Home Three Things About... Reflections of my Childhood on Seattle’s Queen Ann Hill

Reflections of my Childhood on Seattle’s Queen Ann Hill

Taken from the life story of T-Boy poet, Phil Marley by Phil Marley.
Seattle beat times four: Downtown, The Inn at the Market, the Pike Place Public Market and Puget Sound. Photography courtesy of Seattle Tourism.

Q one: What was your first memory of Seattle?

When my family arrived from Canada, I was eleven, and was very naïve and ignorant of the ways of the world that day. So, my first memory was moving into a small apartment on Lower Queen Anne Hill. Eventually I would become a high school student on the top its hill, the first place I met my lifelong friend, Ed Boitano, now an editor of www.TravelingBoy.com.

As we unloaded our baggage, though there wasn’t much, for the small apartment was fully furnished, I noticed there was a strange buzz in the air, unlike anything I had ever heard before.

The young Fab Four in Liverpool. Photograph courtesy of the Cavern Club.

Later, I learned it came from concert at the site of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, by a rock group from Liverpool, who had shockingly long hair. They were named the Beatles, and in a few years would have a great impact in my own life. Soon I transitioned to John Lennon government issued horn rimmed glasses and began to wear my hair long.

Q two: When you were young, how did your parents transition into a new life in Seattle?

My father was a Cockney Londoner, who was a boxer before joining the British Merchant Marines. One of the vessels took him to Winnipeg, where he met and married a 14-year-old Canadian farm girl, who gave birth to my brother and me.

Safeco Plaza (previously Seattle First National Bank Building, later Seafirst Building, but for us, always the 50-Story Bank Building) with spectacular city views (circa 1969). Photograph courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives via Wikimedia Commons.

My father, Peter, found a graveyard position as a security guard in downtown Seattle’s new 50 Story Bank Building. We were proud of his new tenure, though others though it was absurb to take pride in such a low profession. But we would remind them, it was an honest job, and he was in charge of protecting a high building, which was then the tallest throughout Seattle.

Q three. You speak with admiration about your father. You must have gotten along with him.

As I said, my father was a Cockney from London, and my brother and I would laugh, when others could not understand what he was saying. And sometimes we would laugh at ourselves, too; for we couldn’t understand a single word he was saying either, and were given a one-way ticket to be alone in our bedroom.

Even if it was cold and rainy winter day, a stroll around Green Lake always proved to be the trick for a healthful mind and body,  and give you a happy daily life in Seattle.. Photograph courtesy of Phil Marley’s late friend. And former T-Boy photographer, Allan T Smith.

In the early morning, around 6 a.m., his night of work was over, and he would pack our family in a Studebaker for a trip to Seattle’s Green Lake.

And it was there that he taught me how to swim and dive. Due to the early morning hour, the area that surrounded Green Lake was empty of people, and we had the lake to ourselves. And I enjoyed the solitude, for no others would see me struggle and swim, and laugh at me as I crawled up to the shore.

Queen Anne High School (circa 1908) was created by Seattle’s official school architect, James Stephen, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photograph courtesy of Get Happy at Home.

Our high school on the top of Queen Anne Hill was famous for its setting and spectacular city views. But for us it was just an old building and we would barely notice the views. Ed Boitano had Norwegian uncles who were QA Grizzly graduates in the 1910s. Recently, he informed me that General Leslie Groves, who was played by Matt Damon in the 2023 film, Oppenheimer, was QA alumni of the class of 1914.

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The iconic 520 ft. Space Needle, at the site of the Seattle 1962 World’s Fair, has become the
symbol which defines the Seattle of today. Photograph courtesy of T-Boy’s Deb Roskamp.

My Seattle friend, Ed, would boast that he could watch the Space Needle’s construction from his elementary school playground at the Seattle district of Magnolia. He would also boast that he was a native Seattleite, while I was only a mere transplant from distant Canada. These things have always been important to him… for he likes to be one up on the next guy.

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