When people dash into a burning building to save personal treasure, what is the first item on the rescue list? The family snapshots, of course.
Snapshots — the only truly reliable window we have to peek into the past — do often tell the stories, or at least provide a short, sharp view of guarded and unguarded moments in a small, quick aperture opening on yesterday.
These snaps, taken nearly 72 years ago, convey a happy childhood in Madison Park. Both parents are long gone, and I only have hearsay remembrances and short references to Madison Park and the Edgewater Apartments, where, beginning in October 1939, we lived in Unit 4102 on East McGilvra Street.
I was born in ’38 at Swedish Hospital, and my brother, Anthony, arrived in March 1940.
My dad, who had a bent for radio electronics and had completed radio-engineering classes at the University of Washington, finally broke free of his dad’s insurance businesses and opened the Radio Appliance Co. at 4122 E. Madison Street in fall 1939. The building is now home to Park Place Deli.
His description of business at Radio Appliance: “Operate sales and service…for home radios, car radios, boat radios, jukeboxes…sell refrigerators, sell and repair appliances. I made a specialty of the sales and service of recording equipment and the making of recordings on location. Demonstrate and sell recording apparatus and public-address systems to public schools and private educational institutions.”
There was a Chinese laundry next to Radio Appliance.
The photos also tell us of happy summers playing in the sand and warm waters of Lake Washington.
Later family remembrances recalled ferry crossings to Kirkland, where we would motor north to Juanita Beach to see the great-grandparents, Herb and Hattie Hanson. In those days, Juanita Beach was far into the country.
By July 1941, my dad’s retail business on Madison Street had to close — “business slow.” He was already doing double-duty as a radio electrician for $1.25 an hour on Luckenbach steamships in Elliott Bay.
By November 1941, he had joined the Civil Aeronautics Administration as a radio engineer and was shipped north to Alaska.
We were able to join him and, for the next six years, spent most of our time as a family in the Territory.
There’s one family story that endured about the Edgewater Apartments, although, of course, it can’t be conjured from my memory. My mom spoke of a gentle cow — cowbell and all — that would meander through the Edgewater streets.
Maybe Madison Park old-timers can recall the cow that wandered the waterfront.
MICHAEL DOBRIN now lives in Alameda, Calif., and owns Michael Dobrin Public Relations. He owns a condo in Seattle and was recently in town for the holidays.[[In-content Ad]]