“something’s lost, but something’s gained”

Less than four months after Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight in late May 1927, “The Spirit of St. Louis” circled the parade grounds at Ft. Lewis to the roar of a big gun salute. The 25 year old aviator also buzzed the Cushman veterans hospital on the north shoulder of McKinley Hill and executed a couple stunts over the city on his nation wide tour to build awareness of aviation. The shadow of Lindbergh’s wings were fleeting that day but the profound sadness that befell him and the nation in May of 1932 when his young kidnapped son was discovered dead came back to Tacoma in the spring of 1935. Tacoma’s most famous crime was the snatching of 9 year old George H. Weyerhaeuser on May 24th while on his way home for lunch from Lowell Elementary School. For more than a week the tragic ending to the Lindbergh kidnapping just three years before haunted the city and like the lyric to a Joni Mitchel song, Tacoma’s sky was clouded by a ghost of aviation. But then something rather wonderful happened. A ransom was dropped, three amateur crooks bumbled and a very brave little boy walked several miles in the rain to a farmhouse and freedom. In the middle of the Depression, Tacoma enjoyed a big story with a happy ending.299581_4783576183280_1503786151_n


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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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