The Great Snowball Fight of 1916 — (Maybe)!

by warner on December 17, 2013

Snowball Fight, 1916 - Click to Enlarge The Great Snowball Fight of 1916 — (Maybe)!

Glass Plate Negative - Click to Enlarge This month’s image is an enlarged detail from a glass plate negative, measuring 4 by 5 inches, that came tucked in a strip of folded scrap paper with the handwritten title “School children at play.” It was included in a box with 37 other negatives, a list of titles, and stored in the Snohomish Historical Society Archives with no other information. The image of the Gorham home and family, shared with you last month, was included, and it may be a clue linking the collection of photograph plates to the first publisher/owner of the Snohomish County Tribune.

Kodak ContestThe Eastman Dry Plate Company began manufacturing prepared plates in 1880 and they were still available into the 1920s when finally overwhelmed by the ease of using a Kodak Camera: “You press the button – we do the rest.” Photographic plates remained in use for astronomical photography into the 1980s, when replaced by “charge-coupled devices” – better known as CCD cameras.

Today, any point-and-shoot camera can freeze a playground snowball fight without a trace of the motion. Fortunately, for most of us, no snow has fallen before going to press in order to make my point. Besides, who knows where this historic snowball battle took place?
The Snohomish River Stilled by a Blanket of Snow -- Click to view larger
As to the when, the image may be further photographic evidence of the excitement around documenting the record snowstorm of 1916, that I have written about in the past. Even today, a snowfall of any amount brings out our urge to capture this living metaphor of nature, especially of our children showing us how to enjoy it fully.

In any event, I am taking a holiday from doing a repeat shot this month to share with you this historic image of captured motion – and the joy of the season. Looking closely you may hear the loud, excited din of children at play.

And I am interested in your reactions to this blurry snapshot, that would be impossible to tag on Facebook — please leave a comment below.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, December 18, 2013

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Gorham House, circa 1915

November 20, 2013
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This month’s historic image emerged from a slowly decaying glass plate negative at this time because of an inspired initiative by the Sno-Isle Libraries to “Digitize Our Community’s History.” The Snohomish Historical Society was selected as a partner along with our local library branch to select historic images from our collection for a featured online […]

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Elwell House: Built 1888; Divided 1913; Renovated 2013

October 15, 2013
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Fade-in: “SNOHOMISH, 1883. A True Story.” Crossfade to a young family walking single file down the wobbly gangplank from the stern-wheeler Nellie tied up at Ferguson’s Wharf, near Avenue D. It’s the humble carpenter John S. White with his young wife Delia and their three daughters, Linnie, Elsie and Alice who is in her mother’s […]

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Snohomish Now and Then: A train station here?

September 17, 2013
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J.Craig Thorpe Rendering (Click to Enlarge) We are flipping the adjectives of our blog title this month over our excitement to be sharing with you a future idea for the Centennial Trail Station and Interpretive Center at First Street. The original watercolor rendering by J. Craig Thorpe was unveiled this past weekend as part of […]

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Video: LET ‘ER BOOM: 125 Years Later!

August 25, 2013
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Snohomish’s newspaper “The Eye” followed the progress of the track laying crews as they moved north toward Snohomish preparing the way for the arrival of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad. It was an exciting time, as it is again with the revival of the dormant rail corridor, especially between Snohomish and Woodinville with […]

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Bell Cabin, Brighton Beach, Whidbey Island, 1916

August 19, 2013

Every August, beginning in the 1880s, the leading families of early Snohomish boarded a stern-wheeler, headed down river, out into Gardner Bay, pass Hat Island and landed on Brighton Beach near Clinton on Whidbey Island to camp in tents. And because they started out going down river, participants referred to it as going “down to […]

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First Street Bridge Looking East, 1913

July 15, 2013
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Our story that could be titled, “The Bridges of Snohomish City” continues this month, featuring a stunning photograph of the First Street Bridge under construction 100 years ago in 1913. The action packed scene captured by an unknown photographer, and unlabeled, is easy to date nevertheless for two reasons. First, the Eagles Hall pictured on […]

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