Maybe I should have titled this post “Hurry Summer.”
Although people living in the Pacific Northwest may feel like we skipped over spring this year, today is the official first day of summer! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with an early 50s postcard of a southern Washington beach!
This picture appears to be taken someplace south of the city of Long Beach, maybe at the beach located at the end of Jetty Road, near Peacock Spit. As the caption states, it shows the estuary at the end of the Columbia River from the Washington side.
Peacock Spit was named after the USS Peacock, which crashed there during a storm in 1841 while trying to enter the Columbia River.
Here’s to a summer we can spend out on the beach with our woodies, horses, and picnic baskets!
Today, I’d like to deviate slightly from the blog’s usual content and bring you a look at an image you won’t find anywhere else on the internet. Straight from my great-uncle’s photo album, check out this picture of Lake Wenatchee c. late 1930s!
I believe this specific photo was taken from the shoreline at Lake Wenatchee State Park, with Emerald Island visible on the right side.
Lake Wenatchee (Labeled “Wenatchee Lake” in the photo album) is located 18 miles northwest of Leavenworth off of State Route 207. The glacier-and-snow-fed lake is five miles long and surrounded by private homes, campgrounds, and a 489-acre park. Today, the park is a popular spot for all kinds of outdoor recreation–from fishing to swimming to camping–but this scenic lake has a history rooted in logging and farming.
The area around the lake was originally a resting spot for several tribes who camped, fished, and gathered berries along the shores en route to the coast for trading. in 1811, fur traders visited Chelan County, and by the end of the decade, pioneers settled in the area, clearing thick forests for farms. Logging continued as a major industry around the lake.
It was in this area that a hunter from a local tribe bragged about killing two white men, which many believe triggered the Yakima Indian War (1855-1858).
After North Shore Drive was built along the lake in the early 1920s, Lawrence Dickinson opened a gas station, store, and dance hall near where he lived with his family on Crescent Beach. It proved to be one of the most successful attempts at making Lake Wenatchee a tourist destination.
In the late 1940s and through the 1950s, the Wenatchee YMCA developed a camp on the southern end of the lake that remains in use today.
Whooo doesn’t love ice cream? And whooo doesn’t love sundaes, floats, and concoctions with names like “cherry phosphate” and “egg cream”? Whoo has fond memories of Owl Drug in Wenatchee, Washington?
The history of Wenatchee’s Owl Drug predates the formation of Chelan County. In 1894, only a year after the incorporation of Wenatchee, Owl Drug opened in the city’s downtown. Business boomed, and despite times of economic difficulty, Owl Drug persevered and prospered. A soda fountain was added to the pharmacy in 1926.
In 2001, after 107 years of business, Owl Drug fell victim to economic hardship and closed. The soda fountain remained open under the name “The Owl”, selling sweet treats and gifts. After a year of no economic improvement, The Owl’s owner decided to close permanently and liquidate all assets.
Customers and staff alike were saddened by the loss of their beloved landmark. Pam Higgins, who started working at the Owl soda fountain in 1971, didn’t want to see Wenatchee’s only soda fountain sold piece-by-piece, so she and her husband, Frank, bought it. At first they had no idea what to do with it, but at the suggestion of local business owners, they moved everything two blocks north to the Commercial Building.
Now located at 25 N Wenatchee Ave, the counter, cabinets, stools, equipment, and Hamilton Beach mixers were all purchased from the original Owl. Pam and Frank also bought the pharmacy’s original cash register and 1926 Toledo Scale Company scale. These scales are said to be the most accurate scales in existence, and this particular scale was borrowed for military use during WWII. It was shipped to Moses Lake, Washington and used to weigh soldiers before they were sent out for duty.
The Owl is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30am to 6pm, and on Sunday from 12pm-5pm.
Although the air may feel brisk and many areas of the country are still getting snow, Spring has officially arrived, and soon will the leaves and the flowers.
