Old Friends

One of those comfortable photographs of two old friends in Tacoma in the Spring of 1927. That’s the Puyallup tribal statesman Henry Sicade in the company of his fellow Indian cowboy Will Rogers. As young men they both made livings as cattlemen, storytellers and eventually legendary figures in their respective fields of endeavor. Rogers visited Sicade in Tacoma many times over the years of their friendship, including one last trip by airplane with aviator Wiley Post in the summer of 1935. A few days later Rogers was lost when the plane went down North of Fairbanks. But when this photo was taken you can image the stories they were telling. How Henry met and rode with Calamity Jane and how Will did rope tricks for the Queen of England. And no doubt one of the humorists quips like “Even if you’re on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

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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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