This is a biography of Seattle tennis champion and Seattle Times sportswriter Gertrude Schreiner, written as a People's History by her great-niece, Suzanne Livingston Hansen. Schreiner’s columns under her own byline were published regularly during 1919 on the sports pages of The Seattle Times. Her columns focused on competitive tennis and were written about both women and men players. The newspaper also followed her own tennis career in detail. Schreiner was born in Seattle in 1896, educated in Seattle and Germany, graduated from the University of Washington in journalism, and became a tennis champion until her playing career was ended when she was struck by a car in 1923. Seattle athlete Gertrude Schreiner may have been the first woman assistant sports editor employed on a metropolitan daily newspaper in the United States to cover all sports. She worked for The Seattle Times from 1918 to 1920 as assistant to Clifford Harrison, chief of the sports department. During 1919, she was a featured writer on the sports page, writing about tennis under her own byline.
Life on and off the Court
Gertrude "Gertie" Mary Schreiner was born on February 22, 1896, in Seattle to Franz Xavier "F. X." Schreiner and Mary Gertrude Thompson. Her immigrant father was a local businessman and owner of Merchant's Cafe, a saloon and German restaurant located in Seattle's historic Pioneer Square. Her mother, Mary, was a niece of Jesse Murdock Thompson of the Front Street Cable Railway Company, designer and builder of Seattle's first cable-car line and, later, several other northwest cable street-railway lines.
F. X. was a hardworking father with an adventurous spirit who took advantage of Seattle's business opportunities. He was financially successful and able to provide his family with many luxuries. After the sudden death of his wife in 1905, he took his children to Munich, where he enrolled them in boarding schools. His son, Carl, entered a military academy. Gertrude and her older sister, Eleanor, attended the prestigious Englischer Garten school where they studied German, French, Latin, painting, and handwriting. The Schreiners returned to Seattle in 1907. Gertie's Austrian governess, Annie Spirek, accompanied the family. The following year Annie became F. X.'s second wife.
Gertrude entered Seattle's newly opened Forest Ridge Convent, a private Catholic school. The educational focus was on classical studies. She took special classes in logic, scholastic philosophy, ethics, and literature. The curriculum included painting, fine sewing, and piano lessons -- subjects considered necessary to the education of upper-class young ladies. She graduated in 1914 with enough credits to enter the University of Washington as a junior, but she chose to enter as a freshman.
She majored in journalism at the university and was a staff reporter on the campus newspaper, The Daily. She was elected editor of the college yearbook, Tyee, her senior year. Her love of sports extended onto the field as a member of the women's crew and the field hockey, baseball, track, basketball, and tennis teams. In addition to earning varsity letters in every sport she participated in, she was awarded the "Big W," an all-around sports award, in 1918.
In her last years of college, she began playing the Northwest Tennis Circuit during the summers, representing the Seattle Tennis Club. Coupled with Mayme McDonald, she held the Northwest doubles title for 1917 and 1918. She won numerous tournaments in woman's singles, woman's doubles, and mixed doubles, continuing to compete in matches until 1923, when her career ended after she was struck by a car.
Gertrude married Sam J. Robinson on September 15, 1920. They eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where they raised their children, Eleanor, Margaret, and Bruce. After 45 years of marriage, her beloved Sam past away in 1965. A few years later she was reacquainted with a college beau, Harry McIntyre. They were married in 1970. Gertrude died on November 2, 1978 in Los Angeles, California.