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Capturing Grays Harbor history

This man, thought to be radio DJ Stan Spiegle, appears in the the newsreel footage that sheds a light on Grays Harbor County history.

This man, thought to be radio DJ Stan Spiegle, appears in the the newsreel footage that sheds a light on Grays Harbor County history.

We ran an article in the latest issue of Columns about a UW-produced documentary centering around newsreel footage that peeled back the curtain on life in 1920s Grays Harbor County.

“Grays Harbor Happenings” looks at life before the Great Depression in this bustling coastal town. The 45-minutes of film that inspired the documentary keeps the past alive on the Libraries Special Collections website, offering short clips of events big and small. Browse the collection for a few minutes, and you’ll see footage of a shipwreck, log-rolling contests, baseball games, an ice cream social, picnics and more.

The newsreel footage, originally shown before full-length feature films, depicts a sense of time and place that resonates nearly a century later, said Hannah Palin, film archives specialist with Libraries Special Collections. “You capture people, behavior, customs, and the environment, and it’s actually moving,” she said. “It helps our current experience if we can see how we were in the past.”

Each of the roughly 50 clips contains its own back story, and some of those stories are still being uncovered today.

Here are a few of the clips with unusual histories or notable stars, along with some background information, courtesy of Palin.

This unidentified man is thought to be local radio DJ Stan Spiegle

Palin believes that the stoic man on-screen from :24-:35 is Stan Spiegle, a  DJ with KXRO Radio in Grays Harbor County.

The radio station was owned at the time by Roy Olmstead, a famous Seattle-based bootlegger during Prohibition. Olmstead would play certain songs with the station’s radio broadcasts to signal boats that it was safe to smuggle bootlegged booze into Grays Harbor. “I don’t know how much Stan knew about this,” Palin admits. “There’s this funny tie with this little 20-second clip to a whole history of Prohibition.”

James M. Phillips, mayor of Aberdeen, address a crowd at what appears to be Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds

American Indian James M. Phillips moved from Pennsylvania to Aberdeen after college, where he launched an improbably successful political career. He began practicing law in 1907, was later elected mayor of Aberdeen, and went onto serve as a Superior Court Judge from 1929 to 1950. Phillips is thought to be the first American Indian to serve as a judge in the Washington state court system. “It obviously didn’t hinder his politics at all,” Palin said.

Mel Ingram and the Aberdeen Black Cats win the Timber League Pennant

Mel Ingram was a baseball player in the late 1920s with the Aberdeen Black Cats, part of the semi-professional Timber League. The team took its logo from a good luck charm posted at logging camps throughout the region, a nod to the town’s labor-friendly policies under Mayor James M. Phillips. Palin said that Ingram might have once shared the field with Babe Ruth when the legendary slugger played an exhibition game in Tacoma.

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New – Watch videos on the Columns website

Seattle Camera Club photo by Frank Asakichi Kunishige Betti, ca. 1924. Like Columns magazine? Like UWTV? How about the Seattle Camera Club story that ran in Columns in December and on UW 360 this month?

Then, we hope you’ll love this: Readers can now enjoy our Camera Club story, then watch UW 360′s fantastic episode on the club, all from the Columns website. Click here to watch the video and see the new feature!

This is just another look at how we storytellers are beginning to work together across the UW campus. I’m excited to see how this evolves.

Until then, check out the entire UW 360 February episode :

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A history of UW logos – Which is your favorite?

University of Washington logos

For Huskies, the University of Washington means many things. To the majority of people outside the UW community, the school is an image—a purple block W.  

When people look at the logo, no matter where they are, they don’t just see the logo. They see their personal experiences with the university, and their impressions are based on media and other sources. They see the UW’s reputation.  

With its logo, mascot and color scheme, the UW has always tried to represent the students, the school and the ideals held here. The brand’s evolution has taken some unusual twists and turns but has endlessly inspired students and alumni alike. Let’s open the history books and look back at nearly a century of UW logos.  

