Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Draft: Midsummer curse and Olympia minor league baseball

John P. Fink, a newspaper man and promoter, had an idea for a baseball league.

Fink seems to a jack of all trades sort of promoter in the era. Mostly mentioned in that gray area between public relations and newspapering. He covered sports, worked for newspapers, but also ran teams and leagues. In 1903 he is also noted in the first ever mention of the Southwest Washington League as "the manager of the Tacoma druggists" baseball team.

This is the same era that saw the consolidation of the Pacific Coast League between California and Pacific Northwest teams. The highest level of baseball on the west coast to that point had been split between Pacific Northwest and California. In 1903 the two warring baseball regions joined together, in an outlaw league. Was it because of the attention being paid to the Portland Browns, Tacoma Tigers and Seattle Siwashes in the press that Fink saw opportunity in a baseball circuit throughout timber towns in bottom left hand corner of Washington?

The Pacific Coast League was no small undertaking. Baseball had been growing along the west coast since after the civil war, with Portland teams playing since the late 1860s. It slowly expanded from a game played between clubs and soldiers to a game of semi-pros and pros, business patrons and fans paying gate. The new regional league from Los Angeles to Seattle was outside the bounds of baseball law, but Fink sought to toe the line.

1903 was also the first year of the National Association, the agreement major league baseball on the East and midwest and minor leagues throughout the country. This agreement gave certainty to players and owners (mostly owners) that contracts would be recognized across professional leagues and that poached players could not re-enter organized baseball without outlaw teams paying. This was also the agreement that Pacific Coast League ignored, if only for a year or so. But, the smaller (class D) Southwest Washington League was inside the law from the beginning.
This was even fact trumpeted by the the league in “The Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide.” The Southwest Washington League, under the protection of the National Association, enjoyed a most successful season, financially and artistically, under the able administration of President John P. Fink, of Olympia. The season opened May 10, 1903, and closed September 6, with Aberdeen and Hoquiam tied for the pennant. Hoquiam refused to play a post-season series to decide the tie, and the league directors awarded the pennant to Aberdeen.
Fink first reached out to organizers of local teams in the timber towns early in 1903, asking them if their communities had it in them to step up to professional baseball. First on his list were Olympia, Chehalis, Centralia, Montesano, Aberdeen and Hoquiam. These six cities were at the time very similar.

Today, they stand apart culturally and demographically, Olympia in particular. In more than a century, Olympia has gone from a timber town in the same classification as Aberdeen and Chehalis (with a state capitol) to a city on the southern edge of the Puget Sound metroplex. Olympia grew from just under 4,000 to more than 10 times that size. Today, you can put together neighboring Lacey and Tumwater and more than 100,000 people live in and around Olympia. This is more people in either of the individual county's that also made up the Southwest Washington League.

The cities of the old league almost seems like ghosts to me now. Olympia has grown outside its 1903 version, practically leaving nothing behind of its former self. The other cities have grown, seeing high times after World War II. Through the 1930s and World War II Olympia lagged behind cities like Aberdeen and Hoquiam. It wasn’t until 1960 that Olympia was the largest. It was the 1980s that Olympia started putting real distance between itself and its former league-mates.

While state government grew and Olympia took advantage of its connection to the urban centers of Washington, the other cities in the old Southwest League suffered from the decline of the timber and other resource industries. Olympia became even more distant as it got more liberal relative to its neighbors. Being the home of state government and the politically and culturally liberal Evergreen State College, the old Southwest League towns turn their ire at Olympia. The infamous "Uncle Sam" highway billboard in Chehalis has included many anti-Olympia messages over the years, including "Evergreen State College - Home of Environmental Terrorists and Homos?"

But, as Fink sent out his inquiries in early 1903, these really were cities of the same league.

The $250 that Fink and other organizers wanted in 1903 to enter the league is about $6,000 today.  By February 1903 almost 20 Olympia businessmen had lined up behind the team, putting up the nearly the entire sum needed to enter the league. Gathering investors, officially forming the league, putting together a board of directors were early steps for the Olympia team in the Southwest League. By mid-February the local electric utility -- Olympia Light and Power -- promised to rip down a defunct veladrome -- a bike track -- on the bluff above their powerhouse. The plan was to use the timbers to build a grandstand and bleachers on the stadium site, which also coincidentally was along the OLP's streetcar line.

In April, Olympia baseball me were calling the home field "Electric Park" but it was not yet fit to practice on. Process on the park is going slow, despite the effort of the OP&L company.

When the Olympia Maroons opened in a exhibition on April 19, 1903 against the Tacoma Athletes, an amateur team, Olympia won 4-1. Six hundred Olympians support the Maroons with "lusty yells."

The board of directors meetings for the Olympia Maroons are public in 1903 and covered like local government meetings. For example, a decision to charge admission is discussed in a regular news column. It’ll cost 25 cents to get into the park, and additional 25 cents to get into the grandstands. Ladies get into the grandstands for free.

 And, by May 10 the Southwest Washington League was in action. The first really big event of the baseball schedule is on May 22 when President Roosevelt comes to town and Aberdeen plays a "President Day" special the same afternoon. A train full of Harborites come into town with their ball team to see the bull moose. Their team loses to the Maroons.

Turns out, Olympia was a pretty bad team.

By August, the Morning Olympian was advising against betting on the Maroons. Or, at least during league games, during which the Maroons were apparently snake bit:
Any man will tell you, provided he has money on the game, that he is willing to back the Maroons against any team in the Pacific National or the Outlaw leagues, on exhibition, but when it comes to Southwest Washington league games he will hereafter save his money to buy bread... 
 That's a difference between today and then. While teams like Olympia would play throughout the week against teams in and out of their league, only weekend games played against other SWWL teams counted towards the standings. Apparently Olympia was a weekday team.

By August things are getting worse for the league on a much larger scale. Hoquiam was threatening to leave the league. They seemed to have sarcasm back then as the Hoquiam Perfect Gentlemen were apparently not perfect or gentlemen. Well, if you assumed that amateur ball players who worked mill jobs during the week and in the SWWL on the weekend, aren't Gentlemen. The amateur team from Hoquiam was leading the league in August against teams made up of a mix of professional and amateurs.

This apparently led to a decision by the owners of the other teams to expand the number of league games, which ate into Hoquiam's small league lead. Hoquiam stayed in the league, but not without dragging arguments through organizational meetings and letters.

At the end of the first season, half the league had 11 wins, the other 7.

Aberdeen Pippins 11-7 .611
Hoquiam Perfect Gentlemen 11-7 .611
Centralia Midgets 7-11 .389
Olympia Maroons 7-11 .389

In September the Maroons needed financial help. The Elks and Foresters clubs held a charity baseball game to support the town's professional ball team, the Maroons. This is an auspicious end to Olympia pro-baseball in 1903. Two amateur ball teams were raising funds for the pro team.

The league would play three years before breaking apart. In 1904 the Maroons became the Senators and in 1905 Centralia is replaced by Montesano Farmers.

