Family Business Memories


In January of 1951, the War in Korea was ongoing and although they should not have done so,
my father was called up. A veteran of many battles in the Pacific during world War II, Dad had
come home and chosen to use the G.I. Bill for schooling, instead of returning to finish his machinist
apprentice work for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. He had married, gone to
school for watch and jewelry repairs, entering that same field of work as his father. Also, I was on
the way, child number one. So, after getting military matters straightened away he was quickly sent
back home and went to work for a newly opened "Bernie Keenan Jewelry" in Bellevue, Washington.

The store was located at 614-104th N.E., many years before common use of "Bellevue Way" came
about. This was the extreme south end of the Lakeside Building, as more commonly known by this time,
than it's earlier "Lakeside Center" naming. The newer "Ditty Building" had by then blocked off views
from the south end windows. A small car could have actually squeezed through that new little alleyway!

Here are several views taken by (Dad) Albert C. Secrest, in June of 1955:
Look through the alley, and you can see the first car. That's Dad's 1951 Ford
Custom Sedan. It was a four door in their so-called "Birch Gray" paint:

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Right here I need to insert something. More than just noting the front end of Dad's car again...
Look at the edge of the canopy, and the concrete sidewalk below. See how they both line up? That
is the south edge of Lakeside Building property. In a few short years, that canopy was removed,
and the south wall of the building pushed out. The Jewelry Store was then shifted into this new
area. What had been the south wall of Larkin's was pushed north, and a completely new space
became available. This is where Eastside Travel would soon make it's home!

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Looking past the old cash register, out the front. A "Costume Jewelry" sign in window.

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That old safe looked enormous to a small boy! Looking to the store back end. Dad's work bench is
behind the counter and to the right. Through that door seen was a rest room and Bernie's work space:

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By the late 1960's, Bernie's health was failing. Dad had essentially been running the shop for a
few years by then. In mid-June of 1970, after Bernie passed away, my parents bought the business
from his wife Hazel. The store was compacted, and the back half leased to Eastside Travel. There
were photos taken during this time, and onward. The inside was rather nice and neat. At Christmas
there were always a few much loved ornaments on shelves in the front windows. Unfortunately, at
this time I have as yet been unable to locate those views. So we are forced to leap ahead in time.

It's December of 1985. This would be the final Christmas, as in less than two months Dad would
reach thirty five years here. It was time to retire and leave Bellevue for the last time.

I still have that Seiko clock/sign seen in the left window. Sadly, it was damaged in a move:

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In this view can be seen how narrow the alleyway became after the earlier building remodel:

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A few ads which were seen in the Bellevue American:

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The man himself, Al Secrest. A few days before retirement, at his faithful old work bench
of thirty five years. This little niche shop had a wonderful reputation and had seen many
interesting people. Inside I'd met Seahawks, Mariners, Sonics and more. Area notables
such as Bob Blackburn, Wayne Cody and others. Aside from his own customers, he also
did some occasional overflow work for a couple other area jewelers:

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Unfortunately, I do not recall who was kind enough to take and give these next photos to
our family. The last day was a short one, the door locked one last time. Then they went
next door, where long time friends at Eastside Travel hosted a retirement party for Dad.
These first two views are of Dad and his cake:

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And a last gathering for one final photo. Lorraine Secrest, (Mom), in front in her blue sweater.
In back, (Dad) Al Secrest. At front right is Pete Bishop, owner of Eastside Travel and everyone
is surrounded by the friendly ladies who had for so long staffed that shop for Pete:

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I'm proud of you, Dad!


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