Over the next few months, events like the Tulip Festival, Daffodil Parade, and Apple Blossom Festival will celebrate the coming of spring, flowers, and warmth. And Wenatchee and its environs may start looking something like this:
While I love the touristy nature of this 1950s postcard, it’s a memento of the times before the Space Needle and before the wineries when apples and apple tourism were a big deal in Washington state.
Apples first came to what is now Washington in 1826, before the organization of either the Washington or Oregon Territories. By 1889, the year of Washington’s statehood, commercial orchards were planted near rivers and advanced irrigation systems. Apple production continued to increase, and by the end of WWI Washington’s apple industry was booming. However, high production and transport costs as well as cheap (yet lower quality) apples from competitors drove the need for some sort of advertising campaign.
In 1926, Pacific Northwest Boxed Fruit formed to promote Washington apples in major markets around the country. Two years later the Washington Boxed Apple Bureau, but funding was voluntary and uncertain and by 1934, its future looked dim.
March 17th marked the 80th birthday of the Washington Apple Commission, the day Governor Clarence Martin signed into law the Washington State Apple Advertising Commission in hopes of helping an industry that had been hurt by the Depression. Over the next several decades, the commission researched better growing, storing, and shipping methods and developed a strong advertising campaign.
During the 1950s, advertisements praised apples for their nutrition and dental benefits, calling the apple “nature’s toothbrush”, and in 1961 Washington Apples released its first trademarked logo. In tandem with the unveiling of the logo, apple ambassadors traveled across the country to promote Washington State Apples. Throughout the 1960s and beyond, print, radio, and TV ads promoted Washington apples throughout the country. In the 1970s, Washington apples were available worldwide for the first time.
Currently, Washington is the #1 producer of apples in the United States, producing 64% of the nation’s supply.
My uncle remembers seeing a Washington Apples TV ad as a child. He thought they looked so good that he told my grandma, “We should get some of those Washington State Apples!”
Grandma pointed to the orchard outside and said, “What do you think those are?”
If you have 30 minutes to spare, check out this Washington Apples educational film, Appleland, from 1954. Happy spring!
What is that strange concrete structure perched on the south end of Seattle’s Green Lake? It’s a staircase, it’s a set of bleachers…It’s the Aqua Theatre!
Or, at least, what’s left of the Aqua Theatre.
Now just a shell of its former self, its hard to envision what the theatre looked like in its glory days. Today, it’s a popular spot for joggers, and the perfect bench for anybody wanting to rest a while and look out over Green Lake, but at its peak, it had the capacity to seat 5,582 people.
Built in a mere 67 days for the first-ever Seafair (1950), the 5,200-seat Aqua Theatre would become one of Seattle’s most popular outdoor performance venues. At a total cost of $247,000 (about $2,477,741.49 today), the Aqua Theatre was by no means a budget building, but for the next two decades its seats would often be filled to capacity for concerts, plays, and other performances.
Opening day for the Aqua Theatre was August 11, 1950 for what an advertisement described as a “flashy, splashy water spectacle”– The first-ever performance of The Aqua Follies–and it sold out. 5,200 people came to see a night of ballet, comedy, singing, dancing, and high-diving.
Aqua Follies performances (also called “Swim Musicals”) enjoyed immense success throughout the 1950s, as did other forms of entertainment. The Summer Opera Company produced “Music Under the Stars”, concert versions of operettas accompanied by ballet. Full-length plays and musicals including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Oklahoma!”, and “The King and I” were also performed at the Aqua Theatre to the music of a floating orchestra.
To accommodate the popularity of the shows, 382 additional seats were added in 1960. Two years later, the World’s Fair brought visitors from around the globe to Seattle and the Aqua Theatre for an array of events from musicals to a jazz festival to performances by Bob Hope. The Aqua Follies performed for 21 nights, rather than the usual 13. But along with the visitors and the success, the World’s Fair also brought new, indoor performing spaces, such as the Coliseum (now Key Arena) that were fresh, comfortable, and out of the rain.
