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Local Legends Almanac 2012

Almanac 2012 Daily Record Daily Record

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Local Legends

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Local Legends

Almanac 2012



PEOPLE OF LEGEND A look at those who helped shaped Kittitas County’s history.


BAGNA CAULDA Garlic, anchovies and olive oil, oh, my! Go behind the scenes with an edible legend.


LIVING LEGENDS Some local legends who are making a mark on Kittitas County today.


WASHOE The Chimpanzee who taught us how to communicate with animals.

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SPORTS LEGENDS Meet 10 people who have made a name for Kittitas County with their athletic achievements.


THE DENMARK SCHOOL The old brick school building in Badger Pocket still ‘lives.’


ELLENSBURG BURNING The Great Fire of 1889 decimated a bustling railroad town with an eye on being the capital.


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THE VOGUE THEATRE The restored theater in Cle Elum has a long history as of entertaining. THE HANGING TREE A rugged Western town retaliates after a double murder downtown.

Ellensburg Public Library

The rubble of the Masonic Lodge at the corner of Pine Street and Fourth Avenue is shown in the wake of the Great Fire of 1889. For more on the fire, see Pages 24-31.

LEGEND SIGHTINGS A photographic tour of some of Kittitas County’s legendary locales — past and present.

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Local Legends

Page 4 | Almanac 2012

People of legend

A look at those who shaped local history

By MICHAEL GALLAGHER assistant editor


he task of listing the most influential people in the history of Kittitas County is one sure to come up short. There are just too many people, including many who may have made a big impact back in the day, but perhaps are not so well remembered now. Nonetheless, local history experts, Sadie Thayer at the Kittitas County Historical Museum and Milton Wagy of the Ellensburg Public Library, agreed to lend a hand by submitting lists of legendary locals. The following is something of a compilation of their suggestions, plus a few people referenced from other historical materials.

More legends See pages 5-8 for more Kittitas County legends including living legends (Page 8) and sports legends (Pages 9-14). Submit additional suggestions at under blogs.

Central Washington University

John and Mary Ellen Shoudy One way to ensure local legendary status is to found the town and/or be its namesake. The Shoudys covered both those bases. The Shoudys arrived in the community in 1871 and purchased the Robber’s Roost trading post from Andrew Splawn and Ben Burch. In 1875 John Shoudy platted the streets for what was first known as Ellen’s Burgh, in honor of his wife, Mary Ellen, pictured above.

Austin Mires

Undated Photo

A.J. Splawn A.J. Splawn and his brothers were some of the earliest settlers in this region, arriving in the Yakima area around 1860. Splawn started a cattle business in 1861 and opened the Robber’s Roost trading post in Ellensburg in 1870. Splawn later went on to be active in state politics and served as the first mayor of North Yakima.

Austin Mires may first come to mind as Ellensburg’s first mayor, but Mires did not confine himself to local politics. He was also a member of the Washington constitutional convention and of the state Legislature as well as serving as the Kittitas County prosecutor and a superior court judge (not at the same time). Mires also is credited with being the first non-Native American to extract blue agates — eventually known as Ellensburg blues. Mires extracted the stones and sent them to Seattle to be set into rings.

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


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Ben Snipes

The story of Ben Snipes is the classic tale of a 19th century man in America. He rode a wagon train west from Iowa, found and lost wealth in the California gold rush, and then went from pretty much owning nothing to running between 2,500 and 3,000 cattle between Oregon and Washington. Snipes eventually made his way to Ellensburg, saw the town had no bank and decided to open one. It promptly burned down in the Great Fire on July 4,1889. He bounced back and reopened not just the Ellensburg bank but a branch in Rolsyn as well.

Ellensburg Public Library

The Ben Snipes Bank at Fourth Avenue and Pearl Street is shown prior to burning down in the 1889 fire.

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Local Legends

Page 6 | Almanac 2012

B.F. & Samuel Craig

John Clymer

Every town needs people with drive, ambition and the willingness to dream big. The Craig brothers fulfilled that role in early day Ellensburg. The brothers built many of the residential homes, including many in the Craig’s Hill neighborhood. The Craig brothers also built what is now known as the Castle but was originally intended to be the governor’s mansion when Ellensburg made its bid to become the state capital.

For much of his life, artist John Clymer may have been Ellensburg’s most famous native son. Clymer earned national notice for his Saturday Evening Post covers — he was second only behind Norman Rockwell for cover art. Clymer’s work continues to be cherished and collected. His is also the namesake of the Clymer Museum of Art in downtown Ellensburg.

Dr. H.E. ‘Doc’ Pfenning

Daily Record file

The creation of the Ellensburg Rodeo involved many people in the community, but much credit is given to Doc Pfenning for the vision and organization skills that led to the first Ellensburg Rodeo in 1923. Pfenning, who was a large animal veterinarian, also organized and produced the first Ellensburg Rodeo Parade, and also organized selection and coronation of the rodeo royalty and negotiated the annual participation of the Yakama Indian Nation. Much of what we now consider rodeo traditions can be traced back to Pfenning.

Father Charles M. Pandosy Missionaries served a trailblazing role in the settlement of the West. In July 1848 Father Charles M. Pandosy established the Immaculate Conception Mission on Manastash Creek. Travelers used the mission structure for shelter until it deteriorated. Pandosy served as an interpreter for the Kittitas tribe in negotiations with the U.S. government.

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Katherina Mayer Murray There are few more cherished institutions than the Ellensburg Public Library. Katherina Mayer Murray had an early understanding of the role of a library in a community. In 1907 she sold land to the city for $1 with the provision it would only (and always) be used for a public library. The original library, built with funds donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, was used from 1910 to 1967, when it was demolished and replaced. Murray also was a member of the Women’s Municipal Improvement Society, which was instrumental in raising the money to equip and furnish the library.

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


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Other notable people

Ida Nason Aronica

n Mr. and Mrs. Tilmons Houser, first permanent family to settle in the Kittitas Valley. n David J. Schnebly, early newspaper editor/ publisher. n William Bullitt, in charge of developing coal mines in Roslyn for the Northern Pacific and is credited with the naming of Roslyn. n Thomas Gamble and Walter J. Reid, founders of Cle Elum. n Walter A. Bull, early pioneer. n Charles P. Cooke, early pioneer and politician. n Ruth Damman, community activist and local historian. n Wayne Hertz, Central Washington University music instructor. n John Moawad, CWU music professor, instrumental in development of jazz program. n Webb Moffett, founder of Ski Lifts Inc., obtained permission from the U.S. Forest Service to install lifts at Snoqualmie Pass in 1937. n Hal Holmes, congressman. n Clifford Kanyor, Ellensburg Daily Record editor and publisher. n Joseph Kelleher, local businessman. n Catherine “Kitty” Moe, local community/arts promoter. n John H. Morgan, local and state educator. n Otto Pautzke, well-known early photographer. n George Beck, CWU geology professor, discovered Ginkgo Petrified Forest. n Alexander Ross, first frontiersman to enter Kittitas Valley. n R.P. Tjossem, operator of early flour mill and ice pond, and involved in soil reclamation. n Morris Jenkins, local historian, early forestry worker with Forest Service and Northern Pacific Railroad, extensive volunteer for a variety of civic organizations. n Willard Chase, founder of the Upper County’s contemporary newspaper, the Northern Kittitas County Tribune and civic booster.

Ida Nason Aronica was the great-granddaughter of Yakama Chief Owhi. Born in the late 1880s, she lived until she was past 100 and dedicated her life to the preservation of her native heritage and culture. The Ida Nason Collection is her personal photo collection of community people and candid shots around town.

— Information gathered from past issues of the Daily Record, historical records and historical websites, such as Ida Nason Collection

Local Legends

Page 8 | Almanac 2012

Living legends

Not all who left their mark are from the distant past

Ruth Harrington Ruth Harrington has touched many people in the community, and many of these people regularly gather in small luncheon and dinner groups to raise money for Central Washington University scholarships. Harrington’s tireless organizational work on this program has done nothing less than help thousands of young people attend college. Harrington also spent many years running the Children’s Museum in downtown Ellensburg. It might be possible to put a dollar figure on scholarship funds raised over the years, but much harder to place a value on the difference a college education has made in the lives of the many recipients.

William ‘Will’ Craven

Central Washington University

James Brooks James Brooks (pictured above with wife, Linda) is more than just a name on a building (Central Washington University Brooks Library), he is a former CWU president and living link to the school’s past. As president from 1961 to 1977, Brooks oversaw the expansion of course offerings beyond teacher preparation as well as the transformation of the campus — the construction of 20 buildings and acquisition of 41 acres. Much of what we view as the campus today took shape during Brooks’ tenure.

Gene Ketzenberg Our wars are thousands of miles away, easily tuned out if we tire of hearing about them on TV or reading about them in the newspaper. Gene Ketzenberg does not tune out family, friends and neighbors serving overseas and because of his work, servicemen and women don’t just feel supported, they are supported by community members back home. Ketzenberg has been the driving organizational force behind care packages sent to troops overseas. He has been a consistent voice rallying support for our troops. His work is appreciated around the globe.

Daily Record file

Fred Krueger For generations of Upper County students, Mr. Fred Krueger was the teacher who taught them about local history. For years Krueger’s Cle Elum-Roslyn High School students completed projects on local history that were displayed at the high school. Krueger’s work in preserving and celebrating local history also included extensive oral history interviews with long-time residents and a large local history photo collection. The oral histories, photos and other materials are part of the Frederick Krueger Collection at Central Washington University.

William Craven was the first African-American elected as mayor in the state of Washington when he was elected mayor of Roslyn in 1976. Craven, along with other members of the Craven family, has been instrumental in preserving and celebrating African-American history in Roslyn through the annual black pioneer picnic each summer, and through maintenance the Mount Olivet Cemetery in the Roslyn historical cemetery complex.

Donna Nylander If chamber of commerce types wanted to come up with an event that brings hundreds of people to town, they couldn’t go too wrong with a Friends of Donna event. Donna Nylander has spent much of her life as one of the driving forces behind Ellensburg’s children theater productions. She also spent several years on the Ellensburg City Council. To a large extent, the city’s status as a Tree City U.S.A. can be attributed to Nylander’s leadership on that issue. While the many trees in town may be her longest-lived legacy, the many people who hold such wonderful memories of performing as children in productions organized and staged by Nylander may be her most memorable accomplishment.

Local Legends

Almanac 2012

Sports legends


Page 9

Making a name for Kittitas County with athletic aplomb Playing like a champion The Kittitas Valley also has produced several interscholastic state and national athletic team championships, listed below. Since high school classifications have changed greatly through the years, the names of the classes then and now are listed, with the current class in parentheses. Central Washington Univ.

Brian Myrick / Daily Record

Nicholson Pavilion (named after Leo, portrait at upper left) sits on the CWU campus along Dean Nicholson Boulevard (portrait upper right). The father-son coaching duo won a combined 1,114 games for the Wildcats.

here. Some found their way to the north side of town and made ittitas County names for themselves yields majorleague talent and at Central Washington University. And, in the sideline institutions. It interest of full disclohas produced some of the best in the world at sure, not nearly all of them are listed here. their respective disciplines. Heck, it can even That goes for the entire sport of rodeo because, claim an ESPY winner. as one person consulted For a small populafor this story wisely put tion base, the Kittitas Valley is big on sporting it, someone inevitably would be left out in any legends in a variety of endeavors. Many local rodeo list. were born or raised What we do have,


By JOSH PETRIE sports editor

Sports legends Sports legends are divided into the areas in which they excelled. Page 10: Coaches Page 11: Multi-sport stars Page 12: International sensations Page 13: On the gridiron Page 14: On the diamond

however, is a list of 11 athletes and coaches who have staked their claim to a place in the annals of this area’s historic athletic landscape.

