Gig Harbor Now and Then | After that building was Berkheimer’s, it was Safeway

Posted on January 2nd, 2024 By: Greg Spadoni

Continuing the theme of “where was that store located?” our last question was:

Where was Safeway’s original location in Gig Harbor?

The easy answer is: Also at Point Fosdick Square, but closer to Point Fosdick Drive than it is now.

The easy answer is also the wrong one.

Yes, before the Safeway store’s present location, it was on the same site, closer to Point Fosdick Drive.

But the question was not “where was Safeway’s previous location in Gig Harbor,” it was “where was Safeway’s original location in Gig Harbor?”

The correct answer is the same as the one given on Dec. 18 in our previous column, concerning the location of Berkheimer’s store. Safeway’s original location in Gig Harbor was at 3118 Harborview Drive in Gig Harbor, in the very same building now occupied by Heritage Distilling.

Two years after Berkheimer moved his store to a new building, Safeway moved in. It opened for business in Gig Harbor in June 1935.

X marks the spot of Safeway’s original location in Gig Harbor.  It was the same location as Reuben Berkheimer’s first Gig Harbor store. (I didn’t have to make up a new location map this week!) Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer aerial base map.

Tomi Kent Smith added a clue when she posted a link to her Harbor History Museum Blog story on the Wollochet Bay Oyster Co. on the Gig Harbor Now Facebook page. In it, she notes that the oyster growers had a contract with “the recently opened Gig Harbor Safeway” in 1935.

But alas, nobody ventured a guess on the original location of the Gig Harbor store. Let that be a lesson to me!

The bonus question was:

What was Safeway’s advertising slogan when it was at its original Gig Harbor location?

Answer: Distribution Without Waste.

Appropriately so, it has a sort of Great Depression sound to it, doesn’t it?

Safeway’s simple advertisement in the 1940 Gig Harbor High School annual included its slogan, Distribution Without Waste. From the Harbor History Museum.

Digression with a purpose

Briefly breaking from the normal structure of Gig Harbor Now and Then, before getting to the new question of the week, we’re going to pose a couple of questions that we can’t answer.

To fully appreciate the questions to which we have no answers, clicking on two embedded links will be required, which almost no reader of this column does (typically about one percent, although because embedded links were one of the featured topics last time, the rate soared to around six percent … for all of five days). That makes it a pretty small audience we’ll be playing to. But if it’s the right reader, we only need one.

We know there’s someone who reads Gig Harbor Now who can answer at least one of the questions, but we don’t know if they read this column. If they do, that’s who this is targeted to.

Of course, we’d be pleased to hear from anyone else who knows one or more of the answers. It may well turn out that an answer to each question comes from different readers, if we get any answers at all (and assuming we have more than one reader).

As one of the composers of captions for the photos in the collection of the Harbor History Museum, I do not change existing captions unless I’m certain they are inaccurate. Ninety-nine percent sure is not enough.

There is a caption on a photograph in the Museum’s collection that has vexed me for years. It is this one. I think the identification in that caption is wrong. But I’m not 100% certain.

The existing caption begins, “Proctor Peacock, Gig Harbor Realtor.”

While I believe the date of April 12, 1942, to be correct, I do not believe the man pictured to be Proc Peacock.

I don’t know who it might be, but it doesn’t look anything like this picture of Proctor, taken the previous month.

The questions for which we do not have answers are:

Is that first picture really of Proctor Peacock?

If not, who is it?

Should our target audience of one happen to read this, we’d sure appreciate an answer or two.

Hi, Bill!

Ye old one-room schoolhouse

No doubt we’ll revisit the “where was that store located?” theme again, but not this week.

Our current question involves the Midway School. The building served its regular school days near the intersection of 38th Avenue and Murphy Drive, which is now inside the Gig Harbor city limits.

Today, beautifully preserved at the Harbor History Museum, the school continues to teach, using lessons of local history. One lesson that it doesn’t teach is one that’s been long forgotten, but shouldn’t be. It’s the subject of this week’s Gig Harbor Now and Then column. Rather than academics, it concerns one of the social aspects of attending Midway School.

The Harbor History Museum uses the Midway School building to teach visitors how school used to be taught on the Gig Harbor Peninsula over a hundred years ago. Photo by Greg Spadoni.

Six of the seven kids in the original Spadoni family in Gig Harbor attended Midway School in the 1910s and 1920s (the remaining one attended Lincoln School). After completing grammar school at Midway, Lola Spadoni and her younger brother, Julius, finished their educations at Gig Harbor Union High School. In spite of being two years apart in age, they were both in the same graduating class. Being older, Lola started at Midway School before Julius, and did not flunk any grades. Julius did not skip any grades.

Question: Why were Lola and Julius Spadoni in the same graduating class?

The degree of difficulty of today’s question is a very difficult 5 (out of 5). The answer is going to be equally difficult for some people to swallow.

A lesson learned

How many of you knew Safeway’s first location in Gig Harbor?

How many of you thought you knew Safeway’s first Gig Harbor location?

History can be tricky. It tosses up surprises all the time. That was one of them.

What was not a surprise was that our carefully shaped, pruned, honed, and polished question, specifically designed to draw responses, was a complete failure. Oh well. At least we learned not to try it again. That’ll save a lot of polishing time in the future.

Now that you’ve reached the end of this issue of Gig Harbor Now and Then, how about visiting the Gig Harbor Now Facebook page to see what other readers are commenting on? Odds are very high they’re not talking about the Gig Harbor Safeway store in 1935. They’re infinitely more likely to be talking about something interesting.

We don’t know which Gig Harbor Now article that might be, as there are plenty of good ones to choose from, but we can venture this: Two weeks from now they’re going to be talking — or at least thinking — about the reason Lola and Julius Spadoni were in the same high school graduating class. It’s going to stand a little bit of Gig Harbor history on its head.

Well, that’s what we’d like to believe, anyway. Watch us be completely wrong again.

Greg Spadoni of Olalla has had more access to local history than most life-long residents. During 25 years in road construction working for the Spadoni Brothers, his first cousins, twice removed, he traveled to every corner of the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsulas, taking note of many abandoned buildings, overgrown farms, and roads that no longer had a destination. Through his current association with the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor as the unofficial Chief (and only) Assistant to Linda McCowen, the Museum’s primary photo archive volunteer, he regularly studies the area’s largest collection of visual history. Combined with the print history available at the Museum and online, he has uncovered countless stories of long-forgotten local people and events.