Category Archives: Paul’s Musings

Up the Down Chimney, Part II

Thanks to all who attended one of our shows this year!  The first, at Town Hall, sold out the downstairs space and was a ripsnorter, indulging in oodles of spirited holiday fare.  The second, at the Good Shepherd Center Chapel, drew a more intimate 70 or so, but revealed its own candid pleasures.

Performers included Julie Briskman, Frank Corrado, Paul Dorpat, and Jean Sherrard, displaying a wide range of seasonal tonics, anecdotes, and antidotes. Musicians included John and Tia Owen, Mark Kramer, Stu Dempster, and Ethan Sherrard. We particularly thank our tech support staff – artists both – the always inspired David Verkade and Jean’s brilliant former student Rhys Ringwald.

Here are a few photos from both events:

Wier Harman exhorts the crowd at Town Hall
Frank Corrado reading 'Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid'
Frank Corrado reading 'Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid'
Jean with Julie Briskman singing "Christmas Island"
Jean with the remarkable Julie Briskman
Paul conducts
Dorpat conducts; Dempster's on his axe.
Mark Kramer, John and Tia Owen, as the Town Hall show begins
Canon 2 046
Mark, John, and Tia
Mark Kramer
Mark Kramer
John, Ethan Sherrard, Jean, and Stu
Paul reads Thurber (photo from Rhys Ringwald's cell phone)
Paul reads Thurber (photo from Rhys Ringwald's cell phone)

Illuminating Another Christmas Tradition – How to Light the Tree & What Tree

The Brown family tree, ca. 1904.  The Browns lived across Dexter Avenue from Denny Park. Father played clarinet in the Pop Wagner concert and marching band.  (courtesy, Bill Greer)
The Brown family tree, ca. 1904. The Browns lived across Dexter Avenue from Denny Park. Father played clarinet in the Pop Wagner concert and marching band. (courtesy, Bill Greer)
Bruce reflecting on this year's choices with the family tree - in Wallingford (a Seattle neighborhood).
Bruce reflecting on this year's choices with the family tree - in Wallingford (a Seattle neighborhood).

About 105 years of Christmas trees divide the two living-room scenes above.  The top Brown Home “set” – Brown was a skilled amateur photographer and almost surely designed his subject for his shot – can be compared to Bruce’s tree above, although in the latter the gifts have not yet been opened to spill their toys and such.  It will be worth your while to double click the Brown living room to examine the surely typical gifts, like a drum for the son (or daughter), an elaborate doll table with tea serving and sumptuous doll bed besides, a carving set for mom (or dad) and much else.  And also note the family photos on the wall, the variety of ornate framing then popular, and the painting of Snoqualmie Falls, upper left.  Hereabouts it was then a popular sign of the sublime.

Next.  When visiting my “just down the block” neighbor Bruce yesterday late afternoon and his family tree I was struck by the surreal qualities of its lights and compliment him on them.   Remembering the Brown set (above) I asked Bruce – known for his wit – to recount whatever decisions may have been involved in purchasing that tree and those lights.  Here is his response.  Enjoy with good will.

Hi Paul-

Sorry I didn’t get this to you last night… I fell asleep while putting my daughter down.  A common problem for me.

First something about the tree.  One of my favorite holiday traditions is the annual series of Christmas tree debates that ensues between my wife and I.   Most families simply have the traditions of procuring their tree, and trimming them in some sort of familial, time honored fashion.  But in my family’s Christmas traditions, there are three pillars that are the foundation for our holidays.  1.  What we did last year, or on any other year in the past, will have no bearing on actions taken this year.  2.  There will be much discussion, aka debate.  3.  And most importantly, I will purchase more, new and different Christmas lights each year.
As for the tree itself, my wife grew up in the South Pacific and as such always had a fake tree.  Please note the use of the word “fake” verses the manipulative term, “artificial” which my wife likes to use.   It was a necessary tradition born from the complete lack of any pine or fir being indigenous to the island where she lived.  Needless to say, my wife regularly advocates for a fake tree, stating unverified environmental benefits and ease of installation.  Of course I, born a Protestant Norwegian, need to remind her, born an Agnostic Swede, that if you don’t work hard and suffer for something, it is not worth doing.   As such, fake trees have less value because they are so easy to “pop up”.
Now because we have yet to settle this little matter and because we must return to the topic each year, the tree itself changes each season.  Do we cut from the forest, do we cut from a farm, do we go to a tree lot and if we go to a lot, which one, benefiting what organization?
In case you are curious, this year is a 7.5 foot Noble Fir from Hunters tree lot in Wedgwood.  No charity benefits from Hunters but they have really nice trees.

