Revisiting the Park: Making the best of wet weather

Revisiting the Park: Making the best of wet weather

Revisiting the Park: Making the best of wet weather

It was all quiet on the Ave in Madison Park one mid-winter in the early '50s. Usually the two popular taverns, the Attic and the Red Onion, were heard before they were seen. One night, I joined two friends (who worked at Flying Tigers) at the Attic, and we proceeded to lift our spirits. As the night progressed, we got an invitation to come to a party on Perkins Lane in Magnolia. Toasting beer mugs, we rousingly replied, “Yes!”

On this cold and dreary, wet and windy evening, we headed west. There is no short cut to Magnolia —never was, never will be. Driving down several narrow unlit lanes, we found Perkins Lane at sea level on the edge of Puget Sound. There before us was a gigantic two-story home completely lit up, with music streaming outside.

Amazingly, a large segment from Madison Park was there, happily imbibing and soaking in the heat from a fireplace burning real wood. Later in the evening I noticed a large group of females outside on the covered porch. It seems a problem existed with one them who felt distraught over her relationship with a young man that ended just days before. She proceeded to be cured with overindulging in cocktails. This cure drove her to the only restroom in the house, which was on the second floor. Sadly, she locked the door, didn’t answer our pleas to open, and there didn’t seem to be another way in. The only recourse for the other females was at the south end of the porch where a long infinite yard led to the water’s edge. Men found relief further down the dark, wet, windy beach. Laughing along the way, I found myself in front of a lawn swing. It was too quiet — it was unsettling. Suddenly, a wave crashed on the bulkhead and shoved me onto the lawn swing. I could not believe it. Soaking wet, I managed to pull myself together and join those who had not experienced the 20-foot wave.

Standing in front of the fire, the group of us drank our beverages while engulfed in a rising steam cloud and discussed the issue at hand: The gal who locked herself in the bathroom must’ve passed out. We knew it was locked by way of a dead bolt. The only solution was to get a brave soul to climb a ladder two stories to the window of the bathroom, not knowing if it was open or not.

A friend yelled, “Hey! Dick’s already wet and he’s an iron worker.” I bowed humbly and stated, “Can’t! Union law.” Yah, sure. Minutes later I climbed an old wooden ladder up two stories where a 15-foot moss-covered slanted roof lay before me — but, there was an open window! One foot in the gutter, I saw a board half the size of a 2-by-4 that, if it was nailed down, could be a hand hold. I shoved off, grasping the long board. Thankfully, it was nailed down.

I reached for the window and opened it, fully noticing the young lady leaning against the cabinet while sitting on the commode. I climbed past her saying, “Sorry about the intrusion” and opened the door to a sea of happy females. Still sleeping, she was carried to another room to recover. The hostess fetched me a smallish robe, another beer and we proceeded to watch my clothes dry in front of the fire while reliving the weirdness of what just happened. This story went down in infamy.

More fun to be had

Seattleites really have to reinvent the wheel during these wet falls and winters. Our gregarious group was spending a Friday evening in the park when we received an invite to a banquet room facility at a popular hotel downtown. I handed the invite to the host at the entrance and walked into a room where a live trio (Frank Suga) played. Friends from everywhere exchanged greetings. Free champagne was offered by young ladies to a dressed-to-the-nines crowd. At least two tables offered games and prizes as noted on the invitation (poker).

It was a friendly atmosphere where being known and knowing many people proved that Seattle was a small town. I kidded that I had to circle the block twice to find a parking spot. At the entrance a group was gathering, so I joined in anticipation of making some bucks. The gig was “elevator racing.” Two race drivers with their coats and ties gone, sleeves rolled up, were at the ready. Yes, this was the making of a Le Mans contest.

Two drivers stood opposite the two elevators. When the phone rang, they charged to the elevator and pressed “basement”. The doors shut. Phone rings, man yells, “Elevator 2 by a nose!” What a thrill. Now the crowd is growing, girls are serving drinks, and there’s another race. I won $26! Soon, word hit the front desk. Did they want a cut? No. It was past closing time in their restaurant and bar, but we were getting our second wind. Then someone yelled, “cops!”

People ran down the exit stairs. I ran to the coatroom, where there was an open window. Drink in hand, I stepped out. At that time, I was an iron worker but I had never been that high with size 9 ½ dress shoes on a ledge. The cops and hotel employees gathered people to the street. Apparently high stakes games could be illegal.

As I stepped out onto the ledge, the lights were turned out. I was at a corner and looked around and there was a guy standing there laughing. I asked if he was OK and realized he was my good friend, Dick Wolki. We laughed so hard we almost fell off.

“Strange meeting you, here,” we chimed simultaneously. “Don’t move. I’ll open the window by you. Then, I’ll buy you a drink.” Once inside, I poured two gin on the rocks from the bar, and we proceeded to head down the street to El Gaucho with drinks in hand. A perfect evening followed with steak and eggs, endless coffee, laughter and camaraderie!