Seattle 1978

Seattle 1978

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seattle World's Fair and my Grandparents

I've mentioned my Grandfather whose career was in the hospitality industry before - Howard Johnson worked in hotels since he was a child starting as a page boy at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC.  My Grandmother, Lucy (Andrew) Johnson was in the hospitality industry as well and waitressed all her life (when I called her at age 16 to tell her I got my first job waitressing at Pizza Haven she advised me to always bring a second pair of shoes to switch into during the middle of long shifts because the different feel would make aching feet feel better - she also told me not to waitress my whole life). They moved from British Columbia to Seattle in 1951 and by 1962 they were working hard welcoming Century 21 Seattle World's Fairgoers.

My beautiful Grandmother waitressing in the Space Needle's revolving restaurant:

Thank you to Dean Syltebo for restoring this photo!!
We think this photo is 1963 - many of the waitresses suffered from motion sickness but my Grandmother was unaffected so she stuck around and worked there even after The Fair closed.

Processed July 1962

My Grandfather worked at several different hotels in 1962 - my Mother told me The Edgewater Inn hired him to work on the MS Dominion Monarch which was docked in Seattle to host guests as a hotel since the Edgewater Inn wasn't finished in time for the start of the World's Fair
Dominion Monarch Maru & Smith Tower, July 1962

But before that he worked at Century House Motor Hotel and he wrote me my all-time very favorite letter when I was four months old on stationery from there.  My Dad was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas so we lived in Killeen, Texas and I don't think he had met me, yet.

April 2/62
Dearest Jana:
This is just a note honey to say hello and to say how nice it was to hear your voice on the telephone. Your mother kept interrupting and it was a little difficult to understand you but I think I got the message. Parents are such a problem these days but try to understand them. Ask you Mother about it because I too was a problem parent.
Now that your Mother is caught up in this mad dizzy social whirl, cooking, dusting pamlum, diapers, feeding, ironing, washing and her golf and tennis guess she doesn't have time to write. I know you must be busy with your dates and school work but tell your Mother the enclosed stamps are just in case she gets a moment. If your Mother and Dad can't get away in June you come anyhow it will be a good chance for you and I to see the Fair.
Tell your Mother that we went to Dave Schwatz's wedding Saturday nite and both the bride and he looked fine.
Seattle is just busting out all over now only nineteen days to opening and everyone holding their breath. Biggest thing to hit Seattle. Lots of old buildings being torn down and everybody painting and getting ready. This place where I am working is putting in a new restaurant and cocktail bar. Carpenters, painters, plumbers, noise, dust and confusion trying to get ready for the Fair.
Grandmaw and I are going down tomorrow to ride on the monorail and see the Wax Works. The Observation Tower on the Space Needle and the Monorail are doing a rushing business already.
On Thursday we are going up to Vancouver to see your Great Grandmother. Has your Dad been teaching you to drive yet? I don't think Father's make the best teachers ask your Mother. Do all you homework and don't play the Hi-Fi too much. Be a good girl and say hello to your Mother and Dad. A big hug and kiss for you and tell your mother I didn't have to wipe my chin.
All My Love
Grandpaw
P.S. It will be okay to let your Mother read this letter.


Is that an awesome letter or what?! Family history, humor, Seattle World's Fair tidbits all on one page!

The front and back of the envelope it came in:


By the end of 1962, The Edgewater Inn was completed and Howard worked there for several years.


The Edgewater 2011:

Seattle.Gov's Historic Preservation Program tells me that The Edgewater is Category 4
"These buildings have been identified as ones that have been so altered that they would not qualify as Seattle landmarks."

I can't really blame The Edgewater for altering the hotel to stay competitive in the industry but I'll always consider it a Seattle landmark.


My Grandfather died forty two years ago today on July 25, 1970 when I was eight years old.  He was only 58.  I don't have many memories of him but I will always treasure the letter he wrote me when I was an infant.  Thinking about you, Grandpaw!!

(taken at the Mayflower Hotel - probably late 1950s)

Grandma and Grandpa and me November 1963


Grandma, Grandpa and me about 1964

6 comments:

samantha jacob said...

Its relay amazing and wonderful.Visiting Vintage gives the extraordinary information about the hotel...

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Jana said...

Thank you for stopping by and thank you for the comment!

Suzanne Thrasher said...

Loved the letter and pictures Jana. My memories of your Grandpaw are vague,but when I look at his picture the words 'gentle' and 'kind' come to mind. To be your Grandmaw's partner he must have been someone who loved to have fun.I know my parents really liked him. Howard died way too young.

Jana said...

Thank you, Suzanne. I think he did like to have fun. My Mom said they would take off for California for months at a time - they'd both find jobs while they were there but still have time for fun. Considering he died before retirement age, I'm glad they did that even though it probably meant not keeping steady work in Seattle after a while.

Pam Weir said...

A wonderful family story :) so nice to see. Great job Jana!!!

Jana said...

Thank you, Pam. My Mom and I were looking at a lot of Johnson photos this past week. I hope I remember all the family stories she's told me!