Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Kimballs

The Kimballs

Organic gardening, GMOs, home gardens, food we eat…all these various topics are in the news on a daily basis.  Of course there are not new; people have been talking about them for a long time.  It really became fashionable to discuss organic foods in the 60s with Richard Olney and Julia Child…oh, mustn’t forget James Beard.  These chefs were followed by Alice Waters, Billy West and July Waters at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. And, of course there were all those hippies returning “to the land” forming communes across the states. 

Julia Child made her appearance on US television with her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook and Boston Public Television network started a weekly program featuring her.  One of her main topic was the French approach to foods.  James Beard’s approach was to concentrate on American food, but not on processed foods.

So, with these on-going conversations, I thought it would be a good idea to zoom in on one of Gig Harbor’s own early organic commercial gardeners. Norman Kimball.

Norman was born in Kansas City, Kansas on October 1, 1888.  He died at the Washington Veterans Home in Restil, Kitsap County, Washington on February 23, 1977 at age 88.  

Norman’s family arrived in 1890.  William Henry Kimball (1846-1910) and Anna L. (Annie or Ann) Dow Kimball (1848-1925) came with their children William Henry, Jr. (1872-1923); Arminda Kay (Minnie) (1874-1959); Della   (1877-1953); Charles Leslie (Charley) (1879-1951); Franklin Napoleon (Frank) (1881-1960); Edson Chesney (1884-1968); George Delmar (1886-1909); Norman (1888-1977); Lewis C. (1890-1941).  

Only William, Annie, Edson, Norman, Della  and Lewis are shown on the 1910 United States Census as living in Gig Harbor.  Lewis was actually born in Pierce County 20 years earlier.  (William was born in Canada and first arrived in the US at age 12 and then age 14, shows him living in Michigan.  By age 25 he was living in Kansas where he met and married Annie.  All the children other than Lewis were born in Kansas.

The Kimball family settled on some land at the top of Stinson hill where there built their farmhouse and developed their farm.  As the boys grew up most went on to also become farmers.  William Sr. was a Civil War veteran and pensioner.  He had joined the Michigan calvary as a young boy on 4/18/1863, and was wounded during one of the battles.  Following his death, Norman remained at home, caring for his mother, Annie.  His brother Harold built his home across the way, just east of Pioneer Street.
The Kimball House below the original home on Stinson Hill.  AnnaDow Kimball standing by steps

Norman’s occupation on his 1917 World War I draft Registration Card is shown as logger.  During his tour in the US Army where he served in France from 1917-1919. Following the WWI, the 1920 Census, he is still working in the lumber industry as a steam engineer.  I presume, as I have not found confirmation, that his occupation was as steam engineer for the donkey engine (steam donkey) which was used in logging operations.

By 1930 when the US Census was taken, Norman had changed his occupation to farmer, and his 1942 World War II Draft Registration Card confirms this occupation.  However his obituary states that he continued working in both farming and logging through the 1930s.  In the 1940s he gave up logging to devote himself and all his labor to his garden.

But we’re talking about his organic farming rather than the other occupations he had during his lifetime.  Had his father always farmed organically, without chemicals?  Or was this the result of the something he had read written by J. I. Rodale in the 1940s?  

Rodale is accepted as the father of the US modern organic farming movement.  In the 1940s he provided the majority of information on “non-chemical” farming whether it be the methods or just the information.  His ideas started with Sir Albert Howard, a British scientist who spent years in India observing their traditional methods of farming.  Some of the systems he then advocated included crop rotation which generally the farmers did before, returning crop residues, green manures and wastes to the soil.  As well as using deep-rooted crops to draw nutrients from the soil.
Norman Kimball's squash vines and showing how very rocky the soil was on the property

But something told Norman than organic farmers was the only way to farm.  And, he was successful with his crops by following the “new methods and systems”.  And it looks like Norman was indeed a follower of Rodale’s according to this newspaper article I came across.  Unfortunately, the date was not written on the clipping, nor the name of the newspaper.  I presume it was The Peninsula Gateway..
1940s sign advertising Norman Kimball's produce

Norman Kimball’s Organic Gardens
At Gig Harbor
It was the editor’s privilege recently to visit Norman Kimball’s gardens at the north edge of town, Mr. Kimball taking us on a tour of inspection covering several acres of well-tilled soil.  We have never seen a finer and healthier production of vegetables and some fruits grown anywhere.  The soil of Norman’s garden is somewhat rocky, and like much of our other soil in this locality, however, he is dealing with factors that are not universality used.  He does not use any of the usual commercial fertilizers, or poison spray baits of any kind.  On the other hand for the past four years he has endeavored to build up his soil through information he has obtained from the publication, “Organic Gardening.”  This information has enabled him to do wonders in the matter of increased production.  In short he uses a “compost” which is composed of about everything that grows in a garden such as weeds and grass mixed with chicken fertilizer.  He showed us an apple tree that was about dead four years ago, but now through the aid of compost has grown a fine healthy crop of apples.

