In 1936 kids were selling subscriptions to the Eatonville Dispatch in hopes of winning a bike. The little guy pictured is my uncle, George Van Cleve, who would later run Van Cleve Motors. Unfortunately, he didn’t win the bike that year, but my brother won one 40 years later.
The kids that tried for the bike were: Dolores Gilbertson, Alycye Mae Guske, Dale Hecht, Lorraine Hibbard, Moen Howard, George Van Cleve, Betty Lou Van Eaton, Ethel Whitman, Joe Foegel Johnson, Bertha Krones, James Morris, Russel Sachs, Thelma Thureson, and George Wehmhoff.
With all the news about Eatonville’s police department lately, I thought it might be a good time to look back at the town’s law enforcement.
Moving through Marshals Eatonville has had its ups and down with law enforcement since 1907, when the first town marshall was appointed — L. E. Martin. Martin’s job wasn’t glamorous. “He was not only the marshall but was instructed by the clerk or the mayor to do such things as ‘remove a bench from in front of the liquor store, as it was a nuisance,’ and to ‘push over the out house at the Columbia Cafe, and fill in the excavation’ on a certain date if the owner didn’t make improvements.”
Marshals came and went. In the early years, they didn’t seem to stay more than a year.
“On September 7, 1925, Dollar LaPlante was marshal. He was sent to check on a shooting spree by a drunk. He came unarmed, the man pulled a gun and LaPlante was killed. The man was convicted and sent to prison.”
“In October 1939, the marshal asked that a lavatory be built in the town hall so it wouldn’t be necessary to take the prisoners out and also that a steel door be built on the jail.” Back then officers were also trying to get money for car expenses because they were using their own vehicles. They were denied.
“In 1947, a suit for false arrest was brought against the marshal. Citizens urged his dismissal. As a result the mayor resigned. The new mayor appointed a new marshal. In 1948, the marshal’s salary was set at $265 a month, and his was granted a car allowance of $40. He got of $15 raise in 1950.”
In November, 1951 a group of “interested citizens” met at the Dispatch office with the Pierce County Sheriff because they wanted a deputy sheriff and radio patrol car to be permanently located in southeastern Pierce County. There had been a number of instances of cattle rustling and other crimes in the area. After some months Deputy Sheriff Jim Simth was assigned to the new position created by the Board of County Commissioners. The town patrol car was equipped iwth a two-way radio as was the deputy’s car, for copperation of the two agencies.”
In 1967 Tony DelVicchio took the job until April 1970 when he died and Dick Carney too over as acting town marshal. By 1969 people wanted a second police officer, but he council decided it wasn’t feasible at that time.
In the 1930s a young Dr. Don Nevitt ran into Eatonville’s doctor A. W. Bridge. They must have hit it off because soon Nevitt was working at one of Bridge’s logging clinics in Selleck , Wash. By 1940 Nevitt had moved to Eatonville and was practicing with Dr. Bridge, and stayed in town as the resident doctor for over thirty years.
The New Clinic Nevitt took over Bridge’s practice in 1945 and in1951 built a clinic on Mashell Ave., which still looks incredibly the same today. Architect Gaston C. Lance designed the building that was described as “ultra modern” and “as fine as you will find anywhere.”
In March, 1951 Dr. Nevitt and his wife invited the town in for a tour. Folks could come from 2 to 5 p.m. for a little punch and cake. Over 300 people showed up.
It must have been a big day. There were “congratulation ads” in The Dispatch and many people sent or brought flowers, filling up “every available spot” reports the Dispatch.
Folks were impressed with the new building, with its spacious waiting room and modern furniture. One of the neat features was the trendy flush-type doors. Gone were the “old trim and the annoying dust and dirt.”
People not only got to walk through the new doctor’s office, but the Nevitts took them on a tour through their home upstairs, with its spectacular view of Mount Rainier.
The tour didn’t stop there. The clinic it turns out wasn’t just the home of the doctor but his nurse of seven years, Miss Ruth Pravitz, who had an apartment on the first floor.
Stylish Doctor I saw Dr. Nevitt for tetanus shots a few times as a kid in the 60s and 70s. My memories were of an old man in a white coat. Little did I know he had a keen sense of fashion. The Dispatch reported on Mr. and Mrs. Nevitt’s attire that day. He was decked out in a white sharkskin two-piece suit with a corsage of red carnations and she had on a green afternoon gown with a corsage of rose buds. I guess in 1951 you got dressed up for this kind of thing.
Dr. Nevitt was a trendsetter in other ways as well. In 1950 he owned one of the first eight televisions to be installed in Eatonville.
Here’s to Don Nevitt — dedicated doctor, wonderful man, and kind of a cool dude.
The Eatonville Dispatch printed the following 70 years later, in 1959:
Henry Kjelstadsettled in Ohop Valley and married Marie Hansen’s (Mrs. Herman Anderson) younger sister, Olava Hansen. Olava had come to this country with her sister and the two older Anderson children from Norway.