Football: 1995 NAIA Division II co-champion Men’s swimming and diving: 1984, ‘86-87 NAIA; program no longer exists. Women’s swimming and diving: 1986 NAIA; program no longer exists. Wrestling: 1971, ‘74 NAIA; program no longer exists Ellensburg High School

Boys basketball: 1932 Class A (4A), 1972 Class AA (3A). Boys track and field: 1939 single-class (4A), 1997 Class AA (3A). Football: 1973 Class AA (3A); also claims 1970, ‘72 mythical state championships (led AP and/or UPI state polls at end of season). Volleyball: 1988 Class AA (3A). Cle Elum-Roslyn HS

Boys basketball: 1959 Class A (1A). Girls basketball: 1981-83, ‘85, ‘93 Class A (1A). Kittitas High School

Baseball: 1988 Class B (2B). Boys track and field: 2004 Class B (2B) co-champion. Girls track and field: 2000 Class B (2B).

Local Legends

Page 10 | Almanac 2012

Coaches Pat Fitterer A multi-sport star at Ellensburg High School and Central Washington University, Pat Fitterer became a basketball coach after graduating from Central in 1975. He took his first head coaching job at Highland High School in 1977 and led the Scotties to a state championship in 1988. He then coached at Kentwood and Sehome, earning another title with the latter in 1996, before returning east to spend seven years at Eisenhower and, so far, two at his alma mater. On Feb. 25, 2012, the Bulldogs defeated Toppenish 64-61 for Fitterer’s 700th high school head coaching victory as he became just the second person in Washington to reach that milestone. Fitterer also was an assistant coach for USA Basketball’s Junior Select National Team for the 2006 Nike Hoop Summit, and the head coach in 2007. Nine of the 10 players he coached on the ‘07

Brian Myrick / Daily Record

EHS alum and head basketball coach Pat Fitterer has won 700 high school basketball games in Washington. squad have played in the National Basketball Association and the 10th, Kyle Singler, is playing in Europe.

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Father-son duo Leo, above, and Dean Nicholson, below, set the gold standard for Wildcat basketball — which is played in (Leo) Nicholson Pavilion on Dean Nicholson Boulevard — with 1,114 combined victories.

Leo and Dean Nicholson Leo and Dean Nicholson are Central Washington University basketball, from their 1,114 combined victories, more than any other father-son combination, to their namesake pavilion (named after Leo) and boulevard (named after Dean) on the CWU campus. From 1929-90, a Nicholson was patrolling the Wildcat sideline. Leo took over at Central after earning a 91-9 record at Bothell High School and winning the 1927 state championship. He continued his winning ways in Ellensburg, earning a 505-281 record over 33 seasons and winning nine conference titles. With the elder Nicholson as coach, and Dean as a player, CWU made its first NAIA national tournament appearance. After playing for his father and coaching more than a decade at Puyallup High School, Dean Nicholson took over at Central in 1964 and often won with groups of retreads who were seeking one last shot to play college ball. His teams dominated

NAIA basketball in the Northwest, winning 22 District 1 championships, reaching six Final Fours and advancing to the 1970 national final, which it lost to Kentucky State. He was the 17th coach in men’s basketball history to win 600 games, and he was inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Local Legends

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Page 11

Multi-sport stars Kayla Standish It didn’t matter whether it was volleyball, basketball or track and field, Kayla Standish was one of the top female athletes in the state at Ellensburg High School. She chose to continue her basketball career at Gonzaga University, and she has been a key factor in that Bulldog squad’s unprecedented success. Standish was a four-time all-league and all-state basketball player in Ellensburg, scoring 2,076 points and leading the Bulldogs to four state playoff appearances and three trophies, including a second-place finish as a senior. She also was a two-time Associated Press Class 2A Player of the Year in 2007 and ‘08. At 6-foot-2, Standish was one of the best jumpers and hurdlers in the state, finishing in the top five 10 times in the Class 3A and 2A meets. She was second in the 100-meter hurdles as a

Ja’Warren Hooker In Ellensburg, in the state, even in the nation, nobody was faster than Ja’Warren Hooker. At Ellensburg High School, he ran for a then-career-record 3,549 yards and 48 touchdowns before heading to the University of Washington. Hooker was a Seattle Times Blue Chip recruit as one of the top five players in the state, and he returned a kickoff for an 89-yard touchdown the first time he touched the ball as a Husky. On the track, Hooker won a record eight Class AA (now 3A) state championships in the sprints, and he pulled off the 100-, 200- and 400-meter triple his junior and senior years. He not only set state records in those events as a senior (10.35, 21.23 and 46.23 seconds respectively), but he almost single-handedly led EHS to the 1997 boys team title. He had the fastest times in the nation in the 100 (10.27) and 400 (46.23), was second in the 200 (21.20), and won the U.S. Junior Track and Field Championships in the 100. He became a national collegiate champion as a UW freshman by winning the 55-meter title at the 1998 NCAA Indoor Championships, and


junior and senior, and the triple jump as a junior. In volleyball, she started three years and led the Bulldogs to three state playoff appearances, including a second-place 3A finish as a sophomore and a third-place 2A effort as a senior. At Gonzaga, she was a contributor off the bench for her first two seasons, then became a full-time starter as a junior. She averaged 17.1 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, but saved her biggest impact for the NCAA tournament, when she had back-to-back 30-point games (a program first) in the first two rounds and helped propel the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight. As a senior, she completed the West Coast Conference tournament with team-high averages of 15.8 points and 7.7 boards, along with 46 blocked shots and 45 steals in 31 games.

EHS alumna Kayla Standish, now a senior at Gonzaga University, excelled as a threesport star in high school before becoming a force for a Zags squad that recently reached its third straight Sweet 16.

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Ellensburg High School alum Ja’Warren Hooker runs during a University of Washington track meet in the late 1990s. he was a 10-time All-American for the Huskies. He was part of the six-member pool on the U.S. 4x400 relay team at the Sydney Olympics, but didn’t compete as the Americans won gold.

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Local Legends

Page 12 | Almanac 2012

International sensations Patrick Deneen Patrick Deneen was born into skiing — his parents operated the Hyak ski area, now Summit East of The Summit at Snoqualmie Pass, and his grandfather was owner/operator of the local shop. The Cle Elum resident is the best freestyle mogul skier in the U.S., and one of the best in the world. He grew up an alpine racer, becoming a top junior downhill competitor, before focusing on moguls. He earned a spot on the U.S. Ski Team in 2004, made his World Cup debut in 2005 at age 17, and was the World Cup freestyle Rookie of the Year in 2008. He has earned 11 career podium finishes as of March 5, including two victories — the moguls in Ruka, Finland, in December 2010, and the dual moguls in Naeba, Japan, on Feb. 19 of this year. Deneen won nationals in moguls in 2011, and won the same event in 2009 at the World Ski Championships in Inawashiro, Japan. He was the freestyle champion for the U.S. at the 2010 Olympic Trials, and he competed in the Vancouver Winter Games that same year.

Photo by Michel Maindru

Ellensburg’s Jonah Street competes in the Rally Dakar Argentina-Chile in Mendoza, Argentina, January 2009.

Jonah Street


Cle Elum resident Patrick Deneen competes in qualifying for the 2010 Winter Olympics at Cypress Mountain in Vancouver, B.C., in February 2010.

During the course of his career, which ended this January after the Dakar Rally, Jonah Street, an Ellensburg native, was one of the world’s elite rally motorcycle riders. He raced on six continents and competed in, and won, some of his sport’s most prestigious races. Street was a fixture at the top of the leaderboard in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, winning the Baja 500 race three years in a row (1999-2001) and finishing second in the Baja 1000 in 1999 and 2001. In 2006, he won his class in the Baja 500 and finished third overall. Street won the Best in the Desert and SCORE series championships in 2001, and competed in six Dakar Rally races from 2006-12. He earned stage victories in 2009 and ‘11, and finished as high as seventh in 2010. He also won Rally Mongolia in 2010.

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Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 13

On the gridiron Jon Kitna


Jon Kitna was a football and baseball player when he arrived at Central Washington University from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, but he found his greatest success on the gridiron. At CWU, he became one of the most prolific passers in program history and led the Wildcats to the 1995 NAIA Division II championship game, where they tied to share the national title. An undrafted free agent, he was the World League of American Football MVP in 1997, when he led the Barcelona Dragons to the World Bowl championship. He found a home in the National Football League with the Seattle Seahawks, became their starter by the end of the 1998 season and stayed with the team until signing with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001. He earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2003 with the Bengals, with whom he played until 2005. He continued his career with the Detroit Lions (2006-08) and Dallas Cowboys (2009-11) before retiring and returning to Lincoln as the head football coach. Over the course of his career, Kitna made 124

Jon Kitna, a Central Washington University alum, barks out instructions while leading the Dallas Cowboy offense during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in October 2010. starts and 141 appearances, and threw the ball 4,442 times, completing 2,677 passes for 29,745 yards, 169 touchdowns and 165 interceptions.

Serving Kittitas Valley Since 1946

Brian Habib An Ellensburg native and University of Washington alum, Brian Habib went from a 10th-round National Football League draft pick to a cornerstone on a Super Bowl champion team — with multiple position switches along the way. Habib was a tight end for Ellensburg High School in the 1980s, but played his UW career from 1984-87 on the defensive line. He was the 264th pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1988 NFL Draft, and eventually switched to the offensive line. He started eight games for the Vikings in 1991, then started all but one game, mostly at right guard, for his final eight seasons. He went from the Vikings to the Denver Broncos in 1993, and he was on the line for Terrell Davis’ first three seasons, when Davis ran for 4,405 yards and 35 touchdowns. He played for the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII, which they won 31-24 against the Green Bay Packers. Habib went to the Seattle Seahawks in 1998 and played his

According to, he engineered 18 fourth-quarter comebacks and 22 game-winning drives in his career.

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Ellensburg High School alum Brian Habib looms large on the defensive line during his college career at UW in the mid-1980s. final two seasons there. He now is the offensive line coach for Del Norte High School in Poway, Calif., near San Diego.

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Local Legends

Page 14 | Almanac 2012

On the diamond

Dave Heaverlo Dave Heaverlo was born in Ellensburg and began his baseball career in the Thorp Little League. He graduated from Moses Lake High School and returned to the Kittitas Valley to pitch for Central Washington University, where he was on district championship teams in 1970 and ‘71. A starter in college, Heaverlo became a reliever in the professional ranks and made his debut with the San Francisco Giants on April 14, 1975, pitching the ninth inning of a 3-1 loss to the San Diego Padres in front of 987 people. He became known as a jokester and, at one point with the Oakland Athletics, shaved his head and said he wouldn’t let his hair grow until he was traded. Then, when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners, he kept his head shaved anyway. In seven seasons with the Giants (1975-77), A’s (1978-79, ‘81) and Mariners (1980), he made 356 big-league appearances, all in relief, and went 26-26 with 26 saves and a 3.41 ERA. He also had three hits in 13 career at-bats. Photo by Blake Wolf

Central Washington University softball players Liz Wallace, left, and Mallory Holtman carry Western Oregon outfielder Sara Tucholsky around the bases after an unfortunate injury kept Tucholsky from running the bases under her own power. The act earned the Wildcat duo an ESPY (an award given by sports network ESPN) for the Best Moment of 2008. Holtman, who now is the CWU softball coach, also holds the school record in a long list of offensive categories.

Mallory Holtman A four-time all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference performer from White Salmon, Mallory Holtman is the most prolific hitter in Central Washington University softball history, holding the career records for runs, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases and even sacrifice flies. She is the Wildcats’ current head coach. But it was what an opposing player accomplished that gave Holtman national exposure. When Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky hit her first career home run against the Wildcats in a 2008 game, she missed first base, went back toward the bag and went down in a heap. Her right knee had given

out. The initial ruling on the field was that Tucholsky either had to stop at first and be replaced, or be ruled out if she received assistance from her own teammates, coaches or trainers as an active runner. At that point, in the second inning of a scoreless game with postseason implications for both squads, Holtman, CWU’s first baseman, and shortstop Liz Wallace carried Tucholsky around the bases, stopping so she could touch each base with her left foot. WOU took a 3-0 lead and won the game 4-2, and the act of sportsmanship earned the ESPY award (given annually by national sports network ESPN) that year for Best Moment.

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Local Legends

Page 16 | Almanac 2012

Brian Myrick / Daily Record

The exterior of the former Denmark School building along Badger Pocket Road east of Ellensburg in February 2012. Now a private residence, the school building still holds many memories for former students.

The Denmark School

The old brick school in Badger Pocket still ‘lives’


By MIKE JOHNSTON senior writer

hose driving on Badger Pocket Road for the first time southeast of Ellensburg will likely do a double take as they pass a stately, red-brick building reflecting the unmistakable visage of an old public school with high, front windows and a broad, stair-stepped entry.

They’ll wonder what a school is doing all by itself about seven miles from Ellensburg in the midst of fertile agricultural ground in a rural neighborhood known as the Denmark area. A quick glance at vehicles parked in front, a mailbox and the accruements of a home scattered on its front lawn leads to the conclusion it’s a private home, albeit a very large one. It’s about 15,000 square feet with a full gym that’s close to 7,000 square feet. Although the circa-1938 building no longer houses rambunctious students, it still houses teachers: Sandy and Missy Stevenson. The couple have three children, Reece Ravet, 17, Shea Stevenson, 4, and Scout Stevenson, 2. Missy and Sandy both work in the Wahluke School District in Mattawa in Grant County, a

commute to the east across the Columbia River. Sandy has taught there seven years and Missy has been an elementary school principal for 13 years. The couple, originally living in Ellensburg, purchased the aging building five years ago with plans to remodel and restore it.

Great care

Missy Stevenson said the couple has put tens of thousands of dollars into the building’s interior renovation as a home. They’ve taken great care in their work knowing the building is a part of the heritage of many families in the Kittitas Valley.

See Denmark, Page 19

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 17

Old time schools A strong sense of pioneer independence came with the Danish families and other early-day farmers settling in the Kittitas Valley southeast of Ellensburg before and after 1900. The Denmark area, next to what’s called the Badger Pocket area farther to the southeast, roughly encompasses lands within the borders of No. 6 to Badger Pocket roads and Tjossem to Thrall roads. The farms were more diversified in what they raised in those days, and included sugar beets, wheat, oats and other grains, sweet corn and hay. Many had a few dairy cows and sold milk to local creameries run by dairy associations. The Denmark and Badger Pocket schools were part of local School District 12 which was established in 1889. Records and information from the Kittitas County Historical Museum indicate an initial wooden school house was built in about 1891 and was later moved to the

Kittitas County Historical Museum

The old Denmark-Badger Pocket school buildings are pictured here sometime between 1898 and early 1910.

north of what is now the intersection of Denmark and Sorenson roads. There it was later enlarged, and a gymnasium and a

teacher’s cottage were added. In 1910 a second one-room District 12 school was built, the Badger Pocket school.

Classes were conducted at both sites until about 1924. District 12 later consolidated with the Kittitas School District.

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Local Legends

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Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 19

Teacher takes a look back at the Denmark School By BARB OWEN Special to The Daily Record

Brian Myrick/ Daily Record

The former lunchroom at the Denmark School building along Badger Pocket Road east of Ellensburg now serves as a living area for the current residents. See Pages 20-21 for more photos from inside the Denmark School.


from Page 16

“We have many visitors that stop by year round that have attended the school or had a family member who did,” Missy said. “It’s always great to hear the stories that they have to tell. It is very evident that this school has many special memories ... I’m proud my husband and I have taken the effort to restore such a special school.” Despite their busy schedule, the couple doesn’t mind people stopping by the school to revive their remembrance of years gone by. “The most amazing story was probably when one of the visitors stated that she remembered when her first-grade teacher came into the classroom crying because she just found out the family farm was sold because the freeway was being put in,” Stevenson said. Since they both work in public

schools, Stevenson said she and her husband have fun saying “we are at school” because they are when at home, too. She said the old school, with its rural setting, is a great place to live and raise their sons. It is surrounded by beautiful, quiet countryside with a relaxing atmosphere.

Saying goodbye

In early February the couple decided to sell “our school” in an effort to move closer to their jobs in Mattawa. Their son Shea will soon begin school there. The real estate agent listing the school, Sinden Harum of Coldwell Banker Lavigne in Wenatchee, said the one-ofa-kind property is generating lots of interest. It includes a 1,140-square-foot, threebedroom home on the nearly four-acre site that once was a

home for the school’s custodians and bus drivers. Harum said she was involved in the sale of the property to the previous owners before the Stevensons, and also was involved with the Stevensons’ purchase five years ago. “It’s been great witnessing what the owners have done to improve and upgrade the building over the years,” Harum said. “It’s a very unique property with a history all its own. The owners obviously have taken restoration seriously.” The Stevensons hope for a purchaser who also has a serious attitude for its continued use and preservation. “We’re hoping that somebody buys it that is as passionate as we are about the school and understands that there are countless, fond memories (about the school) that many local residents hold dear to their heart,” Missy said.

I taught first grade at Denmark from 1966 to 1970 when the school froze over. It was an extremely cold winter and the flu was raging through the community. Carl Maw, (district) superintendent and the janitors were all down with the flu at the crucial time. I was a city girl and had been teaching in city schools so it was a delight to find a school with a one-acre, grassy playground. We had four classrooms and four grades: first through fourth, a room for each level. Virginia Erickson taught second-grade, Leah Gibb taught third and John Webb taught fourth. John was our head teacher. We had a large wooden floored gym that we used for our school programs: Christmas and spring. It was also used for local basketball games. I used to bring my own children out to play at the school when I came out to prepare my lesson plans and work in the room. In bad weather they loved whizzing around the gym floor on those little square moving dollies on wheels. At the end of the school year we had a community picnic with sack races, three-legged races, relay races, etc. John Webb remembers a time when the ants in his classroom’s ant farm were dying so he sent a couple of kids out to an ant hill on the playground to bring in ants for the farm. He said there was a war in the ant farm between the wild ones and the tame ones. One day we were talking about the world on the playground. One little boy turned as he pointed to all the hills that surround the valley and said, “This is the world.” I had three little boys who steadfastly refused to learn Sally, Dick and Jane. But when I taught them phonics they made steady progress and caught up to the rest of the class by the end of the year. Barb Owen, 80, is the author of “Making the Grade: Plucky Schoolmarms of Kittitas Country.” She also was a teacher at the Denmark School before it closed.

Page 20 | Almanac 2012

Local Legends

Inside the Denmark School

Brian Myrick / Daily Record

Now a private residence, the school building still holds many memories for former students including a cafeteria area with an “EAT” sign, a working drinking fountain and desks and chairs lining a hallway that leads to a door marked “Office.”

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 21

Inside the Denmark School

Brian Myrick / Daily Record

The gym and basketball court in the former Denmark School, now a private residence, still gets plenty of use from Reece Ravet, resident of the house and member of the Ellensburg High School basketball team.

The refurbished gym: A young athlete’s dream Missy Stevenson said her family has lived in and owned the old Denmark School for five years. The family has remodeled three out of the four classrooms,

the principal’s office, the kitchen and one of the locker rooms. “It is approximately 15,000 square feet with the gym being close to 7,000 (square feet).

The bleachers and the boxes above that were used to keep score/stats,” she said. “The gym gets a lot of use with our son Reece Ravet (Ellensburg High

School varsity basketball team member) and Shea and Scout. The gym is a dream for kids of all ages.” — Mike Johnston

Local Legends

Page 22 | Almanac 2012

Remembering the old days at Denmark By MIKE JOHNSTON senior writer The red-brick school on Badger Pocket Road was built, according to records and memories, about 1938 and was last used as a public school in the 1969-70 school year by the Kittitas School District. Since then, as local residents recall, it has been used, off and on, as a private school and for other purposes. In most recent years, it has been used as a home with much restoration work. Karen (Sorenson) Eslinger attended fourth-grade at the school. It had eight grades in four rooms, which were later narrowed to firstthrough fourth-grade, with students going to Kittitas for grades beyond that. She thinks it housed up to 80 children. “We always thought it was such a big building,” Eslinger, 72, said

recently. “It had a great gym and a balcony around it with good seating and even a small stage for programs. It was wonderful. It was always kept in top condition.” She remembers teacher Edna Schnebly, who often played piano for school plays and programs, and custodians and bus drivers Don and Mae McPherson and Homer Bolton. And in the cold winter months, some of the students’ mothers banded together to cook and serve hot lunches from the school kitchen. “Oh, we must have had an acre or more for our playground around the school,” Eslinger estimated. “It was just field grass, but it was always fun. I don’t remember any adult supervision on the playground at all; if someone got hurt or there was a fight, someone would always go run to tell a teacher and that was that.”


Avoiding trouble

Not many students got into trouble on the playground, she recalls, “because we knew if we did get in trouble at school we’d be in a lot more trouble with our parents when we got home.” Helen Sabin, 82, said for a time her family lived across Badger Pocket Road from the school, making it easy for her children to attend. “It was a good school with good teachers,” Sabin said. “The kids could go to the playground and have fun when they wanted.” Although there were hot lunches available, Sabin remembers the family didn’t have extra funds for that and all her children took a lunch from home.

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school from about 1958 through 1962. “I remember the gym was cold,” said Craig Sabin who also remembered its coal furnace. “It had balconies on each side. It was pretty dimly lit. We had tumbling mats on the stage sometimes for PE. ...The playground was fun outside.” Sabin also recalls a huge swing set and teeter-totters, snow forts and snowball fights in winter and making grass huts out of sticks and grass in spring. His teachers also came to mind: first-grade teacher Mrs. Neeves, second-grade teacher Virginia Erickson, third-grade teacher Leah Gibb and in fourth-grade Mrs. McQueen. “In first grade I remember taking naps on a blanket laid out on the hardwood floor,” Sabin said. “I remember the tall ceilings and big windows.

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Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 23

We ate our lunches in our rooms at our desks. The desks were wooden and stuck together in rows — like four or five desks together. It was a fun school to go to. There weren’t that many kids.” Frozen pipes were to blame when the school closed, Kevin Sabin recalled. He attended third-grade there. As he recalls, the district may have believed a repair job would be too expensive and decided to move Denmark School children to the building in Kittitas. Kevin Sabin remembers finishing the school year in the multipurpose room in Kittitas with at least one other class in the same room. Courtesy of Karen Eslinger

Karen Sorenson, now Karen Eslinger, fifth from the left in the second row from the top, smiles for the camera in this 1947 first- and second-grade class photo in front of the brick Denmark School.

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Local Legends

Page 24 | Almanac 2012

Ellensburg Public Library

A photo, taken within days of the July 4,1889, fire, shows the destruction of a bustling railroad town with its sights set on being Washington’s capital. The image, looking northwest from Second Avenue, includes views of charred lots that once held homes and buildings as well as, just right of center in the distance, the hollowed shell of the Ben Snipes Bank which was on the southeast corner of Pearl Street and Fourth Avenue (where Wells Fargo is today). See the map and accompanying photos on Pages 26-27 for more on the damage caused by the blaze.

Ellensburg burning

A bustling railroad town is rocked by a devastating fire


By RYAN JOHNSTON staff writer

magine this fictional scenario: It’s 10:30 p.m. July 4, 2012. Thousands of Ellensburg residents are headed back from West Ellensburg Park, where they’ve just spent the evening oohing and ahhing as the Fourth of July celebration lit up the sky with a dazzling display of fireworks. As they approach downtown driving east along Fifth Avenue, however, they notice the eastern horizon is aglow, though no fireworks were set off in that direction.

