The year is 1947 and as I remember the some-what cloudy details, my older brother Richard and I were just pulling into Seattle Washington’s Train Depot arriving on a one day ride from Spokane on the Northern Pacific Train. We were all dressed out in our next years back to school clothes with a promise to Mom that those clothes would return in the spotless new condition as they were in, when she put us on that train.
We were on our way to visit her sister and our three cousins, who had the neatest toy pedal cars in the world. They had fire trucks, airplanes, cars, pickups, and my favorite, a Super Sonic Race Car. Wow! This was the fastest and neatest pedal car in the neighborhood where my cousins lived. What was so neat about where they lived, it was on Fremont Hill. You could look straight across the water and see the most fantastic premier hill in Seattle for pedal car downhill racing. Its name of course is Queen Ann, and for those of you that didn’t remember that the city of Seattle was built on seven hills and the Queen Ann is the steepest and curviest and longest from top to bottom, of all seven. The Fremont and the Queen Ann hills had one thing in common: at the bottom they both ended up in Lake Washington, just above the Fremont Boat Lockes.
Well as I remember I could hardly sleep the first night there, as all I could think about was that fantastic Super-Sonic Race Car and Fremont Hill. The next morning my brother Rich and I were anxiously but, in a friendly way debating on who and what pedal cars should be teamed up to whom. Well, he got the Super-Sonic and I got the Airplane. Much to our surprise the cousins went along with our decision.
There is one thing that stands out in my memory of that days’ events and that was when my cousin Butchy appeared at the top of those steep stairs leading up to my Aunt and Uncles home. He was all decked out in knee-pads, elbow pads, padded gloves and a crash helmet. Now we all knew that Butchy was the first born and Aunty really liked him best but wasn’t that a little over dressing for our first day in Seattle or did he know something that Rich and I had over looked?
We all jumped in our assigned rides and we were off, down Fremont Hill. Me on the Airplane, Jimmy on one little car, Fred on the pickup, Butchy on the fire truck and Rich on the Super Sonic Racer. We all started out with some competitive racing, with the lead switching on several occasions. But, as time went on, the age of the contestants came alive with Fred and Jimmy slowing and bowing out. Butchy hung in there on his Fire truck but finally the weight of his fancy, color matching, elbow pads and knee-pads and that crash helmet that kept twisting around on his head and blinding him, the poor kid almost crashed several times.
Well down Fremont Hill my brother and I raced, him on the Super Sonic Racer and me on my airplane, that I swear, felt like it wanted to take off and fly. I’ll tell you one thing, there was not a better dressed couple of brothers from Spokane racing in Seattle on that day in late August 1947. Everything was looking pretty good as I could still see the Super Sonic Racer ahead maybe just two blocks. Then a Seattle City Transit Bus went flying by me and my airplane. The last thing I truly remember is the bright red tail lights on that bus and down the hill I raced right past Rich on the Super Sonic who was legally stopped at a red light at the intersection of 118th and Fremont. Down I raced with nothing but me and that same Seattle City Transit Bus ahead. Well, I swear that Airplane Pedal Car and I had become one and I flew past that city bus on the left and to my amazement I was looking eye to eye with that Seattle City Transit Bus Driver. Unfortunately, trying to stop that Airplane with my new Converse All-star shoe brakes didn’t work all that well and off came the soles. In trying to get my legs in a more aeronautical position while I was in flight, I kinda did a number on my new Levi’s but, my new shirt was still wearable and, I won the race. What’s remarkable is that I ended up 57 feet short of being IN Lake Washington! Watch out Queen Ann Hill, here I come!
For you penny watchers, a dozen eggs was just 32 cents. A Coke was a nickel and a pair of Converse All stars were $4.49. All in All the summer of 1947 was the best ever!