More odds, ends from the editor’s desk

A kind Sequim resident (who prefers to remain anonymous) recently dropped off a couple of items newspaper folks like myself consider treasures, both editions of the now defunct Sequim Press.

A kind Sequim resident (who prefers to remain anonymous) recently dropped off a couple of items newspaper folks like myself consider treasures, both editions of the now defunct Sequim Press.

The first was a special edition from April 10, 1981 — celebrating the newspaper’s own 70th birthday. The edition is chock full of historical photographs, from a rather undeveloped bit of land that would become the intersection of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street to the old Sinclair Hotel to a livery stable that Charles Lehman would turn into a meat market (and eventually into Lehman Mark and Pak).

It includes a fine profile of Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Pioneer Albert Haller and Queen Sonja Frick and, previews of the upcoming festival, several Sequim history articles and even a photo of Graysmarsh Miss Sequim Press: a purebred calf that Ronald Widman won for selling the most Sequim Press subscriptions.

The second gem in the package was a fairly intact copy of the first-ever copy of the Sequim Press, dating back to April 8, 1911 — believed to be the first newspaper in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley (though there was a Clallam Bay Press from 1909-1911 with the same publisher, George W. O’Brien.)

Most of the first couple of pages are dedicated to decidedly regional, national and international news (“Democrats Organize House for Extra Session of Congress” reads a page 1 headline, “China Swept by Black Death” is a page 2 header), but skip to page 3 and you get some good, near-turn-of-the-century, small-town news. Under “Locals” we learn that “Lon Taylor’s forty acre farm; a crew under contractor Dover is building a large barn and fine new home” while “A meeting of the Sequim Athletic Club will take place on Tuesday evening” and “The Sequim mail carrier asks the Press to warn people along his route not to drop loose money in the mailboxes (he urges patrons to discontinue the practice and buy stamps at the post office).

My favorite part is the “In Brief” column, which tells us several important items:

“Miss Elizabeth Brown is quite ill.”

“Fred Farmer from Seattle was here Wednesday.”

“Fred Long left here this week to join his father at Wenatchee.”

“Mrs. E. Webster is at Dungeness today with a military display on sale.”

And, “Mrs. Lou Doran and Mrs. Good, daughters of A.O. Nelson, are visiting from Seattle at the old home.”

A “March Report of Sequim Schools” tells readers that the school month closed March 31 with a “somewhat decreased attendance, some of the older boys having to leave for the spring work.” Names of students who were not absent nor tardy were listed.

A third of the front page was filled by an ad for C.F. Seal’s “Big Stores” in Dungeness and Sequim.

An annual subscription to The Sequim Press cost $1.50 per year and published on Saturdays.

In his note to readers, publisher George W. O’Brien wrote, “We desire a paper that will be useful, newsy and independent and we see no possible reason why any rightly conducted newspaper can fail to be a success in this locality.”

O’Brien’s words echoed for more than 70 years. According to the Library of Congress, The Sequim Press closed for good May 15, 1985.

Many thanks to our generous reader who thought it important to have these pieces of history preserved at a newspaper office. We’ll take care of them.

Consider Soulumination

I’m imagining our dear readers all have their favorite local charities they enjoy giving to each year. Here’s a quick plug for one that’s not necessarily local but is a nice one to consider — and it does have a local tie.

Soulumination is a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to providing free professional photography for families of children with life-threatening illnesses. The organization is sustained only by donations. More than 160 volunteers and 40 photographers donate their time and talent. They’ve given some comfort to more than 1,200 families in past decade. They are a 501(c)(3) organization so gifts are tax deductible.

A little background about Soulumination: Founding director Lynette Huffman Johnson began photographing families and children in 1984. She, along with brothers Phillip and David, and sister Patti, grew up in Sequim. She graduated in the top 10 in her class at Sequim High School, opened a florist shop in Port Townsend, met her husband, Doug, and had children.

A little more than 15 years ago, her sister-in-law asked her to photograph Johnson’s niece Lanie, who was stillborn.

“The day that I photographed Lanie, I walked out on the street. I had been sobbing and crying but it came over me that if anyone could do this for somebody, I’d do it,” Lynette told me, in a story I wrote back in 2007.

Stories about her organization appeared in local and national media, from the Seattle Times to People Magazine to NBC’s “Today Show.” Check out www.soulumination.org.


Holiday thoughts

So, I guess there’s this movie called “Frozen” and it’s pretty popular, right?

Disney recently reported that sales of dresses based on the megahit movie topped 3 million in North America. Three. Million. Chances are, if no one is wearing a “Frozen” dress right now, YOU ARE.

My wife and I are fortunate enough to live in trick-or-treat central (i.e. within four blocks west of Carrie Blake Park) and we got about 175-200 trick-or-treaters this year. Not bad, really. Last year, I actually counted the little pseudo-devils and angels, to the tune of 235 in all — 130 girls, 105 boys. Twenty-two princesses, 18 zombies, 15 fairies, nine ninjas, etc. Yes, I counted. How OCD of me.

This year, I didn’t have the patience to do the same but yes, I can attest to a great number of

Annas and Elsas. More disturbingly, however, were the number of costumes to which I queried, “What are you?” and the youngster simply shrugged and said, “Dunno.” C’mon, kids! Get a theme! You don’t have to go buy another “Frozen” dress or whatever, but, you know, put a little effort into it! As my arm can attest, the folks tossing the candy are.

 

When it rains …

In addition to Sequim’s and Port Angeles’ school construction bond proposals and SARC’s levy proposal, two more peninsula neighbors entities are going to voters on Feb. 10.

The Chimacum School District is eyeing a $34.8 million bond and Port Townsend is seeking a four-year, $13.3 million replacement levy for school maintenance and operations.

According to Port Townsend’s The Leader, Chimacum’s bond would go toward a long list of facility improvements, including demolition of a 1948 elementary building currently serving students in preschool through fifth grade and, before that building is taken down, new classrooms and support spaces for those grade at the district’s primary school.

 

And finally …

Kudos to Chimacum! Our sister paper, the Peninsula Daily News, reports that “Chimacum” — suggested by a Chimacum High School graduate — will be the name of the newest Washington state ferry.

The state Transportation Commission last week picked the name, one expected to be delivered in 2017 for the Bremerton-Seattle route … thereby completely ignoring the Gazette newsroom’s choice for the new ferry’s name: “The Kraken.”

 

Reach Sequim Gazette editor Michael Dashiell at editor@sequimgazette.com.

 

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