Seattle Times Opinion, for the fourth year, is honoring community members and organizations that have made important contributions to our community in the last year. This year the full-page cartoon is by editorial cartoonist David Horsey.
Always running on Dec. 25, the feature is a nice way to reflect on the unsung — and sung — heroes in our community.
But: I have to confess, this idea is not original to me. I stole it!
A few years ago, when The Seattle Times was relocating from its old building on Fairview Avenue North and John Street, a pile of old editorial cartoons landed in my new Denny Way office. The artist, Sam Groff, who worked for The Seattle Times from 1935 to around 1950, left a trove of cartoons that now serve as a window into those times. A weekly “Dear Joe” cartoon during World War II depicted life in Seattle; his cartoons about the efforts to build a winning Seattle Rainiers team and his perspective on collegiate football rivalries are fun to see.
The cartoon that really got my attention was of a Christmas tree, where Groff was imagining what several prominent Seattle coaches and leaders from the 1930s might want for Christmas. You’ll recognize the names: University of Washington Men’s Basketball Coach Hec Edmundson would get “a basketball team that can beat Oregon,” UW’s legendary rowing Coach Al Ulbrickson would get “another national champ crew” and my personal favorite, Nate Druxman, would open up the “Best fight cards on the coast.”
None of Groff’s cartoons are dated, but Seattle Times photographer Greg Gilbert, who took a photo of the artwork so we could share it with readers, found a clue. Groff was gifting Paul Henry with “strong breezes for all sailing races.” Henry was Seattle Yacht Club commodore in 1937.
Other Christmas wishes mentioned are overhead trams for skiers, more Longacres race horses and mudless high school football fields. I could go on, but it’s really more fun for you to examine the cartoon and search up the history yourself. Also, don’t forget to look for Picklepuss, the cat that was a fixture in many of Groff’s cartoons.
Enjoy the trip down Seattle sports’ memory lane.