This shot of Eatonville was taken around the 1955, I believe in conjunction with Operation Bootstrap. If anyone has a better date, please let me know.
The picture may be grainy, but there’s no question that it’s Eatonville. The high school and the football field — which looks like it used more for baseball — stand out at the bottom.
I had thought that the dark-roofed building at the top left of the football field was the FFA poultry barn. I was mistaken. Pat Van Eaton says, “It was the 1952 addition to the grade school. It had rooms for kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. The school lunchroom was in the basement. It was a California design with a “flat” roof that drained toward the center and had massive single pane windows for the class rooms. We’re lucky it go demo’d”
Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton and the Eatonville Historical Society.
Here we see a big tree coming down and then paraded by Murphy Logging in the 50s. The tree was so big, it was hauled out on more than one truck.
Eatonville’s, Murphy Logging is no longer in operation, but their photos live on. These six shots have a little for everyone, whether you’re into vintage chainsaws, enjoy seeing what Mashell Ave.looked like in the 1950s or appreciate old logging trucks.
The men posing by the log in the last picture are from left to right, Corbett Hale, Don Murphy and Neil Christensen. If you have more information on these photos, please add your comments.
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 Shipsof 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.
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.”
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.
This story, written by Sheryl Hegg, ran in The Dispatchon August 22, 1979
The name Jesse Dawkins inspires different recollections from different people in the area. People here in the 1940s remembered that Jesse Dawkins owned a restaurant outside Eatonville. Those herein the 1950s recall him as their friend neighborhood grocer. “He was a teacher,” insist recent Eatonville High School graduates who remember him most for his original humorous lectures in health class.
Could all be the same Jesse Dawkins? Yes, Dawkins admits that he’s done all of the above and more.
Bus Driver Dawkins grew up in Tacoma and graduated from Lincoln High School. After high school, he attended the College of Puget Sound(now UPS) where he played football and graduated with a degree in education.
During the summers while he was still in college, Dawkins became familiar with the Eatonville area while driving a tour bus from Tacoma to Paradise at Mount Rainier. At that time, Dawkins had no idea that he would one day settle down to live in Eatonville nor the fact that he would meet his future wife at Mount Rainier.
Those same summers that he was dutifully driving his bus to the mountain and back, a pretty young woman had found a summer job as a waitress and dancer at the lodge at Paradise.
The young woman, Madora, performed an acrobatic dancing act with her partner, when she was waitressing.
One day, during the act, Madora fell off her partner’s shoulders and hurt her head. Jesse, who didn’t know her at the time, volunteered to driver her to the doctor. That was the beginning of a relationship that has never ended. They have been married now for 38 years.
Football Player & Teacher After Dawkins finished college, he played semi-professional football for a year and taught high school at the same time. He is reminded of his football days every time he looks in the mirror. He said that he was broken his nose more times than he can count. Football players in those days were a “rough bunch of cookies” according to Dawkins.
Teaching in the 1930’s and 40’s wasn’t a particularly prosperous field.
“I was starving to death. The wagers were to lousy,” said Dawkins. He earned $1,260 a year then. He had to quit teaching and move when the only house he could find to rend was $105 a month (nearly his total monthly salary).
Restaurant Owner & Construction Worker Frustrated, Dawkins left education and went into the world of business. IN 1941, he and his bride bought the Kings’ Place Restaurant just outside of Eatonville. The restaurant thrived on the business brought in by truckers and tourists passing by on their way to the mountain.
“We sold a complete rib stake dinner that included dessert for 85 cents back then,” said Dawkins. He chuckles when he remembers being upset when Ole Malcom, an Eatonville butcher, raised the price of rib steak from $.19 to $.25 “We had to sell our dinner for one dollar after that.”
The hours were long and busy ones for the Dawkins during those years. Jesse also did construction work then. He spent three years working full-time days on the Alder Dam and nights at the restaurant. Madora handled the restaurant during the day.
In 1945, Dawkins made the difficult decision to sell King’s Place. He was worried that the economy would bottom-out after the war, so he sold the restaurant. The disaster he expected never happened. “Oh well,” he said, “if foresight was as good as highsight, we’d all have 20-20 vision.”
Selling the restaurant gave Dawkins a chance at another new occupation. So far he had driven a bus, taught school, played football, done construction work and owned a restaurant.
X-ray Technician & School Teacher Dawkins worked as an x-ray technician for a year for the army, the only job he could find at the time. He said that if was the most boring job imaginable.
Faced with boredom, Dawkins decided he would rather be poor. So, for the next year he took a job as a teacher in the Clover Park School District.
Grocery Store Owner During the years that he had been away from Eatonville area, Dawkins had kept in contact with some friends there. One of the friends mentioned that he was selling his store. Would Dawkins be interested in buying it? He jumped at the chance and by 1947 he was back in Eatonville as the new owners of his own store.
The Red and White Store was located accords from where the bank is located now. It was a big old grocery store with creaky wooden floors. Dawkins said that he carried everything including animal feed there. He remembers buying a huge barrel of vinegar every few months. Customers would bring their own jugs and he would sell the vinegar to them for $.15 He was reminded of that aspect of the “good-ole days” when he went to the store for his wife and bought a gallon of vinegar for over two dollars.
The 1950’s were good years for Dawkins. Although it was hard work, he enjoyed owning his own business once again. For 15 years Dawkins worked day and night at his store.
Teaching Again Eventually, it got to be too much for him. In 1962, he decided to sell out to Keith Malcolm who was planning to build a bigger store.
For the third straight time in his life, Dawkins decided to return to teaching. He taught math and science at the Eatonville Junior High. “Things were more respectful,” he added.
Dawkins really enjoyed his junior high students and was reluctant to return to teaching high school, but eventually he did. He taught high school math, health and social studies until retiring in 1976.
Dawkins had a special talent for teaching. Because he is a big man, with a deep, sometimes gruff voice, his presence in a classroom was never ignored by students. He has the rare skill of maintaining respect without closing off communications, which came in hand when dealing with adolescents.
Although he hoped to continue teaching for a few more years, he retired early for health reasons. Madora is still teaching at Eatonville Grade School.
Jess and Madora have six grown up children. Their four sons are Jesse Jr., Steve, Mark and Dan. They have two daughters, Suzanne and Anita. The Dawkins also have five (soon to be six) grandchildren.
Dawkins said the he has never regretted any career changes that he has made. Each was unique and fulfilling in its own way. There aren’t very many people around who have had the broad range of experiences that Dawkins has had.
Photos courtesy of Margit Thorvaldson, Pat Van Eaton, Bob Walter, and the Dispatch.
Eatonville has always loved parades. When I was young, my folks used to dress us up for the Pet Parade. As a kid I took it for granted and never even noticed when it stopped taking place.
The Pet Parade was part of the Community Day celebrations and was added in the 1950s. This first picture may be of the Pet Parade (although it look a bit early). At the bottom of the photo it reads “winners”.
The second photo though is definitely from the Eatonville Pet Parade. It was around 1967 and my brother, Lincoln Mettler, and my cousin, Christy Van Cleve, were elves under a toadstool. I guess you didn’t have to have a pet to be in the parade.
Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton and the Mettler family.
Community Day (aka May Day) is a big deal in Eatonville.
Did you know . . . it started as an annual community clean up day for the school and town.
In 1927 they began having a May Feteon Community Day (already in practice since 1919) along with Community Day. A king was selected by the senior class, to crown a queen also selected by the senior class.
Around 1936, the clean up day was replaced solely with the May Fete celebrations. Children in grades school participated with folk dances before the floral throne of the king and queen. In addition, there were track events, a school baseball game, a senior play in the evening and a display of work by various grades and departmenets of the school.
By the 1950s things looked about the same except that there was also a hobby show, a Pet Parade, and the Commercial Club served free ice cream to kids. (Per History of Southeastern Pierce County.)