The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

August 19, 2010

Some Newspaper That Shouldn’t Be Recycled

Filed under: History, Recycled Newspaper, Redmond — Brian Lutz @ 11:51 am

With the close proximity of my new apartment to the Bellevue Library and its extensive microfilm collection, I have been meaning to get over there more often to do some research and put up some more Recycled Newspaper posts.  Now it turns out that it may not even be necessary to walk the 2 blocks to the library.  Last week, I had a meeting with Nao Hardy of the Redmond Historical Society, where I was able to acquire a copy of her digital archives with all sorts of interesting historic photos and documents from Redmond’s history.  I still haven’t gone through all of this, but I expect that there should be a number of interesting items in this which will eventually find their way here.  Perhaps more interesting (to me at least) is this giant book, which I have been loaned:

This rather large book contains all of the 1979 issues of the Sammamish Valley News (Redmond’s former weekly newspaper) in bound form, and is one of several that were donated to the Historical Society by the King County Library System several years ago.  I haven’t had time to do a whole lot of looking through this, but given the fact that these are the original papers, there should be plenty of interesting material here.  Among the highlights from this year are a lot of coverage of the controversial Evergreen East mall proposed but never built on the site of what eventually became Microsoft campus (you can find some more info on this on this earlier Blog post,) the beginnings of what eventually became a fifteen-year fight over what eventually became Redmond Town Center, and a Mayoral election that ultimately resulted in three-term mayor Selwyn “Bud” Young being voted out of office.  In addition to this, there’s also plenty of the usual local interest stuff, the advertising and the aspect of inadvertent documentary that comes from the most mundane things. 

There is also some degree of responsibility that comes with this, as it needs to be handled carefully.  As far as I am aware, this may be the only physical copy of these papers remaining in existence (I’m not sure if the 1979 issues are in the microfilm) and although they aren’t going to crumble into dust if I look at them funny, I do need to exercise a certain amount of caution while dealing with them.  Pages need to be turned carefully to avoid ripping them (after all, even though it’s all in book form, it’s still newsprint.)  I am told that the binding of these papers is not archival, so at some point further preservation steps will need to be taken.  Ideally, the best way to deal with this would be to digitize it all, but even a single volume of this woud require a significant effort and probably more equipment than I have available.  I’m sure that someone will figure out some way to do this eventually, but for the time being, it looks like I’ll be doing my searching the old-fashioned way.  Naturally, you’ll be seeing the results of this appearing here soon.

November 19, 2009

Is it Northup Way or Northrup Way? Take Your Pick.

Filed under: Bellevue, History, Recycled Newspaper — Brian Lutz @ 11:11 pm
If you asked a newly minted resident of the Eastside what the name of the main east/west street that cuts through the Overlake neighborhood is called, chances are that the first answer you’d get would probably be “Huh?”  If pressed for details, you might get one of two answers:  Either Northup Way or Northrup Way (well OK, you might get a third answer of Northeast 20th Street, which would be correct, but that’s beside the point.)  As you can see from the (slightly blurry) photo above, the correct answer is “Northup” (although the “wrong” spelling seems to be surprisingly common as well,) but with a little bit of digging, it turns out not to be quite that simple.

Bellevue American, September 7 1972 (Click for larger version)

From the September 7th 1972 edition of the Bellevue American, we find out that at one time, the street was offiically known as Northrup Way.  This, it would seem, turned out to be the result of a clerical error somewhere along the way when the street received its name.  Northup way was named for James and Benson Northup, who were early settlers of the Yarrow Bay area of what is was originally Houghton, and later part of Kirkland.  From a site of Northup family geneaology, we learn a bit more about Benson Northup, who was one of the founders of a Seattle newspaper known as the Post (which later merged with the Seattle Intelligencer to form the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and served on the Seattle City Council for several years during the 1880s.  Unfortunately, little information about the James Northup referred to in the article seems to be available.

Fast forward to 1972, where Barb Keane, a descendent of Benson Northup (most likely a great-granddaughter, but the links on the site don’t seem to go that far) sought to correct the incorrect spelling of the family name that had managed to become the name of what was then Northrup Way.  From the article, it would seem that even among city officials there was debate as to which of the two names was correct, with some preferring the official spelling of the name, and others striving to correct the error.  Although the article seems to hold out little hope of getting the name of Northrup Way corrected to the proper spelling, at some point the street did get returned to the “proper” name, although I do not know when this would have happened.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how you spell it, chances are you would have been right somewhere along the line.

October 3, 2009

Three Nifty Ones from 1951 – Classic Car Ads

Filed under: Advertising, History, Recycled Newspaper — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:16 am

One of the things you notice when you spend a fair bit of time looking through old newspapers is that oftentimes, there are a lot of advertisements for things which just don’t exist anymore, be it companies that are about three mergers removed from their previous form or just plain disappeared three decades ago, brands that have passed (lamented or otherwise) into the dustbin of history, or products whose time has long since passed.  In particular, you see a lot of car advertisements, many for makes of automobiles that no longer exist, especially as you go further back into the archives to the days when a lot more brands of cars existed than you will find now.

Recently (well, sort of recently, I haven’t had much time for this recently) while I was browsing through 1951 issues of the Bellevue American for nothing in particular, I noted the significant concentration of new car ads in those papers, and thought that some of these would be interesting to post.  Generally, when people these days think of Fifties cars, it’s the finned land yachts of the late Fifties that are the first ones to come to mind.  In the early Fifties these designs were still many years away, and in fact many of the products being offered were still incremental changes of pre WW2 models. 

In spite of this ad’s promise of thrilling power, back in these days the Pontiac brand was often advertised more on its comfort and durability than its rubber-burning prowess.   A number of other Pontiac ads that I found in these papers touted cars built to last 100,000 miles (which seems like a lot, but these days it’s not uncommon to hear of cars lasting 200,000, 300,000 or even more miles.)  It wouldn’t be until the mid Fifties that the Pontiacs would be completely redesigned.  The Pontiac brand is expected to be phased out by the end of 2010, a victim of the recent upheavals in the automotive industry.  Nonetheless, Pontiac has managed to outlast a lot of other brands over the years…

Including Studebaker, a longtime poster child for extinct auto manufacturers.  Here we see one of the many different cars to bear the name of Studebaker Commander over the years, and one that shows the distinct yet (in some circles) much maligned Studebaker front end that has inspired many a joke over the years about not being able to tell which end was the front of the car.  Although it’s a bit tough to read here (the photo was a tad blurry) the ad copy touts a victory for the Studebaker V-8 in a contest of fuel economy, which is always a nice thing, but probably didn’t matter quite as much back in the days when a gallon of gas could be bought for 20 cents (which translates to roughly $1.64 in 2008 dollars and a whole heck of a lot less than we were paying for gas back in 2008.)  From what little I know of my family history on my Dad’s side (which has never been all that well documented) my Dad’s grandfather once owned a Studebaker dealership.  There is also an apocryphal story I have heard once or twice over the years of my grandfather getting himself in serious trouble when a policeman came in to buy a Studebaker one day.  The officer then told a story of how he was chasing a speeder, and while he was doing so, my Grandfather blasted by both the officer and the speeder in one of the Studebakers from the lot.  Somehow I doubt the story is entirely true (at least in the form that I remember it,) but I can definitely say that cars do run in the family (as evidenced by the two posts below.)


Other brands chose to emphasize victories of a different sort, as is seen in this ad for the Hudson Hornet.  In 1951, NASCAR was still in its infancy, and the Fabulous Hudson Hornets absolutely dominated the series.  Driver Marshall Teague would drive a Hornet to  wins in seven NASCAR races and 27 of the 34 stock car racing events he was entered in that year.  Another Fabulous Hudson Hornet would propel driver Herb Thomas to two NASCAR Grand National championships in 1951 and 1953 (although Thomas started the 1951 season in a Plymouth, and raced in an Oldsmobile as well,) and Hornets driven by a number of drivers were also dominant in 1952.  Unfortunately, the “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” theory could only take Hudson so far, as the Hudson brand was dropped by AMC as the company’s various brands were consolidated under the Rambler name in 1957.

I’ve got a fair number of other ads from this era in my archive, and perhaps if there is enough interest, I might make another post or two out of these.  I suspect there would probably be much more interest in ads from the late Fifties and the muscle car era, and perhaps I might revisit those as well.

July 23, 2009

Local Reactions to the First Moon Landing

Filed under: History, Recycled Newspaper — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 12:59 am

As you are most likely aware, this Monday marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a momentous occasion which I arrived on this planet about nine years too late to witness for myself, but one which I have read about with great interest over the past few days leading up to the actual anniversary.  One thing that strikes me about the whole thing is that in spite of the hundreds of people and huge budgets involved, there still seems to be the vague sense of a duct tape and bailing wire feel to the whole operation.  Even today it seems people like to talk about the “space age” technology in their products, seemingly unaware that the Space Age (or at least the interesting part of it anyway) happened back in the Sixties.  Of course, in spite of forty years of technological advancement between then and now, the reality is that there’s no way we can actually get back to the moon anytime soon, and few people willing to do more than pay lip service to the idea of doing so.  I’d like to think that will change someday, but it seems that (some) people these days are more interested in a return to the Stone Age than a return to the Space Age.

Nonetheless, when Apollo 11 made its historic visit to the Moon, the extensive TV coverage of the event made it one of those “where were you” moments that sticks with an entire generation of people.  In commemoration of the Event, the July 24th 1969 edition of the East Side Journal featured a number of anecdotes from Eastsiders on how they (or in one case, their children) experienced this historic event.

Click for larger version

Click for larger version

 Reverend Roland Hutchinson of the Kirkland Congregational Church (who, according to the church’s own history, had just become their minister in February of 1969, and would remain as such until February of 1993)  used this opportunity to reflect on the significance of this event, and made comparisons to the pilgrims who had come across to settle America.  Meanwhile, another Kirkland resident by the name of Russ Hulet discussed the excitement of his children over the launch of the Saturn V rocket on which the three astronauts would make their journey, and the improvised repair to a non-functioning alarm clock to ensure that they would awaken on time to watch the liftoff. 

Click for larger version

Click for larger version

Other reactions printed in the paper included those of Lake Washington High School Science teacher George Palo, and two engineers from United Controls, a local company which had prepared a number of components for use in the Apollo Program.  Mr. Palo wrote briefly about the accomplishment as a product of society as a whole and the knowledge and learning it had accumulated over its history, and emphasized the need to continue to prepare for challenges ahead.  Phillip Linwick and T.M. Thomsen of United Controls talked (very) briefly about what it felt like to actually be involved in the preparations for the moon shot. 

Surprisingly, the same day’s edition of the Bellevue American made hardly any mention of the moon landing, opting instead to allocate its headline to the announcement of the soon-to-be-built Sears store in the Overlake neighborhood.  I don’t think there were even any special moon sales going on the ads or anything like that.  Either way, there didn’t seem to be much of interest (with regards to the current subject anyway) in that paper.

July 3, 2009

Recycled Newspaper: The Eastside Celebrates America’s Bicentennial

Filed under: History, Kirkland, Recycled Newspaper — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 2:05 am
East Side Journal, June 3rd 1976

East Side Journal, June 3rd 1976

Here on the Eastside, the Fourth of July tends to be something of a low-key affair these days.  Here in Redmond, the annual Derby Days festival generally takes place a week after the Fourth, so most of the time little is done by the city to celebrate the Fourth.  Kirkland and Bellevueeach have their respective civic celebrations and requisite fireworks displays, and then there’s always the ones in Seattle (well, only one this year, since the 4th of Jul-Ivar’s show seems to have been cancelled.)  Beyond that, there’s generally not much to do.  Throughout the Eastside and most of the area personal fireworks are banned outright (a subject that remains a sore spot with your Blogger, but that’s a topic for another post that I’ll just go ahead and spare you from) so aside from fighting the crowds at one of the public fireworks displays, you’re pretty much on your own.  That doesn’t mean that people won’t find a way to celebrate.  For some people, that means heading off to somewhere that fireworks are allowed and setting them off there (the unincorporated Kingsgate area of Kirkland is one of the few places on the Eastside in which fireworks are allowed still, although if Kirkland’s proposed annexation of the area is approved in the November elections this will undoubtedly change) and for others it means going and finding some activity of their own.

Of course, some Fourth of July celebrations are bigger than others, and few have been bigger than the celebration of America’s Bicentennial on July 4th 1976.  For this Recycled Newspaper, I thought I’d take a look through the local newspapers around this time period, and see how the Bicentennial was celebrated here on the Eastside.  For the purposes of this post all of this material comes from the East Side Journal, but virtually all of this can be found in identical form in the Bellevue American issues from the same time period.  At this point, the Bellevue American had bought the East Side Journal, and within a few months of this the two papers would merge with each other to form the Daily Journal-American.  In fact, although it is not included here, one of the papers from this time period included the first in a series of editorials discussing  the upcoming merger of the two papers and explaining the rationale behind it.  Nonetheless, that was still a few months off at this point, although it might be covered at a later date.  In the meantime, let’s take a look at how the Bicentennial was celebrated on the Eastside, after the jump.


June 30, 2009

Just a Bit Too Unique For Their Own Good

Filed under: Advertising, Bellevue, Food, Out-of-Context Ads — Brian Lutz @ 10:10 pm

While I work on this week’s Recycled Newspaper post (which, since it’s 4th of July related, better be finished this week or it’s going to be just a tad pointless) I thought I’d go ahead and include this little appetizer from one of the 1976 East Side Journal issues I’m working from.  In this ad snippet, we are promised a “unique” restaurant  on Bel-Red Road (the address would have put it next door to the Coca Cola bottling plant.)  Based on the description, there doesn’t seem to be anything all that odd here.  Tthe various menu items enumerated in the ad make this place sound like a pretty typical pub, presumably one of many in the area.  And yet, just by looking at the place’s name (included after the jump,) one begins to get the sneaking suspicion that they might not have exactly been on the road to success.


June 25, 2009

Out-of-Context Ad: Shop ‘Til You… Oh, Never Mind.

Filed under: Out-of-Context Ads — Brian Lutz @ 11:23 pm

This week’s Out-of-Context Ad also comes from 1976, where it looks like someone had just a bit too much excitement for one day (I’m kind of surprise the purse isn’t smoldering after an epic shopping spree like that.)  It’s pretty clear what’s going on, but what isn’t quite so clear is exactly what’s being advertised here.  Feel free to speculate in the comments.  The solution, as usual (if I’m not being too lazy anyway) will be posted next week.

And since I actually remembered to keep the solution for last week’s out-of-context ad, you will find it after the jump.


Guess It Depends on How You Define “Intelligent”…

Filed under: Recycled Newspaper — Brian Lutz @ 10:48 pm

With my return to work, I haven’t had much opportunity lately to get out to the library to do research, but I did manage to make a trip over there this evening.  While I was there, I collected some material for a Recycled Newspaper post which should be coming sometime within the next week or so.  In observance of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, this post will be taking a look at how the Bicentennial was celebrated on the Eastside on July 4th, 1976.  While looking through some of the various East Side Journals from late June and early July of 1976, I came across this cartoon in the July 8th edition.  For a bit of context, this was published a few weeks after the Viking 1 probe had landed on Mars on June 19thof that year, the first American space probe to successfully do so.  From there, Viking 1 operated on the surface of Mars for six years until contact was lost in November of 1982.  The rest I would assume most of you should be familiar with.