Mrs. Kjelstad is pictured on the front porch of her valley home. Her son Matteus is standing on the rail, while the little girls are, left to right Edith Swanson who lived with the family and the Kjlestad daughter Martha.
Photo courtesy of the Kjelstad and Burwash family.
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.
Barney’s was located on corner of Highway 161 and the Eatonville Cutoff Rd., and has for decades been called Barney’s Corner. The restaurant is no longer there, but the name lives on. Sitting in it’s place is Barney’s Corner Mini Mart.
1945 a Big Year for the Malcoms 1945 was the same year that Barney’s dad, Olaf Malcomretired and sold his lockers, market and slaughter house to Roy M. Moore and Fred Martin. Olaf had run the meat market in town for 27 years.
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.
As early as the 1910’s, Japanese men were recruited to come and work at the Eatonville Lumber Company. These men labored worked hard and embraced their little town beneath the great mountain. Soon, these men brought their Japanese wives and raised their children here. Many of their children were born in Eatonville and were American citizens. Those of Japanese descent worked right along side other mill workers for the same pay.
“The Japanese lived in make-shift shacks because most were not allowed to own their own houses. Their homes were clean and orderly with beautifully kept yards. The kids used to marvel as even the dirt was raked in front of the homes. The Japanese kept to themselves and never were about town much at all. They went to work for the Eatonville Lumber Company and only shopped at the company store next to the mill.” (Brown)
The Japanese enjoyed life in Eatonville and working for the Lumber Company. The company even sponsored a winning baseball team.
Japanese children attended Eatonville schools where they learned and played together with the white students. It made no difference that they were Japanese. Many Japanese were class representatives, ASB officers, and school athletes.
The Japanese were involved with the town of Eatonville but still maintained traditions. There were sumo matches, a community hall, Japanese school, and even printed their own magazine. “Even in a remote lumbering mill camp like Eatonville, Washington, the Japanese community managed to publish a coterie literary magazine, Kyomei meaning Resonance (Kumei).”
Pearl Harbor Attack Then, the unthinkable happened: Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. On a Sunday, the Nation of Japan executes an attack of a navel base with thousands of unsuspecting American military bringing the death toll of 2,390.
Because of the practice of sending Japanese children to Japan for a few years to strengthen culture and existing close family ties, all people of Japanese descent are deemed suspect.
Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “State Patrolmen searched the homes [in Eatonville] of the Japanese and took away all firearms, some of which were stored in the town hall for a long time.” (Engal).
Though many in Eatonville thought the Japanese were good people, in the town of Sumner anti-Japanese feelings were reaching dangerous levels. (See poster below.)
Fear and treats of retaliation from out-of-towners and a newspaper headlines warning of additional attacks on the west coast, prompted a feeling that maybe the Japanese would be safer if they left.
Then, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which stated that Japanese even those born in the US must leave the west coast and report to internment camps. They were only to bring two suitcases and whatever else they could carry. All household items, keepsakes, heirlooms were left behind.
The Order sanctioned the removal of all Japanese to “camps of concentration,” as Dispatch Publisher Eugene Larin wrote at the time. Children, elderly, infants, none was allowed to remain in their various communities. It mattered not if the people were American citizens or loyal to the United States. They lost everything but the clothes on their backs and the few belongings they could carry. People were given 48 hours to prepare for this terrible experience.
May 16, 1942 May 16, 1942: the day the Japanese were taken from Eatonville, Wash. The sound of many, large Army Transport trucks were heard coming up the hill. The massive trucks with large wooden slates and no cover blustered down the road to where all the Japanese families lived. The Japanese were hastily loaded. As the loud trucks roared out of town and down the hill, the Japanese looked at all those watching. Both could only stare. “The children were stunned; in shock. The homes still had most of the Japanese families’ belonging since they were only allowed two suitcases per person. All else was left behind. An Eerie site.” Lois Daly Brown
The Japanese children and all the other children of Eatonville knew each other as they went to classes and played sports together. Lois Daly Brown was shocked as all of her Japanese schoolmates were gone: Teddy, Bobby, and all the well-kept little girls, gone. “Teachers were crying and the children kept asking why; what happened? Many adults would not or could not talk about it for days.”
Brown stated that Japanese were such good people and it was a horrible, dark day she remembers clearly 69 years later (Brown).
There are about 62 men of Japanese origin employed by the Eatonville Lumber Co., of whom almost exactly half are American-born citizens, a number of them born in Eatonville and lived here all their lives. The mill workers among them are members of the Lumber & Sawmill Workers Union.”
Eatonville’s Japanese settlement has been here for about 30 years. About 100 Japanese, including women and children, were here recently. The maximum at any time was about 150, it is stated (Dixie Walter).”
Then [they] rounded up like so many cattle and, in our area, sent to the Puyallup Fairgrounds where some military genius with a perverse sense of reality named the place of heartache, Camp Harmony (Dixie Walter).
