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Michael Reed Black Antiques & Spic ‘n Span Cleaners – 125 – 127 West Mercer Street – Lower Queen Anne – Seattle, WA

The name of Mr. Black’s store is as wide as his store is narrow. He also a very important man though he has no idea about that. Well, the truth is I think he is important and if pressed I would be forced to admit that I only speak for myself even though I act as if I speak for a wider coalition. But this is my forum and I get to make up the rules. In other words, I am speaking for a vast coalition. Of one. Or so. Maybe.

Mr. Black has been in business for about 30 years at this location, if my meager memory is working correctly, and because of that he knows the history of Lower Queen Anne quite well. One of my favorite examples is that one of the more popular Thai restaurants in the neighborhood, one with stiff white linen tablecloths, was a rough and tumble gay bar in the early 1980’s and a rather notorious one at that.

He is also important because of the continuity he has provided to the character of the area. In a very tangible manner, he and the other long-term business people in the area form the foundation for the personality of the neighborhood. How many children grew up during those years without ever knowing a world without Mr. Black?

His store is full of items acquired from local families. Not only does he know the tangled details of what makes one piece of cut glass valuable and another not, but he often knows these people personally. In effect his store contains a very specific point a view about what Seattleites found valuable enough to have in their homes.

And lastly for today, the Spic n’ Span Cleaners has been at this location since the 1950’s and the only reason I know that is Mr. Black owns a photograph of his building from that time period. Viewing it was a remarkable experience for me because how of that time period still exists in recognizable form today.

Copyright 2012 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved.