Market lost & found
Monday, August 6, 2007 - 12:00 AM
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By Stuart Eskenazi
Seattle Times staff
For every story told about Pike Place Market, countless go untold. Some have been lost over time and bear repeating. Others wait to be found.
Here are a few nuggets from the lost-and-found files of the Market, which turns 100 on Aug. 17.
Found: Love across the aisle
It was the summer of '69. Donnie Kuzaro had just graduated from Enumclaw High School. His dad and uncle had just bought Dan's Better Meats, a butcher shop in the Market since 1924, renaming the business Don & Joe's Meats.
Donnie worked there on Saturdays, with one of his duties to clean the counter's outside glass. Across the aisle, Riverton farmer Curly Hanada prepared his produce stall for the day. Hanada's daughter Diana, a Foster High School student, helped him with displays. Diana's and Donnie's fathers had known each other for years.
"I remember my dad always saying Donnie was a nice boy," Diana recalls.
"I remember coming in on Saturdays hoping she'd be here," Donnie recalls. "Sometimes it was her sister or brother and I'd say, 'Dang!' "
During lunch hour, Donnie would sit on steps adjacent to Hanada's stand. "How're things going today?" he would ask Diana, trying to play it cool. He'd make her laugh. Still does.
On the weekend before Donnie left to join the Navy in 1972, Diana gave him a novel she liked about a black man becoming president. She slipped her address between the pages and told him to write.
After about a year of correspondence, he mustered up the courage to ask her out on a date. Donnie's mother sent him money to fly up on weekends from California, where his aircraft carrier was based.
"It was true love," Donnie says.
"Yes, it was," Diana agrees.
They married on April 1, 1978, two years after his discharge from the Navy, and have raised two daughters in Renton. The eldest was married last summer.
Found: Proof is in the bottles
Every now and then, Charley Royer needed to escape the politics of City Hall and simply relax with friends. The Manzo Brothers produce stall at the Market, run by his friend Dan Manzo, was where the three-term Seattle mayor could get away from it all.
On Friday afternoons, Royer, who served from 1978 to 1989, would head down to the Market. Manzo would slice fresh tomato and avocado, and Sol Amon from Pure Food Fish would bring fresh crab.
"We'd stand there, eat and talk about how the tourists weren't buying enough," Royer says.
Lined up along a high window ledge in the back of the stall are 13 extremely empty bottles of Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Tennessee whiskey — a shrine to the Royer visits.
"There are only 13 up there? We must have thrown some away then," Royer says.
When Manzo opened a new bottle, he would show Royer the cap and ask him whether he should toss it: "How long can you stay?"
Royer is pleased to report: "Usually we kept the cap."
Found: No gum under the seats
Produce a comedy improv show and wiseacres are bound to infiltrate the audience. Ticketholders who queued up to see TheatreSports, performed at the Market Theatre since 1991, didn't take long to pull some improvisation of their own.
It began with them sticking their chewed gum against the theater's brick exterior wall and pushing pennies into the wads. The practice has inflated like a Bazooka bubble since then.
The wads of gum come in various colors, with some stuck as high as 20 feet up the wall. Others are stretched and sculpted into designs, such as Edvard Munch's "The Scream."
"There must be 172,000 pieces of gum on here," guessed Michael Caplin, 16, of Elk Ridge, Utah, who visited the wall last month. After chewing three sticks of Big Red, Caplin stuck them on the wall to form his initials ("MTC"). Caplin learned about the gum wall on the Internet.
It's that famous now. Tourists routinely pay their respects to the wall, which is on Post Alley between Pike and Union streets.
In the mid-'90s, Market managers had ordered the gum removed, denouncing it as unsanitary and contrary to Market character. Randy Dixon, artistic director of Unexpected Productions, says he and other members of the TheatreSports company scraped every piece of gum off the wall a couple different times. Around 1999, Market officials reconsidered and deemed the gum wall an attraction.
"At least once a week, I see someone getting their wedding pictures taken in front of it," Dixon says. "It's also fairly routine to hear groups of high-school boys or frat boys strategizing over how to put the highest piece of gum on the wall."
Lost: The store behind the sign
The showy, two-sided neon "Loback Meat Co." sign that spans the main arcade is a historically protected icon.
The store itself, however, did not persevere. Begun in 1946, Loback's was one of several butcher shops at the Market, selling specialties such as homemade sausages, goose and luau pigs. It shut down in 1986, and two separate ventures to revive it failed, closing for good in 1989. The space now is filled by Woodring Orchard, which sells jams and jellies, and Chukar Cherries, which sells dried fruits and chocolates.
Lost: Meet the librarian
A library once operated at the Market inside a former grocery store in what is now the first level of the DownUnder beneath Lowell's Restaurant & Bar.
Thought of today as a former branch, it technically was a "deposit station" that carried a collection of library books and catered to Market vendors. By the 1930s, there were more than 425 deposit stations across the city, most of them inside businesses.
The Market station opened in July 1922 and was one of the busiest in the system, checking out 4,547 books in its first six months of operation. The year the Market station closed is unclear, but deposit stations became obsolete with the advent of the bookmobile, which began serving Seattle in 1947.
"Books on practically every subject are read at the station," wrote Harriet Leitch, the head of the station libraries, in a 1923 annual report. "... Although many foreigners take out books, they prefer to read them in English rather than in their own language. ... The Greeks take very little interest in books, but the other stall-holders, Japanese, Italians, Norwegians, Swedes and Germans are constant borrowers."
Hangin' on: Bob, Bob, Betty, Sam and Dave
Since 1973, crafts vendors in the Market's main arcade have been required to sell only handcrafted goods. But five longtime vendors are allowed to sell imports — jewelry, belt buckles and clothing — because they were licensed before the rule change.
Betty Bennett, one of those vendors, started selling imported belt buckles in 1970 and also sells leather belts that she makes.