Cruising Down Lake City Way

Forty years, well, pretty close. As I drive to my bestie’s house to plan a high school reunion I ponder the number. Living on the Peninsula is quiet and slower than the faster paced Seattle skyline. And it is home. Growing up in Seattle was wild and crazy and as a proud OG PNW I enjoy going. 

Alas it is not the same. After years in Los Angeles I enjoy the quiet. As I get off the ferry to downtown I have a bit of time so decided to cruise along the strip of my teenage years. Good old Lake City Way is an offshoot of I-5 going north just past the University of Washington district (U District for the locals). It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done it so wondered what had changed.

Let’s just say I now feel old.

Coming down the hill is a bit unfamiliar. I used to live over by Nathan Hale in my early 20’s yet I do not recognize where to turn. That’s ok as I’ve lived a lot of places and at times they blur.

What I do remember is being a kid and going to the butcher with mom to get our fresh carnivore style meats and stopping next store to Gilly’s to grab ginormous sub sandwiches to take home. They were to die for and I’m drooling a little just thinking about it. I look right and it is gone. It’s been gone awhile according to the Google (yes, I used ‘the’ on purpose) per a #tbt post from Vanishing Seattle. It’s been gone a long time. Sorry subway or Jimmy John’s, you are not the same. Gilly’s I mourn thee.

I look for the bomb Italian restaurant on the right as well. Nope, not there anymore and that is too bad as the aging wine bottles hanging in every nook and cranny of the place gave it flair. 

Hmm, what about Royal Fork or the Putt Putt golf which proudly displayed my name for many birthday parties? No, I think they used to be there where that tall apartment complex is now. I’m hearing my grandfather’s voice of nostalgia and I am becoming him in the wash of memories.

The only good thing about this changing is my evil dentist office is no longer there. Karma does work.

As I drive further north the road flattens out for the rest of the journey and I think of the Lake City Way parades we used to partake in in scouts and marching band. I wonder if they still do them? Back to the Google. Why yes they do! Good for them as the Lake City parade will be a future memory to pay it forward.

Starbucks, of course there are Starbucks everywhere. And classic Dick’s Drive In remains. We spent many hours of lunch and evenings between cruising the strip hanging out there. It was just down the street from Shorecrest High School, our alma matter. 

But across the street, gone, is the Nordstrom shoe store where my mom brought me every fall to get a new pair of shoes and a Nordy balloon. Back to the Google. It left a long time ago and the once humble shoe store is now an iconic symbol. But thanks for the memories John Nordstrom. As an adult your story inspires me.

Hitting 125th I look right and the theatre is gone, but to the left the dated shopping plaza remains. Different stores of course but it makes me feel better they held on. I wonder if, sure enough, it is still there. Deja Vu is still there. Is this a testament of depravity that society will always need strippers? Perhaps, but I’m on a nostalgia tour, not an empirical dissertation of sin. But a part of me could not help but applaud their fortitude. 

If Deja Vu could make it then maybe the Elks club is still there where I learned to swim and had some wicked Easter egg hunts. Nope, it is now an apartment complex. Bummer! Where did the Elks go Google? Aha, it moved to Shoreline from the dilapidating building of my youth. That makes sense. I am forced to take care of my aging body but a building can be demoed. Happy to hear people are still enjoying the camaraderie.

One more check before I come down the hill to Lake Forest Park. Mr. Steak, are you still there? My high school job where I honed my customer service skills in high school. The building looks familiar but it is gone too. That one I expected. I still have dreams of being late for work because I had homework or play rehearsal. Should I even ask the Google about it? Why not? Interesting find to see I am not the only one. The blog of History’s dumpster explains their demise of the ground steak chain and replace is a Facebook group for those who had worked at Mr. Steak. How fun, I joined (pending approval) and look forward to reminiscing. 

Sighing heavily I do not regret my recent cruise down Lake City Way, Seattle. Like George Lucas I could make a film about it and we could all reminisce together but for not we will leave it here. Childhood was not always stellar but Lake City Way was a good memory and I will hold onto it, cherish it, and respect it. Like myself it has changed, grown, and evolved. Embracing this in a mature way is beneficial.

Now I am heading towards Lake Forest Park. That is an entirely different story.

With bestie Jill (Robinson) Espitia at Shorecrest High graduation 1982