1930s

Eatonville’s Ford Motor Company (ca. early 30s)

Ford Garage (ca. early 30s)
Ford Garage (ca. early 30s)

This is a great shot of the Eatonville’s Ford Motor Company. The tires in the window and the gas pump say it all.

Rich Williams fills us in on the background. “The building in this picture is the front of the old Christensen’s department store — the section that Sears isn’t [currently] using and where there’s a display.

“The Ford dealership in this picture was run by Joan Christensen’s father, Mr. Harold Pravitz.   At that time, Christensen’s was located across the street in the old Van Eaton store building [Kirk’s Pharmacy parking lot].

Dick Christensen’s father Nels, purchased the Van Eaton building in the 1920’s.  When the depression hit is 1929, Mr. Christensen sold the grocery side of his business to the Cushman family.  From then on, the Christensen’s primary business was clothing and housewares.

In the mid 30’s the Christensen’s and the Cushman’s traded buildings.  The Cushman’s moved into the old Van Eaton Mercantile building and Christensen’s moved into the building in this picture. In the late 1930’s Mr. Christensen , his son Neil and Roy Pettit built the building next to the one in the picture where the Sears store is currently operating.  When the building was completed,  Mr. Christensen’s two sons Don and Neil opened up a Dodge/Plymouth dealership.  Mr. Christensen continued to run Christensen’s Department Store until his death in 1940.

After his death, the store was run by a designated manager as well as the remaining family.  Sons, Bill, Neil and their mother Harriett ran the store until 1953.  In 1953, Dick and Joan Christensen took over management of the store. Under their management, the store grew and new lines were added.  In addition to clothing and housewares, the new store offered furniture, appliances and Zenith televisions and stereo record players. In later years, Dick and Joan’s son Rick began to manage the family business and expanded it even further . Rick added additional appliance and furniture lines and the store now sold and installed carpeting and other floor surfaces.”

Photo courtesy of the Christensen family.

Click on image to enlarge.

Oldens and Larsons – Pioneers (ca. 1930)

Ole Olden, Hannah Olden, John Larson
Ole Olden, Hannah Olden, John Larson

These three Ohop Valley pioneers are taking a well deserved break for a photo. Picture left to right is Ole Olden, his wife Hannah Olden, and her brother John Larson.

Ole and Hannah celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1930, along with Mr. and Mrs. Herman Anderson and Mrs. and Mrs. DeWitt, also Ohop Valley residents. These couple were married in 1880 — the same year the first electric street light was installed.

Photo courtesy of Linda Lewis.

Click on image to enlarge.

Football Through the Years (1930s – 1957)

1941 Eatonville Football team
1941 Eatonville Football team

Since it’s the Super Bowl today, it seems fitting to show a few shots about Eatonville’s football team and fields.

The first shot is the 1941 Eatonville football team on the field in what looks like a practice. Helmets and pads have come a long way since the 40s.

The second shot was taken probably in the 1930s. Back then the field was more baseball than football.

The last shot is of a night game in 1957 — surprising similar to the field today, 55 years later.

Photos courtesy of Rich Williams.

Click on images to enlarge.

 

Football field (ca. 1930s)
Football field (ca. 1930s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Football game 1957 - lit field
Football game 1957 - lit field

Drag Saws in the Woods

Eatonville Logger sitting beside his drag saw
Eatonville Logger sitting beside his drag saw

If this piece of logging equipment doesn’t look familiar, it’s because you’re more likely to see in a museum than the woods. This drag saw  was probably used in the 20s or 30s when they hit their stride.

Basically, the engine drags the saw back and forth, as if you were manually sawing down a tree. You can see one in action on this YouTube video.

Drag saws were the labor saving, tool of choice before chain saws hit the scene around in 1940s.

Photos courtesy of the Kjelstad family.

Click on images to enlarge.

Drag saw in operation

Drag saw in operation

Eatonville theater — from Silent films to Star Wars

Eatonville Theater ca 1924
Eatonville Theater ca 1924

In 1892, Angelo Pecchia was born a farmer’s son in Italy. No one could have guessed he’d open theaters in the United States — especially since the first motion picture camera was yet to be invented.

Coming to America
Angelo came to the U.S. when his was 16. He performed countless jobs — from railroad worker to laying keel for the Liberty Ships of WWI. But when a man owing Angelo money paid off his debt with a theater in Orting, Angelo’s destiny was set.

Angelo, who had never seen a roll of film, was a quick learner. By 1922, he opened another theater in Kapowsin and bought the Eatonville theater from Frank and Mac Van Eaton.

By the 40s Angelo was also operating additional theaters in Randle, Mineral, Morton, Steilacoom, Old Town and Salkum, as well as the Narrows Theater in Tacoma, which he built in 1949.

During the 1950s Angelo was constantly on the road. He traveled to Seattle twice a week to pick up new films and to and from the Narrows every night, while his family operated the Eatonville theater.

Angelo and Regina Pecchia, 1979
Angelo and Regina Pecchia, 1979

The Ups and Down
The movies and the world changed dramatically over the decades. When Angelo started out, movies were silent (the first talkie didn’t come to Eatonville until 1930) and Angelo hired local pianists to accompany the films.

In the 1930s when Angelo returned from Italy with a new bride, the country was in the throws of the Great Depression. The man who had been handling the Eatonville for Angelo had closed the doors because he couldn’t make a profit.

Angelo immediately reopened, and placed his new bride — who couldn’t speak a word of English — at the door while he ran the projector. In a 1950s interview, Regina said she didn’t look back on that time fondly. But Angelo said, “She learned to talk fast.”

The Roxy
By 1942 the economy had improved and Angelo and Regina built the Roxy theater that stands today. But then theaters took another hit — television.

“Everyone in the movie business got scared,” said Regina in a 1979 Dispatch interview. “Lots of people sold out or closed down. People did stay home when it was new, but they started coming back. We didn’t have anywhere to turn, so we stayed open and kept working.”

Roxy Theater 2011
Roxy Theater 2011

Another challenge was power failures. “The power would go off a lot and we had to refund everyone’s money when it did,” said Regina.

But it was all worth it. In 1977, after nearly six decades of showing movies, the couple closed their theater doors. The farm boy from Italy and his wife had had an incredible run.

Images courtesy of Pat VanEaton and The Dispatch.

Click on images to enlarge.

 

 

 

Clay City – 1907 to 1979

Clay City stacks and kilns
Clay City chimneys and kilns

Clay City used to be a booming industrial spot outside Eatonville, behind Ohop Lake. The thousands of bricks it produced will be around for years to come, but the city that never really was, will probably fade as a memory.

Sitting on Clay
At the turn on the century Clay City would probably have just been a logging camp, but when you’re sitting on 600 acres of clay, it’s easier to build bricks than log.

The Far West Lumber Company formed the Far West Clay Company and the Clay City plant opened in 1907.

“The kilns, seven in all, were an unusual dome-shape brick structure, several feet tall. The machinery used to run the dryers and heat the kilns operated on steam power. The initial plan was to use waste wood to fire the boilers, but testing determined it was more cost-effective to use coal.”  (In the Shadow of the Mountain)

The place was busy and people came. There was a Clay City School, a store, a boarding house and from 1908 to 1922 Clay City even had a post office.

Al Gratzer
Al Gratzer

Hard Years
Clay City had a hard time weathering the depression. Rumor has it that the company had to use materials from some of its other buildings to fuel the boilers. Population dropped to 15 by the 1930s.

In an article “A City That Isn’t” that ran in the Eatonville Dispatch in 1979, Don B. Goddard writes, “After years of on-and-off operation, Clay City was puchased in 1944 by the Houlihan family. They spent two years renovating the plant operations, then continued production for about four years.

A fire in November, 1950 destroyed all that wasn’t brick.

Today there are six kilns producing in excess of 2,500 tons of brick and tile a month, which finds its way to every corner of the Northwest and Hawaii.”

1979 still going strong
In 1979, 180 standard bricks could be produced every minute. The raw mud bricks were sent to dryers and after 88 hours at 225 degrees they were ready for the oven. The bricks spent 90 hours in the ovens at 2,000 degrees and then several more days cooling.

Al Gratzer
Want to know the real story behind Clay City?  Al Grazter would know it. The Eatonville resident worked there for over 30 years.

A look at Ohop Bob, Told by its Waitresses

Ohop Bob ca. 1930
Ohop Bob ca. 1930

Ohop Bob was an upscale restaurant, banquet hall and motel, all wrapped up in one. Originally built by a cycle club, it was further developed in 1914 by the Washington Automotive Club for their two-day trips from Tacoma to Longmire. (Per Upper Nisqually Valley.)

It was open weekends and during the summer, and visitors had a spectacular view of Ohop Valley. And how could they not? The building was constructed on the hillside and suspended over the valley below.

“When you walked out on the balcony you could feel the building give a little,” says Rosemarie Van Cleve, who waitressed at Ohop Bob in her teens.

One meal
The place was famous for its chicken dinners  — the only dinner they served.

Ohop Bob, the early years
Ohop Bob, the early years

Sally McKay, who also waitressed as a teenager in the 40s, says, “I remember peeling potatoes and slicing them thin. And when people came we would tell them it would be half an hour because we cooked everything fresh.”

Sharon (Guske) Aguilar, who waitressed a decade later said the meal never changed. “The were very particular. Even the lettuce leaves had to be just so.”

What did change was the hourly wage. Sally and Rosemarie made about 50 cents an hour, and Sharon made 75 cents.

The Owners
For most of its years Ohop Bob was run by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Josselyn. They ran a tight ship and Sally recalls Mr. Joslyn as very staid and tall. “There was a small rose bush out back and he always wore a small bud in his lapel.”

View of Ohop Valley
View of Ohop Valley

However, all three recall Mrs. Josselyn’s cigarette dangling precariously from her lips while cooking chicken.

Stories
A lot happened at Ohop Bob over its 50+ years, and the waitresses remember fun times, like Rosemarie being asked to grab her accordion to entertain guests.

“Once when I was sweeping the front porch this guy came. He had a long beard and rode a bicycle,” says Sally. “His name was Pruner Carlson. He was kind of a strange guy who rode around and pruned trees. He wanted some food and I snuck some out to him. When I went back on the porch he had left me a start of a little plant. I thought that was so nice.”

Rosemarie recalls yodeling from the balcony to get home. The family dairy was on the other side of the valley. “Dad [Louie Metter Sr.] would know when I was done and listen for me.”

Up in Flames
In May 1965 the building burned. Arson was suspected. “You could see the glow in the sky from Eatonville,” says Rosemarie. “The old timbers must have gone up like kindling.”

But the memories remain.

Photo courtesy of Rich Williams.

Click on image to enlarge.