Reminiscences

Memories of the Covington area and changes that have occurred as recalled by a native of the area for over forty years.

180 Holes to Choose From

September 5th, 2010 at 12:43 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

Forty years ago I don’t remember any golf courses in or near the Covington area.  But over the years, they slowly began to emerge. 

Think about Covington today and how many different courses there are within a ten mile radius.

Druids Glen- Covington; Meridian Valley Country Club – Kent; Lake Wilderness – Maple Valley; Elk Run – Maple Valley; Washington National – Auburn; Jade Greens – Auburn; Auburn – Auburn; Fairwood Golf and Country Club- Fairwood; Riverbend – Kent; Maplewood- Renton.

Go beyond ten miles and the list grows exponentially.  (Click to see.) The game of golf is addictive and relaxing.  The scenery is beautiful, the air fresh and the challenge high.  If you haven’t visited any of the nearby golf courses lately, check one out and have some fun.  Covington isn’t far from a game of golf!

And Then There Were Four

August 22nd, 2010 at 8:56 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

I graduated from Kent-Meridian (KM) high school in 1982.  Wow, almost 30 years ago!  I remember my senior year was the same year that Kentwood opened.  Since I was a senior, I was allowed to finish my schooling at KM instead of going to KW.  (Their first year had no seniors). 

Living near Lake Morton I was bussed to KM daily.  That was quite a ride.  On the trip to and from home I saw a lot of scenery.  I remember riding along Kent-Kangley when they were widening it down between 132nd and Kent.  The road was very rough and dusty and it took several months to complete. 

KM was built in 1951.  (It’s on the building.)  I’m not sure when Kentridge was built, but they were our rivals throughout the time I was in school.  But those were the only two high schools for the Kent school district at the time.  Then, it 1982 KW opened.  Of course, that wasn’t enough.  Several years later Kentlake was erected and now serves many of the people in the Lake Sawyer and surrounding areas. 

Thinking about school starting soon I wonder if another high school is in the works for the Kent school district.  Growth continues and Covington and the surrounding areas continue to expand.  And another school year starts.

Like a Mist in Time, Appearing Briefly and Then Gone

August 1st, 2010 at 10:02 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

Next door to Cedar Heights Middle School on Kent-Kangley the landscape is changing…again.  Years ago, all that existed along that stretch of road were trees and a few houses in the woods.  As time progressed, things changed. 

Eventually a large mobile home park was constructed and filled by people living there.  I think to myself about those families that grew up there.  Maybe they were raised in that park from infants.  Others may have moved in at some point and were either raised there or raised their own children there.  Whoever they might be, when they talk about their past, memories of that trailer park are embedded in their minds and hearts.  Many probably have pictures of the fun times they had there.  An entire chunk of life occurred within the confines of that park at some point in the past.  Real lives existed in that area.  Today, only memories drift inside the minds of hundreds of people who once inhabited that park.

As time went on, the park was closed.  I remember driving by one day and noticing signs indicating that the park would be shut down soon to make way for other “things.”  I figured it was businesses or something big and that construction would begin soon after the last resident was relocated elsewhere.  It has been many, many years since anything happened.  Now, in August 2010, something is beginning to come to life.  I don’t know what, but time will certainly tell. 

I wonder how those people felt when they were asked to find lodging elsewhere, to move out?  What if they were older folks on fixed incomes?  Where did they end up?  How about those families who were living life like we all do and one day are handed a notice that they have to move?  How would I have felt to have my roots ripped out and my life in an uproar?  I don’t know.  Now I wonder if any of those people might still live in the area and if so are they wondering what’s going to be built and why it took so long to do any building after they had been asked to move. 

The next several months should prove to be interesting as yet another change occurs in Covington where hundreds of people once lived.

From Drinking to Shopping and Emptiness In Between

July 4th, 2010 at 2:45 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

Almost a year ago I posted a poll asking where the tavern in Covington used to be.  Eleven people responded.  The majority of respones, seven to be exact, were correct when they voted that it was where the current Walgreen’s store now sits.