This season Norman’s garden has produced an abundance of beans, corn, strawberries, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cantaloupes, carrots, squash, beets, watermelons, hot peppers, sweet peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and celery.

Norman Kimball is to be congratulated on the splendid work he is doing in his shoes calling.
Norman Kimball cultivating his field 1940s

Farm and house behind the field at end of harvest season showing the corn stubble in background before structures

Norman never married, but he was far from without family or friends.  His brothers and sisters remained in Gig Harbor although they moved away from the original homestead.  George died in a logging accident when a tree fell on him in 1909.  Edson died in 1968 while in the hospital and his wife Mary died in 1974 at age 86.  Lewis died in 1941 and his wife Mae died in 1982 at age 86.  Their son, Rev. Stuart Lewis Kimball taught in elementary schools for several years and youth and music ministries at several local churches.  He went on to study religion at Columbia University and the University of California being ordained in 1957 in the Congregation Christian Church.  

Norman moved to the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil near Port Orchard in 1971.  He died there seven years later.  His obituary reads as follows:

Gig Harbor Pioneer Passes Away at Retsil
Mr. Norman Kimball, 88, of the Washington State Veterans Home, Retsil, WA, passed away Feb. 23.

He was born October 1, 1888, in Kansas City, KS and at the age of one year he moved to Gig Harbor where he was reared and educated.  He farmed and logged in the Gig Harbor area until he retired in 1930.  He then raised vegetables and sold them in Gig Harbor until 1940*.  He lived in Gig Harbor until he moved to Retsil in 1971 where he lived until the present time.

He joined the army in 1917 and served in France until his discharge in 1919.

He was a member of the V.F.W. (1854 Lodge Gig Harbor, WA).

He is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Services were conduction at the Washington State Veterans Home, Retsil, on Monday, Feb. 28, under the direction of Pendelton-Gilchrist, with V.F.W. Post 1854 of Gig Harbor, conducting the military rites.

Honorary pallbearers were Harold Kimball, Walt Hanson, Martin Skrivanich, Tony Novak, Pete Klenak, Chuck Olafson, Carl Meyer, Earl Hahn, Larry McIntosh, and Ernie Johnstone.

* We know from the newspaper article referenced above that Norman continued gardening through the 1940s.

- The Peninsula Gateway
- Various obituaries mentioned in the body of the blog; most from The Peninsula Gateway
- Country Home (George Delmar Kimball obituary)

- Harbor History Museum Smugmug

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Horsehead Bay Garden Club

Horsehead Bay Garden Club

I hope everyone has noticed the lovely flower boxes around the waterfront filled with flowers and greenery.  They’re looking better than they have in the past because this year the Horsehead Bay Garden Club not only planted them, but also maintaining them on a bi-weekly basis.  Gig Harbor is so lucky to have people and organizations who contribute so much time and effort to help maintain our our beautiful community.

But, how many of us non-gardeners know about the Horsehead Bay Garden Club?  Perhaps it you regularly attended the annual Tacoma Community College fundraiser “Gig Harbor Garden Tour” started in 1998.  

In the 1930s The Amateur Garden Club in Gig Harbor was quite active as a social club.  Perhaps they played a part in encouraging a group of women living in the Horsehead Bay area to start a similar club closer to their homes.  I can’t say they did, but in the 1930-140 garden clubs were very popular.  The again, perhaps it was due to activities at the Gig Harbor Grange #445.

But rather than speculate, let me share with you a document I found in the Research Room at the Harbor History Museum.

The First Ten Years

On Thursday afternoon, October 9, 1941, a group of ladies of the Horsehead Bay area were invited by Mrs. F. A. Valentine to meet at her home for luncheon and to consider organizingg a garden club.

Present, in addition to the hostess, were Mesdames Ray Arnold, A. H. Anderson, Frank Lamborn, J. C. Sails, A. G. Smith, Lantern, Baird, and MacAllaster Moore.

Mrs. Valentine’s idea met with enthusiastic response and there our club was born and christened The Horsehead Bay Garden Club.

Mrs. MacAllaster Moore was chosen Chairman of the group.  There were no other officers, no dues, and no by-laws.  each year Mrs. Moore was reelected, the only officer, until in October, 1945, it was decided by the club that the duty required a second officer.  Mrs. George Kenna was elected to serve as Vice-President-Treasurer, Mrs. Moore to serve as President-Secretary.

In October, 1946, the club’s first constitution and by-laws were presented by a committee composed of Mrs. J. C. Sails, Mrs. R. E. Borhek, Mrs. George Kennan, Mrs. A. F. Gookins and Mrs. F. M. Cole.  These by-laws were unanimously approved and adopted, and under them the following officers were elected:

President Mrs. MacAllaster Moore
Vice-President Mrs. Roland Borhek
Secretary Mrs. J. C. Sails
Treasurer Mrs. Fred A. wood
Executive Committee) Mrs. Harry Visser
Members-at-Large    ) Mrs. George Kennan

Dues were instituted at this time at $1.00 per year.

In October, 1947, Mrs. George Kennan was elected President.  She was succeed in 1948 by Mrs. J. C. Sails.  Mrs. Roland Borhek was our next president, serving two years, 1949 to 1951, when she was succeeded by Mrs. Elvin Larson.

During the first five years, the attendance varied from five or six to ten.  We met for luncheon, until, in October, 1945, with increasing membership, it was voted to serve dessert and coffee only, with members bringing their own sandwiches.

Charter members who remained and worked with the club in its early years were Mrs. A. H. Anderson, Mrs. CLarence Spinney, Mrs. Robert Hendry, Mrs. Lanterman, Mrs. J. C. Sails, Mrs. George Kennan, Mrs. MacAllaster Moore and of course, our founder, Mrs. F. A. Valentine.

In our first year our programs were, first:  Chrysanthemums, In November, 1941, with a paper on new hardy varieties by Mrs. F. A. Valentine, an article by Mrs. A. G. Smith and general discussion and planting, pruning and growing.

In December, our second meeting, we were instructed in wreath making, using holly and mixed greens.

Our guest speaker for February was A. C. Richardson, Pierce County Agricultural Agent.  Mr. Richardson became our good friend and ever-ready help as we struggled with our Victory Gardens through 1942 and the ensuing war years - and he always had gasoline in those rationed times to come to us when other speakers could not.

Gail Clark, not so famous a garden authority then as she later became, through radio and television, was our guest speaker in May of our first year.

In August, 1942, Mrs. Alvin Allard of Tacoma gave us a memorable flower arrangement demonstration.  To quote from the record of that meeting:  “Particularly interesting were Mrs. Allard’s use of stones, bits of driftwood, and coral fans as backgrounds and accents for her floral pictures.”

During 1942, the club started its “Red Cross Project”, the making of afghans for Madigan Army Hospital.  We met once each week at the Moore home to crochet and assemble squares and sew them together.  Later in the war we also made dish gardens in large clam and oyster shells for Madigan Hospital.

The war, coming as it did less than two months after the club’s organization, had a serious effect upon the club program, as it did upon our individual lives.  Because of gas rationing, it became difficult to get speakers.  This had a good effect, however, as it made us self-reliant in our programs, and in as small a group as ours, the general forum, led by the Chairman, was an informative and stimulating method.

Victory gardens soon became our most important horticultural activity, and experienced vegetable growers such as Mrs. Kennan, Mrs. Lanterman and Mrs. Anderson were towers of strength to us struggling amateurs, to whom each single aphid loomed as large as an elephant on a precious broccoli plant.

A constructive act was the sponsoring by our club of an all day canning and freezing demonstration by the County Agents’ Office Home Economics Department, at the Arletta School, open to the general public.  This seemed to meet a very real need in those war days.

In October, 1943, the club held its first tiny flower show.  Mrs. J. C. Whoitmore of Rosedale, Mrs. John Davies of Wauna were judges.  The schedule was as follows:
  1. Living Room Decoration, Judged on Arrangement
  2. Specimen Bloom - Any flower, judged on perfection of flower and foliage
  3. Chrysanthemum, Specimen
  4. Miniture - Arrangement
  5. Wild Foliage - Flower or berry arrangement 

If this schedule sounds amusing in comparison with the elaborate ones seen in flower shows now, remember that only eight members participated, and that it was quite in accordance with the best in flower show schedules of that period.

June, 1944, brought our second flower show at the home of Mrs. Valentine, with Mrs. J. C. Sails and Mrs. F. A. Wood, the Committee in charge.  The schedule was not recorded, but the minutes show twenty three present, members and guests, with Mrs. Roland Borhek and Mrs. John Davies judges.

We felt ourselves ready for a more ambitious show in June, 1945, and this was held at the Arletta School.  The building was perfect for the purpose and the show was so lovely that we held a second show there in August of the following year, 1946.  

Judges in 1945 were again Mrs. Borhek and Mrs. Davies.  By 1946, Mrs. Borhek was one of our own members and Mrs. J. C. Whoitmore served as judge with Mrs. Davies.

On October 29, 1946, our club along with Vaughn and Wollochet Garden Clubs joined with Amateur Garden Club of Gig Harbor in a large Silver Tea, presenting as speaker Margaret McKenny of Olympia.  Miss McKenny, nationally acclaimed naturalist, author and photographer showed colored slides to illustrate her very fine lecture.  This was a very successful Affair, with excellent attendance.

In autumn of 1946, our club was asked by the Arletta School P.T.A. to assist in planting shrubs on the school grounds.  Mrs. Ben Pearson was appointed chairman of a committee, together with Mrs. Forrest Wise and Mrs. Ernest Elmore, to act upon this matter.  Club members donated some shrubs and a start, at least, was made, later to be carried on by the P.T.A.

On May, 1947, Mrs. Archie Blair arranged a very special treat for us.  The club was invited to lunch and our regular meeting at her home in Tacoma, after which we toured the Gravelly Lake gardens of the W. W. Keyes home.  Mrs. Keyes was most gracious, showing us over there grounds, the green houses, even the stables to introduce us to her riding horses.  After leaving Mrs. Keyes, we also saw the Lowell T. Murray gardens.

For our summer highlight of 1947, the club decided, rather than a flower show, to present Cecil Solly as speaker at a picnic, inviting the other Peninsula garden clubs as guests.  It rained and the picnic moved to the Arletta School, with a very good attendance.  Mr. Richardson, our County Agent, was a guest speaker on this occasion.

Our next flower show was held in the summer of 1949, under Mrs. Sails’ presidency, at the home of Mrs. Valentine.  Judges were Mrs. C. W. Schuh and Mrs. H. C. Mandell of Tacoma Garden Club.  Mrs. Borhek was Show Chairman.  We were highly complimented by the judges for the quality of our exhibits and the artistic staging.  We purchased burlap for the table covers and corrugated cardboard for background and each arrangement had its own little niche, making a very effective display.  Mrs. Fred A. Wood was chairman of staging.

At the first meeting of Mrs. J. C. Sails’ administration, organizing secretary of Capital District, Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs spoke to us of the benefits of Federation.  In December of that year our club voted to join the Federation.

Under Mrs. Sails’ leadership, the tradition of our Christmas decoration show was started; this feature has become a regular and interesting part of our program.

Practice in flower exhibiting during the years “48, “49, ’50 was advanced by our clubs participation in the Spring Flower Show given by the Wollochet Bay Garden Club.  Each club of the area was given a table, and Horsehead Bay took first award at each of these three shows, mostly because we tried always to express a theme in our display.

In August, 1949, a flower show and guest tea was held at the home of Mrs. Cleon Soule, the Soule’s garage being transformed for ourshow room.  Mrs. D. P. Murphy and Mrs. I. R. Hunter were co-chairmen.  Mrs. R. S. Harvey and Mrs. Wm. Goering, of Tacoma, were judges - our first use of judges accredited by National Council.  Staging Chairman was Mrs. Roland Borhek.

For the season 1949-1950, the program committee, under the Chairman, Mrs. C. W. Larsen, gave the club its first year-book.  In an effort to keep the cost of mimeographing down, the work was taken to the local high school, which was a sad mistake, because their work was of a quality to make rather a mess of the committee’s careful preparation.  Each member was to decorate the cover of her own book, and next year this practice was followed again, a small prize given for the book cover receiving the most votes by the club.

When Mrs. Elvin Larson took office as President, in 1951, one of her first official acts was to appoint a committee to study the by-laws in effect since 1946, with a view toward revising them to meet changing conditions.  Our club was growing up, membership was nearing the limit to be taken care of in our homes.

This committee, composed of Mrs. MacAllaster Moore, Mrs. Roland Borhek and Mrs. I. L. Hunter, together with the President, Mrs. Elvin Larson, met many times and made a thorough study of the matter, with help from the club.

The new by-laws were finally adopted in August, 1952, and almost immediately became subject to revision as new problems arose.

Another achievement of the 1951 season was the commencement of a regular publicity program, with monthly newspaper accounts of club activities.

So, Clippings, take it from here!!!

Alice C. Moore


© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.