Hurry Down the Chimney Tonight! as Christm
World War II Navy Veteran and 1960s Spokane Santa Claus Listens to Jayne Mansfield’s Christmas Wishes in 1965
more info, and
get tickets, online at
NostalgiaMagazine.net (509) 443-3678
to make your reservation
2 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
FEATURES ON THIS DATE: 6 December 25, 1941 INLAND NORTHWEST MARKERS: 24 Thomas Newlon, Moran Cemetery I REMEMBER WHEN... 54 Uncommon Kindness in the Middle of the Night
STORIES 10 20 28 34 40 44 48 50
American Indian Jazz: Mildred Bailey and The Origins of America’s Most Original Art Form Historic Homes: Finding Bing in the Basement and Other Discoveries at the Crosby Home Harold Tucker: Spokane Santa and Motorcycle Police Officer A 1960s Spokane Christmas Story Patsy and Mary Clark’s Grandson Bing Biographer Peels Back the Layers Josephine Baker’s Secret Life as a World War II Spy Christmas On The Farm
ON THE COVER
When Jayne Mansfield traveled through Spokane in 1965 on a publicity tour, she told her bodyguard she wanted to sit on Santa’s lap. This was easily arranged. Learn more about Harold Tucker on page 24. Photo courtesy of the Tucker Family Archives.
Nostalgia Magazine presents “Chuck King’s Guide to Spokane History” or “The King’s Guide” - a new video series on regional history and featuring our own researcher-extraordinaire, Chuck King. A dozen episodes ranging from Riverfront Park, The Crescent, Wandermere, and the Manito Park Sledding Hill and more are now available for your viewing pleasure online on Facebook, YouTube, or the Nostalgia website.
Find every episode of The King’s Guide online at www.nostalgiamagazine.net.
SPECIAL BONUS ISSUE
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Nostalgia Magazine! We hope you enjoy this special bonus issue - please share it with friends and family! December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 3
Publisher/Editor ........................................Garrin Hertel Publisher/Sales.............................................Dena Hertel Research .........................................................Chuck King Story Contributors..................................Chad S. Hamill, PhD, Polly Kaczmarek, Chuck King, Jack Pearson, Tony Bamonte, Sherry Jones, William Stimson, Tim Kromholtz, John H. Richards, Shirley Kintschi McRae, and Sally Lorraine
Nostalgia Magazine (ISSN 1532-4869) is published bi-monthly, 6 times per year. P.O. Box 8466, Spokane, WA 99203. Annual subscription price is $24.95. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Nostalgia Magazine, P.O. Box 8466, Spokane, WA 99203. © 2018 Contents of this publication are copyrighted and may not be reprinted without permission. Send Inquiries and Stories to: Editor@NostalgiaMagazine.net P.O. Box 8466, Spokane, Washington 99203 Phone: (509) 443-3678 www.NostalgiaMagazine.net To Advertise in Nostalgia Magazine, please contact Dena Hertel at (509) 443-3678 or email@example.com Advertising information is also available online at www.nostalgiamagazine.net
We welcome your personal memory stories and researched articles for publication in Nostalgia Magazine! Typical stories are between 700 and 1,500 words in length. Each story should be accompanied by at least two or three relevant photos. If you email your photos, please be sure to scan them at 600dpi for best printing results. Photos smaller than 300dpi will not generally be accepted.
Be sure to “like” us on Facebook, and sign up for our Nostalgia email newsletter at www.nostalgiamagazine.net. 4 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
Voted Best Caterer in the Bozzi Media 2018 Readers Poll
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 5
Spokane Our Early History
Seven Frontier Women
Dear Old Nat
Order a NEW 2-year Subscription to Nostalgia Magazine for someone you love, and receive a complimentary copy of one of these books of your choice when you pay the shipping.
Call (509) 443-3678 Today! 6 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
“I hesitated about doing it because invariably it caused such a welling of nostalgic yearning among the men, that it made them sad. Heaven knows, I didn’t come that far to make them sad. For this reason, several times I tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it. So why don’t you get on that Christmas mailing, friend. Those men were living just from day to day on the hope of word from home. And you can’t know, and yet you must know, how... They’re dreaming of a White Christmas....” ~ Bing Crosby
bove, on December 25, 1941 at Camp Lee, Virginia, Pennsylvania soldiers in Co. B of the 10th Regiment in Camp Lee’s Quartermaster Replacement Center gather to sing carols around the tree. That same day, Bing Crosby makes the first public performance of White Christmas on the Kraft Music Hall radio program. The song wasn’t scheduled to be recorded until May 1942. But Bing decides it’s important to get the song on the air early, on Christmas, just 18 days after Pearl Harbor. The only recording of this 1941 Christmas performance comes from a shellac transcription, when someone places a microphone in front of a radio. Robert Bader of Bing Crosby Enterprises found the recording in the Bing Crosby archives 71 years after it was made. White Christmas soon became a #1 hit, and today, it’s the best selling single in the world with sales over 50 million copies. As World War II went on, Bing said it was one of the most difficult songs he had to sing, as he traveled abroad performing in USO shows for the troops. But, according to Robert Bader, “Bing was the right guy, at the right moment, with the perfect song.” December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 7
icture yourself saving up a small fortune in order to travel across the Atlantic to the New World. Packed like sardines in your ship, enduring disease and lack of sanitation, you arrive speaking a language only your fellow Irish compatriots can understand. You strike out to California based on newspaper accounts and rumors that vividly describe possible death from lack of water, inadequate supplies, weather, accident, conflicts or becoming lost. Your conveyance is your feet, horse, or wagon. Mining has become your vehicle to gain a livelihood and, hopefully, great riches. To be successful you learn from grizzled prospectors, and endure freezing cold streams of water as you pan for gold. If you enter a mining tunnel with your hammer and augur, you must pound away at begrudging ore illuminated by dripping candles. For this effort you may earn nothing if you work for yourself and fail to find valuable ore. Or, you may earn the grand sum of $3.50 per day as an employee in a larger mine. In 1851, Patsy Clark’s life odyssey started in Ireland, approximately the same time most history books cite the end of the horrendous potato famine. Striking out from the Emerald Isle to Liverpool, England in 1872 with his eldest brother, James, the two young men caught a “coffin ship” to the New World where they sought their fortunes in the raw, untamed wilderness of the American West. It’s safe to say they had better luck than the average prospector of the late 1800s.
Post and garland store
The name of Patsy Clark may conjure up an image of a beautiful, old mansion across from the Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition or a delightful meal for a special occasion such as an anniversary or birthday when that same mansion was Patsy Clark’s Restaurant for twenty years. But, there is much more to Patsy’s story than a mansion that became a restaurant. Patsy Clark was my great-grandfather and for the past four years, I have been researching his life. Every Memorial Day weekend for many years, my parents, John and Beverly Richards, started a tradition where our family visits our relatives’ and friends’ gravesites. We cut the grass around the markers, clean them, and place fresh flowers in containers next to the tombstones. When we enter the mausoleum at Fairmount Memorial Park, I realize that perhaps the next occupant will be me. I am comforted that I will be in good company, because I believe Patsy loved his family and cared deeply about his adopted home, Spokane, Washington. Here in Spokane, Patsy Clark and his wife Mary became known for their quiet philanthropy, including gifts that helped construct Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral in 1900, along with donations of the main altar, baptismal font, white marble communion rail, and two resplendent stained glass windows. In the years following Patsy’s death in 1915, his wife Mary carried on the family’s philanthropic efforts by supporting the development of Sacred Heart Hospital. Patsy Clark left a legacy of generosity: “His gifts to charity were unostentatious and few people knew of the many he aided.” Of Mary Clark, it was written: “Beloved by people in all walks of life, Mrs. Clark has been part of the heartbeat of Spokane’s civic, social, and charitable life for five decades. It does not fall to the lot of many to leave such a beautiful heritage.” While many people remember the mansion, even more it seems know next to nothing about the man, Patsy Clark. I set out to learn his story, and now, to share it. g John Richards, author The Life and Times of Patsy Clark: Mining Pioneer
wo titans of Spokane history. Two books written and researched by devoted grandsons. Read about Spokane and Inland Northwest history from two brand new authors whose grandfathers were critical to the growth and well-being of the city by the Falls. 8 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
throng of people stood near the entrance of the Spokane Methodist Episcopal Tabernacle on Sunday, September 27, 1891. Inside, the church was packed, with standing room only, but it was not for the usual Sunday service. It was the largest funeral that Spokane had ever seen at that point in the city’s history; the funeral of its first millionaire, and wealthiest citizen. The names of the pallbearers who emerged from the church with the coffin could have formed a good part of Spokane’s social register, had there been such a thing: D.M. Drumheller, J.N. Glover, H.W. Fairweather, J.R. Marks, E. B. Hyde, Jacob Hoover, A.M. Cannon, J.J. Browne, J.J. L. Peel, M.M. Cowley, Martin Cooney, Charles M. Patterson He whose body lay in the coffin that these men carried had been: President of the Traders National Bank President of the Truckee Lumber Co. President of the Donner Lumber and Boom Co. President of the Verdi Flume Co. President of the Spokane Cracker Co. President of the Spokane Bottling Co. President of the Spokane Falls Water Power Co. President of the Spokane Falls Lumber & Manufacturing Co. President of the Spokane Mill Co. President of Holley, Mason, Marks & Co. President of Baum & Co. President of the Old Dominion Mining Co. President of the Columbia Mining Co. President of the Security Loan and Trust Co.
in the city. His was a material contribution to the maintenance of Spokane’s growth in the decade of the 1880s. When the hearse proceeded to the Greenwood Cemetery that the departed man had himself helped to found, the following procession held sixty-four carriages and extended for a mile in length. Although it was strongly proposed at the time of his death, his name today is not attached to any street, park, building or other public feature of the city to which he contributed so much. It is found only in the crevices of history by scholars who look hard enough, and on a cemetery monument sufficiently imposing that the few passersby will wonder who the fellow could have been to have put up such a chunk of stone. The Masonic Grand Lodge of Washington wrote: “...the history of this city can never be written without his name, for he was one of the cornerstones of its prosperity, and was concerned in a number of the most important business enterprises in Spokane and Spokane County.” And yet, no one is a better exemplar of the Latin phrase Sic transit gloria mundi – “Thus passes the glory of the world.” Truly this was a man his city forgot. This man was my grandfather, Edward James Brickell. With the help of Chuck King, and many others, his story is now no longer buried in archives and newspapers. His story is ready to emerge from the shadows. g James E. Brickell, author The Lion in the Shadows: E.J. Brickell of Illinoistown, Truckee, and Spokane Falls
He was also a substantial landowner and stockholder in a number of other enterprises, large and small. It had been said that his investments and entrepreneurship came at a critical time when the first investors of Spokane Falls had exhausted their capital and almost lost their faith
Both books will be available by December 1, 2018, just in time for the holidays. Pre-Order online at www.NostalgiaMagazine.net. Look for special bundles that include both books plus a two-year subscription to Nostalgia Magazine. Or call (509) 443-3678 for more information. Sign up for the Nostalgia email newsletter for more updates on these
significant works of local and regional history.
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 9
American Indian Jazz: Mildred Bailey and the Origins of America’s Most Musical Art Form by
Chad S. Hamill, PhD
ethnomusicologist and spokan tribal descendant
n March of 2012, the Coeur d’Alene tribe of Idaho introduced concurrent resolution no. 49 in the Idaho House of Representatives, seeking to right the historical record and bring home Mildred Bailey, one of jazz’s first female vocalists. For over eighty years, Bailey–a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe–had been known primarily as a “white jazz singer.” Lost within discussions of the origins of jazz was Bailey’s Indian identity, left to linger like a neglected crop within the Coeur d’Alene farmlands where she learned to walk, talk, and sing. Although she could certainly be forgiven if she chose to hide her Native ancestry within a racially stratified 1930s America, Bailey never sought to do so. To the contrary, it was a source of personal pride she readily shared with those around her. Mildred Bailey was “white” because she was cast that way within a jazz narrative that has left no room for Indian jazz musicians. The “white jazz-singer” misnomer matters for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Bailey exerted considerable influence within the jazz and pop worlds, pioneering the vocal “swing” style that countless singers sought to emulate, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, and Tony Bennett. Rather than crediting her contemporaries, Bailey pointed to the Indian songs of her youth as shaping a voice that is still heard throughout the world, sixty years after it was recorded for the last time. Bailey belonged to a family lineage of Coeur d’Alene singers, insuring that traditional songs would be woven into the fabric of her indigenous identity. At right, known as the “Rockin’ Chair Lady” for her song “Rockin’ Chair,” composed by Hoagy Carmichael, Mildred Bailey poses for a publicity shot. Photo courtesy of the Rinker Family Archives.
10 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 11
Bailey’s great grandfather was Bazil Peone, head speaker and song leader for the Coeur d’Alene tribe at the turn of the 20th century. Remembered for his contagious charisma and resounding voice, he helped lead the Coeur d’Alene people through a period of tumultuous change. Within an increasingly colonized landscape, Bazil’s electrifying oratory and indigenized Catholic hymns held the people together, illuminating a path toward a future that would be different, but no less Coeur d’Alene. In just fifty years from the point of contact with Europeans, the Coeur d’Alene had successfully adopted static agriculture,
During these excursions, Mildred sang in the manner and spirit of her ancestors, forging melodic bonds with countless generations who had sung before her. Like river rock made smooth by centuries of rushing waters, traditional songs were beginning to mold Mildred’s voice, casting within it the distinctive markings of its source. During her childhood, Mildred was also exposed to the Catholic Indian hymns. In the mid-eighteenth century, a Coeur d’Alene prophet by the name of Circling Raven had a vision that foretold the coming of the “black robes.” His vision paved the way for the Jesuits, and although the path to Coeur d’Alene country took “I don’t know whether this music compares with jazz or the classics, nearly a century to travel, when but I do know that it offers a young singer a remarkable background and the Jesuits finally arrived they were training. It takes a squeaky soprano and straightens out the clinkers that received with open arms. For the Coeur d’Alene, the Jesuits and the made it squeak; it removes the bass boom from the contralto’s voice, this religion they represented were the Indian singing does, because you have to sing a lot of notes to get by, and fulfillment of a prophecy and they you’ve got to cover an awful range.” ~Mildred Bailey made it their own. The European hymns the Jesuits introduced were moving away from traditional forms of nomadic subsistence in translated into Salish and the melodies reconfigured to conform response to the continual influx of settlers in the region. In the to indigenous song style. Bazil Peone and other Indian hymn Indian Commissions Agreement of 1889, the Coeur d’Alene leaders sang the indigenized hymns like sacred songs given by tribe ceded the northern territory of their ancestral lands to the the animal spirits, as prayers that embodied spiritual power. In US government for half a million dollars. Funds were divided this sense it can be said that Mildred’s early encounters with equally among Coeur d’Alene families, most of whom invested the melodic were not strictly musical, but distinctly spiritual in state-of-the-art farming equipment. Born in 1900 and raised in character and constitution. She was participating in an on a farm bordering the reservation by her Coeur d’Alene indigenous understanding of song, coming into musical ways mother and a Scotch/Irish father, Mildred Bailey reflected this of knowing that would inform her unique approach to singing rapidly shifting landscape. and her invaluable contribution to jazz. The home in which Mildred spent her formative years Motivated by the prospect of better schools for Mildred was perpetually awash in music. Her father, Charles Rinker, and her three younger brothers, Charles and Josephine moved played the fiddle while Josephine, her mother, was a piano the family to Spokane in 1912. By then Mildred’s musical player of prodigious proportions. Mildred’s parents routinely foundation had been built, providing her added stability during held Saturday night gatherings for neighboring wheat teenage years that held promise, but were filled with heartache. ranchers, turning their living room into a makeshift dance After a typical day at Joseph’s Academy, where she studied hall reverberating with music and the percussive undercurrent buttoned-down piano music with one of its nuns, Mildred of feet rattling the floorboards. For their guests, the evening re-entered an alternate musical universe she shared with her wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by Josie’s young mother at home. Josie was adept at playing everything from protege. In her favorite bedtime reprieve, Mildred would saddle opera to show tunes. From the piano bench she led Mildred up next to her mother at the piano. With fingers flitting over the on musical expeditions, exploring new musical terrain that keys and voices aligned in a well-choreographed harmony, regularly crossed boundaries of style and genre. During this they went through popular songs of the day, including time they continued to make trips down to the reservation, everyone’s favorite ragtime classic, “Dill Pickles.” In addition exploring an old musical terrain that predated any of the to learning music from her mother at home, Mildred would European classical pieces Josie placed on the piano’s music accompany her to traditional gatherings on the reservation. desk, singing traditional songs that awakened within them a 12 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
Above, a Catholic prayer service at Mission of the Sacred Heart, at Cataldo, Idaho, led by Henry Aripa. Photo courtesy of Tony and Suzanne Bamonte. At right, Mildred taking a publicity shot for NBC radio. Photo courtesy of the Rinker Family Archives
collective indigenous memory they shared with their Spokan/ Coeur dâ€™Alene ancestors. But while the road they shared seemed one of limitless potential, it was about to come to an abrupt end. In just a few short years Josie would follow her ancestors home, succumbing to TB at the age 36. Deeply distraught at the news of her motherâ€™s death, Mildred jumped up on her horse and rode into the surrounding countryside, hoping to escape the pain that threatened to cut her heart in two. She returned the following morning, resigned to face a profound loss that would usher in a period of acute uncertainty, during which music was often the only thing she could recognize in a cold and unfamiliar world. Not long after Josephine passed, Charles sought a housekeeper to cook and take care of the home. After two false starts, he December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 13
settled on Josephine Pierce, a Danish widow with a daughter of her own. She and Charles were soon married in a ceremony that marked a dramatic shift in her behavior. She seemed intent on ridding the home of the Rinker children, reminders perhaps of Charles’s former wife, whose essence was evoked every time Mildred sat at the piano. Resistant to her incessant bullying, Mildred told her father flatly: “If you don’t get rid of this woman, I’m going to leave.” Soon thereafter, Mildred packed up and left for Seattle. She moved in with her aunt Ida and uncle George. With no children of her own, Ida was delighted to have the young and vibrant energy of a 17 year old in the house. For Mildred, she was happy to be wanted. After the trauma of losing her mother
Above, the sheet music that led to Mildred’s first performance in Seattle at a local speakeasy. At right, Mildred as a teenager, about the time she left Spokane to live with her aunt Ida and uncle George in Seattle. Photo courtesy of the Keefe Family Archives. 14 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
and enduring an intolerable turf war in which her father sided with the enemy, the maternal-like affection of Ida seemed to heal her wounded heart. All too soon, however, those wounds would be reopened. On a cold and rainy day in December, Mildred accompanied Ida and her driver for a ride along the shore of Puget Sound. The rain began to thicken, washing away all the usual points of reference. As the oncoming vehicle crossed the middle divider and entered their lane, Ida’s driver turned to the right, snapping the guardrail and sending them off a steep embankment. Mildred was the only one to be pulled from the car alive. In the span of a few months, Mildred had lost her mother, her father and brothers, and now her aunt in an accident that would physically and emotionally haunt her for the remainder of her life. If she was going to persevere, she would need to dig even deeper and sing through her pain, the same way she had heard them sing on the reservation so many times before. After being released from the hospital, Mildred
found an apartment in Seattle and began combing the Help Wanted ads. Armed with little more than her musical gifts, Mildred landed a job at Sonny’s Music Shop as a piano player and singer. Like a dealer selling cars, Mildred would take potential buyers on an auditory test drive of contemporary hits. One day a local piano player heard Mildred perform the appropriately titled, “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm.” Moved by her flawless vocal style, he asked her to join him on stage at one of Seattle’s new speakeasies, the Silver Grill. After Prohibition in 1920, speakeasies proliferated dramatically in urban areas, becoming critical outlets for the emergence of jazz, America’s growing obsession. Bailey was swept up in this current, winding her way through speakeasies up and down the West coast. During her stint at the Silver Grill, Mildred met a merchant by the name of Ted Bailey. They were soon married. Sharing none of her musical aspirations, Bailey increasingly pressured her to give up touring for a life of domestic simplicity. Mildred boarded a train for Los Angeles instead, leaving her husband behind but keeping the name “Bailey,” for which she would soon become widely known. While she was singing on the speakeasy circuit, Mildred’s younger brother Alton–a budding musician himself–was forming a band with his older brother in Spokane called the Musicaladers. He had all the musicians in place except for a drummer who could keep decent time. They took a shot on an unknown musician who went by the name Bing. Much to their surprise, not only did he “really have a beat,” he could sing. At the time they couldn’t have imagined that in less than a decade, Crosby’s voice, which could scarcely be heard from behind the drum kit, would captivate millions. After some limited success in Spokane, Alton set off with Bing for Los Angeles in late 1925, hoping that Mildred could help them reach the next rung on the music business ladder. Driving down the coast in a haggard Model T Ford they picked up for $30 (with a missing top it came cheap), they lived a form of musical hand to mouth, playing and singing at parties and rickety roadside establishments for food, gas, and the occasional hotel room. After two weeks on the road, their winded Ford sputtered, gasped, and reluctantly rolled onto Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, a stones throw from the house
Alton Rinker and Bing Crosby, as newly minted performers with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, mid1920s. Photo courtesy of the Rinker Family Archives.
Mildred shared with her new husband, a successful bootlegger named Benny Stafford. It had been three years since Mildred had seen Alton and she didn’t know what to make of the strangers at the door. Concerned, Alton pleaded, “Don’t you know me? I’m your brother, Alt.” With a flash of recognition Mildred shrieked, throwing her arms around him with such enthusiasm they nearly toppled onto the porch. After their impromptu reunion, Alt and Bing followed Mildred through the door and into the promise of Hollywood, a promise that would be kept– to varying degrees– for each one of them. Not long after they arrived, Bailey notified Bing and December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 15
Alt of auditions for a traveling vaudeville show. She drove them to the audition and they got the gig, sharing the 13week bill with a range of acts, including a dog routine and a chorus line. While performing with the troupe some months later at the Metropolitan in Los Angeles, Crosby got a call from Paul Whiteman’s manager. In 1926, Whiteman was a superstar, reaching a level of celebrity previously unheard of in the field of popular music. Incredulous, Crosby hung up the phone. Whiteman’s manager persisted, eventually dispelling his disbelief and inviting him and Rinker to meet with Whiteman in his dressing room at the nearby Million Dollar Theater. Upon their arrival the next day, Whiteman cut right to the chase: he wanted the duo to join his band. Stunned, the young musicians–less than a year out of Spokane– got the kind of break that turns dreams into lucid, lifealtering reality. Soon after becoming
regulars in Whiteman’s New York club as the Rhythm Boys, Whiteman secured them a record contract with Victor Records. Their first recording under their new moniker was “Mississsippi Mud,” an eventual hit written by Harry Barris, the third “boy” in the ascendant trio. In 1928 The Rhythm Boys were part of Whiteman’s newly configured band, joining soon-to-be jazz legends such as Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Eddie Lang, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey on records that were selling faster than they could be made. During this time, Bailey was still in Los Angeles, gradually moving away from the speakeasy circuit. While pondering an uncertain musical future, Bailey received word that the Whiteman band was coming to town to film The King of Jazz (Whiteman would play the starring role). The band arrived to a delayed production, leaving them in limbo. During this time Bailey became fast friends with a number of the musicians, taking them up to the Hollywood hills to go horseback riding, a skill she developed while growing up on the Coeur d’Alene farm. After the picture finally went into production, Alt and Bing suggested to Bailey that she host a party for Whiteman and members of the band. The featured attraction would be Bailey’s home brew, the nearest thing to Prohibition perfection Hollywood had to offer. Not surprisingly, the whole band took them up on it, including Whiteman. Once the party had
Mildred Bailey never had children, but she did have a “fleet of dachshunds” that she loved as family. Photo courtesy of the Rinker Family Archives. 16 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
hit a comfortable stride, Crosby asked “Millie” to sing a song. Surrounded by musical heavy-hitters, she was on edge. With her heart pounding and her nerves firing, she began to sing “What Can I Say Dear After I Say I’m Sorry.” Halfway through the first verse, Whiteman’s eyes became distant as he drifted out of conversation, put down his beer, and listened. While the words were apologetic, the voice was soulful, smooth, and beyond reproach. After the song ended, Whiteman sauntered into the family room, gave Bailey a kiss, and asked if she would sing with the band for an upcoming radio spot. Bailey’s home brewing days were over. Over the next three years Bailey was a featured singer with Whiteman’s orchestra, becoming the first woman to front a big band. After her first record in 1929, titled, “What Kind ‘o Man Is You,” Bailey embarked on a highly productive and dynamic career that spanned the next two decades. In the 1930s Bailey was a star of radio (as well as the first female vocalist to have her own radio show) and recorded hundreds of songs, a feat unmatched by her contemporaries (including Lee Wiley and Ella Fitzgerald). After a somewhat contentious split with Whiteman, Bailey joined forces with former Whiteman sideman Red Norvo. Married in 1932, they soon earned the title of “Mr. and Mrs. Swing.” Will Friedwald called Bailey and Norvo “...one of the best partnerships in jazz, like Reinhardt and Grapelli, Beiderbecke and Trumbauer, Holiday and Young.” In the mid-1930s, Bailey also enjoyed fruitful collaborations with producer John Hammond, who hired accomplished soloists like Roy Eldridge, Teddy Wilson, and Buck Clayton to provide a subtle backdrop for Bailey on intimate sessions designed to sound as if they were sitting alongside the listener in the comfort of their living room. While Bailey’s distinct sound was being broadcast throughout 1930s America, it was becoming embedded within the musical lexicon of jazz itself, shaping the sound of singers to come. Bailey, too, had her influences, and while she would have credited Louis Armstrong with having a role in honing her jazz technique, for her the process of stylistic development was more localized: Sheet music was hard to get in my hometown and a tune had to be learned [from] a recording or traveling band. It had to be memorized. I could never get the exact notes of a song, so I used to sit down and try to scheme out the best way to sing it smoothly. Sometimes I would think how a tune might have been improved if the composer had changed certain parts of the melody, and I would try and sing it my own way. It sort of stuck this way through the years and before I could straighten myself out– I got to thinking I was traveling down
the wrong trail– I found out that they were calling this swing and liking it!
“Her way” of singing, an approach Bailey honed during her formative years, represents a critical phase in the development of jazz, still in its infancy in 1934. Back in Tekoa and Spokane, Bailey was swinging before she knew what swing was. Mildred Bailey continued her prolific singing career into the late 1940s, during which time her health began to wane. Her thyroid was most likely damaged during the horrific car accident of her youth, causing her to gain considerable weight over the years (a condition most likely exacerbated by the rigors of the road). After being diagnosed with advanced diabetes, Bailey was given a dim prognosis; rest would likely prolong her life, but not for very long. Bailey let go of her recording and touring commitments and sold the Coeur d’Alene farm, purchasing a similar farm in Stormville, New York (just outside of Poughkeepsie). In her final year, Bailey settled into a life that had the familiar feel of those early years on the Coeur d’Alene reservation while situating her near the rhythmic pulse of the jazz and pop world she had grown accustomed to. Friends who visited her there–including Eddie Condon, Lee Wiley, and Eddie Sauter–encountered a consummate singer who had traded her love for performing for a palpable peace. Irving Townsend “remembers watching her late one night at her farm in upstate New York while she listened to a record of Duke Ellington’s “Black Butterfly.” She sat at the kitchen table with a single candle blowing in the wind from the open door. The shadows of the leaves on the maples outside the door danced all over the kitchen walls, and Mildred played the record over and over again as if afraid the trees might stop blowing if the band did.” Sadly, Bailey’s peace would once again be short lived. While lying in a Poughkeepsie hospital, mounting bills siphoned away what money she had left, making it impossible to keep up with payments on the farm. Unsettled perhaps by the desperate physical and financial condition of a musical mentor that had given his career its start, Crosby (along with Frank Sinatra) paid her hospital bills and her mortgage. The entwined paths of Bailey and Crosby quietly crossed one last time in a graceful gesture far removed from the hustle of Hollywood. With her debts disbursed by those who understood her true worth to be incalculable, Bailey passed away on January 11, 1951, just short of her 51st birthday. Of Mildred Bailey’s place in the history of pop and jazz, Will Friedwald states that, “No understanding of jazz singing can be complete without factoring in Mildred Bailey.” In turn, I would December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 17
Mildred Bailey looks on as Paul Whiteman lifts a bass drum out of a boat. Photo courtesy of the Rinker Family Archives. Inset, a publicity shot of Mildred at the height of her career, taken by Avery Willard. Photo courtesy of the Keefe Family Archives.
suggest that no understanding of Mildred Bailey’s singing can be complete without factoring in the influence of Coeur d’Alene songs. Beyond straightening out a “squeaky” voice, removing the “bass boom,” increasing vocal flexibility, and perhaps even showing her how to swing, Coeur d’Alene songs connected Mildred to spiritual ways of being in the world. Singers that connect as deeply as she has with her audience–both then and now–bring this essential development and meaning to their singing. Moving beyond range, phrasing, timbre, or even what is heard, powerful singers connect to our very soul. By 18 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
singing in the manner of her ancestors, Bailey not only left an enduring imprint on America’s collective consciousness, her Spokan/Coeur d’Alene voice helped mold its most distinctive musical art form. g Chad Hamill (Spokan tribe) earned his PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Colorado in 2008. He is the author of Songs of Power and Prayer in the Columbia Plateau: The Jesuit, the Medicine Man, and the Indian Hymn Singer (Oregon State University Press, 2012). “American Indian Jazz: Mildred Bailey and the Origins of America’s Most Musical Art Form” will appear in Hamill’s upcoming book entitled Indigenous Pop (University of Arizona Press) due out next year. Hamill is currently an assistant professor in the department of Applied Indigenous Studies at Northern Arizona University.
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 19
Historic Homes: Finding “Bing” in the Basement, and Other Discoveries at the Crosby Home by
hat do we know about the house Bing Crosby lived in as a boy, teenager, and young man, at 508 E. Sharp Avenue in the Logan neighborhood on Spokane’s northeast side? I had read that the home was built by Bing’s parents, Catherine and Harry Crosby, in 1913. But as a new Bing Crosby Advocates volunteer talking to visitors about the house, I have been curious to know more. For example, occasional visitors would say they thought the house was a “Sears House,” meaning it had 20 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
originally been ordered through the mail from a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog and delivered by box car, ready to be put together by the purchaser. Kit homes such as this were first marketed in the U.S. in 1906, and by 1911 several companies produced them. The Aladdin Company and Sears, Roebuck sold the most mail-order homes over the years, but six other major companies and several smaller ones sold mail-order homes as well. With a bit of research into whether the Crosby home was a mail-order home, I soon found an unexpected
Above, a 1912 photo of Bing with classmates from Webster School, which later become the Gonzaga Law School, and today, is the Corkery Apartments. Note back row, right, Francis Corkery was one of Bing’s classmates. Opposite page, left, Bing’s childhood home on East Sharp Avenue. Center, Bing and friends on Sharp Avenue, diagonally across both Sharp and Addison from his home. Photos courtesy of the Bing Crosby Collection, Gonzaga University.
