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During World War II, the US military was still segregated. Despite the fact that they fought side by side, servicemen of color were not allowed in the whites only USO clubs. In Tacoma, a group of prominent religious, community and civic leaders addressed this problem by opening USO #2 at 713-15 Commerce St. and dedicating it for the use of African American servicemen and women. This photograph is of an unidentified violinist and accompanist performing at USO #2.


This undated photograph appears to have been taken at the USO club #2, the Tacoma club reserved for servicemen and women of color. Second from left was Tacoma Mayor C. Val Fawcett (acting 1943-45, elected 1946-50) and on the far right is Rabbi Bernard Rosenberg of Temple Beth Israel.


The 70 piece Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific Northwest performed in front of the temporary bandstand, topped with unfurled flags, at the USO Music Festival held July 28, 1946 at Point Defiance Park. The young orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Francis Aranyi, was one of the favorites of the 7,000 concert viewers. (TT 7/27/1946, pg 2 and 7/28/46, pg 1; TNT 7/27/46, pg.1 and 7/29/46, pg. 1& 2; Photo by F.L. Powell, YMCA, Tacoma)


Military Band plays outdoors with two tubas and a flute. Tents and coniferous trees are pictured in the background.


Crown gathered around man speaking in front of industrial architecture. In the distance, a man appears to be installing a utility pole.

BOWEN G71.1-120C

Utilities Commissioner Ira S. Davisson is flanked by Tacoma Mayor James G. Newbegin and U.S.S. Lexington commander, Capt. Frank D. Berrien, on December 16, 1929, as they happily examine hook-up plans that will allow the aircraft carrier to provide much needed power to Tacoma. Severe drought conditions caused Tacoma to take an unprecedented step in requesting the aid of the powerful ship in generating supplemental electricity. (T.Times, 12-16-29, p. 1)

BOWEN G71.1-125

Sailors clean deck of U.S.S. Lexington while three young ladies watch, December 23, 1929. Tied up at Baker Dock, the Lexington's mission was to supply Tacoma with auxiliary power during the city's electrical crisis. Chores still had to be completed, however, even when guests were present. Ethel Haasarud, Freda Gardner and Naomi Dykeman appear amused at the switch in roles. They were aboard promoting the big Chamber of Commerce dance for enlisted Lexington personnel on December 26th; the women would act as judges in awarding prizes to the sailors chosen as the most handsome, most happy and best dancer. TPL-1776 (T.Times, 12-23-29, p. 1, TDL 12-24-1929 p.3)

BOWEN G71.1-114

January 1930 would have started off as a very dark year in Tacoma without the assistance of the U.S.S. Lexington, pictured here encircled by mist at Baker Dock. She arrived in Tacoma about December 17, 1929, and remained to mid-January, 1930, to provide electricity to the City of Tacoma. A severe drought in 1929 had left dams without sufficient water. After much negotiation, the fourth largest ship afloat (at that time) was ordered by the Navy to aid Tacoma; it was the first time in history that a ship had provided power for a city. The U.S.S. Lexington, badly damaged in the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea by Japanese fire, would be sunk by the American destroyer, U.S.S. Phelps. TPL-006.


J.T. Swan, center, Bos'n First Class, introduces recruits D.R. Turk (left) and A.G. West to the art of knot tying. The trio were photographed aboard the battleship USS New Mexico on July 22, 1927. The New Mexico was in port in Tacoma until August 1st. Guests were invited to view the flagship of the Pacific fleet in the afternoon. Commissioned in 1918, the battleship served in both World War I & II before being sold for scrap in 1947. (TNT 7/22/1927 p.1)


Ground was broken on July 1, 1922 for a modern $200,000 Catholic boys school by the Dominican Sisters on the grounds of the 97 acre country estate of the late J. Shields, "Shangarry." The completed school, Marymount Military Academy (photographed here in 1937), was located in what is now Spanaway. It was a spacious two story structure of five buildings in the Lombardine Mission style. The school housed a modern gym, pool and infirmary as well as surrounding playing fields, stables, tennis courts and shooting ranges. It was the only military school in the state of Washington. In 1974, the school dropped its military appellation and became a boarding school for wealthy families. It closed in 1976. The property was purchased in the 1980's by Harold LeMay, who used much of it to house his antique car collection.


