Park Happenings: Fourth of July Review, 1907

<I>Washington State Parks archival photograph</I><BR>This photo gives you an idea of what the troops of Fort Columbia may have looked like in the summer of 1907 when they joined the citizens of Chinook in celebrating the Fourth of July.

"We never had a day in Chinook more favorable for celebrating the Fourth of July than last Saturday. By noon all vegetation was dry, the grove beautiful and balmy. There was enough wind to keep the flags spread in the air and from one end of town to the other it was a scene of life and beauty. The houses show the national spirit in tasty decoration, the window, doors and fronts being covered with bunting and flags. The women and children were out in their liveliest and prettiest summer togs and hats. There was a continuous roar of fireworks from the kids. Everybody, including the babies, was out for a good time.

"Tom Dawson began the day as usual, by waking all the sleepers with his anvil explosions. Sam Olsen put up $5 to keep the noise going an extra half hour. At 10 o'clock the Liberty Car showed up in front of Chinook Hall. A few minutes later, Captain William Upholsterer of Fort Columbia, in command of about 60 of the pick men of the company, was seen marching down Main Street. The sidewalks were soon lined; as the company passed State Senator McGowen it gave him the marching salute. The company rested on Main Street until the Liberty Car, surmounted by Alice Borkman as Goddess of Liberty and the maids, was filled with children in red, white and blue raiment.

"The Chinook band played a patriotic aim, and soon the procession in charge of Grand Marshall, Gus Strand started for the alder grove near the schoolhouse. Here the grandstand was soon filled with choir, the President of the Day, and orator Howard M. Brownell. The soldiers stacked their arms, and the people took standing and seating positions on the grounds to listen and see the execution of the program.

"President Donaldson requested the boys to cut out the fireworks during the exercises. Reverend J.F. Long invoked the Divine blessing. The choir sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and Oliver Houchen in a clear and easily heard voice read the Declaration of Independence. After another selection by the band the fire drill, by 32 large and small children, bearing each a small flag, and prettily dressed, was performed under the direction of Miss Ethel Storms and leaving an excellent impression on the witnesses. The Goddess of Liberty, Miss Borkman, and her maids, took part in the final movements. This was followed by, "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" by the choir.

"With the song, "America" by the choir and "Home Again" by the band, the exercises in the grove were concluded, and the program suspended until after dinner. In the afternoon the crowd went to the beach in front of town and saw the bicycle races pulled off. Later the running races and jumping contests were given on the old football field. Louis Hauffe was the starter, assisted by Charles A. Payne as paymaster, and Cen Belknap and Fred Heater, judges. Later the tug-of-war occurred on Main Street. Then followed the races by the gasoline launches, starting abreast of the Chinook dock and taking a course to the government dolphin near Sam Olsen's trap and return. In the evening there were some wrestling matches by the railroad's hands and soldiers, not down on the program, which attracted a large crowd and made considerable sport. As darkness came on the air was resonant with the roar large and small firecrackers, torpedoes, bombs, and electric sparks, the streets being full of men, women, and children."

In some ways, things haven't changed much in the ways we celebrate the Fourth of July. I really appreciate these old newspaper articles that give us perspective on human nature. They reveal the ways in which we've stayed the same as well as progressed or regressed, depending on your point of view.

Jon Schmidt is an Interpretive Specialist at Cape Disappointment State Park. To contact him, call the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at 360-642-3029 or e-mail lcic@parks.wa.gov.

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