In the 1940s, we young tykes were just past training wheels when we began to wonder what the adult world was about.
Around dusk we headed down to 43rd and McGilvra. Jumping onto tiptoes to peer in the windows of the Purple Poodle (now McGilvra’s), we saw a few men deep in conversation. As the sky darkened, the female faction came in through the back door, donned in makeup and fancy hairdos. The volume increased on the jukebox, and suddenly laughter and frivolity turned it into a party.
This transition indicated to us it was our bedtime.
During the warm summer days, members of the armed services visited our villa by the sea. Some were stationed nearby and others were the wounded from Marine hospitals.
They came for an afternoon of socializing.
On early mornings, when delivering newspapers, some were seen leaving dwellings that had offered them shelter from the cold night before. I handed a paper to one such couple as he kissed the woman goodbye, slipping his shoes on hurriedly to catch the bus.
When the war ended, the Madison Park ship workers moved away to be closer to jobs. Madison Park was experiencing a lull in rentals.
Would it ever come back?
Eventually, word got out that affordable rentals were available, and it piqued the interest of college students and young office workers. Airlines were building bases in Seattle, so an altogether different influx of renters came to town, and did they ever turn heads! Stewardesses, whose attributes were young, intelligent, tall, attractive and single, revitalized our villa by the sea with their bright, shiny smiles — it was contagious!
It was good to be single in Madison Park!
This newfound conglomerate could be seen in the early morning at the Bakery, which was the only coffee outlet at the time. We welcomed them to our local taverns: The Red Onion — which was largely a college draw — and The Attic next door. We lost the Broadmoor Tavern, as it turned into an NBC bank, and the Purple Poodle became Lee and Bob Angels’ Village Foods, which was a necessity.
The Attic was decorated with the theme of an actual attic, with cobwebs, sheet music from the teens on the walls, barrels for seats and larger barrels for tables. The “in” music was Peter Paul and Mary on the big jukebox. Suddenly we had the two top taverns in Washington state, and if there was any doubt, you could almost pick out the members of the liquor board. Yes, we surpassed the fun limit in bar regulations. Another bar on that list was owned by John Swank, my uncle on my mom’s side, called the Lynnwood Tavern. His also had a catch—a theater-sized popcorn machine. What goes better with popcorn than a cold beer served by college-aged barmaids in very short shorts?
Taverns were turning up the style!
Our secret villa by the sea was being discovered
Apparel changed from bib overalls or jeans to slacks and dinner jackets probably mid-’60s. It was suddenly becoming competitive.
I rented a house with four others where Washington Towers is now and was forced to make rules for the house for dating and whatnot. We had dinner parties and cruised over to the local taverns in a four-cylinder engine vessel with a covered roof. Engine hand cranked, champagne in hand, we headed out north to the little dock to tie up.
Total cruise time was six minutes.
The party scene changed even further, with several flight crew leasing large mansions, arranging huge soirées with waitstaff and live music. Groups of us reserved dining rooms in restaurants like Sundays on Queen Anne. Boats were chartered for the Seafair festivities and general cruising around Lake Washington and the Sound with dinner and music. A club called “Jet Blue” jetted to remote ski areas.
It was becoming quite eclectic around here.
Then another change: taverns opened on Sundays!
That first Sunday, the streets were packed and a parade ensued. The Red Onion front door opened and a bagpipe wound its way through the tables toward the back playing a favorite tune. They were followed by a friendly lot, proud to march in natural attire and careful not to get too close to the fire ahead of each. People stood on table tops to get a better view. There was cheering, clapping, whistling, yelling and laughing uncontrollably as the parade marched out the back door. That antic, and variations of it, made its way to the waterways.
Yes, mate, any day is a good day for a “Flaming A.”
In the years to follow, a person couldn’t walk down the street for the throngs out on a Friday night, let alone have your date not be seriously waylaid on her way to the bathroom in one of the taverns.
In the ‘80s, it was Becks for a Buck on Thursdays, which, in its aftermath, raised concern for the owners, so it was reconsidered. Later, the scene changed to actual liquor licenses being granted and our very first fine restaurant opened—Peters in the Park! It was a huge success and now greatly missed. Carpeted, quiet, stylish, sophisticated, martini and Jody Benson, chef to the stars!