Of Mozart and the Troll…

Sep 28, 2010 | 2 comments

Under the Aurora Bridge

     In the early days, when transportation in the Northwest was mainly by water, Oysterville’s connections were with Portland, not Seattle.  Past generations of my own family went to Portland to shop, to see medical specialists, or to find work.  By the time I came along, quite a few of “the relatives” lived in Portland and there was a great deal of visiting back and forth.  I grew up feeling that Portland was a friendly, though a bit formal, city – a place you had to dress up to visit and be on your best behavior.
     It wasn’t until the road system had improved considerably that Seattle became a serious contender in terms of a city to visit.  In my family, that was the 1970s.  By then, it took only an hour longer to get to “the Emerald City” than to “the Rose City” but, even so, we seldom headed north.  Our connections were still in Portland.  We knew how to get around there; we knew where things were; it was comfortable.
     But, when I met and married Nyel, Seattle became the city of choice.  It was where he had lived for twenty years and it seemed natural that it should become our destination when city needs beckoned.  By comparison to Portland, Seattle felt younger, more casual, more up-to-date.  Perhaps it was that there were no relatives to visit.  Or maybe it was because, by then, everyone wore running shoes to work and carried their office garb in a clothes bag over their shoulders.  Maybe it was because of the pig in the Market or the Folk Life Festival or Bumbershoot.  Whatever the reason, Seattle felt funky while Portland still felt a bit staid.
     I’ve thought about those things over the last few days because we have been in both cities on back-to-back visits.  In Portland we attended Mozart’s Grand Mass at the Schnitzer Concert Hall.  Fabulous!  In Seattle we visited the troll under the Aurora Bridge.  Zany!   We did other things, too, but those disparate events seemed to exemplify each of the cities for me..  Both are a far cry from Oysterville and it is comforting to know that whether we head north or south on that blue highway, an experience to remember awaits.


  1. Memi

    I know just what you mean, Sydney. My trips to the Big City when I was growing up in Oysterville were also to Portland. My mom took us to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the Ice Follies and we bought school clothes and shopped. Remember the cafeteria, Jolly Joan? I wonder if it is still there. My Mom let me have a half a canteloupe, nestled in ice. We always stayed at the Washington Hotel and I could go to Woolworths with a dollar and come out with a sackful of amazing treasures, like Blue Waltz perfume and little plastic charms and Tangee lipstick I wasn’t allowed to use. It was Magic Town. I didn’t go to Seattle until I married Bob and he was going to summer school at the U of W after getting out of the Navy. That was 1953. In all these years of going back to Seattle, though, I did NOT know about the troll under the Aurora Bridge! You are so wonderfully informative!

  2. Stephanie Frieze

    I love both cities and feel blessed that here in the NW we have easy access to urban areas and all they have to offer and then scurry back to our more rural homes. It is the perfect situation.


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