Published in The Seattle Times online on Nov. 24, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Nov. 27, 2022
Ninety years before Octavia Butler moved in 1999 from sunny Pasadena, California, to Lake Forest Park, 10 miles north of Seattle, then-real-estate developer and future Seattle mayor Ole Hanson (1874-1940) envisioned a neighborhood that would provide an escape from frenetic city life. In a promotional pamphlet, Hanson described an environment removed from “the sordid commercialism of today.”
In 1909, Seattle was booming. During the first decade of the 20th century, its population had nearly tripled (to 237,194 from 80,671 in 1900) in time to host its first world’s fair, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The Queen City had emerged as a major metropolis, with accompanying growth pains.
Hanson intended that his proposed development provide an antidote to the urban hustle and bustle: “Forget your schemes for a moment; lay aside your business; let the telephone ring; allow your callers to wait in the ante-room; Read — Ponder — and Dream.”
Butler could have heeded Hanson’s call when choosing her ideal neighborhood. Her mid-century modern home, built in 1957, nestled within easy walking distance of a notable bookstore, grocery stores and Lake Washington. It also offered a green refuge for the nature-loving writer.
Mike Daly, her across-the-street neighbor, moved into the neighborhood within months of Butler’s arrival. “We got to know Octavia little by little,” he says. “She didn’t have a car, which fit with her environmentalism. Sometimes I’d see her walking home from Albertson’s with two bags of groceries and offer her a ride. ‘I need the exercise,’ she’d say.
“We invited her over for dinner on numerous occasions, but she always politely declined. … A great neighbor, very personable but more of a private than a social-type person.”
Deborah Magness of Third Place Books concurred. While Butler attended reading and signing events, she also was a regular customer. “I very clearly recall ringing Octavia up at the cash register,” Magness says, “but between being starstruck and having the feeling she wished to go about her business quietly and anonymously, I did not interact with her at length.”
Susan McMurry, a neighbor several doors north of Butler’s former house, wasn’t aware of her presence in the neighborhood until reading her obituary in local papers. “After she passed, our local book club decided to read her wonderful novel ‘Kindred,’ in which a young Black woman travels through time to the era of slavery. I’m not very well versed in science fiction, but for me Octavia’s books transcend the genre, with their mix of history, philosophy and ethics.”
Matt Milios, who owns Butler’s former Lake Forest Park property and has been a devoted reader of science fiction since childhood, was delighted to discover that a favorite author once shared his home. While little trace remains of Butler’s tenure, several times a year ardent fans show up on his doorstep, seeking posthumous connection.
A nudge from the past arrived in Milios’s mailbox last summer. In a letter addressed to Butler, sent 16 years after her death, a local bank sought overdue payment for a safety deposit box. Milios forwarded the request to her California estate managers, who paid the time-traveling debt.
Published in The Seattle Times online on Oct. 27, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 30, 2022
As young vampires, ghouls and superheroes prowl our neighborhoods cadging for candy this Halloween, actual monsters roam the deeps — and the shallows.
Hideously transmogrified, they struggle upstream past the banks of Pacific Northwest lakes, rivers and streams in an intricate and terrifying water ballet.
While on the hunt for ghost stories suitable for this shivery season, I thumbed through regional reports of the supernatural, from a haunted Georgetown mansion to the spooky lower level of the Pike Place Market, but each tale seemed more trick than treat.
But I caught a break investigating a potential “Then” photo at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery when serendipity inspired a question.
“Know any scary stories about fish?” I asked hatchery specialist J.J. Swennumson.
“Soos Creek Hatchery,” J.J. said, referencing an Auburn facility. “That place was super freaky.”
Mysterious, dead-of-night music and an apparition named Homer made regular appearances. After the hatchery’s eerie old building was replaced, however, the spooks fell silent.
“But,” J.J. added impishly with a twinkle, “we’ve got zombies.”
Out of dozens of state, federal and tribal hatcheries, Issaquah with 250,000 annual visitors is our state’s most popular. Built in 1936 by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, the facility aimed to restore historic salmon runs to Issaquah Creek, devastated by decades of coal mining and logging.
The hatchery’s first salmon stock, borrowed from nearby Green River, was released into the creek to general rejoicing, followed by decades of activity.
We’ll get to J.J.’s zombies, but if you have forgotten your salmonid factoids, here’s a quick refresher:
For at least two million years, Pacific salmon have flourished in our cold mountain rivers and streams. From freshwater spawning beds, hatchlings eventually head downstream to the ocean where, after several years of feeding and growth, they chart a course for home.
In what marine biologists describe as one of nature’s most remarkable mysteries, migrating salmon take cues from the Earth’s geomagnetic field to traverse thousands of miles of saltwater and arrive at their natal river’s mouth. Upon entering fresh water, a sense of smell thousands of times more sensitive than a bloodhound’s guides the fish to their original spawning grounds.
With the change in salinity, however, they stop feeding entirely. Their once-sleek silver bodies alter color and shape as their internal organs, save those charged with reproduction, begin to fail.
Battered, scarred, scarcely alive, these “zombie” salmon finally arrive home to spawn a next generation. But their contribution doesn’t end there. Their decaying bodies, strewn along riverbanks, provide autumnal protein for wildlife and nitrogen-rich fertilizer for surrounding trees.
Published in The Seattle Times online on Oct. 13, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 16, 2022
Bavarian-born Andrew Piper brought sweet treats to 1870s Seattle
By Jean Sherrard
“I scream! You scream! We all scream if we don’t get Piper’s ice cream!”
This advertisement, from May 1874 in the Puget Sound Dispatch, may be the first recorded version of the ever popular ice-cream lovers’ ditty. It was the brainchild of beloved Seattle confectioner, baker, ice-cream purveyor and socialist city-council member Andrew W. Piper.
At age 19, the Bavarian-born Piper had joined the 1848 German revolution, an expression of social unrest sweeping Europe. After its defeat, he fled to the United States to avoid political persecution.
After 20 years in San Francisco, and seeking greener, less-populated pastures, Piper arrived in Seattle in 1873, where he opened the Puget Sound Candy Manufactory, our region’s first candy shop. His large family, including wife Wilhelmina, three daughters and six sons, was welcomed by a community eager for sweets and treats.
Several years of bitterly cold winters provided more opportunities for the ambitious candy man. Hacking great blocks of ice from frozen Lake Union, Piper built the city’s first commercial icehouse. The summertime addition of ice cream to an already booming confectionary and bakery business enhanced his profits and popularity.
His capacious First Hill mansion and a Puget Sound shoreline homestead (today located in northwest Seattle’s Carkeek Park) only confirmed his business acumen.
The heavily accented German also was an artist. His sketches, paintings and sculptures were widely admired. In his spare time, he served as a scene painter to local theaters.
Our “Then” photo features a portrait of Piper in his prime. Posing with his 6-year-old son, Walter, and their dog, Jack, Piper pauses at the southeast corner of Front Street (today’s First Avenue) and Madison circa 1878.
Perched on the balcony of Maddock drugstore, the Peterson Brothers photographer also captured a view of Seattle’s first major public work, completed in 1877: the regrading of a stump-filled, uneven pathway into smoothly graded Front Street, elevated on timbers above the Elliott Bay tideline.
Piper’s businesses thrived until Seattle’s great fire of 1889. His shop and the Manufactory, along with 25 downtown city blocks, were reduced to ashes. Piper did not reopen until two-and-a-half years later, in November 1891. Increasing competition and a fragile economy hobbled his prospects.
Upon his death in 1904, his close friend, journalist and historian Thomas Prosch, offered an affectionate eulogy. Piper was “invaluable … always able and never failed,” someone of great kindness whom “everybody regarded as a friend.”
Today, the eponymous Piper’s Creek, Piper Canyon and restored Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park mark the only extant namesakes of this pioneer. The orchard’s apples reportedly filled his scrumptious strudel.
We can’t find an earlier version of “I Scream You Scream” than Piper’s from 1874. Here’s a link to Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians and their hit song from the 1920s:
(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 29, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Oct. 2, 2022)
Jean’s note: We must assign credit where credit’s due. The “then” photo attached to this column–and the original notion to tell the story of Major Cicero Newell–came from the ever-inventive and perpetually helpful photo historian and collector Ron Edge, whose name we praise! Thanks a million, Ron!
* * * * * * * * * *
Stepping ashore on Mercer Island, my friend Mark and I were thrilled by our discovery. Both 13, we were keen to explore and plunder. Before us stretched acres of golden, waist-high grass, dotted with fruit trees and thorny Himalayan blackberry bushes, as well as crumbling old buildings promising untold treasures.
On this early summer 1970 day, we had paddled from Bellevue’s Enatai Beach, passing under arches of the old East Channel bridge (just days earlier, on a dare, we had leapt from the span’s deck) then muscling north to the grounds of evidently abandoned Luther Burbank Park. We did not know we were repeating a journey in reverse made 66 years earlier.
Just past midnight on a cold, wet November night in 1904, 13-year-olds William Kiger and Albert Cook, wearing only their skivvies and chained together with ankle manacles, cradled the shackles to stop them clanking. Labeled incorrigible “bad boys,” they were forging a second attempt to escape from Major Cicero Newell’s Industrial School, which had recently relocated to a dozen rural acres on Mercer Island’s north shore.
Kiger and Cook crept out of the recently built dormitory and down to the water’s edge. Having earlier noted a neighbor’s decrepit rowboat tied up nearby, the boys clambered in and pushed out into the channel.
“For hours they paddled, making little headway,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. “Several times their frail little craft came near swamping, and one of the boys had to bail water to prevent it from going to the bottom. Soon after dawn, the boys, exhausted and all but unconscious, made land opposite the island on the east shore of the lake.”
Sympathetic Northern Pacific belt-line workers used hammers and chisels to cut off the boys’ leg chains and wrapped the pair in borrowed jackets.
Newell (1840-1913), a Civil War veteran commended for bravery by President Lincoln and respected among the Sioux as an Indian agent, had arrived in Seattle in the early 1890s.
With wife Emma, he founded the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society, sheltering “homeless, neglected and abused children.” They garnered strong community support, including a Seattle School Board eager for solutions to a growing problem.
Early in the 20th century, however, Newell’s increasingly punitive methods, including beatings and chaining, drew increased scrutiny and criticism. Following newspaper accounts and public outcry, Newell was quietly replaced as school principal in spring 1905.
William and Albert were not recaptured, according to the P-I story. “The boys were allowed to go on their way. Nothing has been seen of them since.”
William Kiger became a Seattle truck driver with a large extended family until his death in 1962. No further record can be found of Albert Cook.
Here’s several newspaper articles from the digital archives regarding Maj. Cicero Newell.
The first is an open letter from Newell published in 1900 that seems reasonable, laying out methods for addressing the needs of young delinquents which might help rather than harm. Within two years, however (see the next archival article from 1902), the Major’s shocking practices belie his stated good intentions.
Before moving to the Mercer Island Industrial School site in 1904, Newell located in Seattle. The 1902 escape of another boy–this one eight years old, found wandering on the waterfront, raised questions about the Major’s tactics.
The article from which we quote in the column is included below.
And, also courtesy of Ron Edge, a copy of Cicero Newell’s book about his years as an Indian agent. He found much to admire, even venerate, during his tenure with the Dakota Sioux.
(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 15, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 18, 2022)
Philip Wischmeyer’s stunning panoramic view of Neah Bay circa 1910 features the Makah fishing fleet at its most active, comprising more than 200 hard-working vessels.
And while today’s protected harbor at the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula is much less busy, particularly after two years of pandemic quarantine, the Makah reservation reopened to visitors on March 15, 2022.
For Brian Parker, who graciously provided access from his Dia’ht Hill rooftop to repeat this week’s “Then” photo, the isolation was difficult but necessary to protect his community. Nevertheless, he welcomes the surge of vacationers who snapped up all summer lodgings in and around the bay.
Two-hundred-and-thirty years ago, this natural harbor, home to the Makah for millennia, briefly hosted another group of outsiders. Geopolitical competition among colonial rivals England, Spain and America to map and claim possession of the sketchily charted Pacific Northwest coast approached a high-water mark.
