On Saturday, March 9, Hoquiam’s 7th St. Theatre will present a special premier of the historical documentary “Grays Harbor Happenings: The Newsreels of C.D. Anderson,” produced by the University of Washington Libraries in partnership with the 7th Street Theatre Association, the Aberdeen Museum of History and the Polson Museum.
The documentary, screening of some of the actual newsreels and live presentations on the project will take place at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the 7th St. Theatre Association, the Aberdeen History Museum and the Polson Museum.
A few years ago, a cardboard box of 35mm nitrate films was discovered in a commercial storage unit in Seattle. They were given to the UW Libraries Special Collections. It was very clear that urgent preservation was needed to save the deteriorating films. As they were being preserved, it was discovered that the 53 films were amateur newsreels, mostly showing small town life in Grays Harbor County from over 80 years ago. The original films provided years (from 1925 to 1933) and descriptions, but no details.
Roy Vataja, a local historian and long-time volunteer at the Aberdeen Museum of History, spent countless hours researching newspaper articles at the Aberdeen library and consulting Polk directories for information about these films.
John Larson of the Polson Museum, Dann Sears of the Aberdeen Museum, John Hughes, former publisher of the Daily World and chief historian of the Legacy Project, and local businessmen and historians Tom Quigg and George Donovan helped provide historical information about the films.
“I haven’t seen the film yet,” said Hughes, “who also did some narration and scene-setting for the film, “but the newsreels are pretty extraordinary. “By all accounts it’s another amazing University of Washington Archives production.”
The newsreels contain footage from numerous events including a marriage at the Grays Harbor County Fair, the sinking of the tugboat Harbor Queen in the Hoquiam River, Aberdeen-Hoquiam football games, a huge public gathering and barbecue, the opening of the Aberdeen-Willapa Highway, Aberdeen Fire Department drills, cows herded through Elma and the grand opening of Finch Playfield (featuring Edward Finch).
“You see some historice figures, walking, moving aroind and being alive,” Hughes said. “It’s one thing to see a still picture that tells a thousand words, it’s another altogether to see an actual newsreel.”
At 7th St. Theatre, doors open at 1:30 p.m. for the 2 p.m. presentation and at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event. All seats are $7 and tickets will be available at the door. Advance tickets are available at City Drug in Aberdeen, Harbor Drug in Hoquiam, and online at www.harbor.brownpapertickets.com. For more information call (360) 537-7400 or check the theater’s website at www.7thstreettheatre.com.