Robin Weakland

Speed Stacks

Striped Water Poets: Gerald McBreen

Striped Water Poets: Suma Subramaniam

Subscribe to this blog to see more videos from 2010 and 2011 shows.


Enjoy these videos from the 2010 Uniquely Auburn Show

Jim Kleinbeck in a Lion Suit!:

Striped Water Poets: Maurice G. Whale

Subscribe to this blog to see more videos from 2010 and 2011 shows.

Enjoy these videos from the 2010 Uniquely Auburn Show

Marshallese Gospel Church:

Striped Water Poets: Maggie Kelley

What do you think is “Tops” about Auburn? Now you can weigh in on that question in the Uniquely Auburn “Top Ten” list contest.

The theme for the Uniquely Auburn event this year is “Late Night with Uniquely Auburn.” Part of the program will include “Top Ten” lists related to our city. On Facebook search for the Uniquely Auburn page and submit your suggestions for top ten list themes.

Current top ten theme ideas include:

  • Top Ten Places to Kiss in Auburn
  • Top Ten Restaurants we Need in Auburn
  • Top Ten Scariest Places in Auburn

You can also submit your ideas on this blog using the comments function. Remember to keep it clean. This is a family friendly program.

Latin Rhythms Dancers

The contest for theme ideas runs from now until December 10. After that you’ll be able to vote on best themes and submit your own ideas for the winning entries in weekly contests. Some of the best entries will be included in the Uniquely Auburn program on Sunday, January 29.

Uniquely Auburn, a FREE community-sponsored celebration of cultural diversity recognizing people, places, and events that make Auburn unique, will be held Sunday, January 29, 2012 at the Performing Arts Center at 2:00 p.m.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for updates on our program and for video clips from last year’s program.

The Rock’s Flying Mascot

imageThe Rock Wood Fired Pizza is a popular restaurant with a rock and roll theme. The chain started in Tacoma but has close ties to Auburn. When the third Rock location opened up in Lakeland Town Center in the south end of Auburn, the area was hungry for a good place to eat. In the first week that the Lake Tapps location opened it broke both daily and weekly sales records for the fledgling chain.

A Rock founder and owner, Jay Gigandet, lives near Lake Tapps in Auburn.  One of his pleasures was flying his Robinson Clipper 44 helicopter with a brilliant flame paint job around the area.

image Jay remembers one particular time he took his flying machine out. “My wife and I flew to Tacoma on a Sunday afternoon thinking it would not be busy at the UW [Tacoma] parking lot across the street.  I did a fly by and there wasn’t a car in the lot so I landed.” They went in and ordered pizza.  About 20 minutes later Gigandet heard sirens and dashed out.  Several police cars, a fire engine, and an ambulance were pulling into the lot. 

Gigandet said, “I casually went over where they had the helicopter surrounded, I asked ‘hello?” The officer said they received a call that a helicopter crashed in the lot. Supposedly the guy who called was drunk, and couldn’t tell the flames were not real.  Jay told the officer everything was okay. “Needless to say, I took my pizza to-go and got out of there.”

About 2 or 3 years ago, he got rid of the helicopter, but the memories will always last.

clip_image002Guest Author Jordan Hoerth Was born in Auburn in 1992, and continues to live there now. He is an aspiring artist, and writer.

Helicopter photo courtesy of Jay Gigandet

The Rock Wood Fired Pizza locations can be found all along western Washington. Every year, The Rock holds a battle of the bands competition with entries from high schools in the area.

A Hopping Town

Hop Pickers in Slaughter (Later Auburn) Washington

Trains, Boeing, hops. What do those words make you think? How about beginnings, our beginnings. It is true there are many things that turned the community of Auburn into the flourishing place it is today. One of the earliest influences was–hops. Hops are small cone shaped buds that grow on vines. These vigorous plants can grow up to six inches in a single day. There are many hop farms around the world. Most of the crops are used to flavor and stabilize beer.

Around the 1880’s Auburn was gripped by a hop craze. The price of hops hit an all time high, thanks to a major crop loss in Europe. Fulfilling the need for the bitter bud demanded a lot of work. Many workers toiled from dawn till dusk planting, harvesting and just keeping the hops healthy. The hops craze ended in the 1890’s after an infestation of aphids. In the early years of our community hops were a large part of the economical engine in Auburn. Hop farms supplied work, money and enjoyment for just about everyone whether it was growing, selling or drinking the resulting beverage.

During the craze Auburn’s community bustled thanks to the influx of money. In a good year during during the boom farmers could expect to earn four hundred dollars or more per acre of hops. You can imagine how incredibly disappointing it was when an aphid infestation wiped out the industry and spelled the end of the Auburn hops craze.

Even today you can spot wild hop vines growing along roadsides or in fields. The perennial vine is even grown in backyards and used by home brewers to make their own beer.

When we look back into our past we should remember those times. They helped shape what we are now.

Guest Author Ian Bruner was born in Tacoma in 1992. He moved to Auburn in 2003 and is now a flourishing author and musician.

The Hop Pickers photo is courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society Research Center located at 315 North Stadium Way in Tacoma. The Research Center’s Hewitt Research Library and Special Collections are open to the general public, via the special collections reading room on the 3rd floor of the building, by appointment only, Tuesday-Thursday from 12:30PM to 4:30PM. Additional opportunities for visitor research of Society’s Collections are available via their Featured Collections, Collections Highlights, and Finding Aids

The Lioness of Auburn

The Auburn Mountainview Lions have graced Lea Hill since the high school opened in 2005. But half a century before the school opened, a real lion lived at the base of that same hill.

The circumstances surrounding the lioness, Little Tyke, are quite unusual. She was born in September 1946 to an erratic mother at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington. Her mother was captured in the wild and lived as a zoo attraction. The first four times she gave birth to a litter of cubs in captivity she killed each of them. When she birthed a fifth litter, one female cub was saved by the zookeeper. They turned her over to Auburn residents George and Margaret Westbeau who adopted the lioness and named her Little Tyke. They lived on their farm, Hidden Valley Ranch, which was located near where the 8th Street NE Bridge crosses the Green River at the base of Lea Hill.

The couple learned an astonishing fact about their new pet: she refused to eat any meat despite years of efforts to introduce her to a normal carnivore diet. George and Margaret were finally convinced by a visitor that a chapter in the book of Genesis provided an explanation for Little Tyke’s vegetarianism. He told them to read Genesis 1:30 which proclaimed, “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

As a strict vegetarian, her diet consisted of various types of grains and gallons of milk for meals. Alongside her at the ranch lived other cattle, chickens, lambs, and a deer. Little Tyke even became friends with a lamb named Becky and a photo of the “Lion lying down with the lamb” became popular.

Taking care of a growing lioness came with its fair share of obstacles. Despite her gentle disposition some community members believed that Little Tyke would eventually show her true nature. Eventually the city council passed a law directed at her that required “dangerous” animals to be caged.

Little Tyke became internationally famous and George Westbeau published a book Little Tyke: The True Story of a Gentle Vegetarian Lioness, about raising their unique pet. The Westbeaus used the notoriety of their lioness to raise funds for Seattle Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.

Little Tyke contracted pneumonia during a trip to Hollywood and died just short of her ninth birthday in 1955.

Many Auburn residents have memories of Little Tyke. If you have one to share, please select the “Leave a Comment” link below and share your story.

To see a series of Little Tyke photos in the Tacoma Public Library archives click here.

Guest author, Tishayla Williams, was born in Newport News, Virginia but has lived in Washington since the age of four. She recently moved to Auburn and is a high school junior at Auburn Mountainview where she’s on the staff of the school newspaper, In View.