Memories of the Covington area and changes that have occurred as recalled by a native of the area for over forty years.
Years ago, right near Lake Sawyer, I was taking care of yard plants for a friend while they were on vacation. Their yard was sprinkled with color as plants and flowers of all kinds bedecked the yard. The back of the house was more sparse, but it still had a smattering of color here and there, much like the last few drops of paint shaken from a freshly cleaned paint brush. At the back of the property there was a trail that led through the tall fir trees and into the woods. I was intrigued. Where did it go?
Following the trail, I found myself wandering through a quiet forest in the middle of an ever-growing suburb that was hidden from view by the distant houses and roads all around. I wandered for a short time, and soon came upon a small stream. Gurgling and bubbling in the quiet of the forest, birds happily chirping and the rustle of vegetation surrounding me, I found myself standing in front of a moss covered log next to the still and listless waters on the edge of the stream. The log was a perfect place to sit and meditate, contemplate and reminisce about life and what it had to offer. It was a place that I did not want to leave as it was so quiet, peaceful and serene.
Later, I brought my young bride to this oasis in the city and shared with her the beauty of creation and enjoyed the ability of nature to extract life’s anxieties from my mind and soul. We could sit there for hours had we the time enjoying God’s handiwork. It’s a quiet little place I’ll never forget. Sadly, it only exists in my mind now as progress and growth have taken away this wonderful hiding spot in the woods. But I’ll never forget the feeling of calm that settled down on me like a drifting leaf on an autumn day.
Another great memory of Covington and the surrounding areas of days gone by.
I attended grade school at Covington Elementary from first to fourth grade. Around the fourth grade, I remember an exciting event that took place. Behind the gym on the edge of the forest a new trail had been cut through the forest. It was a new nature trail!
Classes, always with the teacher of course, could now enjoy the beauty and mystery of the forest behind the school. It would be used for classroom fodder and discussion, especially when covering units of a scientific nature. However, due to crime and the danger of being alone or lost in the woods, no students were allowed to enter the trail without an adult or a classroom group. (I can’t think of what would have constituted crime in 1971 in Covington, but the rules about the trail were clear.)
I don’t remember a lot about the trail. I don’t believe it was very long, but it did meander through the woods and popped back out a little farther back on the school property. All-in-all it was a fun adventure and a way to get out of the building during a school day.
But as you know, those days are going. Soon the school will be a thing of the past. Even now, the trail that once was is gone having given way to the construction and progress of new apartments, businesses and parking lots next door to the school. The once mysterious and forbidden trail is now only a mist in my mind. It was fun while it lasted, but today, progress has erased many of the things of joy that once were in Covington. I’m sure there are other natives of Covington that remember these things of bygone days and they too probably reminisce about what these memories of the past.
If you’ve lived in Covington or the surrounding areas for any length of time, you probably know a lot of the back roads and shortcuts that newcomers aren’t aware of. Even then, however, there are times when you might take a road you’ve rarely, if ever, traveled, and when you emerge on the other end you think, “Wow! I didn’t know this is where this came out.” Now imagine someone new to the area. They’re not familiar with hardly anything around here, so every road is an adventure. And not having lived here long, they don’t have the advantage of seeing roads change over the years.
Here’s an idea. Have you ever done a Google view of the area? Type in your address on Google and do a street view. It will give you an overhead, bird’s eye view of everything. Now you can move your mouse around and follow roads, look at landmarks, view lakes, homes and more. It’s really quite fascinating, to say the least and often you come to realize just how close one landmark is to another; sometimes separated only by trees, a hill, a valley or stream.
When you start viewing Covington from the air, you begin to realize just how populated it really is and how much it has grown in just a few short decades. Check it out. See where you live and pan around for a fascinating snapshot of your home.
Well, the snow has arrived. Maybe not much, but it is here.
I remember as a kid loving the snow. One year, when I was around eight years old or so, I remember the snow in Covington being two to three feet deep. It was one of those rare occurrences when the snow came down heavy, and as kids we loved it. Of course, I wasn’t an adult so I didn’t have to drive in it or go to work. For me it was just a day(s) off from school and lots of outside playtime!
There have been other times in Covington when the snow was more than just a skiff or a few inches, but those times are few and far between. I enjoy the snow, but as I learned when I got older, the snow isn’t so fun when you have to drive to work in it or just plain drive in it. Because there are so many hills and valleys here, you just can’t take off and go wherever you want. Unlike states such as Montana that are fairly flat, the hills and valleys wreak havoc on driving in inclement weather. But, it’s not very often and it usually lasts only a few days or less.
So, since it’s the weekend, I say let the white stuff fall. Have fun and get back on track come Monday morning. Of course, if it snows more Monday, it might mean a day off of work!
Our house in Covington used to sit right about where City Hall sits now. The parking lot between city hall and Highway 18 was our back yard. We raised chickens and rabbits and had dogs and cats. We had a garden, a chicken coop and rabbit hutches. We had a cool tree house and a root cellar. It was like a small farm.
My dad raised the chickens and rabbits for eggs and food. So, occasionally we would butcher them. I never liked helping out with this task, and seeing dead rabbits hanging from the clothes line, their throats slit as they were bled before being skinned and gutted always left me with a queasy feeling. And then when we ate dinner consisting of potatoes, vegetables, milk and meat (rabbit), it was always hard to swallow. Eating rabbit didn’t last long.
Eating chickens lasted longer. Maybe it’s because they aren’t fuzzy and cute. Or maybe we’re so used to eating chicken that it didn’t bother us as much. Still, the process of moving them from happy-go-lucky poultry wandering around in the chicken coop or yard, pecking bugs and crumbles or scratch (chicken food purchased at the feed store in Kent), to the dinner table was always a full-day adventure.
I distinctly remember one time we were butchering chickens. I never liked watching pa chop off their heads so this time I hid behind a small tree near our swing set. I heard the chicken squawking and feathers rustling as my dad pinned his head down between two nails spaced evenly apart atop an upended log. Then I heard the crack of the ax as it severed the chickens head from its body. I cringed, but stayed hidden, glad the execution was over. Within seconds though, I heard rustling noises to my left and to my horror saw the headless chicken body come running around the tree I had hidden behind! I screamed and took off running with the headless poultrygeist right behind me! It seemed possessed as it followed me across the yard only to finally drop dead at some point while I ran. My heart was beating out of my chest and I was completely freaked out.
A few minutes later after regaining my breath and nerves, I walked back over to look at the chicken head on the ground. To my surprise and chagrin, the eyes were blinking up at me. Horrified I turned away. That’s an image a child doesn’t forget. Across the yard the putrid smell of steam interspersed with the rancid odor of chicken feathers, body parts and guts rose from the kettle of boiling water. Once hot enough the feathers were removed and the chicken gutted and prepared for freezing or eating.
To this day that smell sticks in the folds of my brain. I have not raised chickens myself since those formative years. It’s easier, cleaner and safer just to buy it ready-to-go at the store. And there’s no chance of it chasing me around the kitchen or house or having its head blink goodnight to me. So if you’re ever in the parking lot behind City Hall, think about the horror that was impressed on my brain some 40 years ago and be glad you weren’t there with me!
The current Tahoma High School has been in the Covington area since the 1970′s when it was built on 240th street. Before that it was housed in the current Tahoma Middle School and before that in the building which now houses technology, maintenance and the Maple Valley Historical Society. Now work is underway as the new high school is being designed to be built near Four Corners in Maple Valley. The history of the Tahoma School District which is mainly in Maple Valley is intriguing. It goes back over 100 years as the school district for this area. Here’s a link that will give you more information on the previous history behind the Tahoma School District.
How often have you gone outside, especially in cold or hot weather, and there’s a lovely aroma that’s smells a lot like garbage, rotting loam or moist sour soil? At first you sniff the air trying to figure out if the smell is emanating from your yard or home, but then you ascertain that the aroma is everywhere you go, even if you drive to the store in Covington. In fact, when you get to the store, the aroma is even stronger. What in the world?!
After pondering the source of the odor for a bit, it finally dawns on you that you are smelling the composting smells of Iddings just on the other side of the overpass over highway 18 and behind the business park where NAPA auto parts is located. It seems that sometimes when the wind is just right, the weather is hot or cold and the mulch and other woody types of topsoil or plants are wet or drying out, the odor produced by this natural fertilizing process carries on the wind to the far reaches of Covington.
I’ve noticed this for years and have just gotten used to it. It doesn’t smell all the time, but when the weather and wind are right, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Even if the odor is pungent, don’t worry. The bark, topsoil and mulch is great for keeping Covington beautiful and the plants and trees which keep our state green love the stuff. So don’t complain. Just take a whiff and think about the wonderful colors and scents that will be created due to this great topsoil produced by Iddings!
I was walking through Kohl’s today and got to thinking about what things were like forty years ago where that building now stands.
Across the street (169th PL SE), there’s a new medical building. I had a friend who lived in a house where that new building is now located. I remember when I was around ten years old playing at his house and standing in the front yard looking across a field filled with Scotch Broom, weeds, grass and dirt roads; really more like dirt trails that were used by motorbikes and four-wheeler’s as well as a gravel road used by BPA to access the power lines overhead. There were no buildings, no parking lot, no apartments. Just a scrubby landscape of intrigue.
Occasionally we would venture into that void to play, but it was always more like a forbidden zone of potential trouble and fear lurking around every bush. My fear was increased due to the fact that the area was used by bikers and four-wheeler’s to race around on their machines expending energy and most likely having a good time. Being a ten-year old however, I had this fear of creepy, uncouth individuals trying to chase me down, kidnap me or take my life in their own hands like putty and do horrible things like making me disappear forever in this ethereal realm. So, when we’d be playing in that field and would hear the tell-tale sounds of bikes and trucks racing down the trails and roads that had been cut through the brush, it was my time to hightail it back to civilization a few hundred feet away. Once back on safe ground in front of my friends house, I could safely watch from a distance as these crazed teenagers and young adults went about their day creating dust devils and scaring the neighborhood children with their adrenaline-filled antics.
The gravel road they raced up and down and that was transected by dirt trails was accessed from a two-lane Kent-Kangley and wove its way under the power lines toward Highway 18. At that time, a large hill where the current apartments stand was present and this was used for vehicular climbing, racing and jumping. Driving over the top one would encounter a two-lane Highway 18 that was able to be crossed by driving through a deep ditch and then up and over the highway ending up in Suncrest on the other side. This was a favorite weekend racing area and summertime stop for the youth and I’m sure some older ones as well.
Looking back in time, I realize there probably wasn’t much to fear, but the feelings still haunt me. Today, one sees only apartments, parking lots, businesses and Kohl’s. But my memories bring back vivid feelings of fear and curiosity. A few decades of time can certainly change one’s perspective on life and how they view and feel about the same scene that lies in front of them.
Over 100 years ago, the area northeast of 272nd St. (Kent-Kangley) and 156th Pl SE was part of a thriving lumber mill in Covington. It could have been the “earliest and largest commercial enterprise in Covington” according to Covington Reporter Columnist Craig Holmes in his article entitled The Story of the Calhoun Pit in Covington which appeared in the Covington Reporter edition of December 8, 2009. Now, in the year 2013, that area has been sold to the Soos Creek Water and Sewer District. They will soon be transforming the land into a sewage lift station with several sewer mains which will be a boon to the vision that has been in place for years to make Covington’s Main Street a quaint, slower-paced thoroughfare loaded with businesses, on-street parking, plazas, public areas for events and other unique architectural endeavors.
As the years roll by, the transformation of Covington from a wilderness loaded with trees and a Covington sawmill that was a beehive of activity to a city that reaches out to the community as a place to relax and stroll with family and friends will soon take shape. It really is amazing to think how much a city changes in just a century of time. That’s really not very long when the stream of time is viewed as a whole. It will be fascinating to watch the changes over the next decade and see where it all goes and how the little city of Covington makes its mark on the world scene.
Today was a beautiful day. It was the kind of day that makes me love Washington. From my youth on I’ve always loved a sunny, warm day in Covington. The fresh air, a cool breeze, warm sunshine on your face; they all make me just want to slow down, relax and saunter. For some reason a day like today, and according to the weather forecast for many days to come in the next week, makes me calm down and appreciate life a little more.
There’s a lot to be said about a good stormy day, or a fall night when the moon is out, the clouds race across its face and the night is haunting. But the sunshine seems to extract pleasantness and serenity from my body and mind. Maybe it’s because we don’t get sunny days as much as other places. Maybe it’s because the bright sunshine illuminates the soul and highlights creation. Whatever it is, a beautiful day brings out the best in us. Dispositions are happier and everyone tries to be positive and exuberant. I love these days. I look forward to many more this year. Let’s all allow the sunshine to bring out the best in us as humans!