Lee, Gary & Hugh

December 2, 2009; interviewed by Cheri (Stadler) Ryan

Cheri Ryan (Alderwood Manor Heritage Association): It’s December 2nd, 2009, this is Cheri Ryan at the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association cottage in Lynnwood, Washington, and today I’m interviewing brothers Gary and Hugh Lee, and Gary, if you could introduce yourself first—

Gary Lee: Okay. I’m Gary Lee. I was born in Ashland, Oregon, in 1939 and was adopted by my parents, Ray and Annabel Lee, who brought me to Alderwood Manor in that year. I was— We lived at—on Meadow Road, on a five-acre chicken ranch, like everybody else, until 1946, when they sold that ranch and moved to—we moved to Lake Serene, a place on the water there so my dad and my brothers could go fishing. They loved that stuff. And upon my father’s passing in 1949 [1948[1]], my mother sold that house on Lake Serene and moved to downtown Alderwood Manor, where she bought a commercial building of three commercial—one, two… —yeah, three or four commercial slots and two apartments upstairs. The largest apartment, we lived in. I graduated from Edmonds Grade School in 1953, went to Edmonds High School, and graduated from there in 1957.

CR: Okay. And your brother; introduce yourself, please.

Hugh Lee: Okay. I’m Hugh Lee. I live in Marysville … and also I have a lot of fond memories. I was born in Ashland, Oregon. Also was adopted, in 1941. At the time of birth, I was—Gary and I were both adopted. So then we lived, like he said, at Martha Lake. We had the chicken ranch. A lot of fond memories, as young as we were. We had a cow we used to ride, and we had a pig we used to ride. And I remember Dad used to have a smokehouse where he’d smoke the hams of all the pigs, and to this day, I remember the smell of the smokehouse. And the food was good. I remember grabbing hold of an electric fence one time and could not let go. They had to go and turn the power off. So, a lot of good memories, but it was fun growing up there, as well as Lake Serene.

CR: Who— What— Before I forget, I want to ask: What were your parents’ names?

GL: Oh, excuse me. My father’s name was Ray Burness Lee. And my mother’s name was Annabel Lee.

CR: Annabel, one word? Annabel?

GL: Mm-hmm.

CR: Okay. And when did they come to Alderwood Manor, or the Alderwood Manor area?

GL: They moved from the wilds of Alberta, dustbowl, in 1928, and bought that house on Meadow Road, by Martha Lake [17130 13th Ave W, Lynnwood].[2]

CR: Did they know anybody out here, do you know?

HL: Well, we had— Dad was born in Iowa and he came out and they lived in—being American citizens before they took the Canadian citizenship—Mom was a Canadian, so Dad became a Canadian, and then they both switched back and he came back to being American again, so, deal. But they had family in Coupeville, which we have in the cemetery some family members that are there. There’s John Hartman, who is buried in Coupeville, which we have to look up. So my dad farmed there and other family members were out of Coupeville.

CR: And you said your father passed away in ’49. And when did your mom pass away?

HL: Seventy—ooh. Seventy-five? She was seventy years old. She was—Ooh, boy.

GL: About 1975. [May 1972[3]]

CR: Okay.

HL: Yeah.

CR: And then was anybody else in your family, any other siblings?

GL: We have— My best story is that after my mother found out— They had been trying to have children for a long time, unsuccessfully, but when I came along, and then Hugh, especially, the maternal genes really kicked in and she became pregnant with our brother, Alan, who’s only nine months—nine months and fourteen days younger than Hugh. So Hugh’s adopted, I’m adopted, and Alan is natural-born.

CR: Okay. And he’s nine—just a little over nine months—

GL: Yeah.

HL: Yeah.

CR: —older [younger[4]]. Were you in the same grade in school?

HL: We were in the same grade.

CR: Okay.

HL: In third grade, I missed half a year. We went to Mukilteo School, up to the third grade, and I missed half a year because I had some kind of a, oh, skin disease, which was, that was the only time that ever happened. So I was held back. So when we moved to Alderwood Manor, the grade school, I was in the third grade. My teacher was Mrs. Haradee [?]. Had a fourth-grade teacher named Mrs. Smith, Carolyn [?] Smith. And I also had her husband in the sixth grade, who was Mr. Smith, and he passed away, just probably less than two years ago. And I kept in contact, we got together with both the teachers, had dinner. We had a very close relationship. He gave me six A’s, and it was all politics.

CR: So when your dad and mom came out in ’28, that’s when they bought the place up on Meadow Road? What was your dad doing to support them?