The Aqua Follies performed their last show in 1964, and the theatre began its descent into disuse and disrepair. It remained a venue for concerts, often catered toward the younger crowd. On August 8, 1966, The Northwest Battle of the Bands Championship was held at the theatre. For as little as $2 (about $15 today), a person could see Don & the Goodtimes, Merrilee & the Turnabouts, The Sonics, George Washington & the Cherrybombs, The Bumps, The Live Five, Jack Horner & the Famous Plums, Dusty Springfield, Sam Sham & the Pharaohs, and vote for a winner!
On May 11, 1969, the Aqua Theatre hosted Three Dog Night with opening acts Spring, Jaime Brockett, Translove Airlines, and Led Zeppelin. The theatre and surrounding areas was packed. Those who didn’t have tickets perched in trees, sat atop the concessions stand, sprawled out on nearby lawns, huddled on a nearby dock (causing it to sink slightly), and crowded the stage in canoes and rubber rafts. Some even swam in the stage’s pool!
Later that summer, city inspectors discovered that the structure was damaged and the facility was condemned. The Aqua Theatre’s last performance was on August 20, 1969, featuring the Grateful Dead.
The following year, the diving towers were removed and the demolition slowly progressed until 1979 when most of the seating was demolished and a new shell house was built.
I visited the Aqua Theatre in October 2010 (I sure wish I was there August 8, 1966, instead!) It has a wonderful history board hanging on the back side, filled with information and historical pictures. The theatre itself is quite a sight to see! I’m not sure why large chunks were cut out of the structure (structural soundness, perhaps?), but the remains account for about 3 out of 7 original seating sections.
It was fun to look out at the lake and envision where the stage once was.
For further information, and great historical images and memorabilia, I encourage you to check out these links on Historylink.org:
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all having a day filled with food, family, and fun! In honor of the holiday known for its feasting, I thought I’d share this 1970s postcard of Roy’s Chuckwagon, a buffet with 11 locations scattered across Washington.
I couldn’t find very much information about Roy’s, apart from a few addresses and some mentions in newspapers and obituaries. Roy’s may have had it’s start in Baker, Oregon as “Roy’s Pancake Corral and Chuckwagon.” It appears that the first Chuckwagon restaurants in Washington opened in the 1960s. They enjoyed some popularity in the 1970s, and some locations stayed open into the 1990s. They were often popular gathering spots for local service and Bible clubs.
The restaurant was also sometimes called “Roy’s Western Smorgasbord” or “Roy’s Western Smorgy.” Some past locations include:
Chehalis: 50 NE Meridian Street
Pasco: 1315 N 20th Ave
Richland: 6699 Columbia Park Trail
Walla Walla: Inside the Big Y Shopping Center
Whoever owned this postcard previously ate at the Auburn location in 1974.
The Walla Walla location appears to have opened in early 1967. Advertisements for this location reveal that the restaurant was open for lunch (11AM to 2PM) and dinner (4:30-8:30PM), and served a “complete new menu every day!” Roy’s prided itself for serving delicious food at a reasonable price, and interestingly, children’s prices depended on age: 10 cents per year up to age ten (ten cents to $1; about 72 cents to $7.24 today). An adult dinner cost $1.95 (about $14 today).
Whether you’re enjoying Baron of Beef, ham, fried chicken, or turkey today, have a great Thanksgiving!
Although a bit late, it’s with sadness today that I report the passing of John “Buck” Ormsby, longtime Wailers bassist. He died in Mexico on his 75th birthday, October 29, after a fall.
Although the Wailers are not very well-known today (“Oh! You mean Bob Marley’s group?”), they are often considered the first garage band and were undeniably one of the most influential bands of the late 50s and early 60s in the Pacific Northwest.
