Category Archives: Ivar

Dorpat on Ivar!

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Lecture: Keep Clam and Carry On: The Ivar Haglund Story
Thursday, September 24, 2015
7:00 p.m.

$5 suggested donation

Join us as historian Paul Dorpat tells the story of businessman, folksinger, showman and unique character who over a highly successful career as restaurateur and entertainer became a Puget Sound legend. Paul Dorpat has been writing the Now & Then column for Pacific NW magazine for more than three decades.

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Fair and Festival – No. 6: Ivar's

Ivar’s Century 21 fish and chips bar – or stand with Hamburgers! – was nestled to the north side of the Monorail terminal.  It opened directly onto  the southwest corner of the carni’ part of the fair called the Breezeway.  Here below – and again – is Ron Edge’s superimposition of a recent space shot of Seattle Center over the 1962 Century 21 map, which both names and numbers its primary parts – but not Ivar’s, as such.  DOUBLE CLICK this for your hide-and-seek.  (Clue: No. 63)

A recent space shot of Seattle Center superimposed on a 1962 map of Century 21, numbering and naming its parts. (Constructed by and courtesy of Ron Edge)
A chummy note from the boss to his staff as they prepared for the fair.
Looking south to the full Needle soaring above Ivar's Century 21 Fish Bar (with hamburgers and shakes).
The bar with a breeze, designed by architect Howard A. Kinney, using bamboo trellises and fitted exposed timbers with both modern and rustic properties - somewhat like the Polynesian Restaurant on Pier 52.
Jean's repeat from this year's Bumbershoot reveals that the "Next 50 Pavilion" is the latest holder on Ivar's footprint. The futurism of this "next 50" years included lots of minimalism, recognizing that we are wearing out the planet and so the Center and Seattle too. Next 50 has none of the forward thrust of Century 21. In this light the decision to put another ticketed glass museum nearby rather than, for instance, the Native American Center promoted by a different cadre of regional sensitives, suggests a "oh what the hell - lets sink with the glass and enjoy the colors along the way - the the money too" fatalism. The use of Seattle Center for a Native American center may have well been without cash register and ticket takers. Appropriately too, for the meadow was once used for native potlatches, those rituals of being admired and thanked for giving gifts and not for selling tickets or trinkets.

Architect Kinney's artistic wife Ginny, decorated much of the bars' interior with collages she constructed from driftwood, shells and other beach desiderata like sand-worn glass. After the fair her panels were installed in the main house at the cattle ranch Ivar then owned near Ilwaco on the Long Beach peninsula. This subject is from Ivar on the farm. Later the panels were moved back to Seattle and some of them are still decorating a hallway at Ivar's Salmon House, as shown next/below.
Some of Ginney Kinney's driftwood collages sharing a Salmon House wall with Native American portraits shared by the University of Washington's Special Collections.

Ivar’s mid-20th century band-wagoning with what’s modern was most flirtatiously expressed for the Ford Edsel – although Ivar never purchased one, nor did many others.  (CLICK to ENLARGE)

Pier 56 Aquarium in the 1960s – Very Big Sharks and NAMU

(click to enlarge photos)

June 1962

The five photographs included here were taken from several sides of Pier 56 (excepting the north side) and on the sidewalk there, between 1962 when Ted Griffin opened his aquarium at the end of the pier and 1970 when he was getting regularly advised at the sidewalk to free his mammals.   The copy that follows is part of a considerably longer piece I have written on the history of Seattle aquariums.  It is still rough and so not yet published.  Actually it never will be “normally” published.  Instead it will be part of the longer Ivar biography I’m writing – the one that will be both read and heard on DVD to avoid the cost of pulp and waste of paper while sharing the longer story of Seattle greatest self-promoter with those who enjoy having someone read to them on and on about tricksters.

