Off-the-wallBy Bob Spiwak

The snow is still falling and I am stalling when I should be mounting the tractor and pushing the snow around. Ms. Gloria is writing a letter to an old friend, Gretchen Gibford, who lives in Millwood, near Spokane. Both women were active in what was then The Methow Valley Artisans, a crafters’ co-op in Winthrop. This was in the early 1980s.

Gloria thought it would be fun to write about changes in Twisp since those days, and my first reaction was, “not much.” Then she began to recite the names of places that were and are no more. This segued into the changes in Winthrop from when I first arrived in the late 1960s, and we had fun trying to remember names and places in both towns.

There are several books available about the history of the valley, but our discussion had to do with more mundane memories, predominantly Twisp because Winthrop has had more turnovers than a bakery.

Did you know both towns had a movie theater? In Winthrop it was located next to the Duck Brand. It was very small, with not the best of seating. Twisp’s venue, which came after the demise of the Winthrop movie house, had an actual theater, a fairly large screen and even a sloping floor. The Twisp movie house also had a bank of pinball machines, and over the soundtrack of the movie one would be assaulted through the separating curtain by the constant dinging and donging of the rebounding ball a few feet away. I don’t recall that it lasted more than a year. This in the ’80s when I imported Gloria from the Bay Area.

Twisp had a superb hardware store — I think it was called Twisp Mercantile — and when they finally closed it became what is now The Merc Playhouse.

When I began my career with the newspaper in 1982, John Bonica and Mike Irwin were editor and publisher of the News. After a couple of management changes, the paper moved to where it has been for years — that building was vacated by the Twisp branch of Evergreen Grocery. Now the paper is moving to TwispWorks and the ancient brick edifice will ultimately house another business.

The place to go for a caloric breakfast was Mai’s Pies, home of delicious pastries and of course, pies. I remember another bakery in which movie star Stella Stevens had an interest. She then spent time at the home of her uncle in the Blackpine Lake area.

In town was Kinder’s, Jane’s Things and Chases. All had clothing in various amounts. Jane’s was a favorite place to go — it was like a miniature Woolworth store. Kinder’s moved to the current Twisp Mall next door to Hank’s Harvest Foods. It eventually closed and Hank absorbed the space and enlarged the grocery. At the south end of the row was “Burger Queen,” for some reason a name offensive to some — possibly stockholders in its male counterpart.

Both towns had freezer lockers. Those were the days when not many had home freezers. Winthrop’s was attached to the rear of the liquor store and Twisp’s was somewhere on the main drag.

Old National Bank resided on the corner across from what is now Tappi, the old home of the newspaper. One day a loud alarm went off at the bank and we thought we had a scoop covering a bank robbery in progress. It was a malfunction in progress as things turned out.

In Winthrop, what is now Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe was a Mobil gas station. When that shut down it became our favorite restaurant, Riverside Rib, lorded over by artist Patty Yates and chef Jim Gerlach.

Things always change, some for better, some otherwise, but whichever it is, indelible memories evolve from them. I am hoping the Mazama Store will next be a Neiman Marcus.

 

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