Living in Yelm in 1951 by Edgar Prescott

Living in Yelm in 1951 by Edgar Prescott

Introduction: In this passage Prescott describes the house in bought in 1951

Looking back I have to admit that the house we bought back in 1951 doesn’t seem anymore take all that much of a house that it did then. It was square, and it sat high up on a foundation. You had to climb five broad cement steps, bordered by a fancy iron railing, to get to the living room; and around on the side, up three real steep, narrow ones to get into an entryway, where there was a double laundry tub. That tub would have been an improvement, when it came to scrubbing and rinsing clothes, over the galvanized tub and copper wash boiler we had used to use—It had hot and cold running water—but it would have required a washboard and a lot of hard work, and it certainly wouldn’t have matched up with the automatic washers and dryers that most other folks were using. As nearly as I can remember, we never used the thing.

All of the rooms were small. The kitchen, with its little dinette on the end, just big enough for the three of us, didn’t have a lot of cupboard room. There was hardly space in the living room for what furniture we already owned,- and the bedroom closets were little more than cubbyholes.

But there was a good looking fireplace in the living room, faced with native rocks that were varnished, and the floors were hardwood, made out of oak, even in the kitchen and bathroom, where they were covered with linoleum. And there was a basement under the house with a coal burning furnace, and heating registers in all the rooms.

On the outside the house was painted white with a red shingled hip roof, no eaves at all, and it was built on the edge of a big lot—Actually it came close to being two lots wide—with just enough room on the north side between the house and the fence to drive a car into the garage out behind.

And it was all practically new, at least as tar as we were concerned—only five years old. The date it was built, 1946, was stamped into the cement of one of the risers of the steps out front.

To us it was a “precious stone” like Shakespeare said about England, only it was set in a green lawn instead of a “silver sea”. And the lawn wasn’t even green. Not then. We were thinking ahead to the way it was going to be. Actually it was that big hunk of land south of the house and in the back yard that I was drooling over as much as it was the house. There was room for a garden, or a lawn, or flowerbeds, or even another house—anything my mind could conceive.

And believe me, my mind conceived plenty—enough projects over the next twenty hears, along with teaching history classes, to keep me busy as a colony of ants. I was about to say “to keep me out of mischief”, but I guess a lot of things 1 got into on account of that land might rightly be considered as mischief. Take that nutria deal I got into. But I’ll tell you about that later on.

Right at first we were busy sanding and refinishing the floors. We rented a sander from the hardware store, and Archie Ferguson, our neighbor—He was the fellow who had built the house in the first place—was right there to give advice. Then we had the laundry tub in the entryway torn out and replaced with a new washer and dryer. And we replaced the furnace in the basement with a new Winkler-, high pressure oil burning furnace.

“Dan Still Remembered” November 27, 1977

Dan Still Remembered

The Daily Olympian November 27, 1977

Yelm- Most towns erect monument to city founders, mayors or other notable community leaders. Not Yelm. It has a monument to a man who came to town as a hobo and left 33 years later as a beloved legend.

Dan Maslowski wasn’t a typical tramp. Nor was he a city founder, but many say he was the top citizen of Yelm. He was a respected and trusted community member. His memory is lodged in the warmest spot of many a heart. Maslowski earned himself a niche as Yelm’s Mr. Clean.

Townsfolk who remember the old hobo have their favorite storied to tell. And all have nothing but good things to say about their old Dan. Some resent him being called a tramp.

The drinking fountain monument is in front of Yelm’s fire hall on Main Street. It reads, “Keep Yelm Clean. In memory of Dan Maslowski-1971.” It was placed there a year or so after old Dan’s death in July of 1971.

Yelm grocer and former state legislator Hal Wolf, and the late Bob Ellis, who once owned Bob’s Tavern, gathered donations for the monument. They sold bumper stickers that read, “Keep Yelm Clean for Dan.” Ellis’ son-in-law Jim Forrester, present owner of Bob’s Tavern, said some people thought the stickers were in referent to Gov. Dan Evans. It became something of a joke to keep people straightened out on the matter.

Ellis and Mel Johnson spent hours installing the fountain monument. “There’s not many tributes in this town and this is the only one on Main Street. Nobody else got into the hearts of people here,” Wolf declared.

Wolf was a young man when Maslowski hit town. He remembers his dad and others liked to buy Maslowski’s breakfast because they were so pleased with the way he kept the town clean. “He read a lot and sometimes gave the impression that he’d once had a formal education,” Wolf recalled.

“Since old Dan died, we’ve had a real problem in trying to keep the town clean. We’ve never solved it. Whenever something needed to be done for the city, Dan would do it. This town hasn’t been the same without him. There aren’t any hobos left today.”

As the story goes, Maslowski left his Wisconsin home at the age of 13 because of family problems. He rode the rails across America until finding Yelm in 1938. He once told Ellis, “The first night I got to Yelm they didn’t throw me in the can. So I just stayed. It was the first place where they didn’t throw me in the can.”

His first night in town, he bummed a handout at the door of Martin Gruber, then co-owner of the Gruber-Docherty Lumber company and later treasurer of Thurston county. But that was the last time he begged for food. After that he swept floors, chopped wood, cut grass, and did scores of other odd jobs about town. In return people gave him meals of maybe some change.

At first he slept in a little house behind Bruber’s, then city hall was his home until Ellis gave him a room in his hotel. In the early 1960’s, Ellis tore down the top story of the hotel and turned the first floor into a tavern and a Laundromat. Maslowski squeezed into a small room between the two.

That’s where he lived until his death except for three months he lived at the McKenna rest home.

As the years went by street cleaning became his forte. “He’d be up at four nearly every morning sweeping the streets whether it was rain, snow, or shine,” recalled Forrester.

“The town has never been as clean since old Dan died. He swept parking lots, porches, sidewalks and not only Main Street but every street in town.”

Others said he could often be seen outside shaking a fist at a horse rider going through town, if the horse dirtied the pavement.

After many years, the city finally put him on the payroll for his cleaning efforts. He got $25 per month.

Forrester said Maslowskit was good at sweeping out Bob’s Tavern until carpet was put in. “He didn’t like carpet because he couldn’t sweep it.”

“There’s not been many in the world that could smoke a cigar like Dan. He was the most contented, leisurely and relaxed smoker. But he had to quit drinking during his last three years because the doctor told him his heart was going band. He obeyed doctor’s orders.”

Mrs. Evelyn Fall, who remarried after the death of her husband Bob Ellis, remembers she and Ellis were newlyweds’ when Maslowski found Yelm. “He stacked wood and picked strawberries for my mom and dad and all the little kids loved him. If everyone was as good as old Dan was, this would be a great world,” she said.

Maslowski was completely trustworthy. The Ellis’s often would send him to the bank with their earnings for the day. It was common to see him talking to himself while working and he loved cats and plants.

He served many a night as town watchman and was especially helpful in that capacity during Yelm Prairie Days in the summers.

City Clerk Roger Eide remembers giving Maslowski free haircuts at his barbershop. “I’d say one on the house and sometimes he’s pay and sometimes he wouldn’t,” Eide said with a grin. “He very seldom would work for anyone who wouldn’t give him a meal. And he’d eat enough for a week.”

Eide wasn’t the only one to mention Maslowski’s appetite. The fact that the old boy could eat is something all comment on.

Mayor Lora B. Coates remembers Maslowski helper her and her husband harvest Christmas trees. “He was certainly a legend. He was as typical a small town character as you could find. But he was part of a vanishing breed.”

Maslowski died of a heart attack July 26, 1971. The town was hut down for the hour of his funeral.

A Daily Olympian story about the funeral hit national and international news wires. Mrs. Frieda Young, of Selkirkshire, Scotland, though she might be related to Maslowski and sent a letter of inquiry to Yelm. Mayor Coates sent all the information she had about Maslowskit to Mrs. Young.

The two corresponded for about a year, and Mrs. Young last wrote that she positively felt she was related to him.

Mrs. Connie Turner is one Yelm resident who still thinks often of old Dan. She visits his resting place in the Yelm cemetery at least once a year. She planted shrubbery on the grave since Maslowski liked “anything growing.” And she still takes care of the grave.

Mrs. Turner says Maslowski reminded her of her own father. So she sort of adopted him as a second father. One New Year’s Eve she got him on the dance floor, despite heavy bets that he wouldn’t. Most of the time he shied away from females.

It’s been said that no one ever captured the heard of Yelm as did Dan Maslowskit. And no one has since.

Y.H.S. Girls’ League

Introduction:

Over the past month I have been reviewing a scrapbook from the Yelm High School Girls’ League in the 1950’s. Technically, every girl in the high school was a member of the Girls’ League much the same as students taking agriculture classes are considered members of the FFA. Since the club was so large, most of the decisions were made by the Girl’s League Council, elected officers that did much of the work in the club. The Girls’ League organized the Mother Daughter Banquet, the predecessor of the modem Mother- Daughter Tea. They also organized ‘Tornado Week” a combination between a homecoming spirit week and an organized freshmen initiation. The Girls’ League and the Girls’ League Council met to discuss these events as well as other issues faced by high school girls such as careers, college and dating, at school and at conferences with other area Girls’ Leagues.

The Girls’ League in some ways encouraged the advancement of women through ‘encouraging careers and leadership, but it was far from a radical feminist organization. The careers it encouraged were generally limited and much of the leadership and skills promoted were within traditional women’s spheres such as the home and the church and the family. To learn more about the Girls’ League and gender roles read here. The Girls’ League and the activities it sponsored were important parts of the culture of the high school and the town. The events, such as “Tornado Week” and the Mother- Daughter Banquet consisted of many elaborate traditions and were always well attended. To learn more about the role of the Girls’ League in the culture of Yelm and the high school click here. The Girls’ League and the girls of Yelm High School were very interested in anything involving boys and dating. The adult leaders of the Girls’ League often discouraged things such as long term relationships and public displays of affection. However students were encouraged to go to dances as couples and dance with members of the opposite sex. To learn more about discussions of dating in the Girls’ League click here.

Gender Roles

Many ways the Girls’ League encouraged traditional gender roles, but it also tried to advance the role of women.

The Girls’ League and the Home Economics classes prepared the food and decorations for the Mother- Daughter Banquet. The banquet featured a “model show” in which the Home ec. Students showed off clothes they had made. Regional conferences included discussions of traditional female roles with topics such as “Learn to Live Attractively” and “Grooming.” The Mother Daughter Banquet once included a speech on “The Art of Being a Woman.” The Girls’ League was in charge of decorating the school for Christmas.

The Girls’ League did more than just encourage women to be polite, well dressed and useful in the home. It also encouraged the women to be self-sufficient, cultured and responsible. By having the girls prepare the food it made them directly responsible for the quality of the banquet and allowed them to save money. On a side note, while the girls prepared the food, the FFA boys served the girls and their mothers. Though the model show initially sounds rather superficial, it was really an opportunity for the girls to show off their skills in dressmaking. The Girls’ League also offered women numerous opportunities to show off skills they had attained. The banquet and the conferences featured numerous skits, pantomimes, dances and musical performances. The banquet and conferences featured speeches on women in school, the community and the church.

The banquet featured speeches on educational topics such as people’s travels to other countries, ‘The Early Days of Yelm” and speech impediments in children. Through, discussions, meetings and information sessions, the girl’s they also encouraged women to have careers, go to college, and hold leadership roles.

Though the Girls’ League encouraged the traditional separate role of women, having them cook, sew and decorate, it also promoted the role of women in careers, college and the community.

High School Culture

The Girls’ League and the events it organized were an important part of the culture of the high school and the town. These events, such as the Mother- Daughter Banquet and Tornado Week consisted of many elaborate traditions and were well attended.

The Mother Daughter Banquet, now the Mother Daughter Tea was open to all the girls, not just seniors. Every year it featured a guest speaker, a number of entertainers, such as dancers and singers, a fashion show and ended with the installation of the next year’s Girls’ League Council. In the Early 1950’s about 160 mothers and daughters attended the banquet. The banquet was such an important event that the girls and their mothers bought corsages (from the school) for the evening. In the middle of the decade it was proposed to change the banquet to a tea as a change from the usual and because they were having a hard time borrowing enough dishes. However this did not happen because many girls complained that the banquet was one of the few chances their mothers had to go out to dinner.

Another important event organized by the Girls’ League was the “Tornado Week” every autumn. Tornado week began on Monday with a girls’ Spirit Week. The week included spirit days like “shoeshine day” where freshmen girls would shine shoes for a few cents that would be donated to the Girls’ League, “Blue Monday” where everyone wore blue, “Little Girl Day” when freshmen were dressed like children, and “Housewife Day.” The freshmen girls were “adopted” during the week by older girls. At the end of the week the upperclassmen dressed their “little sisters” in costumes which were displayed in a special assembly on Friday. In the assembly the freshmen and their upperclassmen were given awards for originality and humor.

There was also a football game on the Friday of Tornado Week. Unlike Homecoming Week, Tornado Week was not centered on a particular football game; it was simply about initiating the freshmen and having school spirit. In fact one year there wasn’t a football game scheduled during the week the event was to be held so the junior girls played the senior girls in a football game.

Yelm High School’s ‘Tornado Week” concluded with the Girls’ League Tolo- a large girl-ask-boy dance. In the mid. 1950’s between 88 and 120 people attended the dance (out of about a student body of about 250). Students were encouraged to go to the dance as couples with single tickets selling for 25 cents and couple tickets selling for 35 cents. The dance featured recorded music provided by the Girls’ League Record Committee and activities like one where all the girls pop balloons with boys’ names in them and dancing with the boy whose name was in the balloon.

The Yelm High School Girls’ League and the events it sponsored were important parts of the culture of the high school and the town. The events were well attended and very popular and consisted of many elaborate traditions.

Dating

The Girls’ League and the girls of Yelm High School were very interested in anything involving boys and dating. The adult leaders of the Girl’s League often discouraged things such as long term relationships and public displays of affection. However students were encouraged to go to dances as couples and dance with members of the opposite sex.

Almost every Southwest Washington Girls’ League conferences included discussion of dating. At the conference in Randal there was a discussion group called “Learn to Live Spiritually” included discussion of marriage. At the same conference “Learn to Live Socially” included talk of dating and “Learn to Live understandingly” which was supposed to discuss other cultures became a discussion of dating.

The 1954 conference featured a speech entitled, “You in Society.” The woman who gave the speech discussed appropriate dating behavior and whether blind dating was a good idea. She also discussed “going steady” and warned that it could distract girls from their studies and their other school activities.

The Yelm Girls’ League also had their own discussions of dating. At one meeting the girls discussed the fact that many girls were getting married while still in high school, and one girl remarked that “Marriage is a fad.” Another meeting included a discussion of behavior among couples in the halls, in study hall and in school activities. The girls eventually concluded that while there was a problem with couples kissing on the dance floor the behavior of couples wasn’t out of hand. An adult leader responded to the girls’ conclusion by stating that couples could show their affection for each other without “carrying on.” The meeting ended with a skit demonstrating the approved and disapproved behavior.

While the girls were often discouraged from certain activities, they were encouraged to go to dances as couples and to dance with members of the opposite sex. Tickets to dances were cheaper (per person) for a couple than for singles and dances included activities involving dancing with members of the opposite sex.

Katie Fagerlund

History of the Prairie Line (II)

As World War II broke out, traffic increased on the line. It was used as an alternate route for troop trains to and from Tacoma. The telegraph office was manned 24 hours a day with three shifts or “tricks.” In the post-war years, traffic dwindled to secondary or branch status with logs the main commodity carried. The agency closed in the late 1950s and the depot, which stood near where the current Yelm City Hall is, was subsequently dismantled, leaving once again only a wood platform at the Yelm facility.

Recent Years on the Prairie Line

During the 1960s the line handled trains carrying general freight, including Boeing airplane parts on oversize freight cars that would not fit through the tunnel under Point Defiance on on the Steilacoom route. In 1970, both the Northern Pacific and Great Northern lost their individual identities when they merged with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and Seattle, Portland and Spokane to make one large company, the Burlington Northern.

Around this time, the clearances for the Point Defiance tunnel were increased to handle oversize loads, eliminating the need for the Prairie Line as an alternate route. With the closing of several mills around Tenino and the ceasing of log hauling by the BN, local traffic diminished to next to nothing by the 1980s.

In 1986, BN severed the Prairie Line from the main line at Tenino and took the tracks south of Yelm out of service. Today, Yelm is the end of the line. Current service sees the BN freight train, the Mobase local, venturing to Yelm about once a week to deliver a boxcar or two. The crew sometimes “goes to beans” at one of the local eateries and then heads back toward Tacoma and more prosperous rail business.

Although the rails are still in place and BN still owns the right of way, the fate of the once proud Prairie Line is at stake. A railroad line that was once coveted as the most important item for the development of Puget Sound communities is now ignored and will probably disappear quietly without anyone noticing-and without any chance of ever being rebuilt.

(Source: The Nisqually Valley News)

Yelm Population Estimates

Introduction:  The following figures have been gleaned from a variety of sources, mainly newspapers.  Yelm did incorporate as a town until the 1920’s, was considered to be Yelm in the 1908 & 1918.  The latter figures are more accurate and reflect the people living int the city limits.

1908 – 50

1918 – 150

1926 – 400

1950 – 406

1970 – 632

1975 – 708

1980 – 1,294

1989 – 1,425

1951- A House in Yelm

A Home in Yelm, 1951

Introduction: In this account by Edgar Prescott he describes his home in Yelm in 1951.

Looking back I have to admit that the house we bought back in 1951 doesn’t seem anymore like all that much of a house than it did then. It was square, and it sat high up on a foundation. You had to climb five broad cement steps, bordered by a fancy iron railing, to get to the living room; and around on the side, up three real steep, narrow ones to get into an entryway, where there was a double laundry tub. That tub would have been an improvement, when it came to scrubbing and rinsing clothes, over the galvanized tub and copper wash boiler we had used to use—It had hot and cold running water—but it would have required a washboard and a lot of hard work, and it certainly wouldn’t have matched up with the automatic washers and dryers that most other folks were using. As nearly as I can remember, we never used the thing.

All of the rooms were small. The kitchen, with its little dinette on the end, just big enough for the three of us, didn’t have a lot of cupboard room. There was hardly space in the living room for what furniture we already owned – and the bedroom closets were little more than cubbyholes.

But there was a good looking fireplace in the living room, faced with native rocks that were varnished, and the floors were hardwood, made out of oak, even in the kitchen and bathroom, where they were covered with linoleum. And there was a basement under the house with a coal burning furnace, and heating registers in all the rooms.

On the outside the house was painted white with a red shingled hip roof, no eaves at all, and it was built on the edge of a big lot—Actually it came close to being two lots wide—with just enough room on the north side between the house and the fence to drive a car into the garage out behind.

And it was all practically new, at least as tar as we were concerned—only five years old. The date it was built, 1946, was stamped into the cement of one of the risers of the steps out front.

To us it was a “precious stone” like Shakespeare said about England, only it was set in a green lawn instead of a “silver sea”. And the lawn wasn’t even green. Not then. We were thinking ahead to the way it was going to be.

Actually it was that big hunk of land south of the house and in the back yard that I was drooling over as much as it was the house. There was room for a garden, or a lawn, or flowerbeds, or even another house—anything my mind could conceive. . . .

Right at first we were busy sanding and refinishing the floors. We rented a sander from the hardware store, and Archie Ferguson, our neighbor—He was the fellow who had built the house in the first place—was right there to give advice.

Then we had the laundry tub in the entryway torn out and replaced with a new washer and dryer. And we replaced the furnace in the basement with a new Winkler-, high pressure oil burning furnace.

Law & Order – Yelm Ordinances

Law & Order in Yelm

Introduction: Yelm incorporated in 1924 and the town council soon began passing ordinances. Here are some summarized selections from Yelm’s long list of ordinances.

1925 – Regulation of pool halls and card rooms – A license is required to own or regulate a pool hall or card room. License fee is $25 a year.  Punishment: $10-100 fine plus imprisonment until paid, not exceeding 50 days.

1925 – Prohibit stock from running at large – No livestock allowed at large within Yelm city limits. Duty of Marshall to impound all animals found. Release of animal will cost $2.50, plus an additional $1.00 for any extra day the animal is held (12 hours required). After ten days of being held, the Marshall can sell, at a public sale, for cash.

1925 – To preserve public morality, peace, and the safety of Yelm. It shall be unlawful for any person to be found:

  1. Fighting or engaging in disorderly conduct and use of profane or abusive language;
  2. Carrying a concealed weapon;
  3. Drawing weapons upon another with intent to intimidate or annoy;
  4. Discharging weapons within city limits or use of other explosives without permission from the City Council;
  5. Slandering others that produces a disturbance of the peace; or to challenge another to a fight;
  6. Agreeing to fight, except for athletic or boxing contests sanctioned by an official club or organization;
  7. Making boisterous noises after 10 p.m.;
  8. Being a common drunkard, beggar, run away, or idle and dissolute person;
  9. Being a known thief;
  10. Under the influence of opium or soliciting alms;
  11. Engaging in prostitution;
  12. Being found with a prostitute;
  13. Seeking a prostitute;
  14. Loitering for soliciting prostitution;
  15. Owning or operating a house for prostitution;
  16. Living in a house of prostitution;
  17. Exposing themselves indecently;
  18. Habitually playing games of chance or profit;
  19. Gambling or owning gambling devices;
  20. Establishing a place for gambling or holding a lottery;
  21. Wagering anything of value, such as roulette, poker, etc.;
  22. Acting in a suspicious manner beyond 11 p.m. outdoors;
  23. Collecting or congregating in public crowds;
  24. Obstructing public road or sidewalk traffic by standing or loitering;
  25. Watching or staging cockfights or fights with other animals;
  26. Establishing a cockfighting arena;
  27. Exposing poison to man or animal;
  28. Defacing public or private property;
  29. Destroying public or private property;
  30. Destroying street signs or advertisements;
  31. Altering city of Yelm Bulletin Boards, unless you are an employee of the city;
  32. Spitting on the street, sidewalk, or other public conveyances;
  33. Selling tobacco to persons under the age of 21 years;
  34. Impersonating a police officer;
  35. Opposing arrest by an officer or annoying an officer;
  36. Rescuing a person from prison;
  37. Refusing to aid a police officer in an arrest for males 18 years of age or older;
  38. Mischievously throwing objects at any person and or their belongings to annoy;
  39. Messing with water mains, gas pipes, or electric wire without permission;
  40. Loitering or playing pool or billiards in a billiard room if you are under the age of 21 years;
  41. Posting signs on trees or public posts, tying animals to trees or posts, or damaging a tree or post without permission;
  42. Injuring or destroying any flower, foliage, or shrubbery on property not his;
  43. Emptying debris on public roads or sidewalks, such as, paper, nails, broken glass, bottles, garbage, etc.;
  44. Driving on sidewalk without a special permit from the City Council;
  45. Polluting or interfering with public spring or fountain;
  46. Preventing the use of evidence in any case.

Punishment: Violation of above is deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and will be subject to a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both.

1927 – Preservation of public morals, peace, safety, and good order.
It shall be unlawful for:

  1. Any priest or rabbi found in possession of any intoxicating liquor;
  2. Any person maintaining a storage for the unlawful sale of intoxicating liquors. Punishment: $25 to $100 fine, or jail to not exceed 30 days. If you fail to pay the fine, one is deemed to work on public streets at the rate of $3 a day until all fines are paid.

1928 – Operation of municipal water system.

  1. Nobody can sell water without a permit;
  2. No water-transport methods constructed without permit;
  3. Monthly rates:
    3,000 gallons or less…..$1.50
    3,000-4,000 gallons……. 1.90
    4,000-5,000 gallons……. 2.20
    5,000-6,000 gallons……. 2.40
    Installation services……15.00
    Outside Yelm limits,
    Under 3,000 gallons……. 2.00

1928 Amendment to Ordinance No. 23
An addition of .30 cents per thousand dollars of water is to be added to people receiving water outside of Yelm limits, and an addition of .15 cents per thousand gallons is to be added to people receiving more than 6,000 gallons of water, per month.

1929 Control of Unlicensed Radio Broadcasting

  1. It is unlawful to operate any apparatus that interferes with radio broadcasting or reception between 2 p.m. and midnight.
  2. Devices include violet ray machines, open or quenched spark machines, machines using Telsa Coil or principle, X-ray machines, or other devices that produce high frequency oscillations.
  3. This law does not apply to radio stations, who are licensed by federal government or those employed in interstate communication.

Punishment: Fine not exceeding $100, or 30 days in jail.

1936 Prohibition of punch boards
It shall be unlawful for any person found:

  1. Maintaining a vending machine, punch board, manual game automatic game, or skill game;

Punishment: Persons found guilty are subject to a maximum fine of $100 or 90 days in jail.
“Therefore it is hereby ordained that an emergency exists and this ordinance shall take effect immediately.”

1938 To regulate and control the licensing of any marble game

  1. One person must have a license to operate game that takes skill, whether or not a fee is charged;
  2. The license will cost $5.00 for each game per month and all fees are to be paid one month in advance.
  3. License must be posted in a conspicuous place, under glass, on top of each game.

1945 Volunteer firemen’s relief and pension fund

  1. Enactment of Volunteer Firemen’s Relief and Pension Fund will proved relief and compensation for injured volunteer and retirees;
  2. Maximum membership is limited to 20 people per 1,000 population of the town.

1954 Ordinance relating to abandoned, unused or discarded ice boxes

  1. It is unlawful to leave an ice box with a lid equipped with a snap lock in an unattended area;

Punishment: Such a crime is deemed a misdemeanor and all persons will be subject to a fine not exceeding $100, or 30 days in jail, or both.
Furthermore, each day constitutes a separate offense.

1953 Adoption of 1954 budget
Estimated Revenues

Current Expenses
Taxes: 10 mills $3,296.20
Licenses $300.00
Liquor revenues $2,166.72
Police court fines $1,254.48
Additional expenses $4,302.72
Total $11,320.12

 

Water Funds
Consumer collections $7,200.00
Hook-ups $50.00
Balances on hand $1,500.00
Other expenses $9,113.09

Grand total of all estimated revenues for 1954 $29183.21

Estimated Expenditures

Current Expense
Marshall salary $3,600.00
Marshall expense $1,000.00
Jail expense and meals $150.00
State Auditor $250.00
Outlay-Police Department $1,670.00
Street fund $2,672.49
Water fund $11,600.00
Garbage fund $2,800.00
Other expenditures $8,240.72

Grand total of estimated expenditures for 1954 $29,183.21

Yelm is Center of Progressive Irrigated Agricultural District

Yelm is Center of Progressive Irrigated Agricultural District

(Bill Fox – The Olympian)

This is the first of a series of entertaining and informative articles about the prosperous and progressive city of Yelm, located on a fertile prairie 22 miles from Olympia. The stories were written by an Olympian reporter who visited Yelm several times to obtain pertinent information about the steadily-growing community.

 

On a fertile prairie 22 miles southeast of Olympia is a progressive, prosperous, friendly community. It is Yelm.

A center of lucrative agricultural activity, and having civic-minded residents, it has the means and enterprise that are necessary to the development of a good educational system and other advantages uncommon in most settlements of its size.

The population of Yelm is listed as 489, but there are many who are not counted in that figure, as they live outside the city limits, on rich farmlands, supporting the area’s primary income source, dairy farming.

The business section of Yelm is small, but growing rapidly. It boasts many fine stores. The people work hard, putting in long hours, but they can still find time for relaxing at community dances, picnics and other social gatherings. Yelm’s theater attracts many who enjoy the latest movies.

The source of Yelm’s name is a matter of conjecture. It is said that roving tribes of brown-skinned people drifted across the Bering Sea and into Western Washington. One of these early tribes was called Yelm-Pusha. Other historians believe that the early Nisqually tribes gave prairie the name Shelm, which indicated  shimmering heat waves observed above the land in the Summer. It isn’t definitely known whether the tribe took its name from the prairie or if the area was named after the tribe, but the name is of Indian origin.

The area is a natural trailway and it is believed that many thousands of persons walked or rode the historic trails that cross Yelm Prairie. Indians, Spanish Seamen, Englishmen and Frenchmen trading for the Hudson’s Bay Company, Japanese blown ashore by adverse winds, Chinese working for prospectors in search of wealth—all these and perhaps many more saw Yelm Prairie hundreds of years ago.

As the white man came in, he improved the rough trails making them wider and better as his needs required. The turn of the century interestingly enough found many persons riding between Yelm and Olympia on bicycles.

 These are some of the highlights of Yelm’s history. The complete chronicle of the area was recently published by Richard and Floss Loutzenhiser, titled The Story Of Yelm—The Little Town With The Big History.

 The background of another chapter of Yelm, its irrigation system, would fill a book. If one were to ask any resident what his favorite topic of conversation is, the answer would be–irrigation. This is understandable when one examines the situation to find that thousands of persons depend on the land for a living in that vicinity.

J. A. Conner is chairman of the board of directors of the Yelm Irrigation District and Roy Hansen is superintendent.

The district was organized in 1910 when several persons realized the possibilities of developing, by irrigation, that part of the Nisqually Valley which was known as Yelm prairie. It was not easy, however, to bring water into the area. Water was carried from the Nisqually River, thirteen miles away, to Yelm prairie by a series of canals and wooden flumes.

Within the Yelm Irrigation District there are approximately 6,500 acres, of which 4,350 acres are first class land, according to Mr. Conner.

“Out principal crops are green beans, sweet corn, filberts and berries,” Mr. Conner said. “Of course everyone knows that Yelm is famous for blackcap berries which thrive exceptionally well, and that the area is noted for dairy products and poultry.”

 Mr. Conner explained that during the war, a great number of farmers of the vicinity went into munitions industries and the armed forces. As a result, the district suffered a serious setback.

 “However, since the end of the war, we are rebuilding the irrigation system and right now things look pretty good for Yelm.”

In 1945 the first step was made toward rehabilitation of the system when bonds were voted to install pumps to lift water 75 feet into a canal near the Centralia Dam, it was believed that this plan would eliminate the necessity of replacing all the old wooden flumes above this point and would therefore be more economical. However, the Yelm Irrigation District officials found that several of the wooden flumes would still require replacing the remaining flumes with ditches as soon as funds are available.

“In the last two years, a great deal of work has been on the distribution system,” Mr. Conner pointed out. “This has been mostly maintenance work such as cleaning ditches, replacing wooden siphons with concrete and in general, improving temporary structures with permanent ones.”

Considerable work has also been done, improving the natural streams within the district for the purpose of making  fill utilization of these streams as integral parts of the system.

Chairman Conner explained that there is a definite trend in the vicinity towards sprinkler irrigation. “This results in better distribution and application of the water, as well as being more economical for each farmer,” he said, “this method is also very satisfactory for permanent pasture in connection wit the production of dairy products,” he pointed out.

In April of last year, the Enumclaw Co-operative Creamery built a new plant at Yelm, of which Art Loney is manager.

“Yes, we dairy people are vitally interested in the Yelm Irrigation Project,” he said. “Proper sprinklage and fertilization are the two main factors one must consider to realize a greater percentage of return from the farm lands in this vicinity.”

He illustrated his point by telling of one man who had four pastures of two acres each. The farmer employed the latest methods of irrigation and fertilization and consequently saw his land return as high as nine tons from the eight acres every month. This is more than double the average yield.

The dairy manager says that the creamery picks up, pasteurizes and ships out more than twenty thousand pounds of grade C milk every day. Grade A milk is shipped directly from the farmers to bottling plants in Olympia and Tacoma. The creamery in Yelm does not bottle and milk, as it is primarily concerned with supplying ice cream manufacturers.

In explaining the routine of his creamery, Mr. Loney pointed out that the plant receives pickups from seven trucks, each bringing in capacity loads—some trucks even making two trips daily.

“Out most important development in the offing right now,” Mr. Loney said, “is a condensing machine which we hope to install very soon. We would use it primarily during the peak months of March through August, when the creamery handles more than forty thousand pounds daily.”

“Yes we believe that Yelm is a pretty good place in which to live,” Mr. Loney explained. ”The irrigation project is a big one, but it has the support of everyone in the vicinity—and with that many people behind something how can it fail?”

Usual & Accustomed Places IV – On the Banks of the Puyallup & Nisqually Rivers

PART IV – ON THE BANKS OF THE PUYALLUP & NISQUALLY RIVERS

In the early 1950s some Puyallup Indians decided to cast their nets on the Puyallup River in order to go to court to challenge the state law of 1934 which outlawed the use of fixed nets in rivers. According to one of the participants, the relevant state agencies were contacted about this illegal act, but no one was arrested. In 1954 Bob Satiacum and another Puyallup tribal member, James Young, carried out the same act of defiance in full view of Tacoma’s rush hour traffic. This time they were arrested, charged, and convicted of illegal fishing. In 1957, on appeal before the state Supreme Court (State vs. Satiacum, 1957) Satiacum and Young had the charges dropped against them as a result of a 4-4 tie among the justices. Although the case did not strike down the state laws which the tribes believed unconstitutional, the verdict did seem like a minor vindication.

In the sixties things really heated up. Newspapers were filled with accounts of confrontations between Native Americans and agents of law enforcement for the state of Washington. Headlines in local papers read:

Indians Face Fish Charge

Two Indians Are Convicted

Indian Fish-Netting Barred in Puyallup

Indians Win Contempt Case

State May Add 35 Indians to Net Fishing Ban

Tacoma’s Boys in Blue Quash Indian Uprising

Indians-State Tangle on Banks of the Nisqually

Indians Up in Arms Over Raid

Indians were fishing in violation of state law, but, in their minds, this fishing was legal according to the treaties. Eventually these demonstrations of Native American assertiveness for their rights became known as “fish-ins.” For some Indians this fishing was merely a continued attempt to put food on the table or money in their pockets. For others they did this in order to be arrested and draw attention to their complaints. Along with the numerous arrests that were taking place along the Nisqually River, there were marches on the state capitol and “Treaty” and “Canoe Treks” across the state. Indian groups released information to the public to help educate non-Indians about the Indians’ side of the struggle, and there were even appearances by American celebrities to help gain public support for the Native Americans. The “Survival of the American Indians Association” and the “National Indian Youth Council” and their leaders in the area helped attract Indians from around the state and the nation to help participate in the demonstrations and distribution of information. This activism was summarized by a Paiute, Mel Thom, this way:

Awareness of our situation had brought out anger. With anger and concern hope was born. We were aware [that] if we did not take action, in our time, future generations of Indians would be denied the right to share our own heritage. This was a direct threat to us, and we knew it. It was a matter of how to set up action to fight this threat and how we [would] rally our forces together.

Throughout the sixties there were tribal members willing to be arrested on the Quileute, Puyallup, Columbia, Green, Nisqually, and many other rivers in the state. This struggle cost its participants dearly. Men and women were arrested. For those that relied on fishing for 75% of their income, this was a particular hardship. Families were split up. Money had to be raised for lawyers and bail. Nets and boats were confiscated by the state as evidence and not returned for years, sometimes even after Indians were acquitted of their crimes. Violence broke out and Indians and state officials were hurt. Vigilantes cut nets, and divisions appeared within the Indian community about the wisdom of these protests. Court injunctions were issued to prohibit Indians from fishing on the rivers, and these legal cease-and-desist orders were promptly broken by tribal fisherman. Letters to the editors of local newspapers argued the case for both sides. Some confrontations made the national news.

For some in the state this series of confrontations tested their sense of justice and their prejudices. As in the case of civil rights protesters participating in sit-ins or ride-ins (attempts by blacks to bring attention to segregation policies), many thought that breaking the law was simply the wrong way to get the public’s sympathies and change laws. Whenever violence erupted the news stories often contained contradictory versions of what happened. News articles reporting the fish-ins often referred to Indians being on the “warpath” or being involved in “uprisings,” both stereotypical references straight out of the 19th century.

The strategy of the Native Americans was two-fold. One purpose was to draw attention to their cause and the second was to develop a test case which would go before the Supreme Court of the United States and clarify the meaning of the state court’s Satiacum decision and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Tulee.

PUYALLUP TRIBE V. DEPARTMENT OF GAME OF WASHINGTON, ET. AL

In the early 1960s the state of Washington Game Department sought an injunction (a court order to halt a certain action) to stop the Puyallups from fishing on the Puyallup River. In 1964 a Pierce County Superior Court judge issued an injunction against all net fishing on the Puyallup River. Judge Cochran’s reasoning was that there was, in a legal sense, no Puyallup tribe and no Puyallup Reservation. (This is an interesting and complicated story. The Puyallups later went to the Supreme Court, which decided in the favor of the Puyallup Tribe. The Supreme Court ruled that they did indeed exist and that their non-existent reservation had been taken away by illegal actions of non-Indians.) If neither the Puyallup Tribe nor the Puyallup Reservation existed, Judge Cochran reasoned, then the state had a right to take “reasonable” actions to protect fish runs (a use of the Tulee case as discussed earlier). Even with this injunction in place, the Indians fished anyway. They were arrested, charged and convicted of violating Cochran’s injunction. They appealed to the state Supreme Court. Other cases involving the Muckleshoot and the Nisqually Indians were combined in this appeal. The Washington State Supreme Court handed down a decision in a case called Puyallup Tribe vs. Department of Game of Washington, et. al., in January 1967.

The state Supreme Court stated that the lower court (the Pierce County Superior Court) had overstepped its bounds when it denied the existence of the Puyallup tribe. Such a decision was only something the federal government could make. But the court also said that treaty fishing rights “were not absolute.” Protecting the fish runs to “conserve the resource was a “reasonable and necessary” step for the state to take. The Indians had lost.

The case was next appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and a decision on Puyallup Tribe v. Department of Game of Washington, et. al. was issued by that body on May 27, 1968. In the first part of their decision the court summarized state regulations:

As respects the fishing within its territorial waters, Washington specifies the time when fishing may take place, the areas open to fishing, and the gear that may be used. Fishing licenses are prescribed. Steelhead may be taken only by hook and line and not commercially. Salmon may be taken commercially with nets of a certain type in certain areas. Set nets or fixed appliances are barred in “any waters” of the state for the taking of salmon or steelhead. . . . The nets used [by Indian fishermen] are concededly illegal if the laws and regulations of the state of Washington are valid; and it is to that question that we now turn. (emphasis added)

In its decision the court touched on several of the complaints that non-Indians were making about Indian fishing. The first was a complaint that Indians were a particular danger to fish runs because of their use of modern technologies. Washington state claimed that it could control Indian fishing by forbidding the commercial sale of steelhead. The Supreme Court tackled this issue in the following way. The court stated:

We assume that fishing by nets was customary at the time of the treaty; and we also assume that there were commercial aspects to that fishing as there are at present. But the manner in which the fishing may be done and its purpose, whether or not commercial, are not mentioned in the treaty. We would have quite a different case if the treaty had preserved the right to fish at the “usual and accustomed places” in the “usual and accustomed” manner. But the treaty is silent as to the mode or modes of fishing that are guaranteed.

In other words, the Court ruled that earlier treaties did not restrict Indians to fishing only in the old ways. The above language was good news for tribal fisherman. In particular this language overturned a Washington State Supreme Court decision Washington vs. McCoy (1963). This latter case had involved a Swinomish Indian named Joe McCoy. He had been arrested for fishing at the mouth of the Skagit River with an illegal net. McCoy had been found innocent in his original trial, but the state had appealed the case to the Washington State Supreme Court, where they won. The state court had stated:

None of the signatories to the treaty contemplated fishing with a 600 foot nylon gill net. . . [Where an Indian is fishing] at all accustomed grounds and stations he should be limited to the gear and implements with which the treaty signatories were accustomed.

Once again, however, the state court (in McCoy) had reiterated the concept of the Tulee case that the state could regulate off reservation fishing in a “reasonable and necessary” method that would help conserve the resource. In this new 1968 U.S. Supreme Court case, however, Justice William O. Douglas added the following language, “provided the regulation meets appropriate standards and does not discriminate against the Indians.

In previous cases the court upheld the concept that Native Americans could fish in the “usual and accustomed places,” but that the court also held that the state could regulate these rights on off-reservation areas if those regulations were “reasonable and necessary.” Now the court had added an important new criterion for the state to meet. State fishing regulations must now be “appropriate” and non-discriminatory.

Part of the difficulty the Supreme Court was having was what was meant by the language of the original Medicine Creek Treaty which stated that Native American fishing rights were to be held “in common with all citizens of the territory.” The State of Washington argued that this phrase must mean that Indians must follow the same rules as anyone else in the state. Could it mean something else? Also, the court did not believe that the “conservation” issue had been sufficiently defined in terms of evidence; consequently the court returned the case to the courts in Washington for a more definitive answer.

While this was taking place the Game Department in Washington state was taking action which would bring the same parties back into court. Remember that back in the 1920s the state of Washington had removed the steelhead from the area of commercial fishing and had made it a game fish, much to the dismay of the Indians that had traditionally fished it for commercial purposes. In 1968 the Game Department banned all Indian net-fishing for steelheed. In the minds of decision makers in the Game Department, steelhead caught with rod and reel were not as important to spawning as those netted by tribesmen. To the Indians impacted by this decision this was exactly the sort of discriminatory regulation prohibited by the Puyallup I decision. Here was an example of the state imposing a regulation which it considered “reasonable and necessary.” Now, however, the state had to demonstrate, using Justice Douglas’ language once again, that the regulation was both “appropriate” and not discriminatory. The Indians went to court once again to show that this state rule was “not appropriate” for its stated purpose (conserving salmon) and was “discriminatory” in that it forbade all Indian net fishing. Janet McCloud, one of the leaders of the Indian efforts, once had summarized the Indians’ position on this issue in the following way:

They promised us that we could fish – Long as the mountain stands, the grass grows green, and the sun shines, [but now the state of Washington had decreed that the steelhead trout] is a white man’s fish. They must think that the steelhead swam over behind the Mayflower.

The Indians had the makings of a case to bring the fishing rights issue back before the courts. Soon, as it would turn out, they would have an important ally: the United States government.