The band’s humble beginnings date back to 1958 at Clover Park High School, located just outside of Tacoma. Woody Mortenson (acoustic bass) and John Greek (trumpet) began performing local gigs with a menagerie of other musicians as a Dixieland band. Guitarist Rich Dangel asked if he could join and play a few rock n’ roll tunes with the group. Greek consented, and the trio soon turned their focus to rock n’ roll.
The shift in styles resulted in a personnel shift. Pianist Kent Morrill, and two students from Stadium High School (Mark Marush on Saxophone and Mike Burk on drums) completed the lineup. Thus, The Nitecaps were born!
As The Nitecaps started playing better gigs, Tacoma’s other teen band, Little Bill & the Bluenotes, discovered their existence. Bill Englehart, namsake of The Bluenotes, invited The Nitecaps to be their upcoming act at an upcoming dance. The group accepted, changed their name to The Wailers, and stole The Bluenotes‘ popularity.
In late 1958, the group recorded a demo of an original instrumental that somehow ended up in the hands of Clark Galehouse of Gold Crest Records. “Tall Cool One” was re-recorded in early 1959 and released as a single. It charted at #36 on Billboard Top 100. The Wailers released their first LP, “The Fabulous Wailers”, on the Gold Crest Label later that year.
Following the success of “Tall Cool One”, the group toured the East Coast and even appeared on American Bandstand. Despite Gold Crest’s wishes for them to remain in New York, The Wailers returned home. Greek left the group, and two members of The Bluenotes joined: Rockin’ Robin Roberts (vocalist) and bassist John “Buck” Ormsby.
Disappointed by the loss of their label, Ormsby suggested something novel and maybe a little bit crazy: why not create their own record label? At first he was met with opposition, but eventually Morrill and Roberts relented and Etiquette Records was born!
The first single released on the Etiquette label was The Wailers’ own version of “Louie,Louie”, featuring Roberts on lead vocal. This version of the Richard Berry classic was later imitated by the Oregon-based Kingsmen, who would launch the song into infamy and the center of an FBI investigation.
The Wailers continued to enjoy local success, performing with and without Roberts and sometimes with girl singer Gail Harris or girl group The Marshans. Marush left in 1962 and was replaced with Ron Gardner, a saxophonist/singer whose energy and songwriting significantly changed the group’s sound.
By 1964, the Bristish Invasion was in full swing and The Wailers were trying to compete. The group moved toward a more polished, pop sound and publicist Barrie Jackson developed a marketable image: two-toned suits and a “Wailer” haircut. Jackson also penned fake bios on the back of their new album, Wailers!!!! Wailers Everywhere: Burk was especially displeased with his.
Photographer Jini Dellaccio is responsible for the photographs on the album. The images on the front were taken in Tacoma’s Wright Park, while the ones on the back were taken at her home in Gig Harbor.
Despite the fabulous photography and fake biographies, Wailers!!!! Wailers Everywhere was not a commercial success. Many considered it too much of a shift from the group’s earlier, raw sound and image, including Rich Dangel who was becoming less interested in rock n’ roll and left the band the following year.
There is much more to be said about The Wailers and Etiquette Records, but for this post, I’m going to pause here and present you with a complete listen to Wailers!!!! Wailers Everywhere, taken directly off of the 1964 Etiquette LP.
I purchased this record from it’s original owner who bought it while he was living in Bothell.
Buck Ormsby was raised in Tacoma, Washington. He started playing ukulele at age 7 and eventually learned steel guitar. It wasn’t until he joined The Wailers that he switched to bass guitar.
A driving force in the creation of Etiquette Records (still in business today), he is also credited with signing the wildly popular Sonics to the Etiquette label.
After The Wailers split in 1969, Buck played with Jr. Cadillac, and devoted himself to promoting Etiquette’s music. He took suitcases of LPs to Europe and struck up a partnership with Ace Records. In the 80s he revived Etiquette Records and he re-released its music on CD, straight from the master tapes.
