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People often ask me how I learned to do what I do, and how Forest Gems came to be. Woodworking was the easy part.  As far as I remember, this is a true story ...... 21 photos ahead, so some of it must have happened.  Photo above- Me at my stall. Pre renovation Pike Place Market, about 1979. Also shown is standard mode of transportation of the time.

 

 

I quit my day job, gave up on school, and got a spot on the crafts line at the Pike Place Market in 1976 when I was 21. I was there a very long time.  I observed and spoke with thousands of  tourists (world perspective), street people (always my potential future), and other artisans (how to be, and not be successful) at Pike Place for 24 years. I know that if I had totally lost my perspective on how things really were, I wouldn`t even know it.  I learned that from Talks To His Hand Guy and a diverse group of other people including some of the people who managed the Pike Place Market, many years ago. Others would tell you different stories of the same  time and place.  This is my story as seen through my eyes.  It is no one else`s, but parts of it are everyone`s. 

 

 

The way I remember it, I was young  back then, and the Market was really showing its age. The center of activity in the North end was the State liquor store and an ample number of  bars. There was an old greasy gas station where Stienbrueck Park is now. A meat packing company unloaded sides of  beef and pork every morning at the far North end of Pike Place, where now you can buy fine wine. Old warehouses loitered aimless and forgotten to the West down to the waterfront and  North towards the Space Needle. Just a few years earlier I had worked alone after high school in one warehouse very near the Market, assembling new motorcycles from parts in crates. I  had done this for several motorcycle dealers since I was 13 years old. There were no directions, just the parts. It was kind of  like putting my life and this story together, at times I didn`t quite know how all the  parts would fit.  I  have always been amazed that people would buy those motorcycles and  head down the road at 100 mph without even thinking about who put on the front wheel and hooked up the brakes. Twas I. Good luck.

 

The rickety wooden staircase surrounded by blackberries that accessed the side door of the warehouse became the terraced and tiled Market Hillclimb. The third floor that I put motorcycle puzzles together on is now a Mexican  restaurant and a tee shirt shop. At the South end of Pike Place, First Avenue was a continuation of Skid Road, and frequented by many people as forgotten as the dark old warehouses. They regularly wandered into the Market to mix with the local shoppers and tourists, and to feel a part of all the activity. To the East, old people lived in hotels long past  their prime, like their aging tenants. One day the warehouses and hotels would be reborn into expensive condos. First Avenue would transform, the old hardware store and pawn and porn shops giving way to galleries and specialty shops. The whole area would become upscale and desirable, but not then. You would not have believed it could happen then.

 

Those were strange and wonderful days with drunken folk veering around as I carefully set my things out at 9 AM amidst the wives of elderly Italian and Fillipino farmers.  Starting in early spring each morning rusting pickup trucks would converge on the Market around 7 am and unload produce and the women. Most of the men returned to their fields to work the dark valley soil that would be covered with asphalt and warehouses in the coming years. They would return in the evening to pick up wives, the remaining produce, and  hopefully enough money to do it again the next day.