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, “There is a sad lack of popular appreciation for the orchestra and its importance to the finer side of our cultural existence,” and, “The dinner at the Golf Club and the Fransioli dance for the younger set at the Tennis Club will be the largest affairs of the season.” In this 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 June 14, 1919 writers of the Town Crier were both congratulatory of Tacoma but also wondering why Seattle wasn’t doing more to congratulate itself in the brief story “Our Musical Neighbor.”

“While Seattle is placing a period at the close of her musical season Tacoma is rousing herself to action and putting on a notable series of concerts in her great Stadium that will draw thousands of people by boat, train and auto to that spectacular center of entertainment,” the story began. Indeed, the summer 1919 concert season in Tacoma included such notables as May Peterson, Marie Rappold, and Lambert Murphy! “The movement is in the right direction,” the story continues, “and meets the heartiest commendation from every quarter; it is an asset for Tacoma that can not be overestimated, and one we may ensure will not be overlooked by our neighbor.”

The writer then asks Seattleites why they didn’t have a beautiful amphitheater like Tacoma did. “Why are we so sluggish about taking advantage of our own amphitheater out on the University campus? There it stands vacant and idle, with the spiders spinning webs across the seats between which the weeds push their way.” Alas—it is being squandered! “If we would do but a tithe of what Nature has already done, it would be known all over the country.”

The Crier writers picture a beautiful scene. “A night in June flooded with moonlight; a multitude of people sitting in hushed silence listening to a voice singing a passionate love song of a bygone day, accompanied by the exquisite strains of violin and cello; for miles to the south one watched unconsciously the light glistening on the waters of the Lake, across which the boats in the distance pass to and fro like little moving palaces all agleam. Has Seattle lost sight of her obligations to her people to give them such wonderful memories?”

Seattle has not, Town Crier writer of bygone days! If you haven’t been inside the newly renovated Town Hall, do. The Great Hall is a wondrous place where a multitude of people can sit in hushed silence listening to exquisite music.

Mason Bates

For instance, on June 21, the last concert of the Town Music series will take place. It features Grammy Award winner Mason Bates alongside the works of J.S. Bach—an ambitious convergence of musical canon and cutting-edge modern repertoire. Tickets are on sale now!

 

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 alluring call of the open has been too fascinating for hostesses to plan indoor amusements,” and, “The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America will unveil the table of General Robert E. Lee at Ravenna Park on Saturday.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

In the June 7, 1913 edition of the Town Crier, Mrs. John Q. Mason offered “Little Helps to Character Building.” One of those little helps: reading good books.

“Teach your child to love good books,” she demanded. “Any child can be initiated into the delights of reading and if a taste for books of the right sort is cultivated at an early age a potent influence is thereby created for the building of character.”

Town Hall could not agree more, Mrs. John Q. Mason!

Some great bookstores in the Seattle area that builds character in tots:

Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe

Book Larder

Elliott Bay Book Company

Phinney Books

Third Place Books

University Bookstore

Happy cultivating!

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, “In the Northwest the game of golf seems to have wrought havoc with tennis,” and, “Mrs. Thomas Bordeaux entertained with a dinner of sixteen covers on Saturday evening.” In this 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 May 24, 1919 edition of the Town Crier was Mme. Borgny Hammer. Mme. Hammer and her husband Rolf were coming to Seattle to perform at Norway Hall. They were going to perform Henrik Ibsen’s play, The Master Builder. Adele Ballard, a Town Crier regular, with her column “Various and Sundry,” said of the acclaimed actress, “I saw her the other day for a few minutes. She came into the office and it was a warm and rather enervating day, but in about one minute, or less, she re-vitalized the whole atmosphere with her vivid personality: she is like the breezes blown from the sea across the snow-capped mountains, or like the wild flowers of her own land, the hardy ones that force their way up through the rocks into the sunlight of Norway.” High praise, indeed!

Forcing its way today through the bustling busy blocks of Ballard has come the newly redesigned National Nordic Museum. The gleaming edifice opened in May of 2018. It is an internationally recognized museum and cultural center dedicated to collecting, preserving, and educating since its founding in 1980. The National Nordic Museum is the largest museum in the United States to honor the legacy of immigrants from the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Current exhibitions include “Studio 54 & Beyond: The Photography of Hasse Persson” and “Bamse: The World’s Strongest Bear.”

Also, Town Hall’s Capital Campaign Manager, Grant P.H. Barber, is doing a class there on June 8. You can learn how to brew a batch of Finnish Sahti in the traditional method of USING A HOLLOW LOG.

We wonder if the Nordic Museum has anything about Mme. Hammer in their permanent collections? We at the Town Crier will investigate. Stay tuned.

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, “Mrs. Winfield R. Smith was the honored guest at a luncheon and theater party given on Thursday,” and, “Dr. Henry Suzzallo, president of the University of Washington, went to Vancouver, B.C., where he delivered the graduating address at the University of British Columbia on Thursday.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

A frequent advertiser in the Town Crier was Rippe’s Cafe—and the May 17, 1919 edition of the paper was no exception. Rippe’s touted itself on being “a small house with a big reputation.”

Frank Rippe, having worked at the Saltair Restaurant in Salt Lake City, wanted to start his own restaurant in Seattle. And in 1910, he did. There were a few stools lining a counter and a stairway that lead to a balcony where tables for ladies were available. The restaurant was, a critic wrote, “just that chummy sort of cafe where foods are carefully prepared.” The place prospered. He doubled his seating capacity at 314 Pike Street.

He moved his restaurant to 1423 Fourth Avenue. He decided to make the eatery more elegant. There was mahogany woodwork throughout, a long lunch counter, booths on the lower floor and balcony and a separate room for ladies. The restaurant had white tablecloths, heavy silver, and fancy menus (including oysters Rockefeller). Seattle’s elite had many a meal there, as did luminaries from far afield. President Calvin Coolidge ate at Rippe’s. So did Hollywood starlet Jean Harlow.

Rippe passed away in 1934. His widow Pearl continued to run the cafe until 1940 when she closed its doors. “The competition,” she said, “of corner drugstores, quick-lunch places and one-arm tables forced us to close while still in good financial condition.”

The restaurant was sold to theater magnate John Von Herberg who changed the name from Rippe’s to Von’s. Von’s Cafe was open 24 hours, had over 700 items on their menu (there were ten preparations for crab alone on the menu), and was popular amongst Seattle’s hoi polloi until 2013 when it, too, closed.

Under different ownership, it moved and reopened as Von’s 1000 Spirits on 1st Avenue. There now, it touts itself as a Seattle sourdough scratch kitchen with small batch house crafted spirits.  

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, “Arrangements are now being made whereby members of the Seattle Tennis Club may keep their canoes at the canoe house,” and, “The Fortnightly Study Club met with Mrs. Robert Brinkley for a luncheon that developed into a delightful all-afternoon visit.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Sunday, May 12, is Mother’s Day. Let’s look back, fondly, at the May 12, 1923 Town Crier as they wax poetic about mothers. Truth is, they sort of throw the mothers of 1923 under the bus!

“Tomorrow, the second Sunday in May, is set aside for the annual observance of ‘Mother’s Day.’ Today will find the florist shops raided by sons and daughters bent on paying formal tribute to their mothers if the latter are within reach, or, otherwise, obeying instruction seen on every hand this week and telegraphing flowers ‘to any part of the world.’

It’s a beautiful thought. Every mother appreciates it. But if there is the tiniest sense of humor left in her system she will smile to herself perhaps a bit sadly at the mother she is and the one they think she is. No one may say a word against her precious mother but when it comes to one’s self – that’s quite another matter. She knows she is not the belle of the Mother’s Day party. Far from it. But outwardly she never lets on – she must keep faith with the tribe and not let them down.

Long ago when mothers reached the venerable age of forty, they took to caps and chimney corners. Nowadays caps have given way to cigarettes and mothers, or many of them, smoke like chimneys. Powder, rouge, eyebrow pencil, and lip stick, are not beyond the ken of the modern mother. She keeps up with her daughters and can give and take on an equality with her sons. It may have its perils but this is certain: They tell her things that the sons and daughters of fifty years ago would never have dreamed of mentioning to a parent.

She may not be so revered as was her mother, but she may be confident that she is as deeply loved by her children. She may not be so wise as the mother of that period, but nine chances out of ten she knows more about human nature and its divagations. She is clearer-eyed. She needs to be. Training children is the most important business in the world and if she neglects it she is quite aware that it is not her ignorance but her indolence that is the cause.

A mother of today needs to be alert if she would keep in spiritual touch with her children and when she shares all knowledge with them as they grow to man- and woman-hood and tries faithfully to guide them, then there can be no tribute too great paid her. But, let her not vaunt herself and let her not be unduly puffed up. A humble heart and contrite spirit would be more in keeping with the realities in the case. When all’s said and done there must be many derelict mothers to be held accountable for the army of derelict children and grown-ups. Modern or ancient the command of ‘line upon line and precept upon precept’ still holds good. There is no short cut for mothers. Those who instituted ‘Mother’s Day’ must have understood that and tried in their dear bungling way to express their heart full of tender sympathy.”

You modern mothers, you, those of you who smoke like chimneys and those that do not, those with humble hearts and those with proud hearts—have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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, “There will be an entertainment given at the Y.W.C.A. recital hall next Friday evening which should be of special interest to students of French,” and, “Dixie Fleager was the only one in any way to distinguish himself as the Seattle Golf Club sent its men’s team north to Victoria.” In this 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 May 3, 1919 edition of the Town Crier gave high praise to a concert that took place at the Swedish Tabernacle at the corner of Pike and Bellevue. Under the direction of Rudolph Muller, with Earl Alexander and Madame Else Grieg Andresen as assisting artists, the Norwegian Male Chorus had a stirring show. “As an interpretation of Grieg’s music,” it noted, “rendered in the composer’s native tongue, the concert was one of the great treats of the season; no one can fully appreciate this music until it is heard in Norwegian.”

It seems as though Andresen, fronting the chorus, stole the show. Her solo numbers, in particular ‘Margaret’s Cradle Song,’ from Grieg, “was sung with deep feeling and beautiful diction.” The article continued, “Her solo, with the male chorus won enthusiasm.” Earl Alexander also gave several solos “which were received with hearty applause.”

The applause for the Norwegian Male Chorus is still resounding because the chorus is still operating today! In fact, the Norwegian Male Chorus was founded in 1889—the year of Washington’s statehood—and is the oldest continuously operating choral organization in Seattle.

A proud member of the Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association and the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium, they also partner with such arts groups as the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle, the Swedish Singers of Seattle, and the Finnish Choral Society of Seattle.

Learn more about them on their website 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, “Mrs. Eliza Ferry Leary has gone to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Convention of the Daughters of the American Revolution,” and, “Leopold Godowsky, the noted pianist, was the honored guest at a luncheon last Saturday given by Mrs. Frederick Bentley.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

All is not well. The April 26, 1919 edition of the Town Crier laments the state of affairs within the Seattle Police Department. “There is ample room for the suspicion that all is not well with the police department of the city of Seattle.” It continues, “Such suspicion, of course, not being entirely without precedent. In fact there have been years at a time when the police department would have felt itself neglected were it not struggling from under a cloud of suspicion, or resting contentedly without struggling as the case might be.” It seems that there were grifters and ne’er-do-wells in the police force. “It has been said that it is impossible to obtain a bottle of whisky in Seattle that is really fit to drink unless you get it through a policeman.” They suggested that the police chief do “a thorough housecleaning.”

Town Hall was involved in a panel discussion about policing recently. The University of Washington’s Health Alliance International, with the UW Students of Color Affinity Group, UW Concerned Faculty, UW Department of Global Health, Red May, and Elliott Bay Book Company, invited a panel discussion on “Community and Legal Strategies to Stop Police Violence.” Panelists included Jorge Torres, Alex Vitale, David Correia, and former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper.

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 social event of Easter Week will be the Franco-Amerique card party, tea, and dansant,” and, “Mr. Paul M. Gustin left yesterday for Vancouver Island on a sketching and painting trip.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Oof. Cringe-worthy. There’s a small tidbit in the April 19, 1919 edition of the Town Crier entitled “Power.” It was only nine years after the state of Washington allowed women to vote. It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment was ratified allowing all American women to vote. It wasn’t until 1926 that Seattle had it’s first woman mayor, Bertha Knight Landis. It was quite some time before Seattle had another woman mayor.

The little “joke” in the 1919 Crier reads in full:

“I never saw a woman so full of energy,” it reads. “Nor I. Why, merely correcting her mistakes keeps two men busy.”

The many varied themes of feminism have taken the main stage of Town Hall time and again. Elaine Weiss was here recently to discuss the women’s suffrage movement. Blair Imani celebrated under-recognized leaders of modern movements with HERstory. Jill Soloway discussed desire, power, and toppling the patriarchy. Evelyn McDonnell championed women who rock. Amber Tamblyn discussed coming of age in a time of rage and revolution and Siri Hustvedt  joined us with her book Memories of the Future.

For a full list of coming civics events 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, “The Art Institute wore festive attire on Wednesday, with nearly 3,000 narcissus and daffodil blossoms,” and, “Next Monday, Mrs. J.H. Hill will entertain a number of her friends at bridge at The Camlin.” In this 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 in the April 13, 1929 edition of the Town Crier. It’s for the Exeter. The building is “a delightful place to live.” From bachelor rooms to family apartments, they’re “all tastefully furnished.” The Exeter is across the street from Town Hall. More? Our administrative offices are in that selfsame building!

It’s a Seattle historical site, the Exeter. It was one of several high rise apartment buildings constructed on First Hill in the 1920s. It was originally constructed as an apartment hotel, with 139 two- to three-bedroom apartments, so they could be combined into larger units, and 19 large apartments with fireplaces. There was a dining room on the first floor for those who did not want to cook in their apartments. With its Tudor Gothic terracotta ornamentation, it was one of the sterling buildings in the neighborhood. It was designed by B. Dudley Stuart and Arthur Wheatley.

In the 1880s-90s, First Hill, where Town Hall and the Exeter stands, was one of the most desirable residential neighborhoods in the city. With stunning views and with its close proximity to downtown, some of Seattle’s finest mansions began appearing. Apartment building living came soon after to the neighborhood.

Interested in living at the Exeter yourself? You can! All the better that your neighbors are your friends, us here at Town Hall.

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 Nellie C. Cornish, who has been spending the week at her farm on Hood’s Canal, is expected home today,” and, “The Seattle Flyer’s Club, a newly formed organization, will be hosting a formal ball on Friday evening.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Town Hall likes animals. We’ve recently had talks about orca whales, bees, and plenty about birds. We had Richard Prum discuss the mating rituals of birds. We also had a BirdNote Live! Podcast.

In the April 5, 1919 edition of the Town Crier there was a story about the estimated speed of birds. It was entitled, “The Estimated Speed of Birds.” It begins, “There is no doubt that the speed of birds if very deceptive, more especially that of the larger birds, which appear to be moving at a much slower rate than they really are, owing to their size.” Luckily, for Crier readers, there was an Oregonian who liked birds. “The following table of relative speeds has been prepared by a statistics crank in Portland.”

A few of the crank’s findings:

A quail can go 65 to 85 feet per second.
A ruffed grouse can go 60 to 90 feet per second.
A mallard can go 55 to 90 feet per second.
A teal can go 120 to 140 feet per second.
A canvasback can go 130 to 160 feet per second.

If you’re curious, here are the fastest birds in the world. I’m not sure which cranks came up with those numbers.

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