The cool, the coy and the Chicken Coop

Published 4:37 pm Monday, May 30, 2022

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People in Washington are so cool. Cool as defined as being in a state of mind, or being what people admire or see as good. I use the word ‘cool’ to describe the many unique and wonderful people here. On a recent morning walk on the boardwalk, Milt and I saw several people talking excitedly about something that saw in the water. As we approached, a gentlemen named William called out to us and said, “We’re looking at something I bet you ain’t never seen in this water, come and look!”  Milt and I walked over to where William and his friends were standing. They were thrilled that they had spotted a coy fish. “Coy aren’t really found in rivers like this one” William said, “They like fresh water. People have them in their outdoor specially treated ponds, so I wonder how this little fellow got in the river.”  We all stood in amazement, and we had the best time delighting in the fact that we got to share the coy fish sighting together. I’m so glad William and his friends shared that with us. That was so cool!

As Milt and I continued across the boardwalk to the Lighthouse, we walked down to Gladden Street and got another cool surprise.

In the old Gerard Store building is a new store called the ‘Chicken Coop.’ We stopped in to look inside and were greeted by two of the friendliest people, Marvin the owner and a woman named Patsy.  I would tell you why the store is called the Chicken Coop, but I want you to stop by and let Marvin tell you.

Being in that store back a flood of memories of growing up in Washington. The store still has the old wooden utility bins that stored nails, screws and other hardware that was a prominent feature of the store, back in the day when Mr. Gerard owned the store.

As I stood there talking with Marvin, I could almost hear the chirping of baby chickens (we called them ‘biddies’) that Mr. Gerard sold. Wow, what a flashback! But my favorite memory of Gerard’s store was around the Christmas season, when the store was filled with the sweetest oranges and other fruits, and the long red paper trays of big raisins. And the chocolate covered peanuts, peanuts brittle squares and the Christmas candy was the best there was! Talking with Marvin and Patsy was such a precious and really cool conversation.

Heading back toward Main Street, we saw one of our walking friends, an older lady named Mrs. Alice, one of the sweetest most graceful people you could ever meet. She has a smile that will light up your heart. She always stops to greet us and share her love. That morning she shared with us how many decades ago she and her husband came from Nicaragua to Washington and established a farm here. Mrs. Alice is so cool as her goodness and kindness is worthy of admiration

Then there’s Rudy, a kind man who stopped to talk with Milt and I in Walmart and reminisced about his growing up in Washington in the 50’s and 60’s. He shared about working in the tobacco fields as a kid and eating Moon Pies and Vienna sausages for lunch in the fields. So many folks in the greater Washington area had the same experience in some way, but Rudy’s eyes twinkled with admiration as he told us his story. What made Rudy so cool was the way he shared his story.

And one last thing, there was a man, I can’t remember his name, but he stopped to watch with Milt from the boardwalk, a turtle laying her eggs in the sand near the construction site of the new Moss Landing homes.  That was so cool as we watched in amazement of something I had only ever seen on television.

Many thanks to all the cool people out there who share with us all the beauty of life, hope and faith. We appreciate you!

Leesa Jones is the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.