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The Mother of Progress Finds Home free speech, women’s rights and other issues of concern to society. Just below, a second plaque affixed to the upright concrete slab lists members of the Mutual Home Association and other early pioneers. Some of the names already stand out from their mention in the histories of Home: James and Mary Adams, Martin and Mary Dadisman, Jay and Esther Fox, Philip Van Buskirk, Gertie Vose. Others listed there remain anonymous, leaving behind for me only the strange, conjuring sounds of their names: Bessie Brout, Henry and Fannie Hanson, Lucille Mint, H. B. and Hellen Wren. Back in the car, we drive north and stop in Key Center at a drive thru espresso stand called the Close to Home Cafe. Emily orders a decaf cappuccino, I get an Americano, and as we sip our drinks on the way home, she comments on how good it is. Even though it’s decaf, it cuts through the sluggishness she’s felt all day. Two weeks from now, she will leave a pregnancy test on a window sill for me to find, its two solid lines indicating why she had not felt well and showing us that another had been traveling with us that day.

As 1898 CAME TO A CLOSE, the weather remained mild. On December 29, colonists bragged in “Association Notes” of gardens still producing vegetables. Cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots were still flourishing in the rain, drawing nutrients from soil that had just a short time before sustained a forest. Snow had dusted the landscape and roofs, but it melted into slush by the afternoon. A few days before the New Year, the children told their parents that there would be a Children’s Jubilee on the Eve. The old folks were expected to do nothing but provide refreshments and enjoy themselves. When the adults gathered at the schoolhouse, they found it had been arranged into a theater, with rows of chairs facing a makeshift stage. The children performed a variety show. Together, all the boys and girls sang songs such as “Come All Jolly Sportsmen,” “The Peddler’s Son,” and “Three Blind Mice.” In between, children in pairs or by themselves recited short works like “The Screech Owl” and “Ring out Wild Bells.”49 In the glow of oil lamps, the parents enjoyed hearing the children’s voices and applauded their accomplishment. George and Sylvia Allen grinned at the sound of their daughters’ voices. Resting briefly from logging and writing for Discontent, Oliver Verity beamed as his daughter Macie spoke in a dialogue. And the face of Frank Odell—the last founder of Home, who never


shared his thoughts in Home’s newspapers and who would soon leave the colony—shone with pride as his daughter Mabel read aloud. As the program drew to a close in the schoolhouse that night, did the three men look at one another? Did they remember how almost three years before they had built a boat and ventured in search of a place that they would call Home? If they did, they might have felt that their efforts were finally taking hold, that the roots of this community, just like those of fruit trees planted up the hill, were finally pushing deep into the duff and mud beside the bay. After the program, the boys and girls served supper to the parents, and then they announced that everyone would play games. “This isn’t going to be turned into a political meeting,” one young girl indignantly remarked, probably remembering many nights when the parents were immersed in abstruse and boring talk.50 The room filled with laughter, for the parents were willing to humor the children. The people of Home began playing cards, dominoes, checkers, or chess, waiting for the New Year to turn. Far off over the Pacific Ocean, a weather pattern was developing that would funnel down between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges and bring snow. The fat snowflakes would begin sifting down out of the sky on January 5, burying the cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots in their beds, halting all work of hauling logs on the tram road, and reaching two feet in depth. The writer of “Association Notes” would have to admit the mistake of bragging about the balmy weather. Except for the shrieks of joy as children slid down the hill, the land around Joe’s Bay would briefly return to the silence it had once known. But this would be in the future, in the New Year; for now, everyone was playing games, murmuring in the warmth, waiting for the minute hand to bring in the last year of the nineteenth century. Endnotes 1

Kipling, Rudyard, From Sea to Sea; Letters of Travel (New York: Doubleday & McClure Company, 1899), 43. 2

Allen, George, “Inside Workings of Anarchistic Colony Revealed,” The Tacoma Daily Ledger, Jan. 7, 1912. 3

Meany, Edmond S., Vancouver’s Discovery of Puget Sound: Portraits and Biographies of the Men Honored in the Naming of Geographic Features of Northwestern America (New York: Macmillan, 1907), 155. 4

Gaskine, J. W., “The Anarchists of Home,” The Independent, Apr. 28, 1910, 916. 5

Bellamy, Edward, Looking Backward, 2000-1887 (Reprint, New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 203. 6

Franklin, John, “Edward Bellamy and Nationalism,” The New England Quarterly 11 no. 4 (1938): 754. 7

“Washington Colony of Anarchists,” The Tacoma Daily Ledger, Feb. 26, 1898.

Profile for University of Puget Sound

Bookends Reader  

Welcome new students! This reader is a collection of readings from and about Puget Sound and that will be at the heart of the Bookends orien...

Bookends Reader  

Welcome new students! This reader is a collection of readings from and about Puget Sound and that will be at the heart of the Bookends orien...