What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “If conditions are favorable the Renton Hill Guild of the Orthopedics Association will give a card party next Tuesday , and, “the Monday Practice Club met Monday afternoon. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

The February 8, 1919 editors of the Town Crier sang the praises of Seattle’s libraries in an article entitled “The Use of Books.” It reads, in part, “To thousands the Library is simply a place where one volume of fiction may be replaced by another. They have not yet learned how to use this great public utility. To other thousands it is a mine of knowledge from which they may draw that which they need at pleasure.” Other than the police station, the library is “the only public institution that is open to all in the evening: the only place where men, women and children alike are always welcome without money and without price.” The Crier took note that libraries were becoming community and neighborhood centers. “They are fulfilling their highest mission – public service.

Seattle’s first public library opened in April 1869. Sarah Yesler (1822-1887) was its first librarian. Yesler was a reader, an advocate of women’s suffrage, and a very active community-member. With $60 in funds, books were purchased. Some of them included Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays and Percy Shelley’s Collected Poems.

By 1890, the Seattle Public Library had been adopted as a branch of Seattle city government. During the early decades, it operated in various places downtown, always needing more space. With some Andrew Carnegie funding, a new home for the library opened in 1906. Designed by architect P.J. Weber of Chicago, it was bounded by Fourth and Fifth avenues and Madison and Spring streets. When it opened it contained 81,035 books, had 22,444 borrowers, and 47 employees.

But by the 1930s, it too needed more space. It took some time to build a new structure. Dedicated on March 26, 1960, the new 206,000-square-foot Central Library took 21 months to build at a cost of $4.5 million. The five-story library featured escalators, air conditioning and a film department with 1,000 16-millimeter films. The new facility had 1 million books and 260,425 borrowers.

The 1990s brought about another round of library improvements. It included demolishing the existing Central Library and building a new one on-site. The new Central Library opened May 23, 2004. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it is now prolifically sited as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

Town Crier’s writers would be pleased at how far the library has come in fulfilling its highest mission.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Miss Brenda Francklyn will speak at the Sunset Club on the ‘Fatherless Children of France’ and “a ‘Salmagundi’ party was given last evening. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There was quite a program that took place on February 1, 1919 at the Women’s University Club. This, according to the February 1, 1919 edition of the Town Crier. Dr. Alexander Konanowksi was speaking. With a Russian menu served, Konanowksi told of “the prevailing conditions in Russia today.” Secretary of the Russian consulate in Seattle, the doctor asked for “promptness of members and guests as a courtesy.”

Russians began arriving in earnest in Seattle following World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. By 1925 there were approximately 5,000 Russians living in Seattle. Refugees, and most well-educated professionals, they formed a tight-knit community around the Greek-Russian Orthodox Church on Lakeview Boulevard.

Today, many of Seattle’s Russians are involved with the Russian Community Center on Capitol Hill. With a second influx of Russians immigrating to Seattle after World War II, the Russian Community Center was founded in 1952 and it has served the Russian community ever since. Balalaika orchestras, theatrical groups, chess clubs, art galleries, puppet theaters, craft bazaars, talent shows, and more have been showcased there.

You can learn more about the center and coming events here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Cebert Baillargeron of this city is now in Paris on duty with the Naval personnel of the Peace Conference, and, “the second of a series of Victory dances was given at the New Masonic Temple. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There was a discussion of the citizenship of the Japanese in the January 25, 1919 edition of the Town Crier. “Really, The Town Crier, ever sincere in its admiration for consistency, is not at all able to convince itself that there is any justice in racial discrimination in regard to citizenship.” They suggested that the criterion for eligibility should be something else than ethnological classification. The tests for citizenship should be education, physical and moral fitness, and “wealth to a degree sufficient to insure against becoming a public charge.” Those criteria—not the matter of birthplace. “We of Seattle have among us Japanese gentlemen of culture, refinement and sterling character, whom it is a pleasure to know and to associate with.” The story continues, “They pay their taxes, and their creditors, lend active support to every public enterprise and do their best to build up the city and their own businesses…So far as one can judge by their speech or conduct, no one of us has Seattle’s best interests more at heart.”

In the heart of Seattle’s International District is the Wing Luke Museum. As a National Park Service Affiliated Area and the first Smithsonian affiliate in the Pacific Northwest, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience offers an authentic and unique perspective on the American story. The museum is nationally recognized for their work in creating dynamic, community-driven exhibitions and programs with their community at the heart of each exhibition they create.

From the struggles of early Asian pioneers, like those sterling Japanese mentioned in the Town Crier, to accomplished works by national Asian Pacific American artists, the Wing Luke Museum showcases their uniquely American story.

Current exhibits include “Worlds Beyond Here,” exploring the connection between Asian Pacific Americans and the infinite possibilities of science fiction; and “Wham! Bam! Pow!,” an exhibit featuring the works of Vishavjit Singh, AKA Sikh Captain America, who spoke at Town Hall this past October.

Learn more about the Wing Luke here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “If there is anything in this straw-blowing matter, it would seem Seattle is hungry for music, and, “it was interesting to learn of the election of Mrs. Agnes H. Anderson to the board of directors of the National Bank of Commerce of this city. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There is an ad on page 11 of the January 18, 1919 edition of the Town Crier highlighting superb productions, coming soon, by the San Carlo Grand Opera Company. “America’s greatest touring organization,” the ad exclaimed, “one hundred people, distinguished American and European stars, symphony orchestra, brilliant chorus, superb stage settings.” On Thursday they were to perform Aida. Friday – Madama Butterfly. On Saturday, Romeo and Juliet and Il Trovatore. Juliet was to played by Queena Mario opposite the appropriately named Romeo Boscacci. The Il Trovatore cast was to consist of, amongst others, Angelo Antola, Estelle Wentworth, and Natale Cervi.

What show is coming soon to ACT Theatre? Romeo and Juliet.

What production is currently being staged at the Seattle Opera? Il Trovatore.

The classic story of two young star-crossed lovers who are kept apart by feuding families is directed for the contemporary stage like never before. ACT is partnering with leaders in the Deaf community to create a production that honors the glorious language of Shakespeare’s timeless play and makes it accessible for Deaf and hearing audiences alike. It will star Joshua Castille as Romeo and Gabriella O’Fallon as Juliet. You can learn more about the production, coming in March, here.

Packed with more hit songs than any opera but Carmen, Giuseppe Verdi’s hot-blooded melodrama thrills with swift action, intense pathos, and multiple moments where singers shine. The cast, depending on performance, includes Angela Meade, Issachah Savage, Elana Gabouri, and Lester Lynch. It is currently on stage at McCaw Hall. Learn more here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Miss McGrath, one of the most attractive girls of the younger set, was introduced this season at a delightful dancing party given at the Sunset Club, and, “the mid-winter frolic Hesperian Dancing Club will be given this evening in the Junior Ballroom. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

90 years ago, in the January 12, 1929 edition, the Town Crier was crying about the lack of good restaurants in the city.

“If all the little French and Italian restaurants in San Francisco make money, and surely most of them must on account of how old they are, there is no reason why someone sufficiently ingenious couldn’t start some similar eating houses in Seattle.” The story continued, “With Seattle developing more and more into an apartment house and hotel city, the demand for good restaurants is bound to increase.”

The writer then hits some of Seattle’s hot spots. “There is a small Japanese restaurant down on Main Street that is clean and an excellent place for suki-yaki. But you can’t eat suki-yaki too often, or your taste for it wanes.”

They visited a Russian place. “There is a tempting variety of dishes on the menu, and the soups and pastry, in particular, are memorable.”

They struck fear in readers in regards to fish and chip joints. Fish and chips can be procured “in generous measure for the modest sum of two bits in a quaint restaurant overlooking the waterfront but the atmosphere and service is so – now – rough and ready.”

As for Italian restaurants – “Oh, yes,…there are two or three places where passable Italian spaghetti can be had.” The best of the Italian places had to be closed, though, “the law having discovered once too often evidence of stronger refreshments than tobasco [sic] sauce.”

The writer all but gave up trying to find suitable eats in the city. “Any suggestions from our public will be duly appreciated, investigated and a full report rendered.”

Today, there are award-winning restaurants seemingly around every street corner. Zagat’s 50 Best Restaurants in Seattle includes such establishments as Mamnoon, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Joule, Canlis, Shiro’s Sushi, The Harvest Vine, Pecos Pit Bar-B-Que, Le Pichet, and many others. Seattleite restaurateurs aren’t strangers to James Beard Award nominations, either. New restaurants are opening up all the time.

Perhaps a New Year Resolution of yours should be to visit some of these fine spots. Let us know if there’s a place that serves stronger refreshments than Tabasco sauce. Also—if you discover a really great fish and chip place, by all means, let us know. We will surely investigate and render a full report.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “The annual high jinks for and by the members of Rainier Club were staged last Saturday night and there was fun galore,” and, “The Christmas tree and party that was given for lonesome girls away from their homes proved to be a happy success.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There’s an ad on page 11 of the December 28, 1918 edition of the Town Crier. It lists the faculty of the Cornish School of Music. Piano teachers include, amongst others, Miss Mabel Fett, Miss Fedelia Burgess, and Mr. Dent Mowrey. Voice teachers include Brabazon Lowther and Mrs. Sara Y.B. Peabody. There are instructors in dancing and public speaking. There are dramatic coaches and Mr. Hubert A. Grass teaches harp.

Nellie Cornish

Cornish College of the Arts was founded in Seattle four years earlier, in 1914, by Nellie C. Cornish. Signing a lease for a studio space at Broadway and Pine and Capitol Hill, backed by Cornish’s wealthy friends, the Cornish School of Music was born. Believing that the arts should be developed in everyone, and that everyone should be able to be enriched by the arts, she created a school that reflected those beliefs.

Cornish continues to be guided by Nellie’s beliefs. “Our holistic approach to education,” Cornish’s website reads, “promotes experimentation, discovery, and innovation, giving artists the creative intelligence they need to thrive in their disciplines and beyond.” Teachers at Cornish since its founding include such greats as Mark Tobey, Martha Graham, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Morris Graves.

To learn more about Cornish College of the Arts and its history go, here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog looks back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Miss Anna Roberta Hoge is ill,” and, “The Four Buttercups will present a novelty surprise in comedy singing.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

“One of the fastest growing sections of Seattle during the past few years,” the Town Crier reported on December 21, 1918, “is the Rainier Valley.” Indeed, “The Seattle Rainier Valley Railway Company has played an important part in the upbuilding and the steady march of progress of Rainier Valley.” The story goes on discussing improvements with an eye towards the future. “The next few years will undoubtedly witness an even greater growth.”

An organization today that plays an important part in the steady march of progress in Rainier Valley is the Rainier Arts Center, one of the organizations and venues that have been instrumental for Town Hall during our Inside/Out seasons. Some Town Hall events that have occurred there in the past year include talks by Dar Williams, Tali Sharot, Theo Gray, and Dr. Beverly Tatum, amongst others.

Rainier Arts Center’s mission is to “produce and facilitate a variety of artistic and cultural productions that are supported by our community.” A program of SEEDArts, Rainier Arts Center was purchased and renovated by SouthEast Effective Development whose mission is to improve the quality of life in Southeast Seattle. The Rainier Arts Center building has been in existence since 1921 and is now a national landmark building that marks the northern gateway to Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood. The Center was originally built as the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist. Town Hall’s building, currently under renovation, is the Fourth.

You can learn more about the Rainier Arts Center here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog looks back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “The ban is off and the long-loved, but lost a while, sugar bowl is again in evidence,” and, “There will be a ball at the Masonic Temple this evening celebrating the reunion of Alsace-Lorraine to France.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

On the cover of the December 14, 1918 edition of the Town Crier is a gentleman sitting at the keyboard of a Mason & Hamlin piano. The caption reads, “Claude Madden, leader of the Amphion Society, at one of the many new Mason & Hamlin pianos recently received by Montelius Music House, going over a new score just written and probably to be presented at this season’s concerts.”

The Amphion Society was Seattle’s largest male choral body. Madden was its musical director and it became one of the West Coast’s top choirs. Madden was also the conductor of such prestigious musical groups as the Arion Society, Ladies’ Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Orpheus Society of Tacoma. He was most known, however, for his leadership of the Amphion Society. One article in an October 1917 edition of Musical America took note that the chorus “has lost six of its seventy members by conscription and enlistment.” The concerts performed “will be lighter than those usually given, and mostly compositions by Americans will be used.”

When one thinks of today’s large choral bodies in Seattle, one looks no further than the Seattle Men’s Chorus. In fact, it’s one of the world’s largest men’s choruses. Founded in 1979, the Chorus “is a voice for LGBTQ advocacy in the community and across the country.” They’ve performed on stage with the likes of Debbie Reynolds, Rosemary Clooney, Kristin Chenoweth, Leslie Jordan, and many others.

Their holiday show is in full swing.  Their show “Jingle All the Way” is a high-spirited celebration that brings together beloved carols, fresh takes on holiday classics, and show-stopping dazzlers. Undoubtedly, Claude Madden would approve.

For a list of coming concert dates, go here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “It is called the ‘Hospitality Club’ and it has come into being without flourish of trumpets and is meeting a real demand on the part of sailors and soldiers for a quiet, home-like place where they are welcome to read, write, study or amuse themselves in their own way.” In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

The December 7th, 1918 edition of the Town Crier was very excited about the arrival of Carter the Magician. He brought with him “a company of twenty-five people with fifteen tons of marvelous illusions.” Carter, the Town Crier writes, has “astounded the world with his incomparable mysteries and uncanny, laughable entertainment in conjuring.” The act included levitation that—it was said—he learned from “the native fakirs and mahatmas” on “the banks of the sacred River Ganges.” The show that took place at Seattle’s prestigious Metropolitan Theatre created quite a furor.

Another astounding event coming soon, one that will undoubtedly create a furor at Seattle First Baptist Church, is Seattle Radio Theatre’s holiday show, A Very KIRO Christmas. No word on if there will be levitation, but KIRO Radio voices and other local celebrities, along with live music, sound effects, and family-friendly holiday laughs, will present a light-hearted holiday comedy live on stage.

Don’t miss A Very KIRO Christmas at Seattle First Baptist Church on 12/11!

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “The Army and Navy Club was the center of much gayety on Thanksgiving day, the decorations suitable for the occasion,” and, “Mr. Bissett is one of the living authorities on Lincolniana and his library of 1886 volumes and pamphlets is sixth in importance in existence.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

With the holiday season comes children with eyes of wonder and glee, looking towards the skies for Santa and his reindeer, or looking under the hearth for festooned holiday packages. In the November 30, 1918 edition of the Town Crier, there was an ad put out by the Grote-Rankin Company. They suggested parents get wheel toys for their children. “To those who are going to buy practical toys for the children, this announcement is but an introduction to the comprehensive stocks of wheel toys that we have assembled for your inspection.” Among the wheel toys, “moderately priced,” they assembled included automobiles, hand cars, coaster wagons, velocipedes, choo-choo cars, Sam-E-Cars, doll cabs, and more. “The assortments afford countless opportunities to make the little folks happy.”

The holiday season at Town Hall affords opportunities for today’s little folks to be happy, too. Coming December 8th and 9th is Seattle’s beloved kiddy rocker, Caspar Babypants. Caspar—aka Chris Ballew, the former lead singer of the ‘90s rock band, The Presidents of the United States of America—will be playing plenty of catchy tunes, including many off his new album, Keep It Real!.

Performances on December 8th will be at Bloedel Hall at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Performances on December 9th will be at West Seattle’s Westside School. Learn more about the concerts (FREE FOR KIDS) here! Interested in reading an interview we did with Caspar? Go here

Send this to a friend