Thursday, August 16, 2012

A visit to Oxbow Park

Today I went to the Museum of Flight.

But since you can read about this museum pretty much anywhere on the net, forget that.  I'm going to tell you instead about a city park in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.

It's a pleasant little place called Oxbow Park.

The Georgetown Community P-Patch can be found in this park, and a picturesque garden spot it is.

Don't believe me?  Fine, I've got proof.

That would certainly explain the crick in my neck.

No one was out actively gardening today, but there was plenty to see.


Ripening black tomatoes!

Mysterious lacy fronds!

And some shocking pink flowers, blowing in the gentle breeze.

Every now and again a low-flying plane would go by overhead, since this neighborhood is near Boeing Field.  Or maybe they were there to check out the other draw of this neighborhood park...

...the Georgetown Hat and Boots.

Here be the hat...

...and thar be the boots.

You may now be asking yourself, as well you may, "What on earth are these huge cowboy castoffs doing in a Seattle city park?"  Well, gather 'round the campfire, cowpokes, gonna tell y'all a story...

If you've read about the Teapot Dome Service Station here, you may have already divined that between the 1920s and the 1950s the United States went through a novelty building craze, creating various functional structures designed to look like enormous versions of everyday objects.  And you'd be right.  Many of these were constructed along the state highways in the hope that the unusual sight would entice visitors to stop and gawk and spend a little jingle while they were at it.  (My mom remembers with fondness the Giant Orange stands in California, where her family would stop on road trips and buy orange juice so cold it was almost slush.)

The hat and boots began life as the "Premium Tex" Texaco gas station in 1954.  It was part of a larger planned Western-themed shopping center called Frontier Village, which largely failed to materialize.  From what I've read, the hat originally formed the roof of the cashier area, and the boots were restrooms (the dark boot for men, the light blue boot for women).  Eventually the gas station closed, but the Hat and Boots -- even in dilapidated condition -- became a Seattle landmark.  When there was talk of tearing down and/or moving the structures, the Georgetown community stood up and said no.  They passed the hat (well, a smaller version of the hat) and worked with the city council on getting the structures refurbished and moved to Oxbow Park so they could be enjoyed by future generations.  And in 2003, that's just what happened.

I took a quick peek under the hat.  Happily there were no giant flakes of dandruff in evidence.

Each boot still has a door in the heel where the restroom used to be.  Word on the street is that these days it's used as storage for park maintenance equipment.

I kinda like to imagine the size of the cowboy who could fit into these boots.  (Or the cowgirl, for that matter.)  Still, after all the work the people of Georgetown did to save the hat and boots, I also hope nobody ever comes by to retrieve them.

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