Spring is here and so are uninvited guests—lurking under the leaves, dining at night, and sleeping during the day: SLUGS. What to do about the pesky mollusk is a topic of discussion at many garden clubs, especially for gardeners who want to go green. So here are a few ideas.

  1. Grind eggshells in a blender with some water and spread the slurry on the tops of the soil to create a scratchy barrier.
  2. Take apart copper Brillo pads (Yes, you can still find them) and put the pieces around the plants. Contact gives slugs a shock.
  3. Mix one part old coffee and 10 parts water and spray it on plant leaves and surrounding soil. It gives the slimy invader a heart attack on contact.
  4. Spraying with a mixture of two cups water and two teaspoons dish washing detergent will not only dry them up, it will also help eliminate aphids, lace bugs, bronze orange bugs, whitefly and scale.
  5. Send slugs to their maker with a smile by putting the dregs of beer in pans short enough for them to ooze into.
  6. Human hair on the soil’s surface tangles them up.
  7. Slugs are attracted to lemon, orange and grapefruit rinds. Put them out at night and pick them up in the morning.
  8. Slugs will also hide under old boards if you have the fortitude to scrape them off the wood every morning.
  9. Buy a duck!

 Karla Stover belongs to the Root & Bloom Garden Club and the Hill and Dale District of Garden Clubs.

“There is, perhaps, no seaport town of its size in the United States where so large a portion of the inhabitants are so deeply interested in ships.”
~Captain Cameron of the J.B. Brown speaking of New Tacoma

Captain Cameron made this statement one day in May 1883 after watching Tacoma residents as they walked along the wharves one Sunday afternoon looking at the ships and talking to the sailors.

“I’m an old-timer in these parts,” the captain told a Tacoma Daily Ledger reporter.  “I came here as a mate on the ship Dashing Wave in 1874 and followed a trail through the woods to New Tacoma.  There were just three shanties up on the bluff then.  And I well-remember the first ship that came to New Tacoma.  It was 1877 and she had a cargo of railroad iron for the Northern Pacific.  It was the American ship, Ventus.  I think she took away a cargo of lumber from the Tacoma Mill.”

There is no information about the Ventus, but the Dashing Wave was one of the last true American clippers.  She was built in 1852 in New Hampshire and reached San Francisco in only 107 days. After being sunk in New York harbor, she was bought for the lumber trade and brought to Puget Sound.  Once here, she made thirteen round trips between the Tacoma and San Francisco in a single year, establishing a record.  In 1900, the clipper was sold, and used in the Nome trade after which she made a voyage to Hawaii.  In 1902 the Pacific Cold Storage Co bought her, and in 1911 the ship and the cannery were sold to John Carlson of Seattle.  The clipper remained in service for nine more years and ended up as a cold storage barge.

Tacoma's early seaport

Under ordinary circumstances, a scow is a large flat-bottomed boat with broad square ends, used chiefly for transporting bulk material such as ore, sand, or refuse.  In 1877 Tacoma, milkman R. A. Scott used his to sell his dairy products up and down the bay.  Then he enlarged it in order to haul hay, but not before he christened it with a seaboard dance.

According to the Tacoma Herald, the first Chinese junk seen on the bay was on July 25, 1878.  “It was built on the Sound, about ten miles above here,” the paper reported, “and is to be used in the fishing business by some Chinese who have been upon the Sound for some time, catching and drying various kinds of fish for the San Francisco market.”  The paper went on to say the junk was a “picturesque affair with all the peculiar attachments that distinguish the Celestial craft.  It looks as though it had backed into a lot of chicken coops and three or four pairs of stairs, and had gone off with them all sticking to it.”  The reporter did concede that the sailors aboard “managed it with great dexterity, and are as regular in their movements as man-of-war’s men.”
These days it is hard to know what the Herald was referring to when it said that “Mike Murphy and a friend, while sailing their small plunger near Pt. Defiance, capsized.”  A plunger is a submarine and, although submarines date back to before the Civil War, it’s not likely there was one in Commencement Bay.  But at least both men survived.  Mike held on to an oar and climbed up on the ship’s bow.  He was able to row toward shore while his companion held onto the keel.  Men in a passing boat rescued them.

Though often seen in Commencement Bay, the Alida was never a success.  She was laid up in Olympia in 1871 and after a year’s work, came out again in 1872 making the run between Olympia and Seattle.  In 1873 she took the first passengers from Old Tacoma to the new town to connect with the first railroad train to run in Puget Sound. She was out of commission again the greater portion of the time after 1879.  Then in August 1890, while laid up at Gig Harbor, she was caught in a fire, which swept down from the forest, and burned to the water’s edge. Her damaged engines were saved and taken to Lake’s shipyard, in Ballard.
The bark, Samoset, was built in New Hampshire in 1847 and turned up in Tacoma on Nov. 10, 1869.  Less than a month later, she set sail from the Hanson and Ackerman Mill for San Francisco with 487,350 feet of lumber, the mill’s first lumber shipment.

