Robin Hood Days
When the Eatonville mill closed its doors in the 1950s, people worried that the town might not survive. Operation Bootstrap began — a community effort to keep the doors open. One of many thing things that came out of Bootstrap was Robin Hood Days.
The idea was to build the community into “a state archery center” and create an event that would bring people to Eatonville. On March 18, 1954, the Dispatch reported, “Robin Hood Days would be a magnet to draw archers not only from this state, but also from neighboring states.”
The town was enthusiastic and embraced the event. At a March 22, 1954 Bootstrap meeting, the minutes read that “Shirley Daniels (Maid Marion) came equipped with bow, arrow, and all the paraphernalia for Robin Hood Days. We were very impressed and decided that everyone should surely cooperate if we could look as jaunty as she.”
Martha Parrish, said she and other women sewed countless hats and vests from bolts of corduroy, preparing for the event.
The word went out far and wide. Mr. William Tone, Chairman of Operation Bootstrap, even invited the President. A letter from the White House reads,
“We are waiting the arrival of the “Robin Hood” hats, which you stated were being mailed for the President’s grandchildren.
“It is indeed inspiring that your community, despite the numerous handicaps you mentioned, has instituted what you term “Operation Bootstrap” in a self-help program with notable success. The President appreciates your kindness in telling him about the remarkable progress you and your fellow-townsmen have made through your own efforts.”
On August 19, 20 and 21 Robin Hood Days were held and included:
• archery events, like shooting from the saddle
• vaudeville and archery clowns
• a William Tell reenactment with a “state champion archer shooing an apple from the head of a small boy”. (I’m curious who volunteered their child for this.)
• a beef barbecue put on by Edwin Haarstad.
• shooting fish in a barrel (Presumably with a bow and arrow.)
• bow versus guns — Washington state archers versus the Pierce County Sheriff
• a pageant held in the football field where townspeople played out the legend of Robin Hood and his merry men. (My mom, Kathy Mettler, played one of Maid Marion’s maidens one year.)
• a street dance following the pageant.
The event only lasted a handful of years. That’s too bad. This sounds like a heck of a lot of fun — the town dressed up in tights once of year with arrows flying around. It beats the heck out of Leavenworth and the lederhosen.
Images courtesy of Rich and Ruthie Williams.
Click on images to enlarge.