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Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.

A.A. Milne

How many bridges do you see in the above photo? This is the bridge across the Sammamish Slough in Kenmore, Washington, known simply as the slough in localese.

As you drive to or from Kenmore on 68th Avenue NE, which is called Juanita Drive NE just a bit farther south, you pass over a mundane looking concrete structure at the slough. Unless you’re stuck in traffic and thinking about the Cascadia Subduction Zone, you might not give much thought to the fact that you’re on a bridge.

There are three bridges in the above photo. You can’t really tell this from above. But you can from down below.

It is not very safe to go under the north end of the bridges. But you can access their underbellies from the boat launch on the south side of the slough. At least for a few more days. The West Sammamish River Bridge Project begins next week.

The bridge that carries southbound traffic is being replaced. This will affect traffic on this route, which is commonly used by those avoiding tolls on the SR 520 bridge, for two years. It is being replaced because the structure was built in the 1930s. It’s old.

This is the southbound bridge, the one that had weight restrictions placed on it a few years ago. The northbound bridge was built in the 1970s, and it’s been deemed suitable to stay for a while.

Didn’t I say three bridges though? You’re looking at the third in this photo. As the Depression-era southbound bridge is torn out, what remains of the original 1917 bridge will be destroyed as well.

The 1930s bridge was built in the footprints of the 1917 bridge. I’ve asked around to find out if there are plans to preserve any of this for posterity and I do not believe there are. I was told that the 103 year-old pilings will probably fall apart when they’re pulled out. (Have you tried kicking one? You’ll shatter your phlanges.)

The Vintage King County Facebook page has a photo of the Kenmore bridge construction from way back. They actually have many fascinating photos of bridges. This site is so rich in local history that I need to issue a strong warning to anyone who likes to peek into the past– exercise self-control. You can become so enraptured by browsing the photos at Vintage King County that you’ll stay up all night eating Cheetos while your eyeballs bleed.

All of these photos were taken from the south side looking north. Last time I was under the north side we called the King County Sheriff because of a body sticking out from under a wadded-up tarp. I assumed the person was asleep or unconscious, but we didn’t know if they were dead or lying in wait either. There was zero movement and the upper half of their body was covered. There have been encampments and questionable activity under there for some time.

This is still embedded in the ground and probably has been for over a century. But it too will go the way of the dodo. By the way, if you really want to geek out about bridges, Bridgehunter.com is like the Spatula City of bridge websites. Here are some examples of other 1930s bridges.

This is what I tell myself in antiques stores: look up! You often find the most intriguing relics when you elevate your eyes. In this case we can see where the 1970s bridge and the 1930s bridge meet. From above, this isn’t nearly as noticeable.

Standing here felt somewhat sci fi, like a factory fight scene in Highlander, so I had to tweak it a little for effect.

Here again are the Disconnect of Diplomatic Ties to Germany era bridge, the Depression era bridge, and the Disco era bridge. The middle bridge, the one that will start to disappear just days from now, has the most character.

The vandals with their spray paint have decorated the north side many times. Funny part is, no one knows what the heck they’re trying to say.

The ’70s side is really just a big slab. It is the very definition of utilitarian. Perhaps it felt modern and exciting when it was constructed.

The anchors and cables and such on the ’30s side are intriguing. I couldn’t quite figure out why everything was placed where it was. I’m not an expert on seismic retrofits either.

I am intrigued by this coffee can on a shelf feature. If you know what it is, please leave a comment below.

Yep, I know. I can’t stop taking these past, present, future pictures. But can you name another place– anywhere– where you get to see parts of bridges from three different time periods at once?

Any civil engineers reading this? I’d love to have you break this down for me. Trusses, caps, …? I have many questions about how things are joined together at this point. The picture doesn’t quite capture my conundrum. You’d really have to be standing there looking at it. And you only have a few more days to do so.

Hmm… how this takes the weight it does is amazing.

This is exactly why I need to take the tripod along with my point & shoot. I was standing on the metal walkway over the river… not exactly a stable platform. The river has been full and muddy because of the recent deluge.

I kept returning to this spot. It was like the structural incarnation of Gary Numan’s The End of Things:

Are you the end of things come calling?
Are you the answer that I’ve wished for?

Everything’s so cold, the air is so still
And there is nothing here but me
If I belong here, and this is mercy
Then there is no place I’d rather be

Sammamish Slough ducks are the friendliest I’ve ever met. These three followed me all over as I was taking the photos. They’d get out and walk around me, probably hoping I had some people snacks. I learned too late in life that bread isn’t good for them; there are better options. I wonder how many cases of duck diabetes I caused in my childhood.

Say goodbye to the tufted totems, the mud that undoubtedly contains all manner of treasures… The only way I would have been allowed to poke around in it was to get a prohibitively expensive right-of-way permit from the city.

Bridges don’t just carry people. They carry other pieces of our infrastructure. This contributes to why modifying or replacing them is so complicated. Many agencies are involved.

Looking west. Just around the bend is Lake Washington. This is a busy place in the summer. Today it was me, a local, and the ducks.

Teds or Feed or whoever you are, no one knows what you mean or cares.

Let me take a long last look…

If you are between 9’0″ and 9’4″, it doesn’t matter. Duck.

It’s just metal. But I couldn’t help but notice its resemblance to a broken Paleo-Hebrew mem, which meant water.

How many people walk by and don’t even know what this is?

This too shall pass. A few more.

Besides the ducks, cormorants like to hang out on the slough as well. Once again, shoulda brought the tripod… I was guilty of talking while attempting a zoomed in shot as well.

Good bye, old bridges. I hope I can grab a piece of you before they haul you away for good.

He stood upon the bridge alone
and Fire and Shadow both defied;
his staff was broken on the stone,
in Khazad-dûm his wisdom died.

Tolkien

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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If the Ericksen House in Bothell, Washington isn’t moved in March, it will be destroyed. The house and its neighbor have been sitting there patiently waiting for someone to move them. But despite being *FREE*, as in, COMPLETELY FREE BUILDINGS, no one has come for them.

I wrote about these buildings in last October’s Necrotic Bothell. Trying to get anyone organized or excited about this has been like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. Or throwing popcorn at a rubber shower curtain.

It doesn’t look like this property has been treated with very much respect. This is where I began a particular book collection as a kid, so it’s always been a special spot for me for that and other reasons.

Do you believe in miracles? In last minute saves? I do. Join me in hoping that some benevolent soul will step forward and give these buildings a new life in a safe place. Soon.

This just underscores the disheartening lack of support for historic preservation in the greater Seattle area. There are a great many wealthy people around here, but it seems like it’s mostly us regular folk who get involved in trying to save our significant structures.

While I’m on this topic, the historians and genealogists among us are abuzz about the federal government’s decision to close the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) building in Seattle. This would send this priceless collection to California! (Insert primal scream and wild gesticulation here.)

Please RAISE YOUR VOICE. Tell our elected officials, NARA, etc. that removing such a facility from Seattle altogether is NOT OKAY. Please take a moment to learn more about this and find out who to contact. Many of these materials were already brought here from Alaska and none of it should be moved out of our state. This affects our local tribes as well.

Rumor has it the big guns, the titans of Seattle history, will be speaking out on this soon. Follow their lead. This is definitely a time at which locals need to rise up and find a viable alternative that will allow these records to stay in the area.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Anthony Oettinger

The Yakima Fruit Market in Bothell opens on March 4th. Neighbors say the Market will likely get one more season in this location before Sound Transit puts a bus lane through there. Please feel free to make your feelings known to Sound Transit. A family business that has been there for over 80 years should be given special consideration.

Check out the cool new t-shirts honoring our local cedar trees on their Facebook page. They also have some of their vintage ads posted there. I hope that they will post more updates on the status of the business.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Perseverance and Spirit have done Wonders in all ages.

George Washington

Presidents’ Day in Seattle this year was an unusually sunny Monday flecked with dramatic clouds. As they do every year, the Sons, Daughters, and Children of the American Revolution gathered on the University of Washington campus to pay tribute to its namesake along with compatriots from other historic organizations. For those who don’t know, membership in the SAR, DAR, and CAR are open to all who can prove lineal descent from a man or woman who served in or supported the American Revolution.

The morning’s festivities began in Kane Hall with local historian, photographer, author, teacher (in short, polymath– is there something he can’t do?) Jean Sherrard presenting photos and commentary from the acclaimed Seattle Now & Then. In 2018, Sherrard and the godfather of Seattle history, Paul Dorpat, published this epic collection of historic photos accompanied by modern views taken from the same vantage point. It’s a tome that allows you to stand in the present and gaze back into the past simultaneously. The contrasts between now and then are educational, enriching, emotional, and jarring all at once.

Sherrard was accompanied by veteran journalist, editor, photographer, et cetera Clay Eals, but not Paul Dorpat. Dorpat was unable to attend as we’d hoped. That meant we would miss the Felix-Oscar dynamic. If you’ve heard Sherrard and Dorpat speak together as they often do, they play off of each other like old married comedians. They come from different eras, but in a Statler-Waldorf-esque fashion they wryly ping topics back and forth as they explain the context of each image on the screen. It becomes even funnier when they rely on Eals to interject. (Thinking of you, Paul!)

Sherrard’s resonant voice and deep well of knowledge is more than enough to keep this presentation engaging on his own, though. He has the bearing and gravitas of a Founding Father which made this especially appropriate on a national holiday. He also has the timing of a seasoned stand-up comic, so his discourse on architecture like the Sinking Ship Parking Garage causes you to wonder if you’re at Laughs or the local historical society. It cracks me up when I see people looking around as if they didn’t expect history to be funny.

You’ll never look at local landmarks and relics the same way after you attend a Dorpat-Sherrard event. You might even find yourself ridiculously motivated to save such things. I encourage you to subscribe to their blog, where they post often and feature Sherrard’s photographs, which cannot be described as anything less than pulchritudinous. Some people take pictures. Others gaze into the soul of their subject and make you feel as if you’re witnessing more than a mere mortal should be allowed to see.

After having our minds blown in Kane Hall, we marched westward to the more than 100 year-old statue of George Washington in Red Square. This statue, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, was made possible by the Daughters of the American Revolution and local schoolchildren. It’s fitting that we return every year to honor our first president. As is the case with all presidents, he was not a perfect man, but there is no such thing, and he is unique in the annals of history. I am proud to honor an imperfect man, whose courage helped birth our nation, as my ancestors did.

Both men and women serve in the SAR Fife and Drum Corps. The amount of work they do and the number of events they attend each year is astounding.

Here the SAR color guard is setting up. Note the period uniforms. Every piece of equipment and clothing, every flag has colonial roots and a meaning.

One year when these men brought their muskets, someone called the police. A UW canine unit showed up, and most of our photos from that year show the officer and dog posing with us. This year we didn’t have any such incidents. We always appreciate the students and passersby who stop to participate. Someone inevitably asks, “what are you doing?” We’re happy to explain. We’re also thrilled when they ask for help researching their genealogy so they can join.

Which century was this photo taken in? If it weren’t for the no skateboarding sign, or whatever it is, this could easily be another place and time.

Look who that is. On the right. By George, it’s George. It was somewhat of a transcendental experience to watch George Washington standing before… George Washington to pay tribute. This George knows himself exceedingly well and participates in a variety of events.

Mid-ceremony, some loquacious seagulls caused us to look skyward where there were not one, but two bald eagles cruising directly over our event. This picture only shows one, but what a glorious and significant unscheduled flyby! This was especially meaningful given a discussion about the symbolism of eagles a few days before.

The organizations present take turns lying wreaths at the foot of the statue.

Blur out a couple of background details and you could once again picture this in the late 18th century.

Another joyful aspect to this year’s ceremony was the perfect amount of wind that unfurled the flags as we took photos. The weather can be too cold, too wet, too icy, too breezy, but this year was just right.

Looking good, S, T, V, General Washington, & co.!

As the ceremony was concluding, our great bronze orb suddenly darkened. Looking to the south, we saw this resplendent dragon billowing eastward.

You can see the eye, snout, fire, legs, and wing. I was in awe of this behemoth, bestial cumulus. It didn’t occur to me until later why this, too, was significant. The Green Dragon Tavern in Boston was known as the Headquarters of the Revolution.

Oh Creator, I love your sense of humor. And I love that these men, women, and children come together in nonpartisan organizations to promote history, unity, patriotism, and education regardless of their differences. That ability to love one another as we are and act together for the common good is the glue that holds this democratic republic together. I pray that it continues for centuries more.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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This was once the second most photographed object in the world. Author Steven J. Pickens said that in its heyday, only the Eiffel Tower attracted more shutter snaps.

This is the green and grey rusting metal sitting on the side of a trail in Kirkland. People ask when the unsightly “junk” will be removed or muse about a new outhouse.

This is the Kalakala, or what remains of it. Born as the Peralta and originally running on routes in the San Francisco Bay, the Kalakala literally arose from the ashes of its original incarnation.

This Art Deco ferry carried people across the Puget Sound from 1935 to 1967. Post-1967, she went to Alaska to serve as a fish processor and cannery.

An effort to bring her back to Washington succeeded, but the money needed to bring her back to life never materialized. She sat disintegrating in various locales until the decision was finally made to auction off pieces of her instead of trying to save the whole boat.

The City of Kirkland successfully bid to save large pieces of the ferry and will be preserving it as part of an art project.

It’s fitting that the “mother ship” (above) has come home to Kirkland. The Kalakala was built in Kirkland and after decades of wandering around, will live on, resurrected for a second time.

The sun may be setting on the remains of the Kalakala, but right now it’s like a seed in the ground, waiting to pop up in the spring.

I see you! The portholes look like the eyes of a giant spider.

I believe these are the car doors. You can see a list of the parts that were salvaged here. You can also see a beautiful picture of the Kalakala on the wall of Kirkland City Hall outside of the Peter Kirk Room.

The Kalakala could carry thousands of passengers and many vehicles. People liked to hang out of these futuristic windows as they cruised across the water. Since the Kalakala was still operating at the time of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, its photographic popularity that year was only eclipsed by the Space Needle.

Here is another look at what was saved.

Nearly a century after its construction, the Kalakala eagerly awaits a place in the public eye again.

There are many photos and videos of the Kalakala online including this one-minute video showing the ferry in motion.

Could you imagine riding this during the Great Depression? You must have felt like you were on a spaceship.

This is another short video that shows some of the interior as well. There is more on YouTube.


Steven J. Pickens, author of Ferries of Puget Sound, plans to release an update to that book soon. The original follows the lives of Puget Sound ferries up to 2006. You may be shocked at what has happened to some of the boats we’ve commuted on for decades.


©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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This is the American massacre you were never taught about in school. This is the genocide that no one was ever held accountable for. Search a “This Day in History” site and you will not find any mention of the original Sunday Bloody Sunday.

On Sunday, February 26th, 1860, the Wiyot tribe of northern California was resting after several days of participating in its week-long World Renewal Ceremony. The ceremony was held on what’s commonly known as Indian Island, or Duluwat to the Wiyot, a small, marshy island near Eureka.

Duluwat was home to two villages, Tuluwat (Toulouwat) and Etpidolh (Etpidalh Watpuroulh). Tuluwat was the site of the annual ceremony. On that Sunday in 1860, knowing that the men were away, six white men crawled ashore with axes, knives, and clubs– quiet weapons that would not alert anyone else to the mass murder they had planned. These were the weapons of cowards who had their eye on that real estate, who blamed the Wiyot and other tribes of stealing their cattle.

