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Harrington news

Summer reading, church in the park and mule days of the 1920s


Last updated 9/1/2018 at 5:22pm

--Photos courtesy of Tory Rice.

Program leader Victoria Rice explains how to make a xylophone using water and fractions.

Summer Reading Program

Thursday, July 26, Victoria Rice met the school portion of the Summer Reading Program at the city park while Cindie Rice waited at the library for the local children to arrive. The local children were escorted to the city park. While there, the activity was to tie strings to the top of plastic bottles to make Bull Roars. These are like those used by the aborigines in Australia. The children then enjoyed running in the park before hiking to the library. Staff read information on flutes to the children who showed their interest by being attentive. The next activity was to make wind flutes out of smoothie straws. The children practiced and performed in their Readers' Theatre called "Punk Farms" before a small audience in the library. Some of the children were quite bashful. Their final project was to make rattle snake "Rattlers" out of Dixie cups with noodles. This concluded the Harrington Summer Reading Program for 2018.

Church in the City Park

With a gentle breeze blowing, more than 50 individuals congregated at the Harrington City Park Sunday morning to unite in worship through prayer, song and a pastoral message presented by Pastor Cade Clarke of the Harrington Church of the Nazarene. Music was furnished primarily by the Community Church with Tony Hamilton (acoustic guitar) and Steven Hardy (bass guitar), Jon Larsell on banjo, Becky Hardy on keyboard, and additional singers were Bonnie Hardy (playing Djembe, a hand drum) and Sheryl Stedman (using a hand shaker). From the Nazarene church Pastor Cade played the Cajon (a percussion instrument) and his son Nick Clarke sang. It was well organized with printouts of the words for those attending which included "Reckless Love," "Revival at Brownsville," "Cornerstone," "I Exalt Thee" and "Blessed Assurance." An offering was taken to go to the Ministerial Association.

Harrington Mules in History

Confusion sometimes occurs in the use of the "first" mule day parade, and with good reason. The first "Annual Mulemen's Banquet" was held Dec 1, 1924 at the Hotel Harrington (now Lincoln Hotel) with 110 guests from all over the county. They had a huge parade that started at the hotel and progressed down the main (Third) street. The number of mules in this parade is not recorded, but mules owned by the following were identified: "Adams County Jack" led by Carl Urich of Ritzville, "Lincoln County Jack" led by Jas. McKinnon, 8 prize mules belonging to W.B. Armstrong "ridden by Geo. M. Wilson, J.J. Tierney, Gene Craig, Mr. Gillespie of Ritzville, J.J. Cormana, A.Kloster, N.L. Provost and Hugo Kembel of Ritzville." William Pope "rode a fine mule and led a scrawny bag-o-bones horse bearing the legend 'Why we like mules'." Leo Birge and his drum corps were followed by Lane Candler and R.R. Baugh. Shorty Harman had his mule team hitched to a wagon filled with mule men. C.E. Moore drove a mule hitched to a racing cart. J.A. Robasse had his team of mules hitched to a hand truck. Pete Johnson was chauffeur of the float. One of the mules in the parade was "Queen", pet mule of Herb Armstrong. It was reported that C.O. Amrine and Jack Withers took Queen into the Palm Barber Shop and gave her a hair cut, after which they took Queen across the street to the Magnet Pool Room where Jess Boyer gave her a stick of candy. 106 names were recorded as attending the banquet.

By comparison, the First Annual Mule Day at Harrington was June 5, 1925. Predictions for the Mule Show were 300 to 500 entries and that several thousand people would be in attendance. The reality was that only 120 mules entered and it was considered a "splendid success." Estimates were that 3,000 people lined the streets by 10:30 a.m. when the parade moved down Third Avenue and headed for the ball park (near the city lagoon area).

Here is the description of the parade: "In the lead came Pete Barnes, dressed as a clown, riding a mule that was painted like a zebra. If Pete ever tires of electrical work he should go into a circus as a professional clown. Next came the Ritzville band boys all dressed in flaming red and stirring the blood of the oldest with their martial music. With them came a Ritzville clown troupe. Then came the float bearing the Mule Queen, Miss Rowena Armstrong. On either side of her sat her attendants: Miss Evelyn Robasse and Miss Phyllis Sheppard.

"Then came the mules and there were 120 of them in the parade. In the lead came Bill Armstrong's 20-mule team, and five wagons, driven by Charley Smith, who steered the aggregation of animals with a jerk line 130 feet long. Old timers here, many of them mule men, stated that they never before had seen as big a team strung out in this fashion. This sight alone was worth coming 100 miles to see. Six 8-mule teams then followed: Kloster Brothers; Ernest Kloster, skinner, W.H. Hambright; Finish Hambright, skinner, Ray Lamp; Floyd Bussler, skinner, Clyde Warwick; Clyde Warwick, skinner, Karl Williams; Marvin Hambright, skinner, Edgar Williams; Royce Williams, skinner. (Followed by) Cobb and Son: Frank Miller, skinner; Frank Lueck; Pat Bueck, skinner; Talking Bros; Lloyd Talkington, skinner; A. Teel, Joe Posey, skinner; Frank Gateley; Don Mathews, skinner. (Followed by) Kloster Bros: Newt Kemper, skinner; George Morgan; Ward Sherwood, skinner. Next came a 2-mule team belonging to K.J. Whitbeck; three jacks, belonging to Alex McInnis, Frank Lueck and Charley Phillips and six mares with mule colts belonging to J.H. Vick.

"A number of floats then appeared, being led by Arlyn Mayfield who shoved a baby buggy in which Florence Baker was seated, dressed as a baby. This lent a variety to the humor of the situation. Richardson-Monks Hardware company was represented by a big binder driven by Zealand Goodwin; the Harrington band of a dozen pieces came next and showed what the old town can do when it takes a notion. Jim McKinnon manned the quarter deck on the fire truck, giving a cosmopolitan touch to the affair. The Banner Meat company with a drum corps, the Harrington Hardware company, and the Standard Oil Company also had floats. Kramer's Store entered a float featuring Miss Clyda Bailey as a model, while Yale's store entered a float that caused a riot among the kids, Myrna and Milo, dressed as clowns, threw out quantities of peanuts and candy kisses to the mob of children that closely followed. The parade ended with a stream of autos that followed the grand show out to the ball park where the judging took place."

The 1926 show was acclaimed to be bigger and better with over 150 mules in exhibition, "It is possible that no finer show devoted entirely to mules was ever held in the world."

The Third Annual Mule Day began with the day dawning dark and foreboding with frequent showers in the morning, yet the people began to arrive and the town soon filled up with all the streets crowded and the parade was postponed until 11 a.m. A new feature to the parade was "the entry of three combined harvesters: a Harris driven by Norman Barmeier, a Holt with George Kloster driving, and a Case with Eli Goodwin in the driver's seat."

Kids in Harrington's summer reading program make wind flutes out of plastic straws.

The fourth Annual Mule Show in 1928 was advertised with hyperbole: "More 20-mule teams have been shown in one parade in Harrington than in any other place in the world!" "The largest show of its kind ever put on at Harrington, and while there is no accurate count of those attending, it has been estimated that between 3500 and 4000 people witnessed the event." Rain the previous night made for perfect conditions, an ideal, dustless June day. Mention was made in the 1928 parade columns that five fine horses were in the parade and automobiles of various makes.

The fifth and final Harrington Mule Show occurred in June 1929. It was just "as big a success as any of the four former events with the attendance variously estimated at 3,000 to 5,000."


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