One of the best things about writing this blog for the Harbor History Museum is learning about new history that happened in our community. And it is made even better when when it is shared like the following information which was shared with me.
Perhaps some of you reading this right now will also have memories or stories to tell about “Boxing Smoker” events. If so, please share in the comment section below.
This is so fitting with the current special exhibit being all about sports and recreation on the Gig Harbor Peninsula.
I saw online yesterday that the museum is having a special exhibit on sports and recreation in the Gig Harbor area. That reminded me of the copy of a poster from 1938 someone gave me a couple years ago, which I have attached to this email. If you haven't seen it before, it's really interesting. It's advertising a boxing smoker for Friday night, March 25, 1938, featuring local teenaged boys.
Many names on it are familiar, and some have tremendously interesting personal histories. As young men, three of the first four boys in the left column would experience the worst of World War 2 and live to return to Gig Harbor. Jack Jacobson spent time in a German prisoner of war camp. Kenny Marvin spent all but the first three weeks of the war as a POW of the Japanese. After the war he owned and operated several service stations in Gig Harbor. Edgar Bunch, who ultimately retired from Spadoni Brothers as a bulldozer operator, was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in the last year of the war would go ashore on Iwo Jima on the third day of that battle.
Buddy Conan, the referee, started Conan Fuel Service, now owned by Dan Root. The last fighter on the card, Buddy Dewalt, a long-time area home builder, passed away at the age of 90 just last week. (April 9, 2015) He was 13 years old when the program was held.
I don't know which community hall the poster refers to. It's easy to assume Gig Harbor, but I suppose it could've been in another hall in a nearby community.
In the old days "smoker" was another name for a fundraising event. The top part of the poster seems to be missing, and that's what would've explained what organization was putting on the boxing smoker.
I did a little additional research on this event and discovered the following information:
- The event was sponsored by the Crescent Valley Scouts
- On March 11, 1938, their first advertisement stated there would be “10 Good Bouts”
- In the news from Crescent Valley it stated “The Boy Scouts are planning to give a boxing smoker at the Community hall, Friday evening, March 25th. The bouts will feature boys from the harbor.
- The Peninsula Gateway on March 25, 1938 wrote the following:
- Boxing News
- All the boxers are awaiting the gong that will send them into the ring tonight at the Community hall. Ten action laden bouts will headline the fistic card.
- Billy Slonecker and Dickie Johnson will open hostilities in the flea weight division. Kenny Marvin and Albert Modun will square off in another match which has all the earmarks of a slugfest. Melvin Johnson and Charley Edwards will tangle in another bout which looks like a sizzler. Jack Jackobson, the hardworking football player, will try his best to defeat Butch Hahn in the 180-pound class, Doug Stremme, a clever and game lightweight will meet Edgar Bunch in a bout which promises to be very fast.
- Ben Alvastad, a boring-in aggressive fighter will meet a very good opponent when he tangles with Fairfield Pardman, the Purdy oysterman.
- Allen McKenzie and Cell Mickelson will meet at 110 pounds.
- These bouts will be backed up by five other very good bouts.
- Bud Conan, the popular basketball player will referee all the bouts.
- Bill Slonecker will announce and Bill Baldwin, Ralph Healy, and Charles Summers will judge the bouts.
- Paul Alvestad and F. E. Johnson will be at the gate.
- And the final article in the Crescent Valley news in the Peninsula Gateway remarked “The Scout Smoker held last Friday evening was a success financially, as well as giving everyone fine entertainment. Our success was due in a large degree to the help and cooperation given to us by the harbor business men and the residents of our community.”
- According to Cigar Aficionado in their article entitled “Tales of the Canvas by Kenneth Shouler, boxing historian Bert Sugar boxing smokers were “gatherings for old-timers mix(ing) fine food, nostalgic tales and cigar smoke as well as live fights.” Sugar stated “I fought at the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) in Virginia. I was known as the ‘Great White Hopeless’. Other than that, I did not find where or when the term Boxing Smoker became known as a fundraiser. We will have to take the original contributor of this blog’s word for it.