On April 29, 1792, English naval Capt. George Vancouver guided his vessel HMS Discovery into the strait of Juan de Fuca, beginning his mission to survey the inland waters of today’s Salish Sea.
Just two weeks later, on May 11, American merchant ship Capt. Robert Gray’s Columbia Rediviva negotiated the treacherous sandbars of a huge river and sailed into its estuary. After conducting initial surveys, Gray named the river Columbia after his ship.
On May 29, the Spanish naval frigate Princesa offloaded 70 seamen, 13 soldiers, 4 officers and a chaplain at Neah Bay. The settlers cleared land and built Fort Núñez Gaona, the first non-Native American structure in the future state of Washington.
Just across a stream from the Makah village of Diah, these modest barracks, storehouses, and a bakery — as well as palisades with gun mounts — promised a significant Spanish toehold at the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But unanticipated hurdles proved difficult to overcome.
The bay itself was too shallow to accommodate larger vessels. What’s more, says Makah Museum Executive Director Janine Ledford, the native residents of Diah, upon returning from annual spring fishing and whaling camps on Tatoosh Island, began to actively resist the invaders.
On Sept. 29, after the volatile summer, the fort was abandoned and the Spanish returned to their home port at Vancouver Island’s Nootka Sound, never to return.
At this year’s annual Makah Days festival on Aug. 26-29, the first held since 2019, guests were welcome to celebrate the reinvigorated culture, community and health of these proud people. And the Makah choice to isolate during the pandemic proved wise. Not a single tribal member died during the quarantine.
(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 1, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 4, 2022)
In the after-hours during the early 1970s, the Pike Place Market neighborhood was run-down and gritty, even dangerous. Rex McDowell, a young actor who found digs off Post Alley below the Market, kept a knife near his front entrance to thwart would-be intruders. “When they’d bang on our double doors or try to break in, we’d stick the long blade into the gap and waggle it up and down to frighten them off.”
Rent was cheap and youth fearless.
Where Post Alley makes a sharp turn uphill and to the east (just beyond today’s “gum wall”), was wedged a tiny storefront. Reputedly a former speakeasy, it was first home to Seattle’s legendary, 50-seat Empty Space Theatre.
Fresh from the University of Washington theater program, founder M. Burke Walker sought to build a new and vibrant company featuring edgier, often experimental voices. In the underbelly of the then-untouristed Market, the minuscule stage became a hothouse of creative ferment while its somewhat unsavory setting kept costs low.
The seminal 1968 book “The Empty Space” by British stage director Peter Brook triggered the troupe’s name and offered keen theatrical philosophy. “I can take an empty space,” he wrote, “and call it a bare stage.” For a young company cobbling together budget-conscious productions, austerity was a welcome challenge.
“It was the best training ground for the best theater artists this town has ever known,” says musician-composer John Engerman.
“From the start, it was a great ensemble,” adds fellow company member Kurt Beattie, now artistic director emeritus of ACT Theatre. “Great ensembles make great theatre.”
The company also played a vital role in Seattle theater, says playwright Carl Sander: “The Seattle Rep was the living room, ACT was the dining room, but the Empty Space was the kitchen.”
The Space created and presented hundreds of celebrated productions over more than three decades while migrating to Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square and finally Fremont. Though the final curtain fell in 2006, Space alumni continue to serve as chefs de cuisine of Seattle theatre whose savory fare still inspires.
On a roasty July evening, more than 150 Empty Spacers gathered at Seattle Center’s Cornish Theatre to celebrate the company’s Covid-delayed 50th reunion. They included Walker, fellow founder Jim Royce, and other Seattle theater luminaries, sans one beloved ensemble member. Renowned actor John Aylward, who had hoped to attend, died on May 16 at age 75.
“For John,” memorialized Walker in words that readily apply to the Empty Space itself, “play was always a verb first and a noun second.”
