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Originally published Friday, August 10, 2012 at 10:00 AM

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Ocean liner was a 'botel' during 1962 World's Fair

E.A. "Eddie" Black intercepted the Dominion Monarch, then on its way to Japan for scrapping, to come to the fair first.

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LAWTON GOWEY, a friend now long departed, is still, in a way, a frequent contributor to this feature. Ordinarily it has been with historical photographs from his collection. But this time it is with one he took himself. On the late morning of June 20, 1962, with his back to the landmark steel pergola (1920) at the waterfront foot of Washington Street, Gowey recorded a harbor patrol boat carefully jockeying between its float and the 27,000 tons of the Dominion Monarch.

At 682 feet and 10 stories high, the Dominion M. was the largest of three ships parked on the waterfront during Century 21 to serve as hotel ships, aka "botels," during the World's Fair. With the hindsight of the "Marine History of the Pacific Northwest," which he authored, maritime historian and Port Commissioner Gordon Newell admitted that the fair's "predicted major housing shortage failed to develop." Even so, the shapely English vessel was for many a sensational attraction. Newell won the concession for leading tours through it during the fair.

It is possible that Gowey toured this big botel on the day he photographed it, for that same June 6 The Seattle Times humorist John Reddin wrote about taking the tour. Reddin imagined his guide, Newell, in his "white, tropical uniform," as "Noël Coward playing the lead role in 'In Which We Serve.' "

Almost certainly it was another waterfront regular, E.A. "Eddie" Black, who gave Newell his tour-leader's role, for it was Black who intercepted the Dominion Monarch, then on its way to Japan for scrapping, to come to the fair first. Black escaped both Port of Seattle and Coast Guard liens on the vessel by driving pilings on both sides of it and declaring it a "permanent installation."

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.

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