My two sisters and I were born in the town of Anacortes, Washington. My father and his parents had emigrated from Italy through Canada to Anacortes. My mother's family immigrated from what is now Croatia and the small island of Brac to Anacortes. Mother and dad met in Anacortes and married.
In 1989 the local paper, the Anacortes American, printed an article by my dad, Paul luvera Senior, about the early days of Anacortes. In it he said that his father and he were working for the International Coal and Coke Company in Alberta, a mining town of about one thousand people in 1918. His older brother had already immigrated to Anacortes and the family decided to follow. He was 20 years old when he arrived in town. He described in the article some of his memories about Anacortes at that time.
He remembered an armistice parade down commercial Avenue. The Mills shut down to allow the workers to join the parade which was headed by a four piece dance band. The local priest, Father Truenett gave the victory talk to the crowd. It was a grand celebration of the end of World War I in Europe. That date is no longer remembered in the same way since World War II and the following conflicts.
He described four sawmills, six shingle mills, six salmon canneries into codfish plants that operated in Anacortes. Ancortes was a lumber and fishing town. Huge fleets of salmon purse seine boats and mills with tall smoke stacks billowing out smoke as the processed enormous amounts of cut timber.
He remembered that after church on Sunday's, people would take a basket full of food and head for the picnic grounds at the foot of Cap Sante along the beach. Blankets were spread out and families would visit with one another while children played in the shallow water at the beach. Some would walk the railroad track to Weaverling Spit where there was the secluded beautiful beach some distance away. Workers were putting in six day work weeks, often twelve hours a day and Sunday was the day off.
He said that in the depression years the area around Cap Sante was turned into a "Hooverville" also known as "Little Chicago." Hooverviille was the degrogatory name given to poor areas like this and named after the incumbent president Herbert Hoover who was seen as a cause of the depression. it was an area where the unemployed and poor survived in shacks made with any materials they could find. Most were unemployed.
My parents owned a small local grocery store on the main street of Anacortes. Dad recalled that one day the poor and unemployed held a rally at the local Moose Hall. Many of the unemployed then marched to the Safeway store which was close to my parent's store. They marched three abreast. The leaders yelled "go ahead boys, help yourselves" and they looted the store. Many were later arrested. Dad remembered that as they went past his store one of the leaders, whom dad knew very well, said "get back into your store, Paul." He did and they left his store alone.
Dad remembered that Anacortes held the only Fourth of July celebrations in Skagit and Island counties. Stores were decorated with banners. The mills shut down and there were Indian canoe races in Guemes Channel. Indian tribes were invited to compete. They would erect tepees beyond second and third avenues in town where they stayed during the celebration. There was a huge parade with lots of floats and traditional fireworks.
He also remembered the only bank holdup to take place in Anacortes. Citizens Bank was across the street from my parents store at seven and commercial. The accordion type doors of our store had been opened to the street. Dad was trimming carrots one summer day, with the doors wide open, when he heard revolver shots. The two bank robbers had scooped up the cash came out of the bank shooting.
On a whole different subject, in my miscellaneous collection of materials I'm sorting through, I came across a report of a Houston, Texas criminal case which took place in February 2002. It turns out that the plaintiff was a 35-year-old woman who sued a car dealership and a salesman who she said had sexually assaulted her while on a test drive. The salesman admitted they had sex but insisted it was consensual. The jury acquitted both defendants. I suspect the verdict was largely due to the fact that after the alleged assault she bought the car from the salesman and in her lawsuit also alleged that he had overcharged her as well.
I have a friend who's a fine trial lawyer in New York city, Harvey Weitz. In 1995 Harvey wrote to me about the case tried by his son. He said that during deliberations the jury sent out the following note: "do we have to follow the law or can we use our common sense?" I really found that amusing and even a comment on our justice system. I told Harvey that years before I had tried a case in Bellingham against a doctor for malpractice. The jury verdict was for the doctor but the jury had attached to the verdict form a note which read: "Dear Judge: please inform Dr.(name) that while we decided to let him off this time, none of us think you should ever do this surgery again." Signed the jury foreman.
Aren't people fun and history interesting?