In post WWII Seattle, around 1946, a nine year old boy was dropped off by his mother early in the morning at the YMCA on 50th street in the University District. From there the boy boarded a YMCA bus with other children that took them to a ferry terminal at Madison Beach. The ferry sailed across Lake Washington to the Kirkland dock. From Kirkland the children boarded another bus that drove them to the YMCA day camp at Juanita Beach. "We didn't know how to say Juanita," my dad tells me. "We pronounced the J." "Our counselor was an older guy, white hair. Must have been about 40. He loved kids. He taught us songs and games. We had the greatest time. It was wonderful."
My dad told me this story as we sat at a restaurant overlooking Market Street in Kirkland, the same road his nine year old self took to the then distant day camp. Up the hill from the restaurant is where my 80 year old father now visits his teenage grandchildren. While we watched lines of cars waiting to turn onto Juanita Drive my dad told me that as campers they swam, had picnics and played organized games. They also picked caterpillars off a strawberry field that belonged to a doctor who lived on Capital Hill, near my father's house, one of many enormous homes populated by large Catholic families. The doctor's home was a stately Capital Hill mansion. "The windows curved around the side of the house, so they bent the glass." In Juanita, my dad remembers dumping jars of caterpillars plucked from the strawberries. "We were paid by the jar." My dad winced. "We burned them."
At that time the population of Seattle was about 550,000 people. My dad is eighty years old. He's seen the jet city turn into the tech city and has stories from every era. I feel lucky to share a small part of his memories. Stay tuned for more.
Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading.
Ellyn Oaksmith is Mauri Oaksmith's daughter. She is also the USA Today bestselling author of the upcoming Chasing Nirvana (November 3, 2017) 50 Acts of Kindness and other books. She lives in Seattle.
How do I find ideas?
They find me. We date for a while & if things work out, we marry. For one year. Best books for writers? Stephen King On Writing Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.