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Digital Backgrounds

Retro Backgrounds

O Bee Credit Union is proud to collaborate with the Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) to provide these colorful, digital backgrounds of retro Olympia Beer billboards and historic Northwest images. You can download these backgrounds to jazz up your next Zoom meeting or to update your computer’s wallpaper. The Olympia Tumwater Foundation honors the philanthropic legacy of the Schmidt Family and the Olympia Brewing Company, where O Bee first began. The OTF preserves the vast archives of the Olympia Brewery and we thank them for sharing these wonderful images with us. Thanks to Karen Johnson of OTF for her witty and informative descriptions.

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. DONATE

 
Olympia Beer Ad


A snowy afternoon in Tumwater, probably in the 1940s. The photographer was standing to the east of the brewery, looking over the Carlyon (totem pole) bridge in the foreground. To the left is the malt tower and its well-known clock. The little Methodist church on 2nd Avenue appears in the top right corner.
Olympia Beer Ad
 
Seattle held a grand Workhorse Parade on July 4, 1910, and the Olympia Beer team won a prize in the parade. In the early 1900s, workhorse parades were a staple in many cities. Even though automobiles and trucks had been around for a few years, horses still did the bulk of the transportation work. The Seattle parade was originally scheduled to be held on Memorial Day, but war veterans protested. They denounced the parade as “an ungrateful interference with the honored observance” of Memorial Day. So the date was changed to the Fourth of July, and many area teamsters participated.

Did you know that Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day, and was intended as a time to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers? While celebrated in many locations, the movement started to gain national momentum after the Civil War. The federal government finally declared “Memorial Day” as the official name for the holiday in 1967.
Olympia Beer Ad
 
This billboard art was painted by Willard Cox (1902—1974), in 1951. In the 1920s and 1930s, Cox partnered with Maurice Logan in a commercial art business in San Francisco. Besides producing art for the Olympia brewery, he also provided artwork for the U.S. Air Force and the Pacific Steamship Company. He regularly exhibited pieces in San Francisco and was an active member of the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters and several California art groups.
Olympia Beer Ad
 
This billboard art was painted in 1945 by an unknown artist. Blue was a popular color for Olympia billboards in the 1940s. Notice how the pale yellow beer glass and amber bottle stand out against the blue background. This would have been eye-popping as a full-size billboard, about 8 feet tall by 20 feet wide.

Over 100 students from grades one through eight posed for this photo in Tumwater. The wooden schoolhouse was built in 1878 on D Street, between 2nd and 3rd Streets. The school cost a little over $1,800 to build, and lasted until 1907 when it was replaced by a much larger building on the same lot.
 

Shown about 1908, this is Vance Lumber Company’s sawmill on the Chehalis River not far from Elma in Grays Harbor County. The sawmill had an output of about 60,000 feet of lumber per day. Sawmills like this one were familiar sights in the early 1900s. Back then, loggers thought the Northwest woods were inexhaustible. The photo was taken by S. H. Price.

Beautiful Mount Rainier, shown about 1902. This postcard view was published by the Detroit Photographic Company, which was established in the late 1890s, and became one of the largest postcard publishers in the U.S. When this postcard was printed, the back of the card was for the address and stamp only. Any message had to be written on the white margins around the photo on the front. By 1907, the backs of postcards were divided in half: one side for the message, and the other for the address. Older cards are now called “undivided backs” and are quite collectible.

This billboard art was painted by Maurice Logan (1886—1977), 1940-50. Logan was raised in northern California, and became one of San Francisco’s leading commercial artists. He was a member of the Society of Six, the Thirteen Watercolorists, and other art groups. He studied at several design institutes, and was an art instructor at the California College of Arts and Crafts.

 
Painted by Richard Wiley (1919 – 2013), in 1956. Wiley spent most of his life in the Portland, Oregon area. He was a successful commercial artist and was also well-known as a portrait painter. He illustrated the Sally, Dick and Jane books so familiar to schoolchildren. This piece may have been intended specifically for our rainy Northwest.
 

 
Artwork created by Willard Cox, between 1938 and 1955. Cox also created artwork for the U.S. Air Force and the Pacific Steamship Company. He partnered with Maurice Logan in a commercial art business in San Francisco.
 

 
This beautiful piece was painted in 1939 by Rudy Bundas of Seattle. Bundas (1911 – 2003) was a commercial artist and a nationally-known fine artist as well. His work for the Olympia brewery included billboard art, greeting cards, packaging art, and cover art for the “It’s the Water News” employee newsletter. Bundas was instrumental in forming the Northwest Watercolor Society and Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters. He painted portraits of several politicians, including Senator Henry Jackson and President Lyndon Johnson.  
 

 
Artwork created by Rudy Bundas, circa 1955. Bundas was born in Hungary, immigrated to Ohio, and then moved to Seattle where he spent a long career painting ads, packaging, and greeting cards for Olympia beer. He also did work for other businesses such as Ford Motor Company, and painted portraits of several well-known politicians.