Historic Everett calendar explores automotive history

Before I-5 or Highway 99, before logging trucks, gas stations or cruising Colby, Everett was home to a print shop owner named Wilde Knisely. He had the first car in town.

It was a 1902 Grout Steamer, a $1,000 beauty the Pennsylvania native had shipped to Everett from Orange, Mass.

“Knisely then gave rides all over Everett as well as exploring all available wagon roads around the county. The Grout made about 30 miles per hour, used chain drive and consumed a lot of fuel making steam, getting about 10 miles per gallon of what we assume was stove oil or kerosene.”

That little story and a 1911 Everett Herald photo of Knisely’s car are among the brief, wonderfully illustrated history lessons in a 2014 calendar titled “Everett Rolls into the Auto Age.”

It’s the latest edition of calendars produced by Historic Everett, a local nonprofit heritage and preservation group. Like this year’s “Saloons and Brothels,” a 2012 calendar featuring architect Earl Morrison’s local buildings, and a previous calendar with the theme of historic Everett churches, this one is a collector’s item.

“The credit goes to Dave Ramstad,” said Jack O’Donnell, an Historic Everett board member who also compiles our long-running Seems Like Yesterday column from The Herald’s archives.

Ramstad did the writing and research for the 2014 calendar, O’Donnell said. It’s a calendar that doubles as a little local history book. There are tales of people and places, as well as day-by-day listings of past events in Everett.

Along with its vintage photos, “Everett Rolls into the Auto Age” is illustrated with colorful local maps, which O’Donnell has collected through the years along with antique postcards and old car pamphlets. David Chrisman, a former Historic Everett board member, is the “master of layout” who designed the calendar, O’Donnell said.

The real prizes are the old photos. Oldtimers will remember the places pictured, and some will recognize the buildings for their current uses.

The Mission-style H.W. Wood Motor Company, designed by Earl Morrison and built in 1929 at Hewitt and Rucker avenues, is now Peak Fitness. By 1953, the dealership at 2902 Rucker Ave. was operated by Frank Platt and Harold Walsh. It was known for a half-century as Everett’s “Dodge corner,” according to the calendar.

On the cover is a picture, believed to be from 1932, of Chas. Edeen Automotive Service at the northeast corner of Rockefeller and Everett avenues. The station was charging 18.5 cents a gallon for Red Crown gasoline.

The photo for May 2014 shows an eye-catching place many remember. Tony’s Bayview Service, a service station at 1002 Hewitt Ave. near the waterfront, was run by Tony Dyre, who became a Port of Everett commissioner.

The gimmick that made the place stand out was a war surplus fighter plane, a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. It was flown to Paine Field, trucked into town, and placed atop Dyre’s gas station. It was an Everett icon from 1948 until 1968.

Also on the gas station roof in the 1955 picture are Tony’s Bayview Service All-Stars, a local baseball team that included Mike Dire, who became an Everett dentist, and his brothers Buzz, Oz and Chris. The building was later used by the Everett Stevedoring Company before being demolished in the 1980s.

And that old warplane? It is now in the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis.

Andrea Tucker, Historic Everett’s acting board president, said proceeds from the $20 calendar will support the group’s talks, an annual home tour and other educational programs. Organization memberships are $25 per year, with senior and family discounts available, she said.

The calendar’s only color photograph shows Colby Avenue, bustling with downtown traffic and shoppers. It was taken by Bob Mayer, with a telephoto lens, at Christmastime 1969. Earlier that year, the Boeing 747 took its first flight. Everett Mall didn’t exist.

O’Donnell remembers the way it used to be, when high schoolers cruised in their cars just for fun.

“Much of my misspent youth was spent tooling Colby,” he said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Calendars available

Historic Everett’s 2014 calendar, “Everett Rolls into the Auto Age,” is on sale for $20 at these Everett locations: J. Matheson Gifts, 2615 Colby Ave.; Peak Health &Fitness, 2902 Rucker Ave. Proceeds fund the nonprofit group’s programs. Information: www.historiceverett.org.

The Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission has released its 2014 Historic Edmonds Calendar. Free while supplies last, it is available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays in the lobby of Edmonds City Hall, 121 Fifth Ave. N.; at the Edmonds Historical Museum, 118 Fifth Ave. N.; or next door at the Ganahl-Hanley Log Cabin, 120 Fifth Ave. N. Calendar was funded by a grant to the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission.

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