Polly Ebenezer Bryant Bodwell (1874-1955)

Son of: Eliphalet 1836

Bodwell, Retiring, Looks Back On 35 Years as Police Clerk (From Seattle Newspaper, 1942)

Past the desk of white-haired, jutting-jawed E. B. Bodwell have trooped the wrong-doers of Seattle for more than 30 years. He has collected their fines, accepted their bail money, kept careful record of their histories. That ever changing parade of mischief, malevolence, and misery, Bodwell will witness no more, for he announced yesterday that his resignation-after a ful 35 years of service as clerk of the Police Court-will become effective Saturday.

Rich and varied are the memories of the 68 year old veteran, who recalls with a twinkle in his blue-grey eyes the many "campaigns" waged with smoke and thunder by the police administrations he as has seen.

The main part of the building was built on posts," Bodwell recalled, "and we were down in one corner of the basement . There were no chairs, and the spectators would crowd into the 'bull pen." They were not a savory lot, and for sanitary reasons the baliff used to sprinkle with formaldehyde. "The smell was pretty strong in the "bull pen," but the spectators would stand there just the same, the tears streaming down their faces."

One of the early police 'drives" was against Socialist soap-box orators. The mayor of the period swore he would put a stop to the "if he had to line them up in jail ten deep." While that extremity was never reached, a half dozen or so were arrested every night, and Bodwell believes the oratorical sessions in the "tank" must have been something to hear.

Traffic violations in those early days generally concerned quadrupeds. Trotting a horse across an intersection was about as bad as running through a stop sign, and leaving a horse unhitched was ranked with the menace of leaving an automobile with the brake off, "There was ," says Bodwell reflectively, "a good deal of tobacco chewing, and consequently a good deal of expectorating. The women's skirts brushed the ground in that extravagant age, and because they got soiled the city passed its ordinance about expectorating on the sidewalks."

The most indignant man Bodwell has ever seen was a prominent Seattle citizen who was arrested for this violation. The top-hatted gentleman objected so vigorously to such an invasion of his oral privileges that he was forcibly inserted inot a patrol wagon which clattered with him over the cobbles to police headquarters.

Although automobiles gradually ceased to be the subject of cat-calls from small boys, the early models had a tendency to spill oil when going up steep hills. When a horse and wagon attempted the same grade, the horse as often as not went skidding tail over tea-kettle, and a hullabaloo in Police Court would follow.

"Crowded street cars?" asks Bodwell. "The crowds we have today aren't a patch on the crowds that used to climb all over a street car going to the baseball park. Folks would be hanging on there like ribbons on a Maypole."

The incident spoken of as "Ole Hanson's Revolution" remains vivid in Bodwell's mind. After the First World War, I. W. W. trouble had been cropping up all over the country, and the threat of a general strike had set Seattle by its ears. To forestall any such action, Hanson, then mayor, recruited a volunteer army of the city's notables, who appeared at police headquarters with rifles, shotguns, and revolvers-some of the weapons being capable of ejecting bullets, and some not.

The incident petered out without bloodshed-whether because of the massed might or because there wasn't much of a threat to begin with, Bodwell isn't sure.

During Bodwell's first year as clerk, the city collected some $40,000 in fines. This year, if all goes well, as he reckons it, the city's "take" will be some $500,000.

It has been a long pull, but a good one, Bodwell declares. He's liked it, and he wouldn't be leaving now, but for the fact that the pressure of an overcrowded court calendar is too much for a man who is getting on in years. Still he won't forget the job, and the city won't forget the man who has been "on the job" for so many years. (clipping provided by Heather Robertson)

In 1932 E. Bryant, his wife Stella, his mother Carrie, his brother Isaac, and his sisters Lue and Tennie were living at 2015 Federal Avenue, Seattle. Seattle Directory, 1923.

Bryant and Stella Bodwell
Bryant and Stella Bodwell - Photo provided by Hylda [hylda@shaw.ca]

BornDiedMarried Spouse
13 Sep 187426 Feb 1955 Stella Hewson
Arcadia, MiSeattle, Wa


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