Thunderball, Mr French

Thunderball, Mr French

We had a color TV in our little two room apartment. It sat on its own little cart with casters and we could wheel it from the sitting room through the double sliding door opening into our bedroom – a room that was normally empty save for a dresser and a couple of chairs, which chairs would be moved aside to make way for the murphy bed that folded down from the back wall.

One Sunday, after working the matinee (I was now assistant manager at Mann’s Fifth Avenue, and no longer at the UA Cinemas), my wife and I were looking forward to our evening meal and catching the broadcast of Sean Connery as James Bond in Thunderball. The meal out of the way, we settled in to watch the show from bed.

We did not get to see the whole show.  Sometime in the first half hour I was jolted by a stabbing pain in my backside. I vaulted upright and something was stuck in me, something from within the mattress. The something was a bedspring that had broken loose from its weld, its sharp edge having sliced into me and caught there like a fish hook.

[Aside – in Thunderball, Sean “James Bond” Connery upon despatching one of the evil minions with a speargun quips, “I think he got the point.”]

Though the actual wound was small, little more than an half inch long it was about a similar amount deep, so a trip to the emergency room was in order. Though when we got to Virginia Mason, no stitches were deemed necessary. A single butterfly bandage was applied.

The Sheridan apartments paid for it all of course (or their insurance did). And the manager was very solicitous. So much so that he made it a point to introduce us to his “star” tenants – Mr Sebastian Cabot and his wife.

I recognized the rotund actor as the British butler Mr French from the TV sitcom Family Affair. He was caught off guard and self conscious. Though his voice was very recognizable, his speech was halting and a bit slurred. Both my wife and I could sense he was a little embarrassed, so we did not not invite ourselves to dinner or any other such imposition. We rather excused ourselves at the earliest convenience, and thanking them for the acquaintance. And I didn’t tell him that another bloke from the UK had a hand in our meeting.

[Aside – I did some research on Mr Cabot and discovered that he suffered a stroke in July of 1974. This left his right side paralysed and impaired his speech. Before this he had just completed voice work for Disney – on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. He and his family had some property outside of Vancouver BC, which he briefly alluded to in our conversation, and kept this apartment as a residence stateside].

Apartment on the Monorail

Apartment on the Monorail

Some people can look back with nostalgia about living in New York on the elevated train, or in Chicago on the El. We look back with fondness on our first “home,” the Sheridan Apartments on Fifth Avenue in Seattle on the monorail. It was a tiny studio on the second floor in the back – two rooms, a kitchen and a bath. Green was the theme – green walls – green chair cushions and the shaggiest green shag rug ever that overspread the two rooms: a living/sitting room in front, which opened onto the bedroom complete with murphy bed. If there had been a window in the wall from which the murphy bed dropped, we could have seen my old workplace, the Cinerama Theater. The UA Cinemas 150 and 70, my new workplace was also close by, a short two and a half block walk. Consequently our Roadrunner sat most days down in the parking lot, viewable from our kitchen window.

And talking about the kitchen. A postage stamp would have been bigger. We used to joke that you had to step out of the kitchen to open the fridge. You definitely could not open the doors on the fridge and the oven at the same time. Despite these little drawbacks it was a nice place to entertain friends. We had family over – from both sides – and friends – from our schools, Dave our best man, and co-workers from the UA.

Our space was not limited to the second floor. One could wander down to the basement for the laundry, or up onto the roof where an urban garden offered a place above it all. Karen used to sun herself up there in the summer. The Space Needle peered down on it from the north, with Queen Anne Hill frowning from behind.

Across the parking lot, on the corner of Lenore Street and Fifth Avenue sat the Trojan Horse Restaurant / nightclub. For the years I stood at the door at the Cinerama tearing tickets I saw a parade of famous names from the music world cross its marquee – Glenn Yarbrough, The Modernaires, Frank Sinatra jr., The Shirelles, The Platters, O.C. Smith, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Della Reese, and the Kingston Trio. The parade continued now that we were “neighbors,” – the Checkmates (in a reunion engagement), Ray Charles, Lloyd Lindroth (the Liberace of the harp), Lou Rawls, Bonnie Guitar, Harry James & Orchestra, and B. B. King. We never caught any of their acts. Number one, we had no money in our entertainment budget, and number two, I was always working during the times of their shows. However, there were some late, late nights, when I caught a few stray notes that escaped via the back door when some employee was out for a smoke.

The memories began early in this studio apartment (the most memorable I will cover in a future post that I’ve entitled “Thunderball, Mr. French”). On our very first morning there, we were awakened – no startled – actually shaken out of our murphy bed by an unholy crash and clatter from the alley just the other side of the bedroom wall. We thought the walls were caving in. It was only the Monday morning garbage truck making its way down the alley, welcoming us with the only concert we could afford – the Urban Gotterdammerung.