SNAPSHOT IN TIME: MAGNOLIA | Honoring Magnolia's 'grand dame' of history

Then (86 years ago)

Dale Forbus Hogle has lived her entire life near the Magnolia Boulevard home she was born in. Born to Alvero Shoemaker and Lady Willie Forbus more than 80 years ago, she and sister Alvara experienced Magnolia in the years before the Boulevard was paved, when live ponies kept by a family living in her neighborhood provided rides for the children and picking wild black caps was a summer chore for her mother’s yearly batch of blackberry jam.

Her parents divorced when she was a child and her single, working mother — the first female lawyer in Seattle — raised her. Willie Forbus then represented the 44th District (which then included Magnolia) as a state senator. She was one of three women in the chamber in her first term and the lone female senator in her second. Forbus Hogle was raised in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt progressivism, her mother always taking cases of those without the financial means, but with good causes and in need of good defense.

Forbus Hogle attended Magnolia Elementary just after the permanent building opened in 1927 and later Queen Anne High School. She married and raised her children blocks from her childhood home. She became a language teacher at Nathan Hale High School in north Seattle and traveled.

But she has fond memories of her childhood at Magnolia Elementary.

“The lunchroom had a full kitchen for preparing hot lunches,” she said. “I do remember getting small bottles of milk and bringing sack lunches until finally possessing a metal lunchbox with a thermos bottle. Buying lunches was far beyond the financial reach of many … Sandwiches of cheese or tuna or peanut butter with sweet pickles made with my mother’s homemade bread were good enough for me. “

She also recalled how, much like today, your room assignment and teacher were yours for the entire year.

“That classroom became as familiar as your home,” she said. “Rows of individual wooden desks with seats that folded up were bolted to the floor. Each desk had an inkwell on the right rear corner. The wells were filled each morning from a large bottle of liquid blue permanent ink … It was a bad day when ink spelled on your clothes. “… Wood shavings from the pencil sharpener on the wall gave off a strong smell. Students’ coats and jackets produced a musty smell in the cloakroom at the back of every room. There was a kind of comfortable feeling of belonging every day in that classroom.”

Forbus Hogle became familiar with the Magnolia Historical Society (MHS) through an article done on her mother for ‘Magnolia: Memories and Milestones.’ Because she had experienced so much during Magnolia’s infancy — and had a good memory of it — her life as a child and teen in the neighborhood were documented in the book as well. It was that connection that started her on the path of serving as a historical resource, MHS member and writer for the later book, ‘Magnolia: Making More Memories.’

In particular, she was responsible for a thoroughly researched chapter on the archeological history of West Point and significant archeology dig that occurred there in the 1970: ‘The West Point Dig: A Legacy.’ After serving as a member on the second book team, she began serving on the MHS Board, participating in meetings, event planning and the events themselves. She became the editor of the MHS Quarterly and loved finding a “mystery” picture of old Magnolia for readers to identify each issue. She became a regular writer of her memories on Magnolia, many of which were published.

She began a personal history project of using the letters of her grandmother Birdie, a white planation manager’s wife in the Deep South in Mississippi, Forbus Hogle self-published this wonderful and well-researched book of her family history and the history of the South at the time.

Forbus Hogle became a co-teacher in the MHS memoir writing workshops. She encouraged and connected with many students in that program. She spoke on her Magnolia roots at events, did book readings of her chapter on ‘the dig,’ and participated in the design of the historical sculpture in Magnolia Village that the Board donated in its tenth year. She hosted meetings, sold history books at the Farmer’s Market and was ready help for the MHS board she served on for over 10 years.


Even though she has officially retired from the MHS, Forbus Hogle continues to be a rich source for history on Magnolia from the 1920s on, and is considered the ‘Grand Dame’ of Magnolia history. She is one of the few left from her generation to tell the stories in such accurate and loving detail. Her beloved Magnolia School is now a historical landmark, and is being prepared to be re-opened after many years.

She paints, loves opera, takes part in the care of her elderly sister, and enjoys spending time with her family. She still resides in Magnolia, only blocks away from her childhood home. She remains a ready resource when questions of old Magnolia arise and still helps out with the memoir writing class.

This year Forbus Hogle is the recipient of the Magnolia Historical Person of the Year Award because of her vast written documentation of Magnolia history and help through many volunteer hours to the Society. This honor is given only in years when a certain person’s credentials add up to a significant contribution and the Board decides to present it.

Forbus Hogle will be honored in a private lunch reception with members of the MHS Board, a few family and friends. She was awarded a plaque and certificate at the MHS annual meeting and her name will be engraved on the permanent plaque honoring MHS Historical Person award designees, which hangs in the Magnolia Public Library. She is the seventh winner of the award since the Society started 15 years ago. Along, with her mother, who was given the award posthumously by the Society, she joins a small group of distinguished people who have helped Magnolia make memories.

MONICA WOOTON is a member of the Magnolia Historical Society ( To comment on this column, write to