Wednesday, August 13, 2008


1st and Washington- Occidental Park, Pioneer Square

Looks to me like there were several signs here over the years. "The Alki" is clear, and I believe goes along with with the illegible black wording just under "Rainier Beer". The word "MISSION" is in different lettering which I believe is the oldest and is a remnant of William Booth's "Christian Mission" organization, which later became "The Salvation Army". Due to the adjacency of Skid Road (Yesler Way) and the "downtrodden" who resided there, The Salvation Army planted its Northwest roots on this very spot.

Also seen here is "80-TOW BATHS" on the far right. I have no idea what "80-TOW" refers to.

From Murray Morgan's book "Skid Road", an 1899 "Battle of the Brass Bands" account from a reporter from the Post-Inelligencer :
" It is about 8'o'clock in the evening that the battle begins. About that hour the players of the brass band on the west side of the avenue [Second Ave.] file out from behind the swinging doors of some cool, darkened beer saloon and, removing their coats, hats and collar, prepare for the fray... An admiring crowd quickly gathers. The selection ended, the leader of the orchestra lowers his cornet from his ruddy countenance, bows low to the crowd surrounding him and to his brave supporters.

In the meantime, the champions of the opposition have... taken their stations on a high platform built over the entrance of the People's Theater. There are three of them. The leader is armed with a violin, which he handles with the daredevil grace and ease of a plowman handling a six shooter. Scarcely less deadly is his execution. Another dark-faced young man with a melancholy cast of countenance strums a huge harp. The third of the challenged musicians defiantly pipes away through a husky clarinet.

These three musicians have only been dallying during the bout of a brass-band men. Now they strike up a lugubrious melody...a stalwart young fellow with lungs of leather adds his voice to their efforts of the instruments. "She stole nine thousand and six hundred", he bellows in the deepest of baritones" Say babe, I know we will be happy after awhile"...

The band across the street hesitates to return the fire. The crowd looks toward them for an answer. Suddenly around the block is heard the discordant blare of an untutored brass band and the voices of men and women upraised in a popular street ditty. But the words are strangely out of joint. They seem to have been adapted from a hymn book and misfitted to the tune. It is the Salvation Army!

Fifty strong, the uniformed Soldiers of the Lord swing into the street in front of the theater and march up toward their Yesler Way barracks, flags flying, torches smoking and sputtering, musicians playing like mad.

The approach of the Army settles it with the brass bands. The [Summer] heat is forgotten and with renewed interest the players await the signal. It comes, and pandemonium reigns... The crowd cheers. The Salvationists are outpointed two to one in the contest, but on they march, happily unconcsious of the fact , leaving the theater band to finish that enliviening melody, "There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight"...

1 comment:

dan said...

Extremely cool sign, and right at street level too. It's a wonder that hasn't been damaged by taggers long ago. "80-TOW BATHS" could be "BON-TON BATHS"???