Eatonville Stage – 1937

1937 Stage Ad
1937 Stage Ad

This ad for the Eatonville-Tacoma Stage Company ran in the Mashell Telephone Company phonebook’s inside cover in 1937. The stage took folks all over — Kapowsin, Electron and transferred people at Johnson’s Corner from the Eatonville-Tacoma stage to the the Kapowsin-Tacoma stage.

If anyone knows what kind of vehicles were used or the prices, please let me know..

Image courtesy of John Bratholm.

Click on image to enlarge.

Malcolm’s Meat Shop (1948)

Malcom's Meat Shop
Malcom’s Meat Shop

You’re getting a glimpse of Malcolm’s Meat Shop in August 1948 (or at least that’s what the date appears to be on the calendar behind the butcher).

Olaf Malcolm was a second-generation butcher from Norway and arrived in 1918.

He homesteaded just outside Eatonville (where Rich Collins lives today) and built a slaughterhouse. The young entrepreneur opened up meat markets in Eatonville (currently the vacant building across from Tall Timber), Kapowsin, Mineral and Morton.

Photo courtesy of Rick Parnell and the Parnell family.

Click on image to enlarge.


Request for Expenses to T. C. Van Eaton (1925)

L. L. Benbow to T. C. Van Eaton (1925)
L. L. Benbow to T. C. Van Eaton (1925)

I enjoy photos of days gone by, but it’s things like this — a request for payment of expenses on New Washington Hotel stationery from L. L. Barrbow to T. C. Van Eaton — that make the images come alive.

The note reads,

Dear Friend:

As per plan, I am sending a statement of expenses incurred by me in three traveling trips, traveling alone.

On six separate days, when traveling with men from Kapowsin, they paid all expsenses.

If a check is sent at once, I will have it for my Olympia trip next Monday.

As ever,

L.L. Barrbow

New Washington Hotel
New Washington Hotel

Just a little note on the New Washington Hotel — it still stands.

“James Moore constructed the elegant 14-story New Washington Hotel (now the Josephinum, 1902 Second Avenue). When it was completed in 1908 it was the city’s premier hotel with 250 rooms and an elegant marble lobby and dining room.

Its guests have included Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding. Much later, Elvis Presley stayed here when he was filming It Happened at the World’s Fair. The exterior has extensive terra cotta, with an unusual worm-like design. The building has been used for low-income housing since 1963 and was completely renovated in 1991. The former dining room now accommodates a Catholic church.” (Per www.viaducthistory.com)

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton and VintageSeattle.org.

Click on images to enlarge.

Community Day (aka May Day)

Mashell Ave ca 1916
Mashell Ave. ca 1916

Growing up, I was confused about May Day. Why did some people call it Community Day and others May Day? Why did only our town celebrate it? And what was with the Maypole?

Now that I’ve read up on it, the confusion is understandable. The short version is that Community Day or May Day is a combination of events. The longer version is . . .

Cleaning up the Town
Community Day got its start in 1913 writes B. W. Lyon. At that time, the town was 800 people, a few saloons and stores and a wood schoolhouse. “The children were careless about marking, and the buildings were marred and streets and vacant lots and much of the residence property was strewn with rubbish,” says Lyon in 1954.

The kids cleaned up the school grounds and got so excited they went to Mayor Nettleton and suggested a “town clean up day” to remove the graffiti. The residents got into the event and rubbish was soon going up in smoke. What couldn’t be burned was hauled away — and community day was born.

The following Community Day included a baseball game and socializing. “We made the Community Day a time when old timers could come back and meet many of their old friends,” says Lyon.

Mahell Ave ca 1913
Mahell Ave ca 1913

Tacoma Eastern Fair
In 1914 the Tacoma Eastern Fair started up and was soon incorporated into Community Day. In 1917 people could exhibit and win one or more of the 1,450 prizes handed out. Directors of the Fair were from all the communities — from Kapowsin to Ashford — and Lyon as president.

As the years progressed the popular Community Day programs were “varied and elaborate”. In 1926 over 3,000 people attended (based on the population that would be 8,000+ today). It took two days to build the booths and the highlight that year was laying the cornerstone of the Masonic Lodge.

First crowing of the May Day Queen - Fay Williams
First crowing of the May Day Queen - Fay Williams by King Bill Smith

Royal Court
A May Fete, or royal court, was started in 1919, by Bertha Mahaffie. It was its own event and held on May Day, until 1926 when it too was combined with Community Day. The first Community Day royalty were Queen Faye Williams and King Bill Smith.