These men viciously murdered children, women, and elders in a surprise attack that conveniently coincided with other area massacres that day. Very few survived this slaughter on Duluwat and the incident was nearly swept under the rug. A 2010 article in the North Coast Journal of Politics, People, and Art puts faces on the survivors and dissects the motives. This is the best piece I’ve read on the topic. It tells of the baby found in his murdered mother’s arms, the women who bravely saved three children to stumble upon seven others, the perseverance and forgiveness of the survivors. Depending on the account, 80 to 200 defenseless people were savagely killed.

That day was a turning point for the native peoples of northern California. While there had already been plans and pressure to move the Wiyot off Duluwat, February 26th, 1860 was the day the Wiyot lost the island that their tribe had frequented for a thousand years or more. It seems to have been turned into a dairy farm– no surprise given the real estate designs of some local settlers. Some time later it became a shipyard. It also became a heavily contaminated dumping ground that the Wiyots have spent at least two decades cleaning up.

The EPA has a fascinating document about the efforts to remove all manner of industrial waste and garbage from the site. It includes bits of the tribe’s and Tuluwat’s history. The Wiyots have been slowly buying back the land, an island that literally holds the blood and bones of their ancestors. It has been a labor of love.

Did I say their ancestors? From elementary through high school I was teased about my fair skin. One middle school classmate’s words about “needing to get some sun” are forever scrawled in my yearbook. Kids were cruel about many things but bashing on someone’s genetically-determined skin tone hit a nerve, especially because they were making assumptions about my forebears. Growing up I knew that we grandkids were a small part Native American.

I have never understood the pressure to change one’s skin tone as if God screwed up by making us too dark or too light. I find it odd that so many here in rainy Seattle flock to tanning beds as if we’re supposed to look like we’re in Florida. I love my skin, but we have this Hollywood or Bollywood-fueled concept that all women should move towards some sort of bronzed or golden epidermal ideal somewhere in the middle of the skin spectrum. Ladies, you are beautiful exactly as God made you. We are meant to shine as all colors of the rainbow.

Our grandpa was a tall, dark, and handsome engineer whose mother was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Scandinavian. His beautiful mother had a nickname for his father referencing the tribe she thought he resembled. But Great-Grandpa was an orphan, his origins shrouded in mystery. We knew bits and pieces, some names, general geographic locations– a scattered and unreliable road map to the past.

I’ve spent a lifetime searching for his people, hitting brick wall after brick wall. We knew he was from northern California. We learned how his father died. A few years ago a wonderful researcher at the Washington State Archives stepped into help and we learned the startling truth of what happened to him and his brother after they lost their parents. We know nothing about their sister. For him to have become the man he was after what he suffered is a testament to his fighting spirit and kind heart.

Thanks to the Archives we found a connection to the Wiyot tribe. There is a genetic link to a common ancestor and documentation signed by that ancestor although some tribal members dispute the connection. Nevertheless, I will continue my research to fill in the gaps in our family’s story. As I try to connect the dots, I wonder if my great-grandfather and his siblings weren’t taken in by either side of the family because they were too light or too dark. I am certain there are still secrets and surprises to be found and healing that needs to happen.

The first time I read the story of the genocide at Duluwat, I was profoundly shaken. I wasn’t reading a high school textbook about people I’d never met in the Midwest. This wasn’t one of the mass murders I’d written about for my M.A. This happened to my family. Being an American, I come from many peoples and some of those peoples have enslaved and killed each other throughout the centuries. But this was more recent, more local, on American soil, and all of the suspects got away with it.

I’m not an advocate of reparations and I believe in moving forward. But somehow an ancient island, a very specific and sacred place, being taken by mass murder at a sacred time was an unconscionable cliffhanger. It was like when a TV show ends without telling you what happened to any of the major characters– except hellishly worse. It invoked a particular feeling that I mentioned in my 2013 blog post When You Know It’s Murder:

Accepting some of these circumstances as “solved” though—it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps we who question the “truth” are who God intends to bring justice through. There are times when I’m thinking through some of these cases and that old familiar translucent twilight sidles up next to me. In that particular kind of silence I’m reminded that something still isn’t right, and the truth might have yet to be found. It’s like a door hasn’t closed yet, or a window latch has come undone in a forgotten room and a breeze is rustling old, worn curtains that should have been taken down 30 years ago.

