Issaquah’s First Metro Ride
January 3, 1973
By Harriet Fish
In mamy ways this picture may remind you of the ene in last week’s column. Really they are a continent apart in location, but only a year or two in time. This is a twelve-passenger Stanley Steamer, also a non-polluter and very quiet in function, simply emitting a “fitta-fitta” as the piston worked. Lorenzo Francis, owner, operator and driver of the “stage” is at the wheel. He has a fair payload and some sidewalk superintendents as well.
Standing on the newly poured cement sidewalk is Tommy Gibson, left, the mechanic who kept the stage running, and who was later on to become one of Issaquah’s mayors. On his left is a chap by the name of Mike Castle.
Front Street at this time was still dirt and the raw cement edges of the sidewalks are very apparent. The Pastime, Palace of Sweets stood then on the site of the present Union Tavern on the west side of Front Street. From the signs, in addition to confections, they sold cigars and Copenhagen. We wonder if they issued trade tokens too.
This picture postcard has been found in two different collections here in town. Tommy Franck, nephew of Lorenzo has one, as has Ruth Anderson, whose father ran the grocery store across the street from this photo in the lower level of the Odd Fellows Hall. One of the pictures was very light and one was very dark. This photo is taken from the underexposed one which also happened to have been folded where the cracked line appears. However, the faces of the ten men and one woman were more recognizable in this one.
The very erect gentleman on the left of the driver is presumed to be one of the German officials of the coal mine on Mine Hill. These men were reputed to wear derby hats, be of military training and stature and always sat beside the driver in the front seat, during the trips to Seattle.
Directly behind Lorenzo is his brother Will Francis and some people have thought the man behind the lady is Jack Francis. Bob Lindsey is the taller boy leaning on the vehicle and the last man on the left in the far back seat had the last name of McLaughlin.
The western version of high style of the period, is much tempered by comparison to the elegance of the l910 styles in the New York picture. But then, styles of living and 3500 miles can make a difference. 0ne similarity is very noticeable-in both pictures, 100% of the people have hats on.
Besides being noiseless, this Stanley Steamer had carbide headlights, which, according to Minnie Schomber, always failed on the darkest of nights. The cylinder which supplied the carbide fuel is shown fastened to the running board between the two young men. The pair of carriage-type side lamps of brass were fueled by kerosene.
The story goes that if the local young people wished a ride in the stage, they had to wash it and polish the brass fixtures first. One of the predecessors of this steamer was a 1909 E.M.F. and had the highly descriptive nlckname of Every Morning Fixum. Indeed all automotive equipment of this period was laid up a high percentage of the time with mechanical failure.
The garage for storage, repair and fueling of this vehicle and others before and after it, was behind the Bellevue Hotel on the southwest corner of Front South and Sunset, where the Gulf gas station stands. Tommy Gibson, the mechanic, lived just a house away where his family had a grocery store on the street level and a rooming house up stairs.
We are told that this bus had been used on the Mount Rainier circuit before coming to Issaquah. Do you suppose the long top, now so neatly “booted” in a down position, was a two, four or six man job to put up when it rained?