Mike Papadimitriou, owner People’s Shoe Repair, holds up a leopard print high held shoe left behind by a customer on Jan. 5 in Everett. Mike has been the sole proprietor since 1968. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Mike Papadimitriou, owner People’s Shoe Repair, holds up a leopard print high held shoe left behind by a customer on Jan. 5 in Everett. Mike has been the sole proprietor since 1968. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Spirited and strange: A look back at The Herald’s features of 2017

From a spirited Greek cobbler and an eclectic Everett hair salon to the The OMGThatHouse and a so-called crab whisperer, 2017 was a year of showcasing bold, interesting folks, icons and trends in Herald Features.

Arts and entertainment reporter Gale Fiege got the scoop on the Lynnwood man who was a leading contender on “Project Runway.” What’s Up With That? columnist Andrea Brown went to an Edmonds salon where cats get facials and full-body shaves. Features editor Sara Bruestle recovered stories of some of Snohomish County’s most notable black pioneers.

Here’s a look back at some of the people, places and things that made for a memorable year.

This charming Greek cobbler keeps a tradition alive in Everett

When I walked into People’s Shoe Repair on Wetmore Avenue, I was greeted by an 86-year-old man in high-waisted trousers with a thick Greek accent and a grin as wide as 3E shoes.

Perched at a library desk with a cassette boombox of classical music, stacks of books and a portrait of Dwight Eisenhower on the wall, Mihail “Mike” Papadimitriou seemed more professor than cobbler.

The man and the machine came to life with a burst of noise and dust. It was like being at ground zero of a rocket launch.

High heels. Holsters. Handbags. Belts. It’s all done the old-fashioned way.

Descendants of black Snohomish County citizens uncover history

Jimmy Claxton broke professional baseball’s color barrier in 1916. This is his baseball card as a pitcher for the Oakland Oaks. (Steven K. Bertrand)

Jimmy Claxton broke professional baseball’s color barrier in 1916. This is his baseball card as a pitcher for the Oakland Oaks. (Steven K. Bertrand)

Marian Harrison and Marilyn Quincy may not think of themselves as historians, but that’s exactly what they are.

They have turned to century-old newspapers, business directories, census reports, tax records, graveyards and their own memories to recover the stories of some of Snohomish County’s earliest African-American residents.

Their work started as a way to pass on forgotten family history but soon expanded to include all of the county’s black pioneers — lives that have largely been overlooked by earlier historians.

Early African-Americans looking to start anew after the demise of slavery settled here to find freedom, gain employment and own land.

City Kitty owner John Schwartz trims Andy the cat at his cat salon in Edmonds on Feb. 1. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

City Kitty owner John Schwartz trims Andy the cat at his cat salon in Edmonds on Feb. 1. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Fur flies: Salon for cats in Edmonds is a big hairy deal

It’s not every day you hear about a cat getting a blueberry facial and a full-body shave.

A beauty shop for cats. What’s up with that?

City Kitty, a cat salon in a quaint, suburban Edmonds shopping plaza.

Owner John Schwartz does the barbering, often wearing armored gloves.

Brian Flansburg (left) looks for clues in a document while his friends try and decode other messages at the Escape Scene in downtown Everett on May 6. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Brian Flansburg (left) looks for clues in a document while his friends try and decode other messages at the Escape Scene in downtown Everett on May 6. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

New escape room in Everett offers immersive adventures

We had traveled back in time. It was Aug. 7, 1876. We were in Deadwood.

I and six of my friends were special agents recruited by the Space-Time Investigation Agency to time travel to Deadwood, South Dakota, at the peak of the Black Hills Gold Rush.

Our mission: Recover one of three fragments of a dangerous alien device from the safe in the sheriff’s office before he returned. We had 60 minutes.

Of course, my friends and I didn’t actually time travel to the Wild West as SIA agents: We were playing an escape room game at the new Escape Scene in Everett.

Hair salon on Broadway a bustling hub with ‘Eclectik’ vibe

Melissa Castleman is a third-generation stylist and a hair-color scientist. Many of her customers are women of a certain age.

Her salon, Eclectik, has become a hub of sorts for the North Broadway neighborhood. People stop by just to say hi. They hang out.

Melissa enjoys this vibe. As her tattooed left forearm testifies: “Ohana,” referring to her love of extended family and her mission that “nobody gets left behind.”

Iconic OMG! Lake Stevens spaceship house faces demolition

The odd-shaped gray three-story house has been a Lake Stevens eyesore and icon for 40 years. It’s been called the shipwrecked lighthouse, Darth Vader House, Flintstone House, The Dr. Seuss House, Rapunzel’s Tower, Prison guard tower, Volkswagen Bus House or the Hobbit House. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The odd-shaped gray three-story house has been a Lake Stevens eyesore and icon for 40 years. It’s been called the shipwrecked lighthouse, Darth Vader House, Flintstone House, The Dr. Seuss House, Rapunzel’s Tower, Prison guard tower, Volkswagen Bus House or the Hobbit House. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The gray concrete and stucco structure at 12209 20th St. NE had been a roadside attraction since construction began in 1983 by a Boeing worker with a thing for triangles.

The oddity with hexagon windows got called a lot of different names over the years: Darth Vader house. Flintstone house. Dr. Seuss house. Edward Scissorhands house. Rapunzel’s tower. Prison guard tower. Spaceship house. One ugly house. Count Olaf’s house from “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” The OMGThatHouse.

Now, the landmark is gone. The building was sold and the new owner had it torn down.

Gale Johansen relishes being called an old hippie. The pretty, petite, gray-haired artist has been a free spirit throughout her life.

A 1969 Edmonds High School graduate, Johansen calls Snohomish home and is beloved in Everett, where she is the Schack Art Center Artist of the Year and had a show title My Swirly Brain and Other Oddities.

Her detailed, textured paintings and sculpture are bright, colorful, whimsical and wild, in a style all her own. Eyeballs, not just the eyes, play a part in her art.

Singer and guitarist Jonny Lang will play the Stillaguamish Festival of the River on Sunday in Arlington. (Photo by Daniella Hovsepian)

Singer and guitarist Jonny Lang will play the Stillaguamish Festival of the River on Sunday in Arlington. (Photo by Daniella Hovsepian)

Back to the river: Jonny Lang played Stillaguamish Tribe’s fest

Grammy award-winning Jonny Lang is headed back to Arlington as one of the headliners at the Stillaguamish Festival of the River.

A blues prodigy of the ’90s, Lang, now 36, has been a singer, songwriter and guitarist for more than two decades.

He picked up the guitar when he was 12 after his father took him to see The Bad Medicine Blues Band, one of the few in his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota.

“It just blew my mind. Especially the sound of the guitar,” Lang said. “I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to learn how to do that.’ My dad knew the guitar player, so I was able to take lessons from him.”

Body waxing from brows to toes … and everywhere in between

There’s no way to wax eloquent about this hair removal salon. It’s more than lips and brows. It’s not-so-public places where people have a lot of hair.

Waxology: A Beauty Boutique offers full-body hair removal in places you might not know it grows — for women and men.

Yes, men.

About 20 percent of their waxing clients are male, said Brandi Pattison and Athena Walker, who opened Waxology in May at 1317 Hewitt Ave.

Shallin Busch handles mature female Dungeness crabs being studied at the NOAA facilities in Mukilteo, where research is being done on how ocean acidification affects marine species. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Shallin Busch handles mature female Dungeness crabs being studied at the NOAA facilities in Mukilteo, where research is being done on how ocean acidification affects marine species. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Mukilteo scientist tries to discover why C02 is hurting oceans

Dungeness crabs are her lab rats.

Shallin Busch is a Mukilteo-based ecologist whose research is linking ocean acidification to the deteriorating health of the Puget Sound ecosystem.

Busch, 40, has been a fisheries biologist and researcher for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center at Mukilteo for nearly 10 years. She is at the forefront of NOAA’s efforts to understand the effects of ocean acidification.

“I have just been driven by this question: How does our physiology change with our environment? I stumbled on that in college and I’ve been following it ever since,” she said.

Lynnwood man living clothing designer’s dream on ‘Project Runway’

Deyonte Weather of Lynnwood was one of the leading contenders on season 16 of Lifetime TV’s “Project Runway” competition. (Project Runway)

Deyonte Weather of Lynnwood was one of the leading contenders on season 16 of Lifetime TV’s “Project Runway” competition. (Project Runway)

Everett hair salon owner Cookie Johnson believes her grandson Deyonté Weather, 36, was born with his fashion sense.

“It’s in Deyonté’s genes,” Johnson said. “On both sides of his family.”

No one will dispute the proud grandmother’s claim. The Lynnwood clothing designer was one of the leading contenders on season 16 of Lifetime TV’s “Project Runway” competition.

Weather grew up in Chicago. His mother and her family loved fashion. Picture ladies in fancy hats headed to church. Fur coats in winter. Ensembles year round.

At 19, he was ‘Baby’ this year on the Pacific Crest Trail

What did you do this past summer? Cameron Hill, 20, of Snohomish, hiked the entire length of the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

His solo journey began April 4 at Campo, California, on the Mexican border, and ended Sept. 18 at Manning Park, British Columbia. Along the way, Hill dealt with snow, swollen rivers, fires and a long, hot dry spell. It wasn’t the easiest year to through-hike the trail.

Because he was only 19 when he started, Hill was given the trail name “Baby” by fellow hikers he met on the way. His dad, Glacier Peak High School teacher and coach Brian Hill, said Cameron came away from the trip with the confidence to tackle anything.

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