Taxidermy Taxi

taxidermy wagon

On the reoccurring theme of oddly normal man-on-the-street photos from Tacoma’s past we offer this moment in the 1913 moving of Bill Sheard’s Fur and Trophy shop. It’s taken in front of the Carlton Building on Jefferson on what is today the UWT Campus. The portable menagerie has a macabre quality that the subjects seem oblivious to, even the two presumable alive draft horses. The vignette has a Norman Bates slant to it, with the sharp edged reflections in the storefront glass like a bathroom mirror and the suggestion of a heavy laden casket beneath it all like a body in the basement. The ghosts of this image after dark could be disturbing if class was running late and there was the eerie sound of hoof steps emanating from the emptiness of a warehouse alley. History tells us almost nothing about what became of Bill Sheard but if by coincidence, you are approached near Union Station by a man with a cocked hat and a pale complexion this Halloween and he observes that you would make a grand trophy we suggest you discontinue the conversation. Strange things have a way of happening on a 100 year cycle.

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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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