Memories of the Covington area and changes that have occurred as recalled by a native of the area for over forty years.
It was a summer day. Warm. Bright. Perfect. And then the sirens came. I remember hearing them in the distance. Approaching. Coming closer. Did something happen nearby? Was there another bad accident on highway 18? Did something happen in Covington?
At that time, Kent-Kangley was a two-lane road. It was lined on both sides by forests. A few houses lined the road here and there either right on the shoulder of Kent-Kangley or perpendicular to the road and down a short dirt driveway. Other than the grocery store and a few small businesses, Covington was very rural. The sound of sirens always made me perk up.
Somewhere around Walgreen’s or the complex by The Rock stood a few houses. That’s where the sirens were headed. For some reason, in my mind, the house was orange and white. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. But that’s what I remember. A few trees stood in front of it with a short sidewalk that ended at the shoulder along Kent-Kangley. There might have been a small fence.
My stomach churned and my heart beat faster as I heard the commotion of emergency vehicles converge in the area by the home. I didn’t walk down there due to fear and being so young, but the flashing lights and the urgency of it all told me something was wrong. Although the day was still light and warm, the sun set on my heart and mind as I wondered what terrible thing was going on. A feeling of depression and sadness filled my soul and my wish to play waned.
In an age before the Internet, instant news and the ability to find out in minutes what was going on, it wasn’t until a day or two later that I heard what had happened. A young boy or teenager had left that home and crossed the street only to be hit by a car. There were no crosswalks or lights. To cross was a free-for-all. You took your chances.
The story I heard was that his body was thrown several feet through the air landing on the pavement nearby. The mental images that formed in my mind and my imagination of the scene chilled me. To hear those warnings from your parents from the time you can walk about not crossing a busy road and then seeing the consequences of their warnings is indescribable. I don’t remember if the boy died, but something tells me he did. For a long time, every time we drove past that house my mind conjured up images of the deadly scene.
To this day, when I read of stories of people crossing the street and getting hit and killed, I think of that boy and his family. Right here in Covington. Years ago when the traffic was minimal. A rural town. Yet it happened. I’ve been stupid enough to cross a road without using the crosswalk a few times, and my heart pounds when I think of how easily I could have gotten hit myself. No matter how hard you look both ways, there’s always that car your mind and eyes didn’t see. To imagine hearing the screeching of tires and the blare of a horn before that numbing crunch of your body against the grille is chilling. May it never happen!
Many years ago, Covington became home to McDonald’s. What an exciting day that was! We were moving up in the world. If you have a McDonald’s, your city is important.
Some businesses and stores seem to identify or create a city’s importance or emergence on the map. When McDonald’s arrived, I felt like we were somebody. Covington was cool! Of course, over the years, McDonald’s sitting on the corner of Wax Road and Kent-Kangley (SR 516 or SE 272nd St.) became a well-known and common establishment. As the area grew and more people moved in, McDonald’s also showed up in Maple Valley by Wilderness Village and at Four Corners. Now, once again, McDonald’s is re-emerging as “new and improved.”
According to the sign, the new McDonald’s in Covington should open in the spring. It will be all new except for a couple of walls from the old building that were left and built into the new building. It will be bigger, have a newer more modern look and will continue to be an icon on the corner of that busy intersection.
I am waiting and excited. When it opens, I’ll return once again to a fast-food chain that has been part of Covington for many years and probably will for decades to come!
Stand where Taco Time is today, go back 30 years and look across Kent-Kangley to the other side. Today you see Walgreen’s. Thirty-some years ago you would have seen a tavern. In Covington? Yup.
A friend of our family did many things in her life. She was the type of person that didn’t sit still. She was always moving, doing something, trying something new. At one point in her life she built a tavern where Walgreen’s sits today. I don’t remember how long it stood there providing liquor for customers, maybe five to ten years, but eventually it burned down.
I remember it was basically a rectangular building constructed of bricks. It was pretty simple, but it was definitely a drinking establishment. Like many cities of the past, Covington had a grocery store, a few churches, a pharmacy and gas station and a tavern. Those days are long gone, but pondering what was and now is makes one appreciate how quickly things can change in just a few short decades.
Today if one wants a drink at a tavern, they would need to travel toward Maple Valley and stop by the Pla-Mor tavern across from Cherokee Bay. Or, if you’re just looking for a Friday night spot to have a drink with friends that’s not a tavern-type establishment, there are several restaurants in the area that offer liquor. Wherever one might go, truth be told things change!
I ate dinner at Ristorante Isabella the other evening. As I sat there, I realized that I was sitting on the very spot where possibly, 35 years ago or so, I may have ridden my bike.
Since the restaurant, and other businesses in that area have all been built on the land where several bike trails used to be, it is possible that I rode either through, past or on the very spot I was sitting eating dinner. It’s strange how things change and time flows. If I could travel back in time while I sat in the restaurant, would there be a point where my chair would be sitting right where I used to play? I’ll never know. But I do know it was that area where I used to relax with my friends when I was small.
Since our old house sat where the new medical building by City Hall sits now, looking at the area around that vicinity brings back a flood of memories of what used to be. Those feelings and thoughts really come to the fore when I mention something about the area to others and they look surprised and say something like, “Really? I didn’t know that! You actually lived and played here?” Although to them it is a fleeting comment lost in the haze of time, to me the memories solidify and coalesce in my mind every time I drive by. I can’t help but think of how much has changed in 40 years!
I’ve seen a lot of changes in and around Covington. One of the ones that boggles my mind the most is the intersection at 216th and Kent-Kangley road right in front of the Pla-Mor Tavern.
I don’t know if there is a valid reason for this or not, but it still boggles my mind. What is it? Not making the main entrance to Cherokee Bay at the same intersection as 216th and Kent-Kangley where a stoplight with turn lanes now exist.
For years, there was no light there. In fact, there were two entrances to Cherokee Bay. The current “main entrance” and the blocked off entrance at the above-mentioned intersection. The year they put in the signals I was ecstatic. Finally! A light, one entrance to Cherokee Bay, far less accidents from turning without a signal and one intersection for all roads.
As construction progressed, my bewilderment increased. Only three sets of lights? Blocking off the road into Cherokee Bay? No lights on that side of the street? Improving the entrance to Cherokee Bay down the road from the new signals but still forcing vehicles to turn into the development without a signal? Causing more congestion with a signal and separate entrance? Increasing the odds of accidents or fatalities? I didn’t understand. I still don’t.
Why the main entrance to Cherokee Bay was not part of the changes that were made to Kent-Kangley and 216th baffles me. Why didn’t the city or state mandate that it become the main entrance thus diminishing congestion, increasing life expectancy of drivers and passengers and creating a smooth intersection instead of creating more congestion? Why didn’t Cherokee Bay step up to the plate and willingly work with these improvements for the sake of everyone, not just their development?
Perhaps there was a good reason. Perhaps I don’t have all the facts. Suffice it to say that from all logical angles and from all perspectives of saving lives this intersection should have been designed as the only one for all roads involved instead of creating a potential deathtrap for anyone entering or exiting Cherokee Bay.
Perhaps this will be corrected in the future? I can only hope so for my family’s sake and for all others who use this road and the entrance to Cherokee Bay.
One by one they disappear. Dilapidated. Empty. Destroyed. Only air drifts through their shells like wisps of smoke from a dying fire. Only memories race inside my head of what used to be.
I watch the houses of friends in the neighborhood by city hall slowly go away. I noticed today a house across from Office Depot is now boarded up, part of the roof missing and gone, the home ready for destruction. I played there. I was in that house hundreds of times. I had dinner there, swam in a pool in the back yard where I heard horror stories of children drowning in larger pools. I was probably eight or nine.
One family I knew lived there. They moved and another moved in. We knew them too. I grew up with their children. That house was on the back side of some other friends house which sat across from city hall where our house used to be. We would climb the fence in the back yard into the other yard and get yelled at by parents. Or we could walk around the U-shaped street and spend an extra four minutes walking.
As these homes disappear to make way for progress, memories of days past flash through my mind. Only I will remember what happened in those empty lots when I was young. At some point in the future, perhaps I’ll stand at such-and-such longitude and latitude which corresponds to the location of those old homes and find myself inside a mall, a restaurant, a parking lot or a business. Who knows?
The strange thing is the sensation of knowing what used to be and what will be in the future.
Rumor has it that the Covington Elementary school will soon disappear making way for expanded businesses and a growing Covington. The exact time is unknown. I, however, attended that school for four years between 1969 and 1973. Interestingly, although the school looks very similar today, a few changes have taken place.
When I attended, the outside halls didn’t have locking doors on them as they do now. Instead they were blocked off by large gates that you could peer through. The gates didn’t go all the way to the roof though. There was a gap of about three feet above those gates and it wasn’t unusual for mischievous youngsters and teens to climb over them to run the halls when no one was around.
I also remember somewhere around fourth grade a new nature trail was constructed behind the school gym in the woods. I don’t know if it still exists. The classes would take mini field trips on this trail to enjoy the forest and learn. Of course going on this trail alone was forbidden and it was pounded into our heads that strangers or other misfits of society could be lurking there just waiting to attack or kidnap us.
The field out back was huge, or so it seemed when I was small, and climbing the banks in the far corners of the field which butted up against the forest was also forbidden. Again, the same reasoning; the potential for children to disappear. At least once for me and many times for others I remember the playground teacher yelling at us to get off the hill and back on the field. To this day I can still feel the haze of fear instilled in us if we dared venture into the forbidden zones.
In the near future when this school disappears from the map, those memories will remain within the confines of my mind only to be accessed by the synapses and neurons that control my brain. Until that time comes, enjoy the school that has been there some forty years or more. If your children have the privilege of attending there now, what kind of stories or memories will they take with them and recall when they are adults?
Ever since I was a little kid I remember getting medicine at the pharmacy in Covington. After I moved away from home I still purchased my prescriptions there. When the Covington Rexall moved into QFC to become part of that chain, I remained loyal to them. Now, this patronage will end.
In December, QFC is closing. That means the pharmacy will be gone too. All those years of friendship with the owner, Jim and his many employees such as Wanda, Mary, Melanie, Connie and others will remain, but their physical presence will fade as they go their separate ways to work elsewhere. I will miss them all but wish them the best.
It is sad to see a piece of Covington disappear, a piece that has been part of my life for some 40 years. Although the building will be empty, quiet, dark; the memories that remain within those few hundred square feet of building will always swirl within my mind. Future generations will never know about the people and businesses that resided there unless they hear the stories from people who lived in Covington at some point during the past 40 plus years. Eventually, all that history will be found only in books or online.
Preservation of such pleasant memories is a must because these are what Covington is made of.
I can hear the funny cars, the smaller cars and the cars with jet engines. (A quick spurt of energy and sound and the quarter-mile is done in a few seconds.) Whether it be rain or shine, the races go on.
I’ve heard these sounds for over forty years. The sounds cascading off trees and hills and reaching my ears in Covington. And where do they originate? Why from Pacific Raceways. Of course if you’ve lived here any length of time you still say S.I.R. (Seattle International Raceways) It’s a hard change to use the new name when you grew up with S.I.R. Friends that live there still refer to it as S.I.R.
I wonder. If people have moved into that development or even into Covington in the last ten years or so and hear the term S.I.R. or even use that term, do they know what it stands for?
The next time you hear that cacophony of sound emanating from the track in the trees, think S.I.R., or Pacific Raceway.
Every time a new housing development is built it is given a name. Coho Creek, Kate’s Ridge, Lake Wilderness Country Club Estates, Maple Heights, Lake Forest Estates, Foxwood and the list goes on.
Now the question is, do you know where these housing developments are? They’ve been around for a long time and some don’t even have a sign to identify them. But if you’re an old-timer in Covington or Maple Valley, I bet you know.
Timberlane, Suncrest, Winterwood, Burwood, Waldheim Acres, Horseshoe Lake, 101 Pines, Heather Highlands, Highlands of Cedar River, Tall Timbers, Cherokee Bay, Arcadia, Fernwood or others.
If you are a long-time resident others will know what you are talking about because most likely you refer to landmarks and housing developments by some of the names mentioned above thereby leaving others to wonder what in the world you are referring to.