A Jolly Roger & Matthews Beach Addendum: A Letter from Fred Rowe

Hello Paul.

I enjoyed your article on the Jolly Roger restaurant and remember it well.   I read your column every weekend on your web site.  In fact I prefer it over the much shorter version in the Times.  The Item that really caught my attention was the one about the Boeing Flying Boat.

I came to Seattle in January of 1938 at the age of 6 weeks old.  My father had been transferred here by the J.C.Penny C..  He was the head of the advertising and display department of the downtown Penny’s store.  In early 1940 we moved into a new house in the NE part of Seattle, just North of the city limits, on 48 Ave NE just off NE 97th.  It was just 3 blocks north of “old man” Mathews lake front home (which was later to become the start of Mathews Beach Park).  I lived all of my life until 2005 in Seattle and found it a wonderful place to grow up and live.  I now live in Snohomish.

My folks told stories about the Jolly Roger and of the Boeing Flying boats taking off from Lake Washington.   At the South end of what is now Mathews Beach Park was the staging area for the Boeing Flying boats.  It contained work sheds, a reception facility, parking lot, and a very substantial dock running out into the lake past the shoreline sand bar.  The dock was so substantial  that trucks could be driven out to the plane tied up there.   The reception facility had a fireplace, a full kitchen and large open spaces.  I don’t know who actually owned the property but after the war it was turned into a water ski club with lots of activities, Bar-B Q’s, beer drinking, and parties on the weekends.  We had neighbors that would take us kids down there to water ski and watch the boats.

During the fifties it was turned into community supported swimming and social club.  There were no public beaches for swimming and lots of new post war homes in this area at that time.  Teenage dances, potlucks, and adult square dancing were the mainstay activates.  The area around the facility at that time was mainly small family homes and “old Man” Mathews farm, barn, out buildings, and home.  Diagonally across from the entrance to the social club was the home of the Edson’s ( not sure of the spelling).  Oren Edson and his brother spent much of their time at the water ski and social club and would later put there boating interest to work.  They became the founders of the Bayliner boat company.  They honed their entrepreneurial skills by buying mail order fireworks and then retailing them to the neighborhood kids at highly inflated prices.  They were the only game in the neighborhood.

This entire neighborhood would eventually be bought up piece by piece, by the city of Seattle, to become what is now Mathews Beach and its parking lots.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my remembrances.  Cheers Fred Rowe

Cheers in Return Fred.  I read – and published – the whole thing with kind regards.

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