Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30, 1880

On this day Emmett Hunt wrote in his diary "Beautiful day.  Spent it all in reading, singing, lounging, etc.  Some visitors came in but nothing to me."

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wollochet Bay Oyster Company

Did you know that in 1935 a portion of the head of Wollochet Bay on Wollochet Drive and East Bay and Artondale Drives was the site of Wollochet Bay Oyster Company?

Paul Svinth and Billy Maloney standing next to the Sleepy Hollow sign.  
Frank Maloney and Dave Svinth were the founders and partners of the company and they planted tidelands which previously belonged to his wife’s stepfather, William McLaughlin, with oyster beds from 1935 until after WWII started.  The oysters were fattened by two fresh water creeks, on the west by a salmon-filled creek flowing from Maloney Creek in Rosedale and the second creek from the area known as Green Land.  The beds covered a broad area from the tide mudflats that stretched across the buttonhook curve that forms the bay’s northwest border, known as “Indian Point”.  They extended to the east where the second creek entered the bay behind the flat spongy land known as “Green Land”.

Frank and Dave used Japanese oyster seed as well as partially grown oysters from Shelton and over time, five tons of the tiny oysters from state land near Hood Canal.  The Japanese strain soon disappeared when no longer cultivated.

Dave Svinth had been a student at Pacific Lutheran College in 1934 but it was the midst of the Depression and jobs were hard to come by. 

They kept the planted oysters separated for optimum, single growth.  Frank’s wife, Helen, who kept their books, recalled in 1985 for Gladys Para that she remembered her husband walking out from their house with a lantern during the night-time low tides moving the mollusks apart so that they didn’t attach to each other.  Bathed and nourished by the creek's outflow, the oysters improved and developed into top quality and trade escalated.

The oysters were enjoyed by everyone.  The partners built a shucking house on the water’s edge just in front of where Dave erected a cabin on land leased from Frank.  There they sold freshly-opened oysters for 20 cents a pint to anyone who stopped by.  They also had a wholesale business with the recently opened Gig Harbor Safeway and a foot-route to homes in the North End of Tacoma. 

Dave Svinth,  in front of the cabin used for selling oysters.
 It was built of materials from the old Artondale School. 
Wollochet Bay Oyster Company was far enough from Minterbrook Oyster Company so rivalry didn’t exist between the two firms.  Frank and Dave learned from Minterbrook Oyster and adopted some of their practices.  One idea was the method for sterilizing with steam.  There were two springs close to the cement-floored shucking house and both springs tested pure water.  Both men had health permits; the shucking house had a steam sterilizer for their metal strainers and knives. 

Oysters were gathered at low tide onto floats which were then pulled in by rowboat and tied to a stake to await opening.  They used milk bottles at first for containers and soon replaced them with wide mouth Mason jars which they purchased wholesale from Safeway for 3 cents each.  Finally waxed paper cartons bearing their own label, Wollochet Bay Oysters, were used.  Safeway only marked up the oysters a nickel per pint and iced its orders immediately after arrival at the store.

Maloney continued the business for a while after Svinth left oystering and his cabin in 1941.   

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day in the Harbor

 People's Wharf, 1890
Here a crowd gathers on People's Wharf [now Tides Tavern] with flags flying to commemorate Memorial Day 1890.   Even dogs were invited.  Everyone were smartly dressed for the day.

Memorial Day began in the United States as Decoration Day in 1866.  It originated in the South as the day to decorate Confederate Soldiers' graves.  By 1888, the name evolved to Memorial Day nationally and became the day set aside to honor and remember those that had given their lives for their country.  

