day 3 – walking lucile street – a neighbor’s path

Childhood home of our neighbor off another segment of Lucile

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.

Lucile Street – we walked from Martin Luther King Jr Way S, north on 33rd to S Brandon, west on S Brandon St to 30th Ave S, south to Lucile, and then over to Dearborn Park.

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.

Lucile Street – Crossing MLK heading East up Lucile past the mechanic shop that Caitlin recalls from childhood

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.

A living story on the sidewalk in photos and documents with snacks.

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.

Dearborn Park – The Seattle Wishing Tree

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.

Reflections

Lucile - photos by Ms A
Lucile – photos by Ms A

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?

Walk reflection by Ms A with an illustration of the wishing tree.

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.

Walk reflection by Ms M – “I liked [this] walk the most”

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.

Playlist

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

Measurements

Date of walk: Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Start time: 12:51
End time: 13:47

Partly cloudy, 68℉

Elevation plot generated by Garmin Connect App. I started the recording a bit late. Should be over by Vu Auto Repair on MLK.

Max elevation: 275ft
Min elevation: 150ft

day 2 – walking lucile street – the inception segment

S Lucile St & 39th Ave S - A quiet and inviting place to sit on the street.

Joining us for our second session of walking Seattle’s Lucile Street from end to end was Ms M’s good friend and neighbor Ms N.

Map of lucile street
Lucile Street – we walked from Rainier Ave S to Martin Luther King Jr Way S and back

Reflections

Pets in windows, pets in fenced yards. Evident in the post walk reflection sketches and write-ups is how the presence of pets captured the kids’ interest on this segment of Lucile. I think the closer proximity of homes to the street, more townhomes, and less dense front-yard gardens on this stretch meant we had a clearer view of the life within the homes.

Walk reflection by Ms N - 8 cats, 1 chicken, 2 dogs, 2 puppies, 35 flowers, and 2 chicken coops
Walk reflection by Ms N – 8 cats, 1 chicken, 2 dogs, 2 puppies, 35 flowers, and 2 chicken coops
Walk reflection by Ms M - pets in windows and spider-like bugs caught for analysis
Walk reflection by Ms M – pets in windows and spider-like bugs caught for analysis
Walk reflection by Ms A - flowers, palm trees, a montessori school, a film crew, and a hanging plant caught her attention.
Walk reflection by Ms A – flowers, palm trees, a montessori school, a film crew, and a hanging plant caught her attention.

My earliest memory of Lucile Street is here on this segment of the street. Years ago when we moved to Columbia City, Erica made friends with Kristen and Lindsey – both of whom lived in the house pictured below with other roommates. I think I came here with Erica to see Lindsey and that may be where we met for the first time.

Lindsey says she remembers growing things – the decadent supply of lilacs for her table that she could cut – the potatoes Kristen planted and that she witnessed grow for the first time. She remembers porch-sitting, gingerbread house-making with neighbors during Christmastime. She remembers borrowing my projector for a film screening for a refugee fundraiser.

Lucile Street - Lindsey's house
Lucile Street – Lindsey’s house

A dear friendship, Lindsey travelled in a parallel timeline with us to New York City for her master’s degree. And with the birth of Ms A, she became one of her two caregivers while Erica and I worked. Like us, she also returned to Seattle, now married. She then lived in Lower Queen Anne, a block from where Erica and I first lived in Seattle. Now Erica is working with refugees.

It is a wonder how our lives can move in parallel like a double helix, swinging round and round, and appearing from so many vantage points to come together when so often also distant.

Streets also can fold and turn, engulfing you in a valley one moment and lifting you up to see the whole city in another. This segment of Lucile has that feel. Maybe it was the presence of the film crew who didn’t seem to know what they were filming for Microsoft, but the street gave me the feeling we were in Christopher Nolan’s film Inception in which the city folds like a pop-up book.

This segment of Lucile has fewer trees and defined sidewalks compared to the first segment, but the street was just as quiet and several homes had a park like feel to them, particularly those west of 39th Ave S. There in the shade and next to bamboo shoots growing out off a tree stump, the kids decided to sit on the edge of the street for a snack.

Dossier

To document our walk, we made notes, took pictures, recorded a sound sample, sketched drawings, and gathered material samples. Below is a collections of the images.

Lucile Street - two little free libraries between Rainier Ave S and MLK Jr Way S
Lucile Street – We found two little free libraries on this segment.
Lucile Street - A taste of the flowers and pets - photo by Ms A
Lucile Street – A taste of the flowers and pets – photo by Ms A
Lucile Street – film crew and palm trees
Lucile Street – Feeling Hollywood vibes with the film crew and all the palm trees
Lucile Street – Two traffic circles between Rainier Ave and MLK Jr Way
Lucile Street – Two traffic circles between Rainier Ave and MLK Jr Way
Lucile Street – Signage and posters found along the road between Rainier Ave & MLK Jr Way
Lucile Street – Signage and posters found along the road between Rainier Ave & MLK Jr Way
At 37th & Lucile – Left: a storefront for what? Right: Ms M collects bugs for inspection
At 37th & Lucile – Left: a storefront for what? Right: Ms M collects bugs for inspection
Sound recording on Lucile Street just West of Rainier Ave. The jack hammering of construction can be heard – plodding the progress of redevelopment. Ms M and Ms N can be heard with me at the end wordlessly forbidding them to press the doorbell on the Montessori school’s gate.

Measurements

Date of walk: Thursday, July 20th, 2022
Start time: 12:51
End time: 13:47

Sunny, 77℉

Elevation plot generated by Garmin Connect App.
Elevation plot generated by Garmin Connect App.

Max elevation: 224ft
Min elevation: 138ft