In early May 1905, the Morning Olympian introduces the players as if they're elected officials: Senator Cook, Senator Christian, Senator Almost Stubavor Dye. "A newly elected member who represents the Solid South is Senator Autray."

I know why the Olympian was practically begging Olympians to come out to support the Senators in 1905. Its the same reason Mayor P.H. Carlyon was deciding whether to declare a half civic holiday for their home opener. Just like in the 1903 season, the hope of a warm Olympia May was smashed by the the heat of August and the league was in trouble.

In 1903, August featured a dust up between Hoquiam and the league, in 1905 it was the very fate of the league. In early August the owners came together in an Aberdeen hotel. At the urging of Montesano and Aberdeen, they decided to press on, despite very real financial concerns for the rest of the league.

Then two days later, the Olympian carries this passage in a otherwise typical homestand preview:
The Kids (the team's nickname in the paper is not the Panama Kids for some dumb reason) have played good ball all season, and have been a good advertisement for Olympia all the way. They have not received the support at home that they deserved. The league this year has been faster than ever before and a team that at this time is in second position with a chance still left for the pennant is worth of support of any city in this state. Turn out today, and tardy though you are, be there with the big boost and help the team out, not only with your presence, but encourage them with your two-bit piece. That's where they need your help most. It costs money to run a team and every citizen should help defray this expense. Olympia needs a team and should be glad to pay for it when she has a team like the present one. 
They need your two-bit the most, your fandom second. The team is an advertisement for the city. Costs money to run a team, Olympia needs a team, every citizen should pitch in. Seems more like a road or a school.

By the way, Olympia at this point did not have a high school building. That came a year later. But, Olympia, is in inferior headspace after statehood in 1889. An economic depression was brought on in part by national recession and local over-extension to retain the capitol after statehood. It would be decades before finally a permanent capitol was built and Olympia felt comfortably away from fears of losing the capitol.

With the SWWL collapsing in late summer 1905, Olympia needed baseball to be a real city. And, unfortunately, the Senators and what they mean for Olympia are in deep trouble as 1905 ends and the baseball men look to 1906. 

1905 SW Washington League Standings
Montesano 25-10 (.705)
Olympia 20-16 (.555)
Aberdeen 17-17 (.500)
Hoquiam 9-27 (.250)

Senators finish well behind the Farmers and in late winter in 1906 the ground is being laid for a pro-baseball free Southwest Washington. A league may not come around, but the possibility of an independent team in Olympia is brought up. The increased interest in baseball from amateur clubs is also mentioned as a bright spot.

A local league between Hoquiam and Aberdeen clubs (with the support of the streetcar company between the towns) is promised, but no one knows if they want to start a league between other cities. While parlaying Olympia interest in reviving the D-level SWWL, the Grays Harbor towns (Cosmopolis, in addition to Hoquiam and Aberdeen) jump up into the B level Northwestern League.

The class A Pacific Coast League (by now not an outlaw, but a law-abiding member of Organized Baseball) includes Seattle and Portland along with California cities. The combined Harbor cities join other also-ran cities in the region, such as Spokane, Tacoma and Butte, Montana.

Surviving as the Grays Harbor Lumberman and Grays, and the Aberdeen Black Cats, the Harbor super team survives in the Northwestern League until 1910 when the league drops them. The Northwestern League exists in those years somewhere in the historic backwash of the legendary (and sometimes considered major league) Pacific Coast League. Cities like Seattle, Portland and Spokane would fall out of the PCL and into the Northwest League and then back up again. The Grays Harbor consolidated cities tried to play in that league, but were eventually bounced out by their bigger siblings.

In 1910 they tried to put back the old SWWL relationship to salvage organized baseball on the Harbor. Olympia had fielded an independent team in 1909 and felt up to the task. But, only if things would be different in 1910.

Olympia only wanted games on the weekend. No expanding the league schedule (like what happened under-handily to Hoquiam in 1903) to shoo out smaller clubs. Between 1903 and 1905 the number of league games had expanded, stretching the baseball resources of Olympia. A strict salary cap. "What we are planning on is a league run in such a manner that there will be no danger of it getting along nicely until the Fourth of July and then going to pieces."

While Olympia wanted a ball team in 1910, they wanted it under more humble standards.

In addition to the old SWWL towns (Olympia, Centralia, Chehalis, Hoquiam and Aberdeen), Elma, South Bend and two Tacoma teams are also considered. But, the 1910 Class D Washington State League did not end up including Olympia. The cost of travel, keeping players and drawing fans drove Olympia's interest away from the league.

Olympia ended up fielding semi-pro, unaffiliated with Organized Baseball teams through the 1920s. Eventually even interest in that level of baseball lagged in the capital city. Gordon Newell describes the final death of semi-pro Olympia Senators in Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen. The midsummer curse did the baseball Senators in again:
The coming of electronic home entertainment media may have provided the final straw which, added to the summer mobility of the family motor car, broke the back of paid admission baseball in the capital city. The sport itself was popular enough. The local merchants organized a twilight league and the sawmills fielded amateur teams in the sawdust league. The Olympia Senators even began the season bravely under the leadership of ex-major leaguer Ham Hyatt, but by the end of July the lakc of patronage caused the semi-pro players to give up in disgust and turn the new Stevens Field over to high school and amateur teams.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dead Punk, otter, Pets and Dutch edition (Olyblogosphere links for November 10, 2012)

1. Olympia Punk in Stranger: Punk Dead.

2. Sondrak's KISP is one of the oddest blogs in Olympia. Well, I think Olympia. I remember her blogging a lot about the port protests a few years back. But, this post is too sweet.

3. And, as the days get short and its really damn cold outside, never anytime better to look back at Pet Parade.

4. Lastly, a Dutch band plays Olympia, WA. I think European neighbors were trying to send Mathias a little gift.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Low turnout, voter confusion drove the Wolfe vs. Rogers election result

You can find the data here.

If you look at the basic results of the county commission race between Democrat Cathy Wolfe and Democrat Karen Rogers, you can see a huge difference in the vote totals compared to other county races. About 7,000 voters did not vote in this contest between candidates from the same party.

What I did was look at how Wolfe and Rogers did compared to a composite Democratic and Republican candidate in five groups of precincts. I made the composite from the results of the Thurston county level presidential and gubernatorial elections and the results of the other county commission race. I then ranked the precinct groups from most Republican to most Democratic.

Here are two lessons I toook from this race:

1. Republicans won't vote for a Democrat, no matter how conservative they are. Rogers made some waves by getting endorsements from traditionally Republican allies and by taking some conservative stands, especially on land use. That didn't garner her Republican votes though.

2. Democrats got confused. When the race moved into more liberal areas, Rogers well outperformed a composite Republican, indicating she was taking otherwise Democratic votes away from Wolfe.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

From things I don't get to things I really like (Olyblogosphere roundup for October 13, 2012)

1. I don't get the bead thing and I don't get decorating skulls. Though, I suppose its a thing for Halloween. That said, Shipwreck Beads must be the capital of things I don't get.