Similar, but more robust is the great Christmas tree light debate.  I grew up in a home in which the Christmas tree bore the warm glow of all red lights.  As a child I recall thinking it was like the glow of the fireplace fire illuminating our entire tree.  My wife… My wife… I actually don’t know what type of lights she had on her tree.  I only know that she is of the opinion that all red lights on a tree cast a brothel inspiring, red light district effect.   So the debate that ensues is simple but endless.  I would like to continue the traditions of old with a tree all in red and she…. Would prefer not.
The bi-product of this debate is my annual pilgrimage to the hardware stores looking for some new or better string of lights that I can hang in the hole left in my soul, from where the red lights used to glow.  My garage is a graveyard of old lights from Christmas past, large and small, ceramic and glass.  I have flame tip, berry, and gum drop.  Spanning from all white, to specific sequences to completely random color combinations.
This year I boldly grabbed the latest and greatest, the newest light technology, the L.E.D. (Light Emitting Diode).   They were billed as “jewel” tones that are safer, last 5X as long and use 1/12 the electricity.  They were also 3X more expensive and remind me of the neon colors, so popular in 80s fashion.  Interestingly, I’ve been advised by multiple people they simply have too many of the wrong color.  The problem is that if I were to add the colors that everyone has advised, I could simply buy another string of random bulbs.   So far it has been suggested I simply need, more green, yellow, white, blue, orange and yes of course, red.
Suffice it to say, while Christmas may yet be 4 days away, next years debate has already begun with my wife’s traditional first voile, “I want to talk about a budget for your Christmas tree lights”.  To which my traditional return sortie comes, “Don’t the red lights have an especially nice warm glow?”

'Up the Down Chimney'


Time once again for our holiday show at the Good Shepherd Center Chapel.

This year it’s on Tuesday the 22nd at 7:30 pm.

Paul (reading Thurber’s hilarious ‘Visit from Saint Nick’) and Jean (reading Truman Capote’s ‘A Christmas memory) will perform with special guest Julie Briskman, one of Seattle’s finest actresses (reading Nathan Englander’s delightful and bittersweet ‘Reb Kringle’).

Musical guests include John Owen (guitar & steel guitar) and Mark Kramer (guitar), accompanied by Tia Owen on violin.

Here’s a short video sampler from last year’s show:

And now let us remember great snow, through which our audience bravely trudged last year. Here are two views – looking east and west from the Good Shepherd Center’s 4th story windows.

Looking east from the chapel

Seasonal Kodachromes by Robert D. Bradley


This small collection of seasonal kodachromes were photographed by Robert D. Bradley, who at least for part of his working life performed as a professional photographer.  In the 1930 census he is listed as such, and in the 1938 Seattle City Directory (by Polk) he is listed living with his wife Hortense in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood and working at the Hart Studio, which is described as his.  It was located on Second Avenue, near University Street, the site now of Benaroya Hall.   In the mid 1960s the couple moved to the then nearly new Lamplighter Apartments on Belmont Avenue just south of Mercer Street.   Their home was on the 9th floor with a balcony view that swept from the north end of Lake Union to the central business district.  Bradlely took many slides off that balcony – lots of them sunsets.  The view above is an exception.  The subjects are the lights of his neighbor’s, the Millers, Christmas tree (we assume) as they are refracted through the glass giving transluscent privacy to  the two balconies.



Robert Bradley was generally good about naming and dating his subjects.  With both views above he has put his camera against the glass front door of Frederick Nelson Department Store to give us after hours “architectural views” (sans people) of the department store’s Christmas decors for 1957, top, and 1966, above.

On December 22, 1948 Bradley visited the intersection of Meridian Avenue and 45th Street in Wallingford.   He stood on the south side of 45th and looked west across Meridian.  Both streets – and so also the intersection – were “ordained” long before they were developed.   They were meridian lines for the first federal surveyors who dragged their “Gunther Chains” through the forests hereabouts in the 1850s.   Late this afternoon of Dec. 10, 2009 I repeated Bradley, and include that “now” directly below his scene.  The obvious change is at the northwest corner where Murphy’s Pub now takes what more than one retailer ago was Davison’s Appliances.  (It was there that Ron Edge – of our
“Edge Clippings” – discovered that the Zenith model 12s265 – the radio that started his now impressive collection of antique radios – was repaired.  It still has a Davison sticker attached.)  Not so obvious but still remarkable are the street Christmas decorations.   They were quite elaborate in the earlier view, but 61 years later hard to find.



