It’s not every day when I can look back on the Seattle I knew as a 13-year old boy.
I just happened across this video today, which is actually a 17-minute short depicting Seattle and its parks network in 1977. There are no spoken words, only an upbeat musical soundtrack. The cinematography is simple and pleasant, void of tricks or trendy angles that frequented many of the films from the period.
The storyline is also simple and pleasant.
After the sun rises over the landscape of Seattle, a quiet old man sits down on a park bench at the beginning of the movie. He shuffles his way through all the parks in the city. Street scenes, locations, and buildings familiar to Seattleites appear often – including the legendary Space Needle. Greenlake, in the north end of the city, is shown as a bustling recreational area with sunbathers, bicyclists, and runners (it’s still that way today). Freeway Park – which now stretches above and across the ribbon of Interstate 5 that runs through downtown Seattle – is shown in Phase One on the east side of the freeway only. Included are segments filmed along Alki Beach and Lincoln Park in West Seattle. There also appears to be some footage taken at Colman Playground, situated just south of Interstate 90 near its western terminus. The final pan-out takes viewers over Seattle’s skyline at sundown during the end of the film.
It’s a cute movie that is accompanied by a flute, a clarinet, and pianist Norman Durkee.
After doing some research on Durkee, I discovered that he was also responsible for the piano accompaniment on Bachmann-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business;” The band was recording their album in a Seattle studio when Durkee walked through one night (story HERE); without knowing the band (and without them knowing he was a musician), Durkee recommended that they lay down a honky-tonk piano track for TCB. They asked him to do the part, which he wrote out quickly on a pizza box and recorded in one take.
The most noteworthy things to me in the video are the skyline shots. The city looks exactly as I remember it from my youth – a bold mix of trees, concrete, and really huge cars. If I close my eyes, I can smell a 1977 Seattle summer – Warm air, dust, hot asphalt, and the exhaust from a 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo in traffic. While these elements may not seem alluring, combined they contribute to how I remember Seattle as a younger man and bring back a time for me which was simpler. This movie does great job of sharing my Seattle of the past.
Here’s an excerpt of the longer video shown above: