Frederick & Nelson book

On Thursday, January 15th at 2:00pm I will be a featured presenter for the Chateau at Bothell Landing’s Frederick & Nelson Reminiscence Tea. Pushed back because of inclement weather in December, this much-awaited holiday tea and book signing with residents will take place at the Chateau (floor B1) on Thursday, January 15 at 2 pm. I am so happy this has been rescheduled! I’ll read some passages of my book, and then invite others to share memories themselves. Senior Citizens ranging from their 60s to 100s will recall the glory days of a true Seattle landmark in an open-mike setting.

The event is open to the public. Former bakers from the famous Frederick & Nelson tea room will supply their famous coconut cake. A former F&N president and other employees including Frango candy makers and a one-time manager of the Tearoom have indicated they will attend. Adam Conley, Chateau Retirement Communities Communications Director, and at 32 one of the youngest generation to fondly remember Frederick & Nelson, coordinated the event and will bring his collection of vintage F&N memorabilia, including a doorman’s cap, for display. Guests are encouraged to bring Santa photos and memories, and come have a good time! For more information call Adam at 425.488.2400 ext 230.

Thom says –

I worked for them in the 60’s before I moved to Hawaii and still have life long friends from the experience… I worked in the Sign Shop in Advertising and did signs for the windows, most of my friends were in Display.  I have many many stories some I’m not sure I should repeat.  But F&N means a great deal to me not only working there but growing up in Seattle.  I sent Christmas cards last year with a picture of my self on Santa’s lap when I was 5 or 6. I have tried to explain the store to people who have no clue and it is impossible.  I hope your book has captured the essence of what it was about.

Terra remembers -

I am so interested in your F & N book. My mother took us to tea and fashion shows there frequently. I went to charm school there and was a mini model as a teen(before they came up with petite). There were all those great little shopettes from around the world. You could buy table pads and have your pottery re-glazed and your candlesticks re-silvered.

You could buy candy and makeup (two obsessions of my youth) and have a Frango shake while your clothing was being hemmed (short person problems). My mother took all four girls to F& N and Nordstrom Best once every six weeks to “refresh” our wardrobes and take in our shoes to make sure there were no run down heels. We wore gloves and had our hair done before going downtown.

All of our prom dresses and wedding accessories were bought there (except mine because I eloped and got married in Paradise, Montana the first time). We used the wedding service because they carried Reed and Barton and my grandmother insisted we pick only from that brand. They also had bedding from Switzerland if you asked the right lady. It was all very old school as you well know. Even my relatives from LA and New York enjoyed shopping there. They said the elevator “girls” smiled. Life was good if you were smiling and wearing good quality clothing.

From Carol -

Before there was Starbucks there was the Paul Bunyan Room located in the basement of F&N.  I remember enjoying many a delicious cup of coffee, sitting at the counter there often in 1976-78.  It had to have been the best cup of coffee in town!  Mmmmmm, I can still remember the rich, smooth taste served in a lovely white porcelain cup and saucer of good quality.

Lothar wrote -

My dad worked in the bakery at F&N around 1964 for about two years before retiring in about 1966. He was able to park the car at Denny Park (?) and walk to work. I remember an employees-only floor where you could buy clearance merchandise, and spending my allowance on sugar-free candy containing cyclamates after they had been banned. (We lived dangerously!)

From Marit to Bernice -

Bernice: You are not going to believe this – but do! Last night I had the most wonderful dream about Frederick and Nelson – the door men, the Santa Claus, the Tea Room, F&N purchases (at no cost) delivered to our front door, year round. I have just returned from my mothers, where my brother and I joined her for lunch, and I shared my dream with them. Is that extreme coincidence, or what? As a young mother, my close friend and I would dress our first born and ourselves to the nines and take the little ones to lunch in the Tea Room and afterward drop them off at the free nursery while we shopped. What great memories. I, simply, must see the book. Marit

OK…getting pretty sick of this whole snow thing…it was cute at first…all picturesque and all but now its become annoying, to say the least. Right now I’m supposed to be at KUOW taping an interview about Frederick & Nelson and the Christmas experience but unfortunately the host…and the back up host…are unable to make it in to the station after standing in the snow for hours waiting for the Metro bus that is probably jack-knived in the middle of an intersection near you. Here’s what I wrote in response -

Thanks for giving it a go…I am disappointed that it didn’t work out for today…it would have been the most perfect thing for your listeners to hear today as they are most likely a captive audience! Alas we mere mortals aren’t capable of the lengths F&N would go in their quest for amazing customer service…I’m reminded of the story (I can’t remember if I told Dave) about the 1928 Christmas Ship to Alaska that ran aground destroying all the gifts on board. F&N hunted through hundreds of sales slips by hand, recreated all the orders, commissioned a new boat to sail, and when they arrived in Alaska chartered planes and dog sleds to deliver presents by Christmas Day. Unfortunately all we have is Metro…a poor substitute for a dog sled if I ever saw one.

Then I was perusing the LinkedIn:Seattle discussion that’s been going on regarding memories of F&N and tried to set the record straight on the topic of Frangos using my finest command of weasel words -

Yes…you can get something called an official Frango at Macy’s (there was a heated battle over the rights to the name, shape of the box, etc. when the store closed involving over 9 companies and far too many lawyers) but…is it the recipe we all remember? Or does Seattle Gourmet Chocolates have the Mint That Dares Not Speak Its Name? I’ll just say that at the Frederick & Nelson Retired, Fired, Quit Club Holiday Luncheon, which I had the honor of attending with Lamont MacDonald – the inventor of the Frango mint machine, – what they had available were what they called “the familiar mint” from Seattle Gourmet Chocolates.

When I had my book launch a couple of weeks ago, my friend Kim Carsberg made several Frango mint desserts from recipes she had obtained from the Bon Marche soon after F&N closed (and they held the rights to the Frango name.) They were amazing and were gobbled up immediately. Later we were talking of the history of the Frango and Kim told me that she hadn’t wanted to tell me that getting all the Frangos she needed to make the desserts was just too expensive at Macy’s so she went to Costco and bought Seattle Gourmet Chocolates in bulk. She was afraid I would think them inauthentic…she couldn’t have been more wrong ;-)

I’ve been having a bit of the pre-Christmas blues…never fun to be unemployed at this time of year (as much of America is well aware of right now) and struggling to come to terms with the fact that my publisher, when faced with publicizing a book a book that is frankly All About Christmas has taken a very Scarlett O’Hara approach and decided to think about it tomorrow…or rather in February. And combined with the fact that the weather has been frightful…with not a whole lot of delightful to go around and I’m sitting surrounded by unsold books and merchandise for events that got buried under several feet of snow…well…you get the idea. But…somewhere out there Clarence must have done a stint at F&N and had a few left over good deeds to perform because I’ve been hearing a few bells ringing the past few days.

On Saturday Tony and I had no less than 3 parties and an event (the Steampunk Caberet) to attend and we were all dressed up and ready to go. (I was wearing this amazing 100 year old beaver top hat adorned with a poinsettia the size of a cabbage that I had gotten at my buddy Matt’s shop in Montlake – M.R. Johnson’s Antiques.) But the event and one party were cancelled and another was in Shoreline and we decided that we didn’t really have a death wish to make that trip so we went to Montlake to my friend Sally’s house for her annual Christmas soiree. On the way we’d stopped at Bartell’s and happened to meet a soccer mom we knew who wanted a book…and of course I just happened to have some in the car. Because this is what I’ve come to…selling books out of the back of the car like fake Chanel bags in East LA. On to the party which was fabulous and I sold a few more books (although I really think Tony’s comments on Am-way were uncalled for.) Spent some time talking with a very charming Irishman who lived across the street and was a big F&N fan. At one point he said wait right here and ran (ok…plodded through the blizzard) to his house. When he came back he handed me two plates from the Tearoom “made expressly for Frederick & Nelson” and said these are for you. Wow. Later we were exchanging emails and when I saw his name – Peter Mack – I had this flash from 20+ years ago of a cute charming Irishman named Peter who was a world class pianist. Someone had brought him to a party that my 1st husband and I had thrown and we had gotten to talking about immigration woes. My ex and I had, at that point, just gotten married and gone through considerable money and anguish to get him (an Australian) permission to stay in the country. We recommended our attorney Karen Gilbert, a powerhouse with a heart of gold. And apparently the rest was history. Peter said that recommendation was the reason he was in the U.S. today and his partner thanked me profusely ;-)

Yesterday my husband, daughter and I were shopping at the University Book Store and my daughter came running over and said Mom come see this! There was my book (with a very nice write up) in the Staff Picks! Seeing as I didn’t even think you could *find* it in the city I was thrilled. I let the staff know the Author Was In The Store and they set me down with an enormous pile of books to sign and told me it had been “flying off the shelf.” Wait…let me say that again, “flying off the shelf.” Have sweeter words ever fallen on an author’s ear?

Today…after struggling to go through Arcadia to get book signings set up at Costco I had Costco’s book buyer call me back from a message that I had left last week. She’s being great and I feel I couldn’t be in better hands to get something set up. And…she sent me the cutest Santa photo ever! Here’s Pennie Ianniciello on the F&N Santa’s knee –  Pennie & Santa

Earlier this evening my sister called to check in and wish me a Merry Christmas from the wilds of Bellevue. We chatted a bit and I told her we still hadn’t gotten a tree yet and the odds weren’t looking good. She called me back about an hour later and told me she had arranged to have a Christmas tree delivered to my house tomorrow…from Chubby & Tubby!! I am now surrounded by wonderful F&N memories and will have a tree from Chubby & Tubby – as a Seattle native, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

This Frederick’s memory was so poignant (it brought a tear to my eye) that I wanted to include it here in its entirety –

My name is Andrew.  I am 31 years old.  It’s hard to imagine that I was only 15 years old when Frederick & Nelson closed its doors, but most of my childhood memories took place at F & N’s.  I grew up outside of Bothell.  I was an only child.  My Father was injured while working in the sheet metal industry in Seattle in 1982, thus leaving our family almost broke.  I remember prior to my Father getting injured we would go to F & N’s for brunch almost every Sunday.  The omelets were made perfect just for me and every time I would order hot tea so I could stare at the beautiful silver teapot (with the F&N logo on it) for the rest of the meal.  It was a magical place where there was still “class” in our society.  After my Father was injured we struggled financially and our trips to F & N’s for brunch tapered.  We still made regular visits, but mostly to window shop.  To me F & N was a magical place where “a poor child” felt as if he were the king of the world.  I remember going for Easter brunch with my Father to see the Easter bunny.  I felt as if I was a select breed being able to witness such a special event.  I will never forget riding the elevator up to the 8th floor and if there was a wait to be seated at the restaurant I would lay down on some of the beautiful rugs that were on display next to the restaurant.  After we ate we would then ride the escalators down to the basement to purchase approximately 8 lemon filled muffins.  In approximately 1987 there was a special raffle that we won a top of the line Cuisinart!!  The special times at Fredericks never stopped.

On my family’s last trip to Fredericks in 1992, we just heard the sad news that the closing was near.  I will never forget our last ride up the elevator and last meal on the 8th floor.  One waitress that we had on numerous occasions was so nice.  She knew that I still loved the silver teapots with the F & N logo.  She gave me a to-go bag with one tea pot in it!!!!  I was so happy, but yet so sad knowing this was the last trip to the 8th floor.  I still treasure the tea pot and wish I had a cup and saucer to go with it!  I am very happy to see that you have written this book.  I can’t wait to see the pictures.  I hope to see some pictures of the main floor.  The ceiling was so high and the pillars were so massive (for a child). F & N was such a beautiful place.  Now days a warehouse is where people shop.  I feel bad that younger generations will never experience the joy I had.  Thanks again for all your hard work.  My parents will smile (and cry) this Christmas (when I surprise them with your book) at the beautiful memories that we share of F & N’s.



p.s. If I remember right we bought 2 dozen lemon muffins on our last trip to F&N’s=)

