I’M FASCINATED WITH finding artifacts from the distant past and researching the story behind them, especially anything pertaining to local history. These items are then posted on my Instagram account, which is dedicated to all the local historical treasures I have found over the years.

Seattle’s Queen of Neon: Bea Haverfield designed some of the city’s most iconic signs — from the Elephant Car Wash to Ivar’s and Dick’s Drive-In

One such discovery — an old copper moonshine still that I serendipitously chanced upon at a local estate sale — even led to the writing of my book, “Seattle Prohibition: Bootleggers, Rumrunners & Graft in the Queen City.”

I recently learned about a real-life Rosie the Riveter who, starting back in the 1940s, designed some of Seattle’s most iconic signs, including the famous Elephant Car Wash sign off Denny Avenue. Luckily, I was able to connect with her daughter, who invited me to spend an afternoon at her home in Anacortes and look through her mother’s original airbrushed sketches for this famous signage. They have been carefully stored away for the past several decades, and I am one of the few people outside of their family to actually have seen them. This was true Seattle history!

In talking with the family, I quickly could tell that an important story existed here that few people know about. It is not only the story of Bea Haverfield, the signs’ creator, but also an allegory of Seattle’s blue-collar past, and I consider it a true honor to be the one to tell it.