only on vashon – the weekly rundown 06/25/21

If Vashon had an animal mascot (aka vibe beast, as one isalnder calls it)  what would it be? 

Our suggestions were many, including: 

  • Sasquatch aka Vashsquatch
  • Vole 
  • Geoduck 
  • A stoned geoduck 
  • Sloth
  • Slug
  • Unicorn
  • Banana slug
  • Orca
  • Racoon
  • Subaru (This is, to the best of my knowledge, not actually an animal.)
  • Boat on fire (Again, missing the mark here. What do they teach in high school biology?)
  • Lycanthrope / werewolf 
  • Deer with a dahlia in its mouth
  • Dragon
  • The cougar
  • Raccoons that hotbox or have hookahs. 

So our options fall into these categories: slow, imaginary, stoned, and Huffelpuff. 

I’m not sure why an animal that best represents us not only eats trash but is also high. But that is who we are.

We’ve been remembering McFeeds this week. They were the pet and animal feed shop run by Phil and Susie located where the art center now stands. McFeeds was home to Stella the Basset Hound, as well as parrots named Frick and Frack. There was also an African Grey parrot named Earl Grey. One of these parrots hated everyone and said, “no,” whenever a customer entered the store. Another one loved women with deep voices. You were allowed to hold the birds, although sometimes they’d bite you or tug on an earring. 

McFeeds held hamster races, which involved hamsters in plastic balls rushing down wooden tracks. The store employed many locals, and one islander recalls being 12 and working there, trying to remain cool while chasing escaped gerbils around. 

There was a fish room and a reptile room. (These are, coincidentally, my interior design goals.) The goldfish they sold were notoriously long-lived. One islander gave them out as party favors  for a child’s birthday, and the fish went on to live for nearly twenty years. 

McFeeds gave out free Red Vines candy. People would go in for a quick snack and come out with a lifetime of responsibility in the form of a pet rabbit. 

Even the house they used to live in is a beloved place. One islander asked if anyone remembers the Pig Party in ‘79 in the house that later became Phil and Susie’s house. Whenever I hear about the Mud Bog Days, Harlan’s bus, or things like the Pig Party of ‘79, I realize I was born too late. 

We miss these shops and the people who inhabited them, and it brings to mind how the island has changed. One person posted the most definitive evidence of how far we’ve fallen from grace. Someone left their shopping cart in the Thriftway parking lot. They did not return their cart! 

A big part of the reason that the island has changed is that property values are so high that people can’t afford their taxes and either move away or take on more work. Constantly feeling a sense of financial insecurity changes the tone of life, and if everyone is sitting under that cloud, it can change the character of society. 

But we do still have a few quirks. An islander is looking for other people interested in dream work, depth psychology, projection, and active imagination. He said, and I quote, “If so, omg let’s be friends.” Loads of people replied. Apparently, there are multiple dream analysis groups on island. 

How come I’m not in one of these groups? Every morning I ask my kids what they dreamed the night before. And they always start by saying, “we…” instead of “I…” Why are their unconscious senses plural? I’m delighted that they’ve kept that feeling of belonging and plurality through the isolating pandemic. If anyone has some Jungian jargon they can throw my way about how we perceive our identity both in relation to others and as a member of a collective, drop it in the comments. 

The fruit stand is back! It’ll still be on Fridays and Saturdays, but this year it’s on the NE corner. So far everyone is excited and no one’s mentioned the foot traffic congestion. Yet.

At Paper Chase, there’s a beautiful display of mourning, with roughly 2,600 pieces of origami. Each one represents a person in King County who died of Covid. The piece is called The Forest of Lost Souls by artist Alice Larson. Three of those pieces represent islanders. 

I think it’s important to memorialize the dead and to remember that millions of people have died globally of Covid. We need time to grieve, and time to feel anger and sadness at the loss. I plan on visiting the exhibit, where I will undoubtedly ugly cry and embarrass my children. 

Finally, enjoy these images of the Goose Family boldly walking down the street. 

photo credit: Mike Shomsky

He’s judging them for not using the sidewalk.

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

4 thoughts on “only on vashon – the weekly rundown 06/25/21”

  1. I know this is posting June ’21 is over a year old, but I just did a search today (7/14/22) on Earl the African Grey (at McFeeds?) on Vashon Island and this post came up! I’ll never forget Earl :-). I was one of those women with a deep voice that Earl fell in love with. I wanted to adopt him, however he didn’t like my husband! I hope he ended up in a great home with someone who really loved and cared for him.

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