About fourteen Rotarians were gathered at Tacoma Little Theatre sharing our opinions of the high school seniors we had recently interviewed for scholarships. When we finished we all walked either to the Tacoma Landmark Convention Theater where our weekly Rotary meeting is held, or to our cars to drive the five blocks to our next meeting. I had parked a block away. I found myself walking and talking with David Flintge of Community Health Care. As we walked I told David about the first apartment that Peg and I had lived in when we were first married.
I was parked directly across from 215 North Yakima. After David left I just stood and looked at the home and let fond memories flood my mind. As young marrieds, we had a very tight budget. We had found an apartment on St. Helens near the old Doric Hotel, now taken over by Cascade Park, but we weren’t happy with it. We kept looking. We finally found the perfect place for us. The apartment was small and had virtually no room for anything extra to fit in. The kitchen was a short hallway. The tiny range had two gas burners, and an oven. As a compliment to the tiny range there was a tiny fold-down table, about half the size of a card table. The bathroom was a toilet and a shower that you backed into one or the other.
In our combination living room-bedroom we had a sofa-bed (our bed), a coffee table, a slim table against the wall with two chairs, a generous-sized cane back rocking chair, a window seat with storage under the bow window and a full sized fridge. (Yes the fridge was in our bedroom.) We had one small closet large enough for two coats and shoes thrown on top of each other on the floor but I do think we had a four drawer chest. Each night we had to convert the sofa to our bed. It was a studio apartment. We lived on the first floor.
What made the whole space so wonderful was a bay window with storage for books under the bench. Next door was Lutheran Community Services. They closed at five Monday through Friday. Our bay window looked out on a small strip of grass, a green hedge and a private view. It was our own little world. The owners, an older couple lived in the other downstairs apartment. Peg felt safe and secure.
Peg walked most places. The Lucky store was two blocks away (now the Stadium Thriftway) for emergency items for that night’s dinner between trips to downtown market and the meat market on K Street near South 13th. She walked down to her doctor’s appointment in the Medical Arts Building and to the Main Branch Library. There was a laundromat just around the corner so she carried her laundry baskets and soap down there. When she was finished, she’d carry the stuff back up the hill and spread the knit socks and Don’s wet sweatshirts on towels on the back of the rocker and the radiator. That building is now part of Tacoma Tent and Awning. We shopped for groceries downtown and bought hamburger at the butcher shop close to Sears on Market Street. We celebrated our first Christmas there on North Yakima. We shopped for Christmas presents on Sixth Avenue. WE couldn’t afford wrapping paper, so we used old newspapers and painting holly and Christmas trees on them. I still remember the presents I bought for my Peggy: a brown dress, shoes, a scarab bracelet, a turquoise and black beaded necklace and a glass piggy bank to replace a broken one. She’d had that bank most of her childhood and she missed it when it broke while we were moving in.
I was working the midnight shift at Boeing and attending the University of Puget Sound during the daytime. Well, “attending” class was not high on my list. My drawing and painting teacher Monte Morrison told me, “Just come to class and I’ll give you an A.” My favorite time for painting was when Peg attended Mass at St. Patrick’s. With Peg gone, I would set up my easel and paint for two hours. We have no photographs of the apartment, but we do have one of my favorite paintings showing the sofa-bed, a floor lamp, and my boots.
Every time I drive down North Yakima, I pause and think of our early days, the bay window, the view, and the young couple in love.