The first cargo of wheat to go to a foreign port from Puget Sound was shipped from Tacoma, Nov. 5, 1881, on the S.S. Dakota,a cargo vessel.
On Oct. 27, 1895,1,869 bales of silk, 95 cases of silk goods, and 125 bales of waste silk the largest cargo of silk ever shipped to Tacoma arrived on the steamship Victoria.

And boats weren’t all that floated in Commencement Bay.  In March 1878, an unidentified man built a cabin on a raft and moored it near the wharf.  One night an elderly Puyallup man walked off the edge of the wharf and was rescued by two men rowing down from Old Town.  What they were all doing out at 2 a.m. was never said, but the rescued man was taken to the precursor of a houseboat to recover.

From scow to schooner, from ferry to freighter, bark to bateau, they were all here, lending beauty now greatly missed.

The old Steilacoom two-story jail
The old Steilacoom two-story jail was built in 1858 and served as a jail until 1881. The jail was demolished in 1944. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Public Library Photography Archive.

One morning in May 1877, just as dawn broke, Tacoma residents woke to gunfire shots coming from the Palace Saloon.  A dispute had arisen between proprietor C.J. Longpray and two gamblers from Portland.

Apparently, during a card game, one of the “professors,” as cardsharps were called back then, casually displayed a small pistol and Mr. Longpray, who was known for his bad disposition, got hot under the collar.  The Tacoma Herald called Longpray “a wicked and dangerous man when in a passion, and one who created havoc among his enemies.”

He certainly proved the comment.  Longpray pulled out his own revolver and hit the man over the head. Between them, the gamblers got off three shots but Longpray got off six, emptied his gun, and reached for a loaded shotgun he had near his chair.

A fight broke out and the gamblers left as quickly as they could.  Longpray came out unscathed but not the two Portland men.  One just showed the normal signs of having been in a fight, but the other in addition to a bad head wound, had a serious gunshot between his knee and thigh, and the rest of him was bruised and battered.  The billiards table and woodwork also sustained damages.

Someone, the Herald didn’t say who, closed the Palace Saloon and, within days, Longpray was back in the news fighting over ownership of the various articles inside, which belonged to either him or to some Portland liquor dealers.

For a time, Longpray was seen around town brandishing multiple revolvers.  He made a quick trip to Seattle saying he’d be back and, during his time away, the saloon was padlocked.  Both parties said they would abide by arbitrators’ decision, but when it turned out not to be in his favor, Longpray took possession by climbing in a window.
He was in the papers a third time for two reasons: for taking a shot at a man named George Day, and for breaking into the place where his saloon furnishings were stored.  Last seen, he was leaving town.

Tacoma was a rough frontier town in 1877, one where men often shot before thinking.  At the same time Mr. Longpray was leaving, a crowd of black men woke the sheriff one morning and told him that a friend of theirs, a banjo player named Negro Bob, had just been murdered.

Several weeks prior, Bob got in a fight with a Kanaka (a South Seas islander) named Joe, and had struck Joe over the head with a hatchet.  Joe was a friend of another Kanaka, a man named William Drew, and Drew developed a grudge against Bob.

The Herald said that Drew “was laboring under considerable excitement,” and decided that Bob should be severely punished. With that thought in mind, he grabbed a Henry lever action-repeating rifle and set out to shoot the banjo player.

Bob got wind of Drew’s intention but not in time to take any action himself other than shutting the door to his cabin. Drew took a position outside the cabin, made a guess where Bob would be standing and shot through the wall. Though an inch thick, the bullet not only penetrated the wood, it penetrated Bob, going through his stomach and lodging itself in Bob’s backbone.  Bob fell to the floor, raised his eyes and said, “You see the last of Bob,” and died.

Bob’s friends went after Drew and tied him up, using, the paper said, about “200 feet of rope.” Sheriff Reynolds caught up with the mob, untied Drew and hauled him up before Justice Carr. The culprit was sent to await trial jail in Steilacoom’s jail.
Other Kanakas in the area, though friends of William Drew, all chipped in to pay for a respectable coffin for Bob.

Tacomans knew where Drew was, but not the men who robbed both Chilberg Brothers and Gross Brothers stores.  Tacoma was pretty much confined to an area north of 9th street on Pacific Avenue. Gross Bros. was at 906-908 Pacific Avenue, so Chilberg’s must have been nearby. The burglars broke through Chilberg’s back door, smashing everything that got in their way.  They made off with $40 worth of revolvers, jack knives, and tobacco.  At Gross’s they outfitted themselves in new suits, and took extra hats, shirts, and overcoats.  They were reported as being holed up somewhere between Tacoma and Kalama.  Their snappy attire should have been a dead giveaway but they managed to escape.

A man named Henderson decided to rob Father P.F. Hylebos.  According to Joseph A. Jacobs, Henderson persuaded him to go along on an expedition to dig up some money buried in the mountains by an old miner.  When they got near Napavine, Henderson told Jacobs that the actual plan was to rob the Catholic priest at his house on the Cowlitz prairie where $1,500 was hidden.

