There was a time long before Amazon and FedEx when people shopped from catalogs and everything from parlor stoves to toothpaste was delivered to your door by the mailman. Mostly it came by foot but the big stuff came in parcel vans and business cars driven by postal carriers like these, Mr. S.P. Hammerbeck and Mr. Charles Matters ably accompanied by Mr. Mut. The three are loading up packages in April 1919 at the once grand south entry to Tacoma’s main Post Office and Federal Courthouse. Today the elegant stairs and bronze light fixtures are gone on the 12th street side of the building. The block long sandstone landmark is largely unnoticed even though its courtrooms hosted U.S. House Immigration hearings just 18 months after this photo was taken that dramatically transformed American foreign and domestic policy. The Bolt decision that pioneered native fishing rights and the relevance of federal treaties was settled in the building in 1971 and many of the most influential Federal judges ever seated in the Pacific Northwest held proceedings within its walls. On the other end of the building, at the intersection of 11th and A Street, the violent conflict between waterfront workers and National Guardsmen would play out in the summer of 1935 (see Bloody Battle at the Bridge). But on this day Messrs. Hammerbeck, Matters and Mut are going about their business in jodhpurs, tweed suits and a winter coat of fur.
Tacoma Public Library unique 36197