News for Anarchists & Activists:
Evergreen Journal: No place like home
It had a carefree spirit that made the community a home for
crusaders and misfits and even drew national headlines for
Monday, December 18, 2000
By CANDY HATCHER
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
HOME -- What Dorothy said about this place used to be true.
There was no place like it.
Home, a 240-acre community southwest of Gig Harbor, has a
history unlike any other. For more than 20 years, it was
known nationally as a Utopia.
The colony drew communists and socialists, anarchists and
women who campaigned for emancipation. It attracted people
who advocated free love and others who just wanted to be
left alone. One native recalled it as simply a safe,
nurturing place to grow up.
Every house was full of books. Children were encouraged to
read, ask questions and explore. "People talked all the
time, and they talked about important things. Philosophy,
socialism and every other kind of ism. No subject was
taboo," Eleen Greco, now 80, recalled.
But the live-and-let-live spirit that made this spot so
inviting to crusaders and misfits a century ago, that drew
scorn from Congress and gave the Supreme Court pause, is
Sure, it still has all the charm you expect of a place
called Home: historic houses in the hills and along the
waterfront; cedar-shaded roads; businesses such as Lulu's
Home Port, where the waitress knows what you want to eat,
even if you don't.
People still respect each other's privacy. It's still a nice
place to raise a family. But 81 years after a judge ordered
the colony dissolved, few of the old ideals remain.
Government seems ever present, requiring topographical
surveys and inspections and all kinds of permits. Bridges
bring stop-and-go traffic to the peninsula. Beaches that
used to be everybody's aren't for just anybody anymore.
Through the years, "so many people have responded to the
sound of Home," Greco said. "It's been nirvana for all kinds
of people." But Home's story, she said, is the "birth and
death of a unique civilization."
Three families looking for peace and tolerance arrived on
the shores of Joe's Bay in Pierce County in 1896. They
bought land from the bay to the top of the hill, set up the
Mutual Home Colony Association and vowed to keep government
far from their lives.
The rules of the growing colony were simple. The association
held title to all the land and operated the village meeting
place and the trading post. Residents joined the association
and put their homes on community land. Each family was
allowed to use up to two of the town's 217 acres. They could
do what they wanted, believe what they wanted, as long as
they lived peacefully and didn't hurt anyone.
They didn't drink; they didn't smoke; they didn't gamble or
go to church. The only businesses were cooperatives where,
instead of money, members traded goods from their small
gardens and farms.
In 1899, Home had 54 residents living quietly and
unobtrusively. By 1905, the population had grown to 120,
wrote historian Charles Pierce LeWarne, whose research of
Home is documented in his book "Utopias on Puget Sound,
Some were attracted by the controversies, which started in
1901 when Home's newspaper, Discontent, advocated free love.
Tacoma's newspapers denounced the colony. A grand jury
recommended that Home's post office be closed.
In September 1901, when an anarchist in Buffalo, N.Y.,
fatally shot President McKinley, the eyes of Pierce County
turned to Home with fury. The Tacoma Daily Ledger, LeWarne
wrote, said "each anarchist should be killed as a wild
beast, a mad dog . . . eliminated, tooth and branch."
Frenzied Tacoma residents tried to reach Home, but the
captain who ferried passengers between Home and Tacoma
prevented the confrontation by refusing to bring them to Key
The colony continued to grow, attracting radicals from
Chicago and California to lecture or visit friends. William
Z. Foster, who became the principal communist leader in the
nation, was a frequent visitor. Lena Morrow Lewis, a leader
in the socialist movement, came, too.
Home's founding principles began falling away as more people
moved there, some attracted by the cheap goods available at
the colony's cooperative. In 1909, the association, with
more than 200 members, amended its bylaws and allowed
members to obtain the titles to the land on which they
In 1911, four women and two men were charged with indecent
exposure for nude bathing in the bay. Jay Fox, an anarchist
newspaper editor who had moved to Home the previous year,
wrote an editorial, "Nudes and Prudes," criticizing those
who had complained about the sunbathers.
Fox was arrested on charges of advocating disrespect for the
law. A jury convicted him but urged a lenient sentence. He
appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to
overturn the conviction, and he served six weeks of a
two-month jail sentence before the governor pardoned him.
Much later, he told a reporter that people in Home thought
nothing of taking a dip in the bay without their swimsuits.
There was nothing obscene about it, no mingling of the
"I made some rather pointed comment in my paper," he told
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in December 1942, and "the
thing went up through the courts. I was charged with
printing and publishing matter tending to bring the courts
into disrepute. It was persecution, pure and simple.
"Our people may have had radical ideas, but otherwise they
conducted themselves like any other decent householders."
The P-I added a footnote to that story. "The term
'anarchist' means one who believes in an absence of
government or an irreducible minimum of government, but not
necessarily, as it is popularly believed, in the violent
overthrow of government or complete destruction of organized
The Mutual Home Colony Association was dissolved in 1919, a
few months before Eleen Greco was born. But the philosophies
that had made the community famous stuck around far longer.
Reading, Greco said, was "the most important thing in the
world. I read anything I could get my hands on from the age
of 3. That's what everybody did."
Music also was part of life. A 1904 survey, author LeWarne
wrote, indicated Home had "three pianos, eight organs, eight
violins, six guitars, two mandolins, two cornets, one flute
and about a half-dozen harmonicas."
Everyone had a cow and a garden. "There was no such thing as
everybody having a job," Greco said. Her father raised
chickens, picked loganberries, was a "jack of all trades."
People could walk wherever they needed to go -- unless they
needed a lawyer. Then they had to take a bus to Tacoma.
"It is a wonderful thing to grow up without a bar or a
tavern or a lawyer or -- dare I say it -- a church," Greco
said. "You remove all those things and you have a peaceful,
She left Home as a teenager for a job in Tacoma, then moved
to Seattle and Los Angeles, New York and Connecticut,
finding interesting work wherever she landed. She helped lay
out Boeing's plans for the B-17. She worked for dressmakers
and designers and an artist. She married and divorced twice.
In 1958, she came back to Home to visit her parents and
Forty-two years later, she is preparing to move again. She
wants to be in the middle of things, to be able to walk or
take a bus to lectures, museums, a grocery store that sells
homemade bread. "It isn't enough to walk around the roads
here. You need to do something with somebody and talk about
Home still has interesting people who like the woods, the
quiet, the rural feel. Many are retired. Some are loggers;
others pick brush in the woods to sell to nurseries for
There's a post office, but it carries Lakebay's name, not
Home's. The community has a laundromat and three convenience
Back in the woods, you may find a teepee or a campsite or an
old school bus that serves as shelter. One dirt road leads
to Winona Grymes and her family -- her grandmother, father,
husband, son and nephew -- who have set up camp on their
property while they build their houses.
"Port Orchard was getting too big," Grymes said. Home is "a
beautiful community, nice and quiet. Trails for our dogs.
Birds everywhere. There's a bald eagle right there."
Scott Moore, 34, a fifth-generation Home resident, counted
five deer in his yard last week. But the peninsula has
changed a lot since his childhood. Traffic is ridiculous.
"We used to go to Tacoma for a movie, and we'd count cars
from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Home. Ten or 12 would be a
lot. Now, 10 or 12 cars pass before you get out of your
He understands the attraction. "You look at this area.
There's so much waterfront. Bays and coves and big,
beautiful homes with views. And then you have the back roads
that go nowhere with an old school bus at the end. We have
real wealthy and dirt poor, and not too many in the middle."
The live-and-let-live attitude is still prevalent, he said.
"Nobody really bothers anybody." But anarchists are "part of
P-I reporter Candy Hatcher can be reached at 206-448-8320 or
The Website of Lord Weÿrdgliffe:
The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:
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night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
-- The Book of Dzyan.