Worlds and Marbles

On May 19, 1943, Joe Holmquist out shot a field of eight district marble champions to become the Tacoma grade school marble champion. Joe, a student at Edison school, won the crown and a $25 war bond in a title competition held in the Lincoln Bowl.
On the same day, Winston Churchill addressed the U.S. Congress in Washington DC and later that evening he and FDR set the date for the invasion of Europe. The bloodiest days of World War Two were just ahead and at Fort Lewis waves of young men were preparing for D Day, Dwight Eisenhower had departed the base to command the invasion and Joe was shooting the eyes out of the marble ring. Sometimes the most innocent photographs say so much about their time, about the determination of the moment and about the games we play with worlds and marbles.


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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.


  1. I just want to say how much I appreciate your amazing knowledge, photos, and most of all, your story-telling! What a privilege to have you among us as Tacoma’s chief historian. Please don’t stop!

    And Thank You,
    Donna Van Cleef


  2. We played marbles at Central on Tacoma in the 60’s. from the time I was in the 3rd grade until the middle of 6th grade. The teachers hated it because there were always arguments over the games. The end came when on of the girls who played had her marble bag break while we were standing in line after recess. Then there were about 300 marbles bouncing across the concrete floor of the basement. An anouncment later that day over the P.A. said NO MORE MARBLES AT SCHOOL. LOL


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