With your help, we solved the mystery.
It appears Robert Ehrenheim received a service award in 1949 for being a News Tribune carrier for five years.
Last week, I shared a photo of a TNT pin discovered after Robert’s death by his son, Dean. Dean asked us to help determine what the award was for and when his dad received it.
Two readers responded.
“I was a carrier for the TNT from 1946 to 1954 and received a service award,” wrote Duane Lowell, “a pin like that pictured in your recent article.
“I'm not sure when I received it. My guess is after 5 years as a carrier. Being a carrier taught me a great deal about people, and being responsible. I hope this may help Dean.”
Reader Henry Campbell didn’t know when Robert got the pin, but remembers Robert’s mother, Frieda, talking about his paper route.
“My mother and Frieda were good friends,” Campbell wrote. “They belonged to the German club. I believe it was called Sons and Sisters of Hermann; it was at the Normana Hall on what was then called K Street. I can remember going to the Ehrenheims.’ Their house was on a corner lot on Yakima Street.”
Then on Wednesday, Jody Gripp emailed me. Gripp works in the Northwest Room of the Tacoma Public Library, which houses a vast collection of local history materials.
“We got a bit into the act here,” Gripp wrote, “trying to determine a date for the pictured pin.”
“We do have several images in our archive that have captions relating to celebrations that were thrown for these young workers, for different papers including the News Tribune, so we started there.”
They discovered this photo.
“I then looked up the article cited in the picture in our archive — which appeared in your paper Oct. 29, 1949, on page 10 — and Robert Ehrenheim was one of only a few of these workers who had served continuously for five years or more and was given an award for it.”
“Wow. Beyond my wildest hopes!” Dean responded to Gripp’s discovery.
“My dad was born in 1934, so if he got a 5-year award in 1949, that means he was 10 when he started. We remember his stories of delivering papers downtown and how independent he was at a very young age.”
Gripp also found a 1959 TNT story about Robert Ehrenheim, then a German teacher at Mason Junior High.
He was part of a U.S. State Department teachers exchange program. It sent the Ehrenheim family to northern Germany and brought a German teacher and his family to Tacoma. In addition to exchanging jobs, they exchanged homes for the year.
In 1972, the TNT wrote about Ehrenheim receiving the Mark Salzman Award for his contributions to high school track and field. Dean’s dad had coached at Mount Tacoma High since it opened in 1961, the story said.
“Yes, that was also my dad,” Dean wrote. “He was very well known in Tacoma through all his teaching, coaching and tours all over the world ... which actually started by his exchange program to Germany.
“He also served on the Tacoma Sister City committee for some years. His funeral overflowed the sanctuary at St. Marks Lutheran last year. It was so touching.
“Thanks for helping me keep the memories close!”
Thanks to our readers, and especially our local librarian, for making it happen.
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