I’m a great history buff. I love the lessons learned from the actions of the past. I’m also fond of the human side and Chief Seattle is one of the first people that hooked a scrawny 6th grader from Shoreline to a life of museums, milestone markers and statues. He filled my veins when I was young and I’ve never been able to take the cure and go sober.
I did a report on him at Sunset Elementary school. I’m sure I beefed about having to do the research and whined about the reading, the notes and the organization. It’s a blur to me now but I remember that rush when the adrenaline and imagination kicked in and I was transported back more than a hundred years to Duwamps, a fledgling settlement on the Duwamish River mud flats. I learned that this native was not a chief at all but a man of respect amongst his peers; that his young life was turned upside down as the ships of Captain Vancouver entered his tribes fishing grounds. Later in life he spoke for peace and sharing as more Europeans entered his tribes hunting grounds bringing new laws of land ownership. I discovered that he personally knew people like Maynard, Denny, Boren and Bell and that he had an indelible affect on their lives.
The names flew off the pages as I recognized those streets. The big city down south were loaded with them and they came from people of history! I was thunderstruck! The connection I’d made with the past hit me like my first shot of Jager. I was drunk with the power of knowledge and my life was changed due to this new addiction. The small man with the misunderstood name started an obsession. At the intersection of Denny, Cedar and 5th I go to visit my old friend. When I greet his welcoming statue surrounded by a humble pond and a ring of base-lighted trees my soul says with true love and appreciation, “Thanks”.
I’ll have to send this dialog to my two daughters who had to endure at least one historical excursion on every family vacation. I remember that they beefed and whined but I sense that their kids are going to thank them for the passing of the habit.