Members of the Grand Army of the Republic
Several Gig Harbor Peninsula pioneers were Civil War Veterans.  Miles Hunt (fifth from the right) settled in Artondale in 1877 with his wife and five children.  He had served with the Second Michigan Cavalry regiment.  His close friend from the regiment, Thaddeus Waters, also came to Gig Harbor. Joseph Goodman (standing to the right of Hunt) brought his family to the harbor in 1883.  He was part of the Forty-fifth Wisconsin Regiment.  They were all members of the local chapter of the GAR, a Civil War veterans organization.  Their wives formed the auxiliary, the Women's Relief Corps.

Linda McCowen, Historic Photo Editor
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23, 1880, Sunday

On this day Emmett Hunt wrote in his diary "Nice day for us.  Had a good old fashioned social sing once more again after which rided any way back to Bob's."

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Gig Harbor's First Theatre

1925 photo by Marvin Boland
In late 1924-25 Austin and Harriett Richardson and Andrew Gilich built the first theatre building seating 450 people in downtown Gig Harbor.

The first order of business was in February 1925 when the manager, Mr. OM Jacobson of The Movie Show inaugurated a contest to name the new theatre.  The winner would win $10 and the second and third winners would each receive a 30-day pass.

Previously plays, movies and vaudeville acts were performed at the Community Hall.  A couple of those early acts according to news accounts were “The Chorus Lady” starring Pat O’Brien and Margaret Livingston; “The Beloved Brute” starring Marguerite de la Motte, Victor McLaglin and others.

The winning name was Empress Theatre and it opened the doors to a packed house on April 12, 1925.  Bebe Daniels starred in the vaudeville act “Miss Bluebeard” with the Alvord Kiddies as the feature act performing dancing, singing, acrobatics and telling jokes.  For the movie, it was the usual Mack Sennett comedy, followed by Pathe Review with Mrs. Higgins of Gig Harbor, Miss Hazel Hoydon of Tacoma and Mr. J. S. Bogan singing.  Admission was 35 cents for adults and 15 cents for children.

Street scene, December 1949, Frank Shaw Photo
On November 8, 1929, O. M. Jacobson who owned and managed the theatre for the past five years sold his interests to R. P. Burfield, an experienced showman.  The theatre was closed while it installed the updated Holmes Sound Equipment and underwent interior decoration improvements at a cost of $10,000.  The grand opening was scheduled for November 15, 1929,  showing talkies for the first time in Gig Harbor.  It was leased to D. C. Milward and Marvin Dymess of Seattle.  G. Donald Gray, baritone with KOMO and Sidney Dixon of KJR, both appeared at the grand opening.  The new management ran shows on Saturday and Sunday with matinees on both days; prices remained at 35 cents for adults and 15 cent for children with the matinee price at 25 cent for adults and 10 cents children.

In May the front of the theatre building was treated to new decoration which, according to The Peninsula Gateway, vastly improved the building.  On May 30, 1930, Mr. Burfield, manager of the Empress Theatre decided to change the name of the playhouse and has given the high school students the opportunity to choose the new name.  Mr. Burfield and Mr. Richardson, building owner, would pick the best suited name on June 1, 1930.  The name they chose was Peninsula Theatre.  For some strange reason the name suddenly appeared as Peninsulan Theatre with no explanation on November 7, 1930.  But by December 19, 1930 they were back to using Peninsula Theatre again.  By the end of 1930 the theatre started experiencing strong competition from the New Community theatre in Port Orchard.

With the effects brought on by the Depression and other international events including the conflict in Europe, the theatre suffered.  It was renamed The Blue Eagle Theatre and was named for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act.  They planned on opening for programs Friday and Sunday with the first show August 4, 1933 being “King Kong."  Due to the economic condition, it did not succeed and was closed for at least a year.

Peninsula Gateway Ad, 1937
Leona Nikolac, cashier at the Roxy, 1948
On February 14, 1936 the theatre was sold to M. H. Thompson and F. M. Higgins.  However, by June 1936 Mr. Higgins gifted his share to the Thompson family and was no longer involved.  The Thompsons renamed the theatre The Roxy.  Rex Thompson, son of M. H. Thompson, reopened the Roxy with A. E. Merry as manager.  Movies again had become big time entertainment and the Roxy ran three movies every night.  Westerns were very popular in Gig Harbor at the time. 

The Merrys continued to run the theatre until 1955 when Mr. Merry locked the door for the very last time and the building stood empty for a long time.

As time passed, the final occupants were a large colony of working bees that produced a bonus of honey when the building was torn down.     

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

First Air Mail Service in Gig Harbor

Local children gather on the beach, May 19, 1938
Air Mail service in the United States began 101 years ago in 1911 with the first flight from Petaluma to Santa Rosa, California, on February 19.  It would be 27 years later that Air Mail service came to Gig Harbor.

To promote the anniversary of that service,  the Post Office issued a new Air Mail Stamp and a special stamp cachet.  Everyone was encouraged to mail at least one letter during the week of May 15-21, 1938.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hy Iu Hee Hee

In 1935 shortly after Prohibition ended, the Hy Iu Hee Hee was built on 100 acres of state leased lands on Swede Hill on the road to Rosedale [now known as Burnham and Sehmel] on the winding road to Bremerton.  The site itself is now under State Highway 16.  There were also six cabins for rent in the woods behind the tavern. 
                                                                    The tavern next to the road grade for Highway 16

The name “Hy Iu Hee Hee” means “Good Times and Lots of Laughter”.

Owners of the tavern through the years were:  (1) Walter and Berthe Mosher, the original owners; (2) Al and Micki Johnson, who owned it for a very short time; (3) George and Nellie Goodall, who sold it to (4) Harold and Florence (Berg) Smith and (5) Charles and Florence Smith Robinson. 
                                                                        One of six cabins behind the tavern
Before Walter and Berthe Mosher sold the tavern it was the most popular refueling tavern on the lower Peninsula and the country was well into World War II.  Carloads of people got together to have a good time during the gas rationing time in the early 1940s.  So to save money on gas, cars were packed full.  Parking was hard to find in the lot and on both sides of the road in each direction.  Some of the regulars walked daily to the tavern as it was the highlight of their day.  During construction of the tavern, local people were allowed to carve their names and favorite sayings on the bar top made by Walter Mosher.  It was created from the middle section of one large log, then sanded and finished with a thick varnish-like covering and highly polished.

                                                                                                          Dot Berg Fagerstrom tends the bar and lunch counter

Clarence E. Shaw, local sign painter,  created large murals on the ceiling of the addition which was added a little later.  He also painted the Indian Maiden on the top of the roof.  She was known as “Madam To Wagh”.  Mr. Shaw most likely painted the large signs on the outside walls of the building. 

Harold and Florence Smith bought the tavern in 1948.  When Mr. Smith died, Florence married Charles Robinson.  During all the time Florence was an owner,  the sense of welcome and belonging abounded.  The front door could still be opened by pulling a knotted rope to lift a wooden latch to allow people to enter.  The tavern had rules which were strictly enforced.  They opened at 8 AM and closed at midnight.  

In the earlier days Hy Iu Hee Hee was the place for dancing and live music on Friday and Saturday.  The tavern sold cheese, crackers, meats and later lunches.  Then a big production was made over dinners with leg of lamb and chicken dinners.   Besides beer, the homemade chili and the hamburgers were the most popular in the later years.

The chili recipe was Nellie Goodall’s and she handed it down to Florence Smith, later Robinson.  Here is the recipe which has been copied (spellings and all)  directly from the recipe. It was entitled, "Here’s what’s cookin’ Recipe from the kitchen of Hy Iu Hee Hee by owner Florence Robinson”.

Chillie Recipe
6 cups red beans – cook till getting tender.  Add more water as needed.
Add 1 large onion chopped and parsley leaves if available – also 2 large cloves garlic, 1 large spoon each of chillie powder – 3 Tspn dry mustard – 1 teaspoon several dashes of cayene pepper, 1 teaspoon cumine powder, 4 stocks celery & leaves, 1 can tomatoe sauce, 1 handfull salt.

