Good Bones

November 17th, 2019 by Ken

This city has good bones.

It was built by visionaries and entrepreneurs, scoundrels and hucksters, and sometimes it was difficult to tell the differences.

It was built on a strong foundation.  The future existed, not in land, although there was land.  But the future existed in ideas and concepts, rejected by the comfortable and satisfied elite next door.  All it took to reach the future was a willingness to take a chance and the ability to get others to come along.

Like all good bodies it is comprised of major bones, auxiliary bones and new bones.  One of those major bones was Bob Blume.  He settled in Lacey because it was next to Ft. Lewis, where he had been stationed.  His ability to see potential is well-documented in my “Personal History of Lacey” book.  What did it take to move from selling sporting goods from a small store on Pacific Avenue, to selling real estate, building housing developments and creating the shopping center which would define Lacey for decades?

It took vision, but it also took drive.  It took the ability to slough off criticism and laughter and see the future.  It took concentration, with the eyes firmly planted on the goal.  In Bob’s case, the short term goal often took precedence over the long term goal.  And what his long term goal was – – is still unknown, a decade after his death.

While Bob Blume was a visionary and an entrepreneur  Harvey Mayse had  visionary bones  but  lacked the ability to bring ideas to fruition. He could see the future but lacked the skills necessary to take advantage of what was to come.  Like Blume, Harvey came to Lacey by way of Ft. Lewis, where he had been the deputy post commander.  Harvey saw what Lacey could become, and knew that the center of the city would be Woodland Square.  He bought the property from Panorama City.  But, it took someone else to develop it.   Harvey also knew that Lacey needed its own community bank and was the major impetus in the founding of Lacey Bank.  It took someone else to make the bank successful.  Harvey also understood technology and started the first television cable franchise in Lacey.  He later sold to someone who could make it pay.  Cities with good bones often need visionaries to show them where the bones are located.  That was Harvey.

If education and knowledge are key components of a good city, then John Gott had the greatest visionary bones of them all when it came to those components.  John served as superintendent of the North Thurston School District for two decades.  During that time he foresaw the 24-hour work day, the need for vocational education and establishing new teaching styles for different types of learning.  His background wasn’t in education.  He had medicine, engineering and politics in his past.  Those paths helped in his ability to understand education from different viewpoints.  He started an alternative high school, required his administrators to become involved in the community, and took the lead working with several other school districts in creating a Vocational Skills Center to teach students an alternative educational path. He was the spine which held up all of the other school districts in the community, many of whom eventually adopted his vision.

In the arena of local government, Greg Cuoio had the bones to envision the future of the city.  For more than one-third of the city’s lifetime, Greg was at the helm of leadership.  Through several mayors, Greg showed his leadership skills.  And while it is often said, that no one should become more famous than his boss, it was Greg Cuoio who often represented the city to residents and others alike.

Using his skills, the city was able to build several city facilities including a new city hall and a new library building, without having to raise taxes.  It was also under his leadership that Lacey annexed the Hawks Prairie area and set the future course of the city.

While the major bones were in place, those auxiliary bones which flesh out the skeleton were also busy.   Earlyse Swift was a power behind the women’s movement in Thurston County.  She served as deputy mayor, but it was her leadership in and organizing skills which brought more women into city government and allowed several women mayors – – Kay Boyd, Gene Liddell and Nancy Peterson – – to emerge.

Joe DiSanto was another of those side bones who received little attention but was instrumental in making Panorama City a major player in city affairs.  When he arrived at that retirement community, it’s reputation was lagging.  While people recognized the advantages of living in at Panorama, its reputation locally was still recovering from previous ownership.  DiSanto came from a hotel background, realized that you only had one chance to make a first impression and began to organize Panorama as a welcoming and attractive place in which to retire.  He also mended fences with other community leaders.

We also have New Bones just starting to bear the force of the frame.  Andy Ryder has been mayor for eight years, and has endeavored to put his mark on the city of his birth.  His support of history and its significance to a city in creating a sense of community identification has given this new bones some strength.  It will take time before it can be determined if he becomes an old bone.

There are others who deserve recognition for creating the city we call home, but like blood vessels, nerves and sinew, they often labor to do their job without a second thought of the full body.


Posted in The Real News

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