Jacobs said that when he refused to go along with the plan, Henderson drew his pistol and attempted to shoot him. In defending himself, Jacobs shot Henderson in the head and wrist. Whether Henderson survived or not isn’t known, but the marshal caught Jacobs, and Father Hylebos gave the lawman an English bulldog to say thank you for making the arrest.
It does seem as if John Ford could have skipped Monument Valley and made a western or two in Tacoma.

Jane and Gustave

When flying was new and exciting, any time it attracted the attention of a comely young woman, the information nearly always made the newspapers. In 1915, that woman was Emil Rorke an actress/celebrity adventuress from Los Angeles.  Emil, who went by the name of Jane O’Roark, took fame anyway she could find it. Leaving a pending bankruptcy behind, she set off to look for opportunities elsewhere; and elsewhere turned out to be Tacoma. She signed a contract with Charles Richards to act at Tacoma’s Empress Theater in a play called “Help Wanted” and, as luck would have it, made the acquaintance of a “big, adventuresome Scandinavian airplane pilot named Gustave Stromer” according to a Tacoma News Tribune article by Murray C. Morgan.

Jane told Gustave that she’d taken flying lessons and wanted to be an aviatrix, and Gustave made her an offer the publicity seeker couldn’t refuse: the chance to be the first woman to look down on Tacoma from the air. Her boss, Mr. Richards, objected because the day of the proposed flight was on the 13th  but Jane said she wasn’t afraid of heights or days with unlucky numbers.

On the morning in question, the Tacoma Motor Company loaned Jane a Maxwell racing car. As she roared into town, Richards ran after her with a legal document to stop her from going on the flight. When he thrust it into her hands, she looked at it and tore it up saying, “I’m sorry but this morning I cannot read.” Then she tossed the scraps of papers in the air. Richards immediately jumped on the running board of the car and tried to stop it. From here, stories differ: he either fell off, or rode “across the 11th Street Bridge to the tideflats, sprawled sidesaddle on the hood,” Murray wrote in that same article.

In the meantime, Gustave had flown in from Day Island and was waiting for Jane at the Middle Waterway. His hydro-airplane was moored to a log. Gustave wore a leather jacket and helmet, and Jane a red sweater and wool cap. They boarded, the plane taxied down the waterway for approximately one hundred yards, and then began to climb until the plane reached eight hundred feet. Gustave turned toward Browns Point, circled back along the eastside of the bay, flew over the Perkins Building, and followed 11th Street to CPS (now UPS) Jason Lee Junior High’s current location. Then he leveled off and the two returned to the tideflats, and landed.

After that successful flight they came up with the idea of making Puget Sound’s first airmail delivery. Frank Stocking, Tacoma’s postmaster, gave them the authorization to fly a packet of mail to Seattle.

Generally, on sanctioned pioneering flights, the pilot was formally sworn in, and designated an official mail carrier, but on this one particular flight, that honor went to Miss O’Roark. Forty-five pieces of mail received a 10:00 a.m. Tacoma-Panama-Pacific postage machine cancel. The majority of items were postal cards, but the mail pouch also included at least two special delivery letters. Mr. Stocking wrote to his counterpart in Seattle, and Tacoma’s Mayor Angelo Fawcett did the same.

Jack Haswell, who had provided the Maxwell Jane used previously, said that if Auburn, Kent, and Renton authorities would give him permission to speed through their towns, he’d try to beat the flight driving another Maxwell, one that was identical to that driven by famed racecar driver Eddie Rickenbacker.

On February 20, 1915, Jane drove to City Hall and picked up the mayor’s letter. From there she went to the post office and picked up the postmaster’s letter, and a bag of from fifty to one hundred pieces of mail which would have ordinarily gone north by boat. Each was additionally cancelled with a handwritten postmark reading Aeromail to Seattle.

Once again Gustave flew in from Day Island and picked Jane up at the Middle Waterway. At 10:00 a.m. Jack took off down Pacific Avenue in the Maxwell, and Jane and Gustave, in the plane, followed the route the mail boat took.

Gustave had planned to land in Elliott Bay, but a ship was pulling out when he arrived and it kicked up heavy waves. Forced to wait for the water to calm down, he circled around, then tried again, and was able to land successfully. Unfortunately, the waves hadn’t sufficiently subsided, and water washed over Jane and Gustave, and killed the engine. They floated for fifteen minutes until someone rowed out and took Jane to Pier One. She hitched a ride to town, only to find that the mayor was out; his secretary signed for Mayor Fawcett’s letter.

Gustave’s flight was estimated to be twenty-seven minutes, and Jack’s driving time forty-six minutes. The mail boat’s normal time isn’t known. Jane and Jack drove back to Tacoma together and she arrived in time to play her two parts in “Help Wanted.”

Gustave had plans to make daily flights to Seattle but they never materialized, nor did his idea to form a National Guard air squadron. In 1917, he moved to Oregon and began manufacturing boxes.

Jane finished her season at the Empress, returned to her bankruptcy proceedings in California, and was last heard of at the Bishop Theater in Oakland California in 1917 in a play called “A Fool There Was.”