A group of African Americans look on for the cutting of a cake at an unidentified social event at the USO #2, 713-715 Commerce St., circa 1946. The cake has four candles, possibly indicating that it was in honor of the Club's fourth anniversary in September of 1946. In the group were Helen B. Stafford (second from left), Arthur Hayes (fifth from left), Maude Leonard (seventh from left) and Louise Beck (back of center, in hat.) (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)


The second annual USO Music Festival was held at Point Defiance Park on July 28, 1946. One of the featured performers was the 70 piece Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific Northwest, under the direction of Dr. Francis Aranyi. The concert took place around the temporary bandstand set up in the natural amphitheater at the entrance to the park. It was attended by over 7,000 people. (TT 7/27/1946, pg 2 and 7/28/46, pg 1; TNT 7/27/46, pg.1 and 7/29/46, pg. 1& 2; Photo by F.L. Powell, YMCA, Tacoma)


On July 29, 1945, the USO hosted its first Music Festival at Point Defiance Park. Over 6,000 spectators were on hand to enjoy the concert. The main feature was a performance of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" by the 362nd Army Band of Fort Lewis. Cpl. William Sumner of New York City was the featured soloist. Cpl. Sumner was the solo pianist with the National Broadcasting Company before entering the Army. Other performers included the 29th Special Band directed by Sgt. Earnest Hayden and the 25 voice Naval choir from Bremerton, featuring baritone soloist Robert Brown. (TNT 7/29/1945, pg. 1; photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)


From September of 1942 until the end of March, 1947, 713-15 Commerce housed USO #2, a club reserved for the entertainment of servicemen and women of color. One of the unique activities in the club took place each year during "Be Kind to Animals" week. Servicemen assisted in the planning and production of a dog show with the pets of local children. Ribbons were presented to the best in each catagory. In this photograph dated September 16, 1945, unidentified children and servicemen pose with a variety of dogs at the club. (photograph by F.L. Powell of Tacoma)


ca. 1947. Orson Welles (right), noted performer and director of stage, screen and radio, posed in this undated photograph with a longtime friend and Army-Navy USO Club leader Bennie D. Brown. The occasion was possibly in March of 1947, when Mr. Welles spoke to 5,000 persons in the Armory as a guest of the Tacoma Jewish Association in observance of Brotherhood Week.

BOWEN G71.1-120B

Lt. Cdr. H.L. White, Chief Engineer, and U.S.S. Lexington commander, Capt. Frank D. Berrien, flank Tacoma Mayor James G. Newbergin on the deck of the massive aircraft carrier in December, 1929. The ship is berthed at Baker Dock and shortly will be pouring electricity into Tacoma's power lines. By the time the Lexington left in mid-January, it had generated over 4 million kilowatt hours.


Submarine S-27 visits Tacoma in July, 1926, along with several warships. Skippered by Lt. Carlye Craig, one of the country's newest submarines paid a visit to Tacoma in early July, 1926. The 219-foot long submarine, pictured above probably resurfacing, carried a crew of four officers and 39 enlisted men. It was capable of reaching depths of 300 feet. 38 members of the Tacoma Engineers Club were lucky enough to tour the bottom of Commencement Bay, 50 feet below the surface, courtesy of the S-27 on July 1st. Most of the engineers concurred with the opinion of a relieved member who was happy to take the tour but happier to be once again on top of the water and breathing in fresh air. (TNT 7-2-26, p. 1, 13)

BOWEN G71.1-041

The U.S. Navy submarine S-27 paid a visit to Tacoma in early July 1926 along with several warships. The 219-foot long submarine was one of the newest in the Navy's fleet having been commissioned in January 1924. It carried 12 torpedoes and had a top designed underwater speed of 11 knots. It was helmed by Lt. Carlye Craig. (TNT 7-2-26, p. 1, 13)


ca. 1929. U.S.S. Lexington at Baker Dock. This photograph is undated but was probably taken in the winter, mid-December to mid-January, of 1929-30 when the Lexington steamed into Commencement Bay and tied up at Baker Dock. The aircraft carrier was summoned to help Tacoma in their power shortage; it was the first time that a ship was used in this capacity. She would generate over 4 million kilowatt hours of electrical power. Bowen # 310-129

BOWEN G71.1-122

ca. 1929. U.S.S. Lexington in Puget Sound. This photograph is undated but may have been taken roughly in the winter of 1929-30 when the Lexington streamed into Commencement Bay and tied up at Baker Dock. The small dory alongside the ship possibly carried the mayor of Tacoma, James Newbegin, and other dignitaries. The aircraft carrier was summoned to help Tacoma in their power shortage; it was the first time that a ship was used in this capacity. She would generate over 4 million kilowatt hours of electrical power. The Lexington, known as the "Queen of the Flattops," was launched in 1925 and was armed with twelve five-inch .25 calibre anti-aircraft guns, 4 six-pounder saluting guns and eight three-inch .55 calibre breechloading rifles. She performed humanitarian relief efforts during the Nicaraguan earthquake of 1931 and also made a futile search for Amelia Earhart when the aviatrix disappeared in 1937. The ship was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942. (Marine Digest, 6-9-73, p. 11-16) TPL-009


Bremerton Navy Yard in July of 1930. USS New York in dry dock. The battleship New York saw service in both WWI and WWII.


Ft. Lewis Training Center group portrait. Soldiers are holding up a painted wooden sign saying, "Bravo Bums."


Three Army officers balancing on a horse with other officers looking on. Men in suits also watch from a covered areas in the distance.


"Co.1 - 186th infantry - Camp Hankens - 1935, Capt. Anderson, C.O." Group of soldiers pose with tents in the background.

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