June 5, 1942
Excerpt from Chet Sakura’s first letter to the Eatonville Dispatch June 5, 1942.
. . . Camp Harmony is directly under the Wartime Civilian Control Authority (WCCA) Supervision, with details carried out by our own camp staff. Chief of Staff is the well known editor of the Japanese American Courier, James Y. Sakamoto. Under him is a capable staff and many workers among which, of course, are many Eatonville people. We police the camp with our own police force and among them are Mack Nogaki, Isa Saito, Kaz Naito, and Ken Nogaki.
“In the kitchen clean-up crew we find a number of Eatonville Hi boys, Pete Yoshino, Hiroki Hosokawa, Taro Kawato, and Mas Kudo, and of the others there’s Sumitani, Nakatani, Hashimoto, and Takeda (Setter).
Everybody gets in and digs here, in even the lowest jobs. In the children’s mess hall, I found Jerry Kurose, the head dishwasher, with Shorty Nozaki his assistant. Of course all the sanitation and general maintenance is kept up by our own crews and we find Sam Kumata one of the foremen of a work crew.”
One group of 200 left for Tule Lake, Calif., last week, among them Ken Nogaki, Kaz Naito, Tak Yamaguchi, and Eddie Nakamura. Another group of 13 left for the Montana beet fields, with them Jack Nagaoka and family. They left as a trial group and reports are so favorable that more are going soon. Howard and Alice Sakura and Mack Nogaki have signed to go with the next group. We’re all anxious to be permanently settled and view each announcement with great interest. Well, there’ll be more next week, with additional details of work and recreational programs, so, until then, Your correspondent, Chester Sukura
P.S. – I just received the Dispatch this evening and it seems strange to see my letter in there. It seems as though I should be there in Eatonville, helping with the local war efforts, but I guess I just have to wait now. But my hopes and wishes go with your efforts.” (Walter).
June 12, 1942 In the June 12, 1942 issue of the Eatonville Dispatch, Sakura writes:
We have had a few visitors from Eatonville and all of us certainly enjoyed the visits. Fred Roeder and family visited last Sunday and brought some household goods to us. They also brought a few flowers that were greatly appreciated. After having a garden full of flowers, we certainly miss them and tell any other visitor that flowers will be very welcome.
“Butch” Snyder dropt [sic] by and we saw Ray Nadeau and family at the gate too. It seems strange to see people outside the gate wanting to get in and people inside wanting to get out, all for the mutual interest of friendly visits. We wonder which side of the gate is which and why there should be a gate there with so many visitors. There are visitors at the gate at all times and on Saturday and Sunday, the gate is jammed. All this indicates that the American people are the friendliest people in the world and makes us all feel good inside.
June 18, 1942 June 18, 1942: “It’s rather hard to start a letter this week after reading in the Dispatch of another Eatonville casualty in this war. I knew Chuck Biggs well (killed in action in Alaska at Dutch Harbor during the Japanese attack there on June 3. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Biggs, Sr.) well and saw him grow from a little lad like my boy, to be a soldier. And now, as those close to us make the supreme sacrifice, we feel more determined in doing the things Uncle Sam asks us to do willingly to help with the war efforts.” (Walter).
Eatonville’s Japanese population was taken to Minidoka internment camp in Eden, Idaho after spending time at “Camp Harmony.” It is a stark contrast from the green forest and foothills of Mt. Rainier.
“Dust was everywhere, in the house, in our clothes, in our bed, and in our mouth. The wind blows it up in clouds, and it’s very uncomfortable to say the least. When the wind blows, the dust comes in through the slightest crack, especially around windows and doors. But now, the Engineering Department has been sprinkling the streets and eventually the dirt will be packed down. The bright spot of all this dust is the grass planting program, as soon as water is available.”
Chet Sakura September 5, 1942 (Walter)
In October, Sakura and several others went to the beet fields, where they averaged $5 a day. In his letter to the Eatonville Dispatch Sakura said, “I would still rather be in Eatonville working as a common laborer at $6.60 [sic]. I often think of work and things back home and at the same time compare with the locations we’ve been settled in.” Sakura had been a radio repairman in Eatonville (Walter).
Finally, Chet Sakura was allowed to use his radio skills. Here he is posing for photographers with the caption reading: Radio Repair Shop.
During their time at Camp Minidoka, the Japanese ran schools, governing committees, social functions, weddings, funerals, and churches. They tried to make life as normal as possible.
Several Japanese enlisted for duty in WWII. The main fighting group of Japanese was the men of the 442nd. They were a self-sufficient fighting force and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany.
The unit became the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients. The families of many of its soldiers were in internment camps.
At war’s end, the camps closed. To return to home “someday” never came for Chet Sakura, or other Eatonville Japanese who wished to return to town. Upon investigation they found their return would not be popular with some of the local people. An “Anti-Jap Association,” with headquarters in Sumner, had a branch in Eatonville. Even the veterans of the war entitled to their former job status, did not return (Walter).