Lettie Lee Rochester, age 14, receives the first season ticket to the A-Y-P Exposition, as reported on May 17, 1909.

  • By Priscilla Long
  • Posted 10/22/2009
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9196

On May 17, 1909, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that 14-year-old Lettie (Letitia) Lee Rochester (later Lettie Lee Craig, 1894-1968), a student at Seattle's Lincoln High School, is to receive the first season ticket to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition. She receives the souvenir coupon book as a reward for her studiousness. The fair's department of admissions had received many simultaneous applications this first season ticket. The problem of who should be so honored was solved a businessman purchased the coupon book, offering to give it to a school girl as a reward for her studiousness. Lettie Rochester, daughter of the late Judge Junius Rochester, is chosen. She has received an "excellent" in English, algebra, ancient history, Latin, and German, and dreams of being a lawyer. The exposition will open on June 1 and will draw more than three million visitors before it closes on October 16, 1909. Visitors from around the state, the nation, and the world will view   hundreds of educational exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the Pay Streak midway, while Seattle promotes itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia.

The sale of season tickets began on May 10, 1909. Season tickets sold for $10 and could be purchased until the opening of the fair on June 1. After that, admission was 50 cents per day.

It Will Be Glorious

Lettie Rochester's father, Judge Junius Rochester (1857-1902), had been a law partner of L. C. Gilman and J. Hamilton Lewis in the firm of Rochester, Lewis & Gilman. His daughter Lettie said of her honor:

"I am pleased to get the souvenir ticket and I shall make good use of it during my vacation. It seems to me that the fair will be an education in itself; it will give so many opportunities to learn of foreign countries and of our own country. I know it will be glorious, and I shall go the hundred days that the ticket calls for" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

Lettie was first cousin to Al Rochester (1895-1989), who was also 14 and who also attended the fair every day. Al, son of Judge G.A.C. (George Alfred Caldwell) Rochester (1855-1929) and Julia Gwynn Smith Rochester, got his season ticket by working at the fair, first as a bread slicer and later as a shill on the pay streak.

A Woman's Work

Lettie dreamed of being a lawyer at a time when few women practiced law. She said:

"I have hoped that I could be a lawyer like Papa. I have been told that it is a profession which has difficulties for a woman, and I should want to be the best lawyer of course. I am fond of mathematics and languages, and it may be that I will teach those branches when I have finished school. Perhaps that would be more in line with a woman's work" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

Sources: "Souvenir Ticket to A.-Y.-P. Goes to School Girl," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 17, 1909; HistoryLink.org, The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, " Rochester, Alfred Ruffner (1895-1989)" (by Junius Rochester), http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed October 22, 2009); "Lettie Lee Craig," Social Security Death Index (http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/).

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