Back in the day, Enumclaw’s economy rested on dairy farms, coal mines, and timber. Today, none of these is of much importance. There are only a few large dairies left, for instance the Krainick farm. The last of the operating mines — a strip-mine just outside Black Diamond — hasn’t done anything for many years. The Weyerhaeuser Lumber Mill is closed and all that’s left of the timber industry are a couple “gyppo” loggers.
In the last 30 or 40 years, our town has been overrun by “aliens” from the Kent Valley, California, and the Mid-West. (I mean, every month another 5,000 new people move into the Greater Seattle region and many of those spill in our little enclave.) At certain times of day — notably, Griffin between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon — the traffic congestion can rival that on Seattle’s Third Avenue.
One afternoon last week, I was discussing this very subject with a friend over coffee in the Lee restaurant. In the course of our conversation, she suggested the aliens have tried to blend into the native population and become as inconspicuous as possible. I agreed, but pointed out that the “foreigners” make certain subtle mistakes that reveal their presence.
For instance, authentic “Enumclawites” picnic and swim in “Deep Lake,” while newcomers picnic and swim in “Nolte Park.” Similarly, newcomers refer to the “Stop an’ Shop” corner, while locals call it “Chambers’ Corner.”
More significant, Enumclawites eat most of their meals at home; in contrast, the suburbanites, whether married or single, eat most of their meals in restaurants. Enumclawites enjoy the old local restaurants like the Lee and Krain Corner, but the suburbanites lean towards the Mint, Sicilano, Jackson’s and the Rainier. (Speaking of the latter, long-time residents joke about raising hell in the “old” Rainier, before it opened as a family restaurant.)
Enumclawites drink a lot of beer; the newer crowd prefers cocktails. Or, if we’re speaking of cocktails, the former prefers simply drinks, like whiskey and water or rum and coke, while the latter have invented all kinds of elaborate, delicious concoctions that disguise the hard booze, like a “Pink Lady” — which is also known by a more explicit sexual label. Near as I can determine on Google, there are several recipes for this drink, depending upon what area of the country you’re in. At any rate, the ingredients are too numerous to list here, but the basic tenants are rum an tequila.
Aliens feel attached and very involved with Seattle and identify with the city. Enumclaw becomes less of a home town and more of a bedroom refuge from the strain and rush of urban excitement.
I suspect they have different TV habits, but I haven’t yet isolated what they are.
In a statistical, demographic sense, the authentic Enumclawites are older — middle-aged or elderly — while the aliens tend to be in their late 20s or in their 30s. The “old-timers” have lived at their current addresses for 30 or 40 years; the suburbanites about 30 or 40 days.
Perhaps the most distinguishing trait involves matters of commuting. If you ask an Enumclawite how long it takes to drive to Seattle and park in the Macy parking lot, he’ll say, depending on the time of day, about an hour. Ask a suburbanite and he’ll say one hour, seven minutes, and 35 seconds, if you leave home at 9:45 a.m. On the other hand, if you leave earlier or later than that, you might not ever get there.