Find of the Month

October 2017 - Ivar's offer

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Restauranteur Ivar Haglund wrote to City Council in April 1946 offering to donate five gallons of red paint to the Fire Department to liven up the “dingy grey” smokestack of the fireboat parked on the waterfront. He wrote:

It is time the good ship Alki was artistically reconverted… For some time I have been planning to invite the Honorable City Council to come to the opening of my new place in May, where the finest and freshest piscatorial delicacies from Puget Sound will be featured. But I hesitate to invite you when while eating chowder from clam, cocktail from the shrimp and louie from the crab, you would have to gaze out the spacious windows at that drab grey fireboat Alki.

Council forwarded Ivar’s letter to Fire Chief William Fitzgerald, who sounded a bit disgruntled in his response:

The Fireboat Alki is a work boat, a fire fighting unit. The stack is painted primarily for utilitarian reasons, to conserve the metal from rust and corrosion; secondarily, for esthetic reasons, appearance.

At the present time the vessel is in a good state of repair and presents an appearance that should not jar the esthetic senses of anyone.

However, when more paint is indicated on the stack, this Department will duly consider Mr. Haglund’s ideas as to appearance, using our own paint.

Council invited both Ivar and the chief to a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, but apparently the gift of paint was not accepted and the Alki remained grey. In May of the following year Ivar wrote again, renewing his offer and pleading for the boat to be “dolled up a little bit.” He noted that with the new addition to the waterfront of the fireboat Duwamish – with not one but two gray smokestacks – the view from his restaurant was now “three times worse.”

Council forwarded this second letter to Chief Fitzgerald, who seemed tired of the whole affair. He wrote that the question was explored in detail the year before, “and administratively, this office has considered the matter conclusively disposed of.” He again recommended that the offer be declined, although this time he gave as the reason a departmental policy not to “accept gratuities of any nature or kind from the public, not even a cigar.”