Essay: “Placed and Displaced in My Place”

The following is an exploratory essay written at the beginning of the “Themes in American Literature” course at the University of Washington Tacoma (Winter 2014).  We were examining the idea of our own personal sense of place in relationship to the articles we were reading near the beginning of the course.


“Placed and Displaced in My Place”

by Debi

In his essay, “The Sense of Place,” Wallace Stegner talks about the difference between placed people and displaced people in America.  He compares the placed person to Thoreau and his deep connection to Walden Pond and its surrounding environs in contrast to the displaced—or migratory—person who is “cousin not to Thoreau but to Daniel Boone, dreamer not of Walden Ponds but of far horizons.” This idea of placed versus displaced people resonated with me as I have been discovering my family’s immigrant roots as well as the multiple generations of my ancestors who have called the Puget Sound area home since traveling West on the Oregon Trail.  Seven generations of my family have lived their lives here in Western Washington with roots running deeply into the historical fishing and boat-building industries that have been key to the development of this region of the world.  I would say my family is currently made up of placed individuals who are directly descended from displaced pioneers.  My personal sense of place is tied to the town of my childhood, the social hierarchy of the community I lived in, and my adult desires of reconnecting to the places of my childhood. Continue reading

The Kandy Kottage: A Fairy Tale of Sorts

10703743_10203888508827182_4531992321075447311_nThis story is true. Well, until it isn’t, that is. It’s a real event from my childhood, but the ending is what my childhood imagination had pictured could have happened. Sometimes real life is more pleasant than the world of fairy tales and fantasy.  The photo is the real Kandy Kottage from the good old Retro days of Bellevue, Washington where I grew up and read far too many scary stories.

by Debi

In the back of the family station wagon, a little girl played with her teddy bear. This was long before the days of mandatory seatbelts, child car seats, or even auto safety glass. Continue reading

There are Places I Remember

51rkz0q2f7lby Debi

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. Continue reading

How My Folks Met

front yard

My grandparents front yard on Yarrow Point looking across Yarrow Bay to the Lake Washington Shipyards. The Kalakala ferry was being worked on at the time of this photo.

by Debi

My parents married in September (I think), but the anniversary they celebrated was the day they met. Opening Day of boating season. I always thought that was romantic and sweet, which is a bit ironic because “romantic” and “sweet” aren’t words I’d ever use to describe my parents. Or their relationship. I knew them when they were older and settled, however, and no longer the romantics they evidently were in their youth. Continue reading