Touching scene watching these young Scouts starting out their march in the Renton River Days Parade, July 28, 2012. Renton, Washington. This really brings back some memories. They're working hard to carry those big heavy flags and stay in step. Great job guys!
Monday, July 30, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Walking down South 3rd in old downtown Renton Tuesday evening. I’m packing a bag full of fresh produce. Green onions and garlic, peppers, some rhubarb and lettuce, and a couple pints of raspberries. I’m on my way to my truck and heading home after the Farmers Market when I feel Grandpa’s smile.
I know he’d be happy I stopped for some real home grown produce and that triggers a scene in my mind’s eye that has played itself many times over the years. I’m a kid standing with my Grandpa by the water spigot in the backyard next to the garden. He kneels to prune and wash his fresh picked bounty and carefully packs the doubled paper shopping bag.
He loves these blessings from the dirt and holds them with care and admiration. He looks up and his face is lit with a gentle smile under his old straw hat. I see a twinkle in his eyes, even through his horn rimmed glasses.
“These are for your mom.” He knows she’ll be delighted and the phone will ring in about 30 minutes. “Now be careful going home. Can you manage?” Yes, Grandpa, I’ll make it okay. “Alright my boy. We’ll see you soon.” And off I go, my bike fully loaded, for home.
I jump in my truck and roll down the windows, it’s a beautiful summer evening. I’ve heard it said you’ll live forever, if you’re not forgotten. I’m thinking that's probably true in this case, remembering Grandpa’s smile.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Will Rodgers and Wiley Post were self made men. Both went after a life they were creating through passion, daring, raw talent, persistence, and wit. Both became the stuff that books are written about, stories are told, and movies are made.
Born November 4, 1879 on the Dog Horn Ranch in the Indian Territory that would later become Oklahoma, Will Rogers was the youngest of 8 children in a close and loving Cherokee family. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade and his first big adventure was in 1901 when he went to Argentina to work as a Gaucho then off to Australia as a circus performer doing rope tricks.
Later Will joined Vaudeville, the Ziegfeld Follies, then to Hollywood to star in 70 movies, became a columnist who wrote over 4000 articles, did radio, and traveled the country as a humorist-philosopher who won the hearts of America.
Wiley Post was born November 22, 1898 on a farm in Grand Saline, Texas. When Wiley was 5 the family moved to Oklahoma. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade, yet on the farm he became obsessed about machines. He went to a county fair in 1913 where he saw his first airplane and knew instantly that’s what he wanted, to be an aviator.
In 1926 working oil rigs an accident cost Wiley his left eye and the patch he wore became his icon. He received settlement money because of the mishap and used it to buy his first plane. Soon after he met Will when he was hired to fly him to a rodeo. They became close friends to the end.
To me, Wiley Post ends up in the history books playing 2nd fiddle unfairly to Charles Lindbergh. Post flew around the world twice, pioneered high altitude flight, was first to use auto-pilot and gyroscope technologies and created what was to became the precursor to NASA’s space suit.
One of my favorite stories from childhood is my dad telling me about a couple of days at Bryn Mawr Field (later Renton Airport) in the Summer of 1935. Will Rogers and Wiley Post were here in Renton to prepare for an adventure to the Territory of Alaska.
Even brilliant self made men with lots of experience can make fatal mistakes in haste. Wiley, short on money, had a plane built from two salvaged Lockheed planes. And when the pontoons he ordered didn't arrive in time he decided to use a pair that were considered too large for the aircraft by some.
They took off from Renton on August 7, 1935 and spent the next 10 days flying around Alaska and the Yukon Territory. On August 15th they left Fairbanks for Point Barrow and landed in a shallow lagoon to get out of the bad weather. When they took off the plane lost power and crashed killing them both.
The spot where Will and Wiley took off from Renton is still in use today. It's known as the Will Rogers – Wiley Post Memorial Seaplane Base. Five years later William Boeing would chose many acres adjacent to this south Lake Washington site to build airplanes and continue the aviation legacy.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
I discovered Anne Boyington of Trevani Truffles at the Renton Farmers Market a few weeks ago. The business was born out of a family passion for making homemade chocolate truffles.
For several years the recipes were only enjoyed by the family and close friends around the holidays. But son Troy and daughter Eva were relentless about sharing these fabulous goodies with the world so they opened up their first shop in 2007 in a 10’ by 10’ tent here at the Renton Farmers Market.
The business has grown and now you’ll find Trevani Truffles at several area Farmers Markets around the Seattle area and they also sell directly to customers year round. Check out their website at: trevanitruffles.net
Anne offered me a free sample as we chatted at the booth and after a taste that was all it took. It was absolutely delicious and oh so yummy! Of course I had to buy a box on the spot! I thought of my co-worker Barbie Van Horn. We had a meeting scheduled for the next day.
Barbie is a super chocolate enthusiast, so much so she has a wonderful blog dedicated to it: FindingFineChocolate.com. I couldn’t wait for her to try them and get her opinion. Needless to say she loved them too and rattled off a bunch of technical chocolate terms I have no idea what they meant. But the consensus was, these are really really good!
Trevani may sound Italian, but it’s actually a mashup of Troy, Eva, and Annie. I appreciate the fact they partner with local farmers and artisans for the freshest organic ingredients and the truffles are gluten and preservative free.
My personal favorite, and that was a hard pressed decision to make because all were fabulous, was the truffle known as Johnson. A dark chocolate ganache with Rockridge Orchards sweet raspberry wine. Not only is the taste divine they are beautiful little works of art, obviously made with a lot of love and care.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Back in 1901 an Englishman, Ben Atkinson, after a successful run in the Alaska Yukon gold fields, came to Renton, Washington and built the Melrose Hotel. It was a three story, sixty room hotel complete with saloon, a billiards room, and a cafe, in old downtown Renton, Washington. The Melrose was a favorite watering hole for locals, mostly coal miners and brick factory workers.
The place caught fire in 1928 and it destroyed the two top floors that were the hotel rooms. The first floor was salvaged and restored, in fact the original bar is still there. According to the registry, it is officially Renton’s oldest historic building still in use.
Many familiar old Renton families have owned this building from one time or another through the years including the Dobson’s, Nattucici’s, Bertozzi’s, and the Barei’s. I remember this place as a kid back in the early 1970's. The tavern was then owned by local heavy weight boxer, Boone Kirkman.
In 1997 Armondo Pavone, Tim and Kimberly Searing, and Charles and Beverly Keeslar purchased the building and created the Melrose Grill in 2002.
This intimate little neighborhood steakhouse is still thriving and a jewel of Renton cuisine. It seats 84 (and 10 at the bar) so you’ll want to make reservations. I’ve eaten here many times at company events and just having a special dinner with a friend or two.
I love walking into this place! It’s like time travel. You’re immediately transported to an era of good old fashioned charm and graciousness. It’s not a chain, it’s a wonderful authentic old place in Renton that serves up the best steak in town.
This is a place I tell my good friends about and anyone who’s visiting the area that asks me, “Where’s a great place to eat around here?”
The Melrose Grill, Renton, Washington.