The girls who sell the music. I’ve been in Yakima this week where my family’s roots are and where I went to grade school. Here’s an image from Yakima in about 1920, with two fashionable young women standing in front of a trendy shop where records and sheet music were the main merchandise. They have evident style, the right to vote and work downtown on their own. While this photo may seem old fashion its actually a multi-layered portrait of Modernism. Edison invented the iPod, music stores on Main Street along with movies and automobiles (like the one reflected in the storewindow) launched the popular culture we know today, and small town sales clerk girlfriends like this changed the way half of the people in America went about their daily lives. Music stores were not about new found disposable income or frivolous  leisure time in America during the 1920’s. Records, radio and jazz were more about the way cultural expression was redefining the country in the 20th century, the way black musician were creating a soundtrack for a new time and artists and writers were storytellers participating in a freshly invented society. My mom was working as a young sales clerk at Dunbars Jewelers on Yakima Avenue when she met my dad in the 1940’s. Maybe that’s why I love this photo. And maybe I just like Moderns when I see them.shopgirls

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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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