Workers recently demolished an old landmark in the Eastgate area of Bellevue, triggering awkward childhood memories.
Perhaps you know a parent or grandparent who endured the Great Depression and proudly embraced the label “Depression-era kid?”
My mom was one, God bless her. The oldest of six kids born to emigrants from Copenhagen, mom could stretch a nickel thinner than paper. In early 1962, mom opportunistically hatched a plan to supplement the modest income she earned as a Frederick & Nelson sportswear salesperson.
The Seattle World’s Fair was set to open that April, and mom read about an impending lodging shortage for fair visitors. We lived in the Lake Hills community east of Bellevue, a little over a mile up the road from a few Eastgate motels that sat alongside U.S. Highway 10, the pre-Interstate 90 Sunset Highway.
One of those was Kane’s Motel, built in 1951 and known for its iconic candy-cane neon sign.
Mom struck a deal to rent our spare bedroom via Kane’s as an overfill option. If travelers sought a room while Kane’s had no vacancies, Kane’s would refer them to mom, who rented our extra bedroom for $10 per night.
This worked great for mom, who pocketed extra money that summer of 1962.
And it was just plain awkward for me and my siblings, who had to put up with strangers in our home. I especially remember one overweight man who smoked cigars and had a small dog. He smoked in the bedroom, which stunk up the whole house.
Kane’s Motel closed years ago and became a mini small-office park. For a while it housed a copy center, and later United Law Office. But the old candy-cane sign remained. Recently the property was razed for a new car dealership, and the iconic sign is no more.
I’m sure there are other baby boomers out there with “Depression child” stories about their own families. Please share!