(Published in The Seattle Times online on August 4, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on August 7, 2022)
Municipal portrait makes ‘You’ll Like Tacoma’ a winning slogan
By Jean Sherrard
Distracted by the trio of natural and architectural jewels strewn across the skyline of this 1910 photo of Tacoma’s north downtown, we easily can miss the discreet banner stretched over a roadway in the foreground shadows.
Its crisp caption: “You’ll like Tacoma.”
The year-old slogan originally had been adopted by Tacoma promoters during arch-rival Seattle’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, meant to encourage visitors to venture south to the self-styled City of Destiny.
Directly across Lake Union from the fairgrounds (today’s University of Washington campus), boosters had erected their Paul Bunyan-sized solicitation in huge, electrically illuminated letters.
The motto was both “an invitation and a prophecy,” gushed the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “and it fit [Tacoma] like a new glove: neat, apt, modest and winsome.”
The $30,000 campaign also included buttons, flyers and paid ads. Even a “patriotic march song” was commissioned to amplify the message:
You’ll like Tacoma
Where rail meets sail,
Where all are prosperous,
Hearty and hale,
Down on Commencement Bay,
A New York’s growing, day by day,
Tacoma, the peer of all.
For Paris-born photographer Paul Leo Richards, his popular “Then” photo, captured a year after the exposition, was a valentine to his adopted city. Fresh off the boat in 1891, the ambitious Frenchman wore many hats — inventor, investor and innovator — but is best known for documenting and celebrating the shining attributes of Tacoma.
This notable municipal portrait also subtly tweaks the Tacoma-Seattle rivalry. Just for fun, let’s keep score:
The Mountain That Was God, a mere 40 miles to the southeast, looms gloriously large. Tacomans persisted in calling it Mount Tacoma or Tahoma, its native moniker, disparaging the Seattle- (and USGS-) approved namesake, English Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Names aside, Tacoma has always rocked the mountain view.
Point: Grit City.
At center, Northern Pacific Railroad’s Headquarters, completed in 1888, overlooks train-track ribbons and Commencement Bay. The creamy, stucco-covered structure also commemorates Tacoma’s 1873 triumph over Seattle, when the railroad chose the tiny (population 200) unincorporated town as its western terminus, in one fell swoop breaking more than a thousand Queen City hearts.
Point: the City of Destiny for the snub.
At right, just across Pacific Avenue, stands Tacoma’s commanding Old City Hall, built in 1893. A superb example of Italian Renaissance style, its eight-foot-thick foundation walls support a freestanding clock/campanile tower, slightly tapered to emphasize its soaring 10 stories. Seattle, having just erected a more utilitarian flatiron city hall in 1909, might well have expressed envy.
Point: You’ll prefer Tacoma, for the win.
A 360 degree video will be forthcoming but Jean is in his second day of Covid – not too serious thus far, but his dry cough keeps ruining vocal takes!
And at last here’s the 360 (in the first couple minutes, a cop tries to convince Jean to get out of traffic. Jean nods, and smiles agreeably but continues recording).
We have a handful of extras this week, including more materials featuring photographer Paul Richards.
But this just in! Lane Morgan, daughter of legendary historian Murray Morgan (author of ‘Skid Road’ and many other monumental books of regional history, as well as being mentor and close friend of this column’s founder Paul Dorpat), sends along the following delightful odes to Tacoma, written by her grandfather Henry Victor Morgan between 1912 and the early 20s.
POULTRY IN TACOMA
Livin’ in Tacoma is one long delight,
Just a been attendin’
Poultry show tonight;
Every hen a-singin’–
Red and white and blue—
“Gee we like Tacoma, Bet your life we do!”
All together sayin’, “Isn’t this sublime?
Don’t you like Tacoma? Ain’t the climate fine?
Ever see such weather on a New Years Day
That is why we’re happy. That is why we lay.”
One Rhode Island biddy
Filled the room with cackle,
Said Tacoma’s Leghorn: “She is from Seattle.”
Answered biddie’s Chanti
Rolling up his eyes,
“Yes, we’re from Seattle,
And we won third prize.”
One lone bird seemed dumpy
At the poultry feast
Said the White Minorka,
“She is from the east;
She is like a trolley, off the beaten track,
Dumpy? She is thinkin’ that she must go back.”