fact: that the home, which was thought to have been built by the Crosby family in 1913, was actually built two years earlier. That means that Bing, born on May 3, 1903, moved in as an eight-year-old. He lived here with his family for 14 years, before leaving with band mate Al Rinker for Hollywood in 1925. There are many sources which confirm the new date. Spokane County deed records show that on June 11, 1911 the Pioneer Educational Society (associated with Gonzaga College) sold Catherine Crosby a lot on Sharp Avenue, with the stipulation that a home worth at least $3000 must be built on it within five months or a $200 fine would ensue. City building permits reveal that on
June 30, 1911, permission was granted to connect the new home to the water main, and that service pipes were installed by July 6, 1911. On Aug. 14, 1911 the water meter was set in the basement. The Water Department permit described the Crosby home as having four rooms on the first floor, four rooms on the second floor, and two “water closets,” or bathrooms, just as it does today. On Aug. 18, 1911 wiring and fixtures were completed in the home. Another clue to the date of construction came from the 1911 Spokane postal guide. Postal guides consist of pages from the normal city directory of that year, annotated with address changes, additions, and deletions so that mail delivery would be accurate. The downtown December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 21
Above, a page out of the 1911 Spokane City Directory. Below, the initials, presumably, of one Harry “Bing” Crosby, either at age 16 or in the year 1916. Photos courtesy of Polly Kaczmarek. 22 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
Spokane Public Library has postal guides for the years 1903 to 1943. The Crosbys are listed in the regular 1911 city directory as living on Sinto Street, but written over this in the 1911 postal guide is “508 E. Sharp, 8/16.” So it appears that the family began receiving their mail at the Sharp Avenue address as of August 16, 1911. The regular 1912 city directory, which was compiled in February of that year, lists the Crosbys as living on Sharp Avenue. Realizing that the home was constructed in just two months, from when Catherine purchased the lot to when mail delivery began, a mail-order or kit house seemed probable. All mail-order house materials, with the exception of the foundation and basement walls, would have come to a buyer numbered and ready to put together. But how do we determine which company manufactured the Crosby Home? No blueprints or instruction manuals remained with the home, and I was unable to match the home’s floor plan or footprint to any of the published mail order home guides that I could find. Deed records stated that the Crosbys took out a loan with the Washington Savings and Loan Association, rather than with Sears or any other kit home manufacturer, as was sometimes done. The search through city deeds and permits did help pinpoint the building date, but did not list a kit home manufacturer as architect or seller. While the Crosby home is for the most part quite unaltered, with a variety of original features such as door trim, door knob plates, newel posts, and hinges, these items were usually the same from one kit home manufacturer to another
and can’t be used to definitively identify one manufacturer. A final possibility was to find markings on construction materials. By looking in such places as the attic, basement, and any crawl spaces, part numbers and markings on framing boards sometimes reveal the manufacturer. Ceiling joists, rafters, wall studs, stair treads and risers might all include letters or numbers to help the builder construct the home. Each company had a unique way of lettering and numbering their materials, in the way they ordered the numbers and letters and how they marked them on the wood: some stamped them, some stenciled them, some simply handwrote the markings with grease pencil. Upon getting the go-ahead to search the basement for such markings, I returned with a strong flashlight in hand. Alas, while cob webs and dust were in abundance, markings on lumber were not. (Not all companies marked their lumber, and even among companies that did, such as Sears, they didn’t always mark their lumber!) But I did find another mark of interest carved into a beam: the approximately 1.5-inch tall letters H and C, followed by the numerals 16. As Bing’s given name was Harry, these initials were most likely carved by him, either in 1916 or at the age of 16. The search for information on the building of the 1911 Crosby home continues. Next, the attic! Note: The Crosby House opened as a museum in September 2014. While Gonzaga University maintains offices on the upper floor, the main floor has Bing Crosby memorabilia, photos – and even his Oscar from the film “Going My Way.” Weekday hours are 9:00a.m. - 4:30p.m.; Saturdays 1-4 p.m. Admission free. g
Come and enjoy all things Bing at this White Christmas time of year. The annual Bing Crosby Holiday Film Festival takes place Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Avenue. Each year the nonprofit Bing Crosby Advocates presents the festival of Crosby films as a community-focused, family-friendly event to celebrate the legacy of Spokane’s own Bing Crosby, who performed skits in the 1920s between showings of silent films at the theater that now bears his name. Admission for the entire day’s events is $10, with children 12 and under admitted for free. Tickets are available at the door. Cash or check only. Beer and wine will be available for sale after 5 p.m. In addition to the showing of these classic Bing Crosby films, there will be a display of photos from the world famous entertainer’s home and family life and, of course, from his career. There will also be a raffle for hotel stays, live theater performances, gift certificates, and more. December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 23
Inland Northwest Markers:
Thomas Newlon by
Each issue, Nostalgia Magazine will bring you another historic marker from around the region. At right, Thomas Newlon pans for gold later in life. His family marker in the Moran Cemetery is on the opposite page. Photos courtesy of Chuck King.
homas Newlon was born in Danville, Illinois on November 7, 1830, one of 13 children. After completing his education at age 16, he went to work in the cattle business. At some point, he also learned the carpentry trade, a skill he would use throughout his life. At around age 22, he decided to follow the migration west, crossing the Great Plains in 1852.
A builder of Bridges and Ferryboats In 1865, Newlon became involved in what was then a very profitable venture. At that time, Walla Walla was the last major supply stop for thousands of miners and pack trains on their way north to the mines of Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. One of the problems they faced was the rivers that had to be crossed along the way. At certain points along these rivers there were either ferries or bridges set up to get passengers and supplies over them. Each bridge or ferry charged a fee. It was at Riperia on the Snake River that Newlon operated his first ferry. After a year there, he traveled north to the Spokane River to start a new project.
First Came to Oregon After a journey of four months he reached The Dalles, Oregon, where he lived for three years. He did, however, try his luck panning for gold in California, staying there only a short time. He then moved to Walla Walla, but soon he was on the trail for gold again. This time he went to Orofino, Idaho Bridging the Spokane where he lived for the next three years. Then it was back to In 1862, A.C. Kendall had opened a store on the north side Walla Walla, where for a while he took up farming, but not for of the Spokane River near the state line with Idaho. Two years long. Soon he would take up another new occupation: bridges later Tim Lee, Joe Herring, and Ned Jordan built a toll bridge MAD MEN logo courtesy of AMC and Lionsgate Television. and ferryboats. known as Pioneer Bridge near Kendallâ€™s store. This then 24 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
James Glover first arrived in the area in May of 1873, he spent the night at the hotel. The next day he went down for his first view of the falls. Mining in Montana, More Bridges, Spokane’s First Sawmill After selling the bridge site on the Spokane river, Newlon went to Montana, again panning for gold. It was probably at this time that he built the first bridge across the Missoula River. He then came back to the Spokane area. By that time, a few settlers were living near the falls and two men named Scranton and Downing were planning to build a sawmill there. In a quote from Newlons obituary, it is stated, “The first mill and one of the first buildings at the site of the present city was built by Mr. Newlon where the Phoenix Mill is now located.” Although no documentation has been found to verify this claim, obviously he was well-known in the area, and Scranton and Downing would be looking for men with his skills to help build their sawmill. That first sawmill was located in what is today Riverfront Park. Also, according to his obituary, he constructed the first bridge over Hangman Creek.
became the main route of miners and supply wagons. Traffic before that time would cross at the ferry of Antoine Plante, or at times of low water, cross where they could. The bridge put Plante out of business. In 1866, Newlon built a bridge in competition with Pioneer Bridge in the area of where the Spokane Valley Mall is today. He left it in charge of others for a short time while he was partnering in another crossing in the Palouse region. He then returned to his bridge and operated it until he sold out to D.J. Schnebly in 1868. Newlon’s bridge appears to have been severely damaged or had been washed away in this time period as a second bridge built by Schnebly is said to have been put up at the same site. Kendall bought the Schnebly bridge site a few years later. Newlon said sometime after that, the bridge was dynamited to route all the traffic to Spokane Bridge. About this time A.C. Kendall also purchased the Pioneer Bridge near his store from Tim Lee. The settlement at what was then known as Spokane Bridge or Kendall’s Bridge by 1873 would consist of 12 to 15 buildings, including the store, a hotel, and a dining hall. When
Another Ferry in the Spokane Valley In 1872, A.C. Kendall sold his store and the bridge site at Spokane Bridge to Thomas Ford and Michael Cowley, mainly because of bad health. Kendall then moved to the south side of the river. The bridge at this time was rebuilt or replaced. While the bridge was under construction, Newlon operated a ferry that he had built for Cowley and Ford a few miles west, near the location of today’s Harvard Road bridge north of Liberty Lake. In May of 1873, A.C. Kendall died leaving an estate of well over 100 cattle and horses, and also the Newlon-Schnebly bridge site. Newlon was probably working for Kendall at the time of his death, as documents show Newlon was the “man in charge” of Kendall’s property in October 1873. Settles at Moran Prairie In 1874, Newlon was married in Colfax to Isabelle Kirby, one of the few settlers living by the falls when he was helping to build the sawmill that was finished in 1872. In 1876, they homesteaded 160 acres on Moran Prairie, and they would acquire another fifty-five acres. There they established one of the finest farms in the area. Thirty-five acres of the farm was planted in orchards. Newlon’s apples won many awards at the early Spokane fairs, including two first place awards at Spokane’s first fair in 1886 for “Summer Apples” and “Largest December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 25
WESTERNERS SPOKANE CORRAL EXPLORING NORTHWEST HISTORY The purpose of the Westerners Spokane Corral is to bring together in warm fellowship men and women who have a common interest in Pacific Northwest history. The Spokane Corral meets the third Thursday of every month. Westerners encourage historical research and popularize western lore and history through publication, awards and preservation of archival records, documents and other evidence of the Pacific Northwest. We meet the third Thursday of every month, except July and August. Meeting time is 5:30pm for dinner and 7:00pm for our monthly history presentation at the Airport Holiday Inn, 1616 South Windsor Drive. Reservations in advance for dinner required. For more info, Call Sheriff Dick Jensen (509) 747-1335.
The Spokane Valley Event Center is where fresh, modern style meets affordable excellence. Perfect for weddings, anniversaries, and more - all amenities available on-site including tables, chairs, linens, etc. Banquet seating for up to 450 guests, and full Audio/Visual capabilities 26 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
(509) 795-0981 spokanevalleyeventcenter.com
Spokane Our Early History
The Newlon Children: Guy Leslie Newlon, above left; Olive Newlon, above right; and at left, Laura Bell Newlon. Photos courtesy of Chuck King.
and Biggest Collection of Fruits,” as well as a first prize entry in the “Largest and Best Collection” category at Spokane’s first Fruit Fair in 1894. Thomas and Isabelle in 1887 donated roughly 1.5 acres of land at what is now the corner of 65th and Waneta for the Moran school. The couple had four children: Olive, Guy, and Laura, and a daughter who died at birth. In 1908, the Newlon family sold some of their property advertised as Newlon’s Acres. Newlon Passes Thomas Newlon died on October 22, 1917. He was 86 years old. He is buried in the family plot at the Moran Cemetery, of which he was one of the founders, and on the first Board of Trustees. In an interview with James Glover at Newlon’s death, he was quoted as saying: “I have known Mr. Newlon ever since his arrival here.” Perhaps he should have said, “since my arrival here,” because Newlon was in Spokane for nearly a decade before Glover. g
Seven Frontier Women
Dear Old Nat
Order a NEW 2-year Subscription to Nostalgia Magazine for someone you love, and receive a complimentary copy of one of these books of your choice when you pay the shipping.
Call (509) 443-3678 Today! December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 27
Harold Tucker: Spokane Santa and Motorcycle Police Officer
Jack Pearson Tony Bamonte by
28 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
arold Tucker was born in Dahinda, Illinois in 1925. Dahinda is a small, unincorporated community in Knox County, Illinois. Haroldâ€™s father was a jack-of-all trades and his mother was a housewife. There were four boys and five girls in the family, all raised and attended schools in Knoxville, Illinois. Following high school, many of his friends were drafted. This was upsetting to him, and rather than wait for his draft number to come up, he went down to the
recruiting station and volunteered for the United States Navy. When Harold joined the Navy he was sent to Farragut Naval Training Center, located on Lake Pend Oreille in Bayview, Idaho for his basic training. The history of Farragut, as a Naval training station, is interesting and needs a short introduction. In 1941, Eleanor Roosevelt allegedly noticed Lake Pend Oreille on a flight to Seattle. At the time, she had inside knowledge that her husband, President Roosevelt, was looking for a location to
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 29
POOL YULE: Harold Tucker performs some “quality control testing” on one of Santa’s new billiard tables in 1969. Photo courtesy of the Tucker Family Archives.
30 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
secure an inland naval training center. Roosevelt quickly go for rest and recreation. Special trains, called Liberty made a secret tour of the area, and as a result, in late 1941, Trains, were dedicated to the enlistees stationed at the U.S. government purchased over 4,000 acres. This Farragut, making three trips a day to Spokane. purchase was made from private landowners, Kootenai In 1944, Harold was going through boot camp at County commissioners, and a railway company that Farragut Naval Training center. During Harold’s training owned much of the land. Roosevelt felt it was important at Farragut, he and some of his Navy buddies would go to establish an inland naval base away from the western to Cook’s Roller Rink (now Pattison’s) whenever they coastline, as at the time he feared a Japanese invasion. could get a pass. Cook’s had a reputation as a place with Construction of the base began in March 1942. a wholesome environment and a good place to meet By September, the base had a population of 55,000, women. making it the largest populated city in Idaho. For the next nine months, over 22,000 men were employed at the site, working 10-hour shifts for 13 of every 14 days. They built mess halls, libraries, movie theaters, living quarters, chapels and other many other buildings. A total of 776 buildings were constructed. Because of the rush to complete buildings and a shor tage of seasoned lumber, the majority of the buildings were constructed with green lumber. This was a major construction project for the entire Inland Northwest, which provided a badly needed economic stimulus for the surrounding communities From left to right, Bob Browning (in uniform), Jerry King (Independent following the Great Depression. Insurance agent), Bob Cumming (Spokane Fire Dept), Harold Tucker (Santa), D u r i n g i t s 3 0 m o n t h s o f Russell Fick, and his father, Floyd Fick (in uniform). Harold Tucker joined existence, more than 293,000 the Spokane Police Dept in 1950, and spent 15 years playing Santa during sailors received basic training at the Christmas, giving out full-size Hershey bars to District 81 school children, which were supplied by Independent Insurance Agents of Spokane. Photo camp. The last recruit graduated in courtesy of the Tucker Family Archives. March 1945. Farragut was also used as a prisoner of war camp where nearly 900 Germans In the spring of 1944, Harold met his future wife, worked as gardeners and maintenance men. Shirley, at Cook’s. She was 17 at the time, and a senior at The Farragut Naval Training Station served as boot North Central High School. camp for Navy recruits. Basic training at Farragut typically The relationship continued and grew. It eventually meant recruits left home for the first time, came to Farragut turned into a romance by correspondence after Harold and learned basic military skills before heading off to fight shipped out. Harold’s assignment was as a hospital in World War II. However, as is always as a condition of corpsman aboard the USS LaGrange. His ship was any military base, the recruits needed time and places to anchored at Buckner Bay near Okinawa. December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 31
One night, 13 Japanese twin-engine bombers attacked. “They hit every ship around us, but didn’t hit us,” said Harold. “We were young. We stood on the fantail and cheered the anti-aircraft fire. We hollered every time they shot down a plane.” The night before the war ended, on August 13, 1945, the LaGrange was attacked by two Kamikaze pilots. One plane struck the ship and damaged it before crashing into the water. The other, carrying a bomb, plunged through the ship and the bomb detonated three decks below. At the time the LaGrande was hit, Harold was in the ships dental office trying to write a letter to Shirley. After a few attempts at writing, he kept coming up blank. He finally went to the mess hall to watch a movie. Within five minutes, the bomb went right through the dental office where he had just been. The ship was a disaster area. There was fire on the deck and many men were killed or badly burned. As a hospital corpsman, Harold did his best to care for the wounded and dying. The next morning he found his belongings floating in the water on deck. You could honestly say Shirley saved his life that day. On November 11, 1945, while on a 30-day leave, Harold and Shirley were married at Pilgrim Lutheran in Spokane. Following his leave, Harold returned to duty and the couple spent the first six months of married life apart, until his discharge in 1946. In Spokane, Harold worked a number of other jobs, mostly at service stations - even owning one at one time at 38th Avenue and Grand Boulevard. In 1950, he took the civil service test for the Spokane Police Department and came out number 12 of 127. Beginning duty as a patrolman, he was later assigned to the motorcycle unit. After 25 years on the force, Harold retired, taking a job as an investigator for the state Department of Revenue. He was also active in the Masonic Lodge, At right, Harold Tucker teaching safety patrol to his daughter, Patti, in 1961. Photo courtesy of the Tucker Family Archives. 32 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
and in his 60s became a licensed minister, serving for a time as interim pastor of the United Church of Christ in North Spokane. Harold had an exceptional knack with both people and their kids. It was hard to know him and not immediately like and respect him. g
Read more about Harold in Jack Pearson and Tony Bamonte’s upcoming book “Motorcycle Officers of Eastern Washington,” due out in bookstores in 2016.
Eastern Washington has been served by motorcycle officers since 1910. Their stories are now brought to life in this 656 page volume of history written by two former motorcycle officers, Tony Bamonte and Jack Pearson.
Tornado Creek Publications
Tony Bamonte & Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte “Specializing in Inland Northwest History” www.TornadoCreekPublications.com
The Coeur d’Alenes Gold Rush and Its Lasting Legacy, Available Now!
PO BOX 8625 SPOKANE, WA 99203 (509) 838-7114 TCPOFFICE@COMCAST.NET
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 33
A 1960s Spokane Christmas Story by
s a child growing up in Spokane, the month long, escalating frenzy of anticipation for Christmas morning made my sister, two younger brothers, and me temporarily insane. We lived at 1024 E. Baldwin in the Gonzaga neighborhood in the 1960s. My parents decreed all things Christmas were forbidden until the day after Thanksgiving, and now as an adult myself, I still can’t agree more with this simple rule. At left, the Kromholtz Children, Tim, Kevin, and Karen, sit on Santa’s lap, 1966. Tim’s brother Kevin (center) is not too sure this is such a good idea. Opposite page, the Kromholtz family, with aunts, uncles, and cousins, prepares for another Christmas feast. Photos courtesy of the Kromholtz Family Archives. Below, the iconic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with his best friend Hermey the Elf from the Rankin and Bass stop-motion animation television special, which first aired in 1964.
34 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
As a Catholic family, we knew that the Christ the King Mass falls on the Sunday before the first Sunday in the season of Advent, which is the four Sundays before Christmas. The Advent wreath tradition has its four candles - one candle is lit for each successive Sunday of Advent at dinner. For the children in my family, it seemed almost a cruel torture, this ritual of Advent. Its sole purpose seemed like a cultural conspiracy to tease children by constantly telling us how far Christmas was away. A week was an eternity in “kid time.” We began the season by compiling and coalescing our
Christmas list for Santa. At that age, kids don’t have to think about what they want. They already know what they want, and it was just a matter of whether it was feasible or if a judicious pruning was necessary to get the list size down to a sack that could fit on Santa’s sleigh. Somewhere around the first week of Christmas season came the venerable TV program, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Even as a 6-year-old, I was sure I had heard of the bad winter that Burl Ives, or “Sam the Snowman,” referred to in the program. Children have a natural sense that important
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 35
things have happened before they were born. Hearing the retelling of stories from their elders builds a strong sense of who they are. In school, we also started rehearsing Christmas songs for the school Christmas program. It was held on the last Tuesday before Christmas vacation in the dominant landmark of the then much more humble Gonzaga University Campus: our beautiful and majestic, turn of the century Romanesque edifice, St. Aloysius Church. The Christmas pageant was an impressive feat of order and discipline! Our teachers, the Holy Names Sisters, kept 600 students from grade one through eight of St. Aloysius Grade School mostly quiet and reverent for 90 minutes. As a parent of St. Aloysius Grade School children myself, more recently, the differences from my childhood pageants are striking. Back then, there were more than double the number of students, but the church was probably not as full. Now there are fewer students but the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles fill the church to capacity. In today’s culture of fewer children and
Above, a 45rpm record label of the Cinnamon Bear radio program. The Cinnamon Bear ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas, six days per week, starting in 1937. Below, St. Aloysius Cathedral, on campus at Gonzaga University. In the photo, Boone Avenue still runs by the front of the church. Today, Boone terminates at Pearl Street, some three blocks west of the church. Photo courtesy of the Kromholtz Family Archives.
36 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
divorce, grandparents usually outnumber the children handily and the atmosphere more closely resembles a pep rally. Another impressive feat of the sisters in cleverness, but perhaps with not such lofty motives, was that the school scheduled a week of vacation prior to Christmas. The faculty thus avoided up to 5 days of educational futility - grade school children wound up tighter than cheap alarm clocks completely impervious to new knowledge. We students knew this sizable pre-Christmas portion of vacation was a bad deal because we were unable to enjoy a whole week of our vacation wracked with the anticipation of Christmas, and besides, we wouldn’t have our new toys to play with yet, either. My father introduced us to rebroadcasts of The Cinnamon Bear, on Spokane radio station KHQ, which was a children’s serial radio program from the classic radio era. This program in itself was a teasing build-up of suspense, and it finished its entertaining adventure on Christmas Eve. We older kids thought one of the main characters, the little boy Jimmy, was a dork. His exclamation, “Gee Willikers!” was not quite up to our “coolness” standard. The Paddy O’Cinnamon character’s ambigious identity was somehow disconcerting, too, but we really got a kick out of watching our youngest brother revel in the nightly episodes. He even won a prize in a drawing the station conducted. We really felt special when we heard his name called in the list of winners by the radio announcer, Ira Joe Fischer. Our father, one year, read to us aloud, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which delighted our imaginations and naturally motivated us to watch the movie starring Alistair Sim. That became the must-see, late Advent movie. No Advent was complete without a family drive in the 1963 Studebaker Lark Wagon to see residential Christmas light displays. Various suburban neighborhoods were the best bet to see high concentrations of Christmas lights. The East Glass neighborhood in North Spokane with its glamorous low profile modern ranchers was so completely and consistently decorated that it would become inundated with cars (and it still is today). Drivers switched off their headlights as they drove down the neighborhood streets,
the headlight beams rendered unnecessary because of all the Christmas lights. Shopping trips to downtown department stores, The Crescent, The Bon Marche, and others, brought up the thorny issue of multiple Santas, which my parents explained by calling the multitude, “Santa’s Helpers.” We reckoned the Santa who rode on a Spokane Fire Department truck through the neighborhoods just one time before Christmas was the real Santa. If the situation in which Santa was presented provided exclusivity we were more inclined to consider him the real thing. As a young Catholic, in my primitive theology, Christmas Eve Mass was the price, that necessary suffering required to get to the promised land – Christmas morning. In hindsight, it was an authentic Catholic sensibility. Purgatory seems like a fair comparison. Being so close to the goal, my siblings and I had tremendous powers of focus. That and a healthy fear of my father kept us well-behaved at Mass. Just below the conscious level, the knowledge was there that Christmas without the religious foundation rendered it shallow. After Mass we drove home, all the while our parents noting the late hour and watching the skies
Above, a movie poster for “Scrooge,” the United Artists film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Alastair Sim. The film debuted in 1951, and the novel was written in 1843. The film was a box office disappointment in the United States, but it has become the most recognized adaptaion of Dickens’ book. At left, Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, a promotional shot from the film. December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 37
The Kromholtz children undertake the long-awaited opening of gifts on Christmas morning, mid1960s. Photos courtesy of the Kromholtz Family Archives.
warily as they would say, “Boy! I hope we get home before Santa arrives.” In a story that would be in the lore of future Christmases, one of the kids was sure he saw a fleeting glimpse of the “real” Santa and his sleigh off in the night sky. We were rushed to bed and told to fall asleep quickly and threatened with bodily harm for any signs of being awake. I remember being in a hurry to fall asleep so the morning would come sooner. It was futile. I counted sheep, but it was agony. My mind was racing at light speed, and the minutes hung like days, but I am sure it all took place in a couple of hours at most. I always finally fell asleep at some kind of a decent hour because I always woke up and got out of bed well before dawn. My father, through painful experience, laid down the law that no presents were to be opened or even looked at until the streetlights went out at first light. As Christmas falls very near the winter solstice and Spokane is situated only 100 38 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
miles south of the northernmost part of the contiguous states, it results in dawn being way too late for anticipation-wracked kids. My brothers and I would stand watch out our back window, keeping our streetlight vigil with a diligence an Army post commander could only dream of from his soldiers. When the actual moment really, actually arrived, when the streetlight went out, the floodgates of our remaining adrenaline were burst open as we threw open the pocket doors to the living room. We woke the rest of the house with bombastic shouts and door slams. The ultimate responsibility for our fervor lay with our father because he cultivated it mightily. The Christmas morning extravaganza was such a stark contrast to the rest of the year. We were not well-off in those days. My father had been laid off from his job at Boeing, so we had moved from Seattle so he could take a job in his true calling as a chemistry teacher at a cash-strapped Catholic high school, Gonzaga Preparatory. My parents practiced year-round frugality in a highly disciplined manner. My mother skillfully strove to make edible meals from the worst cuts of meat. I’ll never forget the percussive, machine gun sound of the pressure cooker, laboring all day to beat a small, God-forsaken chunk of stew meat purchased from Low Cost on Division Street into something that could be chewed and swallowed. We ate out only one day a month, on payday, at a “burger joint,” my dad’s name for a hamburger stand. Often it was the Paul Bunyan on Division. We loved the entertaining drive-through driveway, with the wall imaginatively painted with all the menu items. I remember the “Green River” soda drink was a favorite that other drive-ins didn’t offer. In contrast to our humble way of life, Santa’s presents were always top-notch, which really hardened our belief in the white bearded man in red. Our parents could never have afforded this great stuff! The gifts I remember most vividly are the ones with which my dad would participate with us kids. Johnny Lightning race cars! Electric football and Pro Football strategy! Dad was the
undisputed “King of the Castle” and his participation meant eaten “four or five,” instead several pounds of the salty, oily it was the family focus. Playing at a competitive level in these condiment were, at that moment, quickly being metabolized games with Dad meant recognition and respect. My dad never into kinetic energy in the form of frenetic games and sports. made phony praise for trying hard, but rather, he praised real I think my mother gave up bringing her fluffy, flaky, delicious accomplishments, which fostered self-respect rather than a mashed potato dough dinner rolls because a few boys, in about dubious self-esteem without foundation. two minutes, could devour what took her all day to prepare. We played these games for substantial amounts of time. The Christmas brew of suspense, lack of sleep, unmitigated Electric football took about five minutes to set up for each play, glee and gluttony came with a price - the Christmas Evening which, upon reflection, isn’t that different than contemporary Letdown. The weather didn’t usually help, either. Spokane’s pro football. Then, when you turned on the vibrating steel climate is generally moderated by Pacific Ocean weather playing field, the pieces would go in almost completely random directions. There was a pathetic little grey felt “football” that was wedged into the hand of the running back. I remember the best play was something like the old flying wedge formation. We actually ordered two more deluxe sets of players for electric football which had the highly desirable hand painted players in place of the much worse, larger, monochromatic, softer plastic standard players, so we must have found a way to enjoy it. On Christmas afternoon, we would load up in the station wagon and head to one of my Dad’s sisters who lived in town. One of these brave aunts was chosen that year to host the Christmas feast Above, an electric football set from the late 1960s. The game was for sometimes as many as nine adults and nearly created in 1947 by Norman Sas, based on an electric racecar 20 kid-cousins. I was the oldest, so if I was ten, the game. Since it was created, over 40 million sets have been sold worldwide. rest were younger. I am sure my mother won the lottery in some of those years and was the hostess, so leaving systems. As December temperatures hovered around freezing, the house to go to our aunt’s and uncle’s homes must have oftentimes a beautiful, fresh, white powder snow that hushed made those memories more vivid. the ambient noise of the city would fall overnight. This winter I always looked forward to the feast because of the morning dreamscape would, as the temperature rose, often opportunities to eat huge quantities of some of the few foods deteriorate throughout the day so much that by dark, around I liked as a kid. I have a theory that kids’ young taste buds are four o’clock, it was a wet, grey drizzle. The unromantic sound so sensitive that only the mildest foods can be enjoyed. I can of car tires slapping wet pavement and slopping slush rose from remember savoring the delicacy of plain Wonder Bread, de- throughout the city, and the wonderland was no more. The crusted, wadded, and compressed into a dense dough ball. Greatest Day of the Year was indeed over and the reality of I much preferred plain macaroni with just butter than any three to four more months of the daunting Spokane winter was tomatoey sauce. Only simple, mild, and homogeneous flavors in store. I was grateful enough to at least attempt not to show and textures were what I liked. I can remember being upset that my melancholia to my parents. To console myself, I would different foods on my plate became mixed up. My grandmother hopefully have a toy I could take into bed with me. I distinctly would say,” Oh! My dear! It all mixes in your stomach.” That remember taking a Daisy Air Rifle to bed with me, and I was certain inevitability offered me little solace. not younger than ten years old. My aunts were naive enough to put out black olives before Later, as a father myself, I strove to provide a wonder-filled dinner. I can remember harried matrons asking, ”who ate all the Christmas for my kids worthy of my parents’ great example. g olives?” Despite the usual suspects attesting that they had only December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 39
Patsy and Mary Clarkâ€™s Grandson by
John H. Richards
40 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
e rolled his best marbles across the large foyer entrance Yes, the young boy was my father, John S. (Stack) Richards, as a little boy. Sometimes the cat’s eye marbles ran into and sadly, both he and Mr. Anderson have passed away. the grandfather clock with its phase moon faces or fell Dad was one of four children: Pat, Henry, Rhea (Shipley), down the stairs to the gambling/cigar room better known as and John, the youngest. Their parents were Harry A. Richards the Chinese Room. Olive Olson, the maid, would be there to and Ella T. (Clark) Richards. Ella was the eldest daughter of watch over him, and Wong Gah, the cook, would scold him in Patrick Francis “Patsy” and Mary A. (Stack) Clark, and she was his native tongue. born in Butte, Montana, in 1883. My grandparents were He would sneak out of his bedroom at the married in the Patsy Clark Mansion in 1906 with end of the second floor, lay down on the Bishop O’Dea from Seattle officiating. hardwood, and peer between the railing Patsy Clark had walked from Utah to spindles and listen to the sound of Butte, Montana, to join Marcus Daly tinkling glasses, laughter, and music who had offered him a job. Daly was from another wonderful party for impressed with this young miner due the adults. His Aunt Rhea would to his work ethic and that he sent play the harp. his wages to his mother in Ireland. The landing below his room Patsy would go on to manage was illuminated by muted several important Daly mines, light that came through the the greatest of which was the cathedral-sized Tiffany stain Anaconda mine - the richest glass windows whose theme copper mine. would be replicated in the After the death of Mary Peacock Bar at the Davenport Stack’s father in New Orleans, Hotel. On the third floor of the her widowed mother and three mansion he would float his children moved to Butte, where wood sailboat tied to a string she ran a small boarding house. on the large water trough used Probably at a Catholic parish for the radiator heat. dance, Patsy fell in love with His pet was a rooster named Mary and they were married Pete. One day he returned March 17th, 1881. It is probably from school to find that Pete not a coincidence that they had been prepared by Wong as were joined in matrimony on the main course for dinner. He St. Patrick’s Day since both wouldn’t eat old Pete. Seeking families were Irish. Patsy was new animal companions, he also born on the same date in climbed the railroad trestles 1851. and caught pigeons that he My father never knew Patsy Above, John S. (Stack) Richards, born in 1915, and the housed on the roof. grandson of the iconic Spokane mining magnate Patsy Clark, because his grandfather He and the young Anderson Clark (pictured opposite page). Photos courtesy of the would have a fatal heart attack youth would hide in the bushes Richards Family Archives. complicated by the “grippe” where the trolley would turn on June 17th, 1915, at the age of around in Browne’s Addition, and as the conductor would walk sixty-four. His grandson had been born one month earlier, on to the other end of the trolley, they would jump on the platform May 26. Patsy’s widow, Mary, would own the mansion until and ring the bell. Eric Anderson, now over 90 years old, told she sold the home to the Eugene Enloe family in 1926. She was me that the conductor was “mad as hell.” He said he was at first a kind, loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, reluctant to become this young boy’s buddy, because the Irish living the majority of her remaining years in a suite in the were a tough group. But, he said, “Your Dad was a great guy.” Westminster Apartments in Browne’s Addition. She would December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 41
Above, the Patsy Clark Mansion, where John S. Richards lived during his childhood. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Digital Archives, Spokane City Historic Preservation Office Photographic Collection. At left, John S. Richards in 1942 as a member of the Merchant Marines. Photo courtesy of the Richards Family Archives.
pass away in 1948, just shortly before her eighty-sixth birthday on July 4th. My uncle Pat used to travel to Gonzaga Prep in a limo. After the Great Depression, my father traveled on a beat-up motorcycle to Lewis and Clark High School, where he ran track but smoked, became president of the Tiger Club, and parked cars at the Ramp Garage. On nights that he worked, he could have a nutritionally sound dinner at Georgeâ€™s Coney Island restaurant. For 25 cents he could savor a hot dog and a crĂ¨me pop. He met his future bride, Beverly, at LC. At the age of eighteen he traveled on a German freighter having signed on to gold dredge in the rivers of Colombia, South America. He learned about mining by listening to Clark relatives and a short stent working on the Sacramento River. Before arriving in Colombia, his ship strayed too close to the shore striking the bottom then drifted further out into the 42 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
channel and started to sink. He dove off into the dark waters and hung onto a floating gasoline can until the natives could rescue him. He saved a cat who apparently was also on board. Dad eventually traveled to the work camp to gold dredge on the river, and caimans, a relative of crocodiles, would swim by him. He lived in a treehouse and bananas became a staple of his diet. He soon had another pet, a coatimundi, whose diet of ants and insects of all kinds, spiders, and fruit made a welcome companion. Dad was able to avoid reptiles, but not red ants when walking to work one day. After a year and a half he contracted malaria and returned to the United States. The treatment of malaria was still in its infancy. He and my mother married, and he joined the Merchant Marines, but could only be stationed stateside, because he would have relapses of malaria. After receiving training in Long Beach, California, he and Mom lived in a small apartment in Seattle with a murphy pulldown bed. He ran the commissary during the war, feeding up to one thousand men per day, and was paid $27 per month. Mom worked in a Jewish pawnshop on First Avenue. Having a malaria bout, he was placed in quarantine in the Navy Hospital when my mother went into labor. I was born in a different hospital in 1945, and we also became quarantined because a female patient came down with scarlet fever. Eventually we were all reunited, and made our home in Spokane. My sister, Sharon, was born two years later. Many years had passed when I traveled from work to the Patsy Clark Mansion restaurant, and sat in the bar until my family joined me. The bar was quiet, and the waitress
asked me if I had ever been there before. I responded that my Dad would be coming through the door shortly, and he had lived in the mansion. She then asked me if I had heard of the ghost that roamed the mansion. With a modest Irish twinkle in my eye, I told her that I thought it was probably Mary Clark who had reluctantly sold her home, but had only lived a long block away. She was a kind person so no employee should be afraid. She said she couldn’t wait to tell the rest of the staff, and rushed off. I certainly do not want to be accused of starting a ghostly rumor, but just Google “Patsy Clark Mansion,” and you will find that haunting is very popular. g
At right, Patsy and Mary Clark’s wedding photo, St. Patrick’s Day, 1881, Butte, Montana. Photo courtesy of the Richards Family Archives. December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 43
Bing Biographer Peels Back the Layers by William Stimson, PhD
ing Crosby has had several biographers, but Gary Giddins is the first who has attempted to describe what everyone who knew Bing Crosby personally insists: this was a complicated, multi-faceted human being whose essence went way deeper than singing and acting. Giddins knows this, and it is why, having already written 500 pages on Bing’s first 37 years of life, he has now written another 600 pages on Bing’s life from 1940 to 1946. The second volume, Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940-1946, covers the period when Bing recorded “White Christmas,” filmed the Oscar-winning film “Going My Way” and made almost all of the signature “Road Movies” -- “Road to Singapore” (1940); “Road to Zanzibar” (1941); “Road to Morocco” (1942); and “Road to Utopia” (1943). Those movies created a new genre of comedy – the “two-guys on the road” movie, which is copied to this day. Bing was doing all that while becoming owner of a professional baseball team, playing in innumerable benefit golf tournaments and sustaining his charities and causes. One of those causes was to become builder of morale in America and a thorn in the side to Hitler and his propagandists, who had no
44 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
comeback for the cheerful and decent American singer that intrigued Germans as much as he did people all around the world. The calming and pleasing movie “Going My Own Way” had to be made in that maelstrom. You would never know, from the movie itself or the summaries available elsewhere, what a chore it was to get it done at all. Three different studios and the Metropolitan Opera had to be led reluctantly to do it. All the actors involved had intricate schedules. And there was no working script. Many of the films Bing made he did not take very seriously. “Going My Way” was one of the exceptions. He believed deeply in it and invested himself in it. His co-star, Rise Stevens, says of Bing: “I come from opera and I know about rehearsal and work and preparation, but I never saw anyone with a work ethic like Bing, so focused on his part. It surprised me.... He was meticulous about everything, involved in everything.” Bing was talked into the movie by director Leo McCary. McCary told him he would be playing a “hep priest.” “What’s a hep priest?” Bing asked.
Continued on page 22...
Bing visits with Gonzaga footballers, circa 1940s. Gonzaga is “undefeated” in football since 1946. Photo courtesy of the Gonzaga University Archives.
“Bing Crosby, Swinging on a Star, The War Years, 1940-1946” Now Available! “Long-awaited, Swinging on a Star is the scrupulously researched companion to Gary Giddins’s marvelous first volume on the life of Bing Crosby. ...It brims with music, movies, family drama, religion, love — and now, war, when the master of jazz performed on a public stage to a country, and most particularly an armed forces, in need of cheer.” — Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise “Brilliant and unsurpassable: Giddins zeroes in on the war years and richly documents Crosby’s remarkable career as it reached its zenith as singer, actor, and canny business man, not to mention tireless star entertainer to our troops. He raised the morale of all of America and was beloved by millions.” — Patricia Bosworth, author of The Men in My Life: Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan
Purchase online at: garygiddins.com/books
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 45
The explanation Bing got he passed along in a letter to a friend a couple of years later. A “hep priest,” McCary told Bing, was, “Just a regular fellow, with a sense of humor. He achieves results, not with ponderous precepts, thunderous theology or frightening threats of Hellfire and damnation, but by making religion pleasant and attractive. Joyful.” Bing added, “I’ve known many such” (page 323 of Swinging on a Star). Indeed Bing did know such priests. Several of his boyhood pals became priests. Fr. Frank Corkery who lived across the street from Bing became a priest and president of Gonzaga Univeristy. Bing’s next door neighbor had five sons, and four of them became Jesuit priests. When Bing entered college at Gonzaga, his old partner in delivering newspapers entered the seminary. When you’ve played baseball and hung around with a kid all of your life, he does not turn into a forbidding figure by dawning a black robe. In high school, all of Bing’s teachers were Jesuits,
some not that much older than he was. Fr. Sharp was the model of Fr. O’Malley dealing with the toughs. Sharp was a likeable disciplinarian who sometimes had to rescue one of his students from the Spokane jailhouse, assuring the police: “I’ll deal with of him.” One of the “regular fellows” Bing knew was Fr. Arthur Dussault, one of the builders of Gonzaga. When Bing knew him in college, Dussault was a football and basketball star. (I was once at a dinner with several notable Spokane women, all Protestants, who agreed that Fr. Dussault was possibly the handsomest man in Spokane when he was a young priest). He was one of Bing’s lifelong friends and no doubt one of those priests that came to mind when McCary described the Fr. O’Malley of the movie. Giddins’ first volume dealt with Bing’s years in Spokane. In a different way, the second volume also deals with Bing’s years in Spokane, and the profound effect Spokane had on his career. g At left, Arthur Dussault on the football field at Gonzaga College, circa 1925. Above, Bing Crosby at “Gonzaga.” Photos courtesy of the Gonzaga University Archives.
46 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 47
Josephine Baker’s Secret Life as a World War II spy
he year before the Nazis invaded Paris, in 1939, the most famous woman in Europe received a visitor who would change her life’s course forever. Jacques Abtey, a captain in the Deuxième Bureau, the French intelligence agency, entered Josephine Baker’s castle on the Dordogne River begrudgingly, skeptical of her offer to work as a spy against Nazi Germany. Would she be another Mata Hari, the femme fatale charged with acting as a double agent and betraying France during the Great War? “France made me what I am today.” She sat erect, babbling now, but who cared? She would talk all night if that was what it took. “And did I not become the cherished child of the Parisians? They gave me everything, especially their hearts.” She thumped her chest with her fist and pressed it against her own wild, twisting heart. “I am ready, Captain, to give my life to France. You may dispose of me as you wish.” The 20th-century icon Josephine Baker was so much more than a sex symbol who danced in a skirt made of bananas. Yes, she took Paris by storm in 1925 with her “Savage Dance” – performed in little more than a strategically-placed feather – and went on to increase her fame with the infamous banana skirt which, legend has it, she designed as a joke for her first revue at the Folies-Bergère. She also became, over the next twenty years, a chanteuse, or stage singer, and international star; the first black woman to star in a feature film and to headline in New York’s Ziegfeld Follies; a recording artist; an opera diva, and – the detail that most surprises and fascinates people – a spy for the French Resistance during World War II. Risking Her Life for Freedom According to some accounts, Baker joined the Maquis, a group of guerilla freedom fighters who reportedly trained her to shoot in the sewers under Paris. (She could snuff a candle at twenty yards, it is said.) But her primary roles were those of seductress who enticed diplomats and generals to confide in her, and envoy who carried concealed notes to Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s agents in Lisbon. 48 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
She’d write the information on her sheet music in invisible ink, or on pieces of paper pinned to her underwear, or along the insides of her arms, and it carry across borders under the auspices of touring – with Capt. Abtey by her side, posing as her theatrical agent. Some who knew warned her that she risked her life with these activities, but Josephine only laughed. “Who would dare strip-search Josephine Baker?” she scoffed. She was right: the border patrols fawned over her, asking only for her autograph. She lived in constant danger. She was nearly arrested several times, including when Nazis came to her castle for an impromptu search. She charmed them with her flirtatious chatter, making them forget all about the basement where several members of the Resistance were hiding. Had she been caught, the penalty would have certainly been imprisonment in a concentration camp, or worse. But as a black woman and a Jew (she’d converted to Judaism when she’d married her third husband), Josephine knew that she’d be in greater danger if she remained in Paris. Fighting for Equality Although she held dual French and American citizenships, returning to the segregated United States was not an option for Baker. She’d run from injustice before when, at 19, she’d experienced racial equality for the first time in Paris, and opted to stay. Now she aimed to fight – and for these labors of love, she never earned a dime. In addition to her work as a spy, Baker volunteered for the Red Cross as a nurse and as a pilot, delivering supplies in her private plane. She entertained French and Allied troops on the Maginot Line; in Morocco (while still recovering from a deathly illness), and throughout Europe.