Ted Griffin must be counted among the handful of exalted characters to have worked Seattle’s waterfront.  His stage was at the end of Pier 56, and he was candid about its shortcomings. That is, Griffin’s visionary interest in his aquarium came with modesty.  ‘Someday Seattle is going to have its own Marineland.  This we hope is just a prelude.” At the start “this” was 6,000 square feet of covered space, an impressive cadre of skin-diver friends and other volunteers.  But most saliently “this” was, in the figure of Griffin, then still in his twenties, a kind of energized ego whose want of subtlety was made up for with physical courage combined with a heroic sentimentality that the ironic Ivar, who closed his aquarium nearby on Pier 54 in 1956, could only wonder at – and did.

Griffin’s Seattle Marine Aquarium opened on June 22, 1962 or in the ninth week of Century 21 and adjacent to the fair’s waterfront helicopter pad at the end of Pier 56.  The chopper noise had to have irritated the dolphins.  At 20,000 gallons Griffin’s main tank alone was much larger than all of Ivar’s combined, but most of his specimens and claims for them were the same.  Griffin noted, “Puget Sound has more beautiful marine life than anywhere else in the world – even Key West, Florida.”  But, as most locals old enough to remember the city’s Namu enthusiasm will know, what Griffin really wanted was a whale – a killer whale. In 1962 Ted Griffin was not yet publicly association with whales, although privately he pursued them both in his dreams and in speedboats.  At the opening of his aquarium the Times columnist and nostalgic humorist John Reddin noted, “Thus far the only whale is the figure on their outdoor sign.”  But Griffin and his curator Eric Friese would harvest other excitements like Homer, an octopus captured on Puget Sound, which at 88 pounds was a record-breaker for captured octopi.


July 19, 1962 (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)

Early in 1964 when things were getting desperate his publicist learned that that there were big sharks prowling the bottom of Puget Sound.  He asked if they had teeth, and when assured that they did the press agent convinced Griffin that he should go after them.  This was a deep pursuit or not a superficial one.  The six-gill sharks were hooked with a very sturdy line that was longer than Queen Anne Hill is high.  The line was tied to a buoy and dressed with ham, raw beef, and lingcod.  For the aquarium the sharks were cash cows.  The lines were long.  (The revelation of what lurks in the basement of Elliott Bay was made, unfortunately, ten years too soon to further benefit from the release of Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws, otherwise – to use an example — even those seasoned and burly members of the West Seattle Polar Bear Club might have reconsidered their annual New Years Day plunge at Alki Beach and visited the aquarium instead.  Such fears, however, would have been highly irrational for to be in any danger of these sharks – and they still patrol the Sound – the Polar Bears, or any swimmers for that matter, would have to dive to at least 500 feet — the level at which Griffin caught his.  The beach at Alki is thankfully shallow.

Keeping the sharks alive was measurably more difficult than catching them, that is, it was impossible.  In captivity – and in daylight – the Elliot Bay leviathans lost their appetite and most importantly their motivation.  Entering the pool and the unknown armed only with his wet suit Griffith would prod and push at them to move.  He also force-fed them with mackerel.  In spite of it the sharks all soon expired and hopes of maintaining the impressive draw their exhibition engendered were lost.  Still during this brief but sensational excitement the aquarium prospered and was able to stay open after the sharks’ last roundup.


July 7, 1964  Courtesy, Seattle Public Library

But at noted it is killer whales not six-gill mud sharks with which Ted Griffin will be linked as long as men like to chase and capture things.  Rodeo style, Griffin first tried to lasso a whale by jumping on its back and throwing a net around it.  In the summer of 1965 Griffin’s whale mania was no longer a private matter.  A fisherman in whose nets a young male killer whale became entangled somehow learned of the aquarist’s quest.  Griffin rushed north to Namu, British Columbia to negotiate.  All the bidders except Griffin retreated when they reflected on what it might take to move the whale.  When, as Griffin retells it, “I was the only one left.  They cut me a deal.  They quoted me $50,000.  I agreed to pay them $8,000, which was approximately the price of the nets.”  He flew back to Seattle and collected the eight thousand from friends and businesses on the waterfront.  When he returned to Namu he carried a gunnysack filled with small donated bills amounting to the eight Gs.  Griffin named the whale for the place, and the fame of Namu began the moment it set off on its 19-day and 450-mile odyssey to Seattle accompanied by a strange flotilla of advertising subsidized Argonauts, featuring celebrities and representatives of the competing media like Robert Hardwick of KVI-AM radio and Emmett Watson then of the Post-Intelligencer.  The floating pen that Griffin and his new partner Don Goldsberry fashioned from oil drums and steel lines became a kind of bandwagon as Griffin’s list of volunteers – including, in absentia, Ivar — swelled.  Griffin asked Ivar to pay for bringing the whale back.  Ivar countered with an offer to feed the often soaked swashbucklers and their hounds as well as send Claude Sedenquist, his head chef, along to do the cooking.  The reluctant chef’s recollections of the trip are worth introducing.


