What early Seattle lumber baron was accused in 1876 of embezzling funds intended for “the Grand Lottery of Washington?”
Reached in 1950, what is the record for the lowest temperature recorded in Seattle?
Where was the second Starbucks located?
What is Macklemore’s real name?
If you know the answers to some or all of these questions, then you stand a fighting chance at MOHAI Pub Trivia.
This monthly competition began in April 2012, as a way to help promote the Museum of History & Industry’s (MOHAI) pending reopening in South Lake Union. It began at the Wurst Place restaurant/tavern on Westlake Avenue North, near the old Naval Reserve Armory, where MOHAI moved that December. It’s now also branched out to other bars around town, where volunteer quizmasters offer “MOHAI rounds” as part of those locations’ weekly trivia contests. But the monthly flagship event is still held at the Wurst Place (except during summer breaks).
And, since its inception, it has been dominated by one team of obscure-knowledge buffs — which happens to be the team I’m on.
Up to the challenge
Jeff Long, a rare-book dealer and a longtime Seattle history maven, organized the Decatur Cannonballs. The other members, all founts of obscure knowledge, are Long’s longtime friends: Chris Middleton, Brian Doan, Bill Sandell and Randall Fehr. The team is named after a U.S. Navy “sloop of war,” whose artillery fire helped end the Battle of Seattle, a one-day uprising by local Native Americans against the new white settlement in 1856. (On nights when some members were unable to attend, the remaining team members have used the alternate name Denny Hillbillies, after the hill that was leveled to create today’s Belltown.)
The Cannonballs won all of the first 11 MOHAI Pub Trivia events. Sometimes we won handily; sometimes by a mere half-point. At least once, a tiebreaker question was needed to put the team on top. We aced “name the local building” photo questions, questions based on audio clips from movies filmed in Seattle, the origins of local place names, old political scandals, local celebrities, historic events and sports teams. We beat as many as 10 other teams on any given night.
Finally, in November, a team arose to challenge the Cannonballs. And two categories were found that stumped the Cannonballs: local hip-hop and local Olympic athletes, both vital aspects of our recent cultural scene but both topics about which these 50-ish Caucasian dudes were relatively ignorant.
That night, the Cannonballs finally lost. The previously undefeated champs took it all in stride. After all, constant triumph without at least a few setbacks just isn’t the Seattle way.
MOHAI Trivia at the Wurst Place (510 Westlake Ave. N.) occurs the first Tuesday evening of every month; check MOHAI.org for dates and locations.
(The answers to the previous trivia questions: Henry Yesler; zero; University Village; Ben Haggerty.)
CLARK HUMPHREY is the author of “Walking Seattle” and “Vanishing Seattle.” He also writes a blog at miscmedia.com. To comment on this column, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.