I’m so disappointed that the F&N Reminiscence Tea at the Chateau at Bothell Landing last Thursday had to be cancelled due to snow. But never fear…rescheduling is here! Adam just popped his two giant F&N coconut cakes into the freezer (or maybe they’re just sitting out on the stoop) and we’re going to give it another go on Tuesday. But I do have a couple of other events happening in the next few days. Tomorrow (Sunday December 21st from 11:00am to 3:00pm) I’ll be joining Julie Pheasant Albright, author of Historic Ballard, and Kristine Leander, author of Norwegian Seattle, for a book signing at Swanson’s Nursery. If you haven’t been to Swanson’s (est. 1924), now’s the time – decorated for the holidays, lots of yummy goodies at the garden cafe, live reindeer, and the Nathan Hale High School (hey! my kids go there) Jazz Choir from 1:00pm to 2:00pm.

When you’re home by the fire wrapping presents (or in your car driving to the Mall in a last minute frenzy) on Christmas Eve day, tune into KUOW radio 94.9 FM at 2:20pm for an interview with yours truly on memories of Frederick & Nelson at Christmas time. I’m so thrilled to be able to do this as KUOW seems to really get that Frederick & Nelson = Christmas in the hearts and minds of Northwesterners. I’ve been struggling with my publishers trying to get them to understand this and that *now* is the time to be promoting the book…and that it would really really help if people could actually walk into a store while they’re shopping for Christmas and FIND THE BOOK. This really doesn’t seem like that difficult a concept to grasp. I’ve been trying to get some book signings scheduled at Costco and you would have thought I was planning an Arctic expedition. Costco’s been great…my publishers have some labyrinth of bureaucracy of wind through which means that they can’t get them books until late Jan (!!!) I’ll keep you posted on this one…but look for me there in January.

Enough on the woes of publishing…on to some memories -

From Lisa Longton –

My sister and I had our photos taken at the Downtown Seattle Frederick and Nelson with THE SAME SANTA (from my sister’s first Christmas in 1977 to the closing of the store in 1992). Lisa Longton Now as [I] prepare to celebrate my son’s first Christmas I am looking for a similar place to create memories I have [of] waiting in line to visit Santa. Placing my hand on the window to make the train go around, the mechanized Freddy and Nell making Frangos and listening to the wishes of other children as they sat on Santa’s lap. What happened to all of the wonderful windows for children in Downtown Seattle??

Having recently published my second local history book I’ve been bracing myself for the emails, phone calls, and stage-whispered asides at book signings where someone announces that you’ve gotten it wrong…wrong…WRONG. Sometimes it’s a heartbreaker as in my first book when I didn’t make clear the contributions of a mother, recently passed away, to a family business. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake…that was a picture of Uncle John and *not* Aunt Alice?? Often it’s a piece of seeming trivia that appears to only be remembered (in excruciating detail) by that person who passed through town for 15 min in 1942. But let me tell you it matters…it matters to each and every person for whom what you’re writing about was a part of their personal experience. And so it darn well better matter to you.

Today an article about me and my Frederick & Nelson book was published in a local newspaper, the North Seattle Herald Outlook. I had met with the editor, Vera Chan-Pool, last week and had a great time talking with her. Definitely one of the most fun interviews I’d ever done. And I’m thrilled with the article; well researched, thoughtful, and far ranging in scope. But there are a couple moments…as with all publicity…where I said to myself OMG did I say that??? (And there were many more moments when I said to myself OMG did my Close Personal Friend and Former Editor Julie Pheasant-Albright really say that? and that???) Is Nordstrom going to blackball my Nordy’s card because I implied they owe an unacknowledged debt to F&N? (I guess I’m just lucky that what I had to say about trying to get Macy’s to call me back couldn’t be printed in a family newspaper.) But the line that I don’t actually remember saying but that definitely strikes a cord was, “It’s a big responsibility to be the guardian of Frederick & Nelson memories.” And no…I don’t think I’m the only one…the Anointed One…who has the Only True Memories. Far from it…what I loved most about doing the book was hearing and reading so many other people’s memories. And I’m trying to continue to be the conduit of those memories by posting them here in my blog. A friend recently directed me to a group discussion on LinkedIn Seattle entitled “In Fond Memory of Frederick & Nelson: What do you remember about this Pacific Northwest retailer?” There’s been 22 comments in the last couple of days and this is so not the first place I think people would think of to talk about F&N. But now we can’t be stopped. By Christmas Eve we’ll all be downtown staging a takeover of Nordstrom, performing random acts of exemplary customer service and scattering Frangos in our wake. Are you in?

Right before Thanksgiving I received an email from a man named Adam Conley who is the Communications Director for the Chateau Retirement Communities in the Seattle area. Adam had recently written an article for the company’s holiday newsletter based on an experience Chris Serold (a marketing colleague at the Chateau) had had with some of the community’s residents. The talk at dinner had turned to Frederick & Nelson and residents from 64 to 102 talked well into the night sharing their memories of the store. Adam himself remembers F&N fondly although he identifies himself as one of the last generations to do so, having had his 12 year old Santa photo taken the year the store closed.

One thing has led to another and tomorrow I’m going to Chateau at Bothell Landing to participate in a F&N Reminiscence Tea. One of their other mystery guests is a man who was apparently once the President of F&N so I am honored to be on the same agenda. I hope to bring back many memories to share after tomorrow but until then…here’s some of Adam’s -

I’m 32 years old (as I say, probably one of the last generations to remember F&N clearly and fondly), and have all my Santa photos, with covers, from 1976 to 1988 or 89 (my sister joins me in 1978).  My mother used to go with her mother in the 50s, I went with mine, etc. (you know the stories!).  There is even a cute studio portrait of my mother taken at Fredericks in the early 50s.  My grandmother had her dressed up so smartly for a visit that they pulled her aside and asked to take her picture for marketing materials.”

And here’s some memories inspired by his article from his mother -

“It brought tears to my eyes as I recalled my own memories as a young girl going with my Mom to Fredericks – for lunch in the tea room and also in the Paul Bunyan restaurant.  How the paintings on the walls of Paul B. captivated me!  You know, of course, that Fredericks had both a beauty salon and a photography department.  My “famous” picture in a red hat covering my newly cut and styled hair hung on the wall for a long time!  I was wearing a blue and white striped blouse and a red jumper that my Mom made for me.

I also remember staying in the “kindergarten” while my Mom shopped.  I remember something about Groucho Marx and I think they had a TV or movie going with his show.  All of the things you wrote about are memories I have.  It is neat that The Ruins now has the mechanical elephant.  The owners of The Ruins must have paid a lot for it.”

And here’s his article “It Wouldn’t be Christmas Without Frederick & Nelson” -

File Attachment: Chris’ Corner Newsletter -Nov_3.pdf (568 KB)

My book, Images of America: Frederick & Nelson has been out now for about a week and a half and so far…so great! There are a few things that aren’t just the way I want them…such as you can’t walk into a Barnes & Noble and actually buy one…and Oprah hasn’t called yet but hey…I’m working on it. I’ve sold almost 1,000 copies which ain’t bad for a week…especially as I’m doing almost all my own marketing and sales prospecting. This was the deal I agreed to with the devil…oh oops I mean my publisher when they decided there was no need to publish the book in time for Christmas. I guess when you’re in North Carolina you just don’t get that “Christmas isn’t Christmas without a day at Frederick & Nelson.” I had to write a defense letter detailing why anyone cared about a store that went out of business in 1992 and why Pacific Northwesterners associate Christmas with F&N. They finally said oh OK…but we’re not sending a salesperson to Seattle…we can do it all from here. Uh huh.

The Book Launch Party last Friday night was tons of fun and a big success…once I arrived, 20 min late to my own party, having gotten caught in the Traffic Jam of the Weather Paranoid while fetching two large coconut cakes emblasioned with the store’s signature in F&N green. My fans were just lighting the torches and parading around the village when we skidded up to the table and staved off disaster with Walt’s Chicken Salad (made by Julie Pheasant-Albright) and a trio of Frango mint desserts provided by Kim Carsberg. They fell on these treats like ravening hoards…you would have thought there was nothing else to eat at the Swedish Club but lutefisk. A good time was had by all and I gathered a number of great F&N memories in my guest book which shall be highlighted here in the weeks to come.

