Puyallup Carnies

So its 1930 and the audience in the grandstand at the Puyallup Fair is buzzing with excitement before the big show. A group of performers take time for a photo, posing with a bear that seems to be hiding behind indifference-or perhaps embarrassment because once the show begins…well anything for applause. Perhaps stupid tricks performed by animals can be upstaged by those done by people. Check out the images of acts from the 30’s and 40’s and you decide. You have to wonder about fish girl in there with the sea lions or the three guys who did a leapfrog act. So is he method acting there in the role of Larry of Arabia. And what sort of NRA membership status do you get if you shoot yourself out of a gun? Images from the hillarious and weird Puyallup Fair photo collection at the Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room

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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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