I know a lot of people.
As Walter Brennan said in his short-lived 1960’s TV series, The Guns of Will Sonnett, “No brag. Just fact.”
I’ve self-analyzed what caused me to be that way. My favorite theory is rooted in the small Lutheran grade school in southern California I attended that suddenly closed. I found my compact world grew quickly as I was tossed into public schools and became “the new kid.” I wanted people to like me and I found that making them laugh accomplished that. Then, it became an addiction, which evolved into a radio career. Of course, the more people you get to know, the more that can potentially like you. There’s also the bottom line that I just enjoy people. Everyone’s different, everyone has their own story.
Moving to Seattle and marrying into the Norwegian world, I’ve gotten to know even more people over the past 9 years. This past week, I got to know even more.
We received an invitation from friends to attend a “Wednesday Night Picnic” at a private estate up on Capitol Hill, an area east of downtown Seattle full of old, brick mansions. That’s about as much as I knew going in. Basically, we would be picnicking along with other people having their own picnics in the yard of a huge estate.
I felt very privileged to have been included in this long-time Seattle tradition. How long have these Wednesday nights in July picnics been going on? Would you believe 58 years? As you can read in this article from the Seattle Times, the estate’s owner, Kay Bullitt, has done a lot of things for this city, very quietly. Not for show, but for the love of Seattle. And people.
She has used her estate to host all kinds of events including these neighborhood picnics. Her daughter Dorothy told me that back in the 60’s, her mom held a integrated camp for kids. There was also a “Peace Camp” for Jewish and Arab kids. And when Kay’s days on this earth are done, she has designed that the entire property will go to the city and be turned into a public park. Initially, there was talk of tearing down the mid-century home on the premises, but it now looks as though they’ll keep it around for a possible meeting facility.
First-timers to this Wednesday Night Picnic were asked to NOT take pictures of the neighbors and other people attending, but I was able to snap a few shots of the grounds and our little party.
And you can see the house across the street, towards Seattle, currently being remodeled before it’s new owner moves in.
It was a very relaxed gathering of Seattleites, all just enjoying a perfect summer evening and the beautiful grounds thanks to our generous host. And now, I know even more people.
As one neighbor and his wife prepared to walk home, he came over, introduced himself and then invited us to come back next month for an afternoon of opera on the lawn. Just bring a picnic, some chairs and enjoy. It should make for a splendid day of relaxing music. As long as that new neighbor doesn’t crank up the tunes.
The Wednesday Night Summer Picnics weren’t on my bucket list. But now I’m going to write it on the list just so I can cross it off.
Thank you, Kay, for everything you’ve done.