WA Secretary of State Blogs

Statewide Database Licensing Needs Assessment Survey

January 22nd, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources No Comments »

The Washington State Library’s Statewide Database Licensing (SDL) project announces the release of two important needs assessment surveys, one for library staff, and one for library users. All library staff who are aware of the library’s electronic resources, especially research databases, are encouraged to take the staff survey, and all Washington libraries are encouraged to promote the user survey to their clientele, through their web sites, social media, patron newsletters, and any other appropriate media or opportunities.

The surveys will be available through Friday, February 20, 2015. Here are the survey links:

• Library user survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SDL-2015
• Library staff survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SDL-Staff

The library audience for both surveys includes all types of libraries that participate in SDL: public libraries, private academic, community and technical colleges, hospital and research libraries, and K-12 schools, both public and private. In the case of K-12 schools, the end user survey is intended for classroom teachers and administrators, rather than students, but college and university students are strongly encouraged to take the survey.

In promulgating the survey links, be sure to notice that they use the secure https protocol. Visit sos.wa.gov/q/SDL for additional information, including suggestions for promoting the survey to your users. For questions about the surveys or the SDL needs assessment process, please contact SDL project manager Will Stuivenga will.stuivenga@sos.wa.gov 360.704.5217. Thank you in advance for your participation and cooperation in making these surveys a success.

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Support for the State Library has poured in from all over Washington

January 20th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public No Comments »

Several months ago in light of a potential budget shortfall the Washington State Library held an “Essential Needs Survey”. We were amazed and touched as support came in from all over the state. Someone from every district in Washington State told us how valuable the services of the State Library was to them in their work and in their life. It would be impossible to share them all so we came up with this method to show you the broad impact of the Washington State Library. For this entry we chose just one from every district. Would you like to learn what else is being said in your district? Just ask and we’ll be happy to share more of the comments.

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2015 Proposed Legislation Affecting Libraries 01/16/2015

January 16th, 2015 Jeff Martin Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, News, Updates No Comments »

Courtesy of the Legislative Planning Committee, Washington Library Association Library Related Legislation. The Washington Library Association (WLA) tracks state legislative activity that will potentially affect Washington Libraries. Their tracker is posted weekly on this blog.

For information on the legislative process or becoming involved, see the WLA site referenced above.

  Library Tracker 1-16-2015          
Bill Title  Sponsor Status Date Latest Cmte Mtg Info Companion Bills
HB 1008 Agency data practices audits Smith H Gen Govt & Inf 1/12/2015    
HB 1013 County legislative meetings Appleton H LGDP 1/15/2015 Jan 15 Executive action taken in the House  Committee on Local Government at 1:30 PM.  
HB 1086 Public record commercial use Moeller H State Governme 1/12/2015 Jan 20 Scheduled for public hearing in the House  Committee on State Government at 10:00 AM. (Subject to change)  
HB 1105 Operating sup budget 2015 Hunter H Approps 1/12/2015 Jan 14 Public hearing in the House  Committee on Appropriations at 3:30 PM. SB 5076(SWays & Means)
HB 1106 Operating budget 2015-2017 Hunter H Approps 1/12/2015 Jan 14 Public hearing in the House  Committee on Appropriations at 3:30 PM. SB 5077(SWays & Means)
HB 1107 Cultural & heritage programs Springer H Comm Dev, Hous 1/12/2015 Jan 20 Scheduled for public hearing in the House  Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs at 1:30 PM. (Subject to change)  
HB 1133 Public utility tax, counties Tharinger H Local Govt 1/14/2015 Jan 22 Scheduled for public hearing in the House  Committee on Local Government at 1:30 PM. (Subject to change)  
HB 1168 Retiree return-to-work/PERS Ormsby H Approps 1/14/2015   SB 5211(SWays & Means)
HB 1189 City, district publ. records Hunt, S. H Local Govt 1/15/2015 Jan 20 Scheduled for public hearing in the House  Committee on Local Government at 10:00 AM. (Subject to change)  
HB 1250 Notice and review processes Holy H Local Govt 1/16/2015   SB 5138(SGovtOp&StSec)
HB 1251 Emergency med services levy Van De Wege H Finance 1/16/2015    
SB 5076 Operating sup budget 2015 Hill S Ways & Means 1/13/2015   HB 1105(HApprops)
SB 5077 Operating budget 2015-2017 Hill S Ways & Means 1/13/2015 Jan 14 Public hearing in the Senate  Committee on Ways & Means at 3:30 PM. HB 1106(HApprops)
SB 5109 Infrastructure/local govt Brown S Trade & Economi 1/14/2015    
SB 5138 Notice and review processes Roach S GovtOp&StSec 1/14/2015 Jan 20 Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate  Committee on Government Operations & State Security at 10:00 AM. (Subject to change) HB 1250(HLocal Govt)
SB 5211 Retiree return-to-work/PERS Bailey S Ways & Means 1/15/2015   HB 1168(HApprops)
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The fugitive vanished into history…..