June 16, 2009

Out-of-Context Ad: The Steaks Are High

Filed under: Advertising, Recycled Newspaper — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:48 am

Once again, I offer my apologies for the relatively light (and/or nonexistent) posting over the past week or so.  Between my recent return to work and a number of other things going on (and a bit of writer’s block on the side just to complicate things) I haven’t had a whole lot of time for Blogging recently, and is going to put a serious crimp on my ability to do a whole lot of research for a while.  It’s too bad, because since I started working in building 30 at Microsoft recently, I found out that this particular area used to be a sawmill back in Redmond’s early days, although about the only things left of it (at the site at least, apparently the mill equipment got moved out to Cle Elum and remains operational) are a historical marker of indeterminate origin and the thoroughly rusted remains of a ’29 GMC truck out (or what’s left of one anyway)  behind the building  with a tree growing through the middle of them and what I’m sure would be an interesting story behind it.

Anyway, since I don’t have much else to post right now (unless anyone wants to hear another long-winded lament about my chronic singleness) here’s another out-of-context ad in which dinner seems to be served with an extra side of drama.  I’d suggest that you speculate wildly about this one in the typical fashion, but to be honest I’m not sure if anyone’s actually reading this stuff.  If anyone wants it, I might even post the solution to the last one (if I can find it again on my rapidly growing collection of SDHC cards, that is.)

Oh, and by the way, if you didn’t notice already, by semi-popular demand I have gone ahead and started a Twitter feed, which you will find over to the left or at  I might even update it every so often…

May 25, 2009

Recycled Newspaper: The Great Redmond Bank Robbery That Wasn’t

Filed under: History, Recycled Newspaper, Redmond — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 12:40 am

Update 5/26/09:  Added  details on the sentencing of the seven co-conspirators in this plot based on a Seattle Times article I was able to find.

It sounds like a plot straight out a Hollywood blockbuster. Seven members of an extremist organization devise an elaborate plot to rob three small town banks in one day. And we’re not talking your run-of-the-mill bank robberies either. Surely there would be no way that a small-town police force would be able to respond to three banks being robbed simultaneously. Nonetheless, just to make sure that the police wouldn’t be able to interfere with their plans, they were going to take the police force out of commission. To do this, they were going to bomb the police station and take control of the police airwaves, which would then be used to coordinate the plot. Not only that, but they also planned to bomb the city’s main power transmission lines to cut the city’s power and prevent whatever police remained from being able to call for outside help. In the ensuing chaos, they would rob the three banks, andescape in stolen getaway cars before anyone could even respond.

Even in the movies, an elaborate plot like this sounds farfetched, but this is exactly what seven members of a right-wing extremist organization known as the Minutemen planned to do in Redmond in January of 1968. In the last Recycled Newspaper post, I covered a number of crime stories from Redmond as reported by the Sammamish Valley News in May of 1968. Although stories of a high-speed car chase around Education Hill and a quickly foiled armed robbery attempt certainly grab the headlines, it turns out that just a few months previous to these, there was a much bigger crime story in Redmond that I managed to miss completely.

Unfortunately for the would-be bank robbers, the FBI had been tipped off to their plot several weeks in advance, and an elaborate investigation by the FBI ultimately resulted in all seven co-conspirators being arrested before their plot could be carried out, with significant amounts of weapons andexplosives in their possession. Ultimately, not only would the seven men be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, but the leader of the Minutemen would also face conspiracy charges related to the robbery plot. As it turns out, this plot was covered not only by the Sammamish Valley News, but also received extensive coverage from the Seattle Times and P-I as well, and the story even reached a number of national papers, including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Much of the local coverage of this story can be found in the Redmond Historical Society’s archives in printed form. As with many of the items found here, the Internet also helps fill in a number of additional details, mostly in the form of court documents related to the criminal proceedings resulting from this plot. After the jump, a look at the Great Redmond Bank Robbery That Wasn’t. Oh, and you might want to grab a drink or something, because this one is long.


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