Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sights, Sounds, Smells - Some Changed, Other Didn't

When I return to the Island now, there are so many changes. The beaches bounding Eagledale Harbor no longer are laced with huge piles of driftwood; removed for safety reasons - too bad; they were playgrounds that inspired imagination. The ferry parking lots and waiting docks are huge reflecting the exponential population growth. The anonymous Island is no more. The tiny village of Winslow has re-fashioned itself into an oh-so-chic shopping and eating mecca. I only recall "eating out" in an actual sit-down restaurant once until I graduated from high school and moved to Seattle - number one there was little availability of restaurants and number two, only rich people did that. "Take-out" was practically unheard-of in that rural outpost. There was, of course, Van Louie's Chinese Restaurant - but it was unfortunately right next door to a(nicknamed "The Bloody Bucket") tavern of renowned ill-repute.  That reputation spilled over Van Louie's.  Both were down by the Winslow waterfront that now is the scene of yachts moored, fine dining places, and chic boutiques.  Anyway, I doubt if anyone in my family would have made a conscious choice of any kind of ethnic food. One time, grampa's poker buddy brought shrimp-fried-rice to their Sunday game. I tasted it and loved the salty, briny dish. Until I took a Chinese cooking class many years later, that rice was a mouth-watering memory.

But wait - No trip to Seattle was complete without a paper bag of fish and chips and tartar sauce - Ivar Haglund's Acre of Clams - was (is) next to the ferry terminal. Who could forget Ivar. His round, laughing face belied a shrewd businessman. He was another of the Scandinavian characters who dominated local lore.  Every once in a while, some person of note would discover the Island.  In June of 1955 it was Arlene Francis and her "Home Show."  She brought a television crew to ride the ferry, "Evergreen," and film the passage from Seattle to Bainbridge and back.  Guess who was right beside her - you are right - Ivar - who also brought along his famous "Clam Gun."  It was just a shovel narrowed and sharpened, better to quickly dig those wily critters from their mucky homes.  I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't Ivar who initially contacted the TV hostess.  He loved the limelight and always used it for his own promotion.

Before the Island's first "fancy" restaurant, The Martinique," brought some class to the dining scene, other less worldly venues competed for competition.  The one most familiar to me was the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Club.  Because there, my grandmother cooked for the once monthly Rotary Club dinner meeting.  The clubhouse was owned and maintained by members all of whom had served in branches of the armed services.  These guys were still heros - WWII and the Korean War were recent events; 4 Star General Eisenhower was the country's President.   Each Island community had a gathering place of some sort - Island Center, the Grange Hall, the two country clubs, several churches, the Masonic Temple, Odd Fellows Hall, and others.  The American Legion clubhouse was the only one that had an honest-to-goodness cocktail lounge where members and guests would dance and tipple.  No wonder it was a popular location for various groups to meet.  The Rotary Club members were business and professional people.  My sister and I helped Gramma.  We set the tables, served, cleaned up, and did whatever Gramma wanted us to do in the kitchen.  When the lounge was open, us kids were not allowed in - too young.  We didn't get to see Gramma dancing and laughing with all the bigwigs.  Everybody loved her.       

In contrast, my grandfather was the epitome of grace in silence.  Still he held court with a fair number of his cronies.  Plus he was seriously opinionated; unafraid to take on any politician or world leader.  No issue escaped his attention.  He felt compelled to voice his philosophies.  No doubt he would have enthusiastically embraced huge, colorful TV screens, cell phones, and - in particular, personal computers. The internet cyber space would have resounded with his opinions.  As it was, he was thrilled when I learned to type.  From then on I was his secretary.

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