Well, she and her sisters were raised by a single mom in the farming country of Iowa. Early in her teenage years, she begin to wonder what kind of world lay beyond the confines of this rural setting, so eventually she became an airline stewardess. For several years thereafter, she visited major cities and world capitals all over the planet yet, broadening as that experience was, she remained, at heart, the simple country girl she’d always been.
Then, in 1981, she fell in love with Mount Rainier and moved to Enumclaw. In 1996, she married an airline pilot and he was also quite taken by our awesome mountain and the charming amenities of our town so, today, neither has any desire to live anywhere else.
In this respect, we’re very fortunate because, make no mistake about it, she’s become a major pillar in our community. In case you haven’t surmised as much, I speak of Marilyn Nelson. She’s the lady who took over the old J.C. Penney building at Cole and Initial, completely gutted the structure right down to the dirt foundation and reconstructed the place using, in many cases, sandstone from the Wilkeson quarry, which she and her husband own. Lo and behold, today we have Collectibles on Cole, the finest antique mall on the Plateau. (The restaurant on one side of the mall’s ground floor had been closed for several months, but opened again a few weeks ago as the Corner Cafe with a new menu and new managers, Cindy Gregory and Candy Stanhope.)
After such a major investment and architectural achievement – not to mention the vast improvement it made to our downtown appearance – you’d expect Marilyn might want to kick back, run her antique business and forget about any other projects for a few years. But that’s not her nature. Instead, she’s completed an important beautification project on the Foothills Trail and built five new homes on Terry Lane, just off Semanski Street. (Anywhere you see sandstone, it’s a safe bet Marilyn has been there.) She’s a dynamo with big plans for the town’s retail core.
Each Tuesday morning a group of local merchants meet in the restaurant for coffee and a Danish or two and they “shoot the sheep,” as W. C. Fields used to say, about Enumclaw and its future. Their latest proposal is a 10,000 square foot roof over the parking lot across Initial Avenue from Marilyn’s shop toward Arts Alive!. With such a roof offering protection from the elements, the site would be available throughout the year for any number of local civic and social events; for example, a farmers market, street dances. concerts, garden shows, etc. (Like the movie said, “If you build it, they will come.”) The structure would be owned by the city, but would be paid for entirely by grants, donations, endowments and other financial trickery. All the present parking stalls would be preserved.
Sounds like a damn good idea to me. But remember, this is just a proposal that has to work its way through, and get approval from, the city’s bureaucracy. With any luck at all, ground might be broken by New Year’s 2050, give or take a few days.