2019 Find of the Month Archive

Hatpin regulations

Comptroller File 52175

The first recorded plea to the Seattle City Council for hatpin regulations came in 1911. The writer, J.S. Wheeler, included a news clipping highlighting a case in San Francisco where a barber had his arm amputated after an “accidental stab” and was in danger of death from blood poisoning. Wheeler wrote,

Thousands of less serious accidents occur daily which never reach the public press. It would seem that the time had arrived when drastic measures were necessary to put a stop to the use of protruding hatpins, which in crowded places, are a positive menace to the public safety. This matter has been taken up in other Cities and ordinances passed, and Seattle should do so at once. The injury of today is to a member of other family [sic], tomorrow it may be to a member of your household.

Two years later, the Seattle Federation of Women’s Clubs sent City Council draft language for a hatpin ordinance. In their accompanying letter, they said they had delayed suggesting legislation in hopes that “the thoughtlessness of some of our women might be overcome by more personal methods of appeal. But while waiting for improvement through these milder means – a serious menace to the public safety exists” for which the only solution was regulation.

The week after the Federation letter was written, Ordinance 31419 was introduced. The ordinance declared it unlawful for any person to wear a hatpin “so that the sharp end…shall project more than one and one-quarter inches from the crown of such hat or head covering,” or extend beyond the hat brim, or “extend or project in any manner…as to be likely to, or in such manner as might, wound any person or thing or endanger life or property.” Anyone found to be wearing a hatpin in violation of the regulations could be fined up to $100 or given a jail term of up to 30 days (or both).

The ordinance was promptly passed into law, and was not repealed until 1967.

Sons of Norway

Sons of Norway Hall, image 182187

Things were apparently getting rowdy in Ballard in 1950. City Council received a petition from residents who lived near the Sons of Norway Hall at 22nd Avenue and 60th Street NW, declaring the facility to be a nuisance. Their complaints focused on members parking on both sides of the narrow street and being "loud and noisy disturbing the peace from 12 until 2:30 in the night."

The Division of Licenses and Standards looked into the matter. After interviewing neighbors, they learned that the noise complaints were not about anything happening within the building, but instead with "noise and fighting occurring on the street…when people were leaving the hall." The organization’s president noted that there had recently been a large silver anniversary party at the club; perhaps some of the complaints stemmed from that particular night.

As the club held members-only meetings and dances (at which "the music stops promptly at twelve o’clock midnight") and additionally served as a rental facility, it was determined that "no licenses are required for the operation of this hall." The city’s licensing apparatus therefore had no issues with the club. Since the division had no jurisdiction over noise and parking, they suggested the file be passed along to the police chief for his information.

The Police Department also investigated, and found that the racket in question was "noise which normally goes with the gathering and dispursing [sic] of people, that is, conversation and noise caused by cars." They seemed unconvinced that the hall truly was a nuisance, stating, "We are unable from the records to discover any very serious problem incident to the operation of this hall… A search of our records does not reveal an accumulation of reports relating to noise or disturbances."

City Council’s License Committee held a hearing on the matter and invited the neighbors to attend, but it does not appear that any action was taken against the club.

Teenage sleuth

memorandum

A young amateur detective named Albert Hartley wrote to the Mayor and City Council in 1894:

Your petitioner respectfully represents, that he is 18 years of age and is engaged in running an elevator for a living; that on the morning of October 4th 1894 he learned that one Bridwell had been murdered by an unknown person at the corner of Main and South 3rd streets in Seattle in a saloon and that for the purpose of procuring information concerning the murdered and to affect the arrest of such murdered a reward had been offered by the chief of police of Seattle in the sum of Two hundred and fifty dollars; that by reason of said reward petitioner made it his business to examine persons of suspicious character and particularly persons of unknown character in the Bay View House on West St.; that petitioner left his work at the elevator during October 4th 1894 for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not a certain person then at the Bay View House was the murderer of said Bridwell and that petitioner by reason of such investigation, came to the conclusion that an unknown person then staying at said Bay View House was the murderer; petitioner not being an officer of the law and not being strong physically notified and informed the officer of the city, to-wit: Dective [sic] Cudihee of all the facts then in his possession and known to him concerning said person suspected by petitioner, and said Cudihee thereupon as an officer of the city, upon the information furnished him by petitioner, immediately arrested said person pointed out by petitioner, who then gave his name as Thomas Blanck, and said Blanck was thereafter convicted of the murder of said Bridwell in the Superior Court of King County and sentenced to be hanged; that petitioner has been advised that upon a strict technicality the city might defeat all claim for reward, and petitioner submits to this honorable body whether or not he should not in some manner be rewarded for the efforts he put forth to effect the capture of said Blanck, and therefore requests that your honorable body will allow him such portion of said reward as may be deemed just and equitable under all the circumstances; petitioner files herewith a petition of many taxpayers and leading citizens urging that the reward be paid.  

A petition signed by about 80 people was indeed attached, asking the council to give Hartley at least a portion of the reward.

Discussion ensued within the two chambers of the bicameral city council. Members of the Board of Aldermen suggested that "a proper adjustment of the matter would be an equal division among all three taking part in the capture - Hartley Cudihee and Corbett." (Corbett was a second police officer involved in the arrest.) However, the City Comptroller noted that the city charter prohibited members of the police force from collecting rewards for work done in the line of duty.

The Claims Committee of the House of Delegates reiterated the charter prohibition on police officers receiving any reward, even though Cudihee and Corbett "exhibited a great deal of courage in the performance of this duty, and that they, if any one, would be entitled to the reward." Given that the payment was "for the capture of the murdered, and not for information leading to apprehension," they recommended no reward be given and that the petition be rejected.

However, two weeks later they apparently had a change of heart and recommended that "an award of $25.00 be given young Hartley providing we have assurance that this full amount will go to A.L. Hartley if appropriated." Ordinance 3710 authorized the payment.

Rock concerts

memorandum

The following memo was written from one Seattle Center staffer to another in 1981:

Subject: WHAT PRICE A PARK?

Briefly.

Despite today's conversation, I still have an unsettled feeling in the afterpath [sic] of Journey whose followers trampled over perhaps the broadest definitions of decency and respect for property and appropriate behavior. Not a new experience for us.

The toll to date includes significant damage to planted areas a year and a half in the making, damage to property in Center House and no doubt damage to other Seattle Center facilities.

But most important. Damage to the general public’s perception of Seattle Center. What many of us work daily to maintain and improve. People who work here don’t plant, paint or build to have it destroyed. Citizens don’t vote for Bond Issues or pay taxes to support things with a life of days or weeks.

And people won’t come to a place that’s dangerous, dirty, unseemly or just plain gross. Dogs cover their own excrement.

I am not convinced we have looked at the existing crowd management problems or solutions fully.

And I am not convinced, bottom line, Seattle Center needs to truck with trash.

The Kingdome is a cement building. That’s all it is. It does sports. Sports is controlled violence. So are rock concerts. Seattle Center does families. And we should have the courage to throw the bums out.

Watch for Flying Saucers Week

letter to Mayor Braman

Members of a group called World Wide Watch wrote to Mayor Braman in 1967 asking him for a "Watch for Flying Saucers Week" proclamation. One of the letters explained that "this year is a LANDMARK! The 20th Anniversary of the very famous phrase 'Flying Saucer,' coined in Washington State by Newsmen when a private pilot named Kenneth Arnold, Boise, Idaho related to the world that on June 24, 1947, he had observed nine disc-shaped objects flying towards Mt. Rainier."

The letters and an accompanying press release explained that to mark the anniversary, the group was organizing watch teams around the country to search the skies. One of the teams would form a caravan from World Wide Watch headquarters in Eatonville up to Mt. Rainier. Teams were to look for "intelligent patterns of behavior" or any attempts to communicate. Reports from all teams were to be collected at the Eatonville headquarters, where they then would be collated and shared.

In addition to encouraging citizens to watch for UFOs, the group also hoped to persuade Congress to pass laws allowing "legal landing and protection for friendly extra terrestrials":

It is the general consensus of many people interested in the subject of space visitation that we will be involved in an exchange of culture that will lead to interplanetary commerce by 1988. So let US open the space doors now! Let US have vision and foresight enough to begin a two-way approach to space.

Mayor Braman responded to the group:

While I appreciate your interest in this subject and recognize that it could have considerable import, I do not feel justified in issuing such a proclamation. I certainly see nothing wrong in your attempting to stir up interest to the end that many people would join you and your associates in this kind of a watch. It just doesn't seem appropriate as an official pronouncement.

The Seattle Times interviewed the group leaders at the beginning of the watch week, when they were confident they would see UFOs. One leader was quoted as saying, "They (flying saucer pilots) know we're watching because they monitor radio-station reports about our activities. We'll be ready if they respond." The newspaper followed up at the end of the week, when the group reported that two objects that "might have been unidentified" were spotted that Saturday night.

Soldiers and temperance

memo to council, attachment to CB 806

In the autumn of 1899, Seattle was eagerly anticipating the return of the First Washington Volunteer Infantry from their service in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. The governor declared a state holiday and many celebrations were planned, but some were concerned that the welcomes would be a bit too festive.

The Women's Christian Temperance Union proposed that City Council close all saloons on the day of the soldiers' return home:

Whereas; True patriotism includes not only love of country, its citizens and its soldiers, but also an intense desire for a peaceful and prosperous country; for an intelligent, industrious and lawabiding [sic] citizenship, and for an upright, sober and courageous soldiery, and

Whereas; The saloon is one of the most potent factors in staining the reputation and in retarding the genuine prosperity of our country, in hindering the growth of intelligence, industry and the love of true liberty and good order in our citizens, and in destroying the moral courage and sobriety of many of both our soldiers and citizens, -

Therefore, Resolved, that we hereby most earnestly and urgently request and petition your honorable body to use the power delegated to you by the sovereign citizens of Seattle, as other cities are doing in the United States, and by the authority of the great state of Washington, for the honor and good order of the city, to close the saloons and every and all places where intoxicating liquors of any kind are or may be sold or given away in this municipality, and that they shall be and remain closed in fact, under severe penalties, during the day or days and entire time in which, within the city of Seattle, the citizens of Washington shall tender a reception and welcome to its returning soldiers whom they desire to honor.

Members of the Seattle Anti-Saloon League attended the October 9 City Council meeting to voice their opinion on the bill. As part of what the Seattle Times described as a "short but lively debate," Councilmember Hiram Gill was quoted as saying, "If these people would stop to think they would arrive at the conclusion that the whole thing is an insult to the boys who risked their lives for their country. The boys that went to Manila are fully capable of caring for themselves, and I would advise these people to look out for the boys who stayed home with their mammas. The ordinance is fathered by a couple of carpet-baggers who threaten to leave the city should it fail to pass. I tell them now that their return to Ohio will not be the calamity which some people think it would." The council voted 7-4 to indefinitely postpone the bill.