Living Under Runway 2

Living Under Runway 2

A lot of homes in the immediate vicinity of SeaTac airport had been bought up by and were now available for rent from the Port of Seattle, one of the owners of the facility. The runway and its supporting structures were expanding and they had aquired many of the homes in the surrounding area to that end. So until they were torn done they were let out on short leases for habitation.
We moved into a one story brick house with a basement. It was a stop gap measure to be sure. Something to meet our immediate need while our parents continued their search for a more permanent home.
It was comfortable. Besides I had my cards, comics, books and models (Old Ironsides had made the trip cross country) to keep me busy and amused. The classes at my new (to me) high school turned out to be slightly behind their East Coast counterparts. But I was able to continue in most of my electable interests. There was only one class that was lacking, but more on that next time.
There wasn’t much to see out and about in the neighborhood. To the west of us, all of the dwelling places nearer the airport had been torn down. Other house properties nearby were for the most part deserted, all awaiting the bulldozer. I remember walking by some properties whose landscaping was running amok.
Dad was gone a lot. He frequently stayed at the theater site, looking after things, and making sure all ran smoothly. If the builders had any doubts about how something was supposed to go together and be used afterwards, he was the go-to guy.
The living room was set up with a TV – black and white. We had not yet graduated to color. But at times it was fun just to turn it off, draw back the curtains in front of the picture window and watch the airplanes go by, the big passenger liners. Though sitting down on the couch our view was limited to the tall tails passing in review, like so many shark fins.
I remember one time when we were planespotting, my attention was drawn to some lights – four of them – moving in an aerial ballet over our end of the runway. That they weren’t normal air traffic was obvious. They hovered around the same area for the longest time before suddenly streaking straight up and out of sight. We couldn’t identify it, so by that mere fact it was an UFO.
Or maybe it was just Boeing experimenting with a new platform.


Munitions in the Woods

Munitions in the Woods

When we rolled into Seattle that summer of 1968, my dad had a place to work, but no place for us to live. There was a bit of a housing crisis in the area at the time. Led by Boeing, the economy was booming and homes were in demand.
As it was we headed south to Tacoma, then a little further south than that to Spanaway (where my life’s journey had all begun), where we stayed with my mom’s sister and her family (they were the ones we had visited in Dover, DE).
Our cousins were all glad to see us, and took us over to Lake Spanaway to go swimming. Which was okay with me, despite my not knowing how to swim. I tagged along and just watched.
The lake was a bit distant from their home. We had walked there via a series of paths through a heavily wooded area. The trees were close and so thick they shut out a good deal of the sunlight. So come time to leave and retrace our steps back to the house, it was even more murky in those woods.
I kept a close watch on our surroundings as we hiked back. On account of this wariness, I made the following discovery.
Off the path under some pine trees I noticed what looked to a be a stash of something. Being curious, (and not knowing what treasure might be there), I left the path and went over to the mysterious pile. What I saw looked like it had been there a while. They were metal and rust showed on each of the many objects. I picked one up to get a better look. The shape was familiar. They looked like those German stick grenades, called “potato mashers.” The kind I had seen in WW2 war movies, or more particularly in the TV series “Combat.” (They were probably rifle grenades). More of them were scattered across the forest floor. Then I inspected what looked to be a stack of firewood. They were bullet-shaped, but much larger. They had to be artillery shells of some kind.
My brother wanted to toss one of the “grenades” and see what would happen. I dissuaded him. We gently set down what we had picked up and resumed our hike. As we continued on our way we saw more similar stacks here and there under the trees off of the path.
We reported our find to our uncle upon our return. And he called in some authorities to look into the situation. We later learned that there had been enough high explosives to convert those woods into a good size crater, and blow us half way to Seattle.
Which, oddly enough, was where we finally found a house, down by SeaTac airport.