There is no individual alive who can truly apologize for what happened on Duluwat. The descendants of the suspects are not responsible and have no obligation to be involved. The City of Eureka did issue a formal apology in recent years, and it was fitting for a government agency to finally recognize the tragedy.

Today the apology went a step further. At 10 A.M. this morning, the City of Eureka and the Wiyot tribe held a ceremony at which the city council voted to return Duluwat to the Wiyots. It took almost 160 years for the tribe to get this land back. Despite this rare and momentous gesture that rewarded many years of the tribe’s hard work, media coverage is sparse. The British press picked up the story right away, though, with The Guardian declaring “California city returns island taken from native tribe in 1860 massacre.”

It’s a really good example of resilience because Wiyot people never gave up the dream… It’s a really good story about healing and about coming together of community.

Michelle Vassel, Tribal Administrator

From a distance, from an unacknowledged seat in the bleachers, I rejoiced with the Wiyot today. I can do this as an American. I can do this as a fellow human being. I can do this as an advocate for and fierce believer in a God of justice. But I also did this for my grandfather. I did this for my great-grandfather who was too young to remember his people when he was torn from them. I cheered for a family I may never know. I rejoiced with a people I’ve spent most of a lifetime looking for– the people who I thought of every time another classmate took a jab at my complexion.

Well done, Wiyot people. Well done.

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This simple marker commemorates the massacre.

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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How will we know it’s us without our past?

John Steinbeck

There is a Bothell I used to know. It is an increasingly distant memory, a mist flickering on the moors of my imagination. What remains of that Bothell amounts to the dying embers of a fire that is being stamped out by an oversized boot called Progress.

In the early 20th century, progress was a large house for the Ericksen family, Bothell pioneers. Gerhard Ericksen was a state legislator whose legacy lives on although most people don’t know his role in the building of Bothell. The Ericksen family only owned this house for a few years. Then it became home to a different family who stayed for quite a while.

The Bothell the Ericksens helped build was not a city that decimated its natural resources and constructed seas of soulless boxes priced beyond what many could bear. It was a Bothell that coexisted with much of its natural environment, that built individual homes with sufficient space between them.

This is summer 2019. Unable to bear the high property taxes any longer, and with property values going through the roof, the strained owners of our eclectic beloved shopping center sold out to developers. An out of state company headquartered in Atlanta stepped in.

Fences went up, buildings started coming down. I was told that the City of Bothell didn’t have the money to save any historic buildings at Country Village on the Bothell-Everett Highway south of Canyon Park. The developer did not respond to questions.

The free-roaming chickens were rounded up and rehomed. People started to take mementos from Country Village without permission. There were online auctions and some of us asked what protections the ducks would be given. We were assured that the duck pond would stay, but that did not mean a thing for the surrounding land that the ducks have nested and lived on for generations.

Have you ever watched Disneyland burn? That’s how losing Country Village feels. For decades we shopped there, ate there, fed ducks there until they banned it, saw Santa there, sang songs there, took photos of the reindeer there. Country Village is where people went for haircuts, Moso bags, toys, antiques, Pirate Day. You could stop by for no other reason than to sit on a bench near the pond and enjoy a bag of kettle corn.

There was a peace there. Malls don’t have this peace. Urban shopping centers don’t have this lifeforce. The feathered fowl, the willow tree, the aging arches and old wagon lent themselves to a calm in the frenzied Seattle metro bustle. No matter how busy it was, you could hear yourself breathe.

On this sweltering day I stepped inside the northern arch to photograph one of the buildings that, to my amazement, was left standing. A security guard approached and related how people were waltzing into the property despite signs indicating that we needed to go no further than where I was. A red dragonfly hovered above his car as we talked at length. Who were you really, dragonfly?

Above is one of the two buildings that I learned would be left standing until April 2020. If someone does not move the buildings by then, they too will be lost forever. So I put the word out– free houses! But there they stand, and now it’s October. They have less than six months to live unless we find a kindhearted soul to save them.