January 15th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Former Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

The dry humor of this reporter is fun to read in the January 18, 1895 issue of The Wilbur Register. The random article found this week relates a drama that took place in northwest Lincoln County:



 So Prisoner Dawson Left the Court Room to Escape Them.

 A young man named Tom Dawson has given our neighboring town of Almira her fill of sensations this week. It appears that on Tuesday Mr. Dawson assaulted William Twitchell, the village blacksmith, without due provocation, and pounded his face up considerably. Upon mature reflection Mr. Twitchell decided to get angry at this rough usage, and swore out a warrant praying that his assailant might be apprehended and dealt with according to law. This was exactly the turn Mr. Dawson had expected the matter to take, so he made tracks toward Wilbur. Along in the night he peered through the window of one of the saloons, and satisfying himself the coast was clear, entered and ordered refreshments. But he had counted without his host. He was unaware that any officer but ex-Deputy Sheriff Mike Flohr guarded the peace and dignity of western Lincoln’s metropolis, and as Mike was not in sight the fugitive walked directly into the arms of Chief of Police Keables, who, armed with the wired warrant and description, was awaiting the arrival. Constable McPheron of Almira arrived on Wednesday morning and took his prisoner back on the train. Attorney Lacey was retained to defend the prisoner, and accompanied the party to Almira, where the case was put on trial before Judge Otto. During one of the discussions between the counsel the prisoner got rattled over the flights of oratory and stepped outside to cool his fevered brow, and while his counsel was making an impassioned plea for his liberty was calmly taking a constitutional neath the stars which were just beginning to shed their chaste twinkles on the Big Bend plain. As it was reported that he had agreed to requite his lawyer’s services with $10 worth of stovewood, it is suggested that Mr. Dawson may be in Rocky canyon exercising with an axe and saw.

 Dawson was about a decade younger than Twitchell, who was a 40 year old Civil War veteran and a native of Maine. The fugitive vanished into history but Twitchell lived on Almira until he died in 1904.

This story reminds me of a tale concerning one of my Willis uncles. In the 1920s he was running some of his excellent moonshine through Centralia when he was caught by law enforcement. They took his car and gave him jail time at night and road crew work during the day. My uncle said it wasn’t so bad. He had a place to sleep and three meals a day. Then, as he put it, “I took up a notion to go home. So I sold the road crew wheelbarrow and shovel to a passerby and left.”

The Wilbur Register is still with us today. It has existed since early 1889, and catalog librarians will love this, without any title changes!


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The WSL has a new Master.

January 12th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education 3 Comments »


By now I think most of you have heard about the Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) program which is offered through the Washington State Library. The ITA is a collection of over 400 online courses and other IT instructional materials that are available to all Washington residents. But have you heard yet about the newest addition to the program, the opportunity to prove your skills with certification?

Thanks to the hard work of Elizabeth Iaukea, certification sites are being set up all over the state. While completing the trainings provides the necessary skills to be competitive in a 21st Century workplace the certification tests are the best way to prove to employers the depth of your knowledge. Having attempted just a basic test myself I can attest to the fact that they are not easy.

Well, on Monday January 5th, the Washington State Library’s IT Academy program certified their first Microsoft Office Specialist Master (MOS).   And now I’d like to introduce (drumroll…) Jeremy Stroud, WSL’s graphic designer, web guru and now Master of the Universe (er.. of Microsoft Office). In order to earn this lofty title Jeremy first passed the entry level tests in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. Then for the Master certification he also passed the expert level class in both Word and Excel.

Here’s what Jeremy has to say,

“I have been using Microsoft Office programs since the mid 1990’s, being first introduced to the suite of programs while in high school. I’m not shy about facing challenges so if I came across issues while using an Office product, I dug around until I found a solution. This tinkering and experimenting with Microsoft Office, in addition to the courses taken through the years, have allowed me to have a very broad and in-depth knowledge of the programs. The rise of the internet has made this even easier as there is now a wealth of knowledge available, such as the Microsoft IT Academy. When opportunity to take the certification arose, I decided to see how far my knowledge went. I believe that having my MOS Master certification will open many doors for me as I continue throughout my career.”

The Microsoft IT Academy and MOS certification testing has been available in all of WA’s public high schools for almost four years now, but has only been available to the rest of the state since November 2013 (MOS certification followed a year later), through special Legislative funding provided for the program to the State Library and available through all public, tribal, and community and technical college libraries in the state.

Adding certification was the natural next step, and missing piece to make the online training pay off.” Iaukea explains. “As the many who have suffered through periods of unemployment know all too well, it’s not enough to have the skills – you have to be able to prove to employers that you have them. Microsoft Office is the third most requested job skill, and MOS, as THE industry recognized credential for this software, is the BEST way to demonstrate that you have those in-demand skills.”

That’s why, in 2013 the Legislature approved money to support the program for the biennium ending June 2015. As a result, anyone can take the online courses and use the Study Guides provided by their local libraries to take a MOS exam – without having to travel as far or pay as much to test ($50 or less rather than $125).

We are proud and extremely lucky here at the State Library to have a MOS Master in our midst. But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s hear what some of his co-workers have to say

Jeff Martin – Head of Library Development

“I always knew Jeremy was talented when it came to Microsoft Office software. I frequently ask him the “how do I” questions that stumped me. I consider myself an intermediate user of the software suite when it comes to Word, Excel, and Outlook. After mixed results with the basic certification tests on Word and Outlook, neither of which I passed, only one of which I came close to passing, I have a new found respect for how in-depth Jeremy’s knowledge of these products truly is. Jeremy is a great problem solver for Microsoft Office. My problems, his solutions.”

Rand Simmons – Washington State Librarian

“Jeremy is my go to guy for Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint. I know the rudiments of the software but when I am baffled he saves my bacon by making a quick fix. I have yet to encounter a problem he couldn’t resolve. His mastery of Microsoft products shows in the excellent products he produces.”

Will Stuivenga – Cooperative Projects Manager

I consider myself to be a relatively savvy computer user, especially when it comes to Microsoft Office products … But I know that I can count on Jeremy to run circles around me in terms of his exhaustive knowledge of specific features and functions of any MS Office product. And if he doesn’t know the answer off the top of his head (which he often/usually does), he can quickly find it (by sitting down briefly at my computer), or (if needed) look it up online. In some cases, I can look things up myself, but in many situations, it’s simply easier and faster (i.e., more efficient) to just ask Jeremy, than to struggle on my own. Having him here in the department is a wonderful and convenient resource that I have used and relied on countless times over the almost 11 years I have worked here in Library Development.

While Jeremy’s co-workers will certainly reap the benefits of his expertise we hope that this mastery will be reproduced around the state as more people complete the courses and take advantage of the certification program. Go Washington!


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Junior Maker Faire – Lego style

January 6th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public No Comments »

Looking for a way to keep those minds and fingers busy during the dark days of winter? Well look no more! Thanks to a partnership with the Timberland Regional Library, the Youth Services team at the Washington State Library has a “toolkit” which contains 10,000 Lego® bricks, and an activity guide full of programming ideas which can be sent to your library to provide a free STEM program for kids. Just imagine what a wonderful time grade school kids (and their parents) will have building with this kit at your library.

Image courtesy of fdecomite - Flickr Creative Commons

Image courtesy of fdecomite – Flickr Creative Commons

If your library serves a population under 25,000 and would like to host a Legos program, you may sign up to have the Legos box come to your library for a two week stay and play, free of charge. When your time is up, Library Development will pay for the box to be shipped to the next library.

To request the kit email Marilyn Lindholm at Marilyn.lindholm@sos.wa.gov.  Requests will be processed on a first come, first serve basis.