Cook till well seasoned and fully done.
About 2# hamburger

In approximately 1958 the State condemned the tavern building and asked Hy Iu Hee Hee to vacate the premises for the construction of the new freeway to Purdy.  There was a law on the books at that time that stated you could not burn a structure that was standing.  So the Robinsons hired Lyle Severtsen to come with his bulldozer and push the building down after they had salvaged all things of value.  Once it was down they burned the debris.
                                             Clarence Shaw's sign over the entrance with Madam to Wagh pictured above

The Hy Iu Hee Hee came back to life in 1983 when it was rebuilt by the current owners on Burnham Road.     

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

May 16, 1880, Sunday

On this day Emmett Hunt wrote in his diary "Fair day again However put in my time in various ways.  3 or 4 callers during the day but none of interest to me."

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jane Shaw Interview by Gladys Para

The following is an interview with Jane Shaw Rockwell conducted by Gladys Para on April 20, 1988.  This has been quoted exactly as it was written. Gladys Para wrote the Peninsula Gateway Looking Back Column in the 1980s. 

"My dad's (Clarence) scrapbook has been loaned out to a grandson and I couldn't get hold of him to start it on its way home again.  Several years ago, I wrote a sketch on dad for the society when they had a display on his hobbies when they were still in the old log cabin up towards the head of the bay. [now JW's Restaurant]  A copy of it should be around here somewhere but I couldn't locate it.  I need one or the other to jog my memory.

"Dad helped raise money in fact, helped to promote, the building of a band stand at the head of the bay.  Trombly had a band then and I can remember them playing there. 

"I have seen a notebook somewhere in our stuff, where pop kept track of donations made.  Don't know if I can find it or not.  This must have been in the 1920s sometime.  Dad and Mom were members of an early dance club in Gig Harbor, started by the Burnhams.  They were called the Wampus Club and to get there purchased a boat float from Pt. Defiance and held their dances there.  Other members I remember were the Peacocks, Millers, Wylers, Iliffs, Wheelers, (Rust and Goodman might have come now and then too).  Others I will think of later.  We kids also went to these dances and after watching the old folks, either fell asleep on benches or in the top of the float where there was an upstairs room.

"Pop was a traveling salesman and I have a most interesting diary of those days, but not pertinent to Gig Harbor only that the wife and children he loved were in that town waiting for his visits home, and he always brought small gifts.

"When times started getting tough he stayed in Gig Harbor and started his sign painting shop, and later added a printing press and did job printing.  During these years he trained and ran roosters the height of this endeavor when he ran them in Madison Square Gardens and appeared on Hobby Lobby.  My mind won't track on all the things in the community that he was involved in.  Will have to get the scrap book back before I can give you much more.  The quotation we talked about was that every morning when he woke up he thought of himself as a little boy going out to play and looked forward to what the day would bring.  ""What will I do to have fun today!?""

"Sorry I can't remember any more today.  I left brother Frank's book on your desk.  Please don't let me forget where IT is.  Have more like it at home.

"Madeline [Summerhays] and I spent most of this day sorting the clippings.  What a JOB.  Don't know if we have them all right or not but we gave her the old one two three try." [Jane and Madeline volunteered weekly at the museum.]

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

May 9, 1880, Sunday

On this day Emmett Hunt wrote in his diary "Nice day again.  After teasing Martha and Re... awhile they went to Yelm and I returned to Robert's - Found a lady friend so chatted immensely."

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Lorenz Family

Carl and Louise Lorenz and their children, Edward, Otto, Meta and Oscar, homesteaded in Lakebay in the early part of 1870s after spending a year in San Francisco and Seattle following their departure from Hamburg, Germany.  Carl was a carpenter and built some houses in Seattle.
 Crew of the Tyrus

One of the first things they did shortly after arrival on the peninsula was to purchase Dead Man’s Island.   (Cutt's Island) They used the island for summer excursions.

After settling in Lakebay, Carl logged and established a water-driven sawmill that mainly produced lumber for the local community. Excess lumber was sold in Tacoma, and in order to deliver it Carl built a large scow powered by long oars. He had not reckoned with the winds and tidal currents through The Narrows or off Point Defiance. His first and only trip with the scow took three weeks.

As a result, Carl designed and built Sophia - the first boat in their fleet which eventually included Meta (named after their daughter who died quite young), Tyconda, Typhoon (I), Tyrus, Typhoon (II), Thurow, Sentinel, and Arcadia.

Sophia was a 42-foot tug named for his mother, still living in Germany, and launched in 1884. Even though the tug lacked accommodations and passengers had to climb over various pieces of lumber, it provided a needed passenger service.  The Lorenz’ sold the tug in 1890 to Frank Bibbins.

Meta was built in 1888 and was 58 feet. It replaced the Sophia, providing better accommodation for the growing Tacoma-Henderson Bay route. Meta was sold in 1898 and was replaced by the 114-foot Typhoon (1) which was built in Portland and went to Grays Harbor in 1890. The Lorenz family purchased the steamer in 1894. It was completely rebuilt before starting on the route, which included Tacoma, Hales Passage, Carr Inlet, and Henderson Bay and was skippered by Edward Lorenz. It was sold in 1903 to Matthew McDowell for the East Pass.     

The Tyconda was the only stern-wheeler owned by the family. With its shallow draft, it could land close to shore, making it easier to transfer freight at Cromwell, Sylvan, Warren, Arletta, Lakebay, and Vaughn. It also made it much easier to board passengers. The Tyconda was also used on excursions sponsored by the Lorenz’ for their annual outings to Fox Island (known as Batil Merman by the natives before the settlers arrived) and Shelton.  It was sold in 1914 for use in Alaska and burned in 1915.

The Lorenz family added the Tyrus to their fleet in 1904. The 108-foot steamer received her machinery from Typhoon (1) but in 1906 got a new triple-expansion engine. Tyrus ran three times a week, then daily, to stops on Case and Carr Inlets. It was sold in 1918 to Nels Christensen and renamed Virginia IV.
Typhoon (I)

Named for their mother’s German hometown, the 45-foot Thurow was built in 1918 with a unique pilothouse control of a gas engine. Because of varying problems, the boat was refitted with traditional steam. Ed’s friend Bert Berntson was captain in 1919. Eventually it became too small to handle the business and was sold in 1927.

Captains Ed Lorenz and Bert Berntson contracted with Mojean Ericson Shipyard in Tacoma to build the 99-foot Arcadia in 1928. It was able to carry 275 passengers and 100 tons of freight and made stops at Home, Arletta, Anchorage, Warren, Sunnybay, Cromwell, Sylvan, Wollochet, Cedrona, and Tacoma. They sold her in 1941 to the McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary which changed the name and used the steamer for another 15 years.
 Capt. Ed Lorenz
All three Lorenz boys had boating careers. Edward was a captain, Oscar and Otto were engineers. Edward was best known on the water as Capt. Ed and at one time or another skippered all the family’s boats. He died in 1941, Otto died in 1943; Oscar never married and was living at the Jefferson House Nursing Home when interviewed at age 99 for the TNT Tacoma Tradewinds column, December 24, 1975, written by Bruce Johnson. Oscar was an engineer on a freighter to South America as well as fish-packer vessels in Alaska during summers. Otto married late in life and had no children; Edward married Christine Gilbertson from Glencove and they had two sons and two daughters.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2, 1880, Sunday

On this day Emmett Hunt wrote in his diary "Cloudy and cool.  Continued my journey to Bob Murray's residence where all seemed to be lovely in regard to school matters."

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.