Buildings are like people. We’re conceived; we’re delivered; we age; we die; and we sometimes leave nothing but our bones. For years we had our video production studio at 13th and Fawcett; we produced television shows and industrial videos, and now the building is just bones. At one time this was an Eagles aerie and directly across the street from the Crescent Ballroom.
“Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) is an international fraternal organization that was founded on February 6, 1898 in Seattle, Washington by a group of six theater owners including John Cort (the first president), brothers John W. and Tim J. Considine, Harry (H.L.) Leavitt (who later joined the Loyal Order of Moose), Mose Goldsmith and Arthur Williams. Originally made up of those engaged in one way or another in the performing arts, the Eagles grew and claimed credit for establishing the Mother’s Day holiday in the United States as well as the ‘impetus for Social Security’ in the United States. Their lodges are known as ‘aeries.'” – Wikipedia
The last year we were there we had to wake homeless people asleep on our steps to move, so we could unlock our doors (now boarded up behind two layers of chain link fence). As video production equipment shrank, so did our need for the studio. Eventually, the building next door collapsed and much of the north wall fell onto the roof of the hall. Everything we had stored there was destroyed . . . except our memories.
For several years we shared space with Video Recounters, Ltd. We had a nice relationship with Janet Donovan and Willie Jackson. They had the upper office and the duplication bay. When they retired, we moved into their offices and we brought in an editor and another webmaster. Over the years we produced cable-TV programs: The Spud Goodman Show, Video Realty, Homes and Land, Used Cars, and Nickleberry Ministries. The Spud Goodman Show was the most fun. We had many of the Seattle Sonics, and Seattle Seahawks on the tongue-in-cheek talk show. Famous Amos, Cab Calloway, and Bo Diddley were interviewed on the program. My one regret was not meeting 70s/80s pop culture icon, Devine. He was appearing in Portland. We had the interview set up, but he called it off because he wasn’t feeling well. I think he died a few weeks later . . . so I cut him some slack. Our granddaughter, Talia appeared on the show when she was just a week old. Spud’s girlfriend after seeing an interview with a thimble collector, asked Peg, “Where do you find these weird people?” Peg answered, “That’s Don’s sister.”
Our longest running show was Video Realty. We did well opposite Bill Cosby (when he was really, really popular). As soon as he went to a commercial break people would channel surf and find us. We used a nice little rhyme for our real estate client, “Call Mary Lou . . . Seven-Five-Two . . .” It was something people could easily remember. Peg was the show’s host. She interviewed our sponsor’s agents and showed off their listings. We also had our own clients who advertised. One was a mobile home salesman, “Choo Choo Charlie Flannigan.” We used him in his commercial. He advertised for a while and then stopped. He had a mobile home demo set up at the Western Washington Fair. A number of people saw him and exclaimed, “Why, you’re Choo Choo Charlie Flannigan!” Nothing sells like recognition. He came back. Peg was often recognized on the street as well.
In the mid-90s we celebrated our birthdays and our wedding anniversary with a party at our studio on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We showcased several bands including Daryl and the Diptones! We also brought in Northwest Super Star Scandinavian and host of King’s TV Club (a kid’s program), Stan Boreson to entertain. A friend was watching him sing, play his accordion and tell his awful jokes, and she asked, “When is he going to be done, so we can dance?” She wasn’t native. Everyone else who grew up in Tacoma and Seattle in the 1950s were beside themselves with glee.
The big parties stopped when we set up my editing system at home. Now, we do almost all of our video production “on location.” When the buildings collapsed we lost almost all of our archival and stock footage. We had a good write-off for our taxes on equipment we weren’t using anymore. I really enjoyed working downtown. When I was president of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 I walked less than a hundred yards to the Sheraton Hotel (now the Hotel Murano) for our meetings. Being home, however is less scary than working late at night in a big old building that creaked and echoed. I rode out one earthquake there. My work area was two floors down from Fawcett. The open area was about eighty by eighty with the entrance to my editing bay back in the corner next to the elevator shaft. Without production lights it was a long way in the semi-dark. Once I was editing an promotional film for a client and it was nearly midnight. I was wearing a pair of baggy shorts. I had my phone in my pant’s pocket. It was set to vibrate. I leaned over my editing controls, the phone vibrated and touched my inner thigh. I had never jumped as high as I did that moment. I quit editing for the night and drove home . . . my heart was almost back to normal by the time I unlocked the front door. I have many favorite old memories of our studio . . . but that wasn’t one.