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!


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