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Today the middle section of the last Kirkland Parkplace building had fallen in by way of behemoth hydraulics. An excavator scraped the innards onto the ground and then into giant trucks which hauled them away to lands unknown.


©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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There are plenty of ruined buildings in the world but no ruined stones.

Hugh MacDiarmid

Where were these photographs taken? Sarajevo? Beirut? Chernobyl? That’s what I would guess if I hadn’t taken them. These were taken last Friday in Kirkland, Washington. The last of the Kirkland Parkplace buildings was coming down.

The group of brick buildings we knew as the Kirkland Parkplace shopping center have been replaced by a massive mixed residential-commercial development called Kirkland Urban. Its many stories and underground parking are more Bellevue or Seattle than Kirkland. Kirkland Urban contains a huge flagship grocery store and a much welcome pet supplies store. Many say it’s a vast improvement over the sometimes sleepy Parkplace. But its architecture falls into that Anywhere U.S.A. category, so there is nothing distinctively Northwest about it.

Here are the raw photos. The first five were taken on March 11th, 2020 when I noticed equipment near the building off 6th Street south of Central Way. The others were taken at two different times about four hours apart on Friday, March 20th. They speak for themselves, and I’ve left one of the quirkier photos in because of the interplay of a bright setting sun. I doubt there will be anything left standing if I drive by tomorrow.

The power of the hydraulic demolition equipment is startling. Those jaws rip chunks of concrete and rebar off of structures like a T-Rex shredding an afternoon snack. I was told that once this building was properly skeletonized, it would have to be pulled forward so the new building behind it wouldn’t be harmed. This demolition signals the end of Kirkland Parkplace; all evidence of the old movie theater, bookstore, bakery, seafood store, fountain, and other fixtures is now gone.


For those who can stand it, Rhine Demolition, the company handling the project above, was also tasked with dismantling the Kalakala. Video here.

You can find what remains of the Kalakala, which was built in Kirkland, here and here.


©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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Safe indeed by land to journey,
But the way is rough and trying,
Long the road and full of turnings;
Lovely is the ship on ocean,
Beautiful to ride the billows,
Journey easy o’er the waters,
Sailing in a trusty vessel;
Should the West-wind cross our pathway,
Will the South-wind drive us northward…

The Kalevala, Rune XXXIX

If you are a regular here then you may recall last October’s post, The Second Most Photographed Object in the World. In that post I showed parts of what’s left of the ferry Kalakala, which in its heyday was the second most photographed object in the world behind the Eiffel Tower. It sat unwanted for years until it was carved up, its choice pieces now weathering on the shoulder of the Cross Kirkland Corridor and next to Salty’s at Alki Beach.

Exiting the West Seattle Bridge at Harbor Avenue, I remembered the giddiness of decades past when friends and I would cruise this strip, feeling so adult in our newly acquired vehicles. I had a sharp reality check as I passed derelict RV after derelict RV along the roadside.

Arriving at Salty’s, where scuba divers were simultaneously suiting up and stripping next to their vehicles, I realized how long it had been since I’d actually stopped here.

As on the Cross Kirkland Corridor north of 7th Avenue, you have the distinct impression that you’ve stumbled upon the remains of a first generation mother ship. This part of the Kalakala occupies the northwest corner of the Salty’s parking lot.

This part of the wheelhouse faces east towards downtown Seattle and Harbor Island. At first glance it looks like you might be able to put a quarter in it and go for a quick cruise. But it, too, is rusting away, perched on terra firma instead of plowing through the Sound.

I’m not sure what is in the foreground. If my source is correct, the owners of Salty’s had to move some of their “urban reef,” pieces of the old Spokane Street Bridge, to accommodate the Kalakala when it moved there in 2015.

Inside of the wheelhouse, you feel as if you’re gazing out of an oversized Corinthian battle helmet made for Henry J. Waternoose III (Monsters, Inc.).

The views from here are entrancing. This is certainly a spot where shadowy superheroes come to brood over the Emerald City at night, capes flapping in the brackish breeze.

The voluminous clouds on this Sunday afternoon reminded me just how small this big city is in the grand scheme of things.

