Warner on Beale Street

Yes! Here I am on Beale Street, exhausted after two evenings of attending quarter-final performances of the 2012 International Blues Challenge — documented with my new iPad.

Also documented was our local band Wired! who went on to win! First Place! Among over 100 bands. Here’s a montage of their performance at the Historic Daisy Theater on Beale.

LOUD and Boisterous Bravos to Kevin, Rick and Keith!

Wait there is more: I travelled by train from Everett, nearly 50 hours to Memphis! But I was in a sleeper car. Then on to New Orleans for a Mardis Gras parade on February 4th, so I missed Wired’s final performance at the Orpheum Theater.

From New Orleans I caught the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles, with an intended stop in Alpine, Texas, to visit Marfa, but that plan was “derailed,” I may say.

To learn why you are invited to check out the blog I kept along the way titled, “Training Time” — an Amtrak adventure story with a musical interlude, I suppose.

Do You Know This Former Snohomish Business?

snohomish then and now image

Can you identify the former Snohomish business that used these boilers, or even the men pictured? And what was the company’s famous name when it abandoned the boiler still standing?

Please comment below with your guess; and watch for the story with more pictures next month.

On another subject under the heading: “Local Boys Make Good”The Wired!Band won the International Blues Challenge 2012 in Memphis earlier this month. Kevin, Keith, and Rick played their way to first place in a contest of some 100 bands — Congrats all around.

I had the good fortune of seeing their first two performances in the quarterfinals but had to move on to New Orleans for the first parade of the Mardis Gras celebration. You are invited to view my blog of the grand trip, but here is the direct link to short clips from their first performance on February 1st.

“Where are the snows of memory?”

Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?” asked Francois Villion, a fifteenth-century French poet, in one of the most famous translated lines from French secular poetry. Remember you heard it here, reading a story about early Snohomish!

The historic image in the animation is a view looking east down First Street toward the corner of Avenue B, documenting the 1916 record snowfall. The horse-drawn wagon is delivering ice! And the hand-lettered sign announces that the post office is open — located in the corner store where patrons have gathered to watch the photographer with the Snohomish Studio at work. With newspaper reports remarking on the number of photographers at work capturing the record snowfall, it’s surprising that not more images have survived.

The snow began falling on January 30, 1916, and when it was measured four days later, over three feet had fallen, setting a new record. It was pioneer druggist, Lot Wilbur’s job, as the superintendent of measurements for the city, to get an accurate measurement — he came up with 40 (official) inches. Not a record he felt, and told of getting up early one morning in January 1880, and stepping into the snow, and disappearing up to his ears! But no official measurements were recorded.

Train service came to a halt for three days, as you can imagine. The big news in Seattle was that the dome of the St James Cathedral collapsed under the weight of the show.

The contemporary image captures the first snowfall of 2012. The Blackman Building, on the left, and the Marks Building on the right are still in use today. Our current snowfall measuring only 15-20 inches, regardless of the trouble it causes us, is a feeble attempt at beating the 1916 record.

Changing the subject: Readers of these postings are invited to tumble along with me on my train trip to Memphis, Tennessee as our local blues band “Wired!” completes in the International Blues Challenge, February 1 and 2, 2012. Traveling by Amtrak from Everett, I will continue on to New Orleans for one of the first Mardis Gras parades in the French Quarter, then on to Los Angeles with a stop in Marfa Texas, where the film “Giant” was shot, plus several recent movies, but is also known for its contemporary art installations, which is why I am visiting.

Bookmark your favorite browser to this address: warnerblake.tumblr.com and check in for the updates (no email reminders will be sent).

Perhaps I will miss a true record-breaking snowfall!

. . . .

“Shop Snohomish” Then and Now

Published October 29, 1925 (Click to Enlarge)
Promotions to shop locally probably began when the first store opened in the future site of Everett in 1863, and E. C. Ferguson, along with the Sinclairs, opened a saloon and store the following year in Snohomish, then called Cadyville. Some 60 years later, with the publication of this month’s historic image of a full page ad in the Snohomish County Tribune, we entered the Renaissance of “shop Snohomish” promotions.

 Published May 14, 1925 (Click to Enlarge)
The Tribune published three full page ads in 1925, each one outdone by the next. The selected ad was published in the October 29 issue. (Available in the newspaper collection of our local library.) It’s the only one of the three with a classical theme picturing the Greek Goddess of Wisdom (I guess) watching over the city. The captivating copy informs the reader how much the city has spent over the past year. “[Spent in] better streets, better civic improvements, better schools, better homes, better places of business — better everything than any previous generation ever enjoyed,” reads the first paragraph.

Published September 29, 1925 (Click to Enlarge)
The figure of $400,000 begs the question of what the amount would be if we ran the ad today. City Manager Larry Bauman kindly responded to my query that it’s a bit tricky since we no longer have the schools or firefighting under the umbrella of city services; but, “the simplest answer would be around $9 million — our projected amount for the general and street funds combined for 2012.”

So a contemporary ad might read: “Snohomish Has Spent $9 Million For You!” That makes a point.

iShop Snohomish Promotion, 2008iShop Snohomish Promotion, 2008

Pam Osborne, Manager of the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce, informed me that the current “iShop Snohomish” campaign was launched in 2008 by a group of businesses, city staff, council members and organizational leaders. And it’s striking how similar the language of persuasion around this issue of shopping locally is after 85 years.

I would be amiss as an author if I didn’t remind you of two items. First, my book “Early Snohomish” is available very locally, at the Blackman House Museum, open weekend afternoons, at Kusler’s on Avenue D, and here (at the sidebar link) — all sales benefit the Snohomish Historical Society.

Historic Downtown Snohomish CybertourAnd secondly, I am proud to let you know that “Snohomish: Historic Downtown Cybertour” has been published on HistoryLink.org. The commission confirms, as does writing this column every month, that there is always more to discover in the rich history of Snohomish.

Wishing you all a new year of happy local history.

Snohomish Police Department, Part 4: In the News

Snohomish Police Department, 2009.

The City of Snohomish has been parked at the edge of history for the past several months, and a three hour limit is about to go into effect. It’s expected that the city council will vote to change how we pay our police and that the municipal entity known as the Snohomish Police Department will begin the next chapter in its 123-year history.

So. I have begun the process of putting together a thumbnail history of the department up to this point. Scrolling through pages of old news on the library’s microfilm reader has turned up a historian’s candy store of stories. Allow me to tease you with a few headlines.

September 3, 1970, in the Tribune: “Boyd seeks $250,000.” The story begins: “Snohomish Police Chief Clarence Boyd has filed a complaint with the clerk of the Superior Court […] Three men city council members signed a formal complaint against Boyd following a motion made and passed unanimously at the June 2 council meeting….”

Chief Boyd is pictured on the left in the photograph above, he served 22 years as the Chief. On November 1, 1973, he was given an editorial send-off in the Tribune: “He did his job under difficult circumstances. Almost every year was ‘Retire the Chief Year’ in Snohomish.”

October 4, 1951, in the Tribune: “Police Chief Adams Removed From Post By Mayor Nickerman Following Protest Made On Punch Boards, Traffic Arrests.” Fascinating to imagine, the chief was dismissed in the council meeting and Robert Twitchell was appointed on the spot. (Twitchell went on to serve as County Sheriff.)

Readers who were in attendance at this meeting are encouraged to contact me.

Here’s a possible scene from a period movie, published by the Tribune, December 30, 1910: “Desperado Fights Duel With Marshal.” Marshal Roy Norton, pictured above, found the desperado, a Mike Donnelly, at the shooting gallery in the basement of the California Wine House on First. Donnelly fired a shot at Norton that passed through his uniform just grazing his stomach. Chief Norton got off two shots toward Donnelly, who fired again. None of the bullets hit their mark and the action moved outside, up Avenue A. (To be continued in the thumbnail history.)

Marshal Wm. Brown

Published in 'The Sun' 1891

My favorite story so far is from the second year of our incorporation as the City of Snohomish when our first Marshall just about takes down the young city government. In the August 29, 1891, issue of The Eye, a headline shouts: “A Brown Study.” A sub-head teases: “ Lively Times in the City Council.” And a second sub-head explains: “The Ordinance Says the Money Belongs to the Chief of Police — Attempts to Convict Brown Regardless of Law — Resignation of City Attorney Coleman.”

Wait, there’s more, September 19, 1891: “The Ludicrousness of It!” The middle of the second paragraph reads: “According to the best light now shed upon the scene, the city has two chiefs of police….”

To be continued.

. . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, November 16, 2011.

Snohomish Police Department, Part 3: O. D. Morse

Beth Greenlee, born to Orrin and Maud Morse in 1929, may have trouble remembering the day of the week these days, but there is no hesitation in her telling of the time when her father, who was the city Marshall, unlocked the door of the gun room on the lower level of Snohomish City Hall to proudly show his young daughters the department’s latest acquisition of a “Tommy gun.”

“The layout of the building is unchanged,” Beth said, as we entered through the double doors at 1009 First. On the left was the City Clerk’s and Waterworks office. Across the hall was Mr. Knapp’s office, who was the city attorney. Straight ahead was where the council met, and the Police Court.

Today, this room is the Mariposa Day Spa, featuring an “intimate setting overlooking the Snohomish River,” according to its website.

On the lower floor, the door straight ahead was to the gun room, “and they had quite a collection!” To the right was the door to her dad’s office. “There was a roll-top desk against one wall and spittoons on the floor,” remembers Beth as a young girl. “And there was a big old safe, that has to be somewhere in town.”

Alongside the desk was one cell that was usually for women. “And behind his desk, you would open a door and there were cells on both sides and in the center, so it was like a ‘U’ — and that’s where people would come to …” Beth searches for a word with a polite chuckle, “rest.” Mentioned several times in our conversation, was Beth’s memory of her father bringing the prisoners breakfast.

