This is the business side of the two emails I am sending out, the “top part of the mullet” so to speak. The beer stories in the other email are the “party” half, if you prefer that (you should have already got that).
So grab a beverage, kick back and I hope this is an encouragement to you.
We built Elizabeth Station upon the idea of a community having a place to meet, talk, discuss, get to know each other, learn from each other, and care about and take care of one another. Learning and listening are two huge pieces of what we value.
In light of the current pandemic, I want you to know that these are still the heart of this. It’s also a part of why I am writing about subjects unrelated to our products. Because the fact is, this place never was about the product – it was always about conversation and relationship.
It’s also not about me telling you what to believe. I hope you haven’t read it like that. My hope is it will be a form of inspiration to challenge you and/or to encourage you toward some form of action. Doing, learning, reading, talking, listening, challenging, changing, whatever your form of growing is. I have been overwhelmed by the
Which leads me to this:
Thanks to Raven Shaw from Sitka, AK for letting me use her “Proud Oyster” graphic here. You can find more of her hilarious and great stuff at ravens-random.myshopify.com.
You can also find her on Instagram at instagram.com/quickdrawmccaw, and she has a lot of fun stuff there. The eyeball earings are my favorite.
We’ll also have some of her stickers here soon, BTW.
I love this graphic, a sort of twist on the “lemons into lemonade” saying. And I have tried to make this my muse as there is a lot of tough stuff happening around us right now. I am trying to focus on what I can control and what I can do. I have not yet defined what “thriving” would look like for me in this time, but certainly using the extra time I have with my kids as best as I can is one part. Certainly searching learning and reading about tough subjects I have long ignored. Definitely listening and trying to see who will put up with a conversation with me. Trying to understand more about perspectives and life experiences different than my own. For sure trying to avoid saying things I will regret later, which is no easy task.
If you did not know, the first Thursday of each month is “Free Museum Day” in the greater Seattle area (full list here: freemuseumday.org/sea.html). This is one of the things I miss the most during these times. This has been a periodic day I look forward to of tremendous inspiration and learning. I grab my kids and take them to as many museums as we can pack in. Tanks and planes that look “like they just came off the factory line in 1940” at the Paul Allen “Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum” is a favorite. Has led to conversations about war and tactics and the Holocaust and how humans treat each other. The Wing Luke (“of the Asian Pacific American Experience”) in the International District has a full convenience store/market preserved since the day it closed – full displays off all the products they sold. Of COURSE this is exciting for me (and maybe only me). It led to fantastic conversations with my kids about Bruce Lee, life for immigrants both now and before they (my kids) were born (“what the world didn’t begin the day I was born??”), Chinese New Year, and the Cambodian Killing Fields. I knew very little about that, and it was hard. My kids aren’t that old – 6, 9 and 11. The fear I see in their eyes when we have conversations about how terrible people can be to other people breaks my heart each time. My middle son asked me “what the worst thing someone has ever done to another person?” and I replied “I don’t think you want to know” and he quickly said “ok don’t tell me.”
I don’t want to know either.
But I think understanding the past is a key part to understanding the present and planning the future (no, this is not my original idea).
So that’s what a “pearl” looks like to me: a posture of realizing how little I truly know, of listening before speaking, and assuming I can learn from any situation even the hard and scary ones. And this means taking hard subjects, facing the fact that I know less than I think, and then going and doing something about that. I really want to learn about more of the past, and more of the present.
But imagining and knowing that I can create a pearl out of this is the first step.
OK, on to the business update part of this email!
Starting with Pizza:
A LOT of you tried the pizza, and a lot of you came back for more. Thanks, that’s awesome. It means a ton to us.
Either 1) you loved it or 2) you didn’t love it but didn’t tell me (optional third choice: you did not love it, but you love us. Life is rarely binary).
I got a lot of very good feedback, and no bad feedback. Actually I did get negative feedback but it was from two friends who said it took longer than I had told them it would (one was 20 minutes instead of 10, and had to wait for 40 min – he timed it. It is fair to be unhappy with a 40 minute wait).
(If you didn’t complain, and you have constructive criticism for me, please email me or come find me Tues-Sat. I do want to know. That’s part of the “conversation and relationship” element of this place!)
The comment that made me the most happy was this: “my kids usually hate crust. But with your pizza they fight over it.”
There was a comment someone said which was “my crust was burned.” But in context that person was being surrounded by a happy family, so we didn’t know how to take that. Yes, we singe the crust. No we are not changing that. We like it that way.
A few added details worth knowing:
-You all have been buying about 40 pizzas per day so far. The highest was 57 in one day, and we were worried about running out the next few days. It was awesome. Way past our expectations.
-Our oven is a high-temp electric oven. We are paying the extra money for 100% Green Power from PSE (that’s what it says, anyway). I’m not sure, but I think the extra wind power coming through the power line gives the cheese a little extra flavor 😉 It certainly makes me happy.
You all have been extremely generous. I sincerely appreciate the love and encouragement you have shown us. August was a month that will help us put a little hay in the barn for winter. All your tips were amazing and I will not speak for everyone here but I’m pretty sure everyone working here is equally grateful for your support (quick note: neither Charles nor I take, nor can take, tips and so it all goes to the crew. Which is how it should be). It definitely is impacting all of us in a positive way and I am very deeply thankful to you.
A Fun Local History Story: Claire’s Market at 1400 W Holly St
A wonderful source of local history is the Whatcom Museum Photo Archives, and the curator/administrator Jeff Jewell. He is absolutely incredible.
Note: no one I tell to go has ever gone on their own. So I have to take people, like demand they go with me. And then we go and the can’t leave because there is so much incredible stuff there. A search engine to find the history of anything you want to know about. Photos of famous people, photos of every old building, photos of what the drive up to Baker used to be like and the drive out Chuckanut used to be like. I could go on and on. But Jeff is just about as good as the collection: if he has time he will tell you stories about anything you could possibly want to know about. An amazing local historian. Highly, highly recommend a visit (Jeff says it should be open again in a few weeks, hopefully).
Here are a few photos of the building we now occupy from days of yore.
My favorite part of the history of this building is that they had some sort of contest where the winner got a puppy. We’ve talked about bringing this back, perhaps with kittens, but not totally sure the health dept would love it. But if you work for the humane society and have ideas, hit me up!
Claire’s was the first business in Bellingham to have a parking lot!
(Is that Dean’s car I see in there?)
(The boy with the hat in the front is about as excited as my kids get while getting their photo taken)
I thought I knew a lot about Bellingham history, but actually when I start to look into it, I am amazed at how little I know. Custer Bridge (like the General Custer, Custer’s Last Stand, etc) I know nothing about, Lairmont Manor must have some history, Fairhaven Library I heard was a Carnegie building? expelling Chinese immigrants and later Sikhs (click here for a fascinating interview with current County Executive Satpal Sidhu regarding this event… and yes Mr Sidhu I DID see you and your team in here a year or so ago!). I did listen to a fascinating talk about the founding of Bellingham/Fairhaven/Whatcom and how most of our waterfront was created by infill. (Once the area was parceled up for purchase, the lots in the ocean were cheaper than those on land. Ha!) And Holly St, which of course we are on here, was supposed to be 13th Street but those in charge at the time decided it was an unlucky number.
For your entertainment, here are another couple pieces of more recent local history that happened while I was young. Although I am about to turn 40, so this is more for people who moved here the last 20 years or so:
-The WWU park-and-ride near the freeway used to be a drive-in theater, basically all of my childhood. More people have got their first kiss in that lot than probably any other location in town 🙂
-Where REI is now used to be a big toy store. Called “The Children’s Company.” And it was awesome.
-Kulshan Middle School burned down before it could ever be used. It had to be rebuilt. My memory is it was an electrical fire started from a pop machine cord.
-Kulshan Middle School also had a competition to name the school mascot. My dad desperately wanted it to be the “Gravediggers.”
-There used to be a yearly carnival that set up along the spit, where the Bellwether Hotel is now. I think this might have transitioned to the mall parking lot, but that might be unrelated.
-Boomers has always existed. Since time began.
But alas there are also other not so fun parts of our history. I’m guessing you know more about this than I do, but here is something I found fascinating (in the bad way):
A Non-So Fun Local History Discovery: Bellingham KKK Chapter (circa 1920s)
Despite living here a big portion of my childhood (Happy Valley, Fairhaven, Sehome) and decent portion of my grown life, I am embarrassed to say I don’t know a ton about local history (and I love history). That I can remember no one has ever talked about the following events with me before and I have never bothered to look them up. Here is something not so fun or cute:
-According to the following article, the “strongest chapter” of the KKK in Washington State in the 20th century was here in little ol’ Bellingham, in the 1920s. Click on these words for a link to a fascinating article about this, including a massive rally in Lynden, a parade through Bellingham, a mayor giving the key of the city to a KKK member, the Bellingham Herald supporting the klan (no I am not going to capitalize it) and a little on what the klan has evolved into here over the decades.
The most bewildering line from the article is: “Bellingham Mayor John A. Kellogg addressed the convention while standing in front of an enormous electric cross, and concluded his remarks by presenting Grand Dragon EB Quackenbush from Spokane with the Key to the City.” It is then followed by what I think is the most chilling sentence: “During his speech, Kellogg also acknowledged Bellingham City Attorney Charles B. Sampley, described by the Bellingham Herald as ‘a prominent Klansman’ who the crowd ‘hailed as a conquering hero.’”
-The article not only quotes from but actually has scans of the old-timey articles it references, too. Totally worth spending a little time reading about burning a cross on Sehome Hill, klan picnics at Cornwall Park, and other events that are less than 100 years old.
This all has to mean something to us now, right? Or can we just write this off as things that happened in the past?
I love and miss my Grandpa, who passed away this past February 27th. He moved to the area with his parents when he was a toddler, perhaps around 1929 or so. We have spent lots of time together in my life, having lunch at least monthly in his last years. I learned a lot from him and valued a lot of his opinions and ideas. He was tremendously influential in my life, and many of the values of serving people in this business have come from him.
It would be terrifying to imagine that someone whose grandfather was in the Bellingham chapter of Hitler’s “Silver Legion” (read the article) or later the anti-communist McCarthyism witch hunts would listen and value their grandfather’s values and ideals. Right? I feel like our past has many more tentacles grabbing the present than we care to give it credit for. I would like to believe I can choose the good parts of my past, and leave behind the bad parts. But do I even really know what those are, if I really think about it hard?
More to learn. I don’t know about you but I can’t sit with the nagging thought that there is a problem and I feel like I can do nothing. My Grandpa did not like to talk about uncomfortable things, and so we didn’t. But now I wish I had asked more about both his childhood and youth and what he saw and learned. I am now just left with books and websites.
Well, let’s wrap this up. What now?
Personally I have realized most recently that I am dreadfully ignorant about the Lummi and Nooksack tribes and their history and culture. So that’s next. I have been coaching kids’ soccer in the Baker area, and have had the chance to coach some wonderful Nooksack kids. I feel like in order to love them better I should learn more about their history, and more about them as people (both “a people group” and as individual people).
My final toast before we depart for now:
May our future be better than our past.
Let us live at the borders of our ignorance, always pushing farther and taking new ground.
To Empathy, and the work it takes!