Childhood

Maybe a baby pic here if I find it.
Mt. Ephraim, NJ 1944

Of course I have no direct memories of this time. However mom says that dad built the house there and she loved it.

December 1948 - Midway, WA

At  six and one half years old, I am now residing at 23020 30th Ave. South in Midway, WA (Des Moines?). I remember fever blisters on the mouth.

 An interesting note is that I grew up in the little town that wasn’t. It may never have been incorporated. Checking the web, the only reference I find to it is completing I-5, which now runs through the back end of what was our property at the time.

“On January 31, 1967, the last section of Interstate 5 from Everett to Tacoma is completed. The section runs about 15 miles from Dearborn Street near Beacon Hill in Seattle to Midway, located at about the Kent-Des Moines Road S.” (Historylink.org).

However, those “in the know” knew the magic phrase “The Spanish Castle Ballroom”. It is no wonder that the state of Washington let the history of Midway fade into the sunset when you read the following:

The most fabled dancehall in Seattle’s history was, ironically, not even located in Seattle. And that odd geographic detail is a defining aspect of the Spanish Castle Ballroom. When constructed in 1931 by its founders, Archie Bacon and Frank Enos, the hall was purposefully situated at “Midway” — an area located literally midway between Seattle and Tacoma. That site — just outside of the city limits, on unincorporated county land — was selected specifically in order to escape those towns’ busybody efforts to clamp down on nightlife activities. Taken together, both the city codes restricting public dancing and the state’s Prohibition laws outlawing alcoholic drinks made for tough times in the entertainment industry. “ Historylink.org -The Spanish Castle

 

1940s picture of the Spanish Castle Ballroom – 1950 sign. I wonder if my dad painted the sign? That was his primary business at the time.

I have vague memories of my dad being involved with Klondike Days in the late 1940s a special celebration at the Spanish Castle Ballroom, which was literally across the street and down the hill. It was so close that Lonnie Veeder and I, and other friends like Tommie Littlefield would search the huge SCB parking lot across from my house for nickels, dimes, and quarters – at that time you could get six good sized candy bars for two bits – Yeah! We got sick on occasion, but oh what fun. 

Long after we raided the parking lot on Sundays, the Spanish Castle become a “Golden era of teen-dances: “By 1961 — when Morrill sold out to Knutsen — various DJ’s like O’Day, John Stone, and Lee Perkins had booked shows into the Castle and early shows there featured such major touring stars as Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Burnett, Tony Orlando, Freddie Cannon, Ray Stevens, Johnny Rivers, Bobby Vee, Jan & Dean, and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. But rock ‘n’ roll and pop acts weren’t the only action and a good number of Country acts including national stars like Conway Twitty and Ernest Tubb also made appearances there and locals like Jack Roberts & the Evergreen Drifters, picked, yodeled, and twanged at the Castle regularly for years.”

Unfortunately tragedy ended the era for the Spanish Castle. “O’Day recalls that disaster struck in about 1966 when a tragic incident took place. Three kids were attempting to cross the roadway out in front of the castle when they were hit by a speeding automobile. Everybody’s spirits were dampened. The luster was suddenly gone, and O’Day chose to quit booking shows there soon after.”

Lonnie and I both left the Midway area after sixth grade.  We both moved to Seattle, however she went to Catholic schools–Holy Names, then Saint Catherine’s and finally Blanchet”. I spent three years in junior high school at John Marshall (near Green Lake), then on to Roosevelt High for one year an Mercer Island HS for my junior and senior years.

BTW, I just re-connected with Lonnie after 55-60 years apart- Facebook is such a great connector. Anyway part of her email states: I remember the Spanish Castle and the big parking lot across the street from it.  And going out on Sunday mornings to try and find lost money there.” 

Speaking of Lonnie, I was not all that social as an only child growing up. I had few close friends and remember even only some of those. One I do remember is Lonnie Veeder. Her folks owned the motel across the street next to the Spanish Castle parking lot. In a recent email Lonnie says: “When my folks owned the motel and we were there from my second grade through sixth grade years, my only playmates were you and Jim.  I don’t remember any girls or other boys living close by.  I remember your house and the pond next to your house.  And how we would take a makeshift raft out on it.  I also remember a small church next to the pond.  I went down the road where all these landmarks were a few months ago and everything was gone.  Things have changed so fast and so much that all the landmarks throughout my childhood have been obliterated.”  Funny, I do not remember Jim. I do remember that Veeder’s had this huge Husky. When he was out, he was harnessed to a very thick chain. I had a little mongrel called “whip” as in “smart as a”. Whip would know exactly how long that chain was and teased that Malamute by coming within six inches of  his reach – what a fun time Whip had whenever we visited.

I hope to recall more about the big community fire that happenen in the late forties. I think at the intersection of Highway 99 and the Kent-Demoines Highway. I do remember is was huge and a number of stores were totalled. It was so big that a hot can of “canned food” flew all the way across the highway and hit someone on the head. I can’t seem to find a record of it on the Web and I can’t ask mom anymore.

I am sure more old memories will keep bubbling up from my sub-conscious, but this is a good start for now. Time to tap my brain for other life mini-journeys!  Now to my high school page.
 

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