A horrible comprehension dawns on each carful of revelers as they get to the intersection of Main Street and Fifth. A glance to the south, toward Pizza Rita, the Daily Record and Fitterer’s Furniture offers a stomach-churning display. Flames have engulfed the pizza store along with JJ’s on Main. Worse, Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue was at the celebration at the park and is caught behind a long line of traffic as firefighters work toward the source of the blaze. For the 300 or so folks taking part in the outdoor dance at Rotary Pavilion, a calm, collected evacuation of the area was carried off before a strong (even for Ellensburg) northwesterly wind pushed the fire southeast toward the downtown core. It’s not long before the pavilion and Wells Fargo’s ATM center on the northwest corner of Fourth and Pearl are reduced to ashes. Shortly thereafter the Davidson Building and the Wells Fargo main branch have ignited as well. Likewise the flames have leapt from the Tav across the street and are turning the sofas, beds and dining room sets at Fitterer’s into so much kindling.

See Fire, Page 28

More on the Fire A repeat not likely: Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue fire marshal Joe Seemiller explains why a similar catastrophe is unlikely in 2012. See Page 25. Map it out: A grid of the downtown core outlines which blocks burned and provides a geographic perspective on historic photos. See Page 26-27. Slowing it down: Learn how the tireless efforts of the townspeople helped keep the 1889 blaze from causing even more damage. See Page 28. By the numbers: Some facts and statistics associated with Ellensburg’s Great Fire. See Page 31. Library presentation: Milton Wagy will give a presentation on the fire April 6 at Ellensburg Library.

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 25

Fire marshal: Similar blaze is unlikely in modern times By RYAN JOHNSTON staff writer It’s highly unlikely that a fire would level downtown Ellensburg today. Modern building codes and technology would keep the fire from spreading in such a devastating manner, said Joe Seemiller, fire marshal for Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue. “Our water supply is better (than in Ellensburg’s early days),” he said. “The newer buildings that have gone up (since 1889) meet either modern fire codes, or the ones in place when they went up.” Moreover, the fact that KVFR is staffed by trained, skilled crews of professional firefighters, makes the disastrous fire of 1889 unlikely in modern times. “(Today) we have a professional fire department that is well-equipped,” Seemiller said. “I’d stack our guys against just about anybody in the state.

“The whole science of fire investigating has come leaps and bounds in just the past 30 years. ... (Today) the investigation approach is much, much more scientific. If you can’t validate something with science, that’s not going to fly.” Joe Seemiller, Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue fire marshal “We have a mutual aid agreement with Yakima, so if we had a really big fire, they’d be here to help in an hour maybe two at most,” Seemiller said, noting that, though no official agreement is in place, personnel from Wenatchee and Cle Elum likely would come to Ellensburg’s aid as well. And Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue wouldn’t put all its crews in one spot, leaving personnel stuck behind traffic, as mentioned in the fictional account (on Page 23). “The first year that we had the

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Fourth of July display here, we did observe there were some traffic issues, and we adjusted that so we wouldn’t be trapped,” Seemiller said. “We also have two stations in Ellensburg and another one in the county not too far out, so we have a lot of places that we can draw resources from if one crew is tied up with an emergency.”

Arson investigations

Furthermore, modern arson investigations are extremely


efficient at determining the cause and origin of a fire, so, even if said fire occurred, its onset would not remain a mystery for long. “The whole science of fire investigating has come leaps and bounds in just the past 30 years,” Seemiller said. “(In the late 19th century) people in my position were taken at their word without any real way to validate their positions … (Today) the investigation approach is much, much more scientific. If you can’t validate something with science, that’s not going to fly. “Also, on a large fire, I wouldn’t be the only investigator. You may get an investigator from one or more insurance companies, or an equipment manager from a company whose equipment was involved in the fire. Going further, if it is related to terrorism, you’d have state and/or federal investigators involved … there’s just a lot more oversight.”


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Local Legends

Page 26 | Almanac 2012

Fifth Avenue

7 1


Sprague Street

Third Avenue

Ruby Street


Pine Street

Pearl Street

Main Street

Water Street

Fourth Avenue

6 4

Second Avenue


First Avenue

Indicates block was mostly, or completely burned

Denotes a block that did not burn

Photos and information The photos and information on Pages 26-27 are courtesy of the Ellensburg Public Library and librarian Milton Wagy. The diagram of burned blocks above is derived from the recordings of Gerrit Deblaing (on file at the library), a traveling Dutch nobleman and amateur historian who visited Ellensburg in the early 1900s to document the Great Fire.

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 27

On the map

The damage caused by the Great Fire of 1889 1. Johnson Hotel The Johnson Hotel sat in the space that currently holds Rotary Pavilion and The Cowboy, Ellensburg’s famous bull statue. On the night of the 1889 fire, about 300 revelers were at a ball on the third floor of the Johnson Building. All of the people present, once alerted of the coming fire, calmly exited the building to safety through a single doorway.

4. View from Water Street looking east along Third Avenue

2. Snipes Bank The Ben Snipes Bank, along with most of the money in it, burned to the ground during the Ellensburgh fire. The bank sat on the southeast corner of Pearl Street and Fourth Avenue. The bank was quickly rebuilt and, behind a facade added in the middle of the 1900s, is currently a Wells Fargo bank. At right is the post-fire shell of the bank. See Page 4 for an image from 1888 before the building was burned.

5. View from Main Street looking north from Second Avenue

3. Masonic Lodge The Masonic Lodge on the northwest corner of Pine Street and Fourth Avenue had been completed less than a year before the fire of 1889 gutted the structure along with much of downtown Ellensburg. Over the years, however, the space has been reutilized and the column, visible at the far right of this photo, remains in place and visible from the street as part of the modern Raw Space music venue.

7. J.S. Anthony grocery store Though no photo of the building is known to exist, this is the spot along Main Street (roughly where Pizza Rita is today) where the fire originated.

6. View from Pearl Street looking north from Second Avenue

Local Legends

Page 28 | Almanac 2012

Extinguishing the blaze The Great Fire of 1889 burned down much of Ellensburgh just as the town felt it was gaining momentum in its campaign to be the capital of the newly-formed state of Washington. The fire eliminated most buildings on 12 of 20 city blocks downtown and was extinguished mostly by the use of carts and hand pumps, acquired in large part due to an earlier, less catastrophic fire in the town in 1886. Though Ellensburgh didn’t have the modern fire-fighting equipment in use nowadays, the efforts of the townspeople were not entirely in vain, as recounted in “An Illustrated History of Klickitat, Yakima and Kittitas Counties.” (available at the Ellensburg Public Library). From pages 289-290:

“’By superhuman effort,’ says a paper of the time, ‘the Lynch block, the Ellensburg National Bank, the old City hotel and all that portion of the city between Pearl and Fifth … was saved from destruction. “’The greatest effort was made to save the City hotels, directly opposite the Masonic temple, on Fourth and Pine. The water supply, meager enough at first, was now almost exhausted, but men got on top of the building with hose and a constant stream was kept flowing over the roof and down the sides until the Temple fire had ceased and danger from that direction no longer threatened. “’This effort saved the north side of Fourth street, the Baptist church, the public school building and at least 50 other buildings.’”


from Page 24

Throughout the night and into the early morning firefighters valiantly battle the inferno, but no sooner have they controlled one spot, then another fire crops up elsewhere as the blaze picks its way through town with little regard for historical value or property. As dawn peaks over the Kittitas Valley, the flames have mercifully subsided, and, miraculously, no one has died and precious few are seriously injured. Holiday closures and the time of day ensured few were present in the buildings that burned, and quick, efficient action by emergency personnel ensured those whose homes were in the blaze’s path made it to safety. The same cannot be said for the majority of the city’s signature structures. The Lynch Building, which housed Pearl Street Books and Shoes 2 Boot among other businesses, was spared by the

path of the wind, but the rest of Pearl Street from Fifth to First is in ashes. Likewise Pine Street. As Fitterer’s burned, the flames crossed Main Street to the west and destroyed the historic Palace Cafe and the rest of the building that once was home to Record Printing. From Woods Ace Hardware to both downtown D&M Coffee shops, landmarks have crumbled. The skeleton of the Wells Fargo bank looms over the town, but the inside has been gutted, as has the Raw Space music venue. The flames spared Safeway, but in the four-square block radius along Ruby and Sprague streets to the south homes and businesses alike have been erased. The Ellensburg Public Library just barely escaped the mayhem, but the Kittitas County Historical Museum across the street is gone.

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Local Legends Just barely spared the catastrophe, the Daily Record hits the stands at noon. The newspaper reports the building of origin, but few answers are available as to how and why the fire started. As the weeks pass, and the damage totals reach dizzying heights, Ellensburg bands together and vows to rebuild bigger and better, regardless the adversity. But still a question remains: How did this happen?

The Great Fire: July 4, 1889

The account above is, of course, pure fiction. But in 1889, the scene was a waking nightmare for a growing town eager to make its mark in the union’s newest state. Washington was admitted to the union in February 1889 with ratification planned in November, and the search was on for a capital. Ellensburgh (spelling as of 1889), a bustling railroad town in the heart of the soon-to-be state, was brimming with optimism that it would outpace rivals such as Olympia and North Yakima for the honor. It was with that in mind that civic leaders such as Mayor Austin Mires were in Olympia for the statehood meetings on July 4, 1889. The town Mires would

Almanac 2012

return to, however, was not the one he left. Following an afternoon celebrating Independence Day, most of Ellensburgh’s 4,000 or so residents were hunkering down for a good night’s sleep as a particularly brutal wind whipped through the city. Before most of them could drift off to sleep, though, a waking nightmare engulfed the town and proceeded, much like the fictional account above, to lay ruin to much of the town’s pride and joy. All accounts agree the fire started at J.S. Anthony’s grocery store along Main Street between Fourth and Fifth — about where JJ’s or Pizza Rita is today — but no consensus exists on how or why. The Johnson House, which sits where Rotary Pavilion is today, burned to the ground. But not before the 300 guests at a ball upstairs had filed out — “calmly and politely,” says Ellensburg local history librarian Milton Wagy — and reached safety. Indeed, the townspeople dodged fatalities and escaped with but a few second and third degree burns, but the buildings did not. With the exception of the Lynch Building on the southwest corner of Fifth and Pearl

and the courthouse, which sits in the same spot today (though in a different building), not much of town from Fifth Avenue south was saved. The Ben Snipes bank, and all the money within, was hollowed out. The newly built Masonic Lodge on the northwest corner of Fourth and Pine was similarly gutted (though a stone column at the building’s southeastern corner remains to this day as part of Raw Space). The Davidson Building “survived” by virtue of being just a foundation, and was completed on schedule later that year. Newspaper accounts from the time quote residents of North Yakima, dozens of miles to the south, as having seen a glow in the northern sky.


As alluded to, however, no one could finger a culprit. Some claimed it must have been a saboteur from Yakima or Olympia, out to sink a rival for the capital. One newspaper account at the time refers to “red cards found among the rubble reading ‘You have no pity, we show no mercy.” Some people today point to this as evidence that



Page 29

racial strife between Native Americans and/or Chinese railroad workers and the white townsfolk provided motivation. Still others are certain that it was simply a tragic accident. “Everyone has theories,” Wagy said. “But none are right. … It was probably just a lantern — you know they had kerosene lanterns at that time — that got kicked over into the hay.”

The red cards

Charlie Hansen, a retired fire inspector and amateur historian from Tacoma, believes those red cards indicate something more sinister. “If these cards were there … if that was true, it pretty much eliminates accidentals,” Hansen said. “But how are you going to prove it’s true?” Therein lies the rub, but Hansen thinks he’s onto something. Though the cards are mentioned in only one newspaper account, it’s based on an interview with Ellensburg resident Eugene Wilson who was running a local general store for a regional company based on the West Side.



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See Fire, Page 30

Local Legends

Page 30 | Almanac 2012


from Page 29

Wilson’s interview with a Tacoma newspaper while on a restocking trip following the fire is where the first word of the red cards and their threatening message reached the press, Hansen said. Hansen, who is perpetually at work trying to uncover what he can about the cause of the Ellensburgh Fire, has planned a trip to Helena, Mont., in the spring to further research Wilson and his family’s historical records on file in a museum in Helena. His goal, at least initially, is to learn more about Wilson and determine his credibility as a witness. So far, Wilson passes the test, having appeared to lead a productive life as a civic servant in Ellensburg and the state Legislature. “Would he be a good witness you might believe?” Hansen asks. In working on a “biographical snapshot” of Wilson, Hansen has unearthed references to the businessman helping the town acquire the Washington State Normal School (now CWU). Wilson also served at least

two terms in the state and territorial senate as a representative of Kittitas County. As such, Hansen feels confident about the truth behind his interview. “He was well-known, elected to serve the county,” said Hansen. “So that sounds like a guy you could believe.” In the end, Hansen acknowledges little hope of figuring out exactly what happened, but hopes by bringing credibility to the testimony of E.T. Wilson, he can help point future researchers in the right direction. “(Wilson’s story) gives me a lot of evidence that it was intentional,” he said. “I think the best service I could do for Ellensburg or any historians is to show as much evidence as I can that was not an accident.”

A big mystery

Sadie Thayer, director of the Kittitas County Historical Museum, said the Ellensburgh Fire remains one of the town’s great mysteries. “We may never know what happened,” she said. The museum’s feature display since June 2011 is titled “Who Dun It,” and it features photos and news clippings from the time of the fire. It asks visitors

to posit a theory and drop it in a nearby suggestion box. “We’ve had a great response to this,” said Thayer. “People have really gotten into trying to figure it out.” Similar fires leveled Vancouver, Wash., (June 21, 1889) and Seattle (June 6, 1889) and just before a catastrophic blaze destroyed much of Spokane (Aug. 4, 1889). A map in the museum’s exhibit shows the path of the railroad at that time and silver pins indicate the blazes all happened along the path of the railroad. Thayer stopped short of saying she thought it was the work of a single arsonist, but “It’s pretty intriguing how the path of the railroad runs right through all of those towns.” Regardless of how it happened, though, there is little doubt the fire had lasting effect on Ellensburg. “Following the fire,” Thayer said, “new regulations were put in place that all buildings had to have at least three exits. … Also, new rules came into being stating that wooden facades would not be allowed and that any new (commercial) buildings must be made with (mostly) brick.” And they were. Buildings shot up quickly following the fire. The


Davidson Building at Fourth and Pearl was christened by the end 1889. Photos from as few as three to four weeks after the fire show rapid progress being made on the Cadwell building, which stretched along the north side of Fourth between Main and Pearl (no longer there). Another photo from roughly the same time shows the building that currently holds the museum nearly completed. In fact, if the fire was the act of an arsonist seeking to derail Ellensburgh’s bid for the capital, it wasn’t too effective. “The fire didn’t cost us the capital, at all,” Wagy said. “If Ellensburgh and Yakima had worked together, there is no doubt the current capital would be in Eastern Washington, but instead they fought like little kids.” Though the financial crisis of 1893 slowed some of the town’s momentum toward rebirth, Ellensburgh had already proven it wouldn’t fold. Today, the Davidson Building stands as downtown’s signature building, and, appropriately, a mural along the western wall depicts the mythical phoenix, rising from the ashes, much like the building, and Ellensburgh, did back in July 1889.

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Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 31

1889 fire by the numbers


City blocks reduced to ashes of the 20 blocks between Fifth and First avenues and Water and Sprague streets.


million: The estimated value of damages from the fire in 1889. (Equivalent of $47.9 million in 2010 when adjusted for inflation.)

Ellensburg Public Library

A view looking northwest from Third Avenue shows the rubble of the Ben Snipes Bank, in the foreground, just days after the July 4, 1889, fire. In the background along the north side of Fourth Avenue substantial progress already has been made in constructing the Cadwell Building — which sat where the Wells Fargo ATM kiosk is today.





0 5

Number of casualties caused by the Great Fire on July 4, 1889.

Number of “great fires� that burned down much or all of Washington cities in 1889 (Cheney — April; Seattle — June 7; Vancouver — June 21; Ellensburg — July 4; Spokane — Aug. 4).


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SINCE 1905 Yakima Federal’s very first mortgage loan of $1,500 was to Mr. Frank H. Foote of Yakima for this 2-story house on 8th St. in Yakima.

In 1959 Yakima Federal Savings & Loan merged with Ellensburg Federal Savings and Loan Association to become a new Yakima Federal branch. Here is the Ellensburg branch today.


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Local Legends

Page 32 | Almanac 2012

Bagna caulda

Going inside an edible Upper County legend


By BARB OWENS staff writer

f there’s a can of anchovies in your shopping basket in Cle Elum, the checker and other locals in line know the small fish probably won’t be going on a pizza. The anchovies, in all likelihood, are destined for bagna caulda, a tradition in Upper Kittitas County that has taken hold after it was introduced around the turn of the 20th century. The proper way to pronounce, spell and even cook and serve bagna is much debated among locals, but it is agreed that the slow-cooked garlicky dish is not your average weeknight meal. In addition to the base ingredients of garlic, olive oil and anchovies, friends and family are needed to round out the Cle Elum bagna experience. The Italian dish, which was typically only served in the winter and only used vegetables, has morphed today into a celebratory meal served at festivals, restaurants, in kitchens, garages and at campsites and hunting camps all over the Upper County. The recipe varies from family to family, some of which now add meat to the pot. Sisters Linda Lee Hall and Jeannie Precious remember having bagna as little girls. It was usually a winter dish. Their grandparents on their father’s side brought the recipe with them to Kittitas County when they emigrated from northern Italy at the turn of the

20th century. Their mother, Verna Mattielli, is Norwegian. “But everybody thinks Mom’s Italian, because when she met (Dad), she just fell in love with Italian food,” Precious said. “She became good at it,” Hall said. “We didn’t grow up with Norwegian food at all,” Precious said.

The ingredients

When the sisters were little, after a night of dancing, somebody would say, “Let’s go do bagna caulda.” “And so whoever got it started would go to their house, and everybody would bring whatever they had to add to it in those years,” Hall said. “Like our dad buried the cabbage in gunny sacks under the snow, and he would dig it up and so we’d have cabbage. And he was a great mushroom picker, and my mother either pickled or hardboiled the mushrooms and canned them, and those were used in the bagna caulda. And they used celery and cauliflower.” Pickled beets and peppers also were standard, she said. “We had a huge garden out here, we were kids, but when they would bring all their friends home, Mom would cook up bagna caulda late at night, you know, and (Dad) would go out with a flashlight and a shovel and dig up the curly cabbage — the savoy cabbage — and bring it in and they would have it,” Precious said. For a rather large, involved dish, it didn’t take much to whip up back then. “The thing about it is, they always had a loaf of bread in the house, they always had the wine — those are two

main ingredients. They did spurof-the-moment things,” Precious said. “After the places closed at 2 o’clock in the morning, my mother still wanted to party hearty, and she would bring everybody home.” The family would cook bagna caulda in a frying pan on a coal stove and people would walk up and take a serving and sit back down. Then along came electric burners that plug into an outlet. They’d put a cast iron skillet on the burner and sit around a table. “They did one pot and everybody got into it,” Hall said. Using small fondue forks, they speared pieces of vegetables one at a time to cook in the bubbly sauce.

Today’s bagna

Today when the family makes bagna, they do two pans. The sauce calls for a 13-ounce can of anchovies, two cups of garlic, two cups of olive oil and one cube of butter — added only after the rest of the sauce is cooked and ready. If you burn the butter, you might as well throw the rest of the sauce out.

See Bagna, Page 34

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 33

One bagna recipe By BARB OWENS staff writer Bagna caulda recipes vary drastically. Some purists only use vegetables and some families have “Americanized” the dish to include meat, extra garlic and extra olive oil. Some families make bagna gravy style by adding cream. Cooking times and even the way the dish is consumed also vary considerably from family to family. There is no one right way to make bagna, but everyone agrees, whatever you do, don’t burn the butter. The following recipe is used by my family, the Owens clan (and no, we’re not Italian, but bagna is definitely one of our traditions). My dad, Dave Owens, got the recipe from the late Katie Micheletto years ago. We fix bagna for birthdays, New Year’s, on vacation and just for the heck of it.

What to wear n Your grubbiest

clothes, because not only will you stink after eating bagna, if you spill a drop of sauce, it will stain forever.

For the sauce n Start with an empty electric frying pan. Fill the pan up an inch and a half or so (depending how big your pan is) with olive oil. n Add two heaping cups of diced garlic.

n Add four 2-ounce tins of anchovies. Cook the sauce slowly at a small simmer until anchovies are dissolved and garlic is cooked down (at least an hour). Don’t let the sauce boil or burn — this is why it takes so long. n Once the sauce is ready, add one cube of butter. Now you’re ready to cook your veggies and meat.

Meat and veggies n Broccoli, broken into bite-size


n Cauliflower, broken into

bite-size florets n Mushrooms, large-sliced n Savoy (curly) cabbage, torn into about 4-inch pieces n Top sirloin, sliced into bite-size strips n Chicken breast, sliced into bite-size strips n Shrimp, cleaned and deveined Add the veggies and meat to the sauce, laying the cabbage on top, and let simmer. Veggies and beef may be cooked to desired doneness. Shrimp should be pink and chicken should be white throughout.

To eat


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pet food & supplies

n Dutch crunch bread from the Cle

Elum Bakery Place a piece of Dutch crunch bread on your plate and top it with the meat and veggies from the bagna pot. Either eat it like a sandwich or one piece at a time, finishing with the bagna soaked bread. Also, don’t forget to pour a glass (or two, or three) of red wine to enjoy with the bagna. *Important note: It’s a party foul to empty the bagna pot without restocking it with more meat and veggies for Round 2.


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Local Legends

Page 34 | Almanac 2012


from Page 32

“The worst part about bagna caulda is if you burn the butter real bad,” Hall said. “And often the heat gets away from people; they leave the stove, and it burns.” Bagna has changed over the years and become more Americanized. “It’s evolved into something else now, and we’ve probably eaten in our lives the worst of it and the best of it,” Hall said. Traditionally, meat was never cooked in bagna. “We’ve done a lot to it now; we use meat and fish in it, you know, and little corns, and all kinds of things,” Hall said. “So we’ve brought it a long way from what they used to eat, but everybody pickled or canned green and red peppers and that was another staple … then of course the French bread.” The bold flavor (and smell) of bagna deserves a bold drink, and homemade red wine pairs well with the dish.

“And they had to have red wine to cut the grease,” Precious said. “That’s what we were always told. You have to have the red wine to cut the grease.” Some families prefer not to cook bagna in the house because of the strong, lingering smell. Not Precious and Hall. “It goes away in two days,” Hall said. “Our Sons of Italy club, we always have bagna in February, so our last meeting … we had bagna in the basement of the Catholic Church,” Precious said. The smell made its way up into the sanctuary. “Gary Favero, who cleans the church, he said, ‘You guys really stunk up the church.’”

Tracking down neighbors

If you’re from the Upper County, the smell is unmistakable. Precious said every September they used to take a boat to the San Juan Islands

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for a getaway. During one trip to Friday Harbor, Precious and Hall decided ahead of time that they would make bagna caulda. “So we’re down on that first pier as you come down the steps, and we’ve started making our bagna and we’re just having a good time, and pretty soon here comes … Jack and Betty Blum (of Cle Elum),” Precious said. “They had just gone to Friday Harbor for the weekend, not knowing we were there, but they smelled the bagna from up there and they came down and said, ‘We knew somebody from Cle Elum had to be here.’ And they joined us. It smelled so good, you know.” The sisters say they’ve never served someone who didn’t like bagna. “I’ve served it to people who’ve got sick on it … and they’re not ready to eat it again just yet,” Hall said, but it was because they overate.

The leftovers

At bagna parties today, a lot of families make the dish in what

Precious calls a stew pot, where all the vegetables and meats are thrown into the sauce together to cook. After the bagna party, which lasts for hours, the sauce can be repurposed. “I’m sure a lot of Italians do this too. The next day, when the residue is left, you pour some of the oil off and you can even add a little more butter to it and warm it up in small amounts — you don’t want a lot of this — and then we would eat it over spaghetti… There’s a name for that too, but I can’t tell you what it is.” “After a party, we would leave it, and just pick up the next morning and start eating it again,” Precious said. “And that stuff that sits in there all night long, ooh, that meat is good.” New Year’s is the agreed upon holiday that bagna is traditionally served, but no excuse is needed to get people together for bagna year round. For the latest New Year’s holiday, the sisters had bagna. “We ate it for three days,” Precious said.

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Local Legends

Almanac 2012

Then Hall went to the freezer and took out a zipclose bag full of bagna sauce sans butter. It was left over from New Year’s.

A special meal

Margy Talerico, whose ancestry is from the Piedmont District of Northern Italy, knows about bagna. Talerico’s maiden name is Violetta. Her grandparents’ name was Avenatti. They came to Roslyn in the 1800s so her grandfather could work in the mines. “We’ve always had it in our family, gosh, ever since I was about 9 or 10 years old,” Talerico said about bagna caulda. “It would be kind of a special (meal), when all the nieces and grandchildren were around.” And it was always made on an old coal and wood stove in a cast iron frying pan, she said. “This bagna caulda feed kind of modernized it now,” Talerico said, referring to Cle Elum’s annual bagna caulda festival. “All we ever had was vegetables. There was never meat or chicken or shrimp.” The dish has been Americanized, she said. “Once in a while, they fix it at my church, and I keep telling them, it’s not real bagna caulda, that’s something else,” she said. The curly cabbage, celery and other types of leafy vegetables came out of her family’s garden. A slice of French bread was sort of the plate, and they dipped their vegetables into the sauce and put it on

the slice of bread and ate it that way.

What anchovies?

Olive oil, anchovies and lots of garlic are the key to the sauce, Talerico said. “When it’s ready, the anchovies will be kind of cooked up, so you won’t hardly realize the anchovies,” she said. “If you didn’t tell them when it was ready, you wouldn’t realize it had anchovies in it. All you can taste is the garlic, really.” Sometimes if there wasn’t enough olive oil, Talerico’s family used butter. She said someone will probably dispute her family’s bagna recipe. “That’s OK, they can call me,” she said. Some families, though not Talerico’s, put cream in their bagna, almost turning the sauce into a gravy. “What we had was more like a fondue, but there was no cheese in it,” Talerico said. “Then of course the adults drank wine.” It was mostly red wine, and homemade. Nowadays, Talerico looks forward to bagna at the annual Avenatti family reunion in July. Sometimes it is held in Cle Elum on Talerico’s deck, sometimes it is held in Bellevue on her cousin’s patio. “The family reunion has been going on since the early 1930s,” Talerico said. “It’s a wonderful thing; my grandparents started it.”

See Bagna, Page 36


Page 35

With or without the L? Literal translations for bagna caulda differ slightly: hot bath, hot sauce, hot pot or hot gravy. It’s all the same, said sisters Linda Lee Hall and Jeannie Precious. Their family is Italian, and the pair grew up eating bagna in Upper Kittitas County. Pronunciation and spelling differ too. “Bagna caulda,” Precious said, emphasizing the L in caulda. “Is that strong? I think that sounds strong. “Bagna cauda? Huh?” she said, in a softer voice, demonstrating that the former pronunciation is obviously better. “It’s a dialect thing,” Precious said. “Depending on what dialect those Italians spoke, is how they pronounce it.” Margy Talerico, whose ancestry is from the Piedmont District of Northern Italy, pronounces it bagna cauda, without the L. “Maybe it’s just the way you’re raised,” Talerico said. Her husband, Sam Talerico, doesn’t even try to pronounce it. His family is from Southern Italy, and he doesn’t care much for bagna.

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Local Legends

Page 36 | Almanac 2012

Brian Myrick Daily Record

Though no two bagna caulda recipes are the same, rest assured they all incorporate plenty of garlic, anchovies and olive oil.


from Page 35

For the 30 or so people who show up, they cook one pot of bagna. Some of the younger kids aren’t interested in it, and get a funny look on their face when anchovies are mentioned, she said. They aren’t the only ones. Margy’s husband, Sam, doesn’t like bagna. They’ve been married 59 years, and his family is from Southern Italy. “I don’t care for it, I don’t know anything about it, I can’t pronounce it, I tell you that,” he said. Margy Talerico said she’s seen people get sick off bagna because they overate. “Oh yes, you can get sick from it, that’s true,” she said. “My daughter-inlaw is here. She said it’s worth it.” Talerico said she has a cousin who uses marinated flank steak in her bagna. “At my age, don’t tell me that’s the

still do “purists.” Now his family adds chicken, tortellinis, round steak and shrimp. “My favorite is the beef. My daughter loves the tortellini,” Kladnik said. Kladnik’s grandparents used to Slow cooked own a general store on Second Ken Kladnik, who is half Street in Cle Elum called Dalle’s Italian, grew up in Cle Elum Country Store. The store sold eating bagna, which he calls ravioli and torchetti (an Italian a specialty meal. His family cookie), olive oil, anchovies, pronounces it cauda without butter and other ingredients. the L. His grandparents also made “The key is that you don’t homemade wine, which pairs burn it. It has to be kind of slowwell with bagna. Italians from Ken cooked,” Kladnik said. throughout the Upper County Kladnik Once the anchovies are would pool their money dissolved and the garlic is good together and his grandparents and tender, other items may be added would buy a truck of grapes from to the pot. Making bagna is kind of Northern California. like layering ingredients on top of one “These guys would come by in their another. Model A pickups and take their boxes Kladnik’s family used to just stick of grapes,” Kladnik said. to vegetables; curly cabbage, celery, “I think between the two wild mushrooms, carrots and red or (homemade wine and bagna) it green peppers. He calls those who reminds them of the old country, and I way it’s supposed to be,” said Talerico, 83. “You’d never eat it at Grandma and Grandpa’s house like that. … I’m kind of stubborn in my old age. They’re not making it right.”

think that was important, the heritage,” he said. The experience is drawn out. “You enjoy and savor a bit,” he said. And the dish is kept hot. “We keep it almost to a boil.” Kladnik lives in Ellensburg now and is trying to get a public bagna party of sorts started in the Lower County. In May, he and a local restaurant owner plan on selling tickets to the inaugural party, which could be the start of a new tradition. And tradition is what bagna caulda is about. And family and friends. “It’s coming together as friends,” Precious said, adding that many of her memories were fashioned around a bagna pot. She pointed some of them out in her mother’s Cle Elum home: “People in here eating bagna, people in there playing cards, go further there was a piano in there, then there was somebody playing the piano and other people dancing. It was just a fun time, you know.”

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Local Legends

Almanac 2012


Page 39


The chimp who taught us how to communicate with animals By BARB OWENS staff writer


ashoe, the world’s first talking nonhuman, is perhaps the most famous among all of Ellensburg’s legends — past and present.

Photo by CHCI staff

Washoe the chimpanzee is pictured in an undated photo from the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute.

The female chimpanzee, who was 42 when she died in 2007 of natural, age-related causes, lived most of her life in Ellensburg — the final 14 years at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University. CHCI Director Mary Lee Jensvold first met Washoe when Jensvold was a graduate student getting ready to move to Ellensburg in 1986. In those days, Washoe and the other chimpanzees were on the third floor of CWU’s Psychology Building (the CHCI was finished in 1993). “She is one of Ellensburg’s most famous residents,” Jensvold said. News accounts of Washoe’s death appeared in papers throughout the world. “When Washoe died, she died at night and the next morning the New York Times was calling my office,” Jensvold said. “I wondered how they found out so quickly… It was picked up in every newspaper, on every continent except for Antarctica. That project has been something pretty bright here in Ellensburg.” The Washoe Project came to Ellensburg in 1980 when Roger and Deborah Fouts brought her here in a horse trailer from Oklahoma.

See Washoe, Page 40

Local Legends

Page 40 | Almanac 2012


from Page 39

Washoe was captured in Africa as a baby in about 1965, probably when a hunter killed her mother and sold her to a dealer at a market. She was sold to the United States Air Force. She lived at the Holloman Aeromedical Research Laboratory in New Mexico to be trained as a chimponaut, but when the program broke up, Washoe was adopted by scientists Beatrix and Allen Gardner and moved to Reno, Nev. Her name was changed to Washoe for Washoe County in Nevada.

American Sign Language

The Gardners taught Washoe American Sign Language, which refocused the Washoe Project on communication. As graduate students, Roger and Deborah Fouts worked with the Gardners on the Washoe Project. In 1980 the Foutses and Washoe came to Ellensburg and taught at CWU. The CHCI, on the corner of D Street and Dean Nicholson Boulevard, was built in 1993. In it the chimps have 11,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space. Washoe, the only wild-born CHCI chimpanzee, was the head of Ellensburg’s chimpanzee family. Preceding Washoe in death was Moja, a 29-yearold chimpanzee who was born in New York at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates. Moja died in 2002. The remaining chimps at the CHCI are Tatu, Dar and Loulis. Tatu, 36, came to CWU in 1981. She was born at the Institute for Primate Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Dar, 35, was born at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. He also has been in Ellensburg since 1981. Loulis, who turns 34 on May 10, is Washoe’s adopted son. Unlike the other chimpanzees, Loulis learned to use American Sign Language from Washoe and the other signing chimps instead of from humans, making him the first nonhuman to learn a human language from other nonhumans. The chimps gesture and vocalize like chimpanzees in the wild, but they also use American Sign Language in their interactions with humans and each other.

ABOVE: Photo by CHCI staff RIGHT: Photo by April Ottey

ABOVE: Deborah and Roger Fouts pose for a picture with Washoe at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute during the mid-1990s. RIGHT: Washoe, right, interacts with Loulis at the CHCI in 1994.

Significance of work

In the spring of 2011, after more than 45 years working with chimpanzees and more than 30 years at CWU, the Foutses retired. Jensvold is the new director of the CHCI and Bonnie Hendrickson is the new associate director. In the introduction to the book “Next of Kin,” in which Roger Fouts tells the story of his work with chimpanzees, Jane Goodall sums up the significance of the Washoe Project. She said the project helped humans better understand their place in the animal kingdom, revealed the dark side of scientific method, and showed that chimpanzees can understand and use abstract symbols in their communication. It blurred the line between humans and other animals, she wrote.

In 2008, the Washington House of Representatives passed a resolution extending its sympathy to Roger and Deborah Fouts for the loss of Washoe. It thanked them and CWU for their dedication to Washoe and her family, and for enhancing the world’s insight into communication among humans

and nonhumans. The Washoe Project was about promoting and developing humane research methods, protecting captive and free-living chimps, and expanding humans’ understanding of chimpanzees. That research continues today at the CHCI.

Local Legends

Almanac 2012

Park, statue honor Washoe

Mary Lee Jensvold, the director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University, said the $10 million question is when the CHCI will get more chimps. The CHCI serves as a training center for students and as an educational center for the general public, but it also is home to chimpanzees who use American Sign Language. The CHCI at one time had five residents. After the passing of Moja in 2002 and Washoe in 2007, the CHCI is now down to three — Tatu, Dar and Loulis, all in their mid-30s. “We’ve got a population that’s aging. Certainly we’re talking about it,” Jensvold said. Adding more chimpanzees to the family is not a simple process. The building, which was finished in 1993, would have to be renovated. “You can’t just throw chimps together. They would have to have a period of introduction,” Jensvold said. They could potentially not get along with one another, she said. CHCI has made a capital request for funds, and now it’s up to the state Legislature, Jensvold said.

