PANORAMA - Retired librarian helps dust off how local history ads up

Advertisement

photo

1893, G.S. Andrus Blacksmith and Wagon Maker

photo

1971, Denney's Hi-Spot Cafe.

photo

1916, Independent Garage.

photo

1978, Tylers.

photo

1955, Marsh Aviation Company.

photo

1958, Penitentiary Play.

photo

1971, Shimy's.

photo

1955, Spudnut Shop.

At the Independent Garage, they conquered death, while over at Shimy's, they disco-danced into the night.

The Kandyland Cafe offered "good cooking, deft service and reasonable prices," while at Washington State Penitentiary auditorium, "Cell-Abrasions" was 1948's show of the year.

Welcome to a trip down memory lane, as seen through newspaper ads dating from horse-and-buggy days right into the start of the Information Age.

The treasure trove of some 7,000 images tracing Walla Walla's commercial life was compiled by retired Whitman College librarian Joe Drazan, who has collected and edited previous collections of historic photos and vintage advertisements from local sources.

Drazan said the ad collection, which is not available to the general public at this time, is a byproduct of his "Bygone WW" project.

"The ‘Bygone WW' collection is the mother of my projects that started it all when I retired in 2005," he said in an email. "It is an ongoing collection that now has over 15,000 images (but no ads)."

Drazan said he began compiling copies of the ads at the same time he was doing the photo-collecting. Both photos and ads came from many different sources, such as local newspapers, city directories, newsletters and the Up To The Times magazine.

"Each image was digitized by me, almost all by handheld point-and-shoot cameras. I have to edit and label and date each image to make them usable and presentable. Most of the U-B ads were copied from microfilm at Whitman using the same camera technique," he said. "Obviously that takes a lot of time, but it is a fun project."

Trolling through the collection is like boarding a time machine to places and products now long gone.

An 1893 ad extols the "good work (and) moderate prices" at the G.S. Andrus Blacksmith and Wagon Maker at 206 E. Main St. Now fast forward to 1913, when an ad for the Apperson Jack Rabbit dealer at 225 E. Alder St. proclaims "the twentieth anniversary of the American gasolene (sic) automobile."

Two years later, Alder Street became home to another motorized wonder. At the F.J. Jackson company, the 1915 Harley-Davidson was unveiled. The two-wheeler had "11 horsepower guaranteed; 3-speed sliding gear transmission (and) mechanical oil pump." The price was $209, which would be about $6,500 in today's dollars.

In fact, an inflation calculator becomes a necessity when considering prices between then and now. A 1920 ad for the Kandyland Cafe pitches "special noonday lunch 40c (cents) to 50c (cents)." That sounds like a great deal until inflation is figured in. At that point the prices jump to $4.53 to $5.66 in today's dollars. Still pretty good, but not amazing.

Jumping back to 1916, it's good to see that hyperbole was alive and well, as evidenced by the following ad for the Independent Garage located at the "Old N.P. Depot, East Main Street."

"DEATH CONQUERED" read the headline, followed by "Sick cars made well-dead cars brought to life. Now is the time to give your car spring tonic."

The charge for this miraculous service? Sixty cents an hour. (Or $12.47 an hour in today's dollars. Miracles weren't cheap, even then.)

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment