In the course of the various newspaper research that I have been doing for this site and for my malls project, I have thus far not gone much earlier than the late Fifties, even though the newspaper archives available at the Bellevue Library provide papers going back quite a bit further. Since I haven’t had a chance to go that far back yet, I decided that for this week’s Recycled Newspaper, I would be going back 75 years and looking at the East Side Journal. The closest one to today’s date that was available is the Thursday, March 15th1934 edition. This was, of course, right near the heart of the Great Depression and the New Deal. Aside from the fact that a significant portion of the advertisements throughout the paper had the logo of the NRA (National Recovery Act) on them somewhere, there wasn’t much sign of this, although a little bit more than a year after this particular issue was published the NRA would be overturned unanimously by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. In spite of this, Kirkland still had its industrial base in the form of the Lake Washington Shipyards which did face some difficulties at this time, but when the war arrived they would go on to build more than 25 ships for the Navy and repair many more, employing as many as 8,000 workers at their peak until they closed in 1946 at the end of the war. A photo of the shipyards from 1933 may be found here.
At this time, the combination of the shipyards and the fact that ferries across Lake Washington arrived at Kirkland’s waterfront made Kirkland the de facto heart of the Eastside, although beyond Kirkland’s downtown much of the rest of the area was still rural. Bellevue was at this time an unincorporated area which consisted mostly of a handful of shops along Main Street, and beyond that the rest was mostly farms. The shift that would position Bellevue at the heart of the Eastside that is today would not take place until after 1940 when the first floating bridge across Lake Washington opened.
After the jump, a look at a few of the articles and advertisements from the March 15th 1934 edition of the East Side Journal.
The first thing that you notice about this paper is that the format of the front page is much different than what you would expect to find on newspapers even just a few years later. Instead of 4 or 5 longer stories on the front page accompanied by pictures, this front page contains no fewer than 21 different stories on it. Given the fact that there wasn’t really all that much news to go around on the Eastside at the time, a number of the stories are, predictably, fairly minor events, and some are basically just announcements for things going on around town. I’ve posted a larger version of this page in order to make it easier to read some of the stories on the page, but there are also a couple I would like to highlight below. I apologize for the targeting marks on the page, but since this is as far as the microfilm reader can be zoomed out there really isn’t any way to avoid them.
Come to think of it, I suspect that the fire department would most likely request that you not have any fires ever, but apparently that Saturday would prove to be an especially bad time to be torching all your worldly possessions since they will be busy holding their annual Firemen’s Ball at that time. I suspect the conversation would probably go something like this:
“Excuse me my good fellow, would you be so kind as to avoid burning down our fair city this Saturday evening? The firemen will be a bit occupied that night and we would appreciate it if you could refrain from providing any interruptions.”
“Why certainly, my good sir. Just give me a minute, and I will be sure to reschedule that three-alarm blaze I was planning. Is Next Thursday OK?”
“Hmmm… Have you got any openings on Wednesday Afternoon?”
“Well, I had planned to make a social call upon Doris that afternoon, but I suppose I might be able to make time for a raging inferno Is 2 pm okay?”
“Very good then, we shall be seeing you on Wednesday.”
“And a good day to you too, sir. Oh, and don’t forget the ladder this time, we both know how that last one turned out without it…”
These days, there don’t seem to be a lot of good opportunities to run someone out of town, as appears to have happened here. Although Prohibition had been repealed in 1933, alcohol still seemed to be something of a touchy subject at this time (another front page article in this edition dealt with protests over a proposed nightclub in Bellevue on the grounds that children would have to pass by it on the way to and from school.) These days, providing alcohol to minors is classified as a gross misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine, but looking at recent Liquor Control Board enforcement actions, it appears that penalties for sale to minors range from a $300 fine for what would appear to be the second offense (The first offense might result in a written warning,) and go up from there (The largest fine I can find on the site is $4,500 for what I would assume to be a repeat offender, and one repeat offender on their sixth violation had their liquor license suspended immediately for 180 days with a permanent revocation pending.) The law on the books generally calls for a $500 penalty or a 5 day suspension of a liquor license for the first offense with repeat offenses resulting in combinations of larger fines and longer suspensions, so in most cases these are probably negotiated settlements. The law also calls for a revocation of a license after four offenses in two years. There generally isn’t a whole lot of running people out of town for selling alcohol to minors these days though, at least not that I can see there.
So if you’ve already managed to cram all the news that’s fit to print (or at least all the news that fits on the press) onto the front page of the paper. what does that leave to fill the rest of the paper? Well, there’s the advertisements (which I’ll be getting to next) the Classifieds, an editorial page and a page devoted to Redmond news and a few other miscellaneous things. Among these is the Society page, as shown above. When people these days look back at the early 20th Century and see the word “Society”, it conjures up images of top hats, flapper girls and dancing, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of that going around in Kirkland at this time. In reality, much of the “Society” going on in Kirkland was actually quite mundane, showing things like people going to visit their parents for the afternoon or having dinner with a neighbor. These days, such minutiae would probably be covered on your Twitter feed or your Facebook status, but back then it was enough to get you into the newspaper. I don’t think Facebook has any cool fonts like the one used on the header of this page though.
Then, of course, there’s the ads. When most people think of 1930s design, this is the type of thing that usually comes to mind, and this happens to be a good example of the style, with all the right fonts, and the art deco design (although I actually had to go look up the word “toggery” in order to figure out what it means. It’s basically another word for clothes, although it’s somewhat archaic now.) Unfortunately, advertisements like this would prove to be the exception rather than the rule in the papers I looked at.
Instead, we get a lot of this type of stuff. While others have noted the apparent obsession with the topic of not-so-polite bodily functions back in those days, it’s a bit surprising to see the sheer number of so-called miracle cures being advertised in the paper back then, ranging from the usual suspects to the downright questionable and out-and-out snake oil products being pushed to cure maladies both real and imagined in those days, based on scientific claims now widely regarded as pure quackery (at least they’re guaranteeing that there isn’t any Mercury in the things, which compared to the competition was probably considered progress.) Surprisingly, there are quite a few remnants of Carter’s Little Liver Pills (which were, basically, a harsh laxative) on the Internet. Print and radio advertisements for the brand can be found on the Internet with a bit of searching. Ultimately in 1951, the FTC forced them to remove “Liver” from the name and stop making most of the claims found in their advertising after scientific study debunked many of them (a contemporary Time Magazine article provides a bit of background on the brand, and the FTC decisison to curtail its advertising.) The brand appears to still be available in Canada, and its active ingredient remains in use in a number of other over-the-counter laxatives.
Of course, if there’s a quick buck to be made in the process, they’ll gladly try to get you going out the other end too (in this case, with a couple of strong diuretics.) With all the various products you aparently had to take just to maintain regular biological function back in those days, it’s a wonder that anyone could go at all without the need for a team of specialists. The two listed active ingredients (Buchu leaves and Juniper Oil) are still used in alternative medicine for this purpose.
Moving on to a slightly more pleasant subject, here is an advertisement for the Gateway Theater in Kirkland. Among the movie offerings on tap at this ponit were Queen Christina starring Greta Garbo, Moulin Rouge starring Constance Bennett (which had a young Lucille Ball as an extra, and got remade in 1952,) and Blood Money starring George Bancroft. The big attraction on the bill at this time were two upcoming performances of the Arizona Wranglers, a loosely affiliated group of cowboy singers that appeared often on the radio, and toured the country under a number of different names and with various lineups, and would later become known for performing the soundtracks to many B-movie westerns. There isn’t much information about this group on the Internet, but there is a page devoted to the group in its various forms which, by coincidence, includes a poster advertising a performance in The Dalles, Oregon just a couple of weeks before the two performances shown here. Elsewhere on the Internet is found a recording of the song Strawberry Roan as performed by this group. The song is a ballad about an unsuccessful attempt to ride a particularly stubborn horse.
Finally, for this week’s Out-of-context ad, we have this elephant, as seen in an ad from mid 1933. What exactly might he be standing on here? The answer to this will be posted next week.