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Sound off: The Peace Celebration
By Avis Kellogg
The peace celebration represented a long day of joyous, noisy merry-making in which the whole city took part.
Beginning Sunday at midnight it lasted beyond midnight the following day. Seattle had a large enough population to keep up the din the whole time. The noise they made ran a close second to the trenches on the firing line.
Mill whistles, factory whistles, shipyard boat and cannery whistles blew for two hours straight.
Automobiles with honking, screeching, raucous horns, filled with singing shouting people paraded the streets with tin cans, washtubs and other scraps from the junk heaps tied to the rear wheels.
Men and women, boys and girls, dogs and horses, gaily decorated with flags, streamers, bands bearing such devices as “The Yanks did it,” “Our ships won the war,” etc., and carrying every kind of sound producer known to science, pushed and crowded their way thru the downtown districts. A laughing, joking, pushing, crowding, boisterous lot of people - all trying to find a means of expressing their great gladness.
There was much cheering and singing. Groups of young boys who could not be forced to sing in school, collected in the middle of the streets and sang patriotic songs very enthusiastically. Never again will Second Avenue witness such a courageous performance as those boys singing, -nor, let us hope, such an inharmonious one.
Newsboys went wild over their importance and shouted themselves hoarse over the glaring headlines of seventh and eight extra editions. They were running in and out of the crowd selling papers so fast that they couldn’t stop for change.
From many of the large buildings giant firecrackers were constantly being shot off. Cannon from the forts and training stations boomed intermittently.
A hastily formed, but successful parade took place in the afternoon in which the sailors and shipyard workers took a prominent part. During the parade two hydroplanes flew overhead, looping the loop waging sham battles and doing their most thrilling stunts.
The flags of the Allies were very much in evidence, keeping the arms of the men in perpetual motion, saluting and uncovering their heads.
The few Canadian soldiers who made their appearance were very popular. A truck load of them who paraded back and forth, ringing bells and blowing horns, were greeted with cheers and confetti as they passed by.
All care and business was thrown to the winds. The shops and stores closed and sent their employees out in trucks to celebrate. There was much rivalry and competition between the business houses to see which could have the best decorated truck and produce the most noise.
People seemed to lose their individuality, to unite into a great brotherhood with good feeling toward all. Smiles, friendly nods and slappings on the back were the order of the day.
The celebration was the biggest social mixer of the season. All kinds and ages mingled freely regardless of class or distinction. The celebration of the beginning of world peace furnished a common interest.
At night fireworks were shot off from the Times building sending a glare into the sky which could be seen for several miles. The searchlights from boats in the harbor played continuously.
Light, music, laughter, gaiety, noise; all the things which, combined, bring a thrill to the beholder, to which he, tho reluctantly, responds.
Ninety-one years ago, Nov. 11, 1918, was an exciting day for Avis Kellogg. World War I had come to an end by the signing of the Armistice by Germany. Avis was a student at the University of Washington School of Nursing. With her pencil she recorded on notebook paper what she saw and heard with the title “The Peace Celebration.” The war officially ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. In 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day to be celebrated as a national holiday. In 1954 Congress signed into law changing the name to Veterans Day to commemorate all veterans.
Avis Kellogg Wray was born in Coupeville Oct. 19, 1897, to Albert and Lillian Kellogg. She was a granddaughter of Dr. John Coe Kellogg, Whidbey Island pioneer also known as the “Canoe Doctor.” In 1923 she was the second person to graduate from the University of Washington School of Nursing.
She met and married Rolla B. Wray in 1928 when both were medical students at Northwestern University in Chicago. As they couldn’t afford for both to continue their studies in medicine, Rolla transferred to Washington University in St. Louis and Avis continued nursing. They made their home in Nevada, Mo. Following her husband’s enlistment into the Army in November 1942, Avis and her daughter, Janet, lived in Oak Harbor with her mother, Mrs. Lillian B. Kellogg. The family returned to Missouri in 1946.