Frederick & Nelson book


This evening and tomorrow I am venturing down to the fair city of Olympia to participate in the Olympia Book and Author Fair . It’s one of those events that came a bit out of left field seeing as, on the whole, I have the Seattleite’s obliviousness about the “South Sound.” However, at last year’s InfoCamp I met a lovely librarian (are there any other kind?), Kelsey Smith of the Olympia Timberland Library and she graciously invited me to participate.

I’ve even got a mention in the article in The Olympian

I’m telling myself I’m doing my bit for sustainability by re-purposing and recycling my newsletter as a blog post. At moments I can even believe that. For the most part though I just feel like I need to hire someone to be my Information Filter…oh wait…that’s what I do. Yikes.

At the moment my sister is 15 min away from picking up  my daughter and I for the Wendell Girls Road Trip (hmmm…I guess I’m the only Wendell…no wait…I’m pretty sure in my sister’s many name changes that she actually hung on to Wendell in some way and my daughter has now turned 18 and reached the age of reason where she could, if she so desired, drop her current last name (her father’s) and use Wendell which I conveniently gave her as a middle name proving of course I can see the future. ) We’re on our way down to Portland…and then McMinnville for a whirlwind college tour. My daughter is participating in Scholarship Day at Linfield College on Sunday and we’re going to tool around University of Portland and Reed today.

So…my sister and I are staying at the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville on Sunday night…which is….tada…the Oscars. Hotel Oregon is owned by McMeneman’s so I was figuring they’d have some kind of of hootnanny going on to celebrate…and of course they do…in Portland. I write to the Hotel (which doesn’t have TVs in the rooms to encourage serenity) and plead for some sort of frivolity whereby we can have a few champagne cocktails and hoot at the celebrities on the red carpet…or at least huddle around an old TV in the staff lounge. I get a call from the manager and…he’s working on turning on the sound on the TV in the billiard room. Don’t worry he says…worse case scenario you can watch the Oscars with subtitles. Anyway….here’s my announcements!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 6:30 – 7:30pm: Ann reads from ‘ Seattle’s Ravenna Neighborhood’ at the Northeast Branch of Seattle Public Library
Ann will be sharing pictures and talking about her first local history book, Seattle’s Ravenna Neighborhood. Come see why Ravenna Park was called Big Tree Park when it was a private attraction for visitors to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. You’ll also learn about the historic college in Ravenna that was not connected to the University of Washington. In addition Ann will be talking about local resources from which she acquired the pictures and a bit about researching and writing local history.

This program accompanies the neighborhood history exhibit hosted by Northeast Library during the whole month of February. Third Place Books will be on hand selling copies of both of her books – Seattle’s Ravenna Neighborhood and Frederick & Nelson.

Library events and programs are free and everyone is welcome. Registration is not required. The Northeast Branch is located at 6801 35th Ave. N.E. For more information call 206-684-7539 or visit the Seattle Public Library events calendar.
If you missed Ann’s interview on January 28th’s Sound Focus on KUOW 94.9FM you can still go to their website and listen to, or download, the interview. Ann joined host Dave Beck to talk about Frangos, the Tearoom, and the other elements that made Frederick & Nelson such a center of creativity and community.
Author Ann Wendell joined the residents of the Chateau at Bothell Landing for a holiday tea and book signing party focused around the memories and lasting impressions of one of Seattle’s oldest and most revered department stores.

So much to blog…so little time. The Big Thing I must get out today is that my radio interview on Frederick & Nelson is airing today on KUOW 94.9 FM at 2:20 PM!!!! The host, Dave Beck, and I only taped the segment yesterday…I had thought I might have a bit more time to get the word out but…I’m just thrilled it finally happened. This interview was supposed to originally air on Christmas Eve but the inclement weather repeatedly prevented the taping from taking place.

Taping the interview was a lot of fun. Being in the recording studio was just like being on Frasier! Except, of course, Dave is a lot cuter (and not as full of neuroses)  as Kelsey Grammer. I, of course, looked particularly fetching as we all know that’s of primary importance on radio. I restrained myself from playing with the knobs and switches and trying to make them go to eleven.

The focus of the interview was on Frederick & Nelson’s contributions towards creativity and community. All the standard topics were covered and a few new stories for the listeners. Hope you get a chance to tune in!

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.

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