2007-12-30 St. Vinnie's at Lake Union

THEN: Werner Lenggenhager's recording of the old St. Vinnie's on Lake Union's southwest shore in the 1950s should remind a few readers of the joys that once were theirs while searching and picking in that exceedingly irregular place.
THEN: Werner Lenggenhager's recording of the old St. Vinnie's on Lake Union's southwest shore in the 1950s should remind a few readers of the joys that once were theirs while searching and picking in that exceedingly irregular place.
NOW: Stephen Lundgren poses in his persona as a private investigator, Capt. Erik London, who figures in at least one of the five novels on wartime Seattle that are his works-in-progress.
NOW: Stephen Lundgren poses in his persona as a private investigator, Capt. Erik London, who figures in at least one of the five novels on wartime Seattle that are his works-in-progress.

Until it was replaced in the mid-1970s with a warehouse-sized box (with real central heating), St. Vincent De Paul’s Lake Union thrift shop was a mishmash of low-ceilinged cubbies and narrow passages open to the winds off the lake. But exploring regulars could find “anything they needed and more that they did not.”

Here is Werner Lenggenhager’s 1953 recording of its Grand Boulevard, a cluttered street that it still thrills me to remember.

There on the right in 1972 I purchased a cast-iron machine with mirrors that projected film onto a sturdy rear screen. That contraption let me convert film into hand-drawn animations frame-by-frame.

But my sport with old St. Vinnie’s is nothing compared to writer-historian and sleuth Stephen Lundgren’s. In the “now,” Lundgren poses, he has determined, on the spot where in the ’53 scene “a jeans-and-jacket-clad buckaroo saunters down the arcade, where two ex-sergeants chew the fat to the right, and in the back a swell in long coat and fedora considers which stall might hide boxes of moldy jazz records.”

A few years later that “swell” could have been Stephen, who holds a copy of a 1938 recording of “The Flat Foot Floogie.” He purchased it here in the early 1970s. It is but one of the several thousand 78-rpm “sides” that “picker” Lundgren has in his collection.

Lundgren is working on a “quintet of novels featuring ghosts, lovers, artists, spies, sex, murder, civic mischief and mayhem. St. Vinnie’s will be featured.” He and I make a timely recommendation: The next “Nearby History Class” led by historian Lorraine McConaghy begins Jan. 19 at the Museum of History & Industry. For more information or to register, call MOHAI, 206-324-1126.

One thought on “2007-12-30 St. Vinnie's at Lake Union”

  1. Oh thank you for publishing this picture. I have such fond memories of this St Vinnies – right across the street from where my dad worked. I still have two things purchased there in the 60’s. Are there any more pictures available?????

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