Archive for the ‘Stories of Auburn’ Category

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.


Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Seattle, Houston, Vancouver, Pennsylvania. Naming communities or even states after noted or heroic locals is not uncommon. But soon after incorporating their small community of about 740 inhabitants, the citizens of Slaughter, Washington had second thoughts about their choice to honor William Slaughter, an Army Lieutenant who died in an 1855 skirmish with local Indians. I wonder if someone at the time suggested that naming it “Williamstown” might have been a suitable tribute to the Lieutenant, that wouldn’t offend the sensibilities of some locals.

In 1893, only two years after incorporation, the town name was officially changed to Auburn. Supposedly an influx of settlers from Auburn, New York triggered this change. Some traditions hold that the new name came from “The Deserted Village,” a poem penned by Irish poet, Oliver Goldsmith. The first line of that poem is, “Sweet Auburn! Loveliest village of the plain.”

Several years ago the history of Auburn was the theme at a meeting of a local Toastmasters group. One member was inspired by the question, “What if our town was still called Slaughter?” and produced a poem on the subject. I don’t think that it will be nominated to be the official poem of our city, but his humorous look at the topic is worth sharing:

Slaughter, Washington

There once was a town named Slaughter
Where people said change our name we oughter
They looked not to the west to find a name that was best
But turned to New York and found a name to exhort
Slaughter they said sounds frightening and full of dread
But Auburn, now that’s an inviting place to lay your head
To them it seemed to make good sense
But thought they not of the consequence
They built a high school Auburn by name their athletic prowess they do proclaim
But can you imagine the fear and distain if the Slaughter High Butchers were your next game
Surely Green River College is a place of higher knowledge
But oh the career you could pursue if you graduated from Slaughter U
I don’t mean to whine, I guess Auburn is fine 
We’re an upstanding community with hope and opportunity
But as a recovering plotter, and occasional squatter who loves to sit in warm bathwater
A man who courted my wife until I caught ‘er and father of a son and daughter I kinda like the name of Slaughter.  
And you gotta admit it’s better than massacre. 

by Tony Garcia, 2007

Lt. and Mrs. William A. Slaughter, 1852. (Courtesy White River Valley Museum)

Tony’s look at what might have been if our town had not been renamed to Auburn is interesting. But there are towns with the name of Slaughter or some variation of the word. But that’s a story for another day.

Tony Garcia lives a happy and full life with family and friends in and around the Auburn area.  He enjoys connecting with people through work, fellowship, laughter and mutual respect.

The Auburn Morning Toastmasters (where Tony got his poetic inspiration) meets every Thursday at 6:35 AM at the Rainbow Café, 112 East Main Street in Auburn. http://auburnmorning.freetoasthost.cc

Read Full Post »

More than one local scout troop has made a pilgrimage to Angeline Seattle’s grave in the Auburn Pioneer Cemetery. Her Victorian-styled tombstone seems like an ideal backdrop for a discussion of the importance of Seattle’s namesake, Chief Seattle, and his daughter, popularly known as “Princess Angeline.” The only problem? Princess Angeline, daughter of the famous chief, is actually buried in Seattle’s Lakeview Cemetery. Who, then, is the Angeline Seattle buried here in Auburn?

We don’t know our Angeline’s maiden name, but we do know that she spent the majority of her life as Angeline Tumas. She and her husband Charlie Tumas were members of the local Muckleshoot Tribe. They can be found in Washington’s territorial census reports of the late 1800’s living on the reservation, on a farm they shared with their daughter Mary.

Except for these few details, we know very little about Angeline’s life. The 1900 Federal Census tells us only that Charlie had died by that time, leaving Angeline a widow. Her daughter Mary was no longer a part of her household; she had probably married and moved on to a home of her own. Angeline would have been 68 years old at the time of the census-taker’s visit.

Auburn’s Angeline faced old age in a new century without the company of her husband or her daughter. Was she lonely? Perhaps, but she did have some company. There was one other member of her household in that 1900 census report: a hired man named John Seattle (some sources report that John was a cousin of the famous chief). Sometime before her 1907 death, Angeline and John married. It’s because of this late second marriage that Angeline Seattle is buried under that name in the Auburn cemetery. Angeline’s tombstone, although it occasionally causes a bit of confusion to scout leaders and other amateur historians, is one of the most ornate markers in the cemetery—it’s certainly suitable for any “princess.”

Kristy Lommen is an English and History teacher and a volunteer at the White River Valley Museum. She has lived in Auburn for 12 years. You can find more stories from Auburn’s history at her website for the Auburn Pioneer Cemetery: www.auburnpioneercemetery.net.

The Auburn Pioneer Cemetery is located at the corner of 8th NE and Auburn Way North, across from Fred Meyer. It contains monuments for many Japanese American families that lived in the Auburn area. Stop by to pay your respects to some of our earliest settlers.

Read Full Post »

Frank Cavanaugh in the cab of his Mallet Steam Engine. He moved to Auburn about 1915

Long before the days of cell phones a railroad engineer in Auburn devised a clever method to signal his wife that he was almost home. When his train had passed the old  Neely Mansion heading west on the Northern Pacific line he blasted two toots: when he was in the Mallet steam locomotive pictured to the left it was two whistles; when he was in his diesel locomotive it was two blasts on the horn. His home was located a few blocks north of the line, on land currently occupied by the Maple Lane Estates apartments on R Street SE.

His wife would run out to the sun room where she’d wave her biggest tea towel to show that she’d heard him. Ten minutes later she’d pack up three little grandchildren, all sisters, and head down to the Northern Pacific round house in their Dodge coupe to pick him up. The round house was located about two blocks to the west of where Denny’s now stands on Auburn Way South.

Because there was no back seat in the coupe the three little girls stood behind the front seat on the way back to the house. Standing in the back of the coupe was also the same way that they got to the Point Defiance zoo or around on any of their other various excursions. The youngest granddaughter would get tired and try to crouch in the cramped space to rest her little legs.

Nowadays they’d be arrested for child endangerment. But to put it in perspective, seat belts weren’t even an option on Dodges at that time.

Two of those three little girls are now in their 70’s, the other has passed on. The youngest granddaughter in this story has been telling me this story for most of my life, because she wanted to pass on the history of her family, which is my family, because she’s my mother.  

The Auburn Round House in Auburn was torn down in 1987. This past year the last child of that railroad engineer, Frank Cavanaugh, passed away at the age of 91. With her goes some of the stories only known by that generation.

When your family gathers over the holidays I hope you’ll share the tales that make up the history of your family. If you wait, you might lose those stories forever.

Are you ready to share your story about the people or history of Auburn? See the guidelines on our Tell Your Story page ( https://uniquelyauburn.wordpress.com/tell-your-story/ ) or come to our next “Share Your Story” session at the Auburn Public Library on Saturday, December 18 from 1:00 to 3:00. Download a flyer here:  Share your story library session dec 18.

Read Full Post »

Thanksgiving week is usually a time for family gatherings. While some like to plan these social events in fine detail, for others a seat of the pants method is preferred.

Chris Garrison has been an important fixture in Auburn since 1995. He’s been the baseball coach at Auburn Riverside High School since it opened that year and in 1999 was awarded the SPSL North Division Coach of the Year. At least one Auburn school district site gives him credit for coaching since 1945—at least a FEW years before he was born. He also teaches Freshman Health and Human survival and has a 4.7 out of 5 rating on www.ratemyteachers.com. One student commented, “A great teacher and even more a respectable man.”

Coach Garrison is however, also known for a major family social event “faux paux” caused by using the seat of the pants planning method. Chris is one of eight brothers and sisters—one short of fielding their own baseball team. One summer about eight years ago Chris and his wife, Terrie, hosted a family reunion for Chris’ siblings.

Terrie is the Principal at Sunrise Elementary in Puyallup. She’s also a meticulous planner which helps her succeed in that role. Normally she plans family gatherings but in this case Chris took the lead. After all, it was his family.

When he called each up to invite them they asked, like good guests, “What can we bring?”

His response to each was, “Just bring a watermelon or something.”

Nobody brought the “something.” All eight brought watermelons. Even Chris and Terrie had one on hand. A quick trip to the grocery store was required to rescue the occasion which has ever after been referred to as the “Watermelon Incident.”

I suspect that this Thanksgiving it will be Terrie, not Chris, doing the planning. There will be checklists and guests who volunteer to bring something will be given a specific assignment. I’m sure it will be a well-planned event.

Coach Garrison however, may choose to toss another watermelon on the barbecue, if the food runs low.

Do you have an interesting story about the people or history of Auburn? See our “Tell Your Story” page to see how you can submit your own: https://uniquelyauburn.wordpress.com/tell-your-story/

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »