Seattle Western Union Messengers, 1937

by Tom on April 8, 2012 · 4 comments

in bike history,Pic of the day,Seattle

Love this photo from Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.

This 1937 photo shows six Western Union messengers and their bicycles in downtown Seattle. They are standing on the sidewalk in front of the telegraph office at 113 Cherry Street. The messengers are Tom Chaffee, Abbott Van Hise, William Riley, Ralph Weller, Everett Olds, and Charles Biggs.
Photographer: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Staff Photographer

Just 75 years ago the quick way to get information was to have a bicycle delivery man bring you a telegraph. Today you can Google Street View this exact spot from the comfort of your couch!

(And there used to be free one-hour parking in downtown Seattle? Boy, those were the days!)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance Johnson April 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Awesome picture. My grandfather was a bike messenger for Western Union in Portland, OR during this time period. He told me about the spiffy uniform he got to wear and how he spent $40 on his bike at the Meier & Frank department store downtown. He also told me about how he collided with a streetcar in the rain but didn’t get injured.

Tom May 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I love it! Thanks for your comment Lance.

Walt Mills May 19, 2014 at 8:43 am

Good Morning,
My name is Walt Mills, and this is a long shot.
I am researching a book on twin brothers from Klamath Falls Oregon, who enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1941 and were both shot down over Europe in late 1942.
Their names were Darwin and Erwin Wissenback, and the both survived the War.
Do you know if Western Union have handled the situation of their family in Klamath Falls being notified of their MIA status. If so, would a bike messenger have delivered these messages. Also, was Klamath Falls a big enough town to have it’s own Western Union office with bike messengers?
Both men had remarkable experiences in these years.
Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.
Walt Mills

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