By Harry Glickman, with Jeannette Glickman, February 1999
1940, we had been married for less than a year and had agreed with a realtor to buy a lot on 34th Avenue just south of Union Street. The price of $500 was standard and fit our budget. With a $4500 Federal Housing 3% Mortgage we could build our dream house. A call from the realtor told us to hold on. The Dempsey estate was being divided into building sites and one of the lots was like made for us. For an extra $50 we could have a Lake Washington view and be located just a hundred yards from the beach at Madrona Park.
The Dempsey suburban property, just two miles from the heart of Seattle, had been incorporated as an addition to the city. The family summer house built before the turn of the century had been destroyed long before we looked at and bought our lot at 1422 Madrona Drive. The estate was located above the lakeside road with over 300 feet of frontage looking out over Lake Washington with Mt. Rainier in the distance. It was being divided into five properties, each with 60-foot frontage and at a price of $1500, which put them out of our range. But the realtor had a problem that we could solve. He had a buyer able to pay up to $1000 for a lot; if we would buy the back-half of the lot he could consummate two sales. We were elated, feeling that the change moved us from a nondescript lot to this much more desirable setting.
Jen went to work putting a floor plan together. She had learned in her Home Economics studies about simplicity. We cruised the new neighborhoods in Magnolia and Laurelhurst looking for good design. With a rough plan on paper and an exterior picture, we were ready to go. Al Shulman had a draftsman acquaintance who could draw plans to be signed by an architect friend. Joe Diamond had many contractors as clients and recommended that we make a deal with Stan Farr. The building contract at $4600 was made and an FHA loan of the full amount approved. But we had better have Walter Hoke, a carpenter married to my sister Edyth's best friend, look at the plans. Walter pointed out that because of the span of the living room floor, the joists should be closer together, 12 inches rather than 16 on center. Stan Farr, "No problem, it will cost you $12." The second recommendation was more significant. The living room at 12 feet was too narrow and would feel a lot better if 14 feet wide. Stan Farr, "No problem, it will cost an extra $50. We will make the house two feet wider." $62, even in 1941, did not seem like a lot to increase the size of the house by 10%. The concrete basement, the kitchen, and the two unfinished bedrooms upstairs would all become larger.
The first step in construction of a house is to dig the hole for the foundation. Jose Razore, an immigrant from Italy, had a contract for collecting and disposing Seattle garbage. Because of his need for dirt to cover the garbage in the fill that is now the University of Washington parking lot, Jose was involved in digging basements. He had taken a wife and was looking for a site for the rambler they could afford. From his steam shovel he saw the lot next door to us, wasted no time, purchased the parcel and was under construction within a month. Instead of the lakeview our living room would now look directly into the Roman brick wall of the Razore fortress.
Our dream house was completed on December 6, 1941. Two major events took place the next day. We moved into this most extraordinary of houses that ended up with views of lake and mountains, albeit not from the living room. (Many years later we saw the explosion of Mt. St. Helens from an upstairs window.) The house that was more than we had hoped for, as planned with fireplace, solid oak floors, and a bay window so we could put a dining table in the living room. There was the unfinished basement for a future recreation room and second floor where later with Walter Hoke we finished a second bathroom and a couple of bedrooms for the children that would be along to complete the picture. The second event that took place that day was the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. We were sure that the next target would be the Bremerton Navy Yard across Puget Sound. The first curtains in our new house were black paper complying with the blackout instructions issued by Civil Defense; we really worried about the possibility of it being destroyed by bombing. The fact that we were involved in a war was more remote and not as crucial an issue as our new domicile.
The Razores turned out to be excellent neighbors. Together with us and the Mussers who built on the view side of our plot, the balance of the estate was planted with potatoes. Joe provided a power cultivator which easily planted a couple of sacks of potatoes calculated to give a harvest of about a ton. Our 'victory garden' was a patriotic effort, but we never did harvest those spuds. In fact we couldn't find them because of the weeds. Joe was busy covering garbage with dirt from basements, and had become involved in raising pigs. It seems that the garbage picked up from restaurants and hotels is what pigs like to eat. Bowling was becoming popular with automatic devices for picking up pins. Our friend Razore liked to bowl and ended up buying a bowling alley. He was too busy to do much weeding. Bill Musser, a policeman, didn't have a knack for gardens of any kind, and I had become busy with new items at the pickle works. It seems that the Russians were now our allies and their ships were coming into Seattle for supplies. They wanted salty midget pickles and I was busy with another Italian who had a huge farm and lots of salt stock pickles down on the Columbia River. We bought stock from Andrew Fazio of Columbia Pickle, added vinegar and sold them by the barrel to the Russians. Our potato crop was a bust, but Joe Razore was getting rich, and we at Yale Pickle were finally making a profit, putting us definitely in the black.
At the end of the first year the population on the Dempsey estate increased by a third. We and the Razores brought little boys into our households. Joe Jr. is now a major figure in the business of waste disposal for the metropolis of Seattle; Larry is keeping his parents and two sisters with their families complying with the bureaucratic rules required of Americans living in Israel.
By 1945 the population of this little community was completely changed except for us. The Mussers sold to a Dr. and Mrs. Stusser, and the Razores had become too rich for the rambler. They built a mansion out in Seward Park and sold to the Capelotos. Adjoining us to the north Dr. Frolick had built what we called the Hansel and Gretel house. He was a Swiss, practicing alternative medicine before it was fashionable. He and his wife planted an organic vegetable garden and landscaped the property with boulders, trees, flowering bushes, and hundreds of bulbs creating a beautiful setting which we still enjoy.
By 1955 we were again engulfed with new neighbors. Dr. Stusser died of a stroke; the Freuhoffs moved in. Dr. Frolick retired and went off to warmer climate; a Mr. Jones bought the Swiss chalet, and jerry-built a basement apartment. Capeloto moved to Murietta Hot Springs in California. The Capelotos sold to the Silvermans who operated a 'gallery' down on First Avenue. We later learned that the 'gallery' was actually a Peep Show Arcade of nudes including movies. A little spice had been added to our quiet little community. We were all sorry when Pete Silverman left to spend a year as a farm hand in the Federal Penitentiary .
By 1965 Pete Silverman was back. His year in the pen on McNeil Island had done wonders for him. All muscle, he looked like an athlete just out of training camp in Florida with a healthy tan acquired working outdoors. His trouble with the federal agents was because he sent 8- millimeter film of nudes to Alaska through US mail. A thick-skinned character from New York could not believe that they would send him to prison for such a minor violation of the law. After his year on the farm he switched from selling porn to selling kippered salmon. We were in luck as he kept us supplied with the bony tips which Jen insisted were the best part.
By 1985 Larry bought and was living in the old homestead. Arlene had purchased the story book house, which she had admired from her bedroom window next door, from Mr. Jones on a long contract and lived in it while waiting for the birth of her first son. Mrs. Freuhoff was widowed and moved into a retirement home. Larry talked Debby into buying her place, the house built on the view half of our original lot.
In 1999, 60 years have passed, it looks like we Glickmans will be synonymous with 1422 Madrona Drive way off into the future. Larry, who has never lived in another permanent residence, is content with the old homestead. Jen and I rent the exotic chalet from Arlene and live in it each summer when in Seattle. She plans for the days when her boys are grown and she can spend time enjoying the resort type setting watching the sailing activity on Lake Washington. It is reasonable to assume that Debby and Ron and their family will want a summer headquarters in Seattle. It's probable that the old Dempsey estate will someday be referred to as the Glickman estate.
Capeloto: We met with his widow and their two grown sons when we visited our cousins in Murietta; a shiduch had been arranged with an attractive, religious old maid from New York. They had decided that life away from his grown children in Seattle was wise. They enjoyed the Jewish atmosphere of Murietta; he had his first bar mitzvah at 83!
Copyright 2001-2002 Gregory C. Lowney or the author, all rights reserved. The information in this site is confidential, and for the exclusive use of family members and invited guests. Please contact us if you want permission to copy or reuse.