Youth can often be mysteriously influenced by art

Some of us growing up in the early 1950s in Enumclaw didn’t have what I would consider “cultured” introductions to the arts.

  • Tuesday, February 24, 2009 12:18pm
  • Life

Some of us growing up in the early 1950s in Enumclaw didn’t have what I would consider “cultured” introductions to the arts.

The neighbor boy and I were pals. He was 4 and I was 5 when we discovered we could be playmates. Both of our fathers were loggers. Enumclaw was a quiet, little town. How either of us became drawn to the arts, I’m not sure. I believe it had to do with living in an environment of natural simplicity, surrounded by dairy fields and mountains, while being emboldened by our vivid imaginations.

Ninety-five percent of the time we were never far enough away that we couldn’t hear the call of our mother’s voices who were stay-at-home moms. If we strayed too far we always made sure to bring home a handful of wild daisies to calm our mother’s worries. Sometimes it worked. The Hampton’s dairy field yielded those daisies, hay bales for forts and tractor rides from Mr. Hampton. Every now and then Mr. Hampton would send my mother a warm gallon of raw milk, fresh out of one of his cows. Thick cream would rise to the top of the gallon jug at least 3 inches thick. Mom would make the most heavenly whipped cream from it.

The neighbor boy and I would build dams in the OPEN sewer ditch at the border of our lot that mingled with the cow manure from the adjoining dairy field. I brought home a perfectly good “balloon” I found in the ditch one day, to my mother’s horror. One night a rat was doing the backstroke in our toilet bowl during its own expedition of Enumclaw’s early sewer system. I can still hear my mother’s screams! What does this have to do with the arts, you ask? It’s fodder for imagination, drama and creativity. Everything was an adventure to me and the neighbor boy.

We’d play catch with his baseball. We’d take turns pitching and hitting pop-fly balls to each other. For a girl, I got to be pretty good and wasn’t afraid to have a speeding baseball zoom toward my head. I’d simply catch it in the provided mitt that fit my hand perfectly. I had become fearless!

By 11 years of age, the neighbor boy and I would ride several miles to Newaukum Creek and catch giant brown frogs. Even though we wore barn boots up to our knees we always went home soaking wet up to our armpits. Getting wet was part of the deal. One time we scooped up a freshwater crawfish and we knew we had barely missed losing our lives from being stung by a deadly “scorpion.” I’ll never forget that rush of danger and our screams of excitement.

Sometimes we’d take a swim in a giant, muddy, water hole in a private gravel pit across the Hampton’s dairy field. There was a “No Trespassing” sign on the property, but that couldn’t have been meant for us. Jean “cutoffs” and T-shirts were our swim suits. At 10 and 11 we were the Indiana Joneses of the neighborhood. We never vandalized anything. We were explorers! Once we saw a giant dead snake floating in that same water, so we agreed we probably shouldn’t swim in it any more. You see, we were capable of making some sound decisions. We then decided to start catching and releasing live snakes for fun.

Reading comic books by flashlight and eating popcorn, we’d sleep outside in our sleeping bags in the middle of our adjoining yards or in Mr. Hampton’s freshly mown hay field and watch for UFOs. Of course we saw many. On some nights we’d count shooting stars and gasp at the brightest. I’ll never forget one warm summer night when we could see heat lightening on the horizon. We were convinced aliens from outer space had begun their attack. Waking up with our dogs next to us and our hair wet from morning dew was the end of our alien scouting adventure for the night. It was then on to the next discovery on our bicycles.

Christine Walden would come out and say “hi” to me as I walked to school. Her husband, Les Walden was already at work, preparing his band class for its next lesson. Sometimes I’d go to their house to visit their daughter Lori and she taught me how to play chopsticks on their piano. It was a pretty “girly” thing for me to do, but I liked the Waldens very much and sure liked that piano. That small musical influence taught me I had rhythm. That was about the extent of my formal musical education. Lori went on to become a professional musician and played flute and percussion instruments in a touring band for several years. I have one of their albums. Remember those large, round black discs we used to put in record players?

I was both tomboy and a girl. I felt like I could do anything. By my junior high and high school years, music had become my “drug of choice” and I would anticipate our concerts and special performances eagerly, mostly due to the passion our director, the late Bob Estby, would instill in us.

Paul Scott is creating that same kind of musical passion in his Enumclaw High School choral students today. Scott’s students are schooled not only in superb choral music, but they will be subject to impeccable discipline, timeliness, concentration, teamwork, accountability and public presentations that will instill self-confidence and pride that will only benefit the community where they will eventually reside in their adult lives. There is so much more to performing arts than performing. Scott is well on his way to influencing many thousands of young people by giving them incredible life skills to fall back on. I am thrilled for the Enumclaw’s School District and its music program thanks to Scott’s talent and dedication.

Eric Stevens, Enumclaw High School’s new band director, is bringing the very best of learning experiences to his students his first year and it is exciting to see him hit the teaching and directing venue at full speed.

But what happened to the neighbor boy?

The neighbor boy and I parted while I became a young lady interested in music and my small group of girlfriends. He who shared my most treasured parts of my childhood grew into a successful athlete playing basketball in high school, while bringing down straight As.

He received his bachelor of science in architecture studies at Washington State University, graduating cum laude 1975 and in 1976 received his bachelor’s in architecture at WSU, cum laude, while being a graduate of the Honors Program, Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honorary society.

He spent 18 months in Europe from 1977 to 1986. In Europe he ventured out on his own personal architectural pilgrimage. He interviewed at graduate schools and finally worked on his master’s degree field work there. During this time he was invited to participate in an archaeological dig at Callanish, 9 Stone Circle in Scotland. This is a stone circle older than the famous Stonehenge in Britain. There he finished his thesis field work that he had started the year before.

In 1989, he received his master’s degree in architecture at the University of Idaho and was a member of Tau Sigma Delta Honorary Society. His written thesis topic covered geomagnetic anomalies and site planning of historic structures in Great Britain; their effects on human health and use of buildings.

His artistic talents are as impressive as his education and his search for Mother Earth’s mysteries. He has drawn the inside of cathedrals and ancient sights with such precision that it takes your breath away. His stained glass work is exquisite as are his photography skills. He has held many exhibitions of his photography. He has mined quartz crystals and has created amazingly beautiful jewelry from his crystal finds. I am glazing over the enormous beauty of his work. His generosity is as prominent as his artistic talent. He has given away most of his creations out of appreciation for friendships. He is a humble, kind, soft-spoken gentleman.

His favorite occupation has been teaching as an assistant in Europe, at WSU and at the University of Idaho in Moscow. He has loved opening the minds and challenging the thought process of young people. He has led many student groups into the high Cascades on nature walks and taught secrets that only the wisest of Native American scouts could offer.

Currently, he resides in a private location close to his beloved Cascade Mountain Range and works as an independent architect. Most people call him Del. I call him my “brother” and forever friend. He was the best part of my childhood and an appreciated figure and influence in my present.

There IS something wonderful to be said about growing up in a small town. The outdoors was our playground and in our innocence and imagination we discovered the beauty of nature’s art in the foothills of Mount Rainier and through the inspirations of our teachers – just like our local students on the Plateau are experiencing now.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.