Submitted by Shawn Brown.
Our family lived on McKinley Hill during the early 70’s, and my dad managed Lively Market at 45th & Pacific Ave in Tacoma until Al Lively, his boss and store owner, transferred dad to the store in Lake City on Washington Blvd at the corner of Interlaaken (been a fenced empty lot for years now). Dad didn’t drive, so mom had to drive him from McKinley Hill to Lively Market every day around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, then pick him up after they closed, usually around 1:00 in the morning because he had to close out the days books.
Well, mom soon got tired of driving to Lake City every night so late, and insisted they find a house closer to dad’s job. Before we moved, my best friend from McKinley Hill moved to Tillicum. So, I either rode my bike or took the bus to Tillicum when I could, to visit him. I met a LOT of his new friends and a bunch of other kids from Tillicum because all we did was party. So, by the time my family moved to Lakewood, I already had a bunch of friends there! Then at the end of 1976, when I was 17, they found a house on 121st Street SW near Lake City Elementary for a measly $25,000! It was a 3 bedroom rambler with fenced yard and garage, and was within about a half mile from Lively Market, so dad could WALK to and from work! Perfect! We moved into our new home just after New Years Day of 1977. The first thing I remember was how small my bedroom was! Moving from a huge 5 bedroom home with basement to a 3 bedroom rambler when there are 4 teenagers and 2 parents can make for some pretty tight quarters. Anyway, we settled in pretty fast.
Within a couple days, my older brother and I started driving around the neighborhood checking things out. Hey, what’s this? A really cool park with a boat launch? Cool. We knew where WE were going to hang out! Within days, we started meeting other kids in Lake City. I never forgot the first 2 girls we met, a pair of best friends who were always together, walking all around Lake City. It took us like 3 or 4 times of asking them if they wanted to go cruising around with us until they finally did. By then, then had seen my brother’s 66 GTO convertible at our house and knew where we lived. I ended up in a relationship with one of them! Fast forward 43 years to today… we’re currently Facebook friends after all these years!!! The rest is history.
Since I had already quit school in 11th grade and got my G.E.D. the beginning of the 76-77 school year, mom said if I wasn’t going to go to school and was just going to catch the bus to Tacoma Mall and hang out every day, I needed to get a job! So, within months after we moved to Lake City, I started looking for a dishwasher job. I had previously been a dishwasher at Summit Restaurant at 112th & Canyon the year before, so I had experience. I walked to Villa Plaza and the first place I walked into was Villa Bowl. They had a restaurant, and I loved to bowl, so it was a perfect place to try to find a job! I applied, then walked there almost every day to check back! They got so used to me coming in, all I had to do was walk 2 feet in the restaurant’s front doors and the waitress would say “Nope, nothing yet!”. In the mean time, I got hired at Peking Restaurant, working as a full-time dishwasher. But within about 3 weeks of bugging them at Villa Bowl, they called me and hired me! I never forgot several of the employees, managers and owners! Gloria Mostrom was the Restaurant Manager. Audrey “A.L.” Lotspeitch was the Owner and General Manager. Jack was the night cook, but I forgot the head day cook’s name. Gloria also cooked with her. I worked mostly days for about a year, then moved to evenings.
In around 1980 or so, Safeway wanted to build a store right where the bowling alley was! The investers/owners of Villa Bowl held out until Safeway made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Within no time, we were all out of work, and Villa Bowl was torn down. I still have pictures of it being torn down! The owners soon started on plans for a new bowling alley! Within about a year, construction began on Asto-Villa Bowl on Steilacoom Blvd. It opened in August of 1981, and it was all the same employees from Villa Bowl. I started again as the morning dishwasher! In a suspicious fire (very long story, I’ll keep the criminal details out), the building was torched in August of 1982! It basically burned to the ground inside. The arson fire was started in several places and it went up fast! I still have pictures of the aftermath from about a week after the fire!
Dad managed Lively Market for many years until his drinking problem got the best of him. Al gave him several chances to sober up, even paying to send him to inpatient treatment, but it didn’t work. After Al found my dad passed out in the office after closing for the second or third time, he had no choice but to let him go. Dad got a job in Seattle for the IRS, which he stayed at until shortly before his passing in 2008.
My memories of Lake City and Lakewood are fond memories. Being a teenager when we moved there, of course it was a lot of memories of stuff teens did in the 70’s. Lots of keggers and parties. Hanging out at American Lake park every day during the summers. Cruising around town. I never forgot about 90% of the people I met back then! And I’m still in touch with a lot of them! Other fun stuff we did was go to Lakewood Theater every Friday and Saturday night for their midnight movies! For a dollar, you could see Refer Madness every weekend, and for another dollar you could see Rocky Horror Picture Show! Every weekend, for years! It was a regular gig, and the theater made a ton of money off all the partiers! We then would hit Jack In The Box on Gravelly Lake Drive for a 99 cent Bonus Jack or something every night after the shows. Cruising around Wauhop Lake when they let cars drive that road was cool, but that ended in the mid 80’s. I used to drive around it every day at lunch when I went to Fort Steilacoom Community College (now Pierce College). Crazy drivers ruined it for everyone, and they finally shut it down to cars. We used to love to explore what we called “Old Western State”, especially at night with flashlights! Myself, I was too scared to go inside in the dark! LOL!
Other memories besides all the good friends I met in Lakewood are memories of the jobs I had and the histories of some of the places. I never forgot the day the Peking was burned down! It was some big corruption thing with Sheriff George Janovich, John Carbone and others! Other places I worked were Montgomery Ward (now Goodwill) as a delivery driver and Royal Manor Appliance on Motor Ave as a delivery driver.
I could go on and on and on about my memories of Lakewood, but I’ll spare you all the boredom. I still have pictures of LOTS of stuff from back then because I started doing photography in 1980. Eventually I moved out of my parents house, but they remained in that house until their passing in 2008! Mom had a licensed day care for about 20 years in the home, and eventually worked as campus security at Lakes High School until she was diagnosed with cancer.
If anyone has any questions about what business used to be where back in the late 70’s through late 80’s and even 90’s, I just might have the answer! And I might even have pictures! I do recall the new Safeway they build where Villa Bowl was torn down didn’t last long! They eventually built another one at the other end of Villa Plaza! When THAT one didn’t last, they built yet another one! I think the current Safeway in Lakewood Town Center is the 4th one they built there! When Lakewood Mall was built, I was SO excited! But developers had other plans, and the mall didn’t last long. I never forgot shopping at Ernst and Pay N Save!
I still go to Lakewood, Lake City, and Tillicum on a regular basis. I’ve worked in several places in Lakewood over the years. I’m now in my 60’s and still kickin’!Print This Post