“All in all, in spite of a few bumps in the road, I was a pretty lucky, lucky Alderwood Manor kid.”
If you’ve been a volunteer at Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, especially if you’ve been a host, then you probably know Linda Myers. Linda is our host coordinator, recruiting and scheduling wonderful volunteers to greet visitors at the cottage. If you’ve been to one of our programs at the Alderwood Manor Youth Club, you’ve probably seen Linda’s shining smile greeting you at the door.
Even if you’ve never volunteered at AMHA or been to our programs, you may still know Linda, or know of her: Linda owned Wickers Foods from 1981 until 1990.
Linda Pelkey was born in Seattle but moved to Swamp Creek in 1962, and later graduated from Lynnwood High School. After high school, she worked at House of Fabrics in Alderwood, then Valley Textiles in Bothell. She then began working at Wickers Foods IGA with her husband, Mike Loy, who’d been working at the store since he was 18.
In 1981, Gene Thomas, the owner of the store at the time, asked Linda and Mike if they’d like to buy the business from him. According to Linda, “Gene … had been grooming Mike to take over the store at some point,” so Mike said yes, and the Loys became the new owners of Wickers Foods.
“[T]he greatest thing about Wickers, not only the fact that the store started so many years ago, in—what?—1917,” Linda reminisces, “the best part is that it was the community’s meeting place. Towards the end of my ownership… it was not uncommon to have three generations of one family shopping with us. … So it was really a sense of community. And honestly I think that’s what set my adult life up to have that be such a valuable part of my life is that sense of community, whether it’s volunteer work or where I live, in my town in Marysville. But that was—it made it fun. I mean, all my sales staff were personal friends. Barbecues were held every summer for them. I cooked breakfast every Tuesday morning. They came through the back door, … got their shelves stocked, and breakfast was set in front of them. And it was always bacon and pancakes or waffles or French toast…”
Linda eventually closed the store in March of 1990 (her husband had died in an accident in 1984). She says, though, “I really wish I’d have understood, or had been told, the historical aspects of Wickers, but I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing of its heritage. … We could have had so much fun with community celebration … Even when I closed the store, some of the original cash registers were in the rafters. AMHA has possession of one of the original sales books from Herman [Wickers] and Anita’s days where you hand-wrote out what everybody was buying.”
After closing the store, Linda remarried and opened her own housekeeping business. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, she volunteered as a teacher’s aide in a first-grade class in the Marysville School District.
A few years later, “Cheri [Cheri (Stadler) Ryan, a high school classmate of Linda’s] and I had gotten reconnected, and she told me about this place, and I wanted to do some volunteer work back in this community because when Mike was killed, this community rallied—It was such a loss for the community, in that everybody knew him. So many people cared about what was going to happen to me, and what goes around comes around.”
In her nearly 10 years at AMHA, Linda has been a host, host coordinator, board member, and treasurer. For her, the best part about volunteering at AMHA is “being a host. And getting reconnected with the people who walk through the front door, and you’re looking at them and you’re thinking, ‘I know these people.’ And as you explore where you might know these people from, it comes down to they’re either customers of Wickers, they’re a parent of a classmate, or I just think I know them, but I don’t,” she laughs. She also believes that being a volunteer “keeps me active, it keeps me motivated to always remember the importance of family and community and connection.”
In her spare time, Linda likes to make cards and scrapbook (which is clear if you’ve ever seen the beautifully wrapped goodies and cards she makes for our annual volunteer appreciation lunch). She also enjoys gardening and would some day like to do her family’s genealogy. “Being here at AMHA has kind of created that wonder of what my ancestors were like. Along with a few TV shows that sparked it.”
Linda can often be found welcoming visitors to the cottage on Saturdays, so if you’re around Heritage Park between 11 and 3, stop in to say hi to this “lucky Alderwood Manor kid.” Maybe she’ll remember you from your days shopping at Wickers, or just think she remembers you! Either way, it’s likely you’ll feel like you’ve made a new friend.