I love writing columns about all the weird, wacky and wonderful things people do for (and think of) Fremont. Yet, I feel wildly uncomfortable speaking on behalf of this amazingly diverse, sincerely independent and utterly unique community.
When assembling interviews and information for the ‘Timber To Troll’ history project at History House, videographer Gary Thomsen asked Fremocentrist.com for suggestions on five of Fremont’s top fives. He needed the information ‘tout suite’ (‘con prisa,’ for those who don’t speak French) and I didn’t have the time to interview a few hundred Fremonsters … so I gave my best guesses.
For your consideration, the following are my Fremont Top Fives:
Five Iconic Fremont ‘Things’
Thomsen actually asked two questions – the top five icons Fremont is known for and the five things people think of when they think of Fremont. I couldn’t see a difference between them so I’ve combined them here:
- ‘People Waiting For The Interurban’ (by Rich Beyer)
- Naked Cyclists
- ‘Fremont Troll’ (by Steve Badanes, Ross Whitehead, Will Martin and Donna Walter)
- Lenin Statue (by Emil Venkov)
- (tie) a favorite bar/restaurant (e.g. Costas Opa, Red Door, Paseo, Thai restaurants, The Ballroom, Brouwer’s Cafe…and Dusty Strings, even if it ain’t a bar)
- This township was originally named for Fremont, Nebraska (not General John C. Fremont. Fremont, Nebraska is named after the General.)
- Stand face-to-face with the Fremont Troll – now turn around (180 degrees.) The Fremont Arts Council first declared that architecturally magnificent view (designed by Captain Ralph Ober) ‘The Hall Of Giants.’
- Slippery Slope – the real name of the park to the west of the Fremont Library. The Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation can name it A.B. Ernst Park, have a dedication and erect a sign (which disappeared after being knocked over by a drunk driver) but the park remains ‘Slippery Slope’.
- Most neighborhood buildings were raised to meet the raised street when the Fremont Bridge was built (between 1917 & 1919) – except for the ‘Imperial Mattress’ building (current location of Custom Smoothies) which is why it looks like it sits in a hole
- (tie) In addition to Fremont Avenue, we have a Fremont Place, Fremont Way and Fremont Lane
(tie) Fremont has been individualistic and self-determining since its days as a township – and no ‘gentrification’ or ‘selling-out’ or ‘change’ can stop our inherent will to be weird…
Five things tie-dyed-in-the-womb Fremonsters wish non-Fremont people didn’t know:
- Our ‘secret’ parking space (the place each Fremonster knows they can located a parking space, when they absolutely have to park here tonight)…and if I told you these locations, they’d have to kill me
- Paseo – everyone wishes that everyone else in line would go somewhere else!
- The mid-1970s Seattle P-I photo that the paper ran with any story about Fremont (or any urban decay) that showed a drunk man slumped in a Fremont alley. After asking nicely, each time it appeared, that the editor send out a photographer to take other, more current, more relevant Fremont photo, a local property manager – Suzie Burke – went to visit the newspaper’s offices. She asked very sweetly (her words) if she could see the photo, and when they showed it to her, she tore it up and told them that now they could send someone out to take another photo. They did.
- No incontrovertible, scientific proof exists that Fremont is the center of the universe…but, it must be somewhere, so why not here?
Five phrases used to describe Fremont (besides ‘Center of the Universe’):
- ‘De Libertas Quirkas’ (‘The Freedom To Be Peculiar’) (source: Official Fremont motto)
- Fremont Is A State Of Mind (source: Fremont Chamber of Commerce/W. James Daly, who also said, “Orange you glad you came!”)
- The Fremont Vortex – it sucks you in (source: Suzie Burke)
- ‘Artist’s Republic Of Fremont – Don’t Tell Me What To Do’ (source: ARF – possibly Jon Hegeman)
- Funky, funny, friendly, frenetic, fantastical, philanthropic, fabulous, forever Fremont! (source: Fremocentrist.com Facebook Description)
Five Favorite Moments In Fremont History:
Thomsen didn’t ask this one – I did. Here are my favs… so far.
- When local farmer Erastus Witter told the City of Seattle that Fremont already had a library (of which he was self-selected librarian,) so we didn’t need the Seattle Public Library system (circa 1890s)
- Building of the ‘Artist’s Republic Of Fremont’ (ARF) and declaration of Fremont as an ‘Independent ImagiNation,’ which came through collaboration among members of the Fremont Chamber, the Arts Council and the Fremont Neighborhood Council (circa 1994)
- The election process, for Mayor of Fremont, in 1973
- Dedication of the ‘Late For The Interurban’ statue (by Kevin Pettelle) with honorees J.P. Patches (Chris Wedes) and Gertrude (Bob Newman) on August 17, 2008
- Fremont business leaders and community activists get very vocal with the Seattle School District when they propose building a ‘new, state-of-the-art’ B.F. Day…in Wallingford. (circa 1985/1987)
Please, pass along critiques, comments and your own suggestions/votes on any one, or all, of these – as well as any other ‘top five’ topics you think were missed. If I get enough response, expect to see future news items with revised lists.
Oh, and if you still need to give your stories for the ‘Timber to Troll’ Fremont history project, contact email@example.com
- History House Seeks Fremont History From ‘Timber To Troll’
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 3, 2012
- Long Live The Mayor Of Fremont
- by Kirby Lindsay, October 18, 2006 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- Open For Business ‘As Usual’
- by Kirby Lindsay, April 20, 2005 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- ‘Declared, Decreed, And Determined To Be An Independent ImagiNation’
- by Kirby Lindsay, July 4, 2011
- Two Clowns Dance Into Fremont’s Heart
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 22, 2008 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- What’s A Neighborhood Without A School?
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 3, 2000 in The Seattle Press
- Why I Love Fremont, This Week
- by Kirby Lindsay, October 10, 2011
- Why I Love Fremont, This Week
- by Kirby Lindsay, October 20, 2010
- Why I Love Fremont, This Week
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 11, 2009
©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.