The Wailers reunited on several occasions over the next several decades, and released an album with The Ventures in 2009, marking their 50th anniversary. A line-up including Kent Morrill and Buck occasionally performed until around 2010.
Buck’s daughter, Gregory Anne Ormsby, remembers him as a caring man wholly devoted to music.
“Everything was music, always music,” she told The Seattle Times. “He was either a producer, or an event planner or a musician. He just lived and breathed music.”
Happy November! Now that October and Halloween have passed us by, some of the biggest shopping days of the year are yet to come. In the spirit of holiday shopping, take a look at this lovely late-60s postcard, featuring Southcenter Mall!
While the mall’s opening day was July 31, 1968, its roots date back to 1956 when three officials from Seattle’s Northgate Mall (which opened in 1950) formed the Southcenter Corporation with the vice president of Allied Stores (a Department store chain). The four men planned to build a new mall south of Seattle that would match the success of Northgate. They began searching for a site that was at least 100 acres.
Their search led them to the 800-acre Andover Tract. Previously farmland, the Andover Tract was purchased by the Port of Seattle for use as an industrial park. In November 1957, the city of Tukwila annexed the tract. The same year, Southcenter Corporation purchased 160 acres of the tract that were strategically located near the intersection of two planned freeways: I-5 and I-405. The start of construction was to depend on the construction of these roads.
The first part of I-405, connecting Tukwila to Renton, opened to traffic in August 1965. In 1960, he first segment of I-5 opened through Tacoma and by January 1967, the road ran continually from Tacoma to Everett. Southcenter Mall broke ground in early 1967.
The architect for the mall was the Seattle-based John Graham & Company, the firm responsible for both Northgate and Tacoma malls. A total of 75 contractors worked on the project, and despite four worker strikes, the majority of construction was complete by May 1968. Interior work continued until the day before the mall’s grand opening.
When Governor Dan Evans dedicated the mall at 11 AM on July 31, he was dedicating the largest mall in the Pacific Northwest. The 1,400,000 square foot mall featured the largest expanse of terrazzo floors in the area (84,000 square feet). Southcenter boasted four anchor stores, 88 other shops, and employed 3,600 people.
In 2002, Southcenter Mall was purchased by the Westfield Group and renamed “Westfield Shoppingtown Southcenter.” Four years later, the mall underwent a $240 million expansion, adding 400,000 square feet of space.
Some of the stores featured on this postcard include Zale’s Jewelry, Bernie’s Menswear, The Coat Closet, and Hazel’s Candies. Zale’s is still in operation, as are three of the original anchor stores: J.C. Penney, Nordstoms, and Macy’s (formerly Bon Marche).
Despite the stores and the decor and the clothing, perhaps what really dates this card is the last sentence on the back: “Southcenter is 8 minutes south of Seattle…” Today, the commute is about 16 minutes via I-5.
Everybody’s heard of Crab Louis, but did you know that it’s supposed inventor was a successful restaurateur and later hotel owner in Spokane?
Yes, I’m talking about Louis Davenport.
Llewellyn “Louis” Davenport came to Spokane Falls in early 1889 at the age of 20 to work in his uncle’s restaurant. Just a few months later on August 4th, a fire wiped out 32 square blocks of the city, burning the restaurant with it. While locals called it “the most devastating fire that has occurred in the history of the world,” Davenport did not stay discouraged long. The following morning, he salvaged what he could from his uncle’s restaurant and opened “Davenport’s Waffle Foundry” in a tent-like structure amidst the rubble.
A year later, Davenport moved his restaurant to a brick building in the Wilson Block and renamed it “Davenport’s Restaurant.” The restaurant and it’s offerings continued to expand over the next several years. In 1903-1904, Davenport purchased the adjacent Bellevue Block, expanded “Davenport’s”, created a lavish ballroom, and turned the upstairs of the building into “The Pennington Hotel.” His menu offered over 100 items.
