At one time, rentals were far-and-few-between here in Madison Park. One reason: Flight crews and university students found it to be a most desirable location. A big draw for these groups was the Attic Alehouse and Red Onion Tavern, which were in the top 10 in beer sales in Washington state. 

I was in between places to live when a guy and gal I knew offered their couch. It meant sharing with a dog and cat, but I loved the eight-legged heating pad. The apartment was just blocks from the Bellevue airfield, where a restaurant and bar called Pantley’s Pagan Room was popular. 

After moving in my trunk full of everything on wheels, handles and hangers, we joined a large crowd at Pantley’s, and it felt much like the pub scene in Madison Park. Everyone was very warm and friendly. 

The following weeks there included many get-togethers and dinner parties. 

On Saturday evenings, around closing time, the jetsetters would simply walk downstairs at Pantley’s and fly to Portland, Ore., and return Sunday evening, as the liquor laws in Washington state meant everything shut down midnight Saturday and all-day Sunday. 

 

Settling in

As time went by, I realized that, without a program, it was difficult to tell who was single or married among this warm, fuzzy group to which I added the adjective “dangerous.” 

Soon, word of a couch became available back in the Park, so I bid adieu to the couple and my furry bedmates and said hello to two flight attendants and a secretary. They welcomed me with a cocktail and explained the dos and don’ts. 

One problem: not much hot water and short showers. I had a solution but was voted down with laughter. Being the fourth to use the last of the hot water, I was able to do a couple short laps before an ice-cold dousing. 

My plan: wake up early to beat the crowd, relax smugly with my mug of coffee and watch the frenzy for the remaining hot water.

Another flight attendant who was flying out of L.A. for a while offered her bachelorette apartment, on the second floor in the rear of the building. It had a Murphy bed. The bed had spent too much time on end and was really lumpy. 

A newlywed couple was in the apartment above, and in the summertime, with the windows open, the newlyweds and I all found sleep at the same time.

 

Roommate squabbles

Not long after that, my grandfather passed away and left his house to me. He had built it in the ‘20s. 

At long last, after Army cots, couches and lumpy mattresses, I finally had my own room and my own bed.

While bartending at the Attic, word of my new digs spread. I guess it was my turn to give back and help some friends — plus, the rent would help with expenses. 

A lifelong friend I met way back in fourth grade became roommate No. 1. 

Roommate No. 2 had just been given his walking papers, and weeks later, cousin Louie, back from two years in Vietnam, became roommate No. 3.

We set forth rules sharing shelves and so on — good intentions all for naught. 

One Friday, like clockwork, there was a knock on the door. Roommate No. 2 answered and invited the attractive, tall brunette in for cocktails and music while she waited for Roommate No. 1 to come home with a support check. 

Roommate No. 1 called on the phone from his job as a flight instructor, “What’s the happenin‘?” 

“Nothing, just having a drink with your ex,” replied Roommate No. 2.

The world’s fastest speed record was set from Renton Airfield to Madison Park, where Roommate No. 1 found all of us just enjoying music and gin-and-tonics. 

The following Sunday, as we sat reading the paper, drinking coffee, Roommate No. 1 looked in the freezer and asked loudly, “Hey, what the hell’s going on?” 

Apparently, he had stashed a big Hershey candy bar with almonds behind the ice tray. 

“You ate my candy bar?” 

“There wasn’t a name on it! It was sure good, though — ice cold with crunchy almonds!” 

 

The best roommate of all

Roommates have come and gone, but the best one by far has to be my wife, Karen, of 32 years this Sept. 27, 2012. Happy anniversary, my love!

RICHARD CARL LEHMAN is a longtime Madison Park resident.