Seattle Now & Then: La Quinta Apartments, 1929

Tenants of La Quinta Apartments pose in front of the building in December 2020. (Jean Sherrard)

UPDATE: You may recall our “Now & Then” column on the La Quinta Apartments from Jan. 28, 2021. The La Quinta tenants are attempting to buy the building, and today they announced that the sale of La Quinta to a developer has been successfully delayed to allow the tenants to prepare their offer. For more info, visit this link.

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UPDATE: The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously on March 17, 2021, to designate the La Quinta apartment building an official city landmark. Congratulations!

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Here is our “Now & Then” column from Jan. 28, 2021.

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Two years after the complex opened, this photo of the La Quinta Apartments from a 1929 Anhalt Company brochure exemplifies the pitch therein: “ ’Every Man’s Home Is His Castle’ is an Ideal realized to an unusual extent for tenants of Anhalt Apartment-Homes.” (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)
NOW: Socially distanced and momentarily unmasked, two dozen current and past tenants of La Quinta Apartments (some leaning from windows) are joined by historian Larry Kreisman (left) and Historic Seattle’s director of preservation services, Eugenia Woo (fourth from left), in displaying support for landmarking the Spanish Eclectic-style complex. For more info on the campaign, visit vivalaquinta.com. Following are the names of everyone. On the parking strip (from left): Larry Kreisman, Jacob Nelson, Brandon Simmons, Eugenia Woo, Alex Baker, Lawrence Norman, Tom Heuser (Capitol Hill Historical Society president), Juliana Roble, Eliza Warwick, Rebecca Herzfeld, Gordon Crawford, Samantha Siciliano, Ryan Batie, Michael Strangeways, Chelsea Bolan, Jerry Jancarik, Sean Campos, Clea Hixon, Jenifer Curtin, Marta Sivertsen, Aaron Miller, Finn (dog) and Mariana Gutheim. In the windows (from left): Zach Moblo (above), Ryan Moblo (below), Carlos Chávez (waving flag), María Jesús Silva (above) and Begonia Irigoyen (below). (Jean Sherrard)

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

U-shaped edifice courts its tenants in 1927 and today
By Clay Eals

How can a house feel more like a home if the home isn’t a house? That’s no trick question. It was a real concern for prolific Seattle developer Frederick Anhalt during the Roaring ’20s nearly a century ago.

Of note among some 45 buildings Anhalt constructed were 19 apartment complexes on Capitol Hill and in Queen Anne. Each exuded unique charm that eludes the modern tendency toward mega-unit boxes.

The first example of Anhalt’s approach and execution presides in our “Then” photo. Built in 1927, the La Quinta Apartments at 1710 East Denny Way in south-central Capitol Hill clearly reflect Spanish influences, with red-clay roof tiles and stucco embedded with colored stones and panels artfully arranged in arches.

Even more significant, however, is the early use of a U-shaped footprint surrounding an ample courtyard filled with foliage and places to sit. It’s long been a welcoming centerpiece for residents of the dozen apartments (two floors each), including units in the pair of turrets at the inner corners. This element creates the notion of “home” even today, when social gatherings are discouraged but an uplifting vision can provide at least the sense of belonging.

Frederick Anhalt, circa 1929. The self-taught builder, who lived to age 101, died in 1996. (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)

“I thought that people should have a nice view to look out to and the feeling that they were living in a house of their own, different from their neighbor’s,” the developer reflected in the 1982 book “Built by Anhalt” by Steve Lambert. “It didn’t seem to make sense … to spend a lot of extra money on a building site just because it had a pretty view in one direction. Somebody else could always put another building between you and your view.”

Small wonder that a for-rent ad in the Nov. 6, 1927, Seattle Times labeled La Quinta “the prettiest and best-arranged individual apartment building in Seattle.”

Today, tenants echo the sentiment. “I know all my neighbors, I talk to them all, I trust them,” says Chelsea Bolan, a resident since 2003. “You interact, you share, you see each other all the time.”

“There just aren’t places like this anymore,” says Lawrence Norman, who grew up there when his dad owned it in 1964-74. “It brings community together. That’s a special thing, and I think that should be preserved.”

Historic Seattle agrees and is nominating it for city landmark status. The first hearing is Feb. 3.

Heartily endorsing the effort is longtime architectural historian Larry Kreisman, who wrote the 1978 book “Apartments by Anhalt” and salutes the developer’s boomtime vision: “For an expanding middle class, Anhalt made dense city-living palatable.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are five additional photos, a brochure, a landmark nomination, a support letter and, in chronological order, 10 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.

Special thanks to Eugenia Woo, Larry Kreisman and the residents of La Quinta for their assistance with this column!

The 1937 King County assessor’s tax photo for La Quinta. (Puget Sound Regional Archives)
Panorama of the La Quinta apartments taken Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
Detail of La Quinta exterior art, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
La Quinta entry gate, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
La Quinta entry sign promoting landmark campaign, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
1929 Anhalt brochure cover. Click it to see full 16-page brochure. (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)
La Quinta landmark nomination cover, December 2020. Click it to see the full nomination.
Click to see pdf of two-page landmark support letter by Larry Kreisman.
Nov. 6, 1927, Seattle Times, page 54.
Oct. 31, 1931, Seattle Times, page 9.
April 17, 1932, Seattle Times, page 36.
April 24, 1932, Seattle Times, page 34.
Aug. 28, 1932, Seattle Times, page 15.
July 16, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 45.
July 30, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 41.
Nov. 18, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Nov. 8, 1976, Seattle Times, page 7.