Then the roosters proudly
All began to crow,
“No place like Tacoma! Watch Tacoma grow!”
And, as promised, a bit more about Paul Richards:
After building a life in Tacoma, he joined the US Army as a photographer and documented the First World War in France. Certainly, he also served as a translator as well. In the final months of the war, tragedy struck in the form of mustard gas. Severely wounded, Richards spent three years convalescing but died in 1921 of his injuries.
(Published in The Seattle Times online on July 7, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 10, 2022)
A Saloonkeeper’s civic sensibility inspired a lasting auditorium
By Jean Sherrard
James Osborne may have attended late 19th-century touring opera performances at Yesler’s Hall at First and Cherry, only blocks away from his profitable Gem Saloon in Pioneer Square.
And while tapping his foot to the music of Donizetti, Bellini or Verdi, the confirmed bachelor might have conjured an act of civic generosity that ended up supporting arias in centuries to come.
Affectionately referred to by friends as “a great infidel” due to his free-thinker’s rejection of religion, Osborne (1834-1881) bequeathed a whopping $20,000 to Seattle with one condition: The donation could be used only to build “a public hall” with city matching funds.
Nearly five decades passed before Osborne’s bequest was fulfilled. The site was a fertile stretch of glacier-carved swale between Queen Anne Hill and regraded Denny Hill.
Dotted by willows and edged with wetlands, this was a traditional gathering place for the Duwamish, who called it Baba’kwob or “the prairies.” The skillful netting of ducks scared up from Lake Union provided ample protein for potlatches and other tribal festivities.
The land also proved ideal for growing fruit, vegetables and imported roses. Settlers David and Louisa Boren Denny moved there in 1854 with their young family, building a log farmhouse and planting gardens that supplied much of Seattle’s fresh produce for the next quarter century.
In 1886, the Dennys — by then one of the region’s richest families — had donated much of the site to the city, prescribing, with an echo of Osborne, that it be reserved for “public use forever.”
By 1927, Osborne’s invested legacy had grown to $110,000, but repeated efforts to erect a public facility had languished or been thwarted despite popular acclaim.
That year, The Seattle Times lobbied for a civic structure to reflect a reinvigorated “Seattle Spirit.” Added the Post-Intelligencer: Seattle was “the only great Pacific Coast city without … a large municipal auditorium.”
City council members and Seattle’s first female mayor, Bertha Landes, offered vigorous support, proposing a $900,000 bond to fund construction.
However, passage required a turnout of at least 50% of eligible voters, and the March 8, 1927, election became a nailbiter. A Times banner warned on the afternoon of election day: “Light Vote Endangers Auditorium.” But Seattleites heeded the call, passing the proposition.
The 7,700-seat Civic Auditorium was completed by June 1928 and hosted its inaugural event, a national Kiwanis convention.
In 1962, the auditorium was refashioned for the Seattle World’s Fair as the Seattle Opera House. In 2003, with donations and public funding, the structure was largely rebuilt, with improved acoustics and seating, as Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
Go for it! Click on through to our 360 video, shot on location and narrated by Jean.
Also Clay reminded me of the centerfold of our 2018 book ‘Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred” which features a spectacular view of the Civic Auditorium from Queen Anne! It’s quite wide, so double click for full impact.
Also, we include a few celebratory photos of the Northwest Folklife Festival, marking its return after a two-year pandemic caesura.
Just for fun, check out the jam session on the steps of McCaw Hall featured in our “now” photograph.
(Published in The Seattle Times online on June 23, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 26, 2022)
Vroom with a view: Bikers still ‘see everything’ 112 years later
By Jean Sherrard
It was, proclaimed the Seattle Times, “the first real endurance tour in the history of the motorcycle in the Pacific Northwest,” hosted July 3, 1910, by the Seattle Motorcycle Club.
In our “Then” photo, 26 club members pause near Volunteer Park before the event, straddling their cycles while wearing leather chaps, sporting mustaches and derby hats.
These early bikes were not dependable, says Tom Samuelsen, historian of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling. An extended trip demanded equal reservoirs of luck, mechanical improvisation and sheer tenacity. Writer Frank Richardson Pierce retrospectively detailed the riders’ elaborate dance:
“When the photographer finished, the club members shoved belt-tightening levers and pedaled madly until the engines started. Then, loosening each belt so that it slipped on the pulley, they dismounted, [easing] the machine off the stand. … Remounting, they tightened the belt and were on their way.”
The grueling, 2-day run began at 7 a.m. from Pioneer Place (now Pioneer Square) and adhered to a punishing schedule.
Checkpoints included Kent, Tacoma, the Mount Rainier Park entrance and the Nisqually glacier, plus an overnight stay in the town of Elbe. A checkered flag was waved in front of the Seattle Times building at Second and Union at 6 p.m. Independence Day, July 4.
Of the 33 motorcyclists who started the tour — propelling two-thirds of the 50 motorcycles then owned in Seattle — all but four vroomed the distance. Local shops and merchandisers awarded top finishers prizes ranging from headlight lamps and goggles to new sets of tires.
Our “Now” photo was snapped Sunday, May 22, from the same vantage, the steps leading up to the Volunteer Park water tower, looking south along 14th Avenue.
These 30 motorcyclists also participated in that day’s 11th annual Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride. A global event spanning more than 700 cities and 100 countries, it has raised more than $31 million since 2012 for the Movember Foundation, on behalf of prostate-cancer awareness and men’s mental health.
Seattle hosts one of the largest such rides, mainly sponsored by two local clubs, the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts (VME) and the Rainier Ravens (an all-women’s motorcycle group).
While the classic motorcycles featured here are more reliable than their early counterparts, their riders are no less passionate about their choice of conveyance. Samuelsen waxes poetic about motorcycling zen:
“It’s nothing like riding in a car. And if you slow down a bit, you can see everything — farmland, mountains, ocean — and become part of nature. It provides direct immersion into the world.”
In addition, we offer several bonbons of motorcycle memorabilia and documentation, most supplied by the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling, now celebrating its 30th anniversary.
First, let’s supply a few additional details concerning our Now and Then photos, courtesy of Tom Samuelsen, PNWMoM senior historian:
“The THEN photo depicts the Seattle Motorcycle Club (SMC) member’s First Annual Endurance Run that was to be held on July 3-4, 1910. This was the first real endurance tour in the history of the Pacific Northwest. Valuable prizes were offered for the best score. This run was held under the sanction of the Federation of American Motorcyclists. Each rider was credited with 1000 points at the 7am start in Seattle’s Pioneer Place, now called Pioneer Square. Rules stated that for each minute late or each minute early at the control timing points there would be 2 points deducted. The run also included one secret control check. The average speed of 20 miles per hour kept riders safe on the dirt roads and trails up Mt. Rainier and they rode far beyond the highest point reached by auto or carriage.
“They returned to the town of Elbe where they spent the night. The next morning, they rode to Olympia and checked in at Ashley’s Motorcycle Shop in Tumwater then took lunch at the Carlton Hotel, leaving Olympia at 1:15pm after a pass through several check stations in Tacoma and Kent.
Seattle was reached at 6:00pm with the last check at the Seattle Times Building. Two silver cups and several prizes were awarded to the dusty riders. Of the 32 starters all but four riders made it. Perfect scores were earned by seven riders as follows: C.R. Roy, 6 ½ Yale; Lee Dagner, 7 Indian A.W. Hirsch, 4 H-D; Nels Christopher, Fred Walker, Paul Koch and B.S. Klein all of whom rode 4hp Excelsiors. (Article by the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling)
“The NOW photo features members of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling, co-organizers of the re-creation of the 1910 Seattle Motorcycle Club photo. It was taken on May 22, 2022, just south of Volunteer Park’s historic Water Tower on 14th Avenue East for the Seattle Times ‘Now & Then’ pages in the weekly Pacific NW Magazine. Jean Sherrard and the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling (PNW MoM) have collaborated to recreate the images of early motorcycle history multiple times.
