That’s what Bryan Adams said about The Summer of ’69. 1969 was a great summer for me too but on reflection I think maybe The Summer of ’67 might have been a better one. It was for me anyway.
I’m a Boeing Brat. I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas and my Dad worked for Boeing. In 1967 Boeing was ramping things up in the Seattle area to build the 747 and in anticipation of getting the government contract to build the American version of the Concorde, the SST. Dad accepted an offer to spend 90 days working at Boeing’s plant in Renton, Washington and took off. When school let out for the year my Mom packed me onto an airplane to spend the summer with Dad in Washington. I wasn’t crazy about it at first but that was about to change.
The plan was that I would get a summer job and earn a little money while I was there but that soon went astray. I tried to find a job but by the time I got to Washington all the kids there were out of school and there wasn’t a job to be found for a 16 year old from out of state. Okay, truth be told, I really didn’t try THAT hard and after a couple weeks of job searching I gave it up. (Dad, wherever you are, I’m sorry. I know I could have worked harder at finding work.) Dad had acquired for me a Honda CB90 and when it became apparent I couldn’t find work the fun began.
We were living in our camper at Saltwater State Park near Des Moines, Washington and Dad had negotiated a deal with the Park Ranger so we could stay there past the 10 day limit. Every morning Dad would drive the truck and camper to work, I would sleep till the sun was warm, unload my Honda from the front of the truck and take off. It was a glorious summer! I spent my days riding the Honda all around the South Sound area from Des Moines to Tacoma and Gig Harbor. I made friends with a couple other kids with scooters and we formed our own “gang.”
Days that I didn’t head out on the scooter I would ride back to SSP and hang out on the very beach shown with this blog. I had a group of friends and we pretty much populated the beach most of the summer. Days spent digging clams at low tide or lounging on the sand (I seem to remember it was warmer and sunnier that summer than one would expect in the Seattle area) and nights around a bonfire cooking our clams and whatever fish or hot dogs we could acquire. Heck, I even had a summertime fling with the Ranger’s oldest daughter…at least as much of a fling as a couple of 16 year old kids could have.
Sometimes we would head over to a skating rink on the highway between Kent and Auburn called Tiffany’s. On weekends they would bring in bands to play and though the $5 cover charge was pretty steep for an unemployed kid those days, but again, in retrospect, it was worth every penny. That summer I saw Buffalo Springfield for $5. I also saw David Gates and Bread….for $5.
At Saltwater State Park there were hiking trails going all over the bluff seen in the image. One night a buddy of mine and I sat on top of the bluff in the dark drinking a half bottle of Wild Turkey he pilfered from his parents’ liquor stash. I’m not sure how we made it down the hill without killing ourselves but I’m here today so we must have made it.
But like all good things, summer came to an end and we pointed the truck…North? Yep. Seattle to Vancouver, BC then east across Canada through Jasper and Banff parks then south through Glacier National Park and Yellowstone on the way home. A glorious end to a glorious summer.
Okay, I didn’t get my first real 6 string, (I already had that at home) and my fingers didn’t bleed when I played it. And it wasn’t the Summer of ’69. I’ve had a lot of great days in my life and I’m not sure I’d say the Summer of ’67 was the best days of my life…but damn, it sure was a grand one.