The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is excited to announce that it is hosting John Bennett and Clay Eals in conversation for a live Zoom presentation on Thursday, March 10 at 6:00 PM. John Bennett, author of “The Shyvers Multiphone Story” and a longtime sponsor and board member of the historical society, will be interviewed by Clay Eals, a founding member and former executive director of the historical society. Registration is required. Register below.
Bennett’s 152-page, large-format book, illustrated with hundreds of photos and news and magazine clippings, recounts the fascinating history of a little-known precursor to the jukebox. First called the Shyvers Music Phone and later the Shyvers Multiphone, this Seattle-based invention was placed in restaurants and bars. It allowed a patron to drop a nickel into a slot and select a song to be heard on a speaker as transmitted by phone lines from a 78rpm record that was played by a “hostess” at a centralized, remote location. The Shyvers Music Phones and Multiphones were popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and they were showcased in the 1949 Doris Day film “My Dream Is Yours.” Their demise followed a music-industry transition to 45rpm records and high-quality jukeboxes. Today, Shyvers Music Phones and Mulitphones are treasured collectibles. Bennett, who operated a jukebox repair and sale business called Jukebox City in Seattle in the 1980s, parlayed his interest in coin-operated music devices and passion for historic preservation into publishing this handsome and evocative book, released in fall 2021. Providing key editing and design assistance was John’s sister, Jane Bennett. The book is for sale via eBay.
About John Bennett (pictured left): John Bennett has been a contributing member of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society since it’s inception in 1997, as well as having served on the board for a number of years. Through Luna Park Cafe, Bennett has been a longtime sponsor of the historical society and has been instrumental in the initial restoration and ongoing maintenance of the Log House Museum. With a background in theater work and antiquing, John has always found ways to work with his hands. His first antique shop, Jukebox City, was in Pioneer Square in the 80’s. He started investing in properties and slowly transitioned to architectural restoration and preservation work. In 1988 he built and opened the Luna Park Cafe in West Seattle, leading to his first foray into revitalizing a lost and forgotten neighborhood corridor. John received the King County Historical Organization‘s Charles Peyton award for Heritage Advocacy this year. He is a contributing member to Historic Seattle where he has taken part in their Learning Labs, community discussions, as well as the first InterUrban event. He received the Community Investment Award in 2014.
About Clay Eals (pictured right): Clay Eals is a longtime supporter of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society since its founding in 1984, notably including a tenure as Executive Director from 2013 to 2017. Eals work with the historical society also includes serving as the President of the Board of Directors, succeeding the organization’s founder Elliott Couden. Outside of the historical society, Eals served for five years as the editor of the West Seattle Herald and White Center News, 13 years as an editor and writer for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, five years as communication officer for the Encompass children’s services nonprofit in North Bend, and two years as a journalism teacher and adviser at South Seattle College. Eals also edited and directed production of the first local history book related to West Seattle and White Center, ‘West Side Story,’ published by Robinson Newspapers in 1987. For the past three years he and Jean Sherrard have shared the role of “Now & Then” columnist for PacificNW magazine of the Sunday Seattle Times, a column founded and maintained for its first 37 years by historian Paul Dorpat.
This talk is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors 4Culture, Luna Park Cafe, Alki Beach Academy, and HomeStreet Bank.