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Trading 98020 for 98177 | Home Again


Last updated 9/3/2020 at 8:20am

It’s been 15 years or so since I returned to my childhood home of Edmonds, pleased to find hints of the same small-town flavor my parents, my brother, my maternal grandparents and I discovered as we settled together into the old white house on the southwest corner of Fourth and Dayton.

I was in second grade. Friendly neighbors. Grocery stores and old-fashioned “dime stores” where a kid could ask for 10 cents worth of fat gumdrops, presented in a white paper bag from the glass-fronted bulk candy counter.

There were three taverns in Edmonds then. My Methodist grandmother taught me to hold my breath when I walked past them. It’s fortunate that she didn’t live to see signs outside Edmonds restaurants advertising $12.50 cocktails.

Small towns evolve.

The Edmonds of my childhood offered pretty much everything we kids could ask for. A short walk to school. A public library where the librarian called us by name and suggested books we’d like. (“Joanne, do you think you might like to read about something besides horses or dogs? If so, I have some suggestions you might like to try.”)

I feel sad that my grandchildren cannot be as innocent and trusting as my brother and I were. Life’s more complicated now.

As a child, it seemed natural and wonderful that my grandparents lived in our house, in the apartment my dad built for them. And it was natural and wonderful to hop into Grandpa’s green Ford on a Saturday morning and ride with him to my grandparents’ cabin, a work in progress for what seemed to me like years.

When I came home again to Edmonds 15 years ago, I liked knowing that the Edmonds Tribune Review of my youth, morphing through name changes, and now the Edmonds Beacon, still served the community. The Princess Theatre of my childhood still showed movies in the same location, though renamed The Edmonds Theater.

And the Edmonds Bakery hadn’t moved – or changed its name.

So, yes, 15 years ago when I came home again to Edmonds, I found many reminders of my growing-up years in the small town it was at that time. It’s still a great town. With the passage of time, though, I’ve realized, uneasily, that “progress” doesn’t always allow everyone who loves living in Edmonds to continue living in the beautiful waterfront community they never planned to leave.

When my landlord needed to reclaim his condominium, I assumed my next apartment would be in Edmonds.

I’ve written about my daunting and disillusioning search. As the months rolled by, I began to fear that ZIP code 98020 wasn’t in my future. 98026 didn’t bring many possibilities, either.

I have a different zip code now. It’s 98177. I live in Richmond Beach, in exactly the apartment I needed, but with a Shoreline address.

I’m three miles from Edmonds, happy to discover that every time I drive down Fifth Avenue into the town of my childhood, I’m (still, always) home again.


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