Revisiting the Park: Summer in the ’hood

Revisiting the Park: Summer in the ’hood

Revisiting the Park: Summer in the ’hood

Summer in Seattle is the best part of living here, but it’s short compared to other parts of the country. June gloom curtails it even more, and on top of that, COVID-19 insists on keeping some of us indoors more than usual. When can it be party time? When can I go out and play, Mom?

Staying indoors and having to listen to the news makes for a rather un-party-like mood, and if you do decide to walk to the Avenue, the mask hides any enthusiasm you might drum up. After watching a movie called “Greyhound” with Tom Hanks as a submarine commander in World War II, the wife and I realized how great it was to have someone in truly charge in times of crisis.

Grim as it all is, it’s pretty nice to walk to the Avenue and talk to neighbors and residents. Funny how the “house-atosis” thing is so prevalent. It’s hard to walk away from any conversation as pent-up thoughts rush to the mouth. Trying to stay away from politics, one never knows who one might offend (said he who learned the hard way).

Back in the day, we met at Tully’s Coffee, where there were two tables, one for the Republicans, one for the Democrats, but it never really mattered as conversation wasn’t always about politics, and after two or three cups of coffee, all worldly things were dissected.

In the '30s and '40s, residents north of Madison were mostly blue collar and Democrat, and south of Madison was Republican in general. We waist-high tykes from J.J. McGilvras wore our candidate buttons proudly.

In the early '50s when I was stationed in Fort Ord. I sometimes spent time in Haight Ashbury with friends. There, the political views were near a boiling point. Some areas were off limits to military personnel, which in itself was an education. One friend I was stationed with chose to go AWOL due to the influence of others in the area. With the help of one of our Army buddies, we spent a good part of an evening trying to talk sense into him, as in court martial or jail time, bad resume and the rest. Fortunately, we ran out of Falstaff funds just before he said, “Hell with it, let’s go back to base!” Like the rest of us in 1957, there were no wars big enough to send us overseas, so we did our service time and learned a trade to take with us into the world. Mine was communications, photography, art and cartooning.

After the Army, I came back to Madison Park to find the taverns abuzz with the politics of the day. It would seem a small neighborhood like ours would tend to think the same way, but no. Surprise, surprise! Quite the opposite. I had a double-date dinner (blind date for me) at the Underground in the new Pioneer Square, which had great jazz and an excellent menu. The conversation drifted into politics. My friends across from us ascertained by my expression and silence that my date’s views were the complete opposite of mine. Little was said the rest of the evening.

Caucus groups formed in Madison Park. My friend would often get tickets for events where the “Young Republicans” gathered, which always promised to be social highlights. One night at a local neighborhood party, a Madison Parker interrupted a political conversation and said, “Yah! He’s an a**hole!” Those standing by laughed as they knew him and his brand of humor. Then he said, “And I’m not the only one feeling that way. Just ask Lehman!” More laughter, but embarrassment on my part.

At most of these social affairs, there were rooms set aside for smoking both cigarettes and those tailor-made types with twisted ends. This was quite the thing to be a part of: One event was held at the Sorrento Hotel, where a variety of politically minded people enjoyed discounted drinks. Not always partaking of lengthy political conversations, after enough cocktails, our group had a great time.

I received a mailed invitation (including guest) to a gathering in Magnolia hosting an orchestra from Europe. I called an acquaintance to see if she’d like to join me for a fun Friday night, but she declined. So, Plan B, I called another gal at her work and described the invite to a sort of political event. She was doing a runway thing at Nordstrom’s and would wear the outfit to the event: knee-high boots, mini-skirt and blouse. Being shorter by an inch, I wore my high-heeled boots, which were in fashion at the time. Also, my bell bottoms and leather vest polished off the look. A couple of gin and tonics later, we set sail to the event.

Wow! Valet parking! We walked through the garden leading to the estate, which hung over a cliff overlooking the Sound. Ever have the feeling someone is staring at you? Was my fly open? Nope! I’ve got it; it was Linda. They don’t even know Linda’s political views, and they already like her? Me? Well, I made way to procure gin tonics and, on my way back, saw Linda had made lots of friends. One even knew me, so that was good.

As the evening darkened, we moved to the main house downstairs to the ballroom. Live music and seeing other friends proved to be a great evening. Then, who shows up but the first phone call “Reject Date.” She looked shocked to see me with a date, let alone a gorgeous one. I introduced her and noticed her mouth contort.

The coffee group we’d enjoyed at Tully’s disappeared but metamorphosed into either Starbucks or Madison Kitchen small groupings. Of course, COVID put a damper on that. We’ve resorted to a hygienic lifestyle at home watching the news in increments.

Kudos to Washington State and Madison Park for adhering to mask wearing. We shall get through this!