By about 1936 Community Day had become mostly a May Fete celebration — grade school children “participated with folk dances before the floral throne of the king and queen”, and there were also track events, a school baseball game, a senior play in the evening, and displays by different grades and school departments.

Fast forward 75 years to the first Friday in May. Eatonville still celebrates Community Day . . . or May Day.

Here’s to the kids who started the ball rolling!

Postcards from Kapowsin (1908)

1908 Kapowsin postcard (Rose side 1)
1908 Kapowsin postcard (Rose side 1)

These postcards were written in 1908 by Sweed, Anders Gustofson, from Kapowsin, to an Elisabeth Bergman. It’s hard not to wonder if they were friends, family or lovers. In any event, it looks like June and November of 1908 Elisabeth moved from Sand Point, Idaho to Deluth.

Postcards were the way people originally “dropped you a line”.  In 908, more than 677 million postcards were mailed. (Per Wikipedia.)

My wonderful Norwegian friend Venke Lyngsnes translated them for me. The first one reads:

Thank you for the card which I got a long time ago. If you receive this
write back soon and I will send you photography. I’m going to Tacoma next
week, then I will take a card ….. Where is your brother Johan now, and
Torsten? At last, a greeting from Anders Gustafson

1908 Kapowsin postcard (Rose side 2)
1908 Kapowsin postcard (Rose side 2)

The second reads:

Thank you for the card I received today. Nice to hear that you are alive.
You are not far from here I understand. Me and Card P. …. again, my
brother is in the big city Tacoma but I like it best out on the country.
Carl P. says hello. Write back soon. Kind regards Anders Gustafson

Images courtesy of Diane Mettler.

Click on images to enlarge.

1908 Kapowsin postcard (pink flower side 1)

1908 Kapowsin postcard (pink flower side 1)



1908 Kapowsin Postcard (pink flower side 2)
1908 Kapowsin Postcard (pink flower side 2)

Kapowsin in 1907

Kapowsin 1907 (postcard)
Kapowsin 1907 (postcard)

This postcard gives you a snapshot of old Kapowsin in 1907. I’m not sure who wrote the card, but they seem pleased to be there.

It reads: Read your card a short time ago and was glad to here from you again. Here is where I am stopping now and I like this place fine as ever. C. F. S. (Oct. 21, 1907)

Images courtesy of Diane Mettler.

Kapowsin 1907 (side 2)
Kapowsin 1907 (side 2)

Click in images to enlarge.

In the Shadow of the Mountain

In the Shadow of the Mountain
In the Shadow of the Mountain

In the Shadow of the Mountain is written by local writer, Lawrence D. “Andy” Anderson. The book covers the history of early Graham, Kapowsin, Benston, Electron, as well as upper Ohop Valley and other spots in the vicinity.

This wonderful 301-page book is as well researched as it is written.

Lawrence is a retired manager of the Federal Aviation Administration and lives in Graham with his wife. He says history of the Graham and Kapowsin area has been his passion of his for over four decades. He collected a large amount of information from people in the area, as well as from books and records. And, as you might guess, the book is packed with photos.

Although the book is currently out of print, you can check it out at the Eatonville Library and the Eatonville Historical Society has a copy as well.


Movies in Eatonville – Roxy Theater

Pecchia Theatre
Ticket Front – Pecchia Theatre Curcuit

Eatonville’s Roxy theater in town was built by A.G. Pecchia back in 1942. It was just one of many.

Mr. Pecchia came into the movie business by accident. Around 1920,  a man who was renting Pecchia’s building owed Pecchia money. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at the story) the man had no money and paid Pecchia with a theater in Orting.

Mr. Pecchia, who hadn’t even seen a “rolling movie” learned about the industry quickly. In 1922 he opened a theater in Kapowsin and bought the the theater in Eatonville.  In 1925 he purchased the Morton theater and then took over Randle’s in 1937.

Ticket back - Pecchia theatre Curcuit
Ticket back – Pecchia theatre Curcuit

In 1949 he built The Narrows, the theater near the Narrows Bridge, which I believe today is the Tacoma Musical Playhouse.

Mr. and Mrs. Pecchia continued to run the Eatonville Roxy until the late 70s.

Eatonville’s First Doctor – A.W. Bridge

A.W. Bridge's office
A.W. Bridge had his office above what is today Kirk's Pharmacy

What do Eatonville and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital have in common? Answer: Dr. A. W. Bridge.

In 1909 a young doctor, Albert Wellington (A.W.) Bridge, schooled at the Vermont Medical School, arrived in Eatonville carrying his bicycle and all his earthy possessions. He’d lost his father to a logging accident and his late mother had worked in a sawmill. Now he was focused on providing services to logging camps and lumber mills.


The town was in need of a doctor and T.C. Van Eaton offered to build him a clinic if he’d set up shop in Eatonville.


Taking Care of Loggers
A.W. settled in and got right to work. He set up clinics in Kapowsin, Mineral, Ashford and Morton. He also established one of the first medical plans for loggers and lumber company employees — $1 a month for medical care

The doctor didn’t just provide care to loggers. You could find him traveling out to farms — first by horse and buggy and then by car — to deliver babies and care for the sick and injured. Despite this incredibly busy schedule, he still found time to serve as Eatonville’s mayor in 1919.

Cruiser Cafe
A.W. Bridge's home — currently (2011) the Cruiser Cafe

Estate Goes to Children
When Dr. Bridge passed away in 1949 he surprised many by leaving a half million dollar estate ($4.5 million in today’s dollars). He said all his money was to go to a group or hospital for children, but there was one stipulation. It must be named after his mother and inspiration, Mary Bridge.

The years between 1909 and 1949 were filled with lots of colorful stories, which will be the subject of future columns. Until then, take a look around Eatonville. Dr. Bridge’s footprint is still here.

• The annual Eatonville Country Christmas bizarre, which raises money for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, is put on by the A. W. Bridge Orthopedic Guild.

• Dr. Bridge’s home still stands. Today it’s more commonly known as the Cruiser Café.

• The doctor had his offices above Kirk’s Pharmacy.

• He also practiced at the old Eatonville hospital, which is now a residence across from the Eatonville High School.




The Day Eatonville Almost Went Up in Flames

Photo of Eatonville, WA in the 20's
Eatonville 1920s, provided by Pat Van Eaton

It was September 21, 1924, and the townspeople of Eatonville were battling a string of arsons. Little did they know the real fire was yet to come.

Rumor has it, that afternoon in Alder a Fire Marshall swapped someone at the Cascade Timber Company a bottle of whiskey for a slash fire permit. Despite how the slash fire started, what made it a deadly were the 40 mph winds that picked up shortly after it was set.

The fire swept down the hillsides toward Eatonville, covering swatches half a mile to five miles wide and 15 to 20 miles long. It ravaged its way through Pack Forest, Ohop Valley, jumped roads, traveled through Lynch Creek, and Kapowsin, and set fire to millions of board feet of timber as far as Graham.

The draft from the blaze was so powerful “good sized” fir trees were twisted and pulled up from their roots. Barns, houses, livestock, and logging camps were destroyed in the fire’s path and people frantically worked to save their homesteads.

Eatonville 4th of July parade weeks before the fire (photo courtesy of Pat VanEaton)

Eatonville resident Frank Hoffman says, “Our family was good friends with the Conrads who lost a barn in the fire. Mrs. Conrad worked hard to save their home and I’m not sure if it was the smoke or the heat, but it left her blind.”

By 5 p.m. the fire had completely encircled Eatonville and 500 people had yet to evacuate.

“The late Mrs. Otto Anderson once told of walking down Eatonville’s main street at the hour,” writes Marjorie Hayes in History of Southeastern Pierce County. “There was no sign of life. All the stores were empty and there was no one on the street but Mrs. Anderson and a bewildered cow. The air was full of smoke and ashes which obscured the sky, and there was a lurid glow over everything.”

Mrs. Larry Smith went up to the school to check on her husband, the custodian. Hayes says, “The fire was roaring through the canyon behind the buildings, and the draft was so great that she feared she would be sucked into it and resorted to crawling on her hands and knees.”

Firefighters from Tacoma arrived in time to help save the residences on the north end of Washington Avenue. More equipment arrived from Fort Lewis, right behind Dr. A. W. Bridge who had rushed from Tacoma to his patients at the Eatonville Hospital.

In the end, it was probably Mother Nature who played the biggest part in saving the town. The “freakish” windstorm shifted direction, which kept the fire literally at arm’s length.

Rains came the next day and Eatonville residents returned, relieved to find their town intact.

(Article appeared in The Dispatch, February 2011)