You may have heard that 70% of Americans live in or near the city they were raised in. I can’t verify this statistic published by a moving company, but we do have an immediate neighbor on our street that grew up on Beacon Hill just off of Lucile!
And what an honor for us to have her lead our third day of walking Lucile Street from MLK back to her childhood home and the adjoining Dearborn Park. It is a special walk, because it follows the path that she would have made as an elementary school student from her bus stop on MLK to her home.
With a curated playlist of music and each of us with a Tootsie Pop, we not only crossed Martin Luther King Jr Way, but also crossed over into another childhood.
With her Walkman and Tootsie Pop – wrapper inspected for the lucky shooting star – a young Ms C walked the four or so blocks up to her home by Dearborn Park.
We learned on the walk that although Caitlin lived across Dearborn Park from an elementary school, she went to a school in Ballard. It was the era of Seattle’s mandatory busing program intended to integrate schools. Nowadays Ballard seems an hour away, but Caitlin says the bus ride never seemed to take very long.
Across the street from her childhood home we sat on the sidewalk where she kindly shared with us the story of her grandparents who bought the house here due to redlining in Seattle, a practice that restricted housing access for many minority population residents.
Among the documents we discussed on the sidewalk was the title deed of the house, photos of family, grandmother’s Columbia City-based wedding dress business, grandfather’s obituary in the Seattle Times with the headline: “Boeing engineer and a gentleman-farmer”.
From here we ambled to the park, played at the playground, learned about how it changed, but also that the park has mainly remained the same all these years. We walked around Dearborn Elementary and searched the brush in vain for what appeared on the map as a potential shortcut back to Lucile Street.
The kids gave their wishes to the wishing tree and cracked open fortune cookies which Caitlin pasted into our Lucile Street notebooks. Soon and very soon read the fortunes. For now though, our warmest gratitude to our neighbor for leading us up her path from past to present.
Hard to know what kids will pick up from our stories from the past, but I do know they value stories and I’m often surprised by the ones from my childhood that they will recall. Why that one? What made it memorable to you?
Ms A knows this park from our prior visits to it as the wishing tree park – that’s the defining feature of it to her, so no surprise that’s still the defining feature of this segment of Lucile.
I’m not sure when the wishing tree started, perhaps during the pandemic as the first comments on Google Maps about it appear in 2021.
In her reflection, Ms A describes the image Caitlin shared of her grandfather proudly standing with the corn stalks growing out of the basketball court pavement behind their house. It is a memorable picture. The Seattle Times described him as breaking ground “in the literal sense” with his backyard farming. This photograph adds another layer of meaning to carry and consider.
Ms M drew the tree we sat under on the sidewalk. Her reflection notes how different the street and home appears to her from the photos that were shared.
How to discuss redlining with kids? Caitlin explained the idea and how that history affected her family, but I wonder if the kids seeing this as a nice neighborhood and hearing about how high housing prices are here now, couldn’t quite see the problem.
I tried the question: how would you feel if someone told you that you can’t buy a house in a neighborhood that you want to live in? Upon reflection, I wonder if the “I don’t know” responses I received is premised on a mutual expectation of belonging – would I want to live somewhere where other people don’t feel like I belong?
Communicating this history will take some time and patience – and it encourages me to deepen my own understanding of it.
Only one other family has lived in the home since her family lived there. In a way this shows how little has changed in this neighborhood since she grew up here. The playground in Dearborn Park is not the same one she grew up with, but the Parks Department will soon be replacing it with a new structure. As we sat in the park, two dads brought their kids to the playground to play together. A picture of the kind of neighborhood friendships that are lived still today across Lucile Street.
Compiled by Ms C with contributions from our participants
- Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
- Cardboard Box Adventure by Purrple Cat
- Chances by Fox and Bones
- deja vu by Olivia Rodrigo
- Unconditional I (Lookout Kid) by Arcade Fire
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by Scarlett Johansson and Bono
- Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis
- … I know a Place (The Creek Song) by Bluey, Helena Czajka, and Jazz D’Arcy
- Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie, Philippe Entremont
Date of walk: Friday, July 22nd, 2022
Start time: 12:51
End time: 13:47
Partly cloudy, 68℉
Max elevation: 275ft
Min elevation: 150ft