First, some interesting notes:  

  • Until 1919, the UW did not have a mascot and used only the block W. But as other schools adopted mascots across the nation, Columns reported, student leaders realized that Washington needed an icon.
  • The nickname “Sun Dodgers” was used until the UW switched to Huskies in 1922. Wanting to move away from Sun Dodgers, university officials decided to go with Vikings but students immediately protested and the school settled on Huskies a few months later.
  • It wasn’t until 1984 that the UW agreed it needed a clear identity and moved to adopt a consistent logo and color scheme. Before that, more than 550 licensees were authorized to use either the block W or Husky logos, and the result was a mishmash of UW imagery.

    University of Washington logo 1919

    Sunny Boy statue at Husky Hall of Fame.

Our story begins with a drawing in the Sept. 1919 issue of the on-campus magazine, Sun Dodger, in which a staff artist depicted a fictional UW student named “Sunny Boy,” a smiling freshman wearing a huge bow tie and carrying an umbrella (right). Despite the initial protests of magazine staff, the name “Sun Dodgers” stuck with the local press and Sunny Boy grew in popularity. Eventually, students commissioned a 3-foot-tall wooden statue in his likeness and carried it to the away football games. See the video from the Husky Hall of Fame.

An article in the Washington Alumnus, which later became Columns magazine, noted the Husky is “a symbol of willingness, courage, endurance, strength and fight.” After settling on the new name, university officials were most excited to use a live dog as an on-the-field mascot, and felt the name Huskies “suggests the idea that Washington is the most northern American university on the Pacific Coast.” A nod to our neighbors to the north, eh?

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What Husky football means to Jake Locker

Five years ago, Jake Locker set foot on the UW campus and energized the fan base with his lightning-quick speed and million-dollar smile. On Thursday, Nov. 18, Locker and 16 other Washington seniors will play their final game at Husky Stadium. It is the first Thursday night game at home for the UW since 1939.

It’s been a rough go for this group, but they are helping to right the ship and Locker, in particular, has given us reason to hope. His work ethic, passion for Husky football and all-around character epitomize what this university is all about. In recognition of Jake’s last game at home, here are a few quotes left over from my pre-season interview with the UW quarterback.

Read the full story in the December issue of Columns.

What were your thoughts upon signing with the UW in 2005?
This program was comfortable being at the top of the Pac-10. If you weren’t winning it you were second and playing for it at the end of the season. Year in and year out you were competing for a Pac-10 title, and then you have your really good teams that are competing for national titles. Everybody who’s signed their letter of intent in the last five years has had that belief. This is a program that can be in the top of the Pac-10 and in the top of the country. That’s where I wanted to end up when I got done, and that’s where I thought this program realistically could go.

Can you compare the program now to where it was when you first arrived?
We’ve taken a big step forward. It was obviously tough the first couple of years. We didn’t do what we wanted to. We’ve always had the talent to win, but some guys were going different ways and buying into different things. Some were with the program and some weren’t. I think for the first time since I’ve been here, everybody believes in the same thing, believes in the same idea, the same goals, and is working together to achieve them. To me, that’s what’s going to make us successful. That’s why this year and going forward feels a lot different than it has in the past.

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Columns archives: Honoring our veterans

A very special thank you to all of the men and women who have served our country with honors. Today is Veterans Day, and I am reminded of the poem “Freedom is not Free” by Ashley Persyn:

There is a price we pay for freedom
For it is not truly free
But rather paid for by the contributions of veterans
To buy our liberty.

The photo above is of Blake Miller. It is one of the most famous pictures from the Iraq War and was taken by 1982 UW alum Luis Sinco. Watch this video from the Los Angeles Times on what came to be known as the “The Marlboro Marine.”

I ran a quick search of UWalum.com for “veterans” and am excited to share a few stories from our Columns archives. Thank you, veterans.

  • Healing wounds, March 2008: A UW alum tells his tale from the Vietnam War. He served as a dentist with a mobile construction battalion attached to the 3rd Marine Division. He says, “My dental training did not necessarily prepare me for treating the wounded in a helicopter; but you did what you could and quickly learned.”
  • Pappy Boyington—Our Black Sheep Hero, Dec. 1998: There aren’t many UW alums who win the Medal of Honor, write a best-selling book and have Robert Conrad portray them in a TV series. But that’s World War II Fighter Pilot Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, a 1934 engineering graduate who shot down 28 enemy planes as a Marine pilot.
  • The Caretaker, Dec. 2009: Days after 24-year-old Army Lt. Robert Leisy wrote a letter home to his parents, he used his body to shield his fellow soldiers from a North Vietnamese grenade. They survived. Leisy did not. A look at the UW alum who made the ultimate sacrifice—in his own words.

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Now you can comment on Columns stories

Jake Locker graces the cover of the September issue of Columns

One of the things that makes a magazine so special, I think, is that you never see the sausage being made. The magazine arrives in your box all plump, glossy, tantalizing. Inside, it’s full of evocative images, pretty pictures, interesting stories. And never do you, dear reader, see what goes on behind the scenes.

For us editors, that’s the goal. As exciting as the moments of failed lighting on photo shoots and writers exasperated by our demands for yet one more revision may be, they add little to the actual story. We want you to see a great magazine. Never mind what it took us to get there.

Usually, I don’t share the inside scoop; don’t reveal the man behind the curtain, but I’ll tell you this: The September issue of Columns didn’t come without some excitement, and one serious Hail Mary pass, this month in the form of a cover shoot. Our photo of Jake Locker was shot in about 20 minutes (we often take an hour or more for a portrait like this) on a hot, August evening when the quarterback made time for us between practice and dinner, before he headed back to the field again. (Good practice for our Heisman hopeful, as we’re sure Jake is going to have to get used to the media hounding him during work.)

That’s just a hint at the great things that happened behind the scenes on Columns recently. The fall issue is out now and, I believe, full of some fantastic stories. I hope you enjoy learning about everything from what makes Locker tick to what life is like as a Buddhist monk.

A lot of new and exciting things are happening at Columns—this editors blog being one of them—and we’ll share more with you in the weeks to come. Until then, please check out the fall issue of Columns. And, let us know what you think: as of this issue, you can now comment on any of our stories.

Julie H. Case

Managing Editor of Content

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Columns Extra: Jake Locker interview

In June, I interviewed Washington quarterback Jake Locker for Columns magazine. Being the cover story, I wanted to do something different as many of the stories written about Jake this summer have been similar—he passed on the NFL Draft and is back at the UW for his senior season.

I felt Columns, as the University of Washington’s alumni magazine, should do a story that in five years is still a good read. So I wrote about Jake’s charity work. His enthusiasm for working with hospitalized children is inspiring, and it was clear during our interview that he was happy to talk about the work he does off the field.

Don’t miss the full story when Columns drops the first week of September. In the meantime, here are a few extras exclusive to Blog Down to Washington:

When did you first get involved in helping sick children?
Growing up in the family and the community I did in Ferndale, you looked out for other people. It was very community-based. When families needed help, you helped them. I think that was instilled in us from a very young age.

Are the children you get to know a big influence on you?
I’ve always said that I learn more from them than they learn from me. The way they look at it, the way they approach it, they’re always so strong. It’s not going to beat them, and they don’t feel sorry for themselves. To me, that’s amazing. Even if it’s a 6-year-old kid it’s like, hey, this is what I’m dealing with and I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy my life. It’s helped to shape who I am and how I live my life. If they can do it, why can’t I? What’s holding me back from really truly enjoying life every day if they’re able to do it in the situations they’re in? That’s the satisfaction I get out of it.

Has your outlook on football changed because of these experiences?
I’m as competitive a person as you can find. I love playing football and I’ll do it as long as I can. But I do understand there’s a lot more important things in life. At the end of the day, it’s just a game and that’s how you should treat it. You should have fun with it, you should enjoy it, do everything you can to win the game. But also understand that if you lose it’s not the end of the world. Life goes on. There’s other things you need to deal with and will be faced with. Those are the times when the lessons they have taught me really come back.

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Columns – Hot off the presses!

The June 2010 issue of Columns magazine is on its way, and we are proud to announce Bruce Nordstrom as the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus, the highest honor bestowed on any graduate by the University of Washington. Keep reading for an except from Bruce’s excellent profile.

Also in this issue, meet the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award winners, hang on every word as I recount the story of future Afghan lawyers who survive a suicide bomber, and be amazed by the UW team that’s bringing smart phone technology to the health-care crises of developing countries.

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