My parents didn’t move far from Yarrow Point where Dad grew up. They bought a cozy little house on Clyde Hill and settled in to raise their little family. So I came of age in what I call Retro Bellevue—now home to upscale shopping malls, expensive condos, conference centers, and towering buildings.
Back in my day, however, I referred to Bellevue as the City of Short Buildings. Even calling Bellevue a city seemed a stretch back then. The town felt more like Mayberry. Us kids wandered the streets, walked to corner stores, rode the ferris wheel at Kiddyland, and drank root beer floats with our moms at Newberry’s lunch counter. There were monkeys in the window of Nordstrom Shoes, a raccoon cage in the middle of the roller coaster, and a drinking bar for watering all the free-roaming dogs outside Frederick & Nelson’s north entrance at The Square.
When driving through the City of Tall Buildings which Bellevue has become, I catch glimpses of that Retro Bellevue from my past. The old wishing well where I always tossed in a coin (or three) is still there, but now hiding in a shaded spot by the parking garage. Medina Park has a sculpture beside the jogging path by Dudley Carter, the carver, whose work adorned many of the Retro Bellevue landmarks of my childhood with tree spirits and totem poles.
Kiddyland is long gone, but many of the aging rides were relocated to Enchanted Village in Federal Way. Which seems fitting—the Bellevue/Mayberry of my childhood was an enchanted village.
There are places
all my life
though some have changed