And yet the city just keeps going up, up, up…

Hmm. This does look like a defeated tripod from War of the Worlds, still ready to fire upon humanity…

Das Kurbelwelle. A relative just made a beautiful table using a crankshaft as the base. This crankshaft would be more appropriate for a table for Paul Bunyan. It’s massive.

It may look like Medusa saw her own reflection and shattered, but I think this is probably more of the old bridge.

This does quite good on its own as a modern art statement.

Those clouds…

Das Ruder. This rudder steered a dead weight of about 750 tons.

This shot reminds me of a tugboat. Or like the Kalakala is looking east, telepathically reaching out to its other half that is languishing on the side of a trail 15 miles away.

Thankfully you can turn the camera so it still seems like the Space Needle dominates the Seattle skyline.

Another view from the helmet…

Oddly, I didn’t find any signs telling people what these relics are. At this point a couple was standing in here with me and I explained the Kalakala’s story. I thought the owner was going to do more with these, but five years on, here they remain.

Three cormorants, three towers… every time I see the towers on Queen Anne I’m reminded that my dad would climb them to do maintenance.

The patina in here, where it hasn’t been vandalized, is gorgeous.

Unk, standing at a porthole, wept quietly. He was weeping for love, for family, for friendship, for truth, for civilization. The things he wept for were all abstractions, since his memory could furnish few faces or artifacts with which his imagination might fashion a passion play.

Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Thank you to the Seattle history titan who reminded me of the whereabouts of the Kalakala’s other half. For a treasure trove of Kalakala facts and photos by the real experts, click here.


©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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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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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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Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 13A

Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

It helps when you ask someone with the ability to find an ideal solution.

Last summer I’d finally sat down to read the Spring issue of the Nordic Heritage Museum’s Nordic Kultur magazine. Long a fan of this museum, I’d always been intrigued by one of their displays about an early 20th century Ballard police officer named Jakob Bjarnason.

Something about his eyes and slight smile always made me pause. There was something… whimsical and honest in those windows to the soul. Something that made me think I would have liked to have known him.

Enter page 42: Big Jake Bjarnason: The Gentle Giant by Friðrik Þór Guðmundsson. This well-written article by a relative of Bjarnason’s told the story of a respected local cop who had immigrated from Iceland. He actively worked to honor his native culture and heritage while working and helping raise his daughter’s sister. Big Jake also had a wonderful sense of humor.

Standing at well over seven feet tall, Bjarnason was an imposing presence with a heart to match. When he died suddenly in 1927, 2000 people attended his funeral. That speaks volumes. Unfortunately, his grave was marked with a small temporary marker that, local history buff John Haggem told me, cost a dollar. Haggem and others also found that the birth date listed on the marker was off by a decade.

Guðmundsson’s piece said that the marker is now covered by grass. When I read that, I got out of my chair, slapped down the magazine, and said, “That isn’t right.” It isn’t. No one should be forgotten. Especially not someone who dedicated their life to service and family. So I added “get Jake a proper marker” to my never-ending historical to-do list.

Later in the year, I contacted the Nordic Heritage Museum and Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, not knowing that others, including John Heggem, had the same idea. I asked how we could get Big Jake a proper marker. Little did I know that Officer Jim Ritter, who heads the police museum, would find an even better answer than I could have envisioned.

In short order, Officer Ritter designed a grave marker that honored Bjarnason’s service to both the Ballard and Seattle Police Departments. For those outside of the Seattle area, Ballard was its own entity until May 29th, 1907 when it was absorbed by the City of Seattle. Those against annexation flew their flags at half-mast that day. 110 years later, some of us locals still sport “Free Ballard” bumper stickers.

Quiring Monuments of Seattle donated their services to make the marker come alive. Evergreen Washelli, the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Icelandic Club of Greater Seattle, and the Washington State Archives became involved. I jokingly nicknamed this coalition Team Jakob (nod to the silly Edward vs. Jacob meme of years past).

Friðrik Þór Guðmundsson poured more heart, soul, and research into this effort. David Johnson of the Icelandic Club had me traipsing around the Crown Hill Cemetery looking for examples of 1920s Icelandic grave markers (before I knew Ritter had designed a fitting tribute). Our fabulous Washington State Archivist Steve Excell and his “cold cases don’t stand a chance” genealogy expert Dr. Jewell Lorenz Dunn focused on demolishing a brick wall that had prevented investigative journalist Guðmundsson from finding any of Big Jake’s sister’s offspring.

I and others had visited Jakob’s grave site in the cemetery. It took me a while to find his marker mid-winter as it was covered with debris again. Once found, I noted that his resting place above the Seagull Pond had a direct view of Home Depot.

I also had to get out a measuring tape because I couldn’t fathom how a man who was 7’4″ could have been buried in that spot without using his western neighbor’s head as a footrest. But once Evergreen Washelli explained it was clear that there was enough room. One thing I remain partially stymied by is finding an inside out pair of Carhartt pants nearby, but cemeteries deal with the strangest things.

In the meantime, Ritter was tapping his media contacts and setting up a day to remember. The talented Arnfridur Sigurdardottir became involved as the team’s (other) Icelandic language specialist. As things moved along, it became apparent that Evergreen Washelli, Quiring, and Officer Ritter were cooking up something special.

On April 5th, KING 5 broke the story Ballard’s ‘Big Jake’ receives overdue recognition. You can read John Heggem’s letter there. KING 5 has done a great job covering this process yet one error appeared in this account and the most recent. May 10th is Big Jake’s birthday, not the anniversary of his death. He passed away 90 years ago on October 6th.

On April 12th, the Washington State Archives disclosed that they had located living descendants of Gudridur Bjarnadottir, later known as Grace Ryan Bell, Bjarnason’s sister. All this time the relevant genealogy records on the web had been tied to a wrong person. These relatives were surprised to find out they were a part of this story and made plans to attend the May 10th ceremony at which the new marker would be dedicated.

As someone who believes that bagpipes should be part of every major life event, be it childbirth, a new car purchase, or a Bar Mitzvah, I hesitated to suggest having pipers present since Iceland seems to be the only country on earth without a history of bagpipes. I come from generations of public servants and have that background myself so it’s not a party without the pipes.

I was delighted to learn that Ritter had arranged for the Seattle Police Department Honor Guard and pipes and drums to be present. Score! This man thinks of everything. He also asked Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole to officiate. Guðmundsson, in the meantime, had contacted his newly found relatives and Team Jakob (okay, only I called it that) began inviting others.

One of the invitations went to the people who currently reside in Jakob’s home. Friðrik had shared Jakob’s registration papers from World War I and I realized the address was still valid. As a history buff, I’m used to making such cold calls and following up with supporting documentation, so I contacted the male resident. I asked if a 7’4″ man could have maneuvered well in their home. He said he’s tall and he’s never had a problem. I still wonder if Jakob had to duck through every doorway. Sadly, this neighborhood could be rezoned, which means yet another historic Ballard home could be lost to soulless boxlike condos.

Wednesday was May 10th, which would have been Big Jake’s 143rd birthday. Despite having experienced the wettest six month stretch in Seattle history with freak thunderstorms the week prior, Wednesday was a stunning sunny 70 degree day. Mother Nature was on her best behavior, bathing that morning in an almost magical glow.

At 11 A.M., Wednesday, May 10th, 2017, a crowd gathered to give Jakob Bjarnason, the Gentle Giant, the rest of his funeral, this time with a marker designed to last.

Enter the Seattle Police Pipes and Drums.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 1

Here Friðrik Þór Guðmundsson, who started it all and flew out from Iceland for the event, meets cousin Daniel Bell’s family for the first time. It was a joyous occasion that KING 5 captured some great video of. Bell’s family brought photos of relatives that Guðmundsson immediately recognized.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 2

A view of the venue before the ceremony. Evergreen Washelli always puts on classy events and donated their time and services to honor Bjarnason this day.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 3

The Seattle Police Honor Guard added a reverent and respectful air to the ceremony.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 4

While some malign bagpipes as the secret behind crop circles, there are few sounds more glorious when you are celebrating a life. Or otherwise. It stirs the blood.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 5

Officer Jim Ritter prepares to speak.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 6

Ritter pointed out that Jakob Bjarnason was practicing community-oriented policing long before it was cool. He knew his community, he was involved in his community, and his community respected him for it.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 7

Friðrik and Daniel, together at last, listen to Ritter speak about their uncle. One of the men who made this possible, John Heggem, is in the foreground. I later learned that John’s mother and other relatives are buried just a hop, skip, and a jump from Big Jake. For Jake, that could be just a couple of strides.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 8

Chief Kathleen O’Toole addresses the audience.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 9

Friðrik’s turn. He gave a rousing speech about his Uncle Jakob, pronouncing his name Yah-cawb as the Icelanders say.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 10

The man of the hour, Jakob Bjarnason himself. The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum owns this bust of Big Jake. Evidently the matching set of Jake’s hands is missing. Anyone have a couple of giant plaster hands in their attic?

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 11

It’s possible that Bjarnason’s original funeral could have looked very much like this.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 12

Jakob at the microphones. Having “him” there added depth to the celebration of his life. It already felt like he was looking down upon this smiling and “his” presence made that more real.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 13

Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Officer Ritter present Friðrik and Daniel with an American flag.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 14

Friðrik explained that because Daniel is more closely related to Jakob, he would offer the flag to him.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 15

The moment arrives… the Evergreen Washelli crew backed their tractor into position to place the permanent marker.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 16

Jakob’s bust watches the marker’s placement from the podium.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 17

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Friðrik and Daniel peel back the protective plastic to reveal Quiring’s amazing craftsmanship.

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The Honor Guard looks on.

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Jakob appears to admire the handiwork.

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One of these officers said he had served the City of Seattle for 47 years!

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Not only did Arnfridur Sigurdardottir read a poem in Icelandic written by Jakob’s neighbor, but local Icelanders attended as well.

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This is what teamwork looks like. Well done, Seattle PD and associates.

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Bonus: Ritter drove an original 1970 Plymouth Seattle Police cruiser to the event. Some of us got a kick out of discussing the particulars and asking him to pop the hood later. Evidently the car was located out of state and brought back to Seattle.

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Here it is… the culmination of months of hard work. Now visitors will know who Officer Bjarnason is. When you live a life of honest service, people will remember you nearly a century after you die. And beyond.

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Post-ceremony, Friðrik gives another interview in this idyllic setting.

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Evergreen Washelli had clear signage everywhere including on the way to the indoor reception.

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Cool cake! The inside was marbled with what appeared to be several different flavors. Thank you again to Evergreen Washelli for hosting this.

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Daniel is holding a copy of the essay Jakob wrote just before dying courtesy of the Nordic Heritage Museum. It was explained that Jakob was a contributor to the local Icelandic journal and was expounding upon his belief that Leif Erikson was Icelandic, not Norwegian.

Feeling unwell, he went into the bathroom to shave, probably to prepare for a doctor visit. He collapsed and died of heart trouble. He was only 53 years old.

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The Gentle Giant’s birthday ride. One of his relatives, looking in the window, quipped, “He can’t possibly be 7’4″!”

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And so the festivities ended. Generous donations and Team Captain Jim Ritter made this a day to remember. Please check out KING 5’s feature Descendants travel far and wide to honor legendary Seattle police officer.

Iceland

Translation:

I pray I may rest
where the priests and the best
of farmers have trod,
with faith in God
and themselves strong as stone —
as strong as my own! —
and where life flows bright
amid bounties of light.

-Icelandic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, Home

Happy Birthday Big Jake. You’ve certainly given those who’ve come after you some mighty big shoes to fill.

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Update: Friday, May 12th. We were having to pack up our desks at work for a move. I pulled a pair of seldom-used work gloves out of my bottom filing cabinet drawer and gasped when I saw what they said.

You’re welcome.

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*************************************************************************************Disclaimer: This is a personal, nonprofit blog and it is not endorsed by any participants in this project or parties in this story. I do hope that the museums and organizations mentioned will benefit from their roles in this amazing project. 

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©2017 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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