Bradley also visited the University District on the 22nd and took the view directly below.  It looks west, again on 45th and this time through its intersection with 12th Avenue.  As with the Wallingford repeat above, my “now” was photographed this afternoon of 12/10/09 – moments ago.  (I live nearby.)  Respecting the traffic, I stayed on the sidewalk.



For the remainder of the Bradley Christmas tour we will follow closely to his own captions and attach them to their “picture frames” as he did to his cardboard slide holders.   Actually, he also indicated often the time of day, the camera he used, and both its shutter speed and F-stop.  With one exception below we will avoid those.  For the most part these are slides are submitted randomly, which means however the program that ordered them slip them to us.

"Christmas in the Air" Bradley has caption this.  We don't know why, perhaps you do.  The date is Dec. 3, 1961.  He does not locate it.
"Christmas in the Air" Bradley has captioned this. We don't know why, perhaps you do. The date is Dec. 3, 1961. The location is 27th Ave. NE. and N.E. 105th.
Looking north on 4th Avenue across University Street.  Part of the Olympia Hotel is on the right. The date: 12/28/47.
Looking north on 4th Avenue across University Street. Part of the Olympia Hotel is on the right. The date: 12/28/47.
Again and nearby looking north on 4th, this time through its intersection with Seneca Street.
Again and nearby looking north on 4th, this time through its intersection with Seneca Street. The Olympic Hotel is, again, on the right.
Bradley notes that this home won two years running in the competition for Christmas lights.  He gives the date, 12/30/61, the location, 336 12th West near Dravus, but not the name or sponsors of the contest.
Bradley notes that this home won two years running in the competition for Christmas lights. He gives the date, 12/30/61, the location, 336 12th West near Dravus, but not the name or sponsors of the contest.
Another slant on the winning lights at 336 12th West in 48 years ago.
Another slant on the winning lights at 336 12th West 48 years ago.
733 N. 70th in 1960 - December most likely.
733 N. 70th in 1960 - December most likely.
Somewhere in the Magnolia neighborhood, Dec. 1954.
Somewhere in the Magnolia neighborhood, Dec. 1954.
The festive Dunns lived at 4713 E. 47th in Laurelhurst.   Dec. 1954
The festive Dunns lived at 4713 E. 47th in Laurelhurst, Dec. 1954.
KING RADIO's Nativity scene at Aurora and Thomas in 1954.
KING RADIO's Nativity scene at Aurora and Thomas in 1954.
"Candlestick Lane" in Laurelhurst, Dec. 28, 1957.
"Candlestick Lane" in Laurelhurst, Dec. 28, 1957.
"University Circle" Dec. 1954.
"University Circle" Dec. 1954.
And "University Circle" once more in Dec. 1954.
And "University Circle" once more in Dec. 1954, at or near the home of the gregarious Goldies.
"Lights in the Forest" W. Roxbury District, Dec. 29, 1958.
"Lights in the Forest" W. Roxbury District, Dec. 29, 1958.
Santa Express, Mary Ave. N.W. near Olympic Terrace, Dec. 29, 1961.
Santa Express, Mary Ave. N.W. near Olympic Terrace, Dec. 29, 1961.
Navy Pier 91, Dec. 25, 1964.
Playful tax-supported Santa at Navy Pier 91, Dec. 25, 1964.
"Work's All Done - Now For the Fun" Magnolia District, Dec. 1954.
"Work's All Done - Now For the Fun" Magnolia District, Dec. 1954.
"Magnolia District, Dec. 1954" - and that's it.  Bradley gives no address.
"Magnolia District, Dec. 1954" - and that's it. Bradley gives no address. Do you know?
"Dec. 1954" is the whole of Bradley's caption for this one.
"Dec. 1954" is the whole of Bradley's caption for this one.
"Magnolia District, Dec. 28 - 1957"  The shutter was open for 15 seconds and the F-stop opened to the efficient 8 setting.
"Magnolia District, Dec. 28 - 1957" The shutter was open for 15 seconds and the F-stop opened to the efficient 8 setting - details written on the cardboard slide holder.
At home in Magnolia, 1957
At home in Magnolia, Dec. 28, 1957



We conclude our exhibit of Robert Bradley’s seasonal slides with two, above, of the Bon Marche’s well-loved stories-high illuminated hanging at the northwest corner of 4th Avenue and Pine Street.  The first of these two was taken on Dec. 19, 1956 when the “star tradition” was still a star-topped pagoda-style Christmas Tree tradition.  By Dec. 18, 1967, the date of the subject directly above, the full tree had given way to the star alone.   This more distant view also includes a peek into a Frederick and Nelson Window on the right, which may be compared to the interior F&N decorations included near the top.

Sundsten's Barks

Perhaps among our many enthused readers is a bark expert who will share the names with John and the rest of us, starting top-left, moving right and numbered one through 12.
Perhaps among our many enthused readers is a bark expert who will share the names with John and the rest of us, starting top-left, moving right and numbered one through 12.

We have pulled some more morphology from John Sundsten, the anatomist collector. John confesses that he does not know the names – neither scientific nor popular – for many of the trees whose barks he has recorded here. We admire his candor. “I am a good anatomist and a lousy naturalist. Some of them have names indicated with a brass plaque, but most do not. I just like bark. I like bark texture and bark color. You may write that barks are my friends. I shot them with my little camera last month while strolling around the lake counterclockwise in the early morning.” The U.W. scientist wonders, “There seem to be a lot of ladies with dogs and old couples at that time of day. Are there then two kinds of people? Clockwise and anticlockwise people, and what does their choice of walking around Green Lake say about right and left brain function, or no brain function, which is probably true for me. The barks go into folders, and I have a lot of other folders, ones with trees and animals and masks (mine) and oysters and such. It is like getting in the stuff for the long winter to come. And I presume some day it will.” John adds, “It occurs to me that I have a folder with about twenty Green Lake Park benches.” We may be seeing some Sunsten seats here soon.

John concludes, “I’ve included a long shot. It came out well, I think.”  And we agree.


Vinburd & Will's Convivium

May the tender prejudices of friendship be temporarily put aside for an unbiased look into the qualities of a close friend?  I doubt it, unless one stumbles into it.

Click to visit

Vinburd first visited my e-mail box snuggled between two opportunities: one that I help spend the good fortune of a doctor in Nigeria and the other a cheap deal on guaranteed Viagra from Sepulveda. While I wondered what qualifies as a Viagra guarantee, I did not read the gentle blogger named Vinburd until his or her fourth sending, and then I noted to myself, “Bill should read this!”  As I prepared to forward Vinburd to Bill I discovered to my surprise and delight that Vinburd was Bill.

With this blog’s introduction to Vinburd (as a buttoned link) and in line with full disclosure, it was Bill Burden who introduced me to Berangere Lomont – of this blog – in 1977.  They met, with full Mediterranean exposure, on a boat from Athens to Venice, as Bill was on his way to picking grapes in the south of France during the late summer of 1976, which some of you will remember, perhaps with no particular relevance, as America’s bi-centennial.

And it was I who introduced Jean Sherrard first to Bill Burden in 2001 and then to Berangere in 2005 when Jean and I visited her and her family in Paris. Bill joined us from Saudi Arabia where he was momentarily consulting on something and his daughter Caroline drove down from Germany with her two children.

The accompanying picture is proof of place for at least Jean, Bill and I, but not of our age now.  We were directed by Berangere to smile for her where millions of tourists before us have posed with their backs to the Sacre Coeur and on the steps to the top of Paris’ highest hill.  Grandfather Vinburd is at the middle.  (Although snapped only four years ago, to me we look uncannily young. But then I am currently negotiating my first mid-life crises with my first old man crisis at the same time – this week at the age of 71.  Bill is a few years behind me and Jean is still in his prime.)

L-R: Paul, Bill & Jean (photo by Berangere Lomont)
L-R: Paul, Bill & Jean (photo by Berangere Lomont)

I met John William Burden in the Helix (a newspaper) office during the summer of 1969.  The U.W. Grad student in Old English (think Beowulf) was doing public relations (long hair and all) for the “Mayor’s Youth Division.”  (Now I wonder, did he think that an “underground tabloid” like ours would have been a pipeline to Seattle’s youth?) We soon became friends and although he moved back to Southern California in the late 1980s we have never been out of touch.  He still flies north often, although by now it is as likely for funerals as weddings that we and many friends are reunited.

We lived together for two years in the late 1970s in an old asbestos faux-war-brick workers home next door to the Cascade Neighborhood playfield.  There every Sunday in summer we set out the bases for “artist league softball,” a warm tradition that survived for perhaps five years.  Bill was then working as an independent carpenter and late 70s hot tub hysteria was splashing his way. (Several friends had them and we were still young enough to comfortably strip with them and even strangers.)

When I met him Bill was married with two children.  I watched them grow up.  In those sometimes intuited “groovy times” Bill was already a generous and encyclopedic wit willing to use his vocabulary and allusions and so never boring.  Jean is the same.  One of my fond Parisian memories from 2005 is seeing the two of them side-by-side in animated conversation as they walked across the pedestrian Pont des Arts while we were all returning to Berangere’s Left Bank home from a visit to the Louvre.  That, dear reader, is spanning high culture.

Paul, furthest right, bottom row. Bill, with bat next to Paul.

I’m confident that many of you will enjoy following Bill’s reflections on a variety of subjects, both the eternally recurring ones and those that are more contemporary.  And here’s some more fan-mag-like twitter stuff on Vinburd. He has traveled almost everywhere.  He loves skiing and more than once chose his home site in order to be near the slopes.  He is an expert fly fisherman and for a time was a columnist on the subject.  This fly-fishing fits his Vinburd persona very well.  Of course, so does his wine making.  I love his Chateau Fou.  Now you may, if you like, imagine taking a walk with Vinburd, and with his blog, Will’s Convivium, you can, if you are so moved, have an invigorating conversation with the oldest brother of Lawburd, Newsburd, and Bigburd.


With help from a few of those pictured we will identify most of those players in the Artist’s Softball League who managed to pose together on a Sunday afternoon during the summer of 1978 in the Cascade Playfield with Pontius Avenue behind them between Thomas and Harrison Streets.  Many are missing including Philip Wohlstetter who helped with the identifications and who this weekend may have been in Paris, and Doug Barnett, who had the mightiest swing among us having slugged a softball from home plate over the fence bordering Harrison Street.

Bottom Row, Left to Right:  Who is the bearded man with the white shirt and in profile?  We do not know as yet. (Continuing)  David Mahler, Irene Mahler (supporting the bat), Bill Burden AKA Vinburd (supporting the other bat), Paul Dorpat.

Second Row, Left to Right: Bob Clark stands with glove and Paul Kowalski next to him has a glove too.  Annie Carlberg holds her glove aloft.  Judith Connor, with the striped shirt, soon after moved to Japan.  Barbara Teeple, with long hair, stands next to someone for now identified only as “Ann Rich’s boyfriend.” Billy King holds his hat. Man behind Billy looks a lot like the “Ann Rich’s boyfriend.”  Hmmm.  Norman Caldwell, who lived three feet from the playfield, separating it from Bill and my home.

Top Row, Left to Right: Norm Langill, who helped with the captions and played with style; Andy Keating, who hit with power and later moved to New York and Merilee Tompkins with her hands on Andy and David Rosen.  (This year David generously let me share his studio overlooking Lake Union.)  Next, Norm Engelsberg with the big hair and Lisa Shue in white.  Lisa played the cello and lived next door with Norm Caldwell.  Neither the dog nor man in striped shirt standing aside to the right are as yet identified.  This is more than 18 players – this Sunday enough for two teams and base coaches.  We used no umpires.

Apple & Elm


This conjunction of the apple tree on the bottom and the American Elm above and behind it is one of the 400-plus subjects that I have photographed most days since July, 2006.   Through most of the year their coloring makes it easy to distinguish between them, but here fall tinting nearly blends them.   The apple is on 42nd Street between Sunnside and Eastern Avenues, and the Elm with its twin – together they are listed as Seattle “landmark trees” – tower high above the northeast corner of Eastern and 42nd.

With toes centered on the same line and holding my camera high over my head as I remembered holding it the day before and may other days before that too, here is the same apple and elm on the third of April last.  You may remember we had a long winter and a late spring this 2009.


The top visit was recorded on Oct. 14, 2009, and the above “repeat” earlier on April 4, 2009.  Chosen from hundreds to show more changes, the four examples just below descending date from Dec. 23, 2008; May 1, 2009; July 4, 2009; and October 20, 2009.





