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Cecil H. Smith (1905-1988) was a student at the University of Washington, who supported himself as the leader of a popular local dance band during the Depression.
Born Cecil Haven Smith on June 15, 1905 in Bellingham, Washington, Smith played drums in the Whatcom High School band and spent several years following his graduation from high school working in a factory by day and playing in dance bands at night. In 1926, he entered the University of Washington's School of Architecture, but abandoned his studies after a year, finding it more profitable to continue working as a musician, generally using the name, "Cec" Smith. He re-enrolled at the University in 1929, having decided to pursue a degree in business, but all the time keeping up a very active schedule with his band, which went by several names. Smith's bands played at most of the important social events on campus and went on two tours of Asia during summer vacations. Smith eventually received a law degree and set up practice as an attorney in Bellevue, Washington after the Second World War. He continued to lead a band that played frequently at Eastside social functions until the mid-1950s, when he became interested in local politics.
In later life, Smith continued to be active in local civic and fraternal organizations. An avid traveler and amateur photographer, Smith frequently gave travel lectures, illustrated with his own slides, in the years before his death on July 15, 1988.
The Cecil Haven Smith photograph album documents a 1935 trip to Asia aboard the SS President McKinley of the American Mail Line in which Smith traveled as chief musician with a group of four other musicians (all from the University of Washington): Julian Boone, George Garber, Harold Whelan, and Philipp Weinstein. The ship travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines. Its ports of call included Seattle, Victoria, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Manila. The album contains 169 photographs, many of which depict passengers and crew and show scenes of shipboard life. Also included are images of ships, docks, and harbors, as well as some street scenes in various locations, some of which (such as Kyoto, Japan), are readily recognizable. A note from the donor included with the album explains the context of the trip and indicates that additional information is available on the backs of the prints.
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