2. Arts Walk link #1:


 3. Arts Walk link #2: Thad's Things I like at Arts Walk.

4. This is the sort of thing I do this link roundup for, Janine's recent writing on the county commissioner race is the best things out there right now on local politics.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Pig War and Olympia baseball

I'm working on something longer about Olympia baseball, this is a portion of that longer thing.

Olympia's baseball history probably starts just a bit earlier than than the summer of 1872. Baseball clubs had exploded between Vancouver and Portland five years before, but the following in the first refernce I can find to a baseball team in Olympia (Blankenship):
Olympia, in early days, was not without its baseball team, in which it took great pride in the days of underhand pitching.  Several match games were played with Victoria, and Olympia was victor each time.  The English knew more of their national game of cricket, and had not perfected themselves in America's favorite sport.  About the time these games were being played the matter of the San Juan controversy was on, involving Uncle Sam and Great Britain.  The dispute was in the hands of Emperor William of Germany for arbitration.  On the day the first game was to be played there was conspicuously posted at the post office a telegram in proper form on a Western Union blank, reading as follows:
Washington D.C.,  July 16
Governor Washington Territory:
Emperor William, having in hand the matter of the San Juan controversy, has concluded to base his decision on the result of the baseball contest between Olympia and Victoria.
Secretary of State.
Thus inspired the Olympia boys went in and won.  It is barely possible that the illustrious grandsire of a degenerate grandson never heard of the game, but the victorious Olympians came from the field with breasts distended like pouter pigeons, plainly conscious of having won an empire for their Uncle.
Just a bit of background, the maritime border between Canada and the states at this point had not been set. Both sides claimed the San Juan Islands, and at some point someone shot someone else's pig. And, both British and American soldiers were based on the San Juans. Hence a war with only one casualty.

So, the game would have been in the summer of 1872. The German led committee set to settle the Pig War made their decision in October 1872, the British withdrew a month later.

It was also at the exact same time that the mysterious Ira B. Thomas was in town, buying land for a possible terminus for the Northern Pacific railway. Its almost odd that the fact real world wager for this game was over the San Juans and not the terminus. It would've been just as believable (maybe more believable) if the game was to be played against Port Townsend or Seattle and the prize was the Northern Pacific terminus.

But, of course the opponent was the opposite capital and the prize was the lonely old San Juans, almost a footnote to history compared to the terminus.

These were the days of formal invitations sent between clubs. And, clubs were not synonims for teams or businesses in the economic venture of making money from sport. They were actual clubs as in having elections and officers and bylaws.

Olympia base ball club would hold a meeting. Who do we invite? Let's invite Victoria! The next day, a telegraph is sent.

At their next meeting, Victoria considers the invitation and accepts.

Terms would be set, travel would be arranged and in a month or so, Victoria would travel down by steamer. This is the era before even leagues when a club (again, and actual club, as in an organization of men wanting to play baseball) would know before each season (such as spring, summer and fall) who they would play. No yearly champions, just invitations and games. But, they did keep score.

If you've ever read W.P. Kinsella, especially the Iowa Baseball Confederacy, you recognize the elements of a great baseball story here, if only the German challenge were true.

In the Kinsella-esque version, a German official would be on hand, because the game would really have been the deciding game in the Pig War. Ira Thomas would be there too. Thomas' wife back in New York state, unaware that her husband had but months to life.

Just for fun, even though the historian puts down a date of July 16, I'll put the game on July 4. That enhances the patriotic aura of the game.

Both the German official, maybe an American from the state Department and a British foreign office official come in on the same boat as Ira B. Thomas. The British official thinks the game is a joke, the American thinks its great and the German is just happpy they decided to settle the fight over empty islands somehow.

Ira B. Thomas has a secret, but can't talk enough about all the stuff he's heard about Olympia (but not really why he's there).

I'm not sure how the rest of the story unfolds, but obviously the game goes into extra innings.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Where would have the Northern Pacific met Budd Inlet?

In most local histories that cover the era of the Pacific Northern Railway terminus chase, there is a retelling of this particular episode (this telling from Newell's "So Fair a Dwelling Place"):
The Puget Sound Land Company, a subsidiary of the Northern Pacific and bought up large tracts of land on Budd's Inlet in the name of one Ira Bradley Thomas. Before the rails reached Olympia, Thomas died.
Rather than face the legal delays of probating his estate, the company quickly bought up new land near Old Tacoma and told the Northern Pacific to change its terminus to that location.
Had an obscure business man, Ira Thomas, lived just a little longer, Olympia would undoubtedly have become the western terminus of the first northern transcontinental railway and the site of the present city of Tacoma might still be a comparative wilderness.
Can you imagine  how Olympia could have ended up differently had we, and not Tacoma, ended up the first industrial metropolis on the sound? I can imagine deepwater dredging all the way to Tumwater and down Swantown Slough. Possibly fill all the way out to Priest Point. Certainly a larger and more developed city.

But, the exact extent of our growth would've been determined by exactly where on Budd Inlet the terminus was meant for. I think I've come up with a general location of where the Pacific Northern Railroad would've met the Puget Sound had they chosen Olympia.

1. First, I wanted to find out if Ira B. Thomas really did come to Olympia in the 1870s to buy land for the Northern Pacific. It wasn't uncommon for land purchases to be made in the name of the Northern Pacific back then. But, what sometimes seem too good to be true and fanciful stories that get repeated in local history, just really are too good to be true.

That doesn't seem to be the case for Ira Thomas, though. According to at least this federal case, his estate was still being fought over 20 years later. Since probating the case took over 20 years, the Northern Pacific was pretty smart to move onto Tacoma.

2. So, Ira Thomas was in Olympia and he did buy land for a railroad terminus, where was that terminus? Apparently, the name North Olympia Land Company can still be found in some legal descriptions of property around here. At least this real estate database (BackPlant Tract Book by Titlepoint) lists the company as a search parameter for Thurston County.

3. So, where are the lots with North Olympia in their legal description on Budd Inlet? From what I can find plugging around on Thurston County's Geodata, right here.

4. So, finally, what does this tell us? Maybe nothing, it is possible that Ira Thomas' mission in Olympia was just a ruse. Possibly like other land buys in King County, Thomas might've been trying to divert attention from the mostly empty property along Commencement Bay. Compared to Olympia with 1,200 people, only 200 lived in Tacoma. The Northern Pacific possibly wanted all the land riches for themselves.

Or, maybe, Thomas' death really did put the dream of Olympia as major west coast city or at least major western Washington to bed. Maybe in addition to being the state capitol, we would've had a mighty metropolis to go along with it. I like to imagine what could've been.

Update (11/21/12): Just realized that this map (which I've looked at dozens of times) gives a pretty great idea of where the Olympia Land Company property was.


Overlay with current Olympia:

Secrets and vagueness (Olyblogosphere for October 1, 2012)

1. The Man With No Change at Old School:

2. Someone just had an 11 year blogiversary!

3. Alec Clayton talks about the books he's written and focuses on their autobiographical aspects:
There’s a reason these first three books were set in locales where I have lived and a reason that the main characters were all about my age. Both were to create a palpable sense of place and authenticity. Write what you know is the old axiom. I made the main characters my age so it would be easier to get facts right: getting the popular songs, books, movies at any given time right and ditto for hair styles, fashions and automobiles.
4.  Long video, featuring Steven Willis of Morty the Dog, on Comics at Evergreen:

5. And, secrets.

6. And, even though I try to do only five links, this sixth is extra and not really Olympia related. Yelm History Project blog is great.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A data-based perspective on racism in Gonzalez v. Danielson

My historic look didn't drill down very far, just looked back in time a bit. But, if you do look down into the voting precincts, as this paper does very well, you find racism present in the vote:

The Yakima and Grant County results indicate that racially polarized voting exists in Central Washington and crosses party and ideological lines. While voters in these counties have consistently voted for more conservative candidates in most recent elections, Danielson outperformed all other candidates, and by very large margins. This is remarkable considering he did not campaign at all. In a similar Supreme Court election, conservative candidate Douglas McQuaid, who also did not campaign at all, received only 28 percent of the vote in Yakima, compared to 64 percent going for Danielson. Not only did Danielson significantly outperform McQuaid, but he also won more votes than the leading Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and Washington Governor who both campaigned vigorously during the election. The data show that Danielson received votes from the same precincts who preferred Cantwell to Baumgartner and Inslee to McKenna. This is in spite of Danielson raising no money, holding no campaign events, making no public statements, and receiving no meaningful endorsements. Voters in Central Washington, who were not provided a voter’s pamphlet, preferred Danielson to González in a party-neutral contest. This patterns revealed here a are textbook definition of racially polarized voting.

Southern California taste for sale on Johnson Point

Holy freaking best kept secrets of Thurston County! Can you believe this even exists around here?

And, that at least according to the public information on the house, it was built in 1911? Well, not this house really. It probably looked a lot different back then.

The story of how this house came to be apparently begins in the early 1990s when California entertainment executive Charles Brack (who died in 2010) bought the house. Because Brack had some legal issues with his neighbors involving his bulkhead, we're able to read a little bit about what changes the house underwent:
The Bracks purchased the property at the tip of Johnson Point, immediately adjacent to Grundy's property, in 1991.
The Bracks extensively renovated and expanded the existing house on their property between 1993 and 1998.
Calvin Brack's son-in-law, Keith Gibson, testified that the Bracks have invested approximately $8 million in remodeling the home and structures on their property. 
The Bracks' property included four separate tax parcels when they purchased it. Grundy asserts the Bracks raised the bulkhead to create dry land for building sites. 
The Bracks contend it was necessary to raise the bulkhead in order to complete planned landscaping.

What I was most interested in was what the house looked like before the Californians got their crack at it. From the state Department of Ecology's shoreline photography program, I was able to find these two shots (from 1992 and 1970):

Here's a zoom of the 1992 image:

Significantly different than the post-Californian version.

And, in terms of the owners (the Bracks), they seem to be pretty interesting themselves. Charles Brack, until 2006, was involved in running KDOC, an independent television station in Orange County. He was listed as CEO of the station when it was sold.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lacey's new fiasco fishing pier

Way back last spring, people were spitting mad that the new Carpenter Road along Lake Lois had walls to it, blocking the view of the lake. From Ken:
Put me in the camp of those who think the City of Lacey made a mistake when it built the new Carpenter Road and put a wall between the drivers and Lake Lois.
Those driving on the new Carpenter Road can no longer see Lake Lois because the wall separating the roadbed from the lake is too high.
That’s what happens when engineers design a bridge and leave out the public in the review process, although I’m not certain a novice would even have understood the wall design even if they had seen the plans.
I drive that part of Carpenter almost every weekday, and since the construction finished, I've noticed a lot more people taking advantage of the new wall (as you can see above) as a defacto fishing pier.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Catching up with September (Olyblogosphere links for September 21, 2012)

1. This is one of the most unique and touching covers of Olympia, WA.

 2. Cascadian meadows in spring can be pretty, from Mojourner Truth.

 3. Little late in the linking, but I always appreciate Russ Lehman's take on local politics.

 4. And, Mark's take on downtown.

 5. Those who can be rebels by bus do and teach.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Historic perspective on the Gonzalez-Danielson race

UPDATE 9/29/12: A few smart folks took a close at the precinct level numbers and came up with some pretty solid evidence about race based voting patterns. I stand by my take below, but this research is much more significant and relevant to the election.

Since State Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez won a full term last week, there have been questions about how Bruce Danielson -- who didn't raise or spend any money in a campaign -- was able to get more than 40 percent of the vote.

Initially mentioned by Eli Sanders, there have been claims that Gonzalez didn't get more of the vote because of racist tendencies of rural Washington voters against candidates of Hispanic background. Here are clips from Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle Times and the Everett Herald that show some of the discussion.

It may very well be true that a certain percentage of people voted against Gonzalez because they don't like minorities, but this doesn't necessarily bear out against historical context. In two other state Supreme Court races in 2000, candidates that spent no money at all got at least 38 percent of the vote.

Here is a spreadsheet that puts these three races (two in 2000 and Gonzales vs. Danielson this year) in terms of vote percentages and campaign expenditures. Just a side note, these two 2000 races were the only two when one literally unfunded candidate opposed a well funded candidate in a state Supreme Court race.

One of the 2000 races, Jim Foley lost to Tom Chambers, but received over 43 percent of the vote in the November general election.. Similar to Danielson, Foley was ranked as not qualified to serve on the bench. But, in a sort of opposite name phenomena of Gonzalez-Danielson, the scuttlebut in 2000 was that Foley did so well because voters confused him with former Spokane congressman and Speaker of the House Tom Foley:
Chambers, 57, who raised more money, $355,947, than any of the other candidates, said he at times found himself hard-pressed to compete with Foley's familiar name. 
Although he beat Foley by a wide margin, he said he wished the margin had been even greater.
"It would give me greater comfort," he said. 
When Foley ran unsuccessfully against Faith Ireland in 1998, he said he had a "million-dollar name" because voters mistakenly link it with former U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley, to whom Jim Foley is not related.
Here is another Seattle Times story that discuss the dynamics of that race.

In the other race (the deciding vote took place in the September primary), Bobbe Bridge defeated a Tacoma lawyer Scott Schweiger. Like Gonzalez, Bridge has earlier been appointed and had already been serving on the court when she won. She also spent $153,000 in a race that ended months before November because she was able to knock off her only opponent in the primary. But, despite her opponent not raising or spending any campaign funds, Schweiger received 38 percent of the vote, very close to Danielson's total. This article indicates that there was little, if any, discussion at the time how Danielson finished so well against a well-funded candidate.

A significant difference between the 2000 races and Gonzalez-Danielson is the lack of a statewide voters pamphlet. It is hard to gauge the impact of the lack of this information had on voters this year, but you also can't discount information available now more readily available from the internet and from newspapers.

What we should be able to take from this information is that there seems to be a floor that literally unfunded state Supreme Court candidates won't fall below. And, Danielson performed within the normal range of similar candidates in recent years.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Amazon attacks Olympia! edition (after a long summers break) of Olyblogosphere links

1. One particular slice of the Return to Evergreen features Morty the Dog. Sweet.

2. Does anyone want to help out with Olynews.org? I like Olynews.org, but like a lot of small web projects around here, it suffers from people like me who fail to have a lot of energy. So, if you have energy and no particular project, why not right?

3. Accidental Naturalist reflects on the closing of Fireside Books. Or, rather, "Amazon Attacks Olympia!" MWWWAARG!!!!

From the post:
This wonderful, small, independent bookstore in downtown Olympia has been owned and operated by Jane Laclergue since 1995. Jane has many fans and friends in town, many dedicated readers, grateful authors, and fabulous staff--many sang her praises at farewell/retirement party of Jane Wednesday night. Her passion for books, her charm, her personal approach to book buying has made Fireside a favorite place of mine to buy books over the past several years. 
Though Jane is of retirement age, the closing of the Fireside Bo
okstore comes at time when fewer people seem to consider reading a priority pastime and more readers are acquiring digital books or ordering from online distributors such as Amazon.


Every book we buy on Amazon or other online booksellers is one less book sold at a bookstore. At the end of the month there will be one more empty store in Olympia, one less place to visit. Is Orca Books next? Our only remaining independent bookstore? What about the other used book stores tucked into our downtown? What about Barnes & Noble, our only remaining chain bookstore in the great Olympia area? Oh, and what about all the other stores that offer products that could be acquired online?

While I agree that its sad to see a local bookstore (or any type of local store) close, I don't necessarily blame ebooks. While the newspaper column that AN links to doesn't spell out whether Fireside has lost money (does say the recession has been hard), it does point out that Fireside lacks an even basic website.

Not to get into a long response on a link post, but I'm more inclined to believe that people who read ebooks are more likely to buy more books overall (so the one ebook for one local book think doesn't stand up).

4. This is a very old post from a looks like dead blog, but it is so so very epic: "San Francisco Street Bakery and the Problem with the Left." Bam!

Read on:
When I walked through the wide open door of the brightly lit establishment I was greeted by no one even though several people were scurrying about doing baker-type things. It wasn’t until I had walked across the room and taken the cream cheese from the refrigerator that a fellow with a stupid indie rock beard and wearing the tight black uniform of a Northwest leftist/anarchist/post hippie type finally took notice of me. It took him a second, seemingly, to muster up the wherewithal to tell me in his passive/aggressive way that, “Um, sir, the bakery’s not open for another half hour.” What he meant was: 
Hey weirdo, what’s wrong with you? Get the fuck out of here.
No, really what he meant was that the place wasn't open for business yet. Eh, anyway. This post is a great example of the Olympia vs. everyone else culture shock thing. Read the entire post.

I'm not saying I've never been annoyed by bad customer service in Olympia, but I'm just as likely to get bad service in Yelm or Lacey or Shelton. Those aren't homes of leftist hippy types, right? Anyway, bad service is bad service, so don't chalk it up to people's politics or culture.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Epic storms and hidden histories edition (Olyblogosphere for July 17, 2012)

1. Assemblage has another one of those hidden histories of Olympia. This time, murder on Butler Cove.

2. grsshpprkm has a pretty epic take on the storm on Friday. From hours into minutes:

3. Elaine over at epersonae is back bike commuting:
Yesterday…I went a little crazy. I had PT in the morning, and decided to take the Xtracycle “just in case” I wanted to ride further towards work than usual. I rode ALL THE WAY in, 10 miles altogether from PT, with a stop at a grocery store for water & baby wipes. I was exhausted but euphoric. Riding home was somewhat more stressful. Google Maps recommended a different route coming home, and it looked feasible. However: the trail part was bumpy & buggy; I had to make a left turn across a five-lane, 45MPH road; a lot of it was bike lane on a fast busy road; I had to cross another major arterial at a crosswalk at a complicated intersection; and I hit a stretch so steep that I walked about 3 blocks. Coming up the hill the other side of downtown I was going so slow I realized I could walk faster than that. Sigh.
Still, I’m glad I did it. I know it can be done, and I know I’ll do it again. (Almost certainly NOT taking that route home again. C made a suggestion that sounded good that I’ll try next time.) Hopefully by the end of summer I’ll be riding more of the route more regularly.
4.  Not the first time someone has taken a photo of the titular cross street. But, its nice every time someone does.

Monday, July 09, 2012

This is not a Thumbs Up Experience edition (Olyblogosphere links for July 9, 2012)

1. This is Olympia. This is not a Thurston County Thumbs Up production, though it is tourism related.

2. Its fun to read the run-down of the local issues suggested to someone who hasn't been paying attention trying to write an English paper. But, I would tend to agree with this guy.

3. Andy at Thurston Pundits (a conservative blog, to say the least) writes why he likes George Barner for county commission.
Basically I think he's coming from an assessment that government at all levels has overstepped its bounds and is now stepping on more people than its helping. While a lot of Democrats are running away from their party to keep their office, I have a degree of certainty that this not a calculated power grab because he's likely going to be running against the local Democrat machine on this run, and that is a strong machine here in Thurston County.
4.  I like taking random drives through the countryside. So, this video by rtpwyk is nice.

5. Given the now dead Olympia Views' commentary on the Cooper Point Journal (implosion, Kafkaesue, sucks), Seth Vincent's self eval on his time as CPJ staff adviser us super interesting.

Zine Review of Funwater Awesome #1 through #4

The author's fiancé drew the covers of #3 and #4. Very much worth pointing out.
Funwater Awesome #1 through #4
By Zach Mandeville 

About ten years ago, I was thinking about the recent construction of commercial lots in Yelm. Actually, everywhere. I remember laments about strip malls, Safeways, surrounded by parking lots, people saying the construction lacked character.

I wondered if that was an inherent quality or if character grew over time. From Zack’s point of view, the architecturally plain setting of strip malls and apartments in West Olympia are alive with his memories and emotions.

Funwater Awesome, while centered on Tumwater, is a long reflection of a young person’s attachment and relationship with urban northern Thurston County. While Zach speaks almost solely as the local being “Funwater” (Tumwater), his stories and essays are seamlessly set throughout the contiguous Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater community. His introduction and construction of characters

It's shocking to me how much Zach reminds me of Douglas Coupland. Actually, almost the exact opposite of Douglas Coupland, a mirror image. Alex and the Giants from Funwater Awesome #2 seems the flip in mood and telling (while maintaining the same fresh style) of the doom and dread of Coupland’s Life after God. Zach’s father character in Giants could practically be Scout in the final story of Coupland’s God, years after submerging himself in the forest stream pool.

Funwater #3 and #4 (release simultaneously in summer 2009) show a lot of promise not just for the zine series, but for Zach as a writer.

The fiction elements are the opening chapters of what I hope is still a forthcoming book length book called My Brother! This work maintains the hopeful Coupland-esque elements of Funwater #1 and #2, but enough hand holds to keep a story going for the length of a book.