Tomato & Wheelbarrow


The Red Tomato

so much depends


a red to


shining in a

soap dish

beside the white


I picked my first tomato this past week and thought – not necessarily and yet not unreasonably – of William Carlos Williams, the physician-poet from New Jersey whom I was introduced to in college in the late 1950s. Now I wonder if Williams is still read regularly in school, or if there are a few writers who are still “getting” his instruction that there be “no ideas but in things” as were poets Ginsburg, Olson, Levertov, and others. That, we were taught, was the lesson of his most anthologized poem, the poem I have lovingly parodied with my tomato.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


It is estimated that Williams delivered 2000 babies from the mothers of New Jersey in his more than forty years as a practicing pediatrician.

Our First Sports Report

(click to enlarge photo)

Attendees at "The Old Ball Game"

Here at DSL (dorpatsherrardlomont) this may be our first Sports Report. We cannot be certain, for although we often do “look back” with this blog, just now we are not inclined to search our own archive.  (My how such contradictions continue to pester us!)

Dave Eskenazi
Dave Eskenazi

Whatever, this is the story of the annual “The Old Ball Game,” also known as the EEE for the “Eskenazi-Eals Extravaganza,” which the founder will explain soon below.  Actually, the beginning is remembered vividly.  “The Old Ball Game” it is still too young to have a myth of origins.  That requires time – three generations, at least.

Our First Sports Report starts with co-founder David Eskenazi’s appreciation for EEE’s “founder’s-founder” Clay Eals.  In this we use David to introduce Clay’s longer reminiscence, which follows.

Clay Eals
Clay Eals

Interspersed will be a variety of photographs – some of them with captions – snapped from this year’s game by Jean Sherrard.  And Clay is searching for scenes from earlier ball games as well.

The biggest illustration will be of the post-game player’s-pose last Sunday July 26 at the Alki Playfield.  We include with its annotated caption something revealing about the performance of every player.  Interspersed in this report are photos of David depicting recent honors that have come his way in his important role as Seattle’s baseball historian.

Rainier Dave
Dave at the big show (photos by Doug McWilliams)

(…Please click for THE REST OF THE STORY…)

Wallingford's Kiddies Parade – 60th Anniversary

Number 60.  At least that is what the announcements for this year’s parade proposed.  The first photo shown here may well be of that first kiddies parade sixty years past. If someone takes the time to read through the tabloid North Central Outlooks for the summer of 1950 this may be confirmed.  Stan Stapp, long time publisher-editor of the Outlook and also Wallingford’s greatest public historian, loaned me a copy of this record of single-filed kiddies marching west into the intersection of 45th Street and Wallingford Avenue, the neighborhood’s signature cross-roads.

(Click to enlarge photos)

Wallingford Kiddies parade down the center of 45th Street only, probably from 1950, and surely from the courtesy of Stan Stapp.

The rest of the photographs included are from this year’s parade, which like all others was promoted as “All About Kids” by Seafair and our neighborhood’s powers of concern.  All about kids – almost.  This year, at least, it was also about five old men with beards whom you see in the next photograph.  Unfortunately, I can no longer remember who stopped to take my camera and snap it.  I was in a state of high anticipation for the parade and very pleased to be posing with the complete retinue or cabal of the parade’s Grand Marshals near the front door of Al’s Tavern off of Corliss. (It was morning and the tavern was not open.)  It is there, north and south from 45th on Corliss that the parade’s parts were first staged and then one-by-one sent west on 45th for a six-block procession that took about 15 minutes to walk or roll.


We can pull an imperfect caption for the above photograph from the description made by the parade’s announcer or master of ceremonies from a stage in front of the Wallingford Center.  As we rolled by in our borrowed carriage, a 1961 Mercedes convertible coup, (and so only eleven years  younger than the parade,) this good humored although confused voice of Seafair described us in an order that also fits how we are posing here from left to right.

“First we have Dick Barnes, Wallingford farmer.  Wave Dick.  Then we have Pat Dorpat . . . correction.  Paul Dorpat, Wallingford walker and public historian.  Next is Dick [actually David] Notkin, 25 years at the U.W. [and now Professor and Bradly Chair of Computer Science & Engineering Department], then our very own Charlotte Trelease, their chauffeur.  [This is a mistake by half.  She may be theirs but Charolette can be seen to be also one of ours, the five guys with gray beards.]  And (finally) Nancy the tree lady.”  [That is Nancy “Appleseed” Merrill who is responsible for the planting of so many of our new trees along the neighborhood’s parking strips.  It was Nancy who produced our parade part, supplied the shinier beards and designed the identifying signs.  It was also Nancy who taught us how to wave like festival princesses with just a slight rotating – and not flapping – at the wrist.]

Nancy's inspiration - a clip of herself from 1984
Nancy in white beard and Statue of Liberty cap
Nancy in white beard and Statue of Liberty cap

The Seafair announcer then concludes our part,  “Nancy wants to remind you to water your trees.  These are the Grand Marshals of the 59th Annual Wallingford parade.”  At was at this moment from his position on the trunk, David in red expressed for all of us, “I knew we would be great, but I did not know about the grand.”

Jean’s pix of us in the Mercedes.
Jean’s pix of us in the Mercedes.

We were liked – as we gently coasted down 45th, applauded and hailed.  Someone shouted to Charlotte, “Can I have your car?” And she called back, “It comes with the beard.” At another point the promenading Nancy walked boldly beyond the Mercedes and briefly in front of it and then return to her position beside its starboard side confessing to all of our great amusement, “I almost ran over myself.” At the intersection with Bagley my friends Sally Anderson and Jay Miller – who live up the block cozily side-by-side – were surprised to see me and shouted their good wishes, which I answered with an order that they kneel, which they did not.  In fact throughout the parade no one went to their knees or even bowed for these marshals.

Mercedes and Nancy with Theatres behind. Photo by Ray Burdick.
Mercedes and Nancy with Theatres behind. Photo by Ray Burdick.

But we were laughed at a good deal, and anything any of our quintet shared with the other four was thought to be funny, and may have been funny by some law of humor relativity in which feeling good encourages the comic vision over the tragic one.  At one point I turned around to David and Dick who – you can see – were sitting behind me on the trunk and noted, “Tomorrow this will all be a dream.”  David wisely answered, “What do you mean? It is a dream now.”   It was a Wallingford version for the Warholesque celebrity dream – this time twenty minutes or six blocks of fame while rolling by our loving neighbors.

Photo by Sally Anderson
Photo-Montage by Sally Anderson

Our part in this Kiddies parade was near its end in the concluding motorcade of odd vehicles including one with more Seafair clowns.  The parade pictures that follow in thumbnail can all be moused or clicked for enlargements.  Most of them were taken by Jean (of this blog) who took a break from his three weeks of running a drama camp at Hillside School in Bellevue.  Perhaps he was still buoyant from that other parade, which he so wonderfully recorded and exhibited here, the Fremont Solstice Parade.   Other photographers included Ray Burdick, Sally Anderson and myself.  If you don’t see these names you know Jean took it.

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I nearly missed this parade.  Our part started without me for I was away – but not too far to find me – interviewing an old friend about the brilliance of his first grand daughter who was with him.  “Off the charts” is how he put it.  I also interviewed – and during the parade as we “Grand Marshals” waited to take out part – David, the uniformed actual marshal who was in charge of organizing the pre-parade line-up on Corliss and then releasing the groups one by one down 45th Street.

After he had sent one of the marching corps with his repeated advice “Enjoy the parade,” I approached him and asked, “How’s the size of this year’s parade?”  With the political grace of someone who knows to answer a question from both sides, he replied, “Actually it is pretty much similar to the rest of the years.  I think we have a couple more units this year.  It’s about the same size.  It’s grown every year.  I’ve only been a marshal for a couple of years now, but as far as I know this is one of the older parades that we do.  At last count there are about forty neighborhood parades.  They begin near the end of March and continue to the end of September.”

At this point David’s mother, who was also in a nautical Seafair uniform, came forward and embraced me.  I recognized her, and immediately thought – but did not ask – perhaps it was she who promoted me as a non-working marshal.   I asked her, “You are really in charge here aren’t you?”  She answered. “Oh no-no.  David and Kate are in charge. (I did not see Kate although I had corresponded with her earlier.)  I am in charge of their support groups.”  It seemed like quibbling to me.

So I turned to David again, and without asking he answered, “Mom is the HMIC, the Head Marshal in Command.”  Then someone – perhaps his mom – sent a signal to a small device strapped to his shoulder.  It was time to release the next group – Family Works was its name – down the promenade.  He advised, “You should be ready to go.  Have a great parade. Have a great parade.”