Dear Ms. Davies:-
Received your letter May 17th – inviting material regarding my brother Tom’s sojourn in Seattle. Will endeavor to give you as much data as I can remember although a long time has elapsed since his leaving the Pacific Coast. When Tom first came to Seattle in 1901, he attended my oldest brother George's Business School called the Acme Business College.
George Thomson and F.R. McLaren were associate proprietors of the school for a period of seventeen years when they sold out. F.R. McLaren securing a responsible position with the Engineering Depatment of the City of Seattle while my brother George went East to New York City to study art attending the Art Student’s League for over one year.
I do not remember how long Tom attended the school – may be six months or so. He was very clever with pen and ink and secured a position with Maring and Ladd (later Maring and Blake successors Photo Engravers) as artist. It was not long before he could do the work of experienced artists. Instead of his doing the work according to the instructions given by Mr. Maring he would invariably work out the design to suit his own ideas which would make Mr. Maring angry. During his stay with this concern there was not a single instance when a customer refused to accept his work.
One time when in the office when Tom was at work he was trying out a new pen making a sketch of a ladies head, taking about 3 short minutes to complete it, then tossed it into the waste basket. I picked it out of the basket and had it framed and still have it. Tom at the time was rooming and boarding with C.C. Maring proprietor with Mr. Blake of the Engraving House.
One day Tom was sent over to the Seattle Engraving Co. Maring and Blake’s strongest competitor. While there waiting to see Mr. Adams he made a pencil sketch on the counter. Mr. Adams when he saw it asked Tom how much money he was getting when told said that he would give $1000 per week more if he would go to work for him. Tom accepted and went to work at once, but kept on boarding and rooming at Mr. Marings house – void of any kind of fear.
Tom was always neatly attired in the best of clothes. He was a good tenor singer and would sing for hours but did not talk very much. He appeared to be in the best of spirits and always smilingly happy.
He left Seattle in 1904 or 5
The paintings that I have by Tom were forwarded to the coast thru my sister Mrs. T. J. Harkness of Owen Sound. Have asked my brother to write up what he can remember of his association with Tom while in Seattle and will forward it to you. I believe that if you were to correspond with Mr. and Mrs. Shaw of ----? You would no doubt get some valuable information. Tom used to room with these people.
Following is a list of Tom’s paintings in my possession: first “The Ragged Oaks”, about 8 x 10” a cobalt blue sky with two ragged oak trees. A little off centre with two patches of foliage in glowing dabs of colour, wild foreground in green, brown, simple mauve, blue and yellow a real painting. Second: The Fish, an 8’x10’ …..Third: do not know the name but it shows a fire burning in the foreground…..Fourth: Autumn Scene..
I have two pen sketches one crayon all ladies heads and a picture of four young men sitting on a bench with their feet crossed over each other done with India ink, water and brush a very comical mixture of expressions. Tom was very fond of the water and a canoe and was a good mandolin player.
If there are any items not clear to you kindly advise me and will try to help your all I can with my truly meager assistance.
By letting me know when your book is published you will confer a favour upon,
Yours very truly,
F. [Fraser] Thomson
(LAC, MG30 D38 'Blodwen Davies fonds', Vol. 11)