Handstand Sundial

Its Spring and there is something joyful in the arrival of that seasonal immigrant. On April 5, 1909, two acrobatic workers from a Japanese-American logging crew celebrated on the massive stump of an ancient cedar, capturing in their handstands both the greatness and smallness of their work. Asahel Curtis took this photograph in a sunny clearing deep in the Skagit County woods locking in a moment in time- the performer a jubilant gnomon and his shadow the mark of the hour on a freshcut sundial. How many hours went into in the cutting and how many centuries passed in the growing? Neither matter in the moment I’m sure.

 handstand sundial.jpg

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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.

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