For her heroism, the French military awarded her with the Croix de Chevalier de la Légion du Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. De Gaulle presented her with the gold Croix de Lorraine, her most prized possession, which she later sold at auction to raise money for the Resistance. g by Sherry Jones Spokane author Sherry Jones’s novel Josephine Baker’s Last Dance goes on sale December 4 at Auntie’s Books and everywhere.
Contact Sherry for speaking engagements, readings, book club discussions, interviews, and other bookrelated events at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about all Sherry’s books at www.authorsherryjones.com. To pre-order your copy, call Auntie’s at (509) 838-0206 or pre-order online at www.SimonandSchuster.com
December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 49
Christmas On The Farm by
Shirley Kintschi McRae
t’s time to head home.” Our family had spent Thanksgiving Day enjoying a delightful dinner at our Grandpa and Grandma Tanner’s home south of Spokane. Now it was time to return home as the cows would be waiting at the barn door to be milked. Mom, Dad, and six kids had made the two-hour drive in the morning from our farm home near Edwall in our 1936 Chevy. A number of our uncles, aunts, and cousins came to the gathering at Grandma’s twostory house for dinner. The aroma of home-cooked food baking and steaming on the wood stove filled the house. All too soon after a joyful day, the word came from Dad that it was “time to go home.”
50 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
Above, Shirley with two of her special dolls in 1938. Below, workhorses ready to transport the kids to the school bus. Jim with the reins, Irene, Shirley, Marie and Bernice. If the drifts got deep, we went in a horse drawn sleigh. Photos courtesy of the Kintschi Family Archives.
It was on the long drive home in the dark when that “Magical Feeling” began to build in me, especially if the snowflakes started showing up on the windshield. It would soon be Christmas! For me, Thanksgiving was fun but only a prelude to Christmas! I was six years old in 1941 when electricity became available in our rural area. With it came many changes. The obvious change was the improved lighting in the house during the dark winter. Music was something that our family enjoyed very much. Mom had played the organ, piano, and the violin in her younger days. We kids all followed in her musical footsteps. Listening to music on the radio was much more enjoyable than the old wind-up phonographs. We also found programs especially for children on the radio. Foremost in my memory is a Christmas serial named, “Judy and Jimmy and the Cinnamon Bear.” It aired each weekday for 15 minutes starting soon after Thanksgiving and ending on Christmas Eve, bridging that four-week gap. The opening catchy tune drew me right to the radio. Each day I listened to the story about the twin children, a Cinnamon bear and a cast of characters. They were searching for the missing Silver Star that belonged on the top of their tree for Christmas. The last episode was on Christmas Eve, which might be why I often missed it. That was when Santa arrived at our home. There was much preparation to do for Christmas in those few weeks. Mom would do extra baking starting with the fruitcake. It was made early, as it needed time for the flavors to merge and age. Other baking included the steamed suet pudding, which would be served with a special brandy sauce that included a touch of cinnamon. Also gifts would be made for family and friends. In our spare time, my siblings and I cut any available
colored paper into small strips and pasted them together to make long chains. (Remember the sweet smell of that school paste? No, I never tasted it.) Then for some contrast, we’d thread popcorn on strings to make a long chain to drape around the tree. When Dad had the time we went with him to look for just the right tree. Our creek pasture had numerous sizes of pine trees and a few firs, all uniquely shaped by nature. The selected one was put up in the living room and draped with
Winter playtime for Irene, Bernice, and Marie, on the shoveled path to the barn after a snowstorm. Photo courtesy of the Kintschi Family Archives.
the decorations. Added to our chains would be some special old glass balls and the silver tinsel. My three older sisters, Irene, Bernice, and Marie, took great pains to put the tinsel on one piece at a time. Brother Jim, four years older than I, used the more direct approach of tossing small handfuls. Deanna, my little sister, and I decorated the lower branches. Last to be placed very strategically, were candles in their clip-on candleholders. These provided the tree with a special glow when the candles were lit. (A few years later came the strings of colorful electric lights.) At Edwall, it was a tradition to have a grade school program December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 51
The Kintschi sisters play in snow drift caves in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Kintschi Family Archives.
the last afternoon of school before the Christmas vacation. Often it consisted of one play that involved all the students from all eight grades. Each student had one or more speaking, singing, and dancing parts, complete with costumes. The four grade school teachers were the directors. On performance day, a good crowd of parents and local folks filled the gym. The excitement in the air built as we children performed. With the close of the play, school was out for Christmas vacation! On the last Sunday before Christmas, our family would attend the program at the Edwall church. There we heard again from the Holy Bible, the Christmas story. The pastor read how God’s son, Jesus, was born on that night long ago in Bethlehem and laid in a manger near the animals. The Bible told about the bright star, the shepherds with their flocks in the fields, and the angels singing in the sky. The program closed with the singing of Christmas Carols. As we left, each child was given a gift bag with some hard candy, nuts in shells, and, perhaps, an orange. What a treat! 52 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
Then Christmas Eve arrived. The door between our kitchen and the dark living room was shut, but there was a large keyhole just the right height for us younger kids to peek through. (Dad was always in the barn doing chores when Santa came. I didn’t wonder about that until I was older.) Then the waiting... At last we heard the sound of ringing sleigh bells. When we peeked in the keyhole and the candles were lit, we knew Santa had been there. We quietly waited to hear the sleigh bells again as he left! What an awesome sight as we opened the door to see the colorful tree and gifts bathed in soft candlelight. My eyes searched for a shoe-sized box which would contain my new baby doll. My desire was to get one each Christmas and I was not disappointed. Then I spied something else. Inside the door where Santa had come in were some large, wet snowy boot tracks! WOW! SANTA’S! g
Spokane Early Order a NEW 2-yearOur Subscription to Nostalgia Magazine for someone you love, and receive a History complimentary copy of â€œDear Old Natâ€?
Call (509)Special 443-3678 Today! Seven
Dear Old Nat
Order a NEW 2-year Subscription to Nostalgia Magazine for someone you love, and receive a complimentary copy of one of these books of your choice when you pay the shipping.
Call (509) 443-3678 Today! December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 53
Lorraine Sally poses for a promotional shot for her USO performing troupe in the 1940s. Today, Sally is a member of the Hillyard Belles. Photo courtesy of the Lorraine Family Archives. Above, as a Barclay Girls dancer, Sally, second from left, dances for troops arriving at “Welcome Lane” in Seattle. Welcome Lane became famous for USO troupes who performed for returning Korean War soldiers. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times. If you have a photo with a special memory from the good ol’ days, will you share it with the readers of Nostalgia Magazine? Send your memories and photos to email@example.com or by regular mail to Nostalgia Magazine, PO BOX 8466, Spokane, WA 99203.
was born, of all places, in a phone booth in Seattle. My mother was a riveter for the Boeing Company, but in her early days, she was a trick horseback rider. She wore a ballet costume on the back of her horse, and she stood on her horse as it galloped at fairs. As we were growing up, my sister and I performed in USO troupes around the region. Our troupe traveled one wintry night to Spokane with all of our personal belongings strapped to the top of a nine-passenger stationwagon. Thankfully, our costumes were packed inside the car instead of on the roof, because as we were driving over Snoqualmie Pass, which in those days had just one lane in each direction, all of our suitcases slid off the roof and down into a dark ravine. There was no way to retrieve any of it, especially in several feet of snow in the dark. It was gone. It was just gone. We had no idea what we were going to do. 54 t Nostalgia Magazine t December 2015
We arrived in Spokane in the middle of the night, and we were staying at the Davenport Hotel. Our tour manager contacted the hotel concierge and let him know about our situation. Within the hour, even though it was still dark, the manager of the hotel, who knew the manager of the Crescent Department Store, had us picking out personal items and clothing to replace what we had lost on the trip from the shelves of the Crescent. It was quite amazing, and we were so appreciative of their kindness. They were wonderful people to do that for us. Often times, performers were seen as “low-class” people. As a child, I thought everyone lived like we did, constantly traveling and performing. I was seven or eight before I realized hardly anyone lived the way we did. The next day, we performed at the Brotherhood of Friends (The BOF Club) on the corner of Third Avenue and Monroe Street. It was the original USO performance hall in Spokane. I danced and sang as part of the troupe, and the USO hired local military bands to join us. When I moved to Spokane later in life, I danced with friends at the BOF for decades, and I always remembered the kindness shown to me by the people at the Davenport Hotel and the Crescent. g
Order Your Subscription Today!
Yes! Start my Subscription to Nostalgia Immediately! Published 6 Times per Year
o 1 Year $24.95
Wednesday Lunch Live at the Spokane Valley Event Center on Wednedsay, December 5, 2018! Join us for a delicious lunch catered by the award winning Red Rock Catering, and a festive performance of Christmas music by the Jazz Northwest Big Band, fronted by Nathan Lansing!
o 2 Years $48.95
Find us online for deals on subscription and book bundles, or call (509) 443-3678 for more info. PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY
Name___________________________________________ Address_________________________________________ City_____________________________________________ State__________________ Zip_______________________ Phone Number:__________________________________
How about a gift subscription for a friend or family member? Attach an additional sheet if necessary.
Find Wednesday Lunch Live at the Spokane Valley Event Center, which is near the Rosauers on University and Sprague, at 10514 E Sprague Ave. Doors open at 11:30am. Lunch is served at Noon. Concert begins at 12:30pm.
Get tickets online at www.NostalgiaMagazine.net or call (509) 443-3678 Reservations Required
Address_________________________________________ City_____________________________________________ State__________________ Zip_______________________ All Orders Must Include Payment.
Mail To: Nostalgia Magazine P.O. Box 8466 â€˘ Spokane, WA 99203 For faster service, call (509) 443-3678
www.NostalgiaMagazine.net December 2015 t Nostalgia Magazine t 55
The Perfect Gift for any generation “To me, history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn’t just part of our civic responsibility. To me, it’s an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is.”
American Author, Narrator, Historian, and Lecturer
for your friends and family
(509) 443-3678 www.NostalgiaMagazine.net Above, Bruce Pennell sits on Santa’s Lap, and below, Santa arrives at the Crescent Department Store in 1926.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Nostalgia Magazine! Please enjoy this special digital edition for December 2018, and then consider s...
Published on Nov 30, 2018
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Nostalgia Magazine! Please enjoy this special digital edition for December 2018, and then consider s...