The past lives here

EVERETT — A gigantic bronze likeness of the late Sen. Henry M. Jackson’s head.

Old sewing kits, a fishing boat model, sets of handcuffs.

A World War II raincoat, a porcelain-faced doll, a gold-trimmed military hat, a coal miner’s safety lamp, shoehorns, pocket knives, coin purses, matchbooks and an Everett store ledger from 1896.

There’s only one place you can find all that stuff.

The city of Everett has a basement filled with all the relics of time gone by. It’s located not in City Hall, but in a secured room on the bottom floor of the Culmback Building in downtown Everett.

It’s a great place to stroll down Everett’s memory lane — just watch your step.

The storage space is stuffed with this and that, some donated and some squirreled away from other agencies and the defunct Everett Historical Museum.

It’s a mix of treasures, memorabilia and a few oddities that nobody can bear to throw away.

That gargantuan bronze head of the late Jackson was made by artist Wendy Ross. It used to live in the Everett Public Library where the cafe is now. One can imagine small children scooting quickly past the solemn gaze of Everett’s most successful politician.

“I find it kind of moving,” said David Dilgard, a historian from the Everett Public Library, after touring the space last week. “It’s many different people’s attempts to hang onto artifacts that evoke what this place means.”

Some of those objects are perhaps more meaningful than others.

On one side of the room is a slide in the shape of an elephant that generated a million childish squeals of joy at Forest Park. It probably would be considered a safety hazard now.

Physical reminders of Everett buildings long gone are here, too, including a hunk of the terra-cotta cornice work that belonged to the old North Junior High School. When the streets along Hewitt Avenue were improved, someone decided they needed to keep a kiosk pole from the street, complete with fliers still attached.

In the creepy category are an armless mannequin and one long braid of human hair.

There’s loads of artwork and photographs. Along one wall hangs a cowboy mural painted by artist Arne Jensen that any shopper at the former B&M Grocery on Evergreen Way would recognize.

Funny man Stan Boreson is here, too, stored behind a cabinet — at least a black-and-white, life-size cardboard cut out of him and his immobile basset hound, No-Mo-Shun.

Then there’s the furniture: old desks, vintage sofas and the office furniture of Sen. Jackson, complete with burgundy leather couch.

Plenty of Everett’s more important bottoms sat in the set of black lacquered chairs from the Cascade Club, which was located at the old First National Bank Building on Hewitt and Colby. It was a cigar-and-brandy kind of place for the city’s mucky-muck men. Now the chairs sit here in the storage room, empty.

In the back of the storage room is a caged off area where more fragile documents and artifacts are kept. The items are neatly stacked, labeled and organized. Visitors are supposed to use silky white gloves when handling them.

Crack open a Sanborn map of the city from 1914, its leather tabs faded from year after year of fingers flipping from one section of the city to the next. The low man on the office totem pole would have to paste in the new additions to the map each year, Dilgard explained.

Where did all this stuff come from?

When the city opened up a museum in 1992, it asked people to donate historical items, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said. That museum closed a few years later. Another Everett museum run by an independent group for decades also is no longer open.

In these difficult times, there isn’t even a hint of a discussion about bringing these items back out into public view.

“There’s no plan for this now,” said Everett’s cultural arts manager Carol Thomas.

So here they sit.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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