Monday, March 23, 2009


A young botanist from Centralia
Decided to fuck an azalea,
But quickly he came in
Its pistil and stamen
(FYI, that's a flower's genitalia).

Centralia, WA (pop. 14,742 in 2000) is located on I-5 in Lewis County in southwestern Washington, approximately 25 miles south of Olympia (Wikipedia). Its founder was a man named George Washington, born in 1817, the son of a slave and a white serving girl (Phillips). In 1850, Washington moved west in an attempt to avoid the laws that discriminated against him (HistoryLink). Even so, he was not legally able to stake a claim in the site that would be Centralia, as it was illegal for African Americans to settle property in the Oregon Territory, which at the time included all of Washington (ibid). He was forced to have the white couple who had raised him file for him, and was only able to claim ownership four years later when the Washington Territory had been created (ibid). In 1875, George Washington and his new wife Mary Jane Washington officially founded the town, which they called Centerville (ibid). Its name was later changed to Centralia in order to avoid confusion with another town in Washington named Centerville (Phillips).

On November 11th, 1919, on the first anniversary of the end of World War One and therefore the first Armistice Day, a violent conflict occurred between members of the Legionnaires and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) that would come to be known as the Centralia Massacre. For years tensions had been mounting between the IWW and the conservative citizens of Centralia, who viewed the IWW as subversive and unpatriotic. After being the subject of much harassment and several violent attacks, the IWW was certain that the Armistice Day parade would be used as an opportunity to raid their hall. Therefore, the Wobblies consulted a sympathetic lawyer, who told them they would legally be allowed to defend themselves if they were attacked. They therefore decided to arm themselves with concealed guns. When members of the Centralia Legionnaires forced their way into the Wobblies' hall, a gunfight ensued that left three Legionnaires dead. One member of the IWW, Wesley Everest, was cornered by several Legionnaires while attempting an escape . When one held a gun to him and demanded his surrender, Everest shot and killed him. Everest was captured and thrown in jail. That night, a group came to the jail and demanded the keys to all the cells. They took Everest to a nearby bridge, where he was hanged, shot and left. Most other Wobblies who had been present at the incident were convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to 25-40 years in prison. Washington quickly made membership in the IWW illegal and the Centralia Massacre helped fuel the rising Red Scare of the 1920s (all from The Centralia Massacre).

On a lighter note, Centralia is home to two restaurants that are very near and dear to my heart. The first is the historic Olympic Club. Founded in 1908 as a "gentlemen's resort" full of drinking and gambling, it transitioned seamlessly to speakeasy during the Prohibition years. The Oly Club is now owned by the McMenamins chain, which has maintained much of the original furnishing. In addition to its bar and restaurant, it contains a movie theater and concert venue, and the upstairs acts as a cheap and pleasant European style hotel. The other restaurant is the northernmost location of the Burgerville fast food franchise. This Oregon and Washington chain is devoted to sustainable, local and delicious food and whenever I'm traveling up or down I-5, I try to take advantage of my last or first opportunity to eat there.

No comments:

Post a Comment