A friend of our family built the tavern which stood for a few years.  I guess business did okay.  I was too young to go there and really didn’t care.  It eventually burned down and was never rebuilt.  I remember an empty lot and foundation sat for quite sometime before Walgreen’s was eventually built. 

So for those of you who answered as stated above, good job!  For the others who responded, well, perhaps you haven’t lived in Covington long enough to remember these old landmarks.  But by reading this blog and other historical information, you’re sure to learn more!  Stay tuned!

Bones in the City

June 20th, 2010 at 2:45 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

I’d have to make an educated guess and say that for the most part many people bury their pets when they die somewhere on their property if they don’t live in an apartment complex or somewhere that wouldn’t be possible. 

I know when I was growing up in Covington we buried more than one pet in our back yard.  A dog, some cats, probably a bird or two and maybe others.  It’s hard to say now, but I’ll bet if you did some digging in the parking lot behind city hall or behind the large doctor’s office next to the parking lot where our house used to be you’d find some bones of long-dead pets. 

And I wonder.  If we buried our pets, how many others buried theirs?  How many animals could you find were you to dig up say just the U-shaped streets of 168th and 169th Place next to Office Depot and city hall?  There were at least 20 or more homes there back in the 60′s and 70′s and many people owned pets.  Maybe a gruesome thought, but reality nonetheless.  Now add to that number how many pets might be buried in a ten-mile radius around Covington.  Hundreds, thousands?  Who knows. 

Eventually, those bones will be dust, part of the soil once again and no one will ever know what fuzzy domesticated creatures roamed the land decades ago.  But it is something to ponder, isn’t it?

Making Light of the Four Covington Traffic Signals

June 4th, 2010 at 8:05 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

I don’t remember the year, but there was a time when the four traffic signals that border both sides of Highway 18 where it crosses Kent-Kangley (SE 272nd street or SR516) were the focus of much criticism. 

In earlier posts I described the deadly intersection where Highway 18 crossed Kent-Kangley.  There was one blinking signal.  Red for those on Kent-Kangley, yellow for those travelling on Highway 18.  When improvements began to be made to Highway 18 and Kent-Kangley, signals were installed to control flow on and off of the highway and also onto 164th street by the Covington library.  All of these had to be synchronized to control flow in a smooth and non-congestive fashion.

When those signals were installed what criticism was heard around town!  Bumper stickers declaring ‘who in the world put four signals in a row in Covington’ were seen on many cars.  People discussed the ludicrous nature of such a move.  Comments were made that this was ridiculous and would never work.  I was young, but even so I thought it was a goofy idea to a point.  My biggest intrigue though was how would they sync such a complicated signal array.

Well, it worked.  In fact, it works well.  Everyone gets their turn.  It doesn’t back up too much.  And traffic flows.  Of course, since then other signals have been added within several hundred feet either side of these original four signals.  But I guess people get so used to seeing groups of signals at intersections such as this that when the other signals were added no one though twice about the need for more light control.  Maybe some day other signals will be installed as Covington continues to grow.

When the Lights Go Out

May 23rd, 2010 at 10:01 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

Storm clouds building on the horizon.  Warnings on the radio and TV about an impending storm.  The possibility of power outages in the region.  How does that make you feel?  Scared?  Excited?  Apprehensive? 

To many, the loss of power is frightening.  To others exciting!  I remember as a kid when the power would go out.  It was a bit scary, especially if the wind was howling outside the house, the windows rattled and every board and nail in the house would creak and groan as it strained against the onslaught of wind and rain.  Going down a dark hall to my bedroom or to use the bathroom was enough to give me goose-flesh.  Those were the times when I would do what I had to quickly so I could get back to the light and other people.

People tend to gravitate toward the light.  Think about it.  When the sun sets and darkness envelops the land, we all turn on lights to see.  We don’t like being in total darkness because we can’t see what’s going on and we feel helpless.  Light pulls us toward it. 

As a kid in Covington, there were the occasional street lamp and porch lights as well as a few lights on businesses to light the night.  So, when the power went out, the loss of that bit of light was bad enough.  However, today, there are so many lights on businesses, homes, street lights, signals at intersections, headlights on cars and more that when the lights go out it is REALLY dark!  Or so it seems. We are so accustomed to the light that a lack of such is instant and foreboding.  The darkness immediately covers the land light tar poured from the heavens. 

Without thinking, we immediately try to turn on light switches, use the microwave or oven, watch TV or anything else that requires electricity.  And then we remember that those things don’t work.  So, we pull out flashlights and candles and do the best we can whether it be playing games, reading a book or sitting around talking.  And if the power stays off into the night, it’s always shocking when at 3 a.m. the light switch we left on in the bedroom comes to life blinding us and reminding us of the storm that has passed. 

The next time the power goes out, think about our dependance on electricity and lumens.  And if it stays off into the night, go outside and look around.  You’ll soon realize how dark our planet can be as you gaze into the inky blackness of space and ponder your insignificance when compared to all creation around us.

Unplugged

May 3rd, 2010 at 10:10 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

Today I was reminded how much the world depends on electricity and computers.  During our unusual wind storm in May, the power went out in several areas.  As I entered Fred Meyer in Covington, the lights flickered.  They appeared to dim a bit and I figured the back-up generator came on.  It did.  Then I noticed several of the registers screens were blank.  Hmm.  Power glitch got them too.  They’ll reboot shortly, so I thought. 

I did my shopping, ten minutes worth, and arrived at the front of the store to see line after line of people waiting.  The registers had not rebooted.  I got in line and patiently waited.  After about 15 minutes several store managers and other “in charge” personnel appeared.  We were told that the server was not rebooting and the problem was being examined.  Eventually we were offered cookies and coffee while we waited.  Then we were told it could be another 30 minutes or more before the computer registers were back online.  Several people decided to leave.  I stayed. 

By now I had moved from fourth in line to the front of the now short line.  The cashier and I chatted for another 20 minutes while the computers rebooted and finally I was on my way. 

It made me think though how vulnerable the world is.  If such a minor glitch caused such havoc in making the entire store to come to a dead standstill, what would happen if it were major?  Almost everything depends on electricity and especially on computers.  If they go down then what? 

At least a few decades ago had such a thing happened, the cashiers would have easily pulled out a calculator or pen and paper and simply added up the cost of the price-tagged items.  Of course today, with everything labeled with UPC symbols, this would be a difficult, if not impossible, task.  And for all those who use debit or credit cards, how can you run these when the computers are down?  Back to good old cash or checks, which many don’t carry anymore. 

A vulnerable world?  You bet.  Will it happen again.  Absolutely!  Will the world crash someday because of our dependence on electricity and computers?  Undoubtedly.  It’s something to ponder.

A Lonely Whistle on a Dark Night

April 15th, 2010 at 8:30 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

Railroad Tracks

I wonder when the lonely sounds of the steam locomotive faded from the ears of the residents of Covington and the surrounding areas.  And when did the first blast of a diesel locomotive’s horn echo through the hills and valleys of Covington?

Ever since I was a kid I’ve heard the raucous blast of many a diesel-electric locomotive as it passed through Covington next to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) substation.  When I was young I heard them often.  Not just the cacophony of sound from Covington, but also from the tracks that cross 216th near Rooter’s at Lake Sawyer.  As time when on, the tracks were used less and less and for quite some time they weren’t used at all. 

Eventually, upgrades were made and the tracks were once again in use, but not as often as before.  Even today, on occasion I hear the distant whistle of a train passing through Covington. 

Back when signals and semaphores were used by the railroad more extensively than they are now (most are controlled by satellite today), my family would play a game when we crossed the tracks by the BPA.  The signal several hundred feet down the tracks would change from red to yellow to green or vice-versa.  Our game was always to guess what color it would be when we crossed.  I don’t remember what the winner or loser got, but it was always a highlight when we crossed that train crossing.

At one time, before the “no trespassing” signs were posted along the tracks and before the media highlighted the dangers and deaths due to people walking along railroad tracks, my dad and I did walk those very tracks in Covington.  We started at the intersection by Rooters and ended by the BPA.  I remember fearing a train coming down the tracks while we walked, but found the scenery and quietness exhilarating.  As a matter of fact, I believe a train did come by and I made sure I was completely away from the tracks as it passed.  Exciting, fear-inspiring and mind-imprinting, that short afternoon jaunt has stuck with me for years. 

The family that lives in the house next to the tracks in Covington has been there for years.  My dad has known them for many, many years.  I can only imagine what it must sound like when those long freight trains or other trains pass by that home on a dark, quiet night. 

I wonder for how long the trains will continue to pass through Covington on their way to the mountains?  Will those tracks be removed someday to leave a path that can be used as a trail?  Will more railroad traffic someday ply the rails?  Who really knows?

Power for the People, but Not for Me

March 14th, 2010 at 8:38 pm by Rick Bergum
  • Comments

Giant Insulators

Sitting like a silent citadel surrounded by an ever-changing landscape, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) substation in Covington pumps out power ceaselessly day after day, year after year.

It has been a permanent fixture in Covington for as long as I can remember.  As a little kid, when trains plied the tracks next to the substation on a regular basis several times a day, I remember driving by the behemoth wondering what lurked inside.  The huge windows wherein you could see a monstrous crane, the myriad of cable, wire and steel pulsing with electricity, the helicopter that flew the skies  daily to check the status of the hundreds of miles of high tension wires, mammoth transformers sitting like giants in a pen of security, insulators bigger than a man that kept the electricity at bay like a lion tamer’s whip, a barbed wire fence surrounding the grounds with signs hung at varying intervals all gave indication of something massive, something intriguing, something dangerous and mysterious.  But there, day after day, calling to me, beckoning me to look inside sat the BPA substation. 

Then one day, I drove through the gate at the end of Wax road into the complex.  (Today that gate is sealed shut, blocked by huge blocks of concrete; no admittance.)  As a child, my parents took me on several tours of facilities to see how they worked.  The Rainier Beer Brewery, now gone.  The Sunny Jim Peanut Butter Factory, gone.  Weyerhaeuser sawmill, gone and many more.  So, here, in Covington, I wanted to tour something grand, something that had piqued my curiosity for years.  I drove to the front of the building and stepped inside. 

It was like stepping into an old monster movie.  Dials reading electrical output, wattage, amperage and other power related information.  Huge transformers, switches and machines.  Dazzling lights on display boards.  A room housing these items so vast it felt like you were inside a football stadium.  And, like every dam I’ve ever visited, a pristine environment housing it all.  A few workers sat around reading and monitoring machines and a man met me to talk.  I asked about taking a tour and he informed me that wasn’t possible.  I was disappointed.  I really wanted to learn more and see how this beast worked.  Electricity is fascinating and I wanted to ingest more information.  I left, still yearning for more. 

Today, those hopes are dashed due to the threat of terrorism and the like.  I don’t even think you can get into the complex anymore.  The gates are shut.  Access denied to non-employees. 

Yet, the substation continues to work, a vital link keeping Covington and many other cities running.  I wonder how much the inside of the substation has been updated with computers and other modern technology.  Does it still look “monstrous”?  Have they filled more of the open space with other instruments?  What has changed in the forty some years I’ve lived here?  If only I knew and had the power to change the forbidden zone of fascination into a learning experience.

Write your own blog

Do you have something to say? Are you passionate about a particular topic and can write regularly and coherently? We'd love to talk with you. Contact us today about blogging on this site.

Blog Search
About Rick Bergum

I've lived in Covington for nearly 50 years. I've seen a lot of changes in Covington during that time and hope to share a few of these periodically. I enjoy writing and also write a blog for those in the custodial field. (The link is included on this blog page.) You can also find information on Facebook under the name Custodial Soupçon.

*About Community Blogs

Community blogs are written by volunteers. They are members of our community but not employees of this site or newspaper. They have applied or were invited to blog here but their words are their own and are not edited by the editor or staff of this site, and have agreed to abide by our Terms of Use. The authors are solely responsible for their content. If you have concerns about something you read on a community blog, please contact the author directly or email us.

Would you like to have your own blog on our site? Contact us today.