Terry Pettus was a Seattle journalist and activist. Radicalized after the Great Depression, he became active with the Communist Party and the Washington Commonwealth Federation. For the latter, he organized “hoots” – impromptu events described by reporter Eric Scigliano as “fundraising, consciousness-raising, and hellraising parties”. It is from these events that the term “hootenanny” is derived.
In 1953, he was arrested by the FBI for conspiracy to advocate the violent overthrow of government. He refused to name names after conviction, and was sentenced to eight years in prison. He only served 60 days and his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.
After conviction, he became an advocate for houseboats, helping form the Lake Union Houseboat Owners Association and working to stop Seattle from dumping sewage in Lake Union. A year after his death, the city honored him with Terry Pettus Park in Eastlake near a houseboat community he helped create.
EPACC will meet on Friday, January 25th at 8:00 AM in Terry Pettus Park for coffee and hellraising. Here’s a map.