Namu in his tank was the water end of Pier 56.

“Ivar told me ‘Pack up a bag, you’ve got to go pick up a whale.  You’re going north with Watson to bring back Namu.’ I objected.  ‘Ivar we have got the Captain’s Table to open.’  Ivar answered, ‘No you have got to go.  After all when you return you can learn from someone else’s mistakes at the Table.’  So I obeyed and Ivar paid for all the food and fuel.”  But not the nets.

We will probably continue this story here later on.  As noted it is part of a work-long-in-progress on an Ivar biography called “Keep Clam.”  Other roughs from that work have been give rough premiers here and can be found in our earliest archives -whenever we manage to rescue them from what we are told is a temporary digital disappearance.


Whale sidewalk protest in front of Pier 56 on June 33, 1970.  Photo by Frank Shaw.


This panoramic look into Wallingford’s Meridian Playfield is one of the sites/subjects I chose to repeat practically every day since I started my “Wallingford Walk” now 28 months ago.  The number of tended locations is now more than 400.  By now I rarely add new ones.  The complete walk takes about four hours, but this includes visits with friends I come upon and stops at a few health spas like Julia’s bakery and Al’s Tavern.

At the top of this “Fall of Fall” there is a hint of autumn – or many hints with the first fallen leaves — in a three-part pan that was photographed on Oct/12 of this year.  In all seven choices or examples the themselves wide-angle parts have been merged and the seams mostly hidden.   In the scene below it, which was taken Oct/27 some of the trees are well into the fall season, and thirteen days later, on Nov/2 in the third-from-top pan, a good part of their colorful show has dropped to the floor of the Good Shepherd campus.  Four pans down, the gold has turned brown and is hardly noticed in the shadows.  The trees are almost bare.  This fall show, then, lasted about six weeks.  The winter doldrums will endure until early march.   We may hope that they will be interrupted by snow, as in five-down on the fifteen of January 2008.  The sixth pan from the top gives us a hint of what to expect.  Touches of spring are evident from my repeated prospect.  For all of these pans I’m propped against a tree at the southeast corner of the playfield.  This No. 6 spring scene was taken still in the first full year of my walking – on March 14, 2007.  (I began walking my irregular circle – from my front porch and back –  in July 2006.)  Here the wettest part of the playfield is protected from athletes with a plastic orange net.  Finally, in the bottom pan the park is in full summer on July/28 of this year, 2008.  The fence has been removed and the field is dry and a bit beaten.

For my own satisfaction I refer to this as Hyde Park, for the big trees remind me of London’s big park, especially when recorded  as it is here with 90 degrees of the playfield showing.  From these seven views you may get a mistaken notion that this playfield is little used.  Soccer players, fetching dogs, and sometimes mordant teens who smoke behind and beneath the distant trees along Meridian Avenue are almost regulars.  The dogs surely are regulars.  So far I have at least 700 pans from this location leaning against a big tree.   From these I will select and “polish” with Photoshop, and any other program that will help, about two hundred of them (I speculate) for a variety of animation that will involve rapid dissolves between the chosen scenes.


STAN JAMES in practice in 2004 and now In Memoriam

You will discover if you are half fortunate that one of the curses of old age is that many of your friends pop off before you do. It is then a bittersweet duty to recall some of their admired qualities.

Stan James died in his shoes and in his Granite Falls cabin last week. The moment is not known. I talked with him by phone on Saturday Oct. 25th to confirm that he was coming to Seattle the next day to lead with his strong baritone and button accordion a singing of Ivar’s theme song The Old Settler, for a 70th birthday party “thrown” my way by Jean and other friends at the Acres of Clams (it is also Ivar’s – not Ivar Haglund’s – 70th year).

Stan and I had a good long talk on the phone, as I sort of drilled him on his folk arts related history. I wanted to give a good recounting of it to those who came to the party. Stan did not make it to the party, nor did he call to explain why. He was 72 – I think.

Stan was alone when he died probably suddenly from his heart problems. He was first seen through a window by a neighbor who was asked to seek him out. The visitor thought that Stan was perhaps sleeping. As yet, no one knows how long he sat there waiting to be discovered.

Stan James was one of the most important figures in the history of regional folk music. He had a wonderful baritone voice, with great power or energy and an often times thrilling timbre. The zest and variety of his life can now be studied and wondered at through the discussion thread found at mudcat.

I met Stan in 1970 while filming “theatrical additions” for Sky River Rock Fire. That film and now video is still a work-in-progress nearly 40 years later – a documentary on the “counter-culture” of the late 60s and especially its music festivals, like the Sky River festivals.
Stan was part of a group who put on leather rags or remainders lent by a leather worker and ran through a forest with a fisheye camera. (That film is around already digitized and when I find it Jean has promised that he will add it to the posting of the Halibut rehearsal footage he had included here.) Stan was a delight that first day “in leather” and every day thereafter that I had contact with him.
Sharing Easter morning breakfasts with Stan, his family and circle of friends at his pioneer farmhouse in Wallingford was enchanting. Stan was the first artist to appear in Jean and my video history of Bumbershoot. He performed at the first Bumbershoot and probably most of the Folklife festivals.
In the early 60s, Stan opened one of the first coffeehouses – the Corroboree – that joined a rich menu of caffeine and pastries with folk singing. You can study the menu at his friend Bob Nelson’s Historical Archives on line. (For more on the Corroboree and the Guild 45th Theatre next door, click here.)
Stan was one of the movers in booking those first Hootenanny concerts at the Mural Amphitheatre at Seattle Center following the 1962 Century 21. He was a master marine carpenter and did some of the earliest work on restoring the Wawona, the venerable but forlorn schooner that has been the needy child of Northwest Seaport. Many are the concerts of Sea Chanteys that Stan has led both on the Wawona and at the Center for Wooden Boats next door at the south end of Lake Union.
The clips of Stan practicing here are taken from footage of the Halibuts, a short-lived group assembled to revive the charming fish songs that Seattle aquarium proprietor and restaurateur Ivar Haglund wrote mostly in the 1930s. The rehearsals took place here in Seattle, on Stan’s front porch, my Wallingford study, and folksinger Alan Hirsch’s home at Interbay. Alan was another of the Halibuts along with John Pfaf. Stan was 68 at the time and still strong of voice. To hear earlier clips of his singing, visit that thread on mudcat.
A memorial is being planned, of course, although at this writing the date and place are not yet set. There’s a problem with having it at the Center for Wooden Boats. It may not be big enough to hold his friends. But such an overflow would be another memorial to and reckoning of Stan James.
Paul Dorpat 11/6/08

Paul's 70th birthday bash

Two days before the actual event, we threw Paul a party.

Planning began only two weeks ago, initially with the thought that this might bring together a couple dozen of Paul’s nearest and dearest. Of course, that was naive thinking on my part. There are so many that Paul considers his nearest and dearest that the list of invitees kept growing until the day itself. We had well over a hundred for cake and bubbly, and for those that missed it, blame it on Jean. I didn’t have access to all of Paul’s lists and time was too too short.

Here, however, are a few images from the event itself. If I missed folks, my bad; I was juggling. Jef Jaisun was also snapping; perhaps we’ll see a few of his to fill in the gaps.

Thanks to all for making this such a marvelous event. Paul was, as is his wont and most appropriately, happy as a clam!

(click once to enlarge thumbnails, then again for full size)