Masonic Hall speakers Mary Louise and son Harry Smith
This May 29th - Harry Smith’s 99th birthday - is a good day to honor his first collaborator, Mary Louise Hammond Smith. “She was so full of sharp wit and great interest in life. She kept everyone on their toes, and laughing,” according to her friend Henrietta Blaisdell.
Mary sang him Irish folk songs, enrolled Harry in years of art classes, and engaged with him in Coast Salish cultural studies from a young age. Not only did the pair travel to the nearby Swinomish and Lummi reservations to attend tribal events, together at the Anacortes Masonic Hall they presented on these studies, as documented in this 1942 newspaper announcement headlined Woman’s Club Will Hold Meetings:
“A board meeting of the Anacortes Woman’s club will be held this Friday at 2 p. m. at the home of Mrs. Gilman Ronald, president of the club. Next Tuesday at 1 p. m. the monthly Woman’s Club luncheon will be held at the Masonic Hall. The subject of the meeting will be “Northwest Indians.” Talks and displays of Indian relics and work will be given during the luncheon. Speakers will be Mrs. Robert J. Smith and son Harry Smith who have made an extensive study upon this subject.”
This kind of public collaboration between mother and teenage son is suggested in Sounding for Harry Smith: Early Pacific Northwest Influences. But this documented example of a joint talk was found post-publication.
I’ll share posts on Harry’s years in northwestern Washington here as more information comes to light.