Posted by: Janet | May 8, 2009

Return to Seattle

A long time ago, in September 1959, I set out from Boston to attend a Middlebury friend’s wedding in Evanston, Illinois.   My friend Ginny and I had met early on at the start of our Freshman year at Middlebury.  During Freshman year we lived next door to each other and then in Sophmore year we shared a room in Le Chateau.

 Le Chateau in the snow  Le Chateau in winter, Middlebury College, Vermont

                    Upon reaching Evanston, Ginny’s hometown, I looked up some friends who were still in the house on Sheridan Drive where I had lived during the previous academic year when I was attending Northwestern University.  Lo and behold, my friends were going to drive to  California  and they needed another passenger.  Having just returned from a 2 month trip to Europe I was looking for a job and the West Coast was one of the areas I wanted to explore – here was my chance.  So I abandoned plans to attend the wedding, much to the horror of the mother of the bride, and headed for California with my former housemates.  We travelled the now classic route 66.  We delivered the car to someone in Palm Springs  and 3 of us, Bob, Helene, and I, proceeded to Los Angeles and flew up to San Francisco where we stayed with friends of Bob and Helene.    I was just tagging along.   This included a memorable camping trip somewhere by a lake in the mountains east of San Francisco. 

            Back to San Francisco and I thought, why don’t I go north to Seattle and visit another Middlebury friend, Rachel.   In the year following graduation from Middlebury in 1958, Rachel had gone to Seattle to teach school and I attended Northwestern to complete a Master’s Degree in Geography.  So in 1959, Rachel had already been living and working and enjoying life in Seattle for a year.  I travelled by Greyhound bus up the very scenic West Coast from San Francisco to Seattle, and when I was in Seattle I decided to contact the Geography Department at the University of Washington.  Their Department had been my first choice in applying to graduate school but somehow they had accidentally misplaced my application and I went to Northwestern instead. 

              In conversation with the Head of the Geography Department, he asked what I was doing and I said I was looking for a job – he suggested contacting Puget Planners, a local urban planning consulting firm (I had specialised in Urban Geography).  I followed his suggestion and next thing I knew I was offered a job.  Yes I said but I have to go back East and collect my belongings and then return.  Rachel introduced me to two other teachers who were looking for a third to share a house in Magnolia, a lovely area just north of  downtown Seattle.  Mary Ann and Jody interviewed me and decided I would be acceptable as the third. 

                Back I went to Boston, travelling by Greyhound bus across the northern part of the U.S., collected my belongings, and returned to Seattle, travelling by train for the return journey.  I started work in October and was very happy with the firm for 4 months.  However, my happiness diminished as the firm became unable to meet its payroll.  The weeks went by and still no money.  So I applied to Boeing, the universal employer in Seattle at that time, and was hired with the grand title of Design Progress Estimator, Missile Test Program B.  A grand title but literally almost nothing to do.  It was very tedious and there were rows and rows of desks with people doing virtually nothing but chatting with their neighbours.  I put up with this for a while, after all I was getting paid at least, but come June, Rachel had finished her 2 years of teaching and she and her parents were going to drive back East.  I joined them and we travelled in tandem across the country as far as Grand Marais Minnesota where we went out separate ways.  What happened after that is another story.

The point of this entry on my blog is to fast forward the reader to 2009.   After much thought, my husband and I have decided to move from our home of 40+ years in Dublin Ireland to Seattle, where our eldest son James and his wife and 3 children now live.  Hence the title – Return to Seattle.  It will not be to Magnolia or Boeing but rather to Ballard, actually not far from Magnolia.  James and his wife Susan live in Ballard and the idea is to be near them, and also to be nearer to other members of the family and our friends on the North American side of the Atlantic.  We will be sad to leave Dublin and our many friends here, but we are on our own as far as family is concerned – hence the move.

More in the next installment

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