Vol. 12, No. 26, January 10, 2000
During the introduction of Kemper, Dick Brown was interrupted by Sergeant At Arms Steve Lingenbrink, who asked that Mr. Freeman join him at the lectern. Seems there was a recent advertisement showing Kemper in his black leather Harley uniform, A Profile of a Road Hog. Lingenbrink felt this was over-advertising and proposed a $100 fine. Highly unusual although Kemper is a Rotarian, he was the featured speaker that morning.
About the time Kemper began his defense, 20 BBRC members, all dressed in black leather, sprang from the audience, as the beat started to the Road Hog song Born to be Wild. From behind the crowd came the roar of a Harley, driven by Herb Bridge, one of Kempers Hells Rotarians. Astride the cycle in the passenger seat was none other than Mary Swan, BBRC flautist, who daily flaunts convention. Dark glasses, bandanas, and black leather were the theme of the day, as the whole crowd rose to the beat and burned off some calories!
L-R: Herb Bridge, Mary Swan & Kemper Freeman, Jr., holding a
pair of silk Harley shorts, presented by Bridge, who'd just
driven over for breakfast. Smile, Mary!!
Back to the program. Kemper relayed some interesting statistics. Average Eastsider income exceeds $90,000 today and expects to rise to $116,000 by 2003. Bellevue Square draws 55,000 people daily, and more than 100,000 during the weeks preceding Christmas. Three of the five wealthiest people in the country live on the Eastside, said Freeman. And, 14 of the 19 wealthiest in the Northwest live on the Eastside. Not everything is perfect, not everyone is happy.
Freeman pointed to development in the Central Business District (CBD) of Bellevue. In a five-year period from 1994-99, 2,100 housing units have been built in the core of the city; 591 new units are currently under construction; and 2,000 more are on the boards to be built in the next few years. This moves us toward a balance of use that weve been searching for for some time.
Freeman also commented about commercial endeavors. Three new office buildings are on line and becoming quickly occupied. You could say that Bellevue is fully leased, and five other office complexes are in the planning stage. Hotels, with 4,000 rooms, are doing well. The Hyatt is running 80% occupancy. There are entertainment facility projects underway and Eastside retail sales are stronger, with 1999 breaking all records.
As for Bellevue Square, its now 54 years old. All of the three major department stores have completely remodeled their facilities. The Square contains over a million square feet of retail space with 3 million total in the CBD. Back in 1981, a remodel of the entire Square cost $35 million. A new addition of 110,000 square feet, planned at the corner of Bellevue Way and N.E. 8th, will cost $35 million, according to Freeman.
He announced several tenants for the new construction: Crate & Barrel, a popular national home furnishings store with 38,000 square feet; Borders Books & Café; and Café Starbucks, situated in the Lodge at Bellevue Square, which will be highlighted by a beautiful fireplace. All of the Kemper Development Companys offices will be combined and moved into 15,000 square feet of the new 5-story addition. The 3-floor project is 80% occupied, and sights are set on a November 17, 2000, opening.
The black cloud mentioned earlier is a favorite topic of Mr. Freeman. He has long been a spirited advocate of improved transportation in the region. But, he says, congestion is making our lives miserable. All of the attempts to improve our transportation system havent solved the congestion. My biggest concern is that expansion of capacity for 405 and 520 is not even on the Department of Transportations 6-year plan, much less their 20-year plan. With the growth the Eastside is experiencing, how can that be?
Kemper, in an attempt to find a solution to the problem, hired an independent resource in engineer Bill Enger and asked him to find answers. The result of his studies showed that increasing our lane miles by 47% on the freeway system would reduce congestion and youd spend half what is now proposed. Up to 75% of the public says that congestion is the number one problem in the region. Daily trips will continue to increase, but there are no plans to tackle congestion.
We must get serious about our transportation system. The Eastside is like Baby Huey it doesnt know its own strength. We dont look at our problems as a region. We must learn to speak with one voice. If we dont get congestion under control, our employment and tax base will suffer, and it will happen sooner than later.
Kemper was presented with the traditional tree-planted-in-your-honor certificate as well as a gift certificate from Starbucks to mitigate all of the hassle weve put you through this morning!
A big thank you to Dick Brown for handling details of the Bellevue Square meeting and his introduction of Kemper Freeman, Jr.
Robin Callan then welcomed five visiting Rotarians and other guests.
President DeWater opened the first meeting of the new century musing about an article in last months Rotarian magazine where the Rotarian of the Future was discussed. The article said that the primary vocation of Rotarians would be Consulting, with a minor in Futurism. John asked the crowd how many rely on a machine cog to do their jobs. Few raised their hands. When asked whether they utilized a modem for their daily work, almost everyone raised their hands. A new way of looking at things as the New Year begins.
On the occasion of Dick Browns 60th birthday, a proclamation was read by John Mix, purported to be from Kemper Freeman, Jr., declaring the Year 2000 as the Year of the Brown and bestowing amnesty on Dicks lease payments until January 1, 2001, providing that the name of the firm be changed to Kemper Unlimited. Furthermore, Mr. Brown is directed to pick up the lease payments of Nordstrom, JC Penney, and The Bon during this period. Happy birthday!
Milt Douglas visited his Rotary Club Friday, as he progresses in his treatment for cancer. It was great to see Milt and we wish him continued good progress.
Three members were honored for completing their one-year New Member Orientation. President-Elect Cary Kopczynski congratulated John Martinka, Rob Lemmon, and Terry Peterson for finishing their obligations to this new program. They were each awarded a Jitters Mug and a pound of BBRC House Blend coffee.
Jan Nestler rose to thank the Club for its caring and sharing over the years and particularly this past fall, when she experienced the loss of her father. That same weekend that Jan was attending to memorial services, the BBRC sent a crew of workers to do fall clean-up activities at the Eastside Adult Day Center. Jan wanted to publicly thank the Club for its continued support of the EADC.
January is also a busy Club anniversary month. All of these charter members still active call January their anniversary month: Dick Brown, Dick Clarke, Dick Tschetter, Don Chandler, Don Deasy, Doug Cameron, Jim Owens, and Terry Baker. All have reached 14 years of service in the BBRC. Also commemorating anniversaries are Dean Pollock and John Smolke, their 8th; Jonathan Koshar and Tim Moriarty, their 2nd; and John Martinka, his 1st.
Thought For The Week
I was born to be wild!
Hopelink Building Dedication
Tours begin at 3:00 p.m.; dedication ceremony and celebration are at 6:30 p.m.; and the Hopelink annual meeting follows at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome. The new building is located at 14812 Main Street in Bellevue on the northeast corner of 148th Avenue N.E. and Main Street. Parking is available at Sammamish High School (Main at 140th), with ongoing shuttle service to the building. Please RSVP to Suzanne at (425) 869-6029.
On behalf of Hopelink and all the families you helped, I want to sincerely thank all BBRC members who gave to families in need during the holidays. Many contributed to the Thanksgiving baskets that enabled several low-income families to have a wonderful holiday meal.
Many also contributed gifts and time to the holiday gift-giving program. I extend a special thank you to Phil Salvatori for the many hours (and heart and soul) he put into the Giving Tree project. Hopelink was able to provide gifts to 1,325 children! We could not have done that without the wonderful contributions of BBRC members. All the families you helped want you to know that your efforts were very much appreciated. The joy you felt in participating in the giving tree or helping in the gift room was more than matched by the joy of the recipients. Thank you!
As usual, the generosity of the BBRC has made the jobs of these organizations so much easier as they work to help families in need during these important holiday seasons. Thanks, once again, from Scott Sadler and his staff at the Lake Heights Family YMCA.
Valentines Day is fast approaching, and Bob Moloney has again put out the word that the BBRCs world-famous Dine-Around Dinner is set for Saturday, February 12th. Sign-ups for this great fellowship and gourmet gastronomic event will be this Friday.
Another 25 members achieved a 90% attendance record. Congratulations to the perfect and near-perfect attenders!
Best Christmas Ever
Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was 15 years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadnt been enough money to buy me the rifle that Id wanted so bad that year for Christmas.
We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. So after supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasnt in much of a mood to read scriptures. But Pa didnt get the Bible; instead he bundled up and went outside. I couldnt figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didnt worry about it long, though I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.
Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold, clear night out and there was ice in his beard. Come on, Matt, he said. Bundle up good, its cold out tonight. I was really upset then. Not only wasnt I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. Wed already done all the chores, and I couldnt think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging ones feet when hed told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didnt know what.
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasnt going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up the big sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasnt happy.
When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. I think well put on the high sideboards, he said. Here, help me. The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.
When we had exchanged the sideboards Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of woodthe wood Id spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. Pa, I asked, what are you doing?
You been by the Widow Jensens lately? he asked.
The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, Id been by, but so what? Yeah, I said, Why?
I rode by just today, Pa said. Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. Theyre out of wood, Matt. That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.
We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. Whats in the little sack? I asked.
Shoes. Theyre out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunnysacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldnt be Christmas without a little candy.
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensens pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didnt have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didnt have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us. It shouldnt have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, Who is it?
Lucas Miles, Maam, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit? Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.
We brought you a few things, Maam, Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the childrensturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldnt come out.
We brought a load of wood too, Maam, Pa said, then he turned to me and said, Matt, go bring enough in to last for awhile. Lets get that fire up to size and heat this place up.
I wasnt the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and, much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks and so much gratitude in her heart that she couldnt speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy filled my soul that Id never known before. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyones spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadnt crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. God bless you, she said. I know the Lord himself has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. Id never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensens face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didnt want us to go. I could see that they missed their pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. Well be by to get you about eleven. Itll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasnt been little for quite a spell. I was the youngest. My two older brothers and two older sisters were all married and had moved away.
Widow Jensen nodded and said, Thank you, Brother Miles. I dont have to say, May the Lord bless you. I know for certain that He will.
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didnt even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didnt have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunnysacks and I knew what I had to do. So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Just then the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensens face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night; he had given me the best Christmas of my life.