I'll leave you to read the non-fiction parts of #3 and #4 when you either buy the zines or check them out from the library (information on that below). But, they’re a great mix of actually useful information and history for any resident of Tumwater. But, I'll at least offer the best selection from the non-fiction portion of  #4:
Tumwater was born then, as they built their homes along the Deschutes River. Funwater was born when someone put a decorative curtain across a knothole in their log.
Also, one last note. Zach’s fiance (wife now?) drew the cover of #3 and #4, very much worth pointing that out. They’re great.

Here is also a nice one minute zine review of #2.

Funwater Awesome #1
To buy: zachboyofdestiny *at* gmail *dot* com
To borrow: http://bit.ly/LPKTVQ

Funwater Awesome #2
To buy: http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/3141/
To borrow: http://bit.ly/MMJXP8

Funwater Awesome #3
To buy: http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/3142/
To borrow: http://bit.ly/LqNVLF

Funwater Awesome #4
To buy: http://msvalerieparkdistro.com/zines/funwater-awesome-4
To borrow: http://bit.ly/LqO3ed

Sunday, July 08, 2012

What I really would like: Sckavone Stadium and the NW Indy Baseball League

I've spilled more than a few pixels in the last few weeks whining about how Olympia doesn't have a real baseball or soccer stadium. I've presented options for $4 million stadiums.

But, you know, in the end, what I really want is one small $600,000 stadium to call my own.

I was down in the Portland area in the last few days, and I was able to take in a few innings of a Northwest Independent Baseball League (which I wrote about earlier here) game between the Portland Titans and Royals at Schavone Stadium. Schavone is a nice little park.

View Larger Map

Built in the early 1990s for what would today be $600,000, Sckavone sits on the site of an 1940s era wooden stadium with the same name.

Walking to the stadium through the park setting.

Sitting high in the cinder block grand stand, on aluminum bleachers.

A little better view of the grandstands and what is probably an average crowd at a NWIBL game. What you can't see from this view is the press box up behind the grandstand and the lights. I'd imagine anything much more than this would be a full feature minor league stadium. Sckavone would, I imagine, be a proper home to a West Coast League standard team.

It was also nice to get out to a NWIBL game. The two teams I watched were obviously amateur level, but a good amateur standard. It was unmistakably hard-ball, with a handful of better than average players. It was certainly worth the time and price of admission (free). I could imagine regularly getting out to these game if I lived in the area.

But, where to put something like this around here? 
  • Where the old Steven's Field used to be (currently hosting two softball fields with lights)? 
  • The Lacey RAC
  • Olympia, Capital or some other HS?
  • Yauger?

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Saddest Olympia, WA (Rancid) cover ever

Maybe its that I expected so much more from MXPX. Or maybe its the combination of a Orange County venue with that venue being the ironically named House of Blues. But, as a person that collects these covers, this is the worst version of Rancid's Olympia, WA ever.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Why don't we worry about the South Sound Mall as much as we do downtown (and I want a soccer stadium!)

This is a post born out of this question at Mark's Notes on the State of Olympia blog on what places in Olympia (and I assume broader urban North Thurston) are too empty for my tastes.

The almost empty parking lot in the north west corner of the mall is a forgotten little pocket of Lacey. It used be to where the Woolworth's backed up into that side of the mall. I also remember Olympic Comics starting on that side.

Anyway, its empty now, except for maybe people learning to ride motorcycles on Sunday, the parking lot is a waste of impervious surface, reflecting the dead commercial nature of that part of Lacey.

It is also now left without its only lasting civic contribution, as the host of Lacey's July 3rd Fireworks.

The owners of the mall seems to realize the lost potential back there. Coincidentally, they also own a few properties in the residential neighborhood right next door in Olympia. And, in 2008 CDC proposed to the city to redevelop that neighborhood into a south Tumwater-like collection of state office buildings.

The proposal didn't get picked up by the city, but I'm sure the need is still there. It wasn't that solid of a proposal, not even a project. Just a request for a designation that could mean state office buildings would be built there at some point.

But, for me, obviously, the best and highest use of the space would be a soccer stadium. Nothing fancy, 2,000 seats would make me more than happy.

But, what gets me about the empty back corner of west Lacey, is that while it remains very paved and very empty, no one seems to care. We wring our hands over anything relating to downtown, but this part of Lacey is all but ignored.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

PCO Wars! (also update on PCO history project)

I haven't gotten very far on my PCO history project, only up through the 1940s with 2010 as a bookend. If I was to come up with a conclusion so far, I'd say compared to today, there have been decades of high participation in the PCO process, much higher than today. But, you can find years when our average now wasn't out of the ball park.

What I do find striking is the years when every single PCO slot had at least one candidate. Competitive races were somewhat rare (though sometimes as high as almost 70 percent), but the full ballot implied a desire on the parties' behalf to have as many PCOs as possible.

Anyway, seems like this year on the Republican side, the PCO races are of high interest across the Northwest again. Here are some links noting the PCO battles that are going on between Ron Paul supporters and long time Republicans.

Ridenbaugh Press: The Precinct Wars.
In Twin Falls County, the Republican Liberty Caucus ran a slew of challenges to often-veteran precinct officers, and won almost a third of the seats. The mainstream party leaders expressed relief that the challengers hadn’t won a majority, but they’d better not count on the fermet to ease off soon. Many races were competitive; one was decided by a coin flip.
Spin Control: County awash in PCO candidates
In theory, Democrats and Republicans should each elect a PCO for each of Spokane County’s 314 precincts every two years, although in many years the parties often go begging for willing candidates, and when they find one, there’s no contest for the job.
Not this year. In 105 precincts, about a third of the county’s total, there will be contested elections. Almost all, 101 races, will be for Republican positions. In one precinct, a South Hill precinct near Roosevelt Elementary School, both parties have contested PCO races with two Democrats and three Republicans.
Clark County Politics: My Mistake: a FOUR way race in the 620 precinct.

Friday, June 29, 2012

$4+ million for the arts, not for sports

Let's quickly forget about the meaningless distinction between someone that dances and receives academic credit and someone that swings a bat and does not.

Let's also forget that our schools maintain facilities for both artistic and athletic pursuits.

Starting from here then, how do you think the public would react if the city of Olympia announced it was spending $4.4 million to upgrade a field at Yauger Park to a 1,500 seat capacity soccer stadium? Or, baseball stadium, I suppose (even though we'd never get a real minor league team here).

Under certain circumstances, a 4,000 seat baseball stadium could be had for around $4.3 million.

You think the public reaction would be supportive? Actually, I think the public reaction to a larger (much larger) athletic facility would be overall negative. Possibly very negative.

As opposed to $4.4 million spent on reburbing an existing arts center? Granted, we already own the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

But, I think this imaginary distinction might tell you something about the nature of Olympia. Ken Balsley calls this elitism.

But, I wouldn't go that far. We have plenty of people around here that spend a lot of their time dedicated to sports. There are plenty examples of this sort of dedication, families at Black Hills FC, hundreds of kids turning out for Olympia Bears football.

The question is, in Olympia given $4 million in public funds, the most likely end result is something for the arts, not sports. And why is that?

I've been pondering it for days now, and I can't really give you a good answer.

Why Dan Bigelow would've campaigned against Costco edition (Olyblogosphere links for June 29, 2012)

1. From Mojourner Truth, a dern good blog post about how own of our town's earliest settlers fought the same fight that some of us still fight today:
Replace "groceries" with "CostCo," or for that matter, jsut keep "groceries," and you have one of the most recent election's main issues encapsulated. It makes me want to start a Bigelow Community Garden, where we can grow food free of the impure grocery influence. Not that I'm against liquor, mind you, but more the influence of a particular capitalist enterprise putting itself above the public good of, for example, having state store which employed a thousand or so people at a living wage, and which did not sell liquor late in the evening, when people are more likely to get in trouble with it, and which had no accounting tricks to keep the state revenue from flowing to other public goods.
2.  Coolerman4u made a home made forge. Cooler, indeed.

3. Stevenl starts up a new contest on Olyblog. Where are these places?

4. Mathias (thank goodness) is back doing RSVP, the podcast. I love podcasts. Love them a lot. I also like local things. So, listen to Mathias' podcast, especially because he's going to be down for the next few days. This one is especially good, featuring Faith Trimble.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Olyblogosphere links for June 18 (best video about Olympia railroads ever)

1. This video left me speachless. Basically, its a story about an old timber railroad through what is now the South Puget Sound Community College campus on the westside.

But, its also a story of cross discipline and real world learning at SPSCC. Great, great stuff.

2. Sarah at the Snazzy Bouquet has the sort of post that describes This Town. Nice.

Really, though. I feel compelled to blockquote at least this passage:
Last night's scene in downtown Oly. All-ages punk action, just like it was 21 years ago, when I (by some miraculous twist of fate) poked my head in the side door at the Capitol Theater.

3. Funwater Awesome (though not technically Olympia) put up a post for the first time in almost a year, then promptly let his domain expire. Boo. You can get his the Funwater zine at the library though.

4. Over at r/olympia on reddit, people are getting phone calls for a survey about whether they'd "support or oppose a 0.1¢ sales tax measure to support local PD, Fire, and neighborhood watch programs, and if I would support or oppose a $12 million bond measure to build a park on the isthmus." Boy, what a time for Olympiaviews to call it a day, huh?

5. Speaking of local politics, I tweeted something Rhenda Strub pointed to about who someone thinks was behind those horrible fliers from last fall.

6. Don't you love what Mark Derricott is doing with his blog lately? The meeting updates bum me out, but I love these project specific posts (Olympia Hilton Gardens and Downtown Olympia Mixed Use at Quince and Fourth Ave).

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Olyblogosphere links for June 9, 2012 (basking in the glow of Oly Love edition)

1. Lots of video from the explosion of Oly Love this week. Here are just three:

2. Bees, Birds and Buttlerflies blog brings us (what else?) The Bumble Bees of Thurston County (which has nothing to do with WSB).

3. Flummel, Flummer, Flummo is on the WSB beat with The haters are now hating in Seattle and Dirt Dumb Rebels.

4. Remember last time when I linked to a blog about Calvin Johnson's walking tour of Olympia? Well, here's the video.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Olyblogosphere links for June 4, 2012 (no theme edition)

1. In Judith Baumann probably loves you blog, Calvin Johnson leads a walking tour of downtown Olympia. This event deserves a blog post of its own, but in this case, its crammed with other stuff.

2. I've had nightmares about when local grocery stores one by one stop carrying Olympia beer. Cosmo has news of a real-life tragedy. Brewery City Pizza no longer carries the beer of the historic and self referential beer.

3. Tenalquot has an amazing map of historic schools in Thurston County.

4. It would be worth heading over to Morty the Dog to read more about the Olympia Comics Festival

Friday, June 01, 2012

Westboro Baptist Church bothering to picket both Olympias

Westboro Baptist Church (yes, those guys) are coming to Olympia next week. There is going to be a response, seemingly especially to their second day protest at Olympia High School on Thursday (sorry, you have to log in to FB).

The reason they're coming is pretty simple, the passing of the marriage bill last year in the legislature. It also makes sense that their first protest will be up at the capitol campus. But, what is surprising to me, is that they're also bothering to protest at Olympia High School (and the auditors office).

They not only protesting Olympia as a name for the entire state government, but they're also protesting Olympia as a home.

I'm not sure I'm going to bother to show them any attention, but I've heard through FB that some local churches will respond in person. Which, I feel is great. Its much better for actual people of faith to stand up to emotional haters like Westboro.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Olyblogosphere links for May 22, 2012 (Special web video edition)

1. This is the video that made this update happen. I just could not wait. Jim Foley running for judge in the city of Oly. I kid you not.

2. Then two updates from Your Daily Hour With Me. First, just to nod of appreciation that they've made it to 600 episodes.

Then, their epic interview with the 10 Minute Show's David Scherer Water.

3. And, I suppose to round out this web video themed update, Evergeen is 40 years old. And, they're adding "Greener Stories." This is a pretty interesting one, if also pretty quiet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Olyblogosphere links for May 18, 2012 (Nature! Nature! Nature!)

1. Protect Nature (or an empty lot with trees) with the new Save LBA Woods blog.

My first impression is that they could've thought of a different name. LBA stinks as a park name to begin with (Little Baseball Association), but LBA Woods implies the area they're trying to save has anything to do with the park, other than being next door.

2. Starhill Farm has Seedings!!

3. A sort of old update from the Bees, Birds and Butterflies blog on some infosheets they posted. Its a good blog, so worth the almost month old link.

4. Super cool post from Nick Strite on Capitol Lake:
What I think is just another example of we self-centered humans is the concern for the aesthetic values of the lake. People who are for the lake staying a lake value it for its appearance.
The lake is aesthetically pleasing and people firmly believe that it does bring in business and boost Olympia’s appeal. The strongest argument for the “keep the lake” side is that if an estuary were developed that it might destroy business downtown because of the loss of this attractive body of water. That is something no one can predict. It is moderately plausible that business would be affected but it is not possible to predict unless it were actually made into an estuary.

5. And the Accidental Naturalist on Vaux's Swifts in Olympia.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Abe Lincoln, Facebook and the Satsop News

News item from the 1854 Washington Pioneer in Olympia. Local lawyer Ruddell with massive foreign turnips! Read all about it!

Wait, this is news?

The fake news that Abraham Lincoln filed a patent for a newspaper like Facebook in the 1840s is funny in the sense of how many people fell for it. Its also interesting in how its actually true in one sense.

It wasn't so much Abraham Lincoln leading the charge, but Facebook was something that existed in the 1840s in newspaper form.  There is a certain type of content that newspapers were full of through the early 20th century that today's papers ignore.

What we look back on today as "social columns" cover the same territory that our social networks today do.

I've had this blog post in me for awhile. In the late 90s, I worked at the Montesano Vidette. One of my weekly, late-deadline jobs was (including the police reports for Elma and McCleary) was sometimes to type up the "Satsop News."

Through at least the 1970s, the Vidette ran columns from most of the small non-town communities in eastern Grays Harbor County. Satsop, Brady and a few other places each had their own "news" column written by a local.

These columns would include typical social news. Someone came for a visit, someone went to Seattle. Lunch was had at Mrs. Smiths.

By the time I was at the Vidette, the Satsop correspondent had moved five miles down the road to a mobile home park in Elma. The news came hand written on note pad paper. Sometimes a young relative of our correspondent would drop the news off and at least once I drove to Elma to pick up three hand written pages.

I wish now I'd kept one original version as a keep sake, but at the time I resented having to edit the copy to a version that I thought was usable. I resent my own memory now of not leaving it be.

I don't now how she came about the news from people who still lived in Satsop. Seeing briefly where she lived and how she seemed, I can't imagine she got around easily on her own. I imagine her calling a handful of friends each week, asking about what they and their families were up to.

The similarity between her columns and the social columns from years ago that I come across from time to time when doing research is striking. Maybe its my memory conforming to my current thoughts.

This sort of soft news, the sort of self-supplied social lubricant is something that newspapers have been walking away from for a long time. It seems to have been replaced with gossip-centric celebrity news. Facebook doesn't seem to be doing too bad though making it a central part of their business.

It seems like that in the era since reporting and editing became professionalized and newspapers became corporate and seperated from their communities, they also forgot the vital role of the social column.

Its not that the generation growing up on social networks is narcissistic. Sharing news of yourself and your own family and friends is not an act of narcissism. It is an act of a healthy social world and civic culture. It may not be interesting at all to people who don't know you, or your children. Posting pictures of your family out to dinner isn't at all striking to people who don't track your daily life. But, to your friends who know your middle child just got over a sore throat that kept you at wits end for a week, a dinner out is big news.

And, big news is big business. It was to J.W. Wiley and A.M. Berry, who ran the Washington Pioneer in 1854. We aren't now no more narcissistic than S.D. Ruddell and his massive fifteen pound turnips.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Olyblogosphere links May 7, 2012 (Mega Arts Walk edition)

1. Calavara.com has a pre and two post (one and two) Arts Walk posts. The best part is the in-Arts Walk art.

2. Mark over at Notes on the State of Olympia states the obvious. But, its worth repeating a lot:
The Arts Walk on the Friday night before Procession is the realization of Olympia’s potential.
Tonight, we’ll embrace standing on the sidewalk; we’ll experience something new, unexpected; and we might even find that elusive place downtown to have a glass of wine with one’s friends.
3. The Flat Win Company was on hand, selling something.

4. OlyMEGA was open.

5. Trixy was there.

6. Lots going on at Kitzel's too.

7. Doris at Thurston Talk posts up a short piece on encounters.

8. And, boy, we haven't even gotten to Procession yet. Here's Mojourner Truth's Insect Sect.

9. Walt Jorgenson, who of late has been the guy who goes around town and takes long videos and posts them on Youtube, does just that with Procession. Part 1 and Part 2. Here's another one by katyoneil.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Athletic Park: Olympia's minor league ball park 1903-1921

If you're a serious baseball nerd and a serious local history nerd, you probably know that Olympia was a member of the national minor league system from 1903-1906. Sadly, you're also misinformed, as the Southwest Washington League didn't make it into 1906, but current records (incorrectly) indicate otherwise.

But, most important to me isn't really how the team played, but where exactly they played.

The above image shows the best guess of where at least the grandstands for the baseball field were. The map (from a great history on the Thurston County Fair) is a failed proposal for expanded county fair grounds on the site of Carlyon Park, where the baseball field was housed. The black triangle in the middle of the image indicates the grandstands of Athletic Park.

This article from the 1903 Morning Olympian points to a stop on the trolley line between Olympia and Tumwater run by the Olympia Light and Power Company. This piece in 1920 chronicles the end of life of "Athletic Park" right before it was torn down for the current residential neighborhood and replaced by what would become Stevens Field.

After the Olympia Senators (or Maroons, I'm not really sure) folded after 1905, Athletic Park played home to several semi-pro town team, industrial league teams and local school teams. The image below from the 1920 Olympia High School Annual, towards the end of Athletic Park.

Throughout 1903-1920, the grandstands of Athletic Park are almost totally absent from the pages of the Olympus (except for here), but these images show clearly the outfield wall and bleachers added to the park to round it out. The best image of the looming grandstands can be found here.

By the way, I was already working towards this conclusion a week or so ago, but a great discussion over at the Olympia Historical Society's Facebook page pushed me over the top.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Olyblogosphere links for Thursday, April 27, 2012 (home sick edition)

1. I could've mentioned this in the last update, but Terrence Knight (remember "The Sitting Duck?") is back.

Remember when he left? I wasn't too impressed. I'm still not all that impressed, his website is pretty bad. Needs some work. Like, its not 1999 sort of work. It seems like it would be harder to update html page like the one he's working on than update a wordpress.com page like the one he has set up here.

But, the videos themselves (shooting ordinance, Jim Lynch reading) and this article deserve praise. Good effort,  but help your readers and get the with the times.

2. Olympia Food Bloggers Bake Sale! For the Food Bank! Tomorrow (Friday, April 27) Both the Plum Palate and Pure Hunger are pointing this one out. Get yourself down there.

3. Its spring time, so its then time for Griffin Neighborhood to talk all about Scotch Broom.

4. And, shoot, everyone listen to this: a pilot podcast from David Raffin. Technically speaking Raffin does have podcast already, but its typically short clips from comedy shows.

But, this one is a proper podcast, with Raffin and a straight-man, topics and the whole thing. Its still very much David Raffin, but its the sort of long form podcast that I wish he'd do more of.

And, this is just me talking, but if Mathias Eichler were to start some sort of Maximum Fun podcast empire, this sort of long form Raffin is something I could get behind. Mathias is a busy man already, though.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

McCleary, you already had your canal

Its not my fault they were around 14,000 years ago.

This is very close detail of a map of the spillways of the Puget Lobe from this amazing document:

Sarah from McCleary Chronicles brings us the backup pipe dream of a shipping canal that would've passed through McCleary. The problem with the Puget Sound to Grays Harbor/Columbia River canals was always a lack of water and a lack of a good reason. Railroads and then highways sufficed.

In 1907 the Corps of Engineers pointed out that there just isn't enough water (sans glacier) for such a canal system to be realistic:
The quantity of water required at the summit would probably be nto less than 300 cubic feet per second, if the canal were used at all, and the problem of finding that quantity of water during the dry season would be a rather serious one. There is no stream of sufficient capacity in the neighborhood and a feeder would have to be brought many miles. While the percipitation in tehis section of the country is large, there is annually a dry season of two or three months, during which the streams become very low, and ample provision for water, either by storage or by a long feeder, would be required.
But, if you add one ice age with spillway rivers flowing through the Black River, Chehalis and Moxlie Creek basins, you suddenly have three entire waterways connecting Puget Sound (now as a glacial lake) with the Pacific Ocean. And, McCleary sitting almost dead center as a axis of trade. In this case, sight sears to the big glacier.