Revisiting the Park: Take a left turn at COVID

Revisiting the Park: Take a left turn at COVID

Revisiting the Park: Take a left turn at COVID

What the … this is getting really old. Up until today, we’d seen gatherings inside and out with the proper social distancing, but now it’s back to square one. Let’s hope we knock it out of the park in time for Christmas happenings (within reason).

In the mornings we have Starbucks, Madison Kitchen and Madison Park Bakery providing fresh coffee and baked goods. In the evenings perhaps a cocktail is in order at the many fine establishments. It’s all there for us to take advantage of in our villa by the sea even though we may look like masked riders.

The decade of the ’40s is so long ago, but many remember restrictions like this because of World War II. After a Saturday matinee, we were allowed to peruse Seattle proper, but we had to avoid one area: First Avenue. Apparently, it was rather unseemly in those days. When you tell your youth not to do something, the question becomes how bad could First Avenue be?

Disobeying orders, we traversed the area and found lots of taverns with loud people dancing and laughing. There was a fist fight just like in the movies, but still unlike the movies in that when struck real hard, the guy didn’t just turn his head and fight on. In reality, we saw a guy get hit in the chops, fly the width of the sidewalk onto a car and slide down to the ground limply. But this wasn’t the reason for the avenue being off limits.

We walked south on First, our goal being Warshal’s Sporting Goods store, when a tall, attractive lady walked by us smiling and leaving behind a lingering perfume. We almost fell when watching her walk away. But this still was not the reason for our parents not wanting us on this street.

Suddenly, we could hear music and sounds of all kinds accompanied by flashing lights: It was the penny arcade. Obliged to check this out, we wandered about the machines toward the rear of the building and found a girly show playing! Aha! This commanded our every wit. Atop the machines were two eye viewers. Since there were three of us, we had to share a one-eyed view. After plunking in a dime and turning the handle, a young girl in the machine looked at us! The image stopped moving just before it got “really good!” A disclaimer read, “Deposit another dime!” Several dimes later, we realized this disrobing thing was taking way too long. Why does that seem to jibe with women in general taking so long to get ready?

Making our way to Warshal’s we passed more taverns and tempting pawn shops that sold many used items that were way too much for our pocketbooks. Inside Warshal’s we realized this was going to be fun — we were in the right place. Before us was row after row of stuff. On one aisle there was a big basket filled with Bolo knives and wearable sheaths for $1. They were about two feet long and meant to cut underbrush (mostly dull). They looked good hanging from our belts, and we used them to build lean-to’s in the Canterbury forest.

Through the years we bought mariner suits, four-man rubber rafts and just about all of our ski gear for around $100. We skied all day, and knowing the lift operator we continued into the night. It was topped off with thawing frozen jeans and jackets by the fireplace.

During ski season we couldn’t afford all the ski and sled accessories, but if we crushed in the handles on aluminum garbage can lids, they made perfect sleds. One time, we climbed the barbed-wire fence of Broadmoor and sled on the golf course in our less than fashionable garb. We really made speed and yelled at skiers to “watch out!” to which they replied, “You’re ruining our tracks!” Soon others showed up with sleds, and it was all good.

As we all know, when it snows, no one can leave the Park. Years ago, people stood in line at the pay phone in front of the drug store to call the office, “Can’t make it over Madison. The buses are stuck sideways on the road!” Of course, these callers had tight grips on skis and poles. Leaving the gear outside the Red Onion, these crusaders stepped in to fuel up for a day of skiing and sledding the steep hills around. East Lee was one of the best to hit.

After closing time at the taverns, we trudged up to 38th. Two guys at the bottom signaled us with flashlights that no cars were coming, and it was safe to take the run. The street was covered with snow on a sheet of ice. A friend and I piloted a small sled down 38th to 43rd, where we turned and plowed into a seldom-used street and came to a complete stop. What a rush! It’s always best to keep a sled in the center of a street to keep from running into parked cars. Let’s pray for snow and meet at the top of 38th!

All of these things were important to us. It gave us a chance to escape whatever restrictions were upon us.

There’s something to be said about a small neighborhood such as ours. COVID-19 makes for “house-atosis” and a real need to socialize. In the early morning, any offer of fresh coffee and treats invites a meeting of like-minded folks. In the evenings it is possible to meet for cocktails even if it’s under a tent in rainy, cold weather and/or maybe Zoom.

It is all a big boost to our morale, and under those masks, there are smiles.