Roughing It In Ravenna
This look into a still rough Ravenna neighborhood avenue comes happily with its own caption and a partial credit on the back. "This photo was given to Ronald Phillips by Wallace Swanson in 1984." Many years earlier Ronald had given Wallace his paper route, which we may comfortably guess included this street, 26th Avenue Northeast. Ron lived on 26th and Wallace one block away on 27th.
The view looks north on 26th across Northeast 55th Street, and Wallace has dated it July 1922.
A 3-year-old Ronald Phillips moved to Seattle with his parents and sisters in 1909, the year of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University of Washington campus. Soon after, the family moved to 5770 26th Ave. N.E. The address was made less remote by the No. 16 Ravenna trolley line, which reached 26th on Northeast 55th Street. Morris' caption explains, "Please note: roof of trolley can be seen (far left) above the mound of earth south of 55th."
Swanson's caption also notes the Union Bay Wood Working shop on the left, with the Mill Workers of America dance hall on the second floor and Pecks Grocery next door.
In 1922 when the photo was taken, Ronald Phillips was on summer vacation from Lincoln High School and, most likely, playing his clarinet in a local band. By 1983, the celebrated Phillips had retired from his role as soloist and principal clarinetist with the Seattle Symphony, the orchestra he stayed and played with for 56 years because, he explained, "this is where my friends are." Wallace Swanson was one of these, a neighborhood chum.
"Washington Then and Now," the new book by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.