Tribute to A Civic Titan Whose Influence Is Woven Into a Postmodern Pacific Northwest.

Text and photos by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Governor Albert Rossellini with representatives of the Armed Services on Veterans Day 1961.

The first time I met former Governor Al Rossellini was 20 years ago when I photographed him on assignment for the Boeing Company.  It was at Seattle’s City Hall in the early 1990’s where he was meeting with mayor Norm Rice and various other city officials. I remember how warmly he greeted me when I entered the room and how his great smile and enthusiasm could instantly charm, while putting you at ease.

Albert Rossellini was a Democrat Governor for the State of Washington from 1957 to 1965; during an era some historians consider the beginning of postmodern history.  His terms as governor were distinguished by major accomplishments and his résumé would be the envy of any serving governor today.  Rossellini championed foremost regional development of public infrastructure, including expanding of the state highway system, and oversaw construction of the worlds’ longest floating bridge, which spanned Lake Washington.  He was a governor who proved his belief in the value of public education, making every effort to enhance the states’ universities and helped to develop a regional community college system.  Al Rossellini also had a rare, over-the-horizon-vision; which embraced economic development, by creating a state department of commerce which successfully help land the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962.  Many of Rossellini’s accomplished goals, launched the states’ economic trajectory towards becoming a national and international player, which has been well sustained into the 21st century.

Last January I sat down with former governor Rossellini at a dinner party held for him to celebrate his 101st birthday.  I felt  honored having a conversation with a civic leader whose vision and action helped shape the political/economic dynamics of the Pacific Northwest .  Another distinction I experienced was being in the presence of a centenarian with a great sense of humor, quick wit and enthusiasm for discussing a variety of subjects.  Within just a few months of the dinner party, the unstoppable Al Rossellini would achieve yet another outstanding accomplishment, a record for being the longest surviving governor in United States History!

My brother Jim setup the dinner party at his home to celebrate the governors’ birthday. He’s been a friend of former governor Rossellini for several years now and wanted us all to have an opportunity to celebrate the occasion.  My parents were also invited and in attendance for the governors dinner party.   Towards the end of the event, my dad revealed a photo he had saved for 50 years, it was of governor Rossellini with my dad, along with four other members of the armed services. Written on the back of the photo by a department of defense photographer was: Veterans Day 1961, state capitol, Olympia, Washington.  As  both men reminisced about the event, I grabbed my camera and proclaiming, “here’s a Paul Dorpat moment,” (the name of a photo historian, who shoots the series “Now & Then” of historical montages for the Seattle Times Newspaper.)  Without direction, the senior citizens placed themselves as they had been positioned 50 years ago for the Veterans’ Day photograph.  Some weeks afterwards, I scanned the black & white photograph and compared it to the digital photo I had recently taken at the party. Marveling at the analogue print as a piece of ephemera in my hands; I mused on its value as a recorded fragment from half a century back in-time.  Now the two photographic events, which were separated by decades, are united,  representing  a wonderful continuity of the two men, in their golden years of life.

Governor Albert Rossellini with representatives of the Armed Services on Veterans Day 1961.


                                                                                 

In the contemporary history of Washington State,  Al Rossellini’s accomplishments have served the region exceptionally well and will continue to do so for many years to come.  With Governor Rossellini’s death this week, he will be dearly missed by his loving family, grateful friends and admiring colleagues.  For those in the State of Washington who are not aware of this great civic leader, Albert Dean Rossellini, just take a big look around, his supportive influence is just about everywhere, seamlessly woven into the fabric of our region.

Al was always a fountain of energy, continuing to the very end his devotion of helping a good cause;  perhaps sometime in the future he’ll take a break from his retirement in the sky and send some much-needed advice and vision back to our civic leaders…


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Photo Essay of Pirates Invading the Port of Vallejo.

Photo Essay by: David Johanson Vasquez

 

Summer Greetings,

Some of you know I enjoy photographing examples of diverse and alternative lifestyles, so fortune smiled on me when destiny presented an unusual treasure.

On a summer’s eve one June, I journeyed to Central California and explored some northern cities of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sonoma County, with its savory wine country, was one of our day-trip destinations.  However, we diverted the plan just north of Walnut Creek, which pointed us in another direction; as we heard tale of a pirate festival being hosted in the port city of Vallejo, on the Bay north of San Francisco.

Amazingly, after getting a little lost entering Vallejo, luck was with us as we found parking next to the park where the festivities were in full progress. The sound of canons being fired in volleys led us to this unlikely gathering. Yes, just as you can imagine, hundreds of swashbuckling, pistol-packing pirates, consuming liberal amounts of distilled spirits were all there.  A pious lot the buccaneers were not, and much to our relief, they were still courteous enough and not too threatening to non-pirates, as our group had not come prepared with a single eye-patch or parrot among us. Pirate Festival Vallejo, CA June 20, 2009

 

 

 

 

Pirate Festival Vallejo, CA June 20, 2009

 

Most pirate women in attendance prefer the name “wenches” (from the Old English word – wencel,) gave me a new understanding of the term “pirate booty.” Many of these fair maidens used 18 century style clothing, which compressed and contorted the female anatomy in the shapeