Of Wisteria and Wobblies
So, while I was ever-so-reluctantly removing the shingles from the porch the other day I found a couple things, one horrifying (okay - a bit over dramatically stated) and the other...fun and interesting (at least to me!). Here we go...
Kinda freaky isn't it? That would be wisteria. We planted it outside the porch a number of years ago. It was beautiful, and lush, and invasive! When we replaced all the windows on the front porch, I seized the opportunity (and excuse) to cut it down. I mean really - that stuff actually gave me nightmares! On more than one occasion I dreamed of the seen and unseen destruction the wisteria was wreaking on 173. I'd been hinting at lopping it off for a few years, then I got my chance. That was a year or two ago and we still get wisteria growing out of random spots in the yard! Now I take down some shingles and my wisteria hysteria (see what I did there?) are validated! Anyway, that was the "horrifying" discovery.
MUCH more interesting was this:
I love history, and in particular, I love seeing the ways we connect with generations and even how we connect geographically...a kind of "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" kind of thing if you will. The picture above is the manufacturer stamp on the back of one of the shingles. I find that kind of stuff interesting so...off to the internet! I figured I'd find out that there was a shingle company in Everett, Washington and that would be that. I couldn't have been more wrong! Here's a little history lesson: In a discussion of the Port of Everett, I found that...
After peaking at seven mills from 1907 through 1909, the dock(Port of Everett) maintained between four and six (wood and shingle) mills for most of the following decade, with ownership and name changes being the norm. Some firms, like the Everett Shingle Company (1906-1923)...were exceptions. Other names, such as the Matson Mill Company, appeared one year (1910) and disappeared the next.
During this period, Everett shingle manufacturing reached new heights, and a substantial number of those shingles were being cut at 14th Street Dock mills. The 1912 Polk City Directory stated that Everett produced 6,055,000 shingles each day. The 1916 directory heralded Everett as “the leading lumber, logging and shingle center of the Northwest, in fact, it might be said of the entire world. The daily capacity of the shingles mills is 4.5 million."At some point in there, the union movement hit the lumber mills and the story got very interesting very quickly!
The shingle labor and management war reached its zenith in 1916. The shingle weavers’ union went on strike when the owners were unwilling to reinstate a higher wage scale. The union cited the mill owners’ promise to restore the 1914 wage scale when shingle prices rose again. Prices had risen but David Clough, patriarch of the mill owners, was adamant that the wage adjustment was not justified. His mills, he claimed, had not made any money in two and a half years. The strike dragged on and became violent after some mill owners brought in strikebreakers. Hostilities rose to a new level when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), to the dismay of the mill owners and the shingle weavers’ union, injected themselves into the fray. Better known as the Wobblies, the IWW men swarmed to Everett to preach for a radical worker revolution that far exceeded the shingle weavers’ demands for higher wages. On a downtown street corner, they called for the laboring class to rise in opposition to the immoral capitalists who controlled their lives. When the Wobblies were arrested or run out of town for their activities, their issue became repression of “free speech.” Then the town’s attention turned to the sheriff and his mill owner citizen deputes’ battle with the IWW.
Afer a partcularly violent episode when a group of Wobblies was beaten and run out of town by the sheriff and his cohorts, a large group of Wobblies returned en masse by boat to Everett. They were met at the Everett City Dock by the sheriff and his deputized crew of mill owner supporters. A verbal confrontation followed, and a shot—from which side was never determined—rang out. More shots followed from both sides. When the volley ended, at least seven were dead (two of the dock crew and five Wobblies) and many others were wounded. The most infamous event in Everett’s history, it would become known as the Everett Massacre. The community was shattered, and a degree of normalcy wasn't restored until the city, along with the rest of the nation, turned its attention to America’s entry into the war in Europe. From www.PortofEverett.comSee, that's what I'm talking about...I love connections like that...90 years later, and 2,888 miles away, 173 links to a little-known (at least in these parts) tragedy, all because of some cedar shingles. I think that shingle's going to find a nice little spot for display in 173!