This photo ran in the paper in April 17, 1954, along with the following caption:
Somber Monday: Ray Hiatt, a watchman gazed across [the] pond at the idle Eatonville Lumber Company, the town’s financial foundation. The mill’s owner doubts it will reopen, thus costing Eatonville a $750,000 payroll for 225 workers.
If you would like to buy the original of this photo, it’s for sale on ebay. Just click HERE.
Historic Grave: Mrs. Orville Danforth peered over a tumble-down fence at the grave of Indian Henry, a friendly guide to early Mount Rainier trailblazers. The town of Eatonville plans to move Indian Henry’s body to a new site and erect a historical marker. It is one of many projects of “Operation Bootstrap,” organized to end civic factionalism and economic uncertainty in the Pierce County community.
Here are a few things you might know about the Eatonville Lumber Company, which operated in Eatonville from 1907 until 1954.
• Tacoma Eastern/Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad arrived in 1904 — followed by the opening of the mill in 1907.
• T. S. Galbraith(Tom) took over ELCO in the fall of 1909.
• John Galbraith(Tom’s son) took over from his dad in 1930. He was also mayor of Eatonville for 22 years and chairman of the school board for numerous terms.
• The mill employed 200 employees at its height.
• Wages in 1912 – $.17/hr., and an employee worked six, eight-hour days a week.
• Wages in 1952 – $1.85/hr., and employees worked five, eight-hour days a week.
• ELCO storewas built in 1908
• ELCO office was built in 1910
• ELCO station and auto repair shop was built in 1907
• T. S. Galbraith built his homein 1925 and it’s still used today.
• T. S. Galbraith built 22 company-owned homes. Most were built in 1910 and were located next to the company store, and some are still family homes.
• The houses on Prospect Street were built in 1913 and the houses on Washington street were built in 1923.
• The mill burned in 1932 and was rebuilt over a number of years. It finally reopened September 22, 1936.
• Galbraith sold the mill to G. E. Karlen in 1941.
Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton, the Parnel family and the University of Washington. Facts courtesy of The Eatonville History Project.
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.”
Gearing Up 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.”
Ambitious Program 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.
Pictured is the O.E. Haynes & Son truck, which took part in the Robin Hood Days parade. The sign on the back reads “Hand Split Cedar Shakes”and there is paper archery target on the cab (kind of the Robin Hood Days logo) and Robin Hood sitting on the shingles.
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 Dispatchreported, “Robin Hood Days would be a magnet to draw archers not only from this state, but also from neighboring states.”
The picture is a Bootstrap parade down Mashell Ave. letting people know about Robin Hood Day. Noticed the hats and vests. They were sewn by town seamstresses like Martha Parrish.
In 1953 it was obvious Eatonville’s lumber mill, the town’s main industry, was shutting down. Hundreds of people had already left and residents were depressed and worried about the town’s survival.
No one wanted to see Eatonville disappear like other logging towns, and with the help of the University of Washington’s Jack Wright and John Mills, townsfolk set out to make Eatonville “a better town. . . and an improved, more prosperous area.”
Operation Bootstrap was born.
Forging Ahead It was ambitious project from the start and described as, “A program to get everyone in the community to take hold of the rope and pull in the same direction.”
On October 4, 1953 the News Tribune ran an editorial on the project, when 513 people out of the 1,048 residents turned out for the launch of Operation Bootstrap.
“The citizens and their town are acting as guinea pigs in the first movement in the county of the University of Washington Community Development Plan. It is not a short course, but is scheduled to go on for half a year, during which all manner of questions from religion to recreation will be discussed . . . in an effort to make Eatonville a better place to live, and an outstanding example of a cooperative, democratic society.”
Committees Are Formed Residents didn’t just get involved — they jumped in with both feet. Committees were formed on every topic — population, church, government, library, history, health, recreation, economic development, education, and more. Each area was examined and all kinds of suggestions were made for improvements, from how to be more friendly to newcomers to the need for a library.
Community spirit ran high through 1953 and 1954. People not only made many positive changes to the town, they took their message to the airwaves and made T.V. appearances. They also created a large festival called Robin Hood Daysthat included archery events, a street dance and a pageant.
Success for Failure In the end no new businesses set up shop in Eatonville and some say Operation Bootstrapfailed. Others, like Margit Thorvaldson, executive secretary for movement, who documented the countless hours people put into their committees saw another side, “It was successful in that the community got together to get insight on the problem.” And people who may never have socialized worked together.
Almost 60 years later, people are still benefiting from Operation Bootstrap. For example, if you like these history articles, thank Bootstrap’s history committee, which produced the two volume History of Tacoma Eastern Area. It covered not just Eatonville, but Ohop Valley, Ashford, National, Elbe, Alder and La Grande. It’s a priceless record of our history and without it these articles wouldn’t be possible.
“Miss Margit Thorvaldson looked on as her pupils assembled mimeographed reports for Eatonville’s “Operation Bootstrap” community-action organization. Pupils are permitted to participate as “Bootrap Juniors” as a reward for good classwork. The project’s objective is social and economic betterment of the area.
Katie and Anne Christensen (born 1890 and 1892 respectively) were daughters of N.P. (Pete) Christensen — the same man who brought the telephone company to town in 1912.
Anne Christensen Hayneswas the first switchboard operator. The Mashell Telephone Company was in the Haynes families for many decades. It wasn’t until June 1, 1954 that the switch was made to direct dialing of local calls. Until that time all calls were routed through the switchboard.
This photo was taken by anotehr pioneer in the area, A.B. Conrad, who homestead near Clear Lake and was a noted amatuer photographers.
Photo courtesy of the Dispatch . . . and Mr. Conrad.