The Streets of Fairhaven:  Protests and a Poem

 
 
 
 
On January 14, 1904, Frank Teck,
an editor of the Fairhaven Herald
and frequent poet
summed up the feelings of
former Fairhavenites in his poem
"For Harris and History."

  
"Up Harris" courtesy Fairhaven artist, Ben Man 
 

For Harris and History
 
Don't crowd Dan Harris off the map
for the sake of your A B and C
 
That's a kind of reformation
that doesn't appeal to me
 
Don't crowd Dan Harris off the map
He's crowded off this earth
 
But he really planned that storied street
and gave the town it's birth
 
Don't push poor Harris out of our town
your scheme is out of joint
 
If it doesn't include the historic nod
and a bow to dead man's point
 
Aye, give us the new names (if you must)
but leave us a page or two
 
Of the rugged past that is welded fast
to none who agree with you.
 

 
 

When Fairhaven and Whatcom consolidated into a new city of Bellingham at the end of 1903, new street names were one of the many items the City Council had to address. 
 
The "Street Committee" seemed to take this job a little too seriously and decided the South-side streets should be in alphabetical order.  That would mean that streets such as..Knox, Columbia, Mill and Harris....would soon be known as  Nelson Owen, Parker and Quincy Avenues.  
 
To complete the naming scheme, McKenzie would become Randolph and the streets honoring  important businessmen from the Fairhaven Land Company would vanish.....Larrabee, Donovan, Cowgill and Wilson would be replaced with  Spencer Thurman  Upton and Vincent.    
 
The South Side of the new City of Bellingham were outraged at these suggestions.  A battle played out in the opinion pages of the Bellingham Herald.  Before the dust settled, the committee had one more target for their creative naming schemes.   The Alleys.
 

 
  
 
 Nobble, Robble, Vobble and Zobble
 
Perhaps it was the same members of the committee who decided to get rid of Harris et al, who dreamed up the idea to name the downtown alleys starting with Gobble and Hobble down to Nobble, Robble, Tobble, Vobble and Zobble.  
 

In Happy Valley
Ay tank ay ban qute faller,
Ay live in Happy Valley.
But oter day ay got on toot,
Over in Vobble alley
 
Policeman hey cool yoompin in
And say "Ay have to gobble
you oop, for you ban very drunk,
Yoost see how you legs wobble."
 
Now master, ay no drunk at all,
Even if ay do bobble,
For no man hay ban drunk who say,
Tobble, Robble, Zobble

      -PERU
Someone with less poetic talent than Frank Teck, gave poetry a try.  
"Peru" attempted to mimic the Scandinavian accent of many of the farmers in Happy Valley at the time.
 
Fortunately the "obbles alleys" never appeared on a Bellingham map, nor thank goodness, did Quincy Avenue
 
 
Continue Reading:  Streetcars and Making Room for Finnegan's Way (coming soon)
 
Continue Reading:  Lamp Posts and a "Current Event"  coming soon
 

 EN 9/22/19

 


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