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

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The cover of “We Hereby Refuse”

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

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

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

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

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

Jean: When and where does this story begin?

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

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

Jean: Why a graphic novel?

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

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

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

A full page from ‘We Hereby Refuse’

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

 

Seattle Now & Then: Playland track, 1941

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: On Sept. 21, 1941, in this view looking northwest, a crowd estimated at 4,000 watches as drivers of so-called “midget” race cars are escorted around Playland Stadium at approximately North 132nd Street and Aurora Avenue North, before a 100-lap Northwest championship contest. The pace car is a 1940 or 1941 Graham Hollywood, a rarity as only 1,597 were built in those two model years, says vehicle historian Mike Bergman, who also notes that the Hollywood used the body tooling of the 1936-1937 Cord 812. The track was bought in 1957 and converted to commercial buildings. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: The only auto racing today on the former Playland oval is done by drivers who maneuver through the parking lot of this former strip-mall, recently anchored by a Gov-Mart store. (Clay Eals)

Published in the Seattle Times online on July 29, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Aug. 1, 2021

Half-size race cars sported big appeal, but not everyone applauded
By Clay Eals

Sports bear an ongoing tension with safety, as violence often shadows physicality. Since childhood, I have alleged this about football, and don’t get me started on boxing or our city’s beloved hydroplanes.

So what are we to think of auto racing? Within Seattle, it’s gone, unless you count a recent trend of midnight hooligans commandeering residential streets to screech tires. Still ringing in many ears, however, are the 1960s radio ads for dragsters and “funny cars” on “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!” at Seattle International Raceway (now Pacific Raceways) near Kent.

Nationally, amid the Depression, a popular competitive subset emerged, employing a since-disparaged label: “midget” auto racing. The adjective addressed the cars.

THEN2: This detail from an Oct. 2, 1938, full-page Camel cigarette endorsement ad depicts “midget” race cars. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive)

Also known as doodlebugs and “bucking bronchos on wheels” according to a 1938 full-page Camel cigarette ad in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the vehicles were half the length and height of a typical sedan but capable of speeds to embody “the World’s Fastest Sport.” The pastime even merited a glorifying 1939 Hollywood film, “Burn ’Em Up O’Connor.”

Several regional venues hosted these races, including one, shown in our “Then” photo, at Playland, the long-cherished amusement park that operated from 1930 to 1961 in unincorporated Broadview, between Aurora Avenue North and Bitter Lake. Playland Stadium, which presented greyhound racing in 1933 until the state shuttered it for betting, opened its track for undersized-car contests in mid-1941.

There each week, up to 6,000 adults (60 cents to $1 admission) and children (30 to 50 cents) witnessed up to three-dozen helmeted drivers seeking fame by propelling tiny racers in hundreds of laps around the quarter-mile dirt oval.

From the start, however, the noise, dust and traffic stirred neighbors’ ire (and lawsuits). Moreover, drivers’ rivalries often crossed the line to serious injury. Twice, in 1941 and 1946, Playland crashes produced fatalities.

Royal Brougham, P-I sports editor, cast an acerbic eye. The enterprise, he wrote, was rigged vaudeville “in which the drivers pull their punches with one eye on the gate receipts.” But he also soberly observed that a driver’s death was a “heavy cost to pay for a two-hour thrill.”

World War II, with rubber and gas rationing, forced a three-year hiatus in the races. In 1954, reflecting post-war growth, Seattle annexed Broadview, and in 1957 a real-estate firm bought the Playland track, converting it to commercial buildings.

Racing under the “midget” name surfaced into the 1980s within Seattle, inside the old Coliseum and Kingdome. Today it endures worldwide, sometimes with a newer descriptor: “open wheel.”

While closing this fossil-fueled saga, dare I note that climate change ensures us all a different kind of race to a safe finish?

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are a full racing annual and, in chronological order, 96 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Plus, we have a song! Click on the record label below:

This is a 78 rpm label for “Midget Auto Blues” written by Bonnie Tutmarc, aka Bonnie Guitar, and performed by Seattle’s Paul Tutmarc and the Wranglers in 1978. Click the label to hear the song! (Courtesy Peter Blecha)
1946 Playland Midget Auto Racing Annual. Click to see full pdf.
Oct. 10, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 83.
June 15, 1933, Seattle Times, page 14.
June 25, 1933, Seattle Times, page 23.
July 13, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
July 14, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
July 14, 1933, Seattle Times, page 14.
July 16, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
July 21, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
July 26, 1933, Seattle Times, page 16.
July 27, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Aug. 21, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Aug. 30, 1933, Seattle Times, page 16.
May 12, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
May 19, 1934, Seattle Times, page 1.
May 19, 1935, Seattle Times, page 1.
April 24, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 39, Royal Brougham column.
May 4, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
June 14, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
June 17, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
April 23, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12, Royal Brougham column.
June 20, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6, editorial.
Oct. 2, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 74, Camel cigarette ad.
March 4, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
April 19, 1939, Seattle Times, page 4.
April 25, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
April 26, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
May 2, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
May 10, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13, Royal Brougham column.
June 6, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 21.
June 15, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 25.
July 6, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 21.
July 12, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
July 12, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
July 24, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
July 28, 1941, Seattle Times, page 17.
July 29, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13, Royal Brougham column.
July 29, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
July 31, 1941, Seattle Times, page 26.
Aug. 1, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
Aug. 1, 1941, Seattle Times, page 24.
Aug. 2, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
Aug. 3, 1941, Seattle Times, page 4.
Aug. 9, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
Aug. 13, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
Aug. 16, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
Aug. 27, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
Aug. 30, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Sept. 6, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Sept. 14, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 39.
Sept. 17, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
Sept. 19, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 25.
Sept. 20, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
Sept. 21, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
Sept. 22, 1941, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
Feb. 22, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 83.
May 7, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
May 21, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
June 5, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Aug. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 22.
June 20, 1942, Seattle Times, page 8, Alex Shults column.
June 24, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8, editorial.
July 4, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
July 4, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
July 9, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14, Royal Brougham column.
July 15, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
July 29, 1942, Seattle Times, page 20.
July 29, 1942, Seattle Times, page 20.
Oct. 31, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
Aug. 24, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
March 26, 1946, Seattle Times, page 18, Sandy McDonald column.
April 22, 1946, Seattle Times, page 17.
June 29, 1946, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
July 1, 1946, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
July 21, 1946, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 22, 1946, Seattle Times, page 13.
Sept. 14, 1946, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
April 24, 1947, Seattle Times, page 16.
April 25, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 38.
May 25, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 21.
May 30, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Aug. 1, 1947, Seattle Times, page 18.
Aug. 10, 1947, Seattle Times, page 31.
April 20, 1948, Seattle Times, page 18.
Aug. 21, 1948, Seattle Times, page 6.
April 26, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
Dec. 27, 1957, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
April 13, 1958, Seattle Times, page 66.
Aug. 2, 1958, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
Mayh 22, 1965, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Jan. 6, 1977, Seattle Times, page 53.
Oct. 18, 1977, Seattle Times, page 60.
Nov. 1, 1977, Seattle Times, page 49.
Feb. 5, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
Feb. 26, 1984, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 40.
Jan. 4, 2009, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 45.
Jan. 4, 2009, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 46.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

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

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

= = = = =

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle Now & Then: Second Ave post-fire, 1889

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: This photo looks north along Second Street (now Avenue) north of Spring Street in July 1889, just weeks after the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. Though a 1912 notation appears with the name McManus on the photo, that credit amounts to an appropriation of the work of prolific post-fire photographer John P. Soule. A cropped postcard of this image originally came to “Now & Then” from Woodinville Heritage Society. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW: Today, 132 years after the Great Seattle Fire, this tree-lined section of Second Avenue from the same vantage has become largely a high-rise canyon. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on July 15, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 18, 2021

Downtown broke out in tents after Seattle’s most disastrous fire
By Clay Eals

These days of human-made climate change, we steel ourselves for summertime forest fires that bring vile smoke to our air and lungs.

All the more reason to renew our awareness of Seattle’s most devastating fire, not from the wild but from an overturned glue pot in the heart of downtown.

The toughest aspect of that storied June 6, 1889, blaze may not have been its widespread destruction, but rather the arduous restoration of the city’s core. Our “Then” photo reflects the immediate emergence of a “multitude of tents,” many quite substantial, as headlined in the July 24, 1889, Seattle Post Intelligencer, which dispatched a reporter to count all 454 of them.

Detail from our “Then” showing “TENTS SIGNS” and in smaller print “PAINTED ANYWHERE.”

We look north to then-Denny Hill (pre-regrade) along Second Avenue (then Street) north of Spring Street, a section that escaped the more southern flames. A rippled banner at far left hints that the need for tents and signs “painted anywhere” was in itself urgent.

Among 11 make-do structures on this block is one on the west side sheltering Doheny & Marum Dry Goods, purveyor of women’s wear, drapery and linens. “Forty Cases New Goods Opened Yesterday,” the firm bellowed in the July 17, 1889, P-I. “Every department in our canvass establishment is now fully complete.”

Arthur Letts, 1886. (Tye Publishing)

Across the street, English émigré Arthur Letts hawked menswear from a lean-to. Seven years later, he moved to Los Angeles, reviving one famed department store, the Broadway, and creating another, Bullock’s.

A posthumous assist in researching these businesses came from citizen historian W. Burton Eidsmoe, a Seattle-area accountant who spent several years before his 1996 death at 81 typing up listings from the 1889 Polk directory and elsewhere. This resulted in his massive, 730-page report, “They Watched Seattle Burn,” available online via Seattle Public Library.

“He could get focused and single-minded,” says Eidsmoe’s son, Craig, of Mountlake Terrace. “He was a cross between (Sinclair Lewis’ fictional) Babbitt and H.L. Mencken, that American spirit of doing it on your own.”

Much, apparently, like the intrepid merchants who took to tents to lift downtown back onto its feet.

For contemporary resonance, here’s a coda: Of the 454 tents, 100 were small sleepers on a hillside block southeast of downtown, sent across the Cascades by the U.S. Army’s Fort Spokane.

“They are yet occupied for the distressed, under direction of the general relief committee,” the P-I reported. “These tents are all occupied nightly by men lately in want, who now get daily employment and will soon be out of need. No families are there. It is expected that this camp will be broken ere long and the tents turned over to the government.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Phyllis Keller of Woodinville Heritage Society, who first brought the “Then” postcard to our attention!

Below are W. Burton Eidsmoe’s massive report, five additional photos and, in chronological order, three historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Cover of “They Watched Seattle Burn,” a 1996 compilation by W. Burton Eidsmoe. Click image to see pdf of this 730-page report.
The original “Then” postcard, cropped from the photo provided by Ron Edge, as forwarded to this column by Phyllis Keller of Woodinville Heritage Society.
Second Avenue further north, post-fire, July 1889. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
Tents post-fire, July 1889. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
Tents post-fire, looking west, July 1889. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
Tents post-fire, looking west, July 1889. (D.T. Smith, courtesy Ron Edge)
July 21, 1889, Doheny & Marum ad, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
July 24, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Dec. 3, 1996, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.

