Christmas on the Peninsula – 1913


As you know if you follow our blog, we like to look back occasionally into our Olympic Peninsula history through the eyes of the Port Townsend Leader of a century ago. Times have changed, for sure, over the century since 1913, but in some respects you can still see our peninsula forebears reflecting ideas that we might be inclined to view today as very modern. With that in mind, here’s a look at Christmas Day 1913 through the eyes of the “Morning Leader” as it was called then.

Surprisingly, the front page of the Christmas Day edition had not a bit of news about Christmas. The story dominating the front page was the problem of the Pacific Products Company completing an exchange of property to construct a kelp processing plant. The Pacific Products Company had evidently agreed to accept some property in the area from an entity known as the Commercial Club under several provisions that included both investment and proof of use of the property. While the Company had proof of investment, there were some problems in siting the plant machinery. In a story a bit reminiscent of the current Boeing saga, some officials in Pacific Products Company were advocating moving the plant elsewhere where free land might be obtained. The value of the plant and attendant jobs can only be guessed at, but the paper’s estimate was it would employ as many as the then working dogfish processing plant. In short, it seemed a pretty big deal.

The second page offered a bit more with a story on activities of the Post Office – including the fact that some packages would be delayed because of a snowstorm that put a thirty three hour crimp in schedules. The post office was also opining a record year for mail. With this seasons’ news that UPS is experiencing delays in shipments, it feels like déjà vu all over again. Another story covered the relief of the Puget Sound Artillery District staff from their “routine duties.” The Rose Theater, a reliable advertiser for the Leader, was advertising a four piece orchestra and motion pictures for Christmas night; admission was 10 cents.

The third page of the Leader – which was evidently always published in four pages – seems to have been reserved for society news. The Christmas news was that the three area posts of the Coast Artillery would be having their traditional dinner wherein each post strove to produce the finest feast. Another column was devoted to the comings and goings of folks around town including visiting guests for the holidays.

The nature of the advertising in the Leader of 1913 is almost as revealing as the news itself and really resonates with a modern audience. A century ago, folks here on the peninsula were clearly concerned about buying local and were not shy about the reasons. We have reproduced some of the advertising here to illustrate the concerns of area merchants.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Homer Smith Insurance. We have been selling and servicing insurance here on the peninsula since 1950.