The Husky Deli in West Seattle is local delight. In the summer, the line for the ice cream counter stretches out the door; you can see kids twirling around on the old-fashioned soda counter stools–you know the kind, round, twirlable–happily licking the drips from their cones and trying to keep up with the melting concoction.
I stopped by there yesterday to get myself a pint of their original Husky Flake ice cream to take home, and the guy who helped me looked a tad older than the usual summer help they get. I assumed he was part of the familly who founded the West Seattle landmark that the deli is.
Looking around, I noticed some photos up on the west wall that I hadn’t noticed before–they looked to span about 80 years. I asked him who all the guys were, and he just beamed: “The one to the right of the clock was my Dad. Next to him is my grandfather who founded the deli. The other side of the clock are my uncles and they didn’t do much.”
Then he said, “My grandfather founded this in 1932.” I marvelled at the timing of this, considering the whole world was in a depression at that point–tough time to be opening an ice cream shop. I said as much to they guy as he was packing in a generous amount of Husky Flake into the pint container (happy me!).
He said, “yeah, but you know, they got a grant to make ice cream cones that they delivered to the local schools, so they were busy every single day making those ice cream cones and delivering them.”
I asked if that was part of a PWA grant and he nodded, “yeah, the kids were happy, my grandfather was happy–worked all day and night, but happy.”
Husky Deli is still thriving to this day, more than 70 years later. It’s a strong part of our entire community, and a local gathering place. It was born in the midst of a crisis but hung on with government help.
That’s small business and government at its very finest. I cannot think of a better example of a win/win situation.
Here’s my question: Can you imagine our current government having the leadership and vision to fund a massive PWA in this day and age? No, it’s simply out of the question. The less taxes/small government people who insist they are for the small business man and woman would jettison the idea before it ever saw light of day. That’s the party of fear, not progress. The party of small thoughts, not big dreams.
And we would all be the poorer for that approach, because the time is perfect for a massive mobilization of grit and ingenuity focused on the environment and energy challenges.