Come to ‘Wunda Wunda’ group photo — noon Sunday in Magnolia

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Calling all “Wunda Wunda” fans! Come honor her by taking part in a group photo with this “Wunda Wunda” standee at noon this Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

Ruth Prins, who played “Wunda Wunda” on KING-TV from 1953 to 1972, died Nov. 6 at age 101. Jean Sherrard and I are staging the group photo so that it can appear in an upcoming tribute to Ruth in PacificNW magazine of the Seattle Times.

The photo will be taken in Ruth’s longtime neighborhood, at Magnolia Boulevard Viewpoint, between Howe Street and Montavista Place. (See map below.)

The viewpoint has a large parking lot, and if it fills up, there is plenty of nearby parking space along the scenic boulevard.

We are grateful that no rain is forecast, but it’ll be a chilly 41 degrees, so bundle up. The backdrop will be the Space Needle, part of downtown and, if it’s visible, Mount Rainier. We will aim to take the photo shortly after noon, and we should be done by 12:30 p.m.

If you have any questions, please call or email me. Hope you can come!

Clay Eals
(206) 484-8008

Magnolia Boulevard Viewpoint is at the red button. Click twice to enlarge.

Seattle Now & Then: Van Asselt flambeau, 1940

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THEN1: The Van Asselt flambeau was built in 1940. In this undated early photo, nearby foliage is scant. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
NOW: On a rainy Sunday, Karen Spiel crouches beneath the Van Asselt flambeau with her Kirkland-based granddaughter Clara, 6, the same age as Spiel was when she cavorted around and pondered the monument. (Jean Sherrard)

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

Questions light up a childlike look at the Van Asselt flambeau
By Clay Eals

Today we return to you, dear readers, for help with one of our periodic puzzles. This one invokes the delights of childhood.

We speak of a 20-foot brick-and-metal monument that looks to be an elevated gyroscope, standing sentinel at the east end of Van Asselt Playground next to the mixed-income Seattle Housing Authority neighborhood of NewHolly (formerly Holly Park) in South Seattle.

In summer 2020, George Scarola, a friend and NewHolly resident, asked what I knew about this unmarked pillar. Off and on, through sporadic digging, I’ve learned some but not nearly enough.

THEN2: An excerpt from the Don Sherwood files describes the Van Asselt flambeau. (Seattle Parks)

From the invaluable, handwritten Don Sherwood research files at Seattle Parks comes its name — the French term “flambeau,” which Sherwood describes as “a flaming torch sundial that was common in the South: a gaslit smudge in the orchards and by whose light the children played.”

As verified only by a 1964 Seattle Times photo caption, it was sponsored by local garden clubs and built by the federal Works Progress Administration in 1940. Sherwood adds that it bore a lighted wick, and a paved area and fireplaces were part of its “pageantry.”

Which garden clubs? Who designed it? What did it cost? Why was it erected in Holly Park? Did it salute flight and next-door Boeing? Was it ever lit? And why does no plaque interpret it?

Larry Webb, a retired auto-service manager and pro-racecar driver from Covington, grew up in Holly Park starting as a first-grader in 1943. He and friends played hide-and-seek in nearby brush but never saw the flambeau lit. Once, he recalls, vandals wrested an adjacent softball backstop and hung it from the tower’s speared, rounded top.

Karen Spiel, a West Seattleite who retired this fall after 33-plus years at Seattle Public Library, grew up “a few skips away” from the monument in the 1960s.

“We used to call that thing the sundial,” she says. “We couldn’t figure out how it worked, but we had lots of weird kid games where the sundial was home base. Sometimes we would walk around and peer up at it, trying to figure out how it worked. We were sure that it could tell you the time, if we just knew how.

“When it got dark, we wanted to stay out as long as we could. We pretended that we couldn’t hear our moms calling us, but when Vern’s mom, whose house was closest, started calling Vern, we knew it was time to head home.”

Her youthful wonderment is persistent, even today: “What a charming and mysterious thing it is!”


Readers, can you clear up any more of its mystery?


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column later this week!

Below also are six historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

In addition, we report that a reader named D. Carver of Marysville posted this comment on the Seattle Times website today:

“My 1973 book about sundials says that this is an armillary sphere. The slanted spear, i.e. the gnomon, casts a shadow on the lower half of the ring, or band, where the hour marks are.”

Dec. 27, 1964, Seattle Times, page 27, part of photo essay on local sundials.
Dec. 30, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
Sept. 5, 1940, Seattle Times, page 10.
March 2, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
July 31, 1941, Seattle Times, page 7.
Jan. 1, 1968, Seattle Times, page 32. What’s a five-letter word for “flambeau”?


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: Alki landing anniversary, 2000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

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

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

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


Paul Dorpat celebrates his 83rd birthday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Mike Bergman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

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

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


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.


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

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

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

Here’s the introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

— Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

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

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

VIGNETTE 02 — by Clay
  • (Courtesy Marti Dell)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For whom is the 19th century known?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logo for the Woman’s Century Club.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

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

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

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

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

Now & Then here and now