The Nose

The Nose: Everything you want to know about Tacoma history, including some true stuff

Pinch yourself, Tacoma. Grit City is suddenly America’s “It” City.

So cool, Microsoft will soon have a video game named after you. So hip, an online-ranking service listed you as one of America’s best college towns. (More on those recognitions later.)

And so divine, you’re reaping the blessings of the giant tent revival meeting down the road at Chambers Bay.

This celebration of hero worship is drawing everyone’s eyes on you — the national media, the global golf glitterati, the legions of Father’s-Day-weekend couch potatoes. Not to mention the endless motorcade of weary souls who stare at your skyline for hours while stuck in traffic.

Listen close, and you’ll hear the world crying out as one voice: “Tell us more about your extraordinary city! We want to know everything about Tacoma!”

The Nose, as always, aims to please. (Sadly, with no better aim than when we sneeze.)

So today, as the warmup act for the city’s second annual “You Think You Know Tacoma” Trivia Night, we present a quiz that will educate visitors and maybe even challenge some natives. For example:

Galloping Gertie was the nickname of:

•  The horse that pulled the city’s first steam fire engine in 1883.

• The original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which collapsed in 1940.

• A madam with chronic gastrointestinal issues who ran one of the city’s many brothels in the early 1950s.

Most of the questions won’t be that easy.

Take your time, and take as many mulligans as you’d like.

1. What remarkable pet with a singular talent once resided at the historic Tacoma Hotel?:

•  Ivan the Gorilla, who used his tongue to create abstract paintings.

• Jack the Bear, who could drink from a beer mug without spilling a drop.

• Norman the Hedgehog, who stalked hotel guests and was reputed to be invisible.

2. Which of the these world-famous taste treats had its origins in Tacoma?

• Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream.

• Almond Roca candy.

• The Mars Bar.

• Gritty City Giggleweed.

• All of the above

• Some of the above.

3. In the 1800s, Tacoma men approved a law governing the size of what?

• The minimum wage. It was the first version of the city’s 15 Now movement, except back then it was $15 a



• Mobs. After a crowd of 500 people (and one mayor) ran 200 Chinese residents out of town in 1885, the city decided enough is enough. All future racist mobs should be limited to 450.

• Beards. In response to the Great Tacoma Beard Lice Epidemic of 1861.

• Women’s hats. The men claimed that large hats obstructed their views.

4. What movie starring Heath Ledger was filmed in Tacoma?

• “10 Things I Hate About You.”

• “8 Things that Mildly Irritate Me About You.”

• “2 Things I Used to Love About You, But Now I Hate About You.”

• “Brokeback Mount Rainier.”

• “The Dark Knight II: Eyes of the Totem.”

5. What famous Tacoman remains active as a ghost, according to legend?

• Thea Foss, who is said to row her boat around her namesake waterway whistling Norwegian folk tunes.

• Alexander Pantages, who is said to escort late-arriving guests to their seats at his namesake theater.

• Ted Bundy, who is said to drive the streets of central Tacoma in his Volkswagen Beetle.

• Troy Kelley, who is said to haunt the state Auditor’s Office more now than when he was actually working as auditor.

6. The century-old vertical-lift bridge in downtown Tacoma, sometimes known as the 11th Street Bridge, was named in honor of whom?

• Murray Morgan.

• Mary Bridge.

• Mike Eleventhstreet

7. The Tacoma lumber company Fred Tebb & Sons provides wood for what musical instrument?

• The Tacoma guitar.

• The Steinway piano.

• The mouth organ.

• The Nose flute.

Oh yeah, about that Tacoma video game: It’s being developed right now for release on Xbox machines in 2016.

The game will take players aboard a spacecraft called Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma, which is found abandoned for mysterious reasons and floating 200,000 miles from Earth.

Gee, maybe we shouldn’t be so honored after all.

And about those college rankings: A data-ranking website called City Described scores Tacoma as the 50th best college town in America, based on livability, culture, job opportunities and other factors.

Among the things that make it appealing, the site says: “Tacoma is sometimes known as America’s Gayest City.” Also: “A number of companies call Tacoma home including Boeing.” And finally: “Light rail runs through the downtown and connects all the way to Seattle.”

We’d sure like to hang out in this version of Tacoma. Wherever it is.