Libraries who have signed up so far:

Sedro-Woolley City Library

Sprague Public Library

Touchet Community Library

Grandview Library

Roslyn Public Library

Prescott Library

Wouldn’t you like to be on this list?

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Never let the facts get in the way of a good yarn.

December 29th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection 2 Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Former Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

My father was a master storyteller who had a saying, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good yarn.” I think some reporters must have that motto as well, or at least they did in 1890.

The following article was found at random in the Columbia Chronicle, September 20, 1890. This was the newspaper for Dayton, Washington:ghastly find


In the mountains near Spokane Falls, Monday, the decomposed remains of a man supposed to be Baron Von Strauss, an Austrian nobleman, were found by some hunters. The history of the baron is a sad one. For some mysterious reason he left his home two years ago and came to this country. After wandering about until his funds were exhausted he wrote home for more, but learned that his brother had made away with his property. He came to Spokane Falls and tried to find employment, but was repeatedly refused. His misfortune made him despondent and he wandered out into the country. For two or three weeks he was seen about the vicinity of Gentle’s ranch, six miles east of Spokane.

 He would apply to farm houses for a “morsel of food and shelter.” He was so courtly in bearing, so intelligent in his speech that the country folks thought that he was some poet whose strange moods had led him to seek the solitude of the mountains. To no one, notwithstanding that he spent several evenings socially with those who entertained him, would he reveal the deep secret of his wanderings in the fields.

 One day– the last day he was seen alive– he called at Gentle’s ranch and left an elegant but empty purse, saying that he was going into the mountains to starve. Little attention was paid to what he said. They thought that his utterance was merely the expression of a morbid nature seeking seclusion.

 He walked off toward Moran mountain and Sunday the horrible find of his body with bones protruding from the decomposing flesh, mutilated by wild animals, reveals the story of an Austrian count who literally starved himself to death in a strange country.

The story was national news for a couple weeks. Many of accounts were far more graphic in relating the gruesome details.

According to various news sources, Baron Von Strauss had departed Budapest ca. 1888 and made his way across the United States, from New York to Chicago, to San Francisco, spending freely until he ran out of funds. When he wrote back home for more money, the Baron discovered his brother had helped himself to the entire family treasury and fled to India. Left high and dry, the Baron made his way to Portland, Tacoma and finally Spokane, where he cut the figure of an elegant tramp.

The two pheasant hunters who found the Baron’s remains on September 8, 1890 were said to have buried the body on the spot.

The notion of a wayward member of European nobility, a stranger in a strange land stranded with no financial resources or skills, buried in the wilderness has sort of a melancholy romance to it.

But, The Spokane Falls Daily Chronicle ran a story on this incident on September 9 and 10, 1890 with a different set of facts, including that the Sheriff brought the body into Spokane. Somehow the other newspapers didn’t choose to run this more mundane version. Here’s the article from the 10th:


 The Identity of the Man Found on Moran Mountain Established.

An examination of the papers found on the body of the man who was found dead on Moran mountain revealed the fact that he was a shoemaker and thirty years of age. He had taken out his first naturalization papers, which were issued in the state of Wisconsin, county of Sheboygan. His name was Carl Krishner, and he was a native of Germany. He had served his three years apprenticeship in the shoemaker’s trade a certificate to that effect was one of the papers found on him. A copy of a Sunday school paper, “The Young Reaper,” and a prayer book was found in his pocket.




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The Philanthropic Ghost of Centralia Washington

December 16th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

The random news for this installment was discovered in The Daily Hub (Centralia, Wash.), February 26, 1916. The following ghost story was top of the fold front page news:










Ghostly Manifestations Defy Solution In Spite of Family’s Best Efforts– Spirit Is Apparently Friendly

 Centralia has a haunted house.

 This piece of news may be a bit startling to those who always connect haunted houses with old, old mansions with a past of bloody deeds to cover, and they naturally inquire where in Centralia can be found a house that answers this description.

 The answer is that there is no such house.

 Centralia’s haunted house is modern in every respect and is inhabited by as peaceable, sociable and jolly a family as you could ask to meet. Neither are they a family given to becoming frightened at the noise of a mouse scuttling across the pantry floor or a board squeaking as the house sways to the spring winds.

No, the Kaestners are wholesome, sociable, unafraid folks and when they finally, after many manifestations admitted to close friends that certain things were transpiring about their home on Waunch Prairie that could not be accounted for under ordinary rules governing human agency and action, the admission had considerable weight that it held up under searching investigation. 

 But the strangest part of the “hant” that has taken up abode at the Kaestner residence is that it is a sociable and also liberal ghost. Unlike the ghost of fiction, it does not believe in needlessly scaring people, neither does it believe in taking away– in fact the Kaestner ghost’s actions bear more resemblance to the gyrations indulged in by Santa Claus than to the work of a soul-terrifying spirit.

 Now to get to the real story:

 About a week ago Mrs. Kaestner went home after a shopping trip down town, unlocked the door and went in. The cheerful singing of a tea kettle attracted her to the kitchen where she found a merry fire burning in the range– and not a soul on the place. Later, when the family assembled for supper she mentioned the occurrence, but each member of the family stoutly denied having started the range fire. This passed without comment, but next day Fred Kaestner took a heavy room rug out on the lawn to clean for his mother. He left it out to air while he did some chores and when he later folded it up to take in, there underneath the rug was a bright new one dollar currency note. This was talked over and it was finally decided that the bill had been dropped by some passer and not noticed when the rug was thrown out on the lawn for cleaning.

 The next visitation of this philanthropic ghost came the next evening. Mrs. Kaestner had gathered the eggs and left them on the screened back porch. Going out shortly after to get some eggs for supper she found, lying on top of the egg basket a nicely folded absolutely new and unwrinkled necktie that had every appearance of having come direct from some good store.

 Things began to look decidedly queer by this time and when the next afternoon the phonograph in the front room started to play with all of the family either out or in another part of the house, Mrs. Kaestner was forced to admit that she was becoming nervous to say the least. This action of the phonograph, however, seemed to have appeared to the friendly ghost as a bit out of its line, for the very next day while Mrs. Kaestner was sweeping the back walk she spied in the grass close to the walk a new $2 currency note.

 As has been intimated and as everyone knows who has the pleasure of their acquaintance, the Kaestners are not people to become stampeded into accepting any ghost stories or fooled by some easily explained prank, but, in spite of a careful investigation, watching and search they have been unable to explain the series of happenings related.

 In the meantime Mr. Kaestner has taken the bills to the bank and found that they are absolutely good, so he is patiently and hopefully awaiting the next visitation.

 Max (1851-1909) and Anna Kaestner (1862-1948) with their young son Frederick Frank “Fritz” Kaestner (1881-1947) came to the United States from their native Germany in 1887. Max had been a lieutenant of artillery in the German army. Initially they moved to Colorado but in 1889 set up home in Centralia, Washington. In a short time the Kaestner family had a reputation as running one of the most sanitary and progressive dairies in the area.

When Max died at age 58, several years before the above story took place, he had become very well known in Centralia. One obituary stated, “Mr. Kaestner was a man of sterling character, a man who held strong opinions, and was probably one of the most highly educated men in the county having received the best instruction obtainable in Germany.”

Fritz Kaestner continued to run the dairy for a few decades. If there was a follow-up story about who was jerking this family’s chain in 1916, I’d love to see it.





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Tramp Printers or Passing of the Old Time Print

December 11th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

Oroville weekly GazetteThe January 2, 1920 issue of The Oroville Weekly Gazette introduces us to an occupation that even in the 1920s had become antiquated by technological advances– the tramp printer, also known as the tourist printer or hobo antimony jerker:

PASSING OF THE OLD TIME PRINTPassing of the old time print

One day during the week this office had a call from that extreme rarity nowadays, a tourist printer. He was not of the class of the old time tramp print. He was a clean faced American, neatly if not extravagantly dressed, and his breath did not announce his approach before he hove in sight. What a contrast to the drifting antimony jerker of 35 years ago, in the days when “The Pilgrim” and “California Dick” floated from place to place around eastern Washington, clothed in raiment that would put a scare crow to the blush and assisting very materially in the revenue of receipts by consumption of spirituous decoctions. They never wanted a steady job. A few days at the case, and their feet would commence itching for the road, and snatching a free lunch while squandering what they had made in joy water until lit up like the northern lights they would shake the dust of the town in which they had briefly sojourned from their feet and hike out for other pastures. Queer lads were the two old typos mentioned, considered somewhat off the clutch, differing disposition though partners in the way of the life they led. “The Pilgrim” quiet and taciturn in his cups, “California Dick” noisy, truculent, boastful, when loaded, and that was their normal condition. And yet for all that, in the days of the “stick and rule” these old stagers could set up a creditable “string” and they knew every mystery of the print shop. Gone to their last reward, those old boys, and we trust the recording angel dropped a silent tear of absolution when registering their arrival, blotting out those short comings which were really mild indiscretions, for which they were more to be pitied than blamed.

In his book News For an Empire (1952), covering the history of the Spokesman-Review, Ralph E. Dyar mentions “… the tramp printers, a characteristic feature of Western newspaper offices during the eighties and nineties. Their very names were individual, perhaps invented, as: Pilgrim the Printer, California Dick, Seneca G. Ketchum, Major Henby, and J. Peck MacSwain. Most of the itinerants never wanted a steady job. A few days at the case and their feet commenced itching for the road. They would either climb into a boxcar or hit the road on foot for other pastures.”

“California Dick” turns up in various newspapers in the Pacific Northwest as a defendant in court. This bit in the Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho) from August 28, 1890 is typical: “A party who answers to the honorable name of California Dick, and another of the same class, were brought before Justice Randall yesterday morning to answer to a charge of drunk and disorderly. They were fined $6 and costs; in default they went up for three days.”

Supposedly California Dick did some hard time in Oklahoma for holding up a stage. He died in Grangeville, Idaho, September 26, 1899. The Spokane Daily Chronicle gave notice of his passing in their September 29th issue:

California Dick is Dead CALIFORNIA DICK IS DEAD

 Type of Tramp Printer of the Ancient Days.


 For Years He Has Wandered Through the Changing Northwest.


 Passed Away at Grangeville Last Tuesday — Richard Richards Was His Real Name.

 “California Dick” is dead. The famous tramp printer whose face and appetite have been familiar to every town in the northwest for nearly 20 years, will never count railway ties again. “Poor Dick,” says everybody– that’s all; if he hadn’t a real friend he hadn’t an enemy.

 Just who Dick was, where he came from or when or why he came to the northwest, nobody knows. It is doubtful if anybody ever took the trouble to find out. For a couple of decades the printers of the Pacific slope have simply accepted him as an established fact– a harmless and thirsty fact, to be humored, not questioned or argued down. Perhaps half the printers west of the Rockies have “loaned two bits” to Dick. Maybe he will repay it somehow in another world.

 It must be nearly two years since Dick’s last visit to Spokane. From this city he drifted to Grangeville, Ida. The report came a few weeks ago that he was sick in that town; and now comes the Grangeville Press of last Tuesday with this little obituary:

 Dick’s Obituary

 “California Dick” died about 1 o’clock this afternoon at the Moser house.

 His real name was Richard Richards, and he was a native of Pennsylvania. An uncle of his was at one time governor of that state, but in all the long years we have known him he never confided any of his past history with us. He is supposed to have been drawing a pension, and therefore it is to be presumed that he served in the federal army during the war.

 Our personal knowledge of him extends back to 1881, when “Dick” put in an appearance at the office of our Nez Perce News, at Lewiston, and from that day to this he has been in our employ from time to time, and helped us get out the first issue of the Free Press in 1886. Of late years, probably owing to the receipt of pension money, he has not cared much for work, and has not done anything for the past year, except a few days in this office.

 He was a typical tramp printer of a type common enough in the northwest in ante-railroad days, and their sole occupation in life was to roam from place to place, working for a few days, getting on a tear every Saturday night and finally departing as silently as they came. We have known “Dick” to walk into Lewiston in the middle of winter, when towns were more of a rarity and much farther apart than they are today, work for a few days and depart for new pastures as mysteriously as he came.

