FROM “THE FREEZER SHOP” to “THE ROSLYN CAFÉ”

1976/1977

 

I had made several trips to Roslyn, all fun adventures, and I was hooked, especially sitting at the Pastime Tavern or The Brick and listening to the miner’s tales, not just the scary stories of days underground in the mines, explosions and deaths, but also what families did for fun.  There was a quite large baseball stadium in the park at one time where much action took place.  Now the stadium was no longer there, although the park still existed for baseball games, town picnics (especially the Croatian Picnic), and the fabulous Fourth of July fireworks.  Two of my favorite new friends told me how they loved to drive their pickup truck into the Cle Elum River and fish from the back.  Bocce ball was another popular sport brought over from Italy.

 

On one of these trips, I was sitting in the Pastime, looking out the window across the street at the dark and empty building situated on the corner, when I noticed a small note attached to the front door.  I decided to check it out, walked over at evening time and on a small 3 X 5 inch card read the handwritten words:

FOR SALE followed by a phone number and name

Mary’s Freezer Shop

I was with some Seattle friends, but decided to call the number and spoke with the last owner, Carl Beedle.    Mary Andler had sold her business, “Mary’s Freezer Shop.”  and moved next door to help run the Roslyn ­­­­Museum.  Carl was a large strapping friendly fellow with his own logging company who lived in town.  Carl told us he had 13 children.  I began to understand why it might have been difficult for him to take on another business as this building had been closed now for over three years.

The electricity was off—no power or water.  It was totally dark.  He brought a flashlight and we tried to make out what he was showing us.  We wound our way through the old Café with it’s very worn booths, the small cooking area, back into the central room of wooden cages that had been the rental freezer area, and back further into an even darker space where there was a gigantic ice cream making machine.  This is where Mary made her famous ice cream.  This room also housed the heating system:  an attached coal bin, the auger which automatically moved the coal into a very large furnace which sent heat through ductwork that went through the entire building.  Although coal was no longer mined, it was now brought in by train from Montana since many of the townspeople still had coal stoves.

We then passed thru another small hall and into what was once Dante’s Barber Shop.  It had two very wonderful antique leather and marble barber chairs and a real revolving barber pole.  This business was also closed down now with Dante’s retirement.

We followed Carl back the way we had come down a hallway where a door opened up to a steep set of stairs, leading to the second floor.  You walked into a kitchen which was empty except for a small stove and sink.  This led into the very large room which had been the meeting hall.  There was a closet used for storing all the hats and flags of the different mining orders that met upstairs.  There was a very old upright piano.

Upstairs of Café Building.  This photo by Barbara Witt was taken years later after we had moved out of the upstairs.  We contemplated a dining/music area which never came to pass.  It is now totally different and I hope the current owners can send photos of the space that exists upstairs now.

 

This was in the late fall.  It was freezing inside that building and the name “Freezer Shop” definitely fit.   I was seeing the entire place by flashlight.  There was no doubt in my mind.  I wanted to be in this town and in this building with my 4 year old daughter.  I made an offer which was accepted.  We moved into the upstairs during a cold, snowy January, where a small crowd had gathered outside to see if the lights would go on.  People were especially curious to see if all the pipes were going to break after being turned off through several cold winters.  The lights went on, no water exploded and for days I sat with some retired miners back by the coal stoker, learning how to shovel coal into the auger, set the timers, get the fire going and heat this enormous space.

Luckily my sister Jill and her daughter Andrea moved over ahead of us and had a warm, comfortable home where we stayed during the first part of the move to town.  This was especially welcoming at night when coming home covered with coal dust from working on the stoker.

My furniture, such as it was, became the dividers in the larger room:  a dining table and living area, then bedrooms separated by the freezer lockers from downstairs that worked as shelves.  It was actually quite comfortable, like a loft in the city.   The windows looked onto all the downtown activities with Harper Lumber across the street one way, the Pastime directly across in front, the Post Office just kitty corner, and on down the street, a view of the Pioneer Grocery and the Brick Tavern.  The Eagles was back up the side street and further out were views of Brookside and other residential areas stretching into the nearby hillsides.

Then it was time to figure out what in the world we were going to do downstairs.  That took some time, trusted friends, good advice from townsfolk, long hours of hard work and some pure magic and great luck in finding wonderful people to work at this new incarnation: The Roslyn Café