Friday, October 24, 2014

First prize float at the Sumas Rodeo parade - 1923, Miller and Sons shingle mill

This is a delightful series of photographs of the first prize winning float of the Sumas Rodeo parade of 1923, kindly shared by Mr. M. Miller.  According to Mr. Miller, the rodeo in 1923 was known as the 'Sumas Rodeo'.  The name was changed to 'Sumas Roundup' the following year. 
Mr. Miller's grandfather, Clarence Leonidas "Leon" Miller ran 'Miller and Sons Shingle Mill' in Sumas.  Clarence was an active local businessman and involved with the Sumas Roundup over the years.  He served as treasurer of the Sumas Roundup Association.  
The photo below, shows the float that won first prize in the Sumas Rodeo parade, 22 September, 1923.   According to Mr. Miller, it was used as a playhouse after the parade by his father (pictured in the bottom photo) and still used through the 1960s and into the 1970s by Mr. M. Miller as well.
I bet they were the envy of all of the kids in the neighborhood!

 Posted with permission from the M. Miller's collection
 Posted with permission from Mr. M. Miller's collection
Posted with permission from Mr. M. Miller's collection

In my next posting, let's start to explore the history of the lumber industry in Sumas by looking at the shingle mill owned and operated by Miller and Son's and what it meant for the community.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sumas Roundup - "See em Buck!"...part 15 of 15...the decline of the Roundup and the rise of the Bull-A-Rama!

The Sumas Roundup was a success attracting cowboys from all over the Canada and the United States.  In 1924 there was over $5000.00 of prize money over a three day show, a considerable amount of money for the time.  The success continued through the 1920s and brought in big name cowboys that were thrilling for the spectators to see.  
"For those four days, it was really busy. I would be down there by 10:00 a.m. in the morning to help in the grandstands and every night there was a dance.  I wouldn't get home till early morning then sleep 1/2 hour and get up to milk."  Jack Lockbaum, Sumas resident during the Roundup heyday...1979 interview.
The Roundup came to a crashing halt due to the Great Depression.  The money simply wasn't available for the luxury of the taking the family to a rodeo.  It was determined that it wasn't economically feasible to continue, so in 1930 the Sumas Roundup was cancelled.
In 1937, a promoter named John E. Hartwig decided to try to revive the Sumas Roundup. He leased the Roundup grounds and made elaborate plans of importing animals and inviting President Roosevelt to attend.  The event was a disappointment when it ended up being a rainy weekend (and the President didn't come).   There was also legal challenges due to some mix ups regarding who was granted concession booths.  The 1937 Roundup only brought in about 8000 spectators instead of the 15,000 to 25,000 people of the 1920s.  
The attempt to keep the Sumas Roundup active lasted from 1937 through 1940, but there was a lot of struggles financially.  The promoters were busy dealing with a lawsuit from the Whatcom County Humane Society trying to ban calf roping and the prize money was not as lucrative for the professional rodeo cowboys.
picture 1
The unidentified Sumas Roundup Royalty from 1938.
Photograph from the Whatcom Museum Photo Archives collection, Bellingham, WA
The 1940s brought new challenges that hurt the success of the Sumas Roundup.  The already financially strapped venue took another hit when border regulations became more stringent.  It became more difficult for cowboys and livestock to cross the border.  World War II took the men away and there wasn't enough staffing or cowboys available to run the show.
In 1944 the town finally offered the Roundup grandstand for sale.  Lumber was in high demand due to all of the wartime construction that was going on.  Virgil Hoffman won the bid on the grandstand and disassembled it.  He used some of the lumber to build the house where he and his wife, LaVoun lived for many years on the SW corner of Sumas and Vancouver Streets.  The house is still standing and is shown in picture 2.   (Who remembers receiving popcorn balls on Halloween night from Mrs. Hoffman while trick and treating at the little house?)
picture 2
House built with wood reclaimed from the Sumas Rodeo Grandstand
Photograph taken looking SW at the SW corner of Sumas and Vancouver Streets
by Deborah Morgan, 21 May, 2014
All is not lost!  Rodeos still happen in Sumas, maybe not as large or fancy as the Sumas Roundup but the Sumas Junior Rodeo still draws an enthusiastic crowd.  Pictured below is the 1974 Sumas Rodeo Royalty.  On the left is Geris Carlson waving her hat, the other girls are unidentified. 
There still is a Junior Rodeo at Sumas, Washington!
 picture 3
Photo by Jack Carver, from the Whatcom Museum Archive collection
Sumas is also the proud home of the Bull A Rama!  It is held twice a year and draws a respectable crowd!  The three pictures below show the Bull a Rama, 13 September, 2014!  The community turns out to enjoy the excitement of watching the Bull Riders show their stuff!  The Bull-a-Rama continues to use the Sumas Roundup logo,  "See Em Buck!"

picture 4 
 photograph taken by Deborah Morgan, 13 September, 2014

picture 5
 photograph taken by Deborah Morgan, 13 September, 2014

picture 6
photograph taken by Deborah Morgan, 13 September, 2014

  The men who had the vision in the 1923 would surely be proud of what our town offers today as the rodeo is still successful as a community venue and attracts annual crowds.