Seattle Now & Then: puppeteer Aurora Valentinetti turns 100!

UPDATE: Remember the “Now & Then” column on puppeteer Aurora Valentinetti from two years ago? This Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Wenatchee, she celebrates her 100th birthday! Here’s a photo with her “100” crown. And read the Aug. 14, 2019, column and “web extras” (below) to learn more about her incredible life!

Aurora Valentinetti wears a “100” crown in honor of her 100th birthday on July 14, 2021. (Joanne Bratton)

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Much as Aurora Valentinetti asked children to do in her puppet shows, transport yourself to a different realm – in this case the drama department in the basement of Denny Hall at the University of Washington where, in this view from the late 1940s/early 1950s, the new professor coaxes the personality of her handmade Pip marionette for a production of “The Shoemaker and the Elves.” (James O. Sneddon, Aurora Valentinetti collection)
NOW: In a vestibule of Meany Hall, Valentinetti poses with the same seat prop and Pip marionette prior to her June 13, 2019, receipt of the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award. To see more of her and her students’ original creations and puppets of all kinds, from tiny to life-size, visit the Valentinetti Puppet Museum in downtown Bremerton. (Clay Eals)

(Published in Seattle Times online on Aug. 1, 2019,
and in print on Aug. 4, 2019)

A distinguished lifetime of bringing puppets to moppets
By Clay Eals

It all might seem rather simple, maybe childlike. But concocting, constructing and bringing to life an inanimate object to stir emotions and imagination is complex, profound business.

Just ask Aurora Valentinetti, winner of the University of Washington’s 2019 Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award, who as this column appears has reached her 98th birthday.

Propelling a walker as she strode across the Meany Hall stage June 13 to receive the award medal, the pint-sized honoree drew a roaring ovation while mirroring the fortitude that she carried from her West Seattle upbringing to the UW in the fall of 1939 and that helped her forge a lifetime persona – that of puppeteer.

From the early 1940s to her retirement in 1992 and beyond, this puppetry professor and promoter took her hand, rod and string creations seemingly everywhere – from the Showboat Theatre to the Metropolitan Theatre (both long gone), from St. Mark’s Cathedral to First African Episcopal Church, from Bainbridge to Bumbershoot, from Fremont to Federal Way, from statewide tours to national festivals, from the beloved Christmas windows of the old Frederick & Nelson department store downtown to her own “Puppet Playhouse” show on KCTS-TV, Channel 9.

Though her productions sometimes targeted adults by exploring themes from operatic to existentialist, Valentinetti’s deepest impact – and love – lay in her shows for children, tapping into worldwide cultures and using puppets that each took 200 hours to build.

She wasn’t a recognizable kids’ TV icon like Wunda Wunda or Brakeman Bill because her work, by definition, was behind the scenes. “You have to become the soul of that figure, and you don’t count,” she says.

Nonetheless, she mesmerized moppets, no doubt because most of the time, their eyes wide open, mouths agape and minds “still in touch with fantasy and magic,” they were reacting to the escapades of her puppets in person and in real time.

Such engagement, she says, validates a universal, desperate need for artistic endeavor.

“Without the arts, we are going to be robots or back to the level of animals,” she says. “Real learning happens through all of the arts, particularly for young children. That’s where they grow and expand. That also is where children can be individuals.”

Since college days, she lived in Wallingford to be close to her classes. She never married or drove a car, instead bidding rides from students. “They knew that if they drove me home, I’d feed them.”

To live closer to a niece, Joanne Bratton, she moved in 2016 to Wenatchee. There, she keeps several of her puppets close by. “They have a power all their own,” she says. “I just treat them like human beings.”

Perhaps she’s imparting a deeper lesson to us all.

WEB EXTRAS

This week, instead of a 360-degree video, we are providing links to several video interviews of Aurora Valentinetti from which quotes were drawn for this column.

Aurora Valentinetti, one month shy of 98, receives the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award June 13, 2019, at Meany Hall. This award presentation is at the end of this video, preceded by a “now” photo shoot for the Seattle Times “Now & Then” column and an interview of Aurora by Clay Eals.
Aurora Valentinetti,, 97, the legendary puppetry professor at the University of Washington for 50 years, received the Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award from the University of Washington Alumni Association on April 12, 2019, in a ceremony at her home in Wenatchee, Washington. This video depicts the ceremony only. It was emceed by Grant Kollett, UW assistant vice president for alumni and stakeholder engagement. Speakers were nieces Katy Larson and Joanne Bratton.
This is the same video as above but includes an interview at the end, starting at 37:10. Aurora Valentinetti,, 97, the legendary puppetry professor at the University of Washington for 50 years, received the Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award from the University of Washington Alumni Association on April 12, 2019, in a ceremony at her home in Wenatchee, Washington. This video depicts the ceremony, as well as displays and greetings beforehand from well-wishers and Aurora describing some of her favorite puppets afterward. The ceremony was emceed by Grant Kollett, UW assistant vice president for alumni and stakeholder engagement. Speakers were nieces Katy Larson and Joanne Bratton.
In this 1992 interview, “Upon Reflection” host Marcia Alvar speaks with Aurora “The Puppet Lady” Valentinetti, puppeteer and professor emeritus at the University of Washington School of Drama. Valentinetti examines the history of puppetry around the world. While Americans have regarded puppets as little more than a childish amusement, she highlights the importance of puppets in other cultures and recognizes the efforts of Jim Henson in gaining a wider acceptance for puppets as a viable form of theater.

Also, below are two additional photos, plus, in chronological order, several clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and one from the Mercer Island Reporter that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

In the early 1950s, Aurora Valentinetti displays seven of her marionettes at the University of Washington. (Aurora Valentinetti collection)
Aurora Valentinetti displays her University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award medal minutes after she received it on June 13, 2019. (Clay Eals)
Oct. 19, 1947, Seattle Times, page 63
July 20, 1948, Seattle Times, page 9
Dec. 18, 1950, Seattle Times, page 21
Dec. 31, 1950, Seattle Times, page 54
Dec. 13, 1951, Seattle Times, page 62
Dec. 17, 1951, Seattle Times, page 27
June 20, 1952, Seattle Times, page 20
Jan. 25, 1959, Seattle Times, page 69
March 29, 1959, Seattle Times, page 109
April 14, 1959, Seattle Times, page 39
Feb. 4, 1962, Seattle Times, page 144
June 24, 1962, Seattle Times, page 62
Jan. 24, 1963, Mercer Island Reporter
April 3, 1963, Seattle Times, page 21
April 7, 1963, Seattle Times, page 16
Nov. 10, 1963, Seattle Times, page 16
March 16, 1964, Seattle Times, page 141
March 29, 1964, Seattle Times, page 130
July 5, 1964, Seattle Times, page 41
Aug. 18, 1965, Seattle Times, page 21
Oct. 27, 1968, Seattle Times, page 206
Oct. 27, 1968, Seattle Times, page 211
Dec. 8, 1968, Seattle Times, page 53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: Luna Park and Queen Anne Hill at night, 1907-1913

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Shining lower left in this 1907-1913 postcard is Luna Park. With more than two-dozen amusement rides and other “attractions,” as well as concerts and a natatorium (saltwater pool), it advertised itself in 1908 as “the Nation’s Greatest Playground on the Pacific Coast.” The park was outlined in Westinghouse “A” lamps, deemed the top bulbs of the day. “Brilliant Electrical Displays Every Evening,” ads promised. (Courtesy Aaron J. Naff, “Seattle’s Luna Park.“)
NOW: Perched above Hamilton Viewpoint Park at a similar prospect to the vintage postcard are Kerry Korsgaard, holding a framed version of the poem she requested, and typewriter poet Sean Petrie, with his “Listen to the Trees” book and his 1928 Remington Portable No. 2. A state ferry stands in for the postcard’s steamer Kennedy. Petrie returns from Texas to create poetry in West Seattle this weekend, including for the Junction Sidewalk Sale. For details, visit SeanPetrie.com. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on July 8, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 11, 2021)

Illustrated, impromptu poetry is just this author’s type
By Clay Eals

If I were Sean Petrie, I might be able to write this column in two minutes.

Petrie, 50, is a thaumaturge with a typewriter. And no, he won’t send you to the dictionary like I just did. He specializes in down-to-earth poetry, clacked out impromptu on his manual 1928 Remington Portable No. 2.

In West Seattle, home away from home for the University of Texas law lecturer, several times a year you’ll find him escaping legalities at a festival, on a street corner, basically anywhere people are walking by. His sign, “Free Poems: Any Topic,” lures them in. After a brief chat and a few moments of focused rat-a-tat-tat, they leave with a piece of personalized verbal art.

Petrie has collected 45 of his creations and, like a relative of this column, combined them with historical and present-day photos in a charming book: “Listen to the Trees: A Poetic Snapshot of West Seattle, Then & Now” (Documentary Media, 2020).

THEN2: Sean Petrie’s poem, “Nightowls,” created in 2018. Kerry Korsgaard, requester of the poem, is a longtime board member of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Because of images and assistance lent him in the publishing process, Petrie credited the historical society as co-author of his book. (Sean Petrie)

Which brings us to our “Then” photo, used in the book to augment a poem he wrote for West Seattleite Kerry Korsgaard about her favorite local creatures, the nightowls. For her theme, he conjured a 15-line tribute in the voice of the critters “Who shine / When that sun dips down” in the “shimmering / Soft darkness.”

The illustrative image is a roughly 110-year-old, hand-colored postcard of “Seattle at Night, from West Seattle.” The peaceful scene is illuminated by the lights of twin-mounded Queen Anne Hill and the moon, shimmering indeed over dark Elliott Bay while the Mosquito Fleet steamer Kennedy slices the reflection.

In the West Seattle foreground are the lamps of a small yacht and the famed Luna Park, which operated at Duwamish Head from 1907 to 1913. In our repeat, taken at a slightly higher point, atop the Sunset Avenue stairclimb above Hamilton Viewpoint Park, trees obscure today’s teeming Harbor Avenue waterfront, including bike paths, Don Armeni Boat Ramp and (out of frame) the King County Water Taxi.

The poems and photos in “Listen to the Trees” encompass neighborhoods, businesses, parks and people peninsula-wide — an expansive result from a deceptively spare form.

For eight years, Petrie and others in a national writers group called Typewriter Rodeo have nurtured this approach, earning raves from the likes of cinematic thaumaturge Tom Hanks, a typewriter aficionado. “You QWERTY Cowboys,” Hanks wrote (typed). “Thank you … for keeping the sound and fury of typewriting available to all.”

In case you didn’t look it up, thaumaturge is defined as “a worker of wonders and performer of miracles; a magician.”

Almost a poem in itself.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are three additional photos, a video link and, in chronological order, 15 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Cover for “Listen to the Trees: A Poetic Snapshot of West Seattle, Then & Now” (Documentary Media, 2020). Sticker indicates the book won a silver medal from the Independent Publishers Association. (Courtesy Sean Petrie)
VIDEO: Click the image above to see a one-hour presentation on Luna Park by documentary filmmaker Paul Moyes, including a screening of his “Location, Layout and Attractions of Seattle’s Lost Luna Park.” The presentation took place June 30, 2021, and was sponsored by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
The downtown skyline and the moon over Elliott Bay on March 28, 2021. (Clay Eals)
Endorsement letter from actor Tom Hanks, May 2, 2018. (Sean Petrie)
May 9, 1908, Seattle Times, page 5.
Jan. 31, 1911, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Oct. 29, 1911, Seattle Times, page 50.
April 29, 1912, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
April 30, 1912, Seattle Times, page 19.
Feb. 27, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
March 15, 1913, Seattle Times, page 2.
April 20, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 77.
June 4, 1913, Seattle Times, page 3.
June 8, 1913, Seattle Times, page 15.
June 18, 1913, Seattle Times, page 9.
June 23, 1913, Seattle Times, page 8.
June 27, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
Aug. 9, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
Aug. 12, 1913, Seattle Times, page 11.

Seattle Now & Then: Vicarious vacations, way back in 1953 & 1962

Readers, in tune with the theme of this week’s column, we encourage you to submit your own photos of early-day, treasured vacation moments. We’ll feature them on this blog and select several to appear in this column at summer’s end. Email them to VicariousVacationPix@gmail.com. As with our own vacation snaps, we’ll track down photographers from around the world to reshoot “Nows” of your “Then” vacations!

= = = = =

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN (Clay): Flanked by his parents Virginia and Henry, 2-1/2-year-old Clay Eals straddles a tourist “zonkey” circa Christmas 1953 and New Year’s Day 1954, likely on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana, Mexico. (Clay Eals collection)
NOW (Clay): Scott Koenig, a San Diego food blogger, graphic designer and marketing specialist who conducts “taco tours” in northern Mexico, poses with a “zonkey” in 2014 on Tijuana’s tourist boulevard, Avenida Revolución. Painting donkeys for tourist photos has declined due to animal-rights concerns. Koenig has been told they are out only on weekends, partly because of a COVID-induced drop in tourists. (Courtesy Scott Koenig)
THEN (Jean): Posing on the banks of Venice’s Grand Canal in 1962 are (from left) 5-year-old Jean Sherrard, his grandmother Dorothy Randal, brother Kael and mother Edith. In the distance is the Ponte degli Scalzi, one of only four bridges crossing the Grand Canal. The stone arch footbridge was completed in 1934. (Jean Sherrard collection)
NOW (Jean): Several staff members of the three-star Hotel Antiche Figure pose at the identical location on the Grand Canal. From left, Ecaterina Madan, Hana Bohusevich, Ivano Tagliapietra, Francesca Zambotto, and Majid Kokalay. Hotel Manager Alessandro Fornasier graciously offered to retake our “Now” photo, in which little seems to have changed. (Alessandro Fornasier)

Published in the Seattle Times online on July 1, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 4, 2021

Oh, the places we won’t go — but photos can take us there
By Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

JEAN: This Fourth of July, we at “Now & Then” mark the occasion with a declaration of interdependence. In a time riven with political and viral strife, we call upon you, dear readers, to unite with us in recalling and celebrating past joys and anticipating future pleasures.

CLAY: We all have places we’d like to go, but the complications and risks have been formidable. It’s only natural for our thoughts to drift to places we’ve visited and would like to experience again.

JEAN: Sometimes the places we long to revisit exist only in the pages of old photo albums when our memories were unformed. You’ve got one of those.

CLAY: I’ve long pondered a photo of my parents and me in Tijuana near the end of 1953 when I was 2-1/2. I’m astride a donkey, painted to look like a zebra for visibility, called a “zonkey.” Background signs tell more of the story.

JEAN: Talk about a photo and caption all in one!

CLAY: I never asked my parents about it while they were alive. It might have been taken when we visited my dad’s sister in Los Angeles. It’d be fun to try to find the spot again, but I’ve not been to Mexico since. (Playing Herb Alpert records doesn’t count.) What example comes to your mind?

JEAN: First, a bit of backstory. The U.S. Army drafted my dad in 1960, right out of the University of Washington Medical School. His young family ended up in a little town just outside Stuttgart, Germany, where we lived for the next three years. Every summer, we tooled around Europe in a VW van, from Greece to Norway, once with my grandparents in tow. And dad took thousands of color photos, including this one in Venice, with his trusty Zeiss-Ikon.

CLAY: Hmm, you’re making me think of Paul Simon.

JEAN: Right on: “Kodachrome”!

CLAY and JEAN (singing together): “Give us those nice bright colors / Give us the greens of summer / Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.”

JEAN: It’s been a gas enlisting photographers to shoot “Now” photos in roughly the same spots. In-person visits may not be possible in coming months, but these repeat images fire the imagination and anticipate our return to “normal.”

Readers, we encourage you to submit your own photos of early-day, treasured vacation moments. We’ll feature them on this blog and select several to appear in this column at summer’s end. Email them to VicariousVacationPix@gmail.com. As with our own vacation snaps, we’ll track down photographers from around the world to reshoot “Nows” of your “Then” vacations!

WEB EXTRAS

No 360-degree video for this installment, for obvious reasons. But we do have another vicarious-vacations photo pair from Jean:

THEN2 (Jean): Striking a pose in front of Notre-Dame de Paris in September 1963 are Jean Sherrard’s paternal grandmother Marion and parents Don and Edith. Like most medieval cathedrals, Notre-Dame was a labor of spiritual love built over centuries, begun in 1163 and largely completed in 1345. (Jean Sherrard collection)
NOW2 (Jean): On April 15, 2019, Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire, narrowly averting complete destruction. The enormous job of reconstruction likely will conclude before the 2024 Summer Olympics to be held in Paris. Two masked Parisians certainly hope for a return to normal. (Berangere Lomont)

We also present a couple of additional Tijuana-based photos contributed by Scott Koenig, shown above posing with a “zonkey.”

Signage in 2018 at Food Garden Plaza Rio, Tijuana,  reflects that the city has evolved to become a world-class dining destination. (Scott Koenig)
Tijuana’s iconic arch as viewed from Plaza Santa Cecilia. (Scott Koenig)

Seattle Now & Then: Puffed-up Wayfarer, 1921

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Visual chicanery to match verbal puffery for “The Wayfarer” came in the lavish program sold at the 1921 shows. Across its center spread sprawled this east-facing photo depicting the stage surrounded by a jam-packed crowd at University of Washington (now Husky) Stadium. Trouble is, the crowd in the doctored photo is the one that attended the stadium’s inaugural football game the previous Nov. 27, when the UW fell 28-7 to Dartmouth. (Pierson & Co. courtesy Dan Kerlee)
THEN2: This is one of the few findable photos accurately placing the massive “Wayfarer” stage in its venue in 1921. It likely depicts a daytime rehearsal for the Christian passion play, touted as Seattle’s answer to a similar show in Oberammergau, Germany, that has been performed about every 10 years starting in 1634. (Cowan photo, Museum of History & Industry, 1980.7005.5)
THEN3: Also from the 1921 “Wayfarer” program is this depiction of the grand finale, in which all bow to Christ. (Pierson & Co., courtesy Dan Kerlee)
THEN4: This southeast view shows the Wayfarer stage under construction at University of Washington Stadium. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW: From the same vantage at Husky Stadium, this Nov. 18, 2017, image shows a hefty football audience watching the Washington Huskies defeat the University of Utah Utes, 33-30. Originally, unlimited by a stage, the stadium held 30,000. Today, with a 1936 addition and new grandstands in 1950 and 1987, the capacity is 70,083. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 24, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 27, 2021)

In 1921, a passion play of ‘reverential grandeur’
shone brightly, if bitterly, at UW
By Clay Eals

Believe it or not, Seattle once possessed “the largest stage in the world” for an event “second to nothing that the world has ever seen.”

From promoters and newspapers, such superlatives flowed to biblical proportions for “The Wayfarer,” a Christian passion play whose Seattle centennial is next month.

The production rented eight-month-old University of Washington (Husky) Stadium and erected a stage covering its east end, with a massive 100-by-75-foot proscenium. The six-night show ran at 8 p.m. July 23 and July 25-30, 1921, drawing a total of 88,285 who bought $1.10-$3.30 tickets ($16-$49 today, with inflation) to see 100 paid performers and 5,000 local volunteers present a three-hour musical tribute to Christ, culminating in his allegorical, global coronation.

“Never, perhaps, in the 1,921 years since was born the Babe ‘that in a manger lay’ has humanity witnessed such a spectacle of reverential grandeur,” stated one ad.

THEN5: From a 2016 doctoral dissertation on Northwest pageantry for the University of California at Riverside by Chelsea Kristen Vaughn, curator of the Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria, is this portrait of the Rev. James Crowther, originally of Seattle’s First United Methodist Church and author of “The Wayfarer.”

To counter the “horrible nightmare” of the just-completed Great War (World War I), “The Wayfarer” had inspired awe since its 23-show debut in 1919 in Columbus, Ohio, and five-week run in 1919-1920 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The fanfare intensified when its author, the Rev. James Crowther, formerly of Seattle’s First United Methodist Church, pressed a button in Philadelphia to electrically launch Seattle’s opening performance.

On its front page, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer predicted “The Wayfarer” would become “the most important civic enterprise ever undertaken here.” Five nights in, the show legitimized the tall talk when attendance hit the event’s 24,000 capacity and 3,000-plus were turned away. “Stadium Too Small!” trumpeted a front-page Seattle Times headline.

Crowther had projected, and many locals had assumed, that “The Wayfarer” would become an annual affair here. Civic leader C.T. Conover vowed it would “make Seattle a Mecca for spiritual uplift and regeneration.” But cracks quickly shattered the sheen.

After closing night, the troupe’s manager, Edgar Webster, clumsily declared the pageant “strictly a business proposition” that would use half its $125,000 Seattle proceeds to — as implied by its foot-traveling name — stage it wherever it wished.

“COMMERCIALISM!” cried a Times editorial, accusing Webster of breaching public trust. “Bitterly disappointed,” the paper said it “resents this playing upon the normal religious feeling of the tens of thousands who … went away confident that Seattle would become the home of the greatest spectacle of its kind in the world.”

Immediately, Webster’s board walked back his affront. “The Wayfarer” returned to the stadium, but just twice, in 1922 and 1925. Of course, the generations to come supplied us further evidence that transcendent visions often fail to sustain the heights of their hype.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Magnolia historian Dan Kerlee as well as  Chelsea Kristen Vaughn for her informative doctoral dissertation (see below). Both provided invaluable assistance with this installment.

Below is an additional photo, a doctoral dissertation and, in chronological order, 56 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

A view of University of Washington Stadium on July 23, 1923, showing the visit of President Warren G. Harding. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
To view a pdf of the 2016 doctoral dissertation by Chelsea Kristen Vaughn, “Playing West: Performances of War and Empire in Pacific Northwest Pageantry,” click the cover page above. The chapter on the Wayfarer in Seattle begins on page 73.
April 16, 1920, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Nov. 7, 1920, Seattle Times, page 7.
Jan. 14, 1921, Seattle Times, page 5.
May 2, 1921, Seattle Star.
July 2, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
July 2, 1921, Seattle Times, page 7.
July 3, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
July 6, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
July 9, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 9, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 15, 1921 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
July 16, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 20, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
July 20, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
July 21, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
July 23, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 23, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 38.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 25, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 38.
July 25, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 25, 1921, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 26, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 26, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
July 26, 1921, Seattle Times, page 8.
July 27, 1921, Seattle Times, page 13.
July 28, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
July 28, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
July 28, 1921, Seattle Times, page 13.
July 29, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 29, 1921, Seattle Times, page 9.
July 29, 1921, Seattle Times, page 13.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 12.
July 31, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
July 31, 1921, Seattle Times, page 7.
July 31, 1921, Seattle Times, page 14.
Aug. 1, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
Aug. 1, 1921, Seattle Times, page 2.
Aug. 1, 1921, Seattle Times, page 6.
Aug. 2, 1921, Oregonian.
Aug. 2, 1921, Seattle Star.
Aug. 2, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
Aug. 2, 1921, Seattle Times, page 7.
Aug. 5, 1921, Seattle Times, page 2.
Aug. 7, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 60.
Aug. 10, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
Aug. 23, 1921, Seattle Times, page 11.
June 21, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 46.

Seattle Now & Then: Failed Gold Rush rescue, 1898

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: In Edward Curtis’s hand-tinted lantern slide, twenty-one would-be government rescuers line the rails of the Lucile at Schwabacher’s Wharf in 1898, ready to bring food and supplies to starving miners in the frozen north. Reports of privation did not deter an estimated 100,000 Argonauts (70,000 of whom passed through Seattle) from heading to the Klondike by 1900. Of those, only 300 struck it rich. (Courtesy Scott Rohrer and Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: Framed by the Seattle Wheel and the Aquarium, a 70-foot yacht owned by Sailing Seattle and called the Obsession, returns from an evening journey past the former Schwabacher’s Wharf. The dock, which survived the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, was renamed Pier 58 after World War II. Removed in the 1960s, it was replaced by Waterfront Park until its collapse and demolition in 2020. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 17, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 20, 2021)

In 1898, all that glittered wasn’t gold — or a rescue expedition
By Jean Sherrard

It’s said that success has a hundred fathers. Failure, on the other hand, is an orphan best ignored and forgotten.

On July 17, 1897, seven months before our “Then” photo was taken, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer trumpeted: “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! Sixty-Eight Rich Men on the steamer Portland. Stacks of Yellow Metal!”

On that misty Saturday morning, thousands at Schwabacher’s Wharf on the downtown waterfront cheered the haggard returnees who lined the steamer’s decks bearing at least a ton of “golden fruit.”

The Seattle Times listed the 10 wealthiest miners, starting with Seattle bookseller William Stanley, worth a reported $112,000. “Now is the time,” The Times allowed, “to go to the rich Klondike country, where … gold is as plentiful as sawdust.” The P-I predicted: “There will no doubt be a great rush for the new discoveries, and the majority will outfit in and leave from Seattle.”

Such news of a bonanza was most welcome amid Seattle’s economic depression. It sparked a stampede known as the Gold Rush.

Lured were the jobless and gainfully employed, from bums to bankers, con men to carpenters. Heeding the siren song was Seattle Mayor W.D. Wood, who immediately resigned, along with a dozen Seattle cops. Within 10 days of the Portland’s arrival, more than 1,500 latter-day Argonauts headed north.

Of course, the smart money played it safe and stayed home. Downtown merchants and shipping firms ramped up services while Chamber of Commerce boosters insisted that only Seattle could serve as a jumping-off point and fanned the rallying cry: “Klondike or bust!”

Contrarians — from returning miners to newspapers — immediately sounded notes of caution. “Winter has set in at the frozen north,” the Tacoma Daily News reported Sept. 10, 1897. “Those who have been seeking gold must now seek for food or starve.”

News of impending famine in the Yukon soon reached the halls of government. In December, an alarmed U.S. Congress funded a “relief expedition.” Accordingly, the sailing ship Lucile (subject of our “Then” photo) docked in Seattle, fully loaded with 1,200 tons of supplies, 110 mules, and 22 government packers, all commanded by two Army lieutenants.

On Feb. 15, 1898, the morning the expedition departed, “an immense crowd” lined docks to cheer the would-be rescuers. Photographer Edward S. Curtis, whose brother Asahel already was mining the Yukon for gold and photos, captured the Lucile and its crew on what should have been an auspicious day.

Mysteriously, however, the three-masted schooner never completed its mission. Sparse and cryptic accounts indicate only that after weeks of delay, it was towed into Skagway. Its efforts never bore fruit — or delivered it.

WEB EXTRAS

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

 

Now & Then here and now