripod) and must have supplied equal parts claustro- and acrophobia. Augmenting that anxious mix, “the great gas bag,” the Times said, “pulled heavily on the retaining wire and shifted about in the wind.”

A single exposure turned out “particularly fine.” Snapped just 30 minutes before rains resumed, the photo was “as distinct as if it had been taken from the ground.” Despite the difficulties, proclaimed one photographer, “we are more than satisfied with the result.”


To see our 360 degree video featuring Geyser Basin/Drumheller Fountain — and hear Jean narrate the column, click right here.



Seattle Now & Then: The Naval Reserve Armory (aka MOHAI), a 1949 Aerial

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: On March 2, 1949, the Naval Reserve Armory anchors Lake Union. The USS Puffer, a legendary submarine, peeks out from its slip. Further north, the Seattle Gas Company’s gas plant puffs out smoke. Interstate 5 is a mere gleam in a planner’s eye. (courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW1: On the morning of Feb. 27, MOHAI holds pride of place in B. Marcus Priteca’s reinforced concrete masterpiece. Next door, the Center for Wooden Boats stands where destroyers once berthed. On Lake Union’s north side, Gas Works has become one of Seattle’s favorite parks. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN2: On its Sept. 29, 2012, opening day in the remodeled Armory, MOHAI sparkles. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Recently re-opened as pandemic prohibitions ease, the museum welcomes cautious but eager visitors. The Grand Atrium features Boeing’s original B-1 float plane, the Lincoln Toe Truck and the original neon Rainier Beer “R” that once shone at Exit 163 of Interstate 5. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW3: Jasper Stewart impatiently waits his turn at the MOHAI periscope while brother Tristan scans for enemy vessels. At right, sister Kathryn absorbs waterborne history in the McCurdy Family Maritime Gallery. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 13, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 16, 2021 )

To salute childhood memories of MOHAI, we go high
By Jean Sherrard

French novelist Marcel Proust famously described dunking madeleines — scallop-shaped cookies — in lime blossom tea, opening a sensory gateway to the lost world of childhood.

Our 69-year-old regional treasure, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI, pronounced by locals as if inversely greeting one of the Three Stooges) also evokes such transport.

To jog my memory, I recently posted a question on social media: “What do you recall from school field trips to MOHAI?”

The result: hundreds of citations from adults once bused as students to MOHAI’s original Montlake building. The top 10:

  • The fully furnished Victorian dollhouse.
  • The 10-by-24-foot painted mural of the Great Seattle Fire.
  • The actual glue pot that sparked the fire.
  • The hydroplanes (specifically Slo-Mo-Shun IV).
  • The diorama depicting the Denny Party’s arrival and Duwamish welcome at Alki.
  • The stuffed gorilla Bobo, formerly of Woodland Park Zoo (and an Anacortes home).
  • The 43-foot-long working periscope.
  • Suspended by wires, Boeing’s unique B-1 wooden float plane, built in 1919.
  • The original Rainier Beer neon “R.”
  • Carved figureheads from wooden ships.

Honorable mentions included a 5-inch deck gun from the USS Colorado, a J.P. Patches exhibit and ex-President Warren G. Harding’s pajamas.

Pulling back from the intimacy of memory to vertiginous spectacle, our twin aerial photographs —separated by 72 years — afford us a north-facing, bird’s-eye view of present-day MOHAI and its surroundings.

Our 1949 “Then” image, from photo historian Ron Edge, features MOHAI’s current home, the Naval Reserve Armory on Lake Union’s south shore. Designed by Seattle architects William R. Grant and B. Marcus Priteca (best known for his majestic Art Deco movie palaces),* the Armory was dedicated on July 4, 1942, during the uncertain months following the U.S. entry into World War II.

Post-war, its campus aided recruiting, training and mustering. Sometimes it served as a community dance hall. Docked in its slips might be decommissioned minesweepers, destroyers and the occasional submarine — significantly the USS Puffer, survivor of a record 38 hours of depth-charging and a perennial tour magnet until 1960, when it was sold for scrap.

MOHAI moved to the former Armory in 2012 after its original Montlake building, which opened in 1952, was shuttered to accommodate the expanding State Route 520 floating bridge.

In our aerial repeat, snapped from 1,200 feet, the museum is blooming in morning light just north of booming South Lake Union. Amid MOHAI’s imaginative redesign and relocation, many of its beloved treasures remain in rotation, fostering continued recollections for Seattleites young and old.

To revisit (and maybe add) your own MOHAI memories, join us at


To see our spectacular 360 degree video of this week’s column, click here. It includes the now and then photos as well as video of our extraordinary aerial adventure (shot by Clay). Jean narrates.

*A gentle correction from friend of the column historian Larry Kreisman: “I have to correct your mention of Priteca’s movie palace architecture because, apart from the Hollywood Pantages, his theater designs are primarily Greco-Roman classical (Coliseum and most of his work for Pantages) or Renaissance Revival (Orpheum). The Admiral and others he did in the 30s and 40s we’re streamline moderne and we’re neighborhood movie houses, not palaces.”

We blush and offer thanks, Larry!