My Neighborhood

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Let’s forget predominately male sports stadium madness for a while and concentrate on neighborhoods. I have stopped pruning my rhododendrons out front so they will shade my view of the proliferation of technology on the power pole outside my front window. And younger people are replacing the old neighbors that I once had coffee with when my children were growing up. (Well actually, I don’t drink coffee much but we always called these get-togethers, coffee klatches.) I was one of the few women who worked outside my home when I was not actually in the act of childbearing. You have already heard me complain about the fact that when women left the farming communities they were no longer expected to “work” even though they had always worked on the farm—helping to put in and harvest crops, cooking for harvest crews, making clothes and preserving food for the winter.

When I was in grade school we learned by radio that Lindberg had completed the first transatlantic flight ever. I still have the poster printed about that event showing the ocean and the tiny plane flying overhead. But now here I was in another elementary classroom years later talking and answering questions about my early life in this area.

The children asked me what it was like in the old days so I shared my stories of the swamp (later becoming the shopping center) where the neighborhood children once played after school and during the summer. Many a time when driving on Trenton Street I had to watch out for a quail scurrying across the road. There was a so-called truck garden there before development drained the swamp to make room for Westwood Village. This area was called Little City Farms with four lots sold with house and garden area for city people who wanted to move out into the country as West Seattle was called.

When these second graders learned that this oldie is dating they wanted to know all about my fellow. After all, even 70ish Martha Stewart went on the internet to find a date so why shouldn’t I date? Life isn’t over until it’s over, right? The children asked me, “What kind of clothes did you wear? Did you have TV?” It was then that I realized that I had lived a whole different life from the I-pod generation. However, I often go out to dance, to play the piano somewhere, to lunch and movie and perhaps to a gathering later on in the day. But my most important role is mentor to younger people. Every age needs to show the way to younger people and I certainly want to help the younger generation learn to make the most of every new period in their lives. To help with that, some years ago I organized a career fair for Roxhill students. Both boys and girls could watch people doing what they do on the job and even try out some of the job skills. They were able to interact with a bricklayer, a nurse, an architect and a cook to name just a few.
They could even practice laying bricks.

The children were surprised to learn that at one time there was a trolley carrying passengers on 35th S.W. I was one of those who protested the purchase of exhaust fuming buses when the city decided to eliminate the trolley lines. That was before people became more aware of the dangerous effects of air pollution. Even though we now have increasing exhaust fumes and tire dust in our neighborhood at least we don’t have mosquitoes that once lived in the swamp. And we still have Roxhill School even though it was scheduled to be eliminated in an attempt to downsize and save money. For now, it remains in our neighborhood. And I have become a part of it once more.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at 206-935-8663 or gnkunkel@comcast.net.

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