Davenport hired architect Kirtland Cutter to make his two buildings match. Cutter suggested a Mission-Revival style, which was vastly different from the other buildings in town.
Sources disagree on what exactly happened next, but in 1908 it was announced that a grand hotel would soon be built in Spokane Falls, and by 1912 the Davenport Hotel Company was formed. Cutter and his partner Karl Malmgren were selected to design the new building, and a grand, ornate structure was designed. Davenport didn’t want to spend unnecessary money on fancy ornamentation, and a simpler design was made. It cost about $2 million.
In 1912, buildings currently on the hotel site were demolished, and construction began the following year. Not a single worker was killed or seriously injured. Cutter and Davenport traveled the world, selecting only the finest furniture, rugs, and other decor.
When the Davenport Hotel opened September 1, 1914, it’s dining room featured fine art, Irish linens from Liddell, and a 15,000-piece set of Reed & Barton silverware, the largest private order created by the company.
The Davenport was considered one of America’s finest hotels. Looking through this brochure, it’s easy to see why.
I’m not sure about the age of this spoon, or if it came from Louis Davenport’s restaurant or hotel, but it’s a silver-plated tea spoon from Reed & Barton in the double-stamped Belmont design.
Belmont was designed in 1906 by August Miller and was a popular choice for hotel silver. This particular piece has “Davenport’s” engraved in cursive on the handle. The back reads “Patent Approved for Reed & Barton B.P”. The Belmont design was still offered in 1908 where it appeared in the Reed & Barton catalogue. The price for a dozen spoons was either $4.75 or $6.50 (about $110 or $150 today).
I don’t know when the pattern was discontinued, but it’s possible that this piece was part of the 15,000 piece set first used in the hotel. At least, it’s fun to think so!
Everybody who lives in the Seattle Area knows about the Unlimited Hydroplane races. They’ve been a staple at Seafair since its inception in 1950. What many don’t know is that the same hydroplanes made famous at Seafair also raced on Lake Chelan.
Don’t believe me?
Feast your eyes on this 1958 Apple Cup Race pin, starring Miss Chelan!
Almost like the Ford Edsel, the Apple Cup Race lasted for only four years: 1957-1960. Stemming from the hydroplane craze brought to the region by Seafair, and happening in conjunction with the Apple Blossom Festival, the first Apple Cup Race was held May 5, 1957. The hydroplanes competing in the first race, in the winning order, were:
U-77 Miss Wahoo
U-28 Shanty I
U-8 Hawaii Kai III
U-27 Miss Seattle
U-4 Miss Bardahl
U-60 Miss Thriftway
U- 19 Miss Rocket
U-62 Thriftway Too
The second Apple cup was held May 11, 1958, and featured 11 hydroplanes, two more than the previous year. Only five hydroplanes were repeats: Miss Seattle, Miss Thriftway, Thriftway Too, Maverick, and Miss Bardahl (who took first place). The prize was $1,500, which is equivalent to about $12,500 today.
12 hydroplanes competed at the third Apple Cup Race on May 10, 1959, many of them the same hydros that raced the previous year. Miss Pay n’ Save, who had placed #10 in 1958, took first place, followed by Miss Bardahl and Miss Thriftway.
The final Apple Cup was held May 8,1960 and hosted 11 competitors. Miss Thriftway was the race’s winner, followed by Nitrogen and Miss Burien. Rising sponsor’s costs and crowd control problems contributed to the race’s cancellation.
Although the Apple Cup is now just a name of a Chelan cafe, vintage hydroplanes have returned to Chelan the first weekend in October for the last seven years for the Mahogany & Merlot event.
Interestingly, the hydroplane featured on the pin, U-97 Miss Chelan, is fictitious. She never raced in the Apple Cup and, in fact, never even existed.
The Apple Cup Race was important enough to be broadcasted on Seattle television! Clips from the 1957 and 1958 races can be viewed on YouTube. For detailed race summaries, visit this link.