By Ken Stern 

Musings – on the editor's mind


In Seattle in June I had an opportunity rarely considered, much less repeatedly realized: I went up in more elevators, stepped onto more escalators and craned my head up at more buildings in two days than I have in two years – indeed – ever, in La Conner. Wow. As Dorothy might have exclaimed, it certainly isn’t Kansas.

I was staying on the 34th floor of the downtown Sheraton. Up and down I went. I took my friend Dick to the Smith Tower, for decades the tallest building in the country west of New York City and we went to the 35th floor observatory and bar.

I was on and off escalators at the convention center. I remember escalators. That is what big cities are for, I guess.

Coincidentally, while there, I finished Jamie Ford's 2008 novel, “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.”

Ford’s historically based story is set in Seattle, toggling back and forth from the end of 1941 and the years of World War II, when protagonist Henry Lee is 12, and Lee’s present day 1986. Lee’s parents are from China. His school friend’s Keiko is the daughter of Japanese immigrants.

Ford delves squarely into the internment of Japanese-Americans after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, following President Roosevelt Executive Order in February 1942. By June 117,000 American citizens would be forced into prison camps scattered throughout the country.

This musing is not about that history, as much as light shed on it and discussing it is needed. I was in Seattle in 2023 and was taken by all the colors and races of people on the streets with me. The city is a United Nations of blacks, browns, reds, whites and yellows. I have never got on an elevator or crossed a street in my life, in Seattle or La Conner, without noticing the color of the people I encounter.


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