Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty Seven – Returning to Michigan State University)

In the fall of 1979 I was living in Winslow on Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from downtown Seattle.  I was working at an art supply store and sort of between phases in my life.  I had recently returned from my bicycle trip to the U.K. and France, and from the Puerto Rico adventure as well.   When I left San Juan I flew to Miami, FL, where I picked up the Mercedes coupe for Jim in Fort Lauderdale, and drove it to Seattle by way of San Antonio, TX.  Once I was back in Seattle, I moved to Winslow and commuted to work via car ferry from Bainbridge Island into downtown Seattle – which was a great adventure in and of itself.  The ferry terminal was shrouded in fog every morning that fall, and I always stood at the front end of the ferry; where I could watch downtown Seattle appear ever larger on the horizon, as we approached the downtown ferry terminal.  From there it was only a short walk to work at the art supply store.

One Saturday morning, I was very comfortable while watching a Michigan State football game on TV in the condo that I was sharing with a woman in Winslow.  I was under the green and white afghan throw that my mother had knitted for me, and was watching the Spartans play football in Spartan Stadium – and I knew at that moment that it was time to return to school and finish up my degree.  I called Tom, a friend who had been with me on the 6th floor of West Wilson Hall my final year at MSU, and was now in grad school on his way towards becoming a chemist (one of those guys that always knew what he wanted to do and how to study in order to make it all happen); to find out when Winter Term officially started and if he knew of any places to live back in East Lansing.  He lived in a house off campus, and a room was opening up for Winter Term which started in January, 1980 – so I asked him to hold it and I’d be there as soon as I could get back to Michigan.  I packed up a few things and mailed about seven boxes to myself at Tom’s house, and Jim brought me down to the Greyhound bus station for my return to Michigan State University.

I sold my little MGB GT so I had some cash, and I took out student loans to pay for school; and my parents also helped finance my last year at MSU.  My degree program was Business Administration with an initial emphasis in Advertising, before switching over to Marketing.  With my business experience from working in Seattle, and a new understanding of how to properly study off campus; I had an almost perfect 4.0 average in business school in all of my courses.  As graduation approached in the spring of 1981, I decided that I didn’t want to work in an office “cubicle” somewhere; so I decided to fulfill a longstanding dream of flying jets and further adventure, and signed up for the delayed enlistment program to be a navigator in the U.S. Air Force – and the rest is history as they say.

These pictures are of my second cross country trip by Greyhound bus; from Seattle, WA, to E. Lansing, MI, in early December, 1979.  On this trip I shared the bus ride with a girl named Cathy, who was really sweet; and this bus ride turned into a mini-adventure of its own.  She was traveling to New York City, and when I changed buses along the way for E. Lansing, I really wanted to ask her to stay and join me there; but of course it wasn’t possible for every logical reason under the sun.  But my heart felt that I was missing out on another “impromptu” life opportunity in saying good-bye to Cathy, but it couldn’t have worked out – I had no income and couldn’t even support myself without assistance – so how could I ask her to stay with me?  Sometimes the brain just has to say “no” to the heart…but the decision is never an easy one to make either way.  I was able to see Cathy again when I returned to Seattle to take the boat trip with Jim the next year – but the situation was no different at that time either; however, it was very good to get a chance to see her again.  As with every woman that I have ever known, I still think of her today…wondering how and where she is.  How can a person not have such thoughts towards someone who had been very dear to them, if even for a short while?

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Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty Six – San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty Five – Old San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty Four – Old San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty Three – Levittown, Puerto Rico)

When I returned to Seattle from London Heathrow, Jim was working as a salesman for a Mercedes-Benz dealership and asked me to find some new Mercedes-Benz diesels for him to sell, as they were in high demand back in 1979.  They sold like hot cakes and the dealership couldn’t keep enough on the lot.  So I grabbed a phone book and borrowed an office in the dealership and started working the phones and calling other dealers.  In an hour or two I had found two new Mercedes-Benz diesel sedans in New York City, NY, and San Antonio, TX, that were available; as well as a red Mercedes sports coupe in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Jim and the dealership arranged to purchase them and I set out to drive them back to Seattle.  The trip was a “bare bones” adventure for me, and I only had my basic transportation expenses reimbursed, but regardless – I was game for a new adventure.

I went down to the Greyhound bus station and began a three day bus odyssey, from Seattle, WA, to New York City, NY.  I had never taken a coast-to-coast bus ride before and thought of it as a new adventure and life experience; reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s two songs, “Homeward Bound” and “America.”  What a natural and authentic way to see America I thought at the time.  So off I went on a new cross-country adventure, just like stepping into a movie scene.  On the way to New York City, I rode the bus with a guy named Benny who was also traveling from Seattle to New York City.  He was originally from New York City and was going to see his sister Diana in the Bronx; and later on they were flying to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to visit their mother, Mrs. Martinez.  Benny had signed up for the Air Force’s delayed enlistment program, and was visiting relatives before leaving for boot camp to begin his enlistment.  Benny and I talked about SCUBA diving and he invited me to visit them in Puerto Rico – which was just after the time I expected to be back in Seattle with the first Mercedes.  Of course I said yes; as here was another great opportunity for me to see the world.

Once we arrived in New York City, Benny “knew the ropes” having grown up there, so he gladly showed me around the city.  We rode the subway and walked through Little Puerto Rico before going down to Times Square to wander all around and see the sights.  It was my first and only time in New York City, and without Benny as my “travel guide” I wouldn’t have had an idea of where to go or what to see on a shoestring budget.  When we finished the tour I told Benny that I’d see him in San Juan on the arranged date, and then I went over to the Mercedes-Benz dealership where I picked up the new Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan.  I drove the car straight through to Grand Blanc, MI, to see my parents and stopped there overnight.  It was my first time home in two years, ever since I left on my original bike trip around the United States, and I enjoyed my short visit home.  Of course, I had to debate my father on the merits of foreign cars over the GM products where he worked; and had to point out the finer aspects of gently closing the door of a Mercedes-Benz, instead of slamming the door closed.  The discussion remained civil without our coming to any agreements on the subject of foreign cars, and everyone seemed to survive my first overnight visit back home in two years.  The next day I left for Seattle, and decided to take a northern route that was different from the one the Greyhound bus had taken; so that I could see “new and undiscovered” territory on my way back to Seattle. 

After returning to Seattle, I flew out on an L-1011 with Eastern Air Lines from Seattle, WA, to Atlanta, GA; and then on to San Juan to vacation with Benny, Diana, their mother Mrs. Martinez and their relatives.  Mrs. Martinez lived just a block or two from the ocean in Levittown, just west of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  I kept a journal of my trip, so later in my autobiography I’ll post the day-to-day events as they took place.  I have a few color photos of Levittown for this post and then an entire series of black and white photographs from Old San Juan to show you next.  So here are my pictures from Puerto Rico, where I had a great time and the opportunity to learn more about the world.  Enjoy!  🙂

Cheers,

Mark

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty Two – Seattle and Wild Annual Sunflowers)

I’ve been looking for some photographs from my Seattle years that are unfortunately nowhere to be found.  I know there are more photos from the time I lived in various locations around the Seattle area – including when I lived in the town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island.  I also can’t find the photos from the boat trip that Jim and I took in his chartered 42 foot “Gallius” Grand Banks design yacht to Vancouver Island and up the coast of British Columbia; after I left Seattle and returned to Michigan State University.  At least I kept a detailed log book on the trip.

That’s the problem with holding onto things through the years…sometimes they get lost or misplaced.  I seem to have all of my photo albums, but I also know I once had these early pictures that can’t be located at the moment.  That’s a good reason in itself for undertaking this entire project of telling my story online – everything is saved online and backed up electronically in case things get lost, damaged – or worse.  Years from now, when I’m only a distant memory for my son, everything will still be available online for anyone to look at.  Perhaps the photos will turn up some day, and if so I will add them at that time.  In the meantime, I’ll continue on with the story.

I owe a lot to Jim for giving me opportunities while living in Seattle that I had never had before.  As his hot air balloon co-pilot and employee at Electricraft Stereo, he pretty much took me under his wing and gave me some tremendous opportunities.  From my first credit card as an Electricraft employee, to frequenting an excellent Italian Restaurant called Venetti’s and brunching at the “13 Coins Restaurant” downtown Seattle; I experienced a life that I had only previously seen in magazines.  Jim had a high end contemporary home on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, with a swimming pool and hot tub.  It was there that I further developed my interest in architecture, as I read all of Jim’s back issues of Architectural Digest and enjoyed living in his beautiful home.  I also took up a pastime of creating fantasy art “dot art” pen drawings as well as painting graphic art designs on canvas – which later proved to be the beginning of my Air Force “squadron art” paintings that you will soon see examples of.

We were part of a small group that informally called ourselves the “Party Pros,” who really enjoyed living life to the fullest – like the traditional Champagne toast after a hot air balloon flight.  Jim drove a new Mercedes sedan, and also owned an older right hand drive Rolls Royce and an Aston Martin.  Electricraft chartered a twin engine plane to fly to Boise once, to discuss the Sound World stereo store purchase; and I got to sit in the right seat in the cockpit for the entire flight there and back.  The charter pilot explained everything to me along the way, and allowed me to fly for a few minutes from the right seat under his supervision; which further developed the aviation skills that I needed later on flying fighters in the Air Force.

So with that background explanation, I’ll continue on with a few photos.  After the bike trip to England I returned to Seattle and these photos are a collection of some passport photos, a few pictures around Jim’s house, and a “photo safari” walking tour through Seattle that I took one day.  It was during this time that I was asked by Jim to drive new Mercedes-Benz diesels from New York City and Fort Lauderdale back to Seattle to sell at the dealership, as diesels were in high demand that year and were few and far to be found at the time.  Along the way back from Fort Lauderdale while driving a red Mercedes-Benz sports coupe, I stopped just east of Denver to take these pictures of a crop dusting bi-plane and some wild annual sunflowers that were growing alongside the road.  So here are these pictures – enjoy!  🙂

Cheers,

Mark

 

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty One – Bike Trip to England, Scotland, Wales and France)

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Twenty – Bike Trip to England, Scotland, Wales and France)

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Nineteen – Bike Trip to England, Scotland, Wales and France)

This posting begins the series of photos from the bicycle trip that I took by myself thirty years ago in England, Scotland, Wales and France.  I left Seattle, WA, on a Pan Am 747 out of Sea-Tac Airport on May 29, 1979; and arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport on May 30, 1979.  My bike was in a large cardboard box along with my bike bags and gear; and I reassembled the bike and attached the bags over in a corner of the airport near Heathrow’s baggage claim area.  That first day I stopped at a home while still in the greater London area called “Little Place” in Farnham Common, and asked permission to camp in a little wood beside their property.  I was met by the most gracious family – Bet, Ian, George, David and Jayne; who not only took me into their home but showed me London as well.  From that first day of my bike trip onward, family after family in the U.K. took me in and treated me in a most gracious and hospitable way.

I regret not having kept in contact with every family that I met during my many travels and adventures, as I was never organized enough to keep in contact with so many people.  Perhaps someday the families that helped me along the way will know how much I appreciated their hospitality – and for that I say ‘Thank You’ from the bottom of my heart.

As usual, I traveled on a shoestring budget while on this bike trip, and didn’t have much of a budget for niceties like film and developing – but I did bring my camera.  I had an “open-ended” return ticket with Pan Am, because I had no idea how long my money would last.  I planned to travel around the British Isles and then head to the Continent.  As it turned out, that spring of 1979 was one of the wettest on record in England, and it wasn’t long before I decided to go to France to look for drier weather.  In France, I found out that I couldn’t communicate with anyone as I don’t speak French, so I returned to England and completed the bike tour up through Scotland and Wales prior to flying back to Seattle on July 14, 1979 from London Heathrow.

As this was my first overseas trip out of the country, I put all of my film through the x-ray machines at both Heathrow and Sea-Tac; and in the process, I lost much of the exposed film prior to developing it – as most of it turned out “blank.”  So what I’m posting here are all 57 photos that survived, which being better than nothing, still provides you with a “flavor” of my adventure.  Enjoy!  🙂

Cheers,

Mark     

Photos – The Seattle Years – 1977-1979 (Set Eighteen – Eastern WA, ID and MT)