Outdoors

Making History

A new chapter for the Good Time Girls

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Seven years ago, Sara Holodnick and Marissa McGrath first tightened their corsets and took to the streets of downtown Bellingham as the Good Time Girls. From uncovering tales about everything from prostitution to Prohibition, their costumed “Sin & Gin” tours aimed to provide citizens of the city they lived in with an unvarnished history of its past.

They did just that, and along the way, they met—and hired—Kolby LaBree and Wren Urbigkit, who were officially handed the corset strings this spring, and have been hard at work continuing McGrath and Holodnick’s legacy of bringing Bellingham’s lesser-known history to light.

Changes the duo have made include more all-ages tours on weekend afternoons through the summer at locales such as Whatcom Creek, the Columbia-Eldridge neighborhood, State Street, and the South Side, but the “Sin & Gin” tours are still on track weekends through September, and the Good Time Girls’ trademark brand of “feminism, sass and entertaining history” remains intact.

“I find this statement is important because it is part of the Good Time Girls ‘brand,’ and how we approach history,” LaBree says. “The Good Time Girls was started by women, with a focus on women. I think our approach is part of a larger trend of looking at history from other perspectives rather than the ones who did the writing down of it all—which was largely white men for a long time.”

LaBree likens researching and developing tours to being a “history detective,” and Urbigkit says her favorite thing to do when presenting a tour is to find the ways an anecdote can be made more approachable.

“That could be anything from describing what it would have been like to live above the swirling cesspool in Old Town, to simply using the occasional well-placed curse word,” she says. “These stories are incredible, but they can be pretty hard to suss out for the average person. I see it as our job to make them come to life.”

Urbigkit points out that their predecessors began the tours to talk about the city’s “working girls,” and points out that telling the stories of marginalized facets of the population—women, people of color, and members of the LGBQT community—is always going to be an important part of that they do.

The more family-friendly “Bellinghistory” tours in locales like the Columbia neighborhood have also provided insights into the city’s past.

“Earlier this year I learned a lot about the Bellingham coal mines and the hundreds of miles of tunnels beneath the Columbia and Birchwood neighborhoods,” Urbigkit says. “It’s an especially fun topic to talk about with kids.”

LaBree says she’s aware the Good Time Girls are also making history in Bellingham.

“I just want people to look around their environment and ask questions,” she says. “Why is this (town, building, person, law) here? Why is this like this? Has it always been like this? What do we want this to be like going forward?”

For more details about the “Sin & Gin” and “Bellinghistory” tours, go to http://www.goodtimegirlstours.com

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