Seattle Stairs can create a powerful sense of time and place, sometimes even composing scenes from a remembered life. We got a reminder of this the other day from a gentleman in Albuquerque, NM, by the name of Warner Talso. He read about our book in his Sunday paper, the Albuquerque Journal (go figure), then decided to email us about his youth in Rainier Beach. He says:
"I learned about your book from an article in the Albuquerque Journal using a Seattle Times article by Tan Vinh. I had an immediate rush of nostalgia.
"I grew up in the Lakeridge district just south of the Seattle city limits along Rainier Avenue. I lived there from 1946 until 1959, when I was drafted. The route to downtown Seattle was using Rainier Avenue. I have always been fascinated by the staircases along Rainier Avenue going to the hills above the avenue. These staircases were old. The concrete was weathered and moss covered. When I got older, I climbed some to see where they led. I have never forgotten the magic of these staircases. Part of the mystery of the staircases was why they were built and where they led. I have assumed they were WPA projects.
"I did not know Deadhorse Canyon or Taylor Creek had names, but I have been there. About 1947 I discovered Taylor Creek and decided it needed to have fish in it. I carried a bucket of Chubs and Bullheads up to a pool on the creek and put them in the water. My intention was to develop a fish population. But as kids do, with short attention spans, I lost interest and never followed up.
"What a trip! I will have to buy the book, even if I can no longer climb stairs. Thank you for a great memory."
What a trip for sure! Does anyone know about that gas station constructed of little stones? For some modern-day pictures of Mr. Talso's 'hood, click on the stairway walk posting on Rainier Beach, here.
As alluded to in the book, some of those wonderful staircases Mr. Talso remembers descending down the hill to Rainier Avenue have fallen into disuse today. The marvelous zig-zagging concrete pathway at S Kepler Street, a potential mini Lombard Street, is overgrown. The upper Norfolk Street stairway pictured below is still a useful way to navigate the neighborhood, but the last flight (bottom view) is no longer usable because the sidewalk along Rainier Avenue there is closed. Perhaps this part of Seattle's stairway legacy can be restored some day.