“Front row, L-R; Jack Mackey holding the minutes of the Seattle Motorcycle Club’s 1910 ride planning. Most of the motorcyclists pictured are members of the PNW MoM and the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiast (VME). Tom Samuelsen holds a photo taken in Seattle on July 3, 1910 at the starting point of the Endurance Run; Tammy Sessions (PNW MoM President) hold SMC records from 1910. Tad Dean, Jeff Earle, Chris Sharon, Paul Henderson, Emily Mullens (leader of the all-women’s motorcycle group Rainier Ravens) also appear, l-r.
“Several motorcycle groups are represented in the current photo, including Mike Coski representing the historic Tacoma Motorcycle Club (also formed in 1910), and Cretin’s MC members, Knuckle Busters MC members, and other prominent members of the motorcycle industry. “
(again, click twice to expand to full size)
Plus a couple of Seattle Motorcycle Club treasures from 1910. Just below, a copy of the actual minutes of the club committing to the endurance tour.
A menu from the SMC 1910 banquet, celebrating a successful summer of touring:
Of special note, the fish entree: “Scallop of Pedal au Spring Fork”. For dessert, “Endurance Run Pudding”.
(Incidentally, the Firloch Club was most likely at the same spot as today’s Seattle’s Tennis Club.)
For both enthusiasts and the moto-curious, here are a slew of candid photos taken of participants in the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride. Thanks to all the easy riders who joined in!
A late-breaking extra and mea culpa! A photo of the Seattle Motorcycling Club at the start of its 1911 endurance tour, also near Pioneer Square, was misdated as 1910 (due to operator error!).
(Published in The Seattle Times online on June 9, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 12, 2022)
All-in-one Denny Hall arose first on UW’s relocated campus
By Jean Sherrard
The proudest day of my great-grandfather’s life was the one marking his graduation from the University of Washington.
Arthur Dailey had arrived in Seattle two months before the Great Fire of 1889 from Kalamazoo, Michigan, soon finding a teaching job. At the advanced age of 30, he hoped that a collegiate diploma would assure his future.
With the rest of his 18-member class of ’97, displaying the school colors of purple and gold, he enthusiastically chanted the school cheer based on Chinook jargon that conveyed bravery and strength:
of W., Siah! Siah!
U. of W., Hiah! Hiah!
Skookum, Skookum, Washington!
This first graduation on the new UW campus, held May 28, 1897, marked another milestone in its 36-year history.
The school was founded on 10 acres downtown in 1861 by Arthur Armstrong Denny (1822-1899), leader of a 22-member party that had arrived on Alki only 10 years earlier. By 1891, the UW was bursting at its seams. Seattle’s population had exploded to more than 50,000, inhibiting further expansion.
To redress the pinch, the state Legislature approved relocating the UW to the then-rural Brooklyn Addition on the shores of Union Bay. The elderly Denny, still a tireless higher-education supporter, donated most of the 350 acres for a campus with room to boom.
Ground was broken for the university’s first north-end structure in 1894. A French Renaissance design by Charles W. Saunders (1858-1935) topped 24 other submitted sets of drawings. The resulting Administration Building, later renamed Denny Hall, came in well under its $150,000 budget, fed by low labor costs stemming from the depression of 1893.
Its 20,000 square feet housed all six of the university’s colleges and included 10 classrooms, a 6,000-volume library, faculty and administration offices and a 736-seat auditorium, all crowned by a belfry.
In September 1895, the edifice, comprising four floors of light-colored Enumclaw sandstone and pressed brick, trimmed with terra cotta and outfitted with the latest heating and plumbing, welcomed more than 200 students.
Our “Then” photo was snapped using Carrie Coe’s camera, likely in 1895, during a family outing to admire the newly completed building. Her husband, Dr. Frantz Coe, after whom Queen Anne Hill’s Coe School is named, was a future Seattle school-board member and friend of the Dennys. The tangle of bushes and a fresh-cut stump provide evidence of still-undeveloped wilderness on every side.
For his part, my great-grandpa Dailey made good use of the sheepskin, serving as principal to schools across the region. By 1899, he felt secure enough to marry his sweetheart, Ballard schoolteacher Agnes Johnson.
For our 360 degree narrated video version of this column, please take a short trip here!