HL: He was a barber then.

GL: No, not then he wasn’t. He—

HL: Oh, that’s right. He was—

GL: He had been— It’s an old farming family. They farmed in Iowa. They came out here, farmed in Coupeville—

HL: They also—

GL: Somewhere along the line—

HL: The Lees—

GL: —they split off, they farmed in Scio—

HL: Oregon.

GL: Oregon. Close to Lebanon, actually.

HL: That’s where the parents—

GL: I found the 1920 census, when my father was—1910 census, when he was 22 years old. He was living at home in Lebanon, Oregon, and his occupation was “farmer.”

CR: Farmer.

HL: Chickens, yeah.

GL: So he basically farmed, long-time farming family, and that’s why he went to Alberta, was to homestead up there. He came down here, he bought into the whole genre of Pope & Talbot brochures that they put out, and that sounded like a good deal to him, so he came down here and had a chicken ranch, basically, for most—for all the, actually all the time we lived there. The beginning, it was a true homestead, like Hugh said, he had—

CR: Whereabouts on Meadow Road was it?

GL: It’s a— The house and the chicken houses are still there. It is on the corner[5] of—I think that’s called 13 [Ave.] West and whatever the street is that goes east to west from there, turns a corner, across from the current grey church [as of 2017, Grace Baptist Church, 17123 13th Ave W, Lynnwood]. It’s an old house, sitting there with, again, three chicken houses still on the property.

CR: On the north or south side of 164th [St SW]? Is Meadow just on the south side?

GL: Meadow [inaudible – had just gone on the ?] south side.[6]

CR: The south side. Okay. Okay.

GL: I think.

CR: Yeah. It’s on the south side.

GL: And 13th goes the other way.

CR: Right. Okay. And how long did they live there on Meadow Road, until they moved to Lake Serene?

GL: From ’28 to ’46.

CR: Okay. So he was basically started out farming and raising the chickens.

GL: Right. And homesteading.

CR: Homesteading up in— Okay.

GL: Like Hugh said, he had a cow and a pig and lots of berries and cherry trees and their own produce garden, and—

CR: And then when did the barber come into it?

GL: I have no idea.

CR: You have no idea.

GL: Mm-mm [No]. Other than—

HL: We lived at Lake Serene at the time, when he was a barber, so—

GL: I remember— My guess is he started barbering probably when we came along. Just needed a little more cash. He and mom could get by by themselves. She worked— In those days, originally when she came here, she worked at the Washington Co-Op as a clerk. She worked— She started working there I think in the ’30s, and she worked up until the time that we were born, and then she became—I was born. So she was 33—probably eight to nine years she worked there, and when we came along, then I think that’s when my father became—opened up the barbershop.

CR: And where was the barbershop at?

GL: Barbershop was—

HL: Right next to Virgil’s, right next to the Wickers’ old building.

GL: Between—

HL: They butted up on the property.

GL: Between Virgil’s and Wickers’ was a—

HL: A single-story building.

GL: —big, flat, gravel lot there, and his building was a little square barbershop on 196th [St SW] or whatever it was called.

CR: And how long did he do that for?

GL: Until he died.

HL: Until he died.

CR: Until he died?

HL: He was pretty well loved by everybody. They— All the conversations they would have. The whole town was— I remember after he died that there was a wreath that all the townspeople put on the door, and I still remember that to this day. And I also remember when we lived at Lake Serene. I think we had about five acres, and he had a good portion of it in potatoes at that time, and he had medical issues—heart trouble and a little bit of cancer, and that kind of did him in—but anyway, I remember when he would drive all the time to the barbershop, and we would—so we would also go and pick him up sometimes, and we would go past the Manor Market [3609 164th St SW[7]], and we’d go past Hunters, and it was a straight shot down North Trunk [Road] at the time, which is now 36th [Ave W] and it was right—it went right to his, to the barbershop.

CR: When you said you’d sometimes pick up, what kind of car did you have during that time, do you remember?

GL: Yeah, we have a picture of it around here someplace. Remember the Cars of Yesteryear [exhibit at AMHA]?

CR: Uh-huh.

GL: Ours was—that car, anyway, the one that I remember that we were photographed in, was a 1940 Plymouth four-door sedan. Grey—

HL: Yeah.

CR: And your mom drove, too?

GL: Yes.

HL: Yeah.

CR: She drove. So sometimes she probably took him down to the barbershop and dropped him off, or—

HL: Sometimes. Sometimes he drove, and that. Also, our uncles from Canada would come down, and then we’d go down to meet them, and that.

CR: So when he passed away, what happened to the barbershop?

HL: A guy by the name of Albright used to live across from us at Lake Serene and was a barber. And I believe we leased it out to him until Mom—I believe we sold it to him. I remember Mom at the time going around and trying to sell it, which she did. But I’m sure Albright bought it at the time.

GL: I know that Albie Albright was a Mason, or whatever it was over there at the lodge.

CR: Right.

HL: The Masons.

CR: The Masonic Lodge.

GL: The Masonic Lodge. In this town, there were basically three, in those days, there were basically three things that you could belong to: the church, the Masonic Lodge, and whatever grange you happened to be around. Or community clubs. There was a Martha Lake Community Club; there was a Lake Serene Community Club. But those were basically the social outlets that you had in this little farming community. And Albie and my mother were both involved in that for many, many years. So I—

CR: At the Masonic Temple here?

GL: Right.

CR: Oh, okay.

HL: We used to have—

GL: I think, I’m sure that it was almost a no-brainer when my father passed away that Albie took over the barbershop. Now, whether he was a barber at that time or not, I don’t know. But I know that he continued to run that shop from 1949 until…

HL: Yeah.

GL: Goodness.

CR: Well, when you say he ran it, was he actually cutting hair there?

HL: Yeah.

GL: Yes.

CR: Okay. And did he have anybody else working for him?

HL: No, no.

CR: What do you know—just to change gears, here—what do you know about Smitty’s barbershop [as of 2017, at 1916 Filbert Rd, Lynnwood]? Do you know anything about that?

HL: Down on—by Ely’s Corner [roughly 196th St SW / Filbert Road, between 196th Pl SW & Cypress Way]?

CR: Yeah.

HL: There were two brothers, I believe, and Mom knew them. Of course, in Alderwood, everybody knew everybody.

CR: Yeah.

HL: And I remember— I’m not sure—I don’t think we ever had our hair cut there, but Mom knew him well enough, and she stopped there to sell the barbershop to them. She talked to them. I remember us kids being in the car and waited in the car while she negotiated and that. Obviously they weren’t interested.

Mrs. Ely was a very good friend of Mom’s. We went to her 100th birthday, and they used to travel together in Europe. They were very good friends. They used to play bridge all the time, part of the bridge clan, and—

CR: So when your dad—

GL: I think that Smitty’s had been there at the same time my father was cutting hair.

CR: Okay, that’s—

GL: Now, how— I’m almost certain that my father was the main barber in town.

HL: Yeah.

GL: Although, Norm Johnson also was a barber. And he had that in the building that he owned.

CR: And where was that at?

HL: Well, that was our building.

GL: Across from the Red & White.

CR: Oh, okay.

HL: In our building. But he moved over to Sequim.

CR: Oh, okay.

GL: So, Norm— I’m sure Norm was a barber. My father was a barber. He ran his shop; he was the only guy in there. And then there was the one up on the hill: the old brothers had Smitty’s. So that had to be— You know, that had to be post-World War II, maybe even earlier than that. I don’t know.

CR: So you said when your dad passed away, then your mom bought a building in Alderwood?

HL: Yeah.

CR: And where was that at?

GL: It was on the corner of—

HL: 196th.

GL: 196th and 36th.

HL: It’s where the lamp shop is right now.

GL: Lamps Plus.

HL: It’s right on our property.

CR: And it was a commercial building.

HL: Mm-hmm.

CR: And what was in there? Did she lease out the—

GL: Right. We lived— She had two apartments upstairs; we lived in one, and she rented the other one. It was almost always occupied. Downstairs, there was a beauty shop, a barbershop, and a variety store.

HL: And a real estate shop. It was Leigh’s Real Estate, but it was L-E-I-G-H, or L-I-E-G-H, or whatever.

CR: Okay. And then who had the barbershop that was downstairs?

HL: Mom would rent that out, and the first guy that rented it after we bought the place, his name was Glen. And then the guy— And I forget his last name. And then after he had it for so many years—he used to cut our hair—and then a guy, a younger guy by the name of Frank took over.

CR: And was Albright still doing…?

HL: Yeah.

CR: Just down the street.

HL: Yeah.

CR: Okay.

HL: I remember the old— We had antique furniture in the old barbershop. One was a wicker couch. All wicker. And we also had a wicker table. To this day, I have the wicker table, and I have asked Albright, if he still—who is a very good personal friend—if he still has that couch, and he said, “Well, it’s out in the shed, but it’s real dilapidated, ” and it was too far gone, so otherwise I would have had that. So…

CR: And you said he lived across the street from you at Lake Serene.

HL: That’s correct.

CR: So that’s kind of how your connection—

HL: Yeah. Just— Less than a block.

GL: I think— I don’t know— I do not know how we happened to end up at Lake Serene.

HL: Well, Dad loved fishing. He also loved his kids. And I think because of the love of the kids, I think that’s why he wanted to be on the lake.

GL: I’m thinking of Lake Serene. He knew— Albrights preceded us there, and Mom and Albie were in lodge together. The Williams [Lew Williams and family[8]] had a place on the lake, just down—

HL: Two houses.

GL: —three or four houses from us.

HL: Two houses down.

CR: Were you on the north side, south side, what?

HL: East side.

CR: East side.

HL: East-southeast side, yeah.

GL: Right. And Albrights lived across the road and up the hill about half a block, maybe something like that.

HL: So everybody knew everybody. The Williams, the Albrights… It was a clan. Swordmakers, also who lived in Martha Lake.

CR: Do you remember any of your neighbors from Meadow Road?

HL: No, I don’t. We were too young. We were just—

GL: This is— The Hobarts [Webster and Amelia] had the property where that church is now, and that was a hayfield. I have pictures of us cutting that hay and shocking it by pitchfork into a horse-drawn wagon, and we drove across the road and then put it in the barn.

CR: So when your mom had the commercial building in Alderwood, is that what she was basically doing to support herself? I mean—

GL: She ran the— She operated the variety store herself for some time. There had been a variety store there prior to that, and I think it was called Gladys’.

CR: And what was the name of your mom’s variety store?

GL: It was Lee’s Variety.

HL: Yeah.

GL: At that time.

CR: And how long did she have that for?

HL: Oh, in the ’50s, pretty much. Also, part of the— We ended up— It didn’t do real well, so we can blame two of the rental buildings on that. So when it went, you know, we just didn’t have the time for it, or it didn’t do real well, we rented the rest of it out, and one of it was actually an artist—what do you want to call it, back from the ’60s?

GL: It was a hippie! [laughs] It was a ceramic hippie [inaudible].

HL: Yeah. Beatnik. He was a beatnik with the coffee and ab—extreme oil paintings. I guess he was good at that deal, it was just, you know…

GL: I think Mom ran that store herself for four or five years, [inaudible – my odds ?] are. And then she leased—

CR: The space out.

GL: —the property and then at that time, then she went to work for the Alderwood Water District.

CR: And did she continue living upstairs?

GL: Yes.

HL: Yeah.

GL: She lived upstairs and walked to the Alderwood—

HL: It was just a baseball field away.

GL: —to the Water District.

HL: It was a hundred yards.

GL: Yeah, it was a hundred yards up the road.

CR: And did she ever move out of there before she passed away, or—?

HL: Yeah, she did.

CR: Where did she live then?

GL: When the freeway came in—

CR: Oh. In what year? About?

HL: Well, we sold it—

GL: Sixty, ’61, something like that.

HL: Well, we sold— What we did, we sold the apartment house to Mobil Oil because they wanted to put a gas—

GL: Oh, that’s right.

HL: In fact, they did put a gas station on it.

GL: Yup.

HL: So Mom bought a trailer park; I forget—two acres of that, which was—it was on the west side in Lynnwood. So she bought the trailer park because she still wanted to keep the business, or, revenue coming in, and she bought a house on east side of the old [Highway] 99. And she lived in that until she passed away. She died suddenly of heart—stroke, and—at that house. Alan—our brother Alan—was living there at the time.

When we bought the apartment house, it had all sorts of memorabilia from Norm Johnson, so there was two wool baseball uniforms that said “Alderwood Manor” on them, and that. They looked to be probably Babe Ruth-vintage wool. And he also had catcher’s facemask and chest guard from baseball. There was an old tent from the military that was—right after the war, World War II. So that was there in the garage. And a lot of antique— Also in the basement were two wood-burning stoves that were left; old wood-burning stoves. One was emerald green, then one being black, in perfect shape. There was some other stuff. An old laundry thing for ironing, which you did—do not see very much anymore. A lot of antiques.

CR: When you say “basement,” do you mean underneath, underground?

HL: Yeah.

CR: There was an under—under the stores, there was a basement—?

HL: Yeah. It was the full length of—

GL: It was a three-story building, if you—

CR: Okay. The basement.

GL: —include the basement.

CR: Ground floor—

HL: Right.

CR: —and upstairs.

HL: It was the full length of the apartment house.

GL: Each of those commercial units had a basement underneath. And originally, that was storage for whoever was up—the tenant upstairs. But in recent—in the not-too-long-ago, I mean not too long after it had been built, that was such a cesspool, water table in there. Because there was a swamp right behind there.

HL: So we had a water pump, yeah.

GL: But there was a swamp between Manor Hardware building and our building and Roberts, who were the tenants immediately to the east of us on the main drag. That was a—that whole thing was damp to the point that the basements were uninhabitable because they were flooded all the time. We had sump pumps going in each of those operations, and it just couldn’t keep up. You could— It was terrible.

CR: And who did she— She bought the building from Norm Johnson?

GL: Yes.

HL: That’s correct. Yeah.

GL: I believe Norm built the building.

CR: Okay. Do you have any idea what year, or how old the building was when she bought it?

HL: Probably 30-something, maybe. Twenties, I don’t know. It was solid, well built. Boy, they had beams in there that were unbelievable. There—

GL: It was about the time that the Red & White store was built and when the drugstore was built. Those three—and Roberts store, next door. My guess is those—that was in mid-thirties. Nineteen thirty-five, something like that.

HL: So I used to work for Dave Dahlin. I— In the sixth grade, I went to work in the grocery industry, and I worked in the grocery industry ever since. Forty years with Safeway, but I— about three years with Dave Dahlin at the Red & White grocery store. So I remember stocking the shelves and watching the kids go swimming as I peered out the door with the glass frame and that. Then I went to work for the Grocery Boys and spent about three years there. So I’ve had a lifetime career of the grocery industry—

CR: That started at the Red & White.

HL: Yeah. That’s correct.

CR: The Red & White was across the street, or…?

HL: Exactly across the street—

CR: From your mom’s.

HL: That’s where we used to shop. We always had a charge account, so us guys, so we’d—at any given time, just walk across the street, charge something. And I remember the big brick of cheese they used to have. Medium cheddar. And oh, it was— To this day, sixty days—or sixty years later, I still remember the taste of that. There has never been a cheese of that quality. So good.

GL: It was not uncommon in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s for a family to have a charge account at either Dahlin’s Red & White or Wickers. And both Herman Wickers and David Dahlin carried a lot of people for a lot of period of time during those lean years. When you— Behind the counter, where the cash register was, had a rack of, I’m guessing, my odds are, what I see in my mind is about a hundred little tablets, and each tablet had individual writing on it, and then you settle up at the end of the month.

Now, we were restricted to no candy, no cookies, and no ice cream.

CR: Ooh!

HL: But we managed to buy stuff.

GL: If we get some of that stuff, we had to pay for it with our own—

CR: Yourselves.

GL: —because Dave said, “Oh, no. Your mom won’t let you have that. You know that.”

HL: Yeah.

GL: He actually raised us. [laughter] She was at the office, the Water office all the time, and we were in charge of taking care of ourselves, pretty much, in those days.

HL: I remember going to Wickers, and I bought a whole package of candy, and I ate the whole thing. But I remember the wooden floor, I remember the brooms, and an old barrel, and the fragrance of the grocery store. That’s how—

GL: See, when we moved from Lake Serene to Alderwood—that had to be shortly after my father died, so it was 1950 when we moved into town, and I was eleven years old then, and I was the oldest child. So I’m eleven, he’s [Hugh] nine, and Alan’s nine, and we just took care of ourselves.

CR: Yeah. And did you ever work any place? Like Hugh said he worked for Dahlin; did you work at…?

GL: My mother was always kicking my butt out the door to find something.

CR: Yeah? [laughs]

GL: She was always— You’ll always finding me yard work someplace.

HL: Well, you also went farming in Scio.

GL: She— She knew all these people. You know, when you’ve been around as long as she had, and she was very social, and had all kinds of tentacles out there. She knew everybody, and if anybody needed any work, she’d kick her oldest son in the butt and I’d go over there and work for Jeannie Swordmaker for a day or so.

CR: And being that you lived in the apartment upstairs, where did you play? What was your yard?

HL: Alderwood Manor was our yard.

GL: That’s true. [laughs]

HL: Also, I helped Dahlin on his acreage with all his dahlias. He had dahlias right next to the Red & White grocery store because there was that vacant field, so he and his wife had the dahlias, but then he also had a good acre, just about, of dahlias. So he needed work on that, digging them up and storing them for the winter. That was my job.

GL: Our standard day was just riding our bikes around town, but since we’re kitty-corner from the grade school, that huge field in front of the school was our playground. There were some baskets on there above the bus barns; we used to play there. The tennis court was just up the road on whatever that little spur where 196th and 36th intersect. There used to be a road that dashed down there, so you go down that road south of town two blocks, and there’s a tennis court that had baskets. We shot baskets there all the time. And above that, of course, was a playfield. Alderwood Manor playfield, and the Youth Club—

CR: So your mom— She just went to work every day, and you boys just kinda…

HL: Yeah. So the Youth— Well, you had school, but the Youth Club was a huge area for playing and that. Like you said, we played football, we played baseball. I used to wear the old Alderwood Manor baseball uniforms of Babe Ruth. I would go up there and play with the guys. So it was little league football, little league baseball, playing basketball. And we used to have a guy by the name of John McAnulty, who was about Gary’s age. He used to come up there with a three-windowed Ford Coupe—it was customized—and he always stopped. So a little bit of nostalgia there. Kind of like a Norman Rockwell setting an entire area.

GL: Most of our summers were spent—my remembrance of our summers when we weren’t going to school—was we spent almost all of our time at Martha Lake. It was two miles up the road and then down North Trunk, and then hang a right on Martha Lake Road, there’s another two miles—

CR: Did you ride your bikes, or…

HL: No. We used to—

GL: We did not ride our bikes because it was— Much of that—most of that was gravel at that time, and it wasn’t very bikeable. But we hitchhiked; we never had a problem. Used to— All we’d have to do is get out, wave, and somebody would say, “Oh, you boys going swimming again?” We get in the car, and they’d either take us all the way to the lake, or they’d dump us at Manor Hard—at Circles Grocery, and then we’d get a ride—

CR: Where was Circles Grocery?

GL: At the corner of— The southwest corner of North Trunk and Martha Lake Road.

CR: Okay.

HL: So hitchhiking was common. Even in the sixth grade; like I said, I used to watch our friends going swimming and that. Which we did: we’d hitchhike up there, and what we always did, we would never pay. You always hopped the fence or go under the fence at the southwest corner. And that was common; everybody did it. Then you would go and join up with different picnic groups that were big, and you’d get free ice cream and free pop and free hot dogs. And that was the life. So hitchhike to the lake, everybody did it. You met all your school buddies there.

When I was in the— So also another— Well, I’ll come back to it. But I also was in the eighth grade, not old enough to drive, so I bought a 1929 Model A pickup, and it took an effort to get it going; it hadn’t been run for years, and it was—

GL: Where was it? Wasn’t it out in the woods someplace?

HL: Yeah, it was behind a guy’s house, out in the trees, in west Edmonds. Westgate in Edmonds I bought it. And there was actually two Model T Coupes there for sale, perfect shape, for 50 bucks. But I paid 25 dollars for that pickup, no dents, no rust. It was just like the Waltons’. Perfect shape. So I’d drive it all over. I’d drive it to Martha Lake; drive it to Mountlake Terrace—

CR: When you were in the eighth grade, without a driver’s license?

HL: Yup. And I would even drive it to Lynnwood, and it was fun. No muffler—

GL: You remember there were no cops here in those days.

HL: So we would drive where now Fred Meyer’s is on 44th [44th Ave W and 196th St SW] and we’d go far beyond that. So that was fun.

But we also played—which was fun—not only the Youth Club but we also played at Hunter’s, Hunter’s property. That’s how I got to know Hunter. So the two brothers, we called them Old Man Hunters, is what we called them. Basil [pronounced with a short “a”] and Gordon. And they would be out there working in the field and we would be out there, and we got to know them, and that. For some reason, I was totally taken by his property, by him. He was kind of like Thomas Edison: I would say—

CR: Which one are we talking about?

HL: Basil.

CR: Basil, okay.

HL: But Basil had a degree in chemical engineering, and so— Both of them were in World War I, but he had sheds of all the glass tubes and lab equipment, which you just had fun playing there. Also played in the old log cabin, which is the first one in Alderwood Manor. It was one of the original pioneer, the homestead.

So we got to know Hunter very well, and one of the stories that came to us— His mom, Mrs. Hunter, said, “Come here, boys,” —Gordie and Basil—and said, “Look at this.” It was the first team of horses and wagon that was going by. There was no roads. So I said, “How did you find your place, then?” It was by the telegraph trail. It was where they homesteaded, the property. So Hunter and I became very good friends at an early age. And then we lost—as I grew up, got married, went on with my life, and that. But I came back in, probably, the ’70s, I believe. And I told him who my mom was, which was Annabel. And Hunter at that time told me a—the quote of the poem about Annabel [Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee”]—so, highly educated. So we became friends, so I— And we lived in Meadowdale at the time, and I had three kids, and they were young, so I talked him into—we sharecropped, because I knew him and he knew me and sure enough. So he got a tractor and plowed the field, a huge acre or something, and we would share the crops and stuff like that. And he was such a good friend: any time you went to his place, you’d knock on the door and he would holler in a voice, [raspy voice] “Come on in.” And he just loved— Contrary to what people say, he loved people. And the City of Lynnwood would be disagreeable in that. [Gary chuckles] They didn’t know him, they did not know him, or take the time to know him. And if they took the time— I have pictures with he and my family, and he just loved the kids. I would take him to the bank when he needed to be, take him to places where he had to go, I’d even take him to the lawyer where he had to go. He and I had a personal relationship that was beyond words. He even asked my brother Alan and me at the time to be pallbearers. And I was probably the last person to talk to him when he was in the hospital. He had a hip replacement and he called, and it was in January when he died, and there was an inch compact ice on the road, and he said, “Hugh, can you come and visit me?” I said, “Well, there’s ice on the road,” and that night he passed away. So whether he knew or what, I don’t know. So I did not get in there to see him. Had I known, I would have without a doubt gone in. But he was beyond—

CR: Was his— Was the mother still living at the time when you were kids and would hang out there?

HL: No, no. Just the two brothers.

CR: Just the two brothers.

HL: And there was the Hunter—the wife—I forget her name. Ruth? I forget. She lived in Yakima. … But we used to play in the cabin of Hunters and it was full of apple boxes that were glass negatives. And so the whole cabin, the whole floor, the entire floor was apple boxes, wooden apple boxes, full of glass negatives. But kids have broken them. So that’s why they left everything to Planned Parenthood: kids came and they vandalized his property, they burned the barn down, they broke everything, they rode motorcycles. So actually Alan and I— Alan became a caretaker, but because I knew them, and it was a fabulous relationship, taking care of Hunter and getting to know him. Hunter even asked if we wanted to have, use some of his property, which we sharecropped, and if we wanted to start a business, whether it be doors or windows or boats. And I said, “Well, what about Christmas trees?” He said, “No, that would take too long,” he said. [Gary laughs] You know it. So, but we never materialized on that. The offer was there; we just did not do it.

But we knew Hunter so well and all the fond memories, and I compare his library room was like Thomas Edison’s, all the eagle up there, the old camera—leatherback books, and hundreds of bottles of formaldehyde with all the reptiles and birds and you name it in there. So it— He was definitely a timepiece. And like I said, he used to be—

GL: A renaissance man in many ways.

HL: Yeah.

GL: His mind just— I never knew the guy. This is just, these, my younger brothers. But from what I understand, he was a very brilliant guy, and had interests that were far-reaching.

CR: And do you know, did either of them ever marry?

HL: You know, who would— Now, this gal— No, I think one of the brothers did, but I don’t know the full detail. I never asked him about that. Basil [pronounced with a short “a”]—Basil [pronounced with a long “a”], Basil [pronounced with a short “a”]—he never did. And why, I have no idea. But his brother, I think Gordie did, and I’m not sure what the whole story of that was. So— Yeah, I think one did, they had a wife at— … But Hunter was just a fabulous guy. I would drive him around; he would say, “Let’s go here, let’s go there,” and stuff like that. … He died in, I’m not sure, ’83, I think it was, and to this day, there’s been no replacement for that guy. What a void in life. You knew at the time at the funeral that positive scenario would be gone forever, and sure enough. He was unbelievable.

CR: And the two of them, they just lived there, and supported themselves by…

HL: By— They were entrepreneurs. They did a facial cream for women, they came up with that—being chemical engineers, they came up with that for women. In fact, I have one of the contents at home in perfect shape, the box, the powder—

CR: Really? And where did they sell that at? Did they market it?

HL: They must have. I’m thinking they did. They also came up with butter, so they had the Hunter Brother from the creamery, they had the paper wrappers, which I have one of those, and that. They also came up with to kill some kind of maggot, or something like that, and there’s bottles of that, which I have in my deal. I should bring it in to show everybody. He also came up— One of his, clever as he is, he wanted to come up with a rabbit condominium, so he started buying rabbits, so we made rabbit huts for that. He also bought a tractor to cut the hay for the food for the rabbits. And then he had a big huge belt that they would—with infrared lights on the belt, so he would run the hay up that stuff to dry it and store it—… So that was one of his entrepreneurs. Plus the cannery was huge. And slaughtering. That was part of it, was part of the deal. So he was pleased to say that he did not have to work, that he was self-sufficient and lived off the land.

GL: Those were the days when custom slaughtering was a big deal, because everybody had five acres and everybody had a number of pieces of livestock. Most people did not kill and butcher their own, so you’d take it up to Hunter’s and he’d do it. Or you’d call somebody and they’d come and custom slaughter at your house and then drag the carcass off and cut it. But of course they chopped it up in whatever you wanted and put it in cold storage locker there in Alderwood, which was—

CR: Did— I just want to— You both graduated from Edmonds High School?

HL: That’s correct.

CR: And you—I know you stayed in the area.

HL: Yeah.

CR: You worked for Grocery Boys; which one?

HL: Well, there was only one Grocery Boys.

CR: The one—

HL: Well, yeah, which was— It was the biggest volume store in the state at the time, which was on the east side of 99. That one on the west side was also one of the—

CR: Did you ever work at that one?

HL: No, not at all.

CR: Okay.

GL: Didn’t you work at Ed’s Grocery store [Ed’s Grocery, owned by Ed McCollum]?

HL: Well, that was, that is a Grocery Boys. They bought it—

GL: Well, I know.

HL: Ted Wilson and Arb Thorne were the owners, and they bought Ed’s Market, and that’s when they named it Grocery Boys.

I used to go with the daughter so I had it good, so they had a swimming pool, so we always swam, the meals, and got to drive their ’55 Thunderbird all the time.

CR: Now, which one was this? Which family?

HL: Ted Wilson.

CR: Okay. And where did they live?

HL: They lived on Meadowdale Hill, take a—

CR: Okay. Because there weren’t a lot of swimming pools around, so…

HL: Yeah. This is—

CR: And so, Gary, after you graduated, did you leave the area for a while, or…?

GL: I graduated from Edmonds in ’57, spent two years at Whittier College in Whittier, California, came back, finished at the University of Washington, got married, had children, and spent basically 17—and lived around the north end of Seattle until we moved to Bainbridge Island in 1969, lived there for 17 years. During that period of time, I commuted back and forth from my Seattle office to Bainbridge.

CR: Where were you working in Seattle?

GL: At that time I was working for PEMCO Insurance Company, and I subsequently worked for Great American Insurance Company. In 1986 I was transferred to San Diego. Two years later I went—I was transferred to Orange County. A year later I was transferred to Salt Lake City, and a year after that I went to Cincinnati for two years.

CR: Oh, wow.

GL: Until I came back to the Seattle office in 1992, I think, something like that. Ninety-one, ’92. And then when I came back here, I continued to work for those insurance companies and lived in the north end. Retired in 2001 and moved to California.

CR: California. Before we’re done, any last thing you think we— You guys have done a great job covering— I was really interested in your mom; I love her name Annabel Lee. I think that’s just— Did she have a middle name, that you’re aware of?

HL: No. It was strictly Annabel. It used to be “Anna” then it used to be “Bell,” so they combined it “Annabel.”

GL: Yeah, she was— I think her birth certificate says “Anna”—

HL: Then “Bell.”

GL: —slash “Bell” slash “Davis.”

CR: Oh, Davis was her maiden name.

GL: Yeah.

CR: Oh, “Annabel Lee” sounds much better.

GL: Well, I think that’s why she married my father.

CR: There we go. [laughs]

GL: [laughs] She wanted his name.

CR: There you go. Thank you guys.

GL: Yeah.

HL: Yeah.




~ 48:00

Transcribed by tv, April 2017

Rev. B


[1] Correct date found on Ancestry.com; confirmed by Gary Lee 9/21/17

[2] Gary Lee, 9/21/17: “That street is now 13th Ave W. The house remains at 17130 13th Ave W, Lynnwood.”

[3] Confirmed by Gary Lee, 9/21/17

[4] Confirmed by Gary Lee, 9/21/17

[5] Gary Lee, 9/21/17: Southwest corner

[6] Gary Lee, 9/21/17: “Meadow Road now runs north only. 13th Ave W is an extension to the south of 164th.”

[7] Store and address confirmed by Gary Lee, 9/21/17

[8] Confirmed by Gary Lee, 9/21/17

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