The windowless room was the new city marshall’s office and “drunk-tank.” O. D. Morse, as he was known, and who was appointed Marshall only three years earlier, moved in August 1927.

The cells were removed long ago, but it was our police station/office for over 50 years. It’s now a private apartment.


Beth and her younger sister Billie would often hang-out at the city hall waiting for a ride home from their dad. Once, O.D. was bringing in a drunk who fought back on the way down the stairs, “and my little sister jumped up on his back and just beat the hell out of him,” as Beth tells it. “She couldn’t have been more than eight years old, just a little thing … she was always a rascal,” Beth adds.

O.D Morse served as city Marshall for 19 years, until 1943, the longest leadership of the Snohomish Police Department. Somewhere along the way his title changed to Chief of Police, so it could be said, he lead the way to creating a modern police force in Snohomish.

Except for his assistant, “Bicycle Jim” (officer Jim Wright), didn’t drive but could bike fast enough to pull over people driving cars! Let’s save that story for another time.

He looks stern, Beth agreed, “but he was a sweetheart.” He could walk into the middle of a ferocious fistfight and within minutes have the men shaking hands. According to his daughter Beth, O. D. never used the “Tommy gun.”

Beth: “…it was like living in a monastery sometimes.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, October 19, 2011.

Snohomish Police Department, Part 2: Mike Lively

2011.09_Mike-then
Mike pictured in city promotional flyer.

Mike Lively’s body is betraying his name these days. Heavy doses of chemotherapy for his testicular cancer resulted in serious bone death.

“I’m all metal from here to here,” Mike explains, pointing to his thighs on up to his chest. “I need to sit down,” he reminds me, before answering another question. Once comfortable, his memory is quick and the stories come easy, bouncing between touching and humorous, but always informative.

“I became a cop because I didn’t like cops,” Mike states, explaining that while he appreciated law enforcement, he never met a cop that he liked or respected. Mike graduated in 1965 from Snohomish High and spent four years in the Air Force where he served all over the US, Japan, even a thankfully short shift in Vietnam loading planes with returning wounded and dead servicemen.

Although he earned an Associate Degree in engineering, Mike found himself accepting a job offer with the Snohomish Police force in 1974. He was challenged to become a better cop than those he had experienced.

Mike comparing new and old uniforms, then Snohomish as a “war zone” in the 70s with fellow officer Terry Gilfillan.

Around the time that Jim Pettersen was appointed chief, Mike was working on a second degree from Everett Community College, this time in law enforcement. Looking back over his two dozen years with the department, it was under Pettersen’s leadership, Mike feels, that Snohomish developed into the best small-town police force in the county. “Everyone worked together,” Mike said.

When Pettersen had to resign three years later because he decided against moving to Snohomish, as required at the time, Mike was appointed acting chief. Mike served nearly two years in that position, a statewide record he was told.

Mike on the change in policing attitude.

Mike also assumed care of Pettersen’s collection of the department’s history, including photographs, records, and he added more memorabilia. The collection was stored in a room off the department’s office in the basement of City Hall. Sometime after the appointment of Patrick Murphy as chief in 1983, Mike found the room empty. He was told that collection had been tossed out by the order of the chief.

Over his 13 years as police chief, Murphy is credited with the growth of the department to its current size and location in a renovated bank building on Maple Street. Mike hints at an alternative appraisal of Murphy’s leadership but begs off any further questions because of ongoing relationships with Murphy’s family.

Murphy resigned in 1996 to accept a Snohomish County Council appointment as sheriff. “That was always his dream,” according to his daughter Tennille Murphy of Seattle as quoted by the press upon her father’s early death at age 54 in 2006.

Mike agreed to take on the chief’s job for at least three years, but he had to step back due to his struggle with testicular cancer, which by now had spread throughout his body, with only one month to go.

Plus, the new city manager, Bill McDonald, was pushing Mike to retire in order to fill the position with McDonald’s choice. Between this pressure and the growing pain, Mike finally made an appointment to submit his official resignation. McDonald was not in his office at the appointed time and left no word of his whereabouts. It was not the first meeting that McDonald had brushed-off — but it was the last. Mike placed his badge and gun in his patrol car, locked it, and gave the keys to a colleague with instructions to give them to the city manager when he returned to his office.

mike lively
Mike in 2011 at his home.
When word finally arrived from McDonald, he accused Mike of abandoning his post. But by that time Mike had voluntarily committed himself to a hospital. Between his physical pain and the emotional pain of a broken marriage, “I had lost the will to live,” Mike told me in a follow-up phone call.

Then he had to go. Mike was helping a neighbor clear her land with his impressively equipped John Deere tractor, where he would get to sit down.

Mike on the difference between local and county policing.

Mike on the benefit of investigative power with the county agency.

. . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, September 21, 2011.