This is the front of that old building. I stood there and stared into the ragged trellis of 2 X 4s designed to protect its interior. But for how long?

How long have these houses stood here unmolested? And now they waste away in hopes of a savior, a moving truck, new land to live the rest of their lives. I remain perturbed that there has not been an organized effort to save them. There are so few like them left.

I still have books I bought in these buildings as a kid.

The Ericksen House served as Whitehouse Antiques in recent years. They had quite the collection of candy and chocolate in addition to metal signs and antiques. Visitors would wind their way through its midsection, then clomp downstairs to circle the basement where, inevitably, someone would always trip at an unexpected step down. Then you’d clomp upstairs past the records on the wall and visit the old bedrooms that were either too hot or too cold.

In an era of big box homes with tiny to no yards, it’s disturbing that a historic beauty like this could go the way of the dodo. Experts tell me that because of vandalism and remodels much of the interior isn’t original. But the bones are still there. And it’s still significant. And it’s still one of a kind.

Descendants of the Ericksens marched in the 2019 Bothell Fourth of July Parade.

This is now October 2019. The former Country Village site looks like someone scraped away all of its trees and creatures and structures with a merciless metal spatula. Someone meaning Progress. This is what’s happening throughout King County as forests are being razed for huge developments, like the travesty in Black Diamond where thousands of cookie cutter homes will transform that wild, tiny mining town into Anywhere, USA.

The land regulations that allow this alarming displacement of wildlife and construction of myriad buildings that are grossly unsuited to the surrounding habitat are supposedly environmentally sensitive. “People need somewhere to live” they tell me. Why do they have to wipe out the local biome and pack people in like sardines? “We need affordable housing,” they say. Then why can’t longtime locals like myself even afford half of one of these supposedly affordable units?

This is the land where we ban plastic straws but tear down acres of proud ancient trees without regard for the inhabitants who’ve been there for thousands of years. There is no empathy for the mountain beavers, coyotes, deer, possums, raccoons, bears, birds, fish. Many of the new inhabitants have no connection to the surrounding environment or local history.

What’s that in the distance? To the right?

What’s that to the left? Oh. The same generic buildings that will soon fill the entire site. That seem to be dominating the Seattle metro area. That are consuming the I5 corridor from Chehalis to Bellingham.

This is what’s left of the duck pond. The rest of their habitat has been destroyed. I don’t know how ducks will be able to roam a high density complex of concrete freely, but Progress knows.

Look north and there it is, its footings being sheared away by loud machines. The Ericksen House is still standing proudly in the face of impending destruction. It’s nightmarish seeing this, and only this corner, of the village left.

It seems illogical, implausible, impossible that in a community as collectively wealthy as Bothell that we cannot find enough of us to band together and save this.

This is not a sinkhole. Not literally. But these buildings will be sucked into the sinkhole of Progress next spring without intervention.

The arch that used to say “welcome” now serves as a billboard for the demolition company.

Near. Far. But near could soon be so much farther that we’ll never see it again.

Will the road signs have to be changed too? Or will they stay and remind us of what Progress has cost?

As if there weren’t enough of these on the former back lot already, here are over a hundred more… along with thousands up and down the Bothell-Everett Highway. As an out of town visitor said, this road seems to have turned into a nonstop block of high density from downtown Bothell to Everett. Where is the wildlife supposed to go? Where are the lower to middle class people supposed to go?

After taking that photo I looked south. This cloud looked like a hand, a tidal wave, an angry face, or perhaps, if you tilt your head to the left, a mighty angel sheltering something with its wings.

If buildings could talk, these two might be reciting lyrics from the ’80s, the decade Country Village was born.

My defenses are down
A kiss or a frown
I can’t survive on my own…

Send me an angel
Send me an angel
Right now…

Above is the Ericksen family plot in the Bothell Pioneer Cemetery near UW Bothell, established 1889. Like the house they built so long ago, their graves face east, hoping for new life.

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History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.

David McCullough

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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