 In those days it was a point of honor with newspaper men to make employment for these tramps, but with the advent of eastern men who “knew not Joseph ” and keener competition in the business, the old-timers have had to watch their dollars more closely, and the tramps have consequently fared harder with the lapse of time. This, we believe, is the reason why “California Dick” has kept so closely around Grangeville for the past two years– to be out of the way of the railroads, where living is supposed to be easier than in civilization. Poor Dick was nobody’s enemy but his own, and now that he has departed hence we can throw the mantle of charity over his failings and believe that death came as a blessing and happy release.

 Pilgrim the Printer shows up in the Northwest around the late 1870s. His range appeared to be much broader than California Dick. The Pilgrim was born Samuel P. Haslett, December, 1838 in Butler, Pennsylvania. His Irish-born father, William Haslett (1816-1872), ran a newspaper in Butler and also held offices in the state legislature as a Whig and Republican.

An undated clipping from the San Francisco Morning Ledger, which was reprinted in a collection of newspaper stories in 1890, included this description of Haslett:


 Last night Hazlett, known everywhere as the “Pilgrim Print,” came up the Ledger stairs and walked into the composing-room just as naturally as if he had never worked anywhere else in all his life. As soon as he crossed the threshold he was welcomed from all sides, for everybody knew him by sight or reputation. Without taking the slightest notice of the chaff thrown at him from the cases, he shuffled up toward the centre of the room, and leaned against a composing-stone, looking about him like Marius inspecting the ruins of Carthage.

 To him a well-regulated printing office, where men work systematically for wages, is an abomination and a disgrace. He would scorn to be subservient to a master. He never took orders from anybody. When he strikes a place that suits him, he tackles a column of type and begins to distribute it. When he doesn’t like his work or his company, he throws on his coat and walks off, scorning to ask for pay. An old, dingy printing office, with worn and blackened cases, battered type and cracked composing stones, suits him best; where the galleys are all shrunk out of shape, the chases all indented, the quoins all mashed and the foreman’s mallet beaten down almost to the handle. Cobwebs on the wall give him genuine delight, and big breaks in the ceiling, denoting the long absence of plaster, are well-springs of pleasurable emotion. An expression of intense disgust shadowed his features as he saw that it was not over a month old. The newness of the racks made him shudder; the air of cleanliness paralyzed him. When he saw the printers around him taking orders from one man, he cast a sad look over the place, such as Napoleon might have thrown on the galley slaves of Toulon. He concealed his contempt as best he could, not desiring to wound their feelings, and when he sneered he did it so softly that few noticed it.

 By the late 1890s Haslett returned to the East, where he continued his occupation as a tramp printer. The US Census of 1900 actually caught him in Genesee, Pennsylvania. Haslett, who by this time was described as looking like Santa Claus, died January 9th, 1906 while walking down a street in Easton, Maryland, seeking work. He is buried in Butler, Pennsylvania.

As a WSL bit of trivia, our colleague Shawn Schollmeyer has pointed out that James P. Ferry, who served as Territorial Librarian from 1880-1881, and a son of Washington’s first governor, was not exactly a tramp printer, but was known to perform printing and type work of an itinerant nature.






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Songs of Willow Frost. By Jaime Ford

December 10th, 2014 WSL NW & Special Collections Posted in Articles, Washington Reads No Comments »

ford-frostSongs of Willow Frost. By Jamie Ford. (New York: Ballantine Books, 2013.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

Our protagonist is William Eng, a 12-year-old living at the Sacred Heart Orphanage in 1930’s Seattle. He’s been there since he was seven; no one is interested in adopting a Chinese boy. Only, he remembers his beloved mother, a singer and a dancer, and he remembers finding her slumped in the bathtub, and how she was carried off to the hospital, and he never saw her again.

But now he sees her on the screen in a vaudeville show preview down at the local movie theater—he’s certain it’s her—and he sets off, together with the blind girl, Charlotte, fellow outcast, and his best friend, to find Liu Song, aka Willow Frost, his mother.

The book recounts this seemingly impossible quest, as well as Liu Song’s own tragic story, and how she came to give up her precious child. Will they be reunited to make a life together? We’re kept in suspense until the final page.

Full of old Seattle scenes and images, this poignant tale will tug at your heart-strings, while filling in a chapter in our nation’s regrettable history of the prejudice suffered by its people of Chinese heritage.

ISBN: 978-0-345-52202-3

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 FORD 2013
Available as an eBook.
Downloadable talking book available through NLS and WTBBL.
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