Reminiscences

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

Nothing. Blink. Blink.

December 19th, 2010 at 5:51 pm by Rick Bergum
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It happened last week.  The new traffic signals at the intersection of Kent-Kangley (SE 272nd St. or SR 516) and Wax Rd. became operational.  It’s not as if there weren’t signals there before.  Now we have SIGNALS! I’m talking about a signal system that reminds me on a small scale of the signal setup in Des Moines.  Two large metal poles connected by a crossbeam of steel crossing all five lanes of traffic in a diagonal direction.  Lights attached.  New signals installed with new controls and a nifty new blinking yellow turn signal to control flow better by yielding to cross traffic without waiting for another entire signal cycle.

Decades ago there were no signals there.  When I was young it was just Wax Rd. and Kent-Kangley.  Two lanes on both roads crossing each other.  For a long time only Wax Rd. had stop signs.  Bad news.  Because traffic on Kent-Kangley traveled at a higher rate of speed, those trying to cross often misjudged this and accidents were numerous including some fatalities. 

Another reason for accidents was the angle of this intersection.  This is especially noticeable when traveling west on Kent-Kangley.  If you are sitting in the turn lane facing downtown Covington and are preparing to turn left onto Wax Rd., the angle is such that the speed and distance of the oncoming traffic is skewed.  You think you have plenty of time until you start to turn and then you realize it is much farther than you anticipated.  More than once I did this and almost got hit.  It’s an optical illusion.

Eventually, stop signs were placed at all four points of intersection and accidents diminished greatly.  Later, signals were put in, first temporary ones on wires, then permanent signals with poles.  In the last few months, the poles were removed as U-turn lanes were created widening Kent-Kangley and so once again wires were used for the temporary signals.  Now the permanent signals are installed.  Spanning the entire intersection these new control lights will minimize accidents and control flow through an ever busier Covington. 

I just wonder how many more years until this isn’t enough and expansion and new lights are once again under construction as Covington makes itself known on the maps of the world.

A Ramp, Patty Melts and Trees

November 14th, 2010 at 7:29 pm by Rick Bergum
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Last week I was chatting with a hair stylist at Sport Clips in Covington.  We were reminiscing about all the changes in the Covington and Maple Valley area over the last 30 years.  We both remembered different things which jogged the others memory. 

We were talking about Maple Valley when the name Caruso’s came up.  Wow!  That got me thinking.  The original restaurant was located along the Maple Valley highway about where Starbucks and Papa John’s is now.  Of course, the highway was only two lanes and the turn into the restaurant was into a dirt parking lot.  A ramp led up to the restaurant and as we both remembered, the restaurant reminded us of a modular home due to its construction. 

I had a friend that loved to go there and always ordered a Patty Melt.  That always stuck in my mind since a Patty Melt contains a hamburger patty, cheese and grilled onions.  I don’t care for onions, so I couldn’t imagine why he’d like this item.  But he did.  Every time I see Patty Melt on the menu, I think of him, and Caruso’s. 

We also talked about how many trees there were in Covington and Maple Valley.  Businesses were minimal and trees aplenty.  Behind Caruso’s and some of the few other businesses it was nothing but forests.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, most of the businesses in Covington didn’t exist and trees covered the land.  How it’s changed now!

If you get a chance, talk with a native of the area.  You might be surprised what you learn or what memories are conjured up from the depths of your mind about Covington and Maple Valley.

631…

October 2nd, 2010 at 3:23 pm by Rick Bergum
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Cities grow, times change and phone number prefixes multiply. 

Back in the late sixties and early seventies, the only phone number prefix I knew of in the Covington area was 631.  But what a difference a few decades makes.  Today there are numerous prefixes used for people in Covington and the surrounding areas.  216, 220, 234, 308, 373, 395, 398, 478, 479, 487, 499, 630, 631, 638, 639, 656, 657, 685, not to mention the increase in prefixes due to the widespread use of cell phones.  And these prefixes cover just the Covington and Kent areas.  Check out this list for those within the 98042 zip code area.  (Prefixes

And that’s another story.  Zip codes have changed too.  It used to be 98031 when I was young.  Now you have 98030, 98031,  98032, 98035, 98042, 98064 and 98089.  Just think how many phone prefixes you’d find within all of those zip codes!

As the population grows, you can be sure that the phone prefixes and zip codes will increase too.  That’s what happens when a country town turns into a growing city.

180 Holes to Choose From

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

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About Rick Bergum

I've lived in Covington for over 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.

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