Saturday, November 26, 2011

Incident at Knight's Diner



Incident at Knight’s Diner
by
Wally Lee Parker
(all rights retained by author)

Knight's Diner at its present day Market Steet location.
            From the mid-1990s until her death, I conducted a series of tape recorded conversations with my mother, Lillie Ada Parker, regarding her recollections of our family’s history.  Every once in a while some bit of story would begin with Mom saying, “I don’t think I’ve ever told you this ... and maybe I shouldn’t ... but,” — and then some gem of a story would go into the permanent record.
            After years of following seasonal farm work throughout the southwestern United States, in 1947 our family wandered north and settled on a farm a few miles southwest of the small eastern Washington town of Clayton.  During the first ten years of our life on the William Valley farm, my father, Owen Lee Parker, worked at Washington Brick & Lime’s Clayton factory.  I’d always been curious about the factory’s history, and in 2004 I began a series of taped interviews with a few of those still around who recalled working at that long demolished factory.
            I’d arranged to interview longtime family friend Eddie Olson on the acreage just east of Clayton he calls his “poor farm”, and Mom asked to come along.  The interview was supposed to be about the brick plant and the days Eddie and my dad had been employed there.  Eddie, Mother, and I were all sitting around the kitchen table, the tape recorder was on, and the two of them were reminiscing.
            At the moment they were swapping stories about Homer Ireland, another man my father had worked with at Clayton in the late 1940s and early ‘50s.  Eddie was saying … “You know Homer was my brother-in-law — my wife, Lucille, was his sister.”
            “What ever happened to Homer?” Mom asked.
            “He died a few years back ... of cancer ... like Owen.”
            “Owen just thought the world of him.” Mom said.  And, recalling Homer’s wife, she added, “The first few years we were up here we ran around with him and Glenna quite a bit.”
            The story Mom spilled to us that night explained an ancient puzzle for me — one of those things I’d long wondered about.  It involved two cafés that sat at the bottom of the North Division hill in Spokane.  These two cafés, Andy’s Silver Hut and Knight’s Diner sat side by side.  Andy’s was just a small place — five or so booths and a bar with maybe eight or ten stools along the counter.  Dad had a particular like for Andy’s, partly because Andy, the owner, was such a personable, down to earth guy.  Partly because the entire family could go in, sit at a booth, and Dad could still have a beer with his food.  And partly because Andy lightly toasted his hamburger buns on a buttered grill — giving the buns a slight crunch and, at the same time, making the entire place smell absolutely delicious.
            In those early days we only came into Spokane maybe once a month.  Stopping at Andy’s for hamburgers had become a customary ritual — with the attendant “Please Daddy!  Please!”  And the gruff though expected, “Well … I reckon.”
            But we never went to the Knight’s Diner — a converted Pullman style railroad car with a large, attractive, sign showing a mounted knight, his lance outlined in neon, and bulbs lighting in sequence up the length of the lance.  On occasion I’d ask Mom why we never went into the railroad car for burgers.  I’d never been in a railroad car and wanted to see what it was like.  She’d say … “We don’t like that place.  It’s so dirty — and the cook always has a greasy apron.”


            Andy’s Silver Hut has been gone for a number of years — something over thirty I suspect.  But Knight’s Diner still exists.  A few years back it was moved half-way across Spokane to a lot just south of Hillyard.  And there it sits, along with its original sign.
            And the reason we’d never gone into Knight’s Diner for burgers — with words still carrying a residual trace of her “back home” Okie brogue, Mom explained it this way.
            “It must have been in 1948 or ‘49.  I can’t remember how it came about, but for some reason I had a ticket for a drawing to win a new car — well — actually a used car, but something we could have made use of.  The ticket was to be picked at Spokane’s Natatorium during a dance.  So Owen, me, Homer and Glenna, we all got dressed up and took off to the dance.”
            Through the first part of the twentieth century an amusement park, the Natatorium or Nat for short, stood on the western edge of Spokane.  The park had a number of permanent rides, including a wood framed roller coaster that ran alongside the Spokane River.  The park’s large pavilion often hosted dances with ‘live’ music.
            “I don’t know who was playing that night.  As I recall, it was none of the big names.”  By “big names,” Mom meant the likes of Glenn Miller and such.
            “The boys were doing some drinking.  When they’d drink I’d do the driving.  Glenna didn’t drive.  I drove, even though I didn’t have a driver's license.  I didn’t break down and take the test until they really started getting picky about things like that.
            “The Nat had the drawing and we didn’t win.  The guys didn’t want to go home right away, so we went walking around the park, played a few games and went on a few of the rides.  Me and Glenna were in our dresses, spiked heels, the works, and the guys thought it’d be fun to send us off, then, with a bunch of people around, come up and be real loud about trying to pick us up.  So that’s what we did.  The boys would come up, ‘Hey dolls, you wanna go for drinks or something?’  We’d yell something smart back at them.  Everyone around would look.  Homer and Owen just seemed to get the biggest bang out of doing that again and again — long after Glenna and me had gotten a bit tired of it.
            “It was pretty late when the men finally wore down.  But they still didn’t want to go home.  So we stopped by Knight’s Diner for something to eat.


            “We lined up on the stools at the counter.  The cook was the only guy there.  He was big — fat, but still good sized underneath all the fat.  And his apron was covered with grease.  It looked as if he’d been using his apron to wipe his hands.
            “So we we're eating our food.  And the boys, still feeling their booze, got to popping wisecracks ‘bout the cook’s apron.
            “Then Homer finally said a little too much.  Now I’d suspect the cook, working nightshift in a place like that, was used to drunks.  Still, you could tell he had pretty much had enough guff for the night.  So the cook growled back, ‘You eat your stuff and get the hell out of here, ‘for I throw you out!’         
            “Owen stands up, throws his leg up on the counter like he’s gonna crawl over, and challenges, ‘You just try it!’
            “The cook shoots back, ‘And you, — you little squirt!  I’ll just mop the floor up with you!’
            “Owen, looking really proud as to how clever he’s being, says, ‘If you want to mop the floor up with something, why don’t you use that filthy apron of yours.’  And the cook comes charging around the end of the counter.
            “Now the cook was right when he called Owen little.  Neither of the boys was particularly big.  But they were hard workers.  They tossed brick, shoveled coal, things like that all day.  Owen had been working six-day-weeks at the plant.  On his time off he’d been clearing land so we could get enough tillable acreage to make the farm work.  So the boys were all muscle.  But both were also ‘bout three sheets to the wind, and me and Glenna decided they needed some protecting.   We jump out front.  Each of us yanks off a shoe and holds it drawed back with the spike heel pointing forward.  And I say, ‘You wanna get to our men, you’ll have to go through us first!’
            “The cook stops.  He looks at us.  He looks at the boys.  He just shakes his head.  ‘Would you guys get the hell out of here?’  He more pleads than demands.  ‘Don’t mind about paying.  Just get the hell out!’
            “So we got kicked out of the Knight's Diner.  We got our suppers for free.  And thinking about it afterwards, I got so embarrassed I’ve never gone back.  Fifty some years later and I still haven’t gone back.”
            The farm was sold and the folk moved closer to Spokane in the early 1970s.  A few years after the sale, Dad passed away.
            I should point out that I only saw my dad tipsy twice; otherwise his drinking was moderate and well-tempered.  He’d buy three or four bottles of Four Roses or Jim Beam a year — whichever the liquor store in the back of Deer Park’s Western Auto might have on sale — and even then limit himself to one shot-glass a day.
            And as for whether Mom would have actually used that spiked heel to protect Dad from Dad’s own inebriated misjudgment?  Mom had been raised an orphan.  Now that she had a family, she’d developed quite a protective attitude.  And as she had demonstrated before, if she figured violence was necessary, it was likely the fur would fly.  So if he had not stopped, would she have gone ahead and planted the heel of her dress-up shoe in that angry cook?  Of that we have no doubt.

Monday, November 14, 2011

SpoCon 2011: Meandering ... Part Four



SpoCon 2011:
Meandering Through Spokane’s Home Grown
Science Fiction
&
Fantasy Convention

by

Wally Lee Parker




(all rights to this material retained by the author)


Part Four
“When you’re writing urban fantasy, you need to ground it in a specific place.” 

            As noted before, probably the main drawing card for the wife and I was the appearance of novelist Patricia Briggs.  Currently a resident of Washington State, she’s located her bestselling ‘Mercy Thompson’ urban fantasy series along the state’s southeastern border, in the dry-lands plateau towns of Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco — locally known as the Tri-Cities.  Though we’d missed our first opportunity to see her on the convention’s opening day, late the next morning Patricia was scheduled to have her portrait painted by the artist responsible for all the dustcovers used on her Mercedes Thompson novels, Dan Dos Santos.  An hour and a half had been set aside for what the convention’s pocket guide described as an “interview and chat.”
            The designated room was not large.  So — to insure we’d find a good spot — we dropped in on the prior event — a panel discussion titled “Classic Sci-Fi You Might Have Missed & the Importance of It” — and claimed some space on the cushy upholstered bench lining the back wall.
            Once the panel had finished giving us their opinions on a wide range of sci-fi literature, they left the room and a young fellow I assumed to be one of the convention’s staff carried a tripod mounted spotlight in and began adjusting the beam toward a chair he’d placed down front.  I guess the quality of the highly realistic artwork appearing on the covers of Patricia’s novels had me expecting something else.  So it came as a bit of a surprise when I figured out that the kid adjusting the light was the artist.
            Patricia came in and sat in the indicated chair.  Santos positioned his own chair and easel so we could see over his shoulder as he worked.  Once the two had agreed on a pose the writer could hold for a prolonged period, Dan began to sketch and the two began to talk to each other as well as take questions from the audience.


            As a brush of dark lines began to trace across the white canvas, one of the viewers asked Dan why he was holding his brush “that way” — holding the brush’s wooden barrel at the very tip.
            As the artist explained, “When I have a project going, I need to force myself to work.  You can’t be a professional artist and only work when the urge hits you.  If I have a commission, I allot myself no more than two weeks to get it done, and that means I’m spending a lot of time at the easel.  So one of the things I have to consider is fatigue.  Here I am doing the basic portions of this portrait.  That means I have to be far enough away from the canvas that I can see both the subject and the lines I’m laying down at the same time — I have to be far enough away from the canvas that I can judge the proportions, the relationships, of all the lines accurately.  If I choke my grip toward the bristles, I either have to extend my arm out straight, or pull my shoulder in very close to the canvas.  The further back I can grip the brush and still have the necessary control, the less I have to extend my arm and the less fatiguing it becomes.  I do tend to move forward on the brush and closer to the canvas as I move into finer and finer details.  But I still as a rule want to remain as far back as reasonable.”


            Regarding the working relationship between a cover artist and novelist, Patricia said, “Usually the publisher doesn’t want the two getting together to discuss a cover beforehand.”
            “The writer doesn’t get much to say about the cover,” Dan added.  “That’s because the author doesn’t always know what’s best for sales.”
            “That’s a nice way of putting it,” Patricia laughed.  “I was at a writer’s conference and one of the authors was complaining about their latest cover.  And I had to agree that it was really, really bad.  When asked what he would have done different, the writer gave the group his ideas and they were much, much worse.”
            Dan noted, “If I’m doing the cover for a book and a copy of the text is available, I’ll read it.  Otherwise I ask the publisher for a detailed synopsis.”
            Patty added, “For pretty much the whole Mercy Thompson series, Dan’s been doing the covers before I actually write the book.  So I look at Dan’s covers, then I write.”
            That brought a laugh — and a question of whether a writer can choose the cover artist.
            “Generally the writer’s not asked,” Patty replied.  “Dan did the first of Mercy’s covers.  When that book took off, the publisher started paying more attention to what I wanted and I was able to ask that the next cover be done by Dan too.”
            When asked why she set the novels in Washington State, Briggs answered, “Because I live there.”  And that brought another laugh.
            “When you’re writing urban fantasy,” she explained, “you need to ground it in a specific place.  My obvious options were either Spokane or Seattle.  We all know Seattle is a great place for cafés.  And now that a number of novelist have proven it a good place for vampires and werewolves too, I started thinking about the novelty of the Tri-Cities.
            “The Tri-Cities has the nuclear reservation and the umpteen agencies involved with that.  We have several Indian reservations nearby (the Yakama reservation to the west and the Umatilla Indian Reservation — a confederation of the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla tribes – to the east/southeast).  And we have the rivers (the confluence of the Snake and Columbia).  We have all that neat stuff.
            “Walking into the Tri-Cities is like walking into a Wal-Mart,” Patricia went on.  “It feels very much like suburban middle-American.  It feels very Anglo Saxon Protestant.  But that’s not at all true.
            “Richland has one of the highest per capita PHD rates of any city in the United States.  And you can hear just about any language you want in the Tri-Cities.  There’s a huge Spanish speaking population and quite a few East Indians too.  Then the Russians, Laotians, Chinese and Japanese.  It’s just an amalgam that the casual visitor doesn’t seem to see.  I think any community so successful at covering up its true nature — in lying about itself — would also lie about a resident subculture of werewolves and vampires.  That’s why I made the Tri-Cities the grounding for my Mercy Thompson novels.”
             Patricia added that casting Mercy as a working-class protagonist — as a Volkswagen mechanic — seems to add extra tension to the stories since the lead character also has to include the everyday minutia of making a living in her list of challenges.
            And as for challenges, Patricia was asked for a comment regarding the vampires’ daylight twinkling effect in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.  In essence she replied that since there were no real vampires to reference, each writer had the right to alter the current mythology to fit their own premise.  Whether or not those alterations were acceptable to vampire fans would be determined by the readers.  In the case of the Twilight series, that determination seemed fairly evident.
            Then Patricia specifically noted, “From the perspective of a plot device, I think making her vampires daylight tolerant was a very smart move.”  She went on to suggest that the traditional reaction vampires have to daylight gives humans a tremendous advantage over them.  Making the vampires capable of daywalking with their only worry being that of discovery not only rebalances that power in favor of the vampires, it also allows the vampires to socialize with humans in a much broader swath of ways, and that adds greatly to the potential intricacies available within the various plots.
            The portrait took almost two hours.  Before leaving the conference room, both Patricia Briggs and Danial Dos Santos took time to sign my wife’s copy of the author’s latest Mercy Thompson novel, River Marked.

My wife Pat and Patricia Briggs.

My wife Pat collecting a autograph from artist Dan Dos Santos.

Danial Dos Santos


            We left the Doubletree Hotel Sunday morning before the clock on our room ran out.  There were still a few people running through the lobby in Lyrca Spandex, though the fan population had obviously started dropping well before the coming afternoon’s closing ceremony.
            SpoCon later reported over one thousand had registered for 2011’s three day event, and planning was well underway for 2012.

From the 9th floor of the Doubletree Hotel - looking southwest.

From the 9th floor - overlooking Riverfront Park.


… this series is concluded …

Jump to Part #1 of SpoCon 2011.
Jump to Part #2 of SpoCon 2011.
Jump to Part #3 of SpoCon 2011.

Email comments, concerns, corrections, and additional data to bogwenreportonline@gmail.com.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Leno Prestini Files # 4: Several Lost Years Between The 7th & 8th Grade



The Leno Prestini Files #4:
Several Lost Years Between The 7th & 8th Grade

by

Wally Lee Parker


            Perhaps the best source regarding Leno Prestini’s education is a set of recollections penned some years after Leno’s death by his older brother, Battista.  Because these handwritten notes do not set out a firm timeline, there have been some ongoing questions as to how much public schooling Leno actually received.  Several documents recently donated to the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society appear to shed some light on this.
            It’s believed the Prestini family settled in the small but still growing town of Clayton in the latter part of 1911 or beginning of 1912.  Since Leno’s February 4, 1906, birthdate indicates he would have turned 6 before the beginning of the 1912/13 school year, it’s probable that Leno would have entered his first year of school at Clayton.  Battista, with a birthdate of September 24, 1904, would have turned 8 just after the start of the 1912/13 school year, so could have been enrolled in the second grade which would be consistent with him finishing the 8th grade a few months after his father’s death in 1919.  The 1915, 1916, and 1919 school census forms for Clayton the only ones currently available do place both boys at the school, but don’t indicate which grades they were in.
            In 1915 Clayton dedicated its imposing new red brick schoolhouse.  This new building served students from the first grade through high school though the upper school was eliminated in the late 1930s.
            As for the period after Luigi Prestini’s death in the early spring of 1919, Battista writes, “Continued to attend school, but mother very depressed and unhappy.  My school work became more and more difficult.  Failed English in 8th grade test.  But was allowed to go into high school.”
            Apparently speaking of the time immediately after his father’s death, Battista writes, “Condition got more and more hectic, so went to plant (Washington Brick & Lime’s Clayton factory) and got job as water boy first summer.”
            If Battista were speaking of the first summer after his father’s death, he would have been 15 years old.
            We’ve been assuming the brick plant would have been prohibited either by state law or its own policies from hiring workers under the age of 16 for industrial work, though this may not have applied to the non-industrial position of water boy (assuming that was a recognized company job).  However, since I’ve yet to obtain any firm documentation regarding the facts of either state law or company policy during this time period, any assumptions regarding such must remain speculation.
            Battista then goes on to state, “That fall knew I couldn’t pass exams, so got a job in brickyard for $1.50 per day.”  Since Clayton offered classes through grade 12, it’s likely Battista is saying he tried high school but found the classes too difficult.
            Of the two documents recently obtained by the C/DPHS, the first is a “Certificate of Promotion” awarded to Leno Prestini on the 26th of May, 1919.  The certificate states that Leno had completed the “study prescribed” for the seventh grade, and is “now eligible for promotion” to the eighth grade.  So though we “believe” Battista was in the eighth grade when Luigi Prestini died on March 19, 1919, we know as fact that Leno was in the seventh.

Image from the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society collection.

            Battista wrote, “I tried to keep Leno going to school but he too finally dropped out,” which implies that Leno quit school after the beginning of the 1919/1920 school year, either before or after Battista had dropped out to start working in the brickyard.
            The second donated document is titled “Common Schools of the State of Washington, Certificate of Graduation.”  This states, “This certifies that Leno Prestini of District No. 159 (Clayton), County of Stevens, has passed a creditable examination in the subjects of the first eight years of the Common School Course, has maintained a high standing in deportment, and is therefore granted this Certificate of Graduation.”  It’s dated the 16th of June, 1922.

Image from the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society collection.

            “Common School” is simply a 19th century term for what we would call a public school today.
            As for whether Leno went back to school to complete the eighth grade or took an equivalence test for that year instead, that could likely be determined by comparing this “Common Schools” certificate to those awarded to other Clayton primary graduates that year.  Whichever, since Leno turned 16 in 1922, it’s assumed he went to work at Clayton’s terra cotta soon after his eighth grade graduation and/or the awarding of the above noted certificate.
             Dates of employment become important in light of a further missive by Battista that relates the details of Leno’s first attempt at suicide.  Battista wrote, “I was working in the terra cotta pressing tile by piecework and I asked him to come and work with me.  He had a bad nervous spell a short time before and attempted suicide …”   If Leno first went to work at the terra cotta in 1922, it would suggest the above noted suicide attempt occurred after his midyear graduation from the eighth grade and while he was still just 16 years old.
            What we need now is some firm documentation placing Leno as an employ at Clayton’s terra cotta in 1922.  The best source for that is temporarily unavailable, so confirmation will have to wait.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Leno Prestini Files #3: Letters Looking For A Translator



The Leno Prestini Files #3:
Letters Looking For A Translator
by
Wally Lee Parker


            The objective of The Leno Prestini Files #1, 2, and 3 is to obtain English translations of a set of what we believe to be historically significant letters exchange between Leno Prestini’s parents, Luigi (Louis) and Caterina, at the onset of 1919.  (Though there’s a chance the letters returned to Caterina may have been written by someone else – possibly Luigi’s brother Ferdinando (Fred)).  These missives were handwritten in what appears to be Italian.  Any assistance anyone is able to provide would be gratefully appreciated by both this blog and by the designated caretaker of these documents, the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society.

Several methods can be used to comment on or ask questions
regarding the materials posted on this page

            Emails regarding this blog can be sent to bogwenreportonline@gmail.com.
            This blog has a comment link at the bottom of each entry. Any comments posted here will be held for review before being pasted to the site. It appears that this comment system is not fully reliable in that several people have reported posting messages that never appeared for my review. When commenting though this link, make sure the system indicates that your message has been saved.
            The Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society can be contacted via the email links provided at http://www.cdphs.org/contact-us.html. If you choose this route, your mail should be forwarded to either the society’s president, Bill Sebright, or to the society’s editor, Sharon Clark.
             Snail-mail can be sent to The Bogwen Report, 6904 N. Stevens, Spokane, WA 99208, or The Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society, Box 293, Clayton, Washington 99110.

Regarding reproduction of these images

            The images on this page, unless otherwise noted, are the property of the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society. Requests to repost or otherwise publish these images in any manner other than as printouts for personal, educational, or research use should be directed to the Editor of Print Publications, Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society, Box 293, Clayton, Washington 99110.

Item # 5
Letter of March 6, 1919



This envelope contained a single page covered on both sides.


Item a


Item b - reverse of a


Item # 6
Letter of March 9, 1919



And this final envelope contained two pieces of paper, one covered with words, the other a ripped page with only one side penciled is loose script.  This carries a date just 10 days prior to Luigi Prestini's death.  There is no indication of a postmark over the stamp - suggesting the letter was never mailed.


Item a



Item b - reverse of a


Item c


This concludes the three article “Letters Looking for a Translator” series.

Jump to Part # 1 of this Article.
Jump to Part # 2 of this Article.

Email comments, concerns, corrections, and additional data to bogwenreportonline@gmail.com.

The Leno Prestini Files #2: Letters Looking For a Translator



The Leno Prestini Files #2:
Letters Looking For a Translator

by

Wally Lee Parker


            The objective of The Leno Prestini Files #1, 2, and 3 is to obtain English translations of a set of what we believe to be historically significant letters exchanged between Leno Prestini’s parents, Luigi (Louis) and Caterina, at the onset of 1919.  (Though there’s a chance the letters returned to Caterina may have been written by someone else – possibly Luigi’s brother Ferdinando (Fred)).  These missives were handwritten in what appears to be Italian.  Any assistance anyone is able to provide in translating these letters would be gratefully appreciated by both this blog and by the designated caretaker of these documents, the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society.

Several methods can be used to comment on or ask questions
regarding the materials posted on this page

            Emails regarding this blog can be sent to bogwenreportonline@gmail.com.
            This blog has a comment link at the bottom of each entry. Any comments posted here will be held for review before being pasted to the site. It appears that this comment system is not fully reliable in that several people have reported posting messages that never appeared for my review. When commenting though this link, make sure the system indicates that your message has been saved.
            The Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society can be contacted via the email links provided at http://www.cdphs.org/contact-us.html. If you choose this route, your mail should be forwarded to either the society’s president, Bill Sebright, or to the society’s editor, Sharon Clark.
             Snail-mail can be sent to The Bogwen Report, 6904 N. Stevens, Spokane, WA 99208, or The Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society, Box 293, Clayton, Washington 99110.

Regarding reproduction of these images

            The images on this page, unless otherwise noted, are the property of the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society. Requests to repost or otherwise publish these images in any manner other than as printouts for personal, educational, or research use should be directed to the Editor of Print Publications, Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society, Box 293, Clayton, Washington 99110.

Item # 3
Letter of March 3, 1919




This envelope contains one sheet of paper written on both sides.
The message inside appears to be signed by Caterina.

Item a

Item b


Item # 4
Letter of March 6, 1919



The contents of this letter consists of one full size page, writing on both side, signed by Caterina; one smaller note written on one side only; and one sheet of paper with edges torn away from both sides – a small notation on one side and a set of scale-like marks in pencil on the reverse.

Item a

Item b - reverse of item a

Item c

Item d

Item e - reverse of item d


... to be continued ...



Email comments, concerns, corrections, and additional data to bogwenreportonline@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Leno Prestini Files #1: Letters Looking for a Translator



The Leno Prestini Files #1:
Letters Looking For a Translator
 by
 Wally Lee Parker

            The Prestini files are intended as a series of research blogs designed to explore various aspects of the life of Clayton, Washington, artist Leno Prestini.  Leno was born in Besano, Italy, in early February of 1906.  A few months later his father, Luigi, left for America.  Two years after that in late April of 1908 Leno’s mother brought Leno and his older brother Battista to the United States by steamship.  After Ellis Island, the three traveled to Barre, Vermont, where Leno’s father was employed as a stonecutter.
            The family is believed to have relocated to Spokane, Washington, in 1911, and then north to the small town of Clayton in 1912.
            The six letters reproduced in this and subsequent “Prestini Files” appear to have been exchanged between Luigi Prestini and his wife, Caterina.  The letters are dated from February 21, through March 9, of 1919.  Luigi died ten days after the last indicated date.  As such these letters may supply more revealing insights into the nature of Luigi’s illness, and the relationship between Luigi and his wife.
            After 92 years or repeated handling, we cannot guarantee that the contents of each envelope are still original to that envelope.  Luckily most of the letters carry their own date on the header.
            These letters were found inside a locked trunk purchased at an estate sale held at the Prestini family’s Clayton home sometime after the death of the last member of the original family Battista.  Recollections place that sale “Sometime in the early 1980s.”  On July 26, 2011, John and Pat Colliver, the trunk’s original purchasers, donated these letters along with the rest of the trunk’s catch of photographs, postcards, certificates, and other assorted items to the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society.
            As you will quickly realize, these letters are handwritten in Italian.  My purpose in posting them is to solicit translations and discussions of their contents.  If translations are received, they’ll be added to the blog for further comment and discussion.

Several methods can be used to comment on or ask questions about
the materials posted on this page:

            Emails regarding this blog can be sent to bogwenreportonline@gmail.com.
            This blog has a comment link at the bottom of each entry. Any comments posted here will be held for review before being pasted to the site. It appears that this comment system is not fully reliable in that several people have reported posting messages that never appeared for my review. When commenting though this link, make sure the system indicates that your message has been saved.
            The Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society can be contacted via the email links provided at http://www.cdphs.org/contact-us.html.  Emails should be forwarded to either the society’s president, Bill Sebright, or to the society’s editor, Sharon Clark.
             Snail-mail can be sent to The Bogwen Report, 6904 N. Stevens, Spokane, WA 99208, or The Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society, Box 293, Clayton, Washington 99110.
            Anyone preferring that their message not be posted or published should clearly indicate such.  Otherwise all original intellectual materials submitted will be considered uncompensated donations to both the Bogwen Report and the Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society.
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Item # 1
Letter of February 21, 1919


This letter contains a short note and several receipts.  This is the only letter without extensive writing.  The facsimiles reproduce here show both sides of the artifacts when something of possible interest is on the reverse.
Item a

Item b

Item c - reverse of item b

Item d
Item e - reverse of item d

Item # 2
Letter of February 26, 1919



The evidence indicates Luigi’s fatal illness began with stomach surgery and progressed into pneumonia.  The sanatorium at 2404 W. 2nd Ave. in Spokane still exists – as an apartment building.

Item a
Item b - reverse of item a