The Central Washington University Foundation, though not associated with the Washoe Tribute Group, is collecting funds for the bronze statue tribute. Donations may be made online at www.washoebronzestatue. org, or send donations through U.S. mail to Bronze Statue Tribute, Central Washington University Foundation, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926.

eT ri Gr but ou e p

CHCI’s aging chimps

To donate to the Washoe statue


Friendship Park, on Fifth Avenue next door to the old Liberty Theater, is a tribute to Washoe, the world’s first nonhuman to acquire a human language. Washoe, who lived at Central Washington University’s Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, could communicate using American Sign Language. She died in 2007 at the age of 42. The park is not yet complete. If the Washoe Tribute Group meets its $95,000 fundraising goal, the park will eventually have a life-size bronze statue of Washoe sitting on a rock, signing the word friend (See clay model at right). Virtually all donations have come from the local community with more than half of it in-kind, said Barbara Bicchieri, chairwoman of the Washoe Tribute Group. The Washoe Tribute Group formed to keep the spirit of Washoe alive. Work on the small park began in 2010. This spring more shrubs and perennials will go in, and work on the

irrigation system will be completed, said Barbara Bicchieri, chairwoman of the Washoe Tribute Group. An interpretive sign is in the works. As of early March, the Washoe Tribute Group had raised $14,000 toward the cost of the bronze sculpture created by artist Georgia Gerber of Whidbey Island, Bicchieri said. The total cost of the sculpture is $23,000. Gerber is known for Seattle’s Pike Place pig, and she created several primate sculptures for Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. “We hope to finish the project this fall (landscaping done, sculpture paid for and installed, interpretive signs completed and installed), and end with a dedication ceremony at that time,” Bicchieri said.

W as

By BARB OWENS staff writer


Page 41

Chimposiums draw from throughout Washington In 2011 the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University, home to three chimpanzees who use American Sign Language, had about 6,000 visitors partake in chimposiums. The chimps gesture and vocalize like chimpanzees in the wild, but they also use sign language in their interactions with humans and each other. Chimposiums, which are on hiatus during the winter months, started back up in late February and the CHCI is kicking up its advertising, said Mary Lee Jensvold, director of the CHCI. Chimposiums are one-hour educational workshops on weekends that teach participants about the research involving the signing chimpanzees, Project Washoe, free-living chimp culture and threats to free-living and captive chimpanzees. The fee is $11 for adults. The sessions are staffed by volunteer docents, and the CHCI is always accepting new docents. Advanced chimposiums offer six hours of classroom presentations and guided sessions with the chimpanzees, plus a light dinner to be served at the same time the chimps are served. The fee is $150 per person. To reserve a chimposium, call 509-963-2244 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Prearranged special weekday group chimposiums are available Monday through Friday with room for up to 40 participants. To arrange a group chimposium, call 509-963-2243 at least two weeks in advance. CWU has a primate behavior masters program, and CHCI has about 10 graduate students studying a variety of topics. There are about 20 to 30 undergrads, Jensvold said, many of whom are in CWU’s primate behavior and ecology bachelor program. — Barb Owens

Local Legends

Page 42 | Almanac 2012

Brian Myrick / Daily Record

From 1909 to 1975, the Vogue Theatre (originally named the Rose Theatre, and for a time the Lane Theatre) was a popular spot for Upper County cinema fans. For years thereafter, however, it sat empty and unused until a few years ago when Larry and Rosemary Putnam renovated the space and reopened the Vogue Theatre as a live performance venue.

The Vogue Theatre

Restored theater has long history of entertaining in the Upper County


By JUSTIN PITTMAN staff writer

owns change over time. Technology evolves. Establishments come and go. But some gathering places, like Cle Elum’s Vogue Theatre, never quite fade away.

Cle Elum’s first theater at 210 Pennsylvania Ave. began life not long after the turn of the 20th century. To this day, it still springs to life, on occasion, to host a wide slew of performances and social events. The Rose Theatre, the first incarnation of the Vogue, was constructed along Pennsylvania Avenue in 1909 by James Lane, who charged 10 cents for admission to silent movies and vaudeville performances. The theater was constructed about seven years after the founding of Cle Elum and served as a hub for social activity in

the town during the early 1900s. It provided space to hold events that varied in nature from ice cream socials, to boxing matches and musical performances. In 1918, the Rose Theatre succumbed to an inferno that set alight most of downtown Cle Elum. The blaze started after a cigarette was discarded on a pile of debris near the theater and later scorched 29 city blocks and caused more than $500,000 in damage by the time it was extinguished. James Lane reconstructed the

theater as a brick building following the fire, and the new structure became known as the Lane Theatre. The Lane Theatre opened in 1923. It could accommodate 780 people, and according to the modern day Vogue Theatre’s website, the facility was “heralded as the last word in comfort, convenience and safety.” “The guy spared no cost,” said Rosemary Putnam, the Vogue’s current owner. The renovation added plush upholstered seats, indoor plumbing, carpet and cantilevered balconies.

Local Legends Talking pictures came to the Lane Theatre in 1929, after the installation of $10,000 worth of equipment, including a vibraphone and Movietone technology, the first technique for including soundtrack on film. The theater’s first talking movie was “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which tells the story of a Wall Street trader who ruins himself and his partner financially after learning of an affair between his wife and his partner. By 1938, the Lane had been purchased by Harry Ulsh, who installed fluorescent and neon lighting, and the venue began to focus on showing movies rather than live performances. It was the first theater in the Pacific Northwest to utilize the new light technology, and as a reflection of the theater’s modern features, Ulsh changed the theater’s name to the Vogue. The Vogue changed ownership again in 1947, when Fred Estelman purchased the business. Estelman brought in cinemascope technology in 1954, which gave films greater depth and width.

Treasured memories

Many Upper County residents

Almanac 2012

CWU James E. Brooks Library, Frederick Krueger Collection

After the Rose Theatre, built in 1909, burned in 1918, owner James Lane rebuilt and it reopened in 1923 as the Lane Theatre. Today, it is known as the Vogue Theatre. still harbor fond memories from the era when The Vogue functioned as a movie theater. “Everybody who grew up here remembers it fondly and hated it

when it closed,” Rosemary Putnam said, adding that many locals can still remember dates and first kisses on the balcony. Debbie Willette of Cle Elum can


still recall “golden days” when she and Wayne Willette (now her husband) would meet friends at the Vogue every Friday night. “That was pretty much the only thing to do in Cle Elum, go to the movies every Friday night,” Willette said. She remembers “silly little things” like sneaking into the upper portions of the theater, getting caught and having to sneak back into the building for the rest of a show and the Vogue’s velvety red walls. Her favorite part of the theater was always the aesthetic. “The old fashioned way it looked. It took you back in time, but then we were pretty young, too,” Willette said. “If you watched an old western movie, and they showed a movie theater, it was kind of similar to that.” Willette was in her mid-teens when the theater closed. “It was a feeling of disappointment,” Willette said, describing the closing of the theater. “It was just kind of a non-belief that it was going away.”

See Vogue, Page 44


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Page 43

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Local Legends

Page 44 | Almanac 2012

Closed in 1975

from Page 43

Demand for the coal that had supported Upper Kittitas County’s economy since the 1800s had begun to wane by the early 1960s, and the last of the area’s coal mines shut down in 1963. During the 1960s and 1970s, the region’s population declined, and the Vogue closed its doors in 1975. Following one final 1975 showing of the movie “Jaws,” the theater would, for the most part, sit empty for nearly 30 years. A string of about five consecutive owners acquired the Vogue, attempted to remodel and reopen the theater and ultimately, failed, until local residents Rosemary and Larry Putnam took over the building in 2007. The Putnams “gutted” the theater, stripping it down to its brick walls and concrete floors, and began remodeling. In the process of peeling away old layers of paint, the couple discovered barely visible murals dating back to the building’s 1938 revamp. “Even stained and dirty you can

look back and see what it looked like,” Rosemary Putnam said of the friendly, art deco style building. “I would have loved to have been there in 1938.”

New life

The 2008 economic downturn put a damper on the Putnam’s plans for full-scale renovation of The Vogue. But with a partial facelift that gave the building’s interior a funky, bohemian wild-west like theme, the Vogue now plays host to all types of live performances like a recent rendition of Agatha Christie’s “The Mouse Trap,” opera performances, variety shows and even a raucous, colorful Mardi Gras celebration. A nonprofit organization called The Vogue Theater Associates emerged around 2008 with the goal of taking over ownership of the theater from the Putnams. The group sprouted from the nonprofit Community Builders organization created by the Putnams. The group estimated in

CWU James E. Brooks Library, Frederick Krueger Collection

A crowd poses for a photograph in front of Cle Elum’s Vogue Theatre. Writing on the back of the picture indicated the photograph was taken during World War II. 2007 it would need $3.6 million to acquire the building. Today, the Vogue is listed on the Washington state and national registers of historic places, and equipment

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dating from the 1950s still sits idle in the building’s projection room. The Vogue continues to provide entertainment, culture and gathering space for the residents of Upper Kittitas County.

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Local Legends

Page 48 | Almanac 2012

The hanging tree

A rugged Western town retaliates after a double murder downtown


By BARB OWEN For the Daily Record

unday, Aug. 11, 1895, was a hot day in Ellensburg’s Teutonia Saloon. Sam Vinson and his son, Charles, had been drinking all afternoon and were attempting to beg, borrow and cajole money from passers-by. A Mr. Wolverton, who worked for the Butcher Lumber Co., stepped into the saloon. Sam Vinson went up to him and demanded that Mr. Wolverton set up the drinks. He said, “You have money, I saw you get a $20 gold piece changed here last night. Two men were going to follow and rob you but I told them you were a good fellow so they didn’t do it. You ought to treat.” The man told Sam Vinson that the money he had changed wasn’t his, it was Butcher’s and attempted to leave. Sam Vinson caught hold of him but Wolverton struggled and escaped. “I can do you up easy and won’t have to use my fist either,” Sam Vinson shouted as he followed his victim out the door. “A man who won’t treat when he has money is no good.” At this point, John Buerglin, known as Dutch John, came into the

saloon. Sam Vinson left Wolverton and followed Buerglin. It was now 6 o’clock. Buerglin asked several friends to join him for beer. The elder Vinson walked up and said, “Am I in it?” Buerglin replied in his German accent, “No, you ain’t in it. I lend you two dollars, and you not pay it. You not drink mit me.” A quarrel commenced. Sam Vinson snatched a knife from the “free lunch table” and plunged it into Dutch John’s front right side, just below the ribs. The injured man grabbed a whisky bottle and pounded Sam Vinson on the head with it until the old man sagged to the floor. Then, holding his protruding intestines in place, Buerglin walked alone to the office of Dr. Thomas J. Newland in the Kleinberg Building around the corner on Pearl Street. Charles Vinson had come in just as the melee between Sam Vinson and Buerglin had turned dangerous. Frank Uebelacker, one of the proprietors, had walked around the bar to break up the fight. Young Vinson thrust his gun in Uebelacker’s face, forcing him to retreat. Uebelacker’s partner, Michael Kohlhepp, raced in from the back office and, brandishing a pool cue, attempted to drive Charles Vinson out. The young desperado started for the door, then turned suddenly and shot Kohlhepp through the right lung. The wounded man had strength enough to disarm Charles Vinson , wrestle him to the floor and, with the help of patrons, hold him until deputy city marshals arrived. Others had constrained Sam Vinson. Father and son were handcuffed together and marched off to jail.

Talk of lynching

Excitement reigned the streets that Sunday night, with some talk of lynching. As a precaution, the city marshal requested all saloons to close and extra guards were stationed at the jail. By 10:30 p.m. the streets were comparatively clear and quiet. Kohlhepp died at 8 o’clock, less than two hours after he was shot.

Ellensburg Public Library

Sam and Charles Vinson were lynched on the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and Pine Street (at the corner of the old Albertsons building) by an Ellensburg mob on Aug. 13, 1895, after a double murder at the Teutonia Saloon.

Local Legends Monday Charles Vinson was charged with first-degree murder and bound over to the sheriff. Although the courtroom was crowded, no demonstration of any kind was made. When Dutch John Buerglin died from his wound on Tuesday, events began to escalate out of hand with mutterings of lynching. Feelings of hatred were at a fever pitch against the Vinsons. The men they had killed were both native Germans, and highly thought of by many people in the community. By 9 o’clock Tuesday night city and country folk alike still had not gone home. An hour later the streets were teeming with men in the vicinity of the courthouse. Tension filled the air. Sheriff Stinson assigned six armed guards to stand watch over the jailed men. He gave the cell keys to his office deputy and sent him away. The cell housing the Vinsons was considered impregnable. Promptly at midnight two groups of men, perhaps 50 to 100 in all, converged on the county jail. City marshals were unable to disperse the mob and ran to City Hall to ring the fire bell. The electric whistle at the Northern Pacific roundhouse took up the refrain. The mob easily smashed the doors leading to the cell. However, their tools proved to be inadequate to smash the cell door lock, which was protected by a heavy case-hardened steel box. More tools were sent for. Wielding cold chisels, sledge hammers and large pieces of railroad track, they set to work. Young Vinson delighted in harassing his antagonists. Using his hat, he repeatedly fanned out the flickering candle flame by which the mob was working. He spewed vicious threats and profanity at them, and even spat upon the nearest, which probably added incentive to their work. After repeated attempts to break into the cell had failed, the men decided to give up the lynching and started to leave. But a blacksmith in the crowd told the men to wait. He had taken a chisel to the cell door hinges and they were starting to give way. With renewed vigor, the men returned to their task and after two hours, the hinges broke and the door came off. Bursting into the cell, the mob quickly placed ropes around the necks of the Vinsons after a brief struggle. Then the angry crowd led the two men to the northeast corner

Almanac 2012


Page 49

Ellensburg Public Library

The Cadwell-Lyons Building, constructed immediately after the July 1889 Ellensburg fire on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Main Street, contained the infamous Teutonia Saloon. In August 1895, a double murder took place in the saloon which resulted in a mob lynching of Samuel Vinson and his son Charles.

“Gentlemen, you will be sorry for this. I ask no pity for myself, but pity my mother. Give my love to my mother.” Charles Vinson’s final words of Seventh and Pine Street. They selected a sturdy cottonwood with strong limbs. Driven by the senseless murders of their friends, the mob set to work without further ceremony. Hands were quickly tied and nooses secured around the hapless men’s necks. Sam Vinson cast an agonizing glance at the mob and exclaimed: “My God, haven’t I a friend in this town? I never harmed any of you!” Asked for any final words, son Charles had responded: “Gentlemen, you will be sorry for this. I ask no pity for myself, but pity my mother. Give my love to my mother.” First they pulled Sam Vinson up until his feet were about a foot off the ground and the rope fastened to the tree trunk. He was not much more than 5 feet tall and of light build. Then the son, not much taller, was hoisted

as someone shouted, “Your Pa’s up there, go up and see him!” They pulled him up until his bootless feet were but a few inches from the ground. It is alleged the Vinsons amazingly did not resist and struggle as they slowly choked to death. “They presented a horrible sight,” said a witness, dangling less than a foot apart. Unlike most lynchings of that era, the crowd fired no shots into the deceased men. One vigilante reportedly slapped young Vinson in the face as he hanged dead. Information for this article came from “The Lynching of the Vinsons” by Howard Baumgart, an essay archived at the Ellensburg Public Library. Barb Owen is the author of “Making the Grade: Plucky Schoolmarms of Kittitas Country.”

A violent history Little was known of Sam and Charles Vinson until they hit Seattle in the 1880s. Charles, the son, was arrested for robbery and threatening with a loaded gun. He got a court hearing and, unfortunately for society, was released on a technicality. Encouraged by this leniency, Charles robbed a man at gunpoint and went to prison for two years. Shortly after getting out he threatened to knife a barkeeper who refused to sell him more drink. He burnt the tavern and hid in the hills. He beat up a Chinese man while Sam watched. No punishment. Violence became an easy habit for the Vinsons, especially under the influence of alcohol. When the family moved to Ellensburg, father and son perpetrated a cycle of violence which escalated to a grisly conclusion in 1895.

Local Legends

Page 50 | Almanac 2012

Legend sightings

A tour of some of Kittitas County’s legendary locales — past and present

Swauk Teanaway Grange Hall What: The Swauk Teanaway Grange Hall at 1361 Ballard Hill Road in Cle Elum. The current building, overlooking the scenic Swauk Prairie, is a replica built to resemble the original rural schoolhouse that was lost to fire in 2004.

Why: Each year, popular events are held at the Swauk Teanaway Grange Hall including a chili cook off and hunter’s breakfast. In addition, the facility is available for fundraisers, entertainment, festivals and private events.

Brian Myric

k / Daily Rec ord

Local Legends

Almanac 2012


opened for classes on Sept. 9, 1912, according to Ellensburg Public Library information. Why: The old Washington School (East Fifth Avenue between Sprague and Anderson streets) could no longer house all local students. Who: The Ellensburg School Board, in a packed public meeting in mid-August 1911, told the assembled crowd that it preferred a site for the

new high school in a location central to the city, rather than on Craig’s Hill. The board and the public had pondered a site for some time. A vote of the people assembled yielded 162 votes for the central site and 102 votes for the hill. “On the erection of a building the vote stood 108 for and 16 against. To authorize the board to borrow the money, the vote was 103 for and 10 against,” The Ellensburg Capital newspaper reported on Aug. 17, 1911.

Page 51

ry Public Libra

Old Ellensburg High School building When: It would be 100 years old, if it still existed. What: In 1912, a large, three-story, brick Ellensburg High School building was constructed on South Sprague Street between First Avenue and Capitol Avenue. G. H. Rush of La Grande, Ore., was the contractor. The cost of the new high school building, to house grades 9-12, was $60,000. The building’s cornerstone was laid in mid-April 1912, and the structure was formally


Epilogue: After 1929-30, when the Morgan Junior High School building was built facing the high school, the two schools shared facilities. The EHS building was last used as a high school in the 1955-56 school year as a “new” high school was built off East Third Avenue. For a while later, it was used to house Cascade Elementary School, but that school closed in 1968. It later was used for school storage until it was torn down in summer 1992.

Local Legends

Page 52 | Almanac 2012

Justin Pittm

an / Daily Rec ord

The Roslyn Cemetery What: Roslyn’s historic cemetery is a patchwork of about 27 smaller cemeteries, most of which contain burial sites for people belonging to a specific ethnic group or fraternal lodge. Who: Some of the town’s earliest residents were laid to rest in the

more than 15-acre cemetery, where graves date to the 1880s. Roslyn thrived as a coal mining town until the mid-20th century, and immigrants from across Europe and African-American miners from the East Coast flocked to the area to work in nearby coal mines.

Why: Some of the burial customs and traditions of these ethnic groups can still be seen at the gravesites contained within Roslyn’s cemetery. The cemetery also bears evidence of significant events in Roslyn’s history like mine explosions and the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. The cemetery

sits in the wooded hills outside of Roslyn on land originally purchased from a railroad company. Visitors can access the area from downtown Roslyn by following Pennsylvania Avenue to Fifth Street, continuing down Fifth Street and then turning left on Memorial Way.

Local Legends

Almanac 2012

Brian Myrick /


Page 53

Daily Record

The Whale Bone House What: A home at 603 E. Second Ave. in Ellensburg has a whale bone extending from the ground to a tree in the front yard. Why: “No one is actually sure how it got there,� said Cindy Coe, current owner of the home along with her husband, Matt Altman, and their

children, Lucy, 7 1/2, and Sam, 4 1/2. A 1976 Daily Record article on the house delved into its history. The home can be traced back to 1887, when it was built as a church parsonage. The article says there were originally two whale bones crossing at the tree fork. The other bone was removed in about 1929 and was given to the Ellensburg

Lumber Company for a display. The 1976 article had personal accounts from people who saw the bones in the tree dating back to 1910. An exact date of when the bones arrived was not fixed. The most commonly told story is that the home was at some time owned by a retired sea captain. There is no confirmation for that tale.

Scientific update: Most articles refer to the bones as whale jawbones. Coe said she has a cousin, who is a marine biologist, who said the bones are likely the rib bones of a right whale. Right whales are now among the rarest of large whales and were hunted to near extinction in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

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To Become Ellensburg’s Biggest & Best Nursery!



1008 Canyon Rd., Ellensburg, WA

CENTRAL NURSERY INC. Your Full Service Nursery • www.central 2391 Vantage Hwy • 509-925-4553 Lic. #CENTRNI044BD

Best Farmer Friendly Store to our loyal customers!

Open 7 Days A Week

925-5397 • 500 W. Third rdd “Much More Than Just A Feed Store!” Store!

kelsey schmidt – voted barber/hairstylist of the year

HARDWARE & PLUMBING Over 60 Years of Serving Kittitas County

Voted Best Home Improvement Store

Open: Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.


310 North Pearl Street Ellensburg, WA

808 University Way • Ellensburg, WA 509.962.2599 • Walk-INS WELCOME!

Voted Best New Business in Kittitas County

Voted Best Computer Store



Your Source for Affordable PC Repair Authorized Reseller of Boost Mobile 304 S Water St, Ellensburg, WA 98926 (509) 925-2490

Women’s Gently Used Brand Name Clothing VOTED BEST BREAKFAST 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner • Bakery - Fresh Baked Pies • Cookies & Muffins • Truck & R.V. Parking • Group Rates • Charter Buses Welcome

Exit 106 Off I-90 • 925-4662

Thank You Kittitas County! Your votes for Best Computer Store are Appreciated!

Voted Best Law Enforcement Officer Gene Dana G

Kittitas County Sheriff Ki “Thank you for supporting Law Enforcement and keeping En Kittitas County safe.” K

Voted Best Place to get a Pizza

205 W. Tacoma St.

962-9282 Voted Best Place to Get Coffee

Thank you Kittitas County! Proudly Serving Kittitas County’s “Best Coffee” at four convenient locations. 301 North Pine 1709 Canyon Rd. 215 West Third Ave. 204 South Water 962-9333 925-7410 925-5313 962-6333

Lake Shore Building

Sun Lake Properties Sun Lake Properties, located in Ellensburg Washington is a premier community of office buildings, restaurants, retail and light industrial properties. Easy accessibility & desirable location, combine with a management & construction team with over 30 years of quality experience. We take pride in our buildings and in our tenants’ success!

Lake Shore Office Park

Sun Lake Business Park

Looking to Upgrade Your Space? • Individually controlled heating & cooling • Premier lake front sites available • Plenty of parking • Enjoy a natural setting as you work! • Easy access • Convenient location unning red of r Meter i T • Customized to fit your business e from th id? Ma ree • Energy efficient of f Plenty vailable! • Secured buildings a arking y! p

For Leasing Information Contact: act:


Dollarway Business Park

Call us


1206 N Dolarway, Suite 206 | Ellensburg, WA 98926 | 925-1155 |

Dreaming of designing a new room?

Let the Interior Design Society associates at Fitterer’s in Ellensburg help you make your dreams a reality. Call today to set up a complimentary consultation.


...We’ll take care of you.

4th & Main • Downtown Ellensburg 509-925-9828 • 800-992-9828









Always free delivery in Washington State Open 7 Days a Week

Nine varsity teams Nationally ranked football and basketball teams Award-winning coaches and athletes Division I excitement at Division II prices Catch all the sports action at CWU is an AA/EEO/Title IX Instituation. For accommodation:

Almanc 2012  

Published by Daily Record.

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