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On February 15, 1909, concerned citizens founded the Anti-Tuberculosis League of King County. The league later received some of the profits from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, which helped fund a municipal tuberculosis hospital -- later renamed Firland Sanatorium -- near Shoreline.
On February 19, 1909, Local 174 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was chartered in Seattle. In the 1920s Dave Beck rose from the ranks of laundry-truck drivers to control the entire Teamsters International, aided for many decades by Local 174 chief Frank Brewster. But in the 1950s Beck ran afoul of federal law and became a resident of McNeil Island Penitentiary in 1962. After his release in 1964 he retired to Seattle, while George Cavano rebuilt and recharged Local 174.
On February 17, 1928, tragedy struck aboard the ferry Peralta in San Francisco, when five passengers drowned after the bow flooded. Five years later, the jinxed boat burned to the hull, which was saved and used to build the ferry Kalakala. The streamlined vessel went on to achieved such fame that it was awarded the world's first-ever commercial marine-radar set, which went into use on February 14, 1946.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 directing the relocation of all people of Japanese descent on the West Coast, including U.S. citizens, to inland camps. The internment uprooted thousands of Washington residents, including those from Bainbridge Island, Seattle, the San Juan Islands, the Yakima Valley, and Spokane.
On February 18, 1943, a horrific plane crash occurred in Seattle, when a strange-looking aircraft crashed into the Frye Meatpacking plant north of Boeing Field. Eleven crewmembers died, along with 19 workers on the ground, and in the resulting fire much of the livestock was killed. Although the event could not be concealed, military police quarantined the scene and censored press reports, for this plane was the top-secret prototype of the famed B-29 Superfortress that two years later would drop the first atomic bombs and end World War II.
Fifty years ago this week, on February 16, 1969, Seattle's Cirque Playhouse closed after 19 years of performances under the direction of founder and self-proclaimed "abominable showman" Gene Keene. The venue next became home to Black Arts/West, which held its performances there until 1980.
It snowed all week. Wheels and footsteps moved soundlessly on the street, as if the business of living continued secretly behind a pale but impenetrable curtain. In the falling quiet there was no sky or earth, only snow lifting in the wind, frosting the window glass, chilling the rooms, deadening and hushing the city.
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