Thursday, February 20, 2014

Enoch Bagshaw collapsed and died in Olympia, the state and region collapsed around him

It was a strange road that led Enoch Bagshaw, the legendary Husky football coach, to Olympia in 1930. But, it was specifically and literally a road.

Bagshaw had been a young public works man in Snohomish County before his life's vocation found him taking up the position as Everett High School's gridiron football coach. His success at Everett led him to succeed the four coaches in four years that had attempted to replace UW's first great coach, Gil Dobie.

Welsh born Bagshaw was not friendly. He won games, and led the high powered Husky offense to two Rose Bowls (tying one, losing the other).

Washington as a state was flying high through the 20s. And, if Bagshaw was the symbol of Washington's sporting accent throughout the decade, Gov. Roland Hartley was the political embodiment. Laissez-faire to Hartley would be putting it mildly. Hartley wanted to cut down government to a size in which it would not interfere with timber men like himself, or any other capitalist.

And, like Baghaw's Huskies, Hartley played rough and tumble, ignoring the polite insider politics that often made things happen in the state.

Hartley would also turn out to be Bagshaw's last benefactor. Both men hailed from Everett (though both were born elsewhere). After Bagshaw finally left the Huskies, Hartley brought him down to Olympia to serve as a transportation administrator.

The Enoch Bagshaw that moved from Seattle to Olympia in the spring of 1930 was not a well man. The 1920s had been hard on his body. He probably didn't know it, but his road was a short one.

As Seattle progressed towards the Great Depression in the summer and fall of 1930, there was a lot of doubt that Cascadia couldn't keep on growing as it had in the 1920s.

Seattle Times in July:
"Seattle looks very good, said Mr. Oakes. "Your shops and stores and your industrial activity indicates that your people are not paying much attention to the toalk of business depression that is so much the topic of conversation in other centers at this time. You seem to go serenely on your way..."

And, in in November:
As in all depressions, much of this depression is psychological. People in Seattle are unduly depressed because they hear exaggerated rumors that people elsewhere are depressed. What people really ened is to know the facts. When these facts sink in, our people will realize that things are, as Mr. Coue said, "getting better and better" -- and then, they, too, will feel better and better.
 By 1931 only 62 percent of those employed in Washington two years before still had jobs. Timber exports in 1933 were half of what they were in 1929.

Neither Bagshaw nor Washington may not have realized its heart was ready to go out.

It is ironic that the building in which Bagshaw died (today where the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is located), then called the "Old Capitol Building" was also a symbol of our own economic over exuberance here in Thurston County.

Its its first life, the Chuckanut stone building was the Thurston County Courthouse. Built in the high flying days following statehood, Thurston County soon ran out of money, and sold it to the state, which was looking for decent quarters.

And, a final note, Hartley, who lost in 1932 to Clarence Martin, was fond of tearing down portions of state government. 1932 would be a highwater year for Democrats in Washington State. Both Hartley and the U.S. Senate seat would be turned over to Democrats that year. To give you a good sense of the how much 1932 change politics in Washington State, there were 41 Republicans in the legislature to one Democrat. In 1933 there were 21 Republicans and 25 Democrats. A couple of years later there were 41 Democrats and five Republicans (the total number of seats had gone up).

Last, what is one of the agencies that Hartley went after in his high tide days in the mid 1920s? OSPI.

No comments: