File this one as another Alan Falls Down A Slender Thread of Web Connections and Wants To Scream “ISN’T THIS AMAZING?”

In all the ways the web has become, for those under 25, something that has always been there, and hence not a technology’ it’s not viral big trending stuff or the oft tweeted videos that I enjoy the most. It’s the small little bits that few likely every see.

I walk the web regularly, as my favorite form of exercise.

While visiting Nancy White in Seattle, this morning I took a walk for coffee and just looking around the Ravenna area, 65th Street is one of the arteries with all shop fronts. While aiming for a stop at Oasis Bagel (recommend), I happened to look up, and marvel at this small bit of architectural detail you do not see as a style on modern stucco structures:

Schumacher Baked Here
Schumacher Baked Here flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The mosaic style caught my eye, as did somewhat of a throwback to pixelated text, but I also wondered “Who is W.F. Schumacher”? How much could I find out? The doorway below this was closed, and had a plate with names and buzzers. Now it is a multi-unit residence.

But what was it before?

Googling on “W.F. Schumacher” got a mess of things, and adding “Seattle” narrowed me to a newspaper advertisement in the September 15, 1947 Jewish transcript newspaper

tastie bakery

Why are there digitized copies of ads from newspapers almost 70 years old? That are seemingly indexed for search results? I have no idea, but it makes me giddy.

So now I think W.F. ran a bakery. There’s the address, pop that into Google Maps… and I am right where I was this morning. Here’s the map, and you can see the sign archway in the Streetview image, right between Zeek’s Pizza and Oasis Bagel

bakery map

That was about 3 minutes of effort.

Now that I know the name of the bakery, that gives me more to look for, so I google on Tastie Home Bakery Seattle, and first hit is a flickr image, a historical photo of 65th Street from 1955.

In the comments you find more memory bits from people who grew up in this neighborhood.

This is a creative commons licensed historical photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives. Would the internet designed by commercial interests have provided this platform? (cough). There is even a link to the full data record in the archives, where there are more gold flakes:

E. 65th business district [at Ravenna Ave.]. Note narrow conjested street. [CF 226301 Petition of Ira Miller regarding zoning at E. 65th and 25th NE. (Albertson”s).]

Who was Ira Miller? If I went down that web thread, who would know where I’d end up?

But I can compare that to a view now from Google Streetview; this appears to be just east of 65th Street and Revenna, looking down to the right (past the traffic light at Ravenna) would be W.F. Schumacher and Sons bakery

street view

I even played a bit with my Comparator Tool to make a before / after widget for these photos (Not quite registered correctly, that’s much harder than it looks!).

And I then found the obituary for “Baker Bill” Schumacher, who died in June 1999:

baker bill

Schumacher’s Bakery was there for decades, and he was baking until the end.

Tall and tough, he was working at a bake table and teaching baking when he died.

Mr. Schumacher, who was 86, suffered a stroke Wednesday (June 9) at the Maltby Cafe northeast of Woodinville. He had worked at the cafe since 1994. Financial problems forced the sale of his namesake shop.

“He was a master baker,” said cafe co-owner Tana Baumler. “He had specialties, like lemon angel-food cake and raisin bread.

“He was baking French rolls when he fell. Someone caught him. He couldn’t talk. . . . After we finally got him (in a chair), I realized he was pointing to the oven. He wanted us to take out the French rolls.”

Baker Bill was not all about baking the dough, he was an avid water skier:

In the 1940s, he and friends started a water-skiing club on Lake Washington. They wore black tennis shoes nailed to cedar slats.

The accomplished baker became an accomplished water-skiing racer and hot-dogger. He could carry two people on his shoulders. His group even gave demonstrations.

He once water-skied from Seattle to Anacortes. He also had been towed by a seaplane and by the Slo-Mo-Shun IV hydroplane. He won a national championship in the 1950s.

He last water-skied at age 85.

Woah– “black tennis shoes nailed to cedar slats”

Do they even make people like that anymore?

He made his living at baking but saw returns drop as the cost of sugar skyrocketed. He didn’t have the heart to raise prices dramatically.

What a ride I enjoyed skittering across the web, just from the start of a name on a building.

How many portals of history and information do you zoom past every day?

The journey starts with a single click.


Featured image:

2014/365/169 It Is Just The Web, That's It and Everything
2014/365/169 It Is Just The Web, That’s It and Everything flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. What a fun ride! That 1955 shot is the dreary Seattle of my earliest memories of it. My family lives on either side of the Cascades, which divides the state into the east ‘light side,’ and west is referred to as ‘The Dark Side.’

    Whenever one of us four kids got on the Honor Roll, we earned a dinner out in Seattle alone with the parents–a three hour drive ‘over the hump’ from Wenatchee to Seattle–and we got to choose the restaurant.

    I remember choosing Ivar’s seafood on the dock, which was just a walk up in those days with some picnic tables on the wharf behind a windscreen.

    The Seattle World’s Fair began to change the city into the vibrant, colorful neighborhoods you experienced in the Ravenna district. And if my dad were still alive and treating me upon an accomplishment such as finishing a Coursera MOOC :), he’d have to dig pretty deep to afford my Seattle restaurant of choice now.

    Thanks for spidery skitter across the interwebz and then down the rabbit hole of memory.

  2. Man, that was a good bakery. When the retail shop closed (there is still a tiny sliver of bakery in the newer building to the east but just wholesale), I was sad.

  3. Wow! Thanks for the post. I am second daughter of Baker Bill and remember it all! I have even been to grandfather’s home in Germany where it all started. I am so interested in ancestry that I will be hosting Queen Mary 2 for 7 nights beginning November 4th. Join us if interested. Call me at Cruise & Travel Experts. 800-632-3659

    1. Thanks for writing, Bonnie. I admit I was almost skeptical because of the pitch for the cruise, but I see reading the old article about your Dad that you certainly have the name of his daughter. So I’ll trust ya.

  4. Thank you for this amazing tribute to my dad! I am Baker Bill’s fourth daughter, and was 18 when he passed away. While I only have very early memories of the bakery, it is stories like these, from people who remember it so fondly, that warm my heart and keep his memory alive!

  5. I was the head pastry chef at Shumachers in the early 80’s. Baker Bill was in semi-retirement and Billy Jr. was running the bakery in the last 10 years or so. We called him Bill Sr. and he was jaw dropping to watch work. I learned more from him than anyone else in my career. I miss those days so very much. I still have every pastry and cake recipe in my head after all these years. But what was most impressive about him was that he was a genuinely a good man. I hope he is somewhere making cinnamon rolls…

  6. I am not sure what drove me to look up my dad on line again today, but I really do miss him. I was going over some pictures, etc. from two segments of a World Cruise I escorted in 1999 (the year he passed away). The day before I left, he came into my office with some “Noni Juice” he wanted me to have some daily so I would stay healthy. I took it with me, but never drank it. Dad was a health nut. He was a master baker but rarely ate what he baked. I watched him time and time again take a taste of what he baked, just to make sure it was perfect but he then tossed it away. Prior to joining our granddad in the bakery, he was manager of Carnation Ice Creamery. I love ice cream and know he is the reason and the answer to my addiction. We took piano lessons near the bakery on Friday afternoons and when we returned, dad would be making ice cream. My favorite was a peach. He would see me coming and he would fill a cone and hand it to me. Loved that, but not so much the piano lessons. Mom (Vienna) had all four of us take lessons but she really did not get a pianist out of us. Every time I drive down 65th in Seattle, I am relieved to see Wm. F. Schumacher on grandpa’s building. It is my heritage and I love it. Next goal is to find my grandmother Annie Clark Schumacher’s home in Aberdeen, Scotland where she was born. I have been to Kirkwall where she grew up but since she passed away when I was only a year old, I did not have much information. ancestry.com is a great source in helping anyone find their heritage.

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