Posts from the ‘History’ Category

Seattle Parks Video – “Parks, Pleasant Occasions, and Happiness” [1977]

It’s not every day when I can look back on the Seattle I knew as a 13-year old boy.

I just happened across this video today, which is actually a 17-minute short depicting Seattle and its parks network in 1977. There are no spoken words, only an upbeat musical soundtrack. The cinematography is simple and pleasant, void of tricks or trendy angles that frequented many of the films from the period.

The storyline is also simple and pleasant.

After the sun rises over the landscape of Seattle, a quiet old man sits down on a park bench at the beginning of the movie. He shuffles his way through all the parks in the city. Street scenes, locations, and buildings familiar to Seattleites appear often – including the legendary Space Needle. Greenlake, in the north end of the city, is shown as a bustling recreational area with sunbathers, bicyclists, and runners (it’s still that way today). Freeway Park – which now stretches above and across the ribbon of Interstate 5 that runs through downtown Seattle – is shown in Phase One on the east side of the freeway only. Included are segments filmed along Alki Beach and Lincoln Park in West Seattle. There also appears to be some footage taken at Colman Playground, situated just south of Interstate 90 near its western terminus. The final pan-out takes viewers over Seattle’s skyline at sundown during the end of the film.

It’s a cute movie that is accompanied by a flute, a clarinet, and pianist Norman Durkee.

After doing some research on Durkee, I discovered that he was also responsible for the piano accompaniment on Bachmann-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business;” The band was recording their album in a Seattle studio when Durkee walked through one night (story HERE); without knowing the band (and without them knowing he was a musician), Durkee recommended that they lay down a honky-tonk piano track for TCB. They asked him to do the part, which he wrote out quickly on a pizza box and recorded in one take.

The most noteworthy things to me in the video are the skyline shots. The city looks exactly as I remember it from my youth – a bold mix of trees, concrete, and really huge cars. If I close my eyes, I can smell a 1977 Seattle summer – Warm air, dust, hot asphalt, and the exhaust from a 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo in traffic. While these elements may not seem alluring, combined they contribute to how I remember Seattle as a younger man and bring back a time for me which was simpler. This movie does great job of sharing my Seattle of the past.

Here’s an excerpt of the longer video shown above:

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Quiet Artesians and Wild Rainiers

When I was at the grocery store the other day, I saw two Pacific Northwest legends in the cooler near each other; Rainier and Olympia beers began life in my neck of the woods, and have been brewed for well over 100 years.  Olympia was brewed originally in Washington’s state capital.  The Rainier brewery’s owner even started a baseball team – the Seattle Rainiers – to advertise his product.  While both brands depict legendary northwest mountains, they are now owned by Pabst and have been moved out of state.

The flavors of these beers won’t win awards, but their stature in PNW popular culture has allowed them to be the enduring kings of the cookouts.

Seattle is a place now where craft beers and international brands are readily available, especially from Mexico.  Granted, many of them are good.  But at one time this area was a mid-sized blue collar region where local beer labels carried hometown pride and became famous namesakes.  Every region has at least one – Lone Star in Texas, Primo in Hawaii, Coors in Colorado, and even Red Stripe in Jamaica.

But in the early 1980s, no Seattle high school party was complete until the Big Red R arrived – either in keg or rack form – and righteously extracted from the trunk of a jacked-up Camaro.

The stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad shares tales of her father’s drinking “Oly” when she was growing up.  They were both cheap, had generally good flavor, and depicted local mountains of notoriety.  Both brands were also well known for their TV commercials (shown below).  Rainier made fun of itself, professing the existence of “Wild Rainiers” and motorcycles that said “RayyyyNeeer….Beeeerrr” as it was running through the gears.  They even had talking frogs long before Budweiser. Olympia – banking on the fact that no one knew what an Artesian Well was – claimed the water came from secretive Artesians that also played jokes on people.

The old Olympia Brewery closed in 2003.

Oly Oly Oh;

The former Rainier Brewery in Seattle – now the Tully’s Coffee roasting plant and art studios – stood with its iconic giant lit red R viewable from Interstate 5. The famous R is now housed at the Museum of History and Industry.

MOHAI

So sing a round of Oly Oly Oh, or crack open a Wild Rainier.  They may no longer be from Washington, but they still make a hometown proud!

The Golden Nugget [1972]

Vegas 1972 [public domain]

Came across this awesome picture taken in Downtown Las Vegas in the early 1970s, as part of the Documerica Project.  Charles O’Rear – retired longtime National Geographic photographer – took it during his travels around the American Southwest.  In 1972, the Vegas Strip was new and the downtown core of original casinos still ruled the roost.  After a long decline, the older part of Vegas began seeing a resurgence in activity that now gives visitors a taste of what the town was like in the days of the Rat Pack.

Below is a picture of the same corner – courtesy Google camera car – circa 2009.  The 4 Queens Casino is still across the street.  The overhead covering in the picture is part of Vegas’ famous Fremont Street Light Show.

The Golden Nugget Casino – On Wiki

Charles O’Rear’s view of The American Southwest – On Flickr

Bio for Charles O’Rear – On Wine Views

Flash Bulbs Baby!

image

Capturing those special moments in the past was a bit tougher back in the Sixties.

There were no smartphones with LED flashes to light the subject (or illuminate the subject’s eyes in a weird glow). Getting those great shots of Aunt Edna and Uncle Ted’s Fiftieth at the Lodge meant coming armed with equipment to light up the wood paneling inside the hall.

It also meant having plenty of flash bulbs.

These single-use wonders would pop off like an atomic bomb and be done.  The light was brilliant, and then it was gone.  The hot little bulbs had to be extracted with a cloth due the residual heat. Hey, getting the right shot was hard work back in the day!

I’m old enough to have used them as a kid, especially the Flash Cubes below:

imageThe world has changed, and the bulbs to feed the flashes are getting tougher to find. But for now they are solid artifacts that – to the smartphone generation – may need to be explained.

Edna and Ted would definitely approve 🙂

Space Needle Stamp – First Day of Issue [1962]

Space Needle - First Day Issue Stamp, 25 April 1962

Seattle’s famous asset…on a stamp!

Originally designed on a dinner napkin, the Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair; it stands now – fifty years later – as the most notable feature of both the city and the event.  Second most notable – the Monorail – still runs from the base of the Needle south to Westlake Center on 5th Avenue.

I love the background behind the stylized needle on the left, like the sky is on fire!

The Century 21 Exposition was an optimistic view of the future, where electronics and science ruled the world. Other enduring features of the fair included the Center House, the Bubbleator, and what is now the Pacific Science Center.

Aerial of Space Needle and fairgrounds during construction from southeast, Seattle World's Fair, ca. 1961

The Museum of History and Industry recently compiled an assortment of promotional and documentary films, done before and during the Fair. It provides a look into the early days of the Space Needle, Monorail and other Seattle icons. Comments about Science at the Fair are done by Dixie Lee Ray, who went on to become Washington’s Governor during the 1970s. Check out the films here: http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=4030725

For more pictures of the Space Needle done in a timeline, check out this compilation on Intersect.

Snazzy Threads from The Forties!

[Portrait of Frank Sinatra, Liederkrantz Hall, New York, N.Y., ca. 1947] (LOC)

Frank Sinatra, Liederkrantz Hall, NYC - Circa 1947

Style: Some have it, and others are like me – complete void of any trace.  It’s a blend of taste and smarts that brings it out.  For the lucky few, style is effortless – natural like breathing air.  But for many, it’s a sure bet that the clothes combo picked out in the morning would made a stylist laugh.

But in the 1940s it seemed as if everyone had style, especially musicians.

The United States’ Library Of Congress has an entire collection of photographs taken by William Gottlieb in the 1940s, highlighting the stars of Jazz.  By looking through the 1600 photos in the collection, it’s pretty clear that part of being a jazz musician in that era meant dressing sharp.  The suits were cut with flair, and the dresses also hugged a curve or two.  Ties had character.  Everything was shiny, pin striped, or accessorized to the stratosphere.   It was definitely a time when people cared about how they looked, instead of an era for some that my mother-in-law describes as “Looking like you’re doing yard work.”

In the 21st Century many of us – well mostly me anyway – could learn a lot about what to wear, simply by going through these photos.

Enjoy!

[Portrait of Doris Day and Kitty Kallen, Central Park, New York, N.Y., ca. Apr. 1947] (LOC)

Doris Day and Kitty Kallen, Central Park, NYC, ca. Apr. 1947

[Portrait of Chico Alvarez and June Christy, 1947 or 1948] (LOC)

Chico Alvarez and June Christy, ca. 1947

[Portrait of Irving Kolodin, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948] (LOC)

Irving Kolodin, NYC, between 1946 and 1948

[Portrait of Dottie Reid, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948] (LOC)

Dottie Reid, NYC, between 1946 and 1948

[Portrait of George Wettling, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948] (LOC)

George Wettling, NYC, between 1946 and 1948

[Portrait of Imogene Coca, Mary Lou Williams, and Ann Hathaway, between 1938 and 1948] (LOC)

Imogene Coca, Mary Lou Williams, and Ann Hathaway

[Portrait of Fran Warren and Gene Williams, Hotel Pennsylvania(?), New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1947] (LOC)

Fran Warren and Gene Williams, NYC, ca. Oct. 1947

[Portrait of Eddie Condon, Eddie Condon's, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1946] (LOC)

Eddie Condon, NYC, ca. Oct. 1946

[Portrait of Joan Brooks and Duke Niles, New York, N.Y., ca. Apr. 1947] (LOC)

Joan Brooks and Duke Niles, ca. Apr. 1947

[Portrait of Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947] (LOC)

Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, NYC, ca. Sept. 1947

 

[Portrait of Sarah Vaughan, Café Society (Downtown), New York, N.Y., ca. Aug. 1946] (LOC)

Sarah Vaughan, Café Society, NYC, ca. Aug. 1946

[Portrait of Stan Kenton and Eddie Safranski, 1947 or 1948] (LOC)

Stan Kenton and Eddie Safranski, 1947 or 1948

[Portrait of June Christy and Red Rodney, Club Troubadour, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947] (LOC)

June Christy and Red Rodney, Club Troubadour, NYC, ca. Sept. 1947

[Portrait of Earl Hines, New York, N.Y., ca. Mar. 1947] (LOC)

Earl Hines, NYC, ca. Mar. 1947

[Portrait of Ann Hathaway, Washington Square, New York, N.Y., ca. May 1947] (LOC)

Ann Hathaway, Washington Square, NYC, ca. May 1947

[Portrait of Joe Marsala, William P. Gottlieb's home or office, New York, N.Y., ca. June 1947] (LOC)

Joe Marsala, ca. June 1947

[Portrait of Louis Prima, New York, N.Y., ca. June 1947] (LOC)

Louis Prima, NYC, ca. June 1947

[Portrait of Sylvia Syms, Little Casino(?), New York, N.Y., ca. June 1947] (LOC)

Sylvia Syms, ca. June 1947

The Fish Bowl – Seattle WA 1984

The Fish Bowl - Seattle 1984

This restaurant was a long-standing institution in North Seattle, opening for business in 1947. The building is still there, but the restaurant is not.

I wrote in detail about The Fish Bowl on Intersect.

 

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