The Twins Are Toppled
In the spring of 1937, the shining steel towers of the Twin T-P's were lifted above Aurora Avenue. They were strategically set across this speedway section of Highway 99 from the shore of Green Lake. The teepee, of course, is a form etched in the imagination of every American child, and so this fanciful architectural form could be expected to lure a few matured kids called motorists off the highway.
Once inside the shiny example of Native American housing — the pointed and portable type used by the Plains Indians — visitors were suddenly transported to the Northwest coast, for the decorations were done not on Plains motifs but rather on designs like those we associate with totem poles, long houses, masks and spirit boxes.
The T-P's, later named the Twin Teepees, served what we would call regular American food. I dined there once and ran into my old friends Walt Crowley and Marie McGaffrey, who live nearby. If memory serves, they were enjoying prime rib. Walt would later write twice about the Twin T-P's for historylink.org, the Web site of state history he directs. The first essay (No. 2890) is a good summary of the exceptional story of this symmetrical piece of culinary kitsch. Walt's second essay (No. 3719) is a lament written after the July 31, 2001, surprise bulldozing of the landmark.
A larger print of this 1937 portrait of the new Twin T-P's is included in "Nature in the Balance," Howard Giskey's curated show at the Museum of History & Industry. We recently featured Howard's splendid production in this column, and now the exhibit's last day is coming up — Sept. 9. Please, don't miss it.
"Washington Then and Now," the new book by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.