<p><strong>Next to the fire station on 34th Avenue West, the theater was a haven for Magnolia youngsters in the 1960s because it showed kids&rsquo; matinees on the weekends. Photo by Ken Baxter; courtesy Virginia Baxter/Magnolia Historical Society</strong></p>
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Next to the fire station on 34th Avenue West, the theater was a haven for Magnolia youngsters in the 1960s because it showed kids’ matinees on the weekends. Photo by Ken Baxter; courtesy Virginia Baxter/Magnolia Historical Society


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Then…

“…1925, there were four stores open for business, beginning what is now known as the Magnolia Village: Craigen’s Magnolia Pharmacy, Jorgenson’s Market, Howard T. Lewis Real Estate and Scott’s Service Station on McGraw Street, according to Joan Santucci’s article in “Magnolia: Memories & Milestones.” From that cluster of shops on West McGraw, there started a tradition of booze, bakeries and the best of Magnolia Village. 

“Magnolia’s first public house, beloved to many, was the Green Light Tavern, which moved into the Village in the 1930s. It evolved into the Leprechaun, then Ernie’s and then into the Blackthorne Village Pub, and is now simply The Pub — located on West McGraw Street.…

“The business opening in the Village that seemed to have caused the biggest community uproar was the Washington State Liquor Store. There did not appear to be any middle ground; residents were either for it or against it. The Magnolia Community Club (MCC) mounted a drive to oppose [it]…. The MCC received a lot of flak on this issue….

“In October 1959, one irate member wrote to the club president: ‘Why should we have to drive all the way to Ballard or Queen Anne when we want to buy liquor? You’re not going to dry up the world, so why not stop trying? Anyone who knows anything at all about alcoholics also knows they will get something to drink if they have crawl on their hands and knees to Oregon for it. Keeping a store out of Magnolia isn’t helping anyone or anything excepting your conceit.’

 “By 1978, Magnolia’s Liquor Store reported receipts of $1.2-million — not bad for a community of approximately 20,000 persons.” The liquor store thrived with Bill Watson at the helm, suggesting just the right red or white wine, and a basic selection to stock a bar for the last nearly 30 years. 

“From 1949 to 1979, the Village Bakery…enjoyed a great reputation that went far beyond the boundaries of its neighborhood. It was owned and operated by Arnold and Hedy Rusch, Swiss immigrants who had both worked in New York at the 1940 World’s Fair. They were brought to the Northwest to run the Swiss Bakery on Fifth Avenue in Downtown Seattle. By 1949, they had saved enough to buy Binick’s Electric Bakery at 3207 W. McGraw St.

“According to Hedy, Arnold was a gifted baker who could really stretch his ingredients if necessary and still turn out superior products. 

“Besides serving Magnolia, they also did specialty baking for The Rainier Club, The Harbor Club, and a number of local golf and country clubs. Many a Magnolia bride fed a piece of Village Bakery cake to her groom on her wedding day.”

But most remembered and still talked about Village businesses — the best: “The Magnolia Theatre, opening in 1948, was cause for great excitement, especially among the youngsters who finally had a movie house in their own neighborhood. Those attending the first showing saw the hit movie “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home,” starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. 

“Before Our Lady of Fatima Church was built, parish members attended Mass at the theater on Sunday mornings. Longtime Magnolia resident and parishioner Gloria LaRussa remembers falling asleep during Mass while sitting in one of those comfortable loge seats.” 

Not to mention the carpet, which was a pattern of Magnolia blossoms, which were repeated on the marquee in neon.

The opening of the theater combined with the Magnolia Bowl, the Magnolia Ice Creamery and Evelyn’s Ice Creamery (fresh peach and licorice made for a great combo and very black tongue and teeth) increased the area’s entertainment opportunities. Alas, juvenile patronage was not enough to keep things going, and all of these businesses eventually closed in the late 1960s.

Meredith’s 10¢ Store was Joan Santucci’s favorite: “What a treasure trove was found in there! Toys, party favors, patterns, fabrics and notions for sewing, yarn and needles for knitting and crochet work, glassware, pots and pans. One could buy tools, cosmetics, jigsaw puzzles, chewing gum, bobby pins, mops, brooms — you name it, and Meredith’s likely had it!”

 

Now…

With the privatization of the liquor store, new owners of The Spirit of Magnolia L.L.C. moved in early summer, supposedly with cigars to be added as an attraction. Five bars, more than several restaurants with liquor licenses, Albertson’s and Bartell’s Drugs sell large stocks of wine and beers, and, there is plenty of hard liquor on the shelves for the first time ever. 

With abrupt closure of the Upper Crust in April, we were without our morning fresh pastries for the first time since the ‘40s for several months. 

The new Finn Bakery and Café opened its doors in November and were sold out before 10 a.m. the first days it opened. Not sure of the clientele and, for the first time in Village history, no one to hand down time-worn recipes and a business model, they have navigated their way to a lunch menu posted on Facebook Jan. 3: “…vegan chili…sandwiches — roast beef with caramelized onions and blue cheese mayo; roasted turkey with pear, Swiss and onion jam; vegan pumpkin hummus….” 

It is not the ‘40s anymore! 

The Cocoa & Cream ice cream shop left in September after five years and lack of business. 

Menchies has arrived with frozen yogurt. 

And for movies, only a Red Box remains outside Bartell’s, which is also the closest we have to the old Meredith’s Dime Store.

MONICA WOOTON is president of the Magnolia Historical Society (www.magnoliahistoricalsociety.org). To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.