Saturday was the Holiday Tea at the Museum of History and Industry and the event was pretty fabulous. My sister, Robin Glover, had made lovely white and green corsages for the 24 people in my entourage and I made place cards from my vintage F&N gift cards. Robin had made extra corsages/boutonnières and we were able to give them out to former F&N employees at both events. The vintage fashion show contained a number of F&N outfits and your truly fit right in with my 1940s polka dot dress and cream silk hat with a pleated flower. The tea sandwiches and scones were yummy but didn’t hold a candle to the treats we had the night before.Me demure

In my last blog post I blathered on about my Zazzle gallery and directed everyone and his brother with an Internet connection to check out my dazzling array of wares. Which would have been just great had there been anything there to see. I had slaved away for hours creating all manner of merchandise to promote my upcoming book Images of America: Frederick & Nelson and I was excessively pleased with myself. Besides posting the merchandise to my public gallery for sale I also placed a rather substantial order for myself so that I would have both giveaways and sale items for my Book Launch Party. Imagine my horror when I visited the next day and found that almost all of my items had been deleted due to “possible copyright infringement.” Yikes! Here’s the thing. I’m thrilled that Zazzle is vigilant about copyright issues…as a writer and librarian this is an important issue to me. Heck, I once worked for…and all I have to show for it is this lousy mug…but that’s another story.) I sent off proof of my copyright and when I hadn’t heard back called them the next day. Forty-five minutes on the phone later I had approval and assurance that my order was still in process. That’s the good news…the bad news is that I had to spend hours recreating all my merchandise as they “couldn’t put it back.” I also expressed concerns about my order getting to me on time with these delays and offered to pay for rush shipping but was told that would “put my order back to the beginning and delay it another 2 or 3 days.” Huh? Today I see that all of my order has shipped so I’m a happy camper. And everyone I talked with on the phone was pleasant and sincerely trying to help.

While I was still in the hysteria stage I decided to get some collateral made at Kinko’s for an event I have coming up on Thursday. They had an Entrepreneur Package with 300 flyers, 300 postcards, 300 business cards, and one counter poster for $99. Sounded good to me. My husband – That Illustrator Guy – was going to do the layout for me so I called to get the dimensions and details and was told all the items would be in black & white only (unlike the illustration in their ad.) That wasn’t going to work for me as I wanted my book cover prominently displayed…in color. So…we worked out an order for less than half as many items for what turned out to be almost twice the money. I’m not thrilled with this but felt up against a wall time-wise. So…my marriage hanging in the balance my husband works to the wee small hours and turns out impeccable work…as always. I take the images in today and…they can’t find my order. Luckily the guy that I had talked with at 10:30pm the night before was still there at noon today (does he sleep there?) and they found it, downloaded the images, and said they would call me to look at proofs. Three hours later they called me and said they had lost the images I had brought in. Yikes! I take them back in and wait there while they run proofs. Turns out the sweet young thing that had helped me earlier (he…making conversation asks about my book and I tell him it’s about Frederick & Nelson which closed in 1992. Oh, he says, that’s when I was born) somehow saved the images to a customer folder and…as they are of course concerned about maintaining privacy and all they have those set to delete the contents after a certain amount of time. Seeing as I had last altered the images at 2:00am the computer felt that was time enough and had immediately deleted the images.

So…two companies trying to do the right thing end up inconveniencing me and giving me minor heart attacks. But I’m sticking with them and would recommend them because…they acted like human beings. They both explained what was going on, admitted that some policies or procedures weren’t great, and made me feel that they really were looking after my best interests. So…Zazzle Customer Service and Fed Ex-Kinko’s by the University Village in Seattle (which I would link to if I could but I can’t as the corporate office doesn’t believe they exist) – give your people a raise!

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