My Grandma Mattie Young raised her family here. It’s a place that we’ve all been and has been changed forever. This is beautiful downtown Fife, circa 1933, and we take so much for granted having all that we have available to us today. This photograph is an example of what they meant when they said, “We started out with nothing and still have most of it left.” The largest building almost in the center of the photograph was called the Century Ballroom. Dancing was very popular during those days and people would come from miles around to dance and see all the big bands of the day. I could just imagine what it would be like to see Tommy Dorsey and Cab Calloway playing there.
Highway 99, as it was called at that time, was the main road to everywhere, and for reference, ran from left to right in the lower portion of this photograph and intersected with 54th Street. On the corner of 54th and Highway 99 is the Poodle Dog Restaurant – yes, it’s been around that long. Many of the buildings that lined Highway 99 on the Poodle Dog side of the road are still there; they’ve just had different owners over the years. It’s hard to believe that the snarling mass of traffic congestion that we see everyday in Fife looked like this at one time. This was during the Depression era, so times were hard for everyone, although Indians during that time were probably able to get along better as they already knew how to live off of the land.
The next photo shows the other side of Fife in a way that seems hard to believe. This is what the land looked like before the freeway, and there was nothing but farmland as far as you could see. The main road in front the high school was called Milton Avenue at the time, and the Fife High School campus was well established since opening in 1899. The silence of the area would be deafening to us today, but I think it would have its own personal charm. A hard days work left you dirty and tired and you knew the value of your worth. With nothing to get in the way of life, times seemed simpler and more honest.
Yes, times were very different back then and the people were too. The school of hard knocks taught you most of what you knew, and the Golden Rule was planted deeply within the soil of people’s hearts. A part of me wishes that I could stand within these times and experience life as it was, mostly because I don’t want these memories to fade away. My family grew up as children here, and though the memory may be distant from me, I want keep it all the same. People will say the same things of our days, at least I hope they will, and what will be the greatest thing they will remember of our times? Will it be the building of the monuments that stand as a reminder of who we were, or will our memories be planted deeply within the hearts of the one’s that we’ll leave behind?