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Archives Find of the Month: Nuisance Fireworks, 1932

Comptroller File 159643 contains a July 8, 1938, letter from Mrs. Ellie Barnhart of White Center complaining about fireworks being shot off near her home in White Center. She begins by declaring, “I am a tax payer…and I want protection.” The letter notes that she wrote with the same complaint the previous year, but that “nothing was done because the Police were not here just at the time of the shooting.” She states that this year fireworks began on May 1, “and will no doubt last till Christmas, if something is not done about it.”

Also in the file is a petition on the same topic signed by Mrs. Barnhart and about 30 other White Center residents. The petition asks City Council “to afford us some abatement of the Fireworks nuisance, which is upsetting our nerves and making us ill…We have repeatedly called the Police Department, only to be told they can do nothing unless they can apprehend the culprit committing the act. By the time the Police Car can get from West Seattle the noise is over.” The petitioners felt the problem was worse that year due to the sale of both fireworks and liquor south of the city limits.

The police department sent two officers to talk to Mrs. Barnhart on July 14, at which time she reported that no fireworks had been shot off in the past two days. The memo which documented this contact also reported that investigations showed most of the fireworks were being bought and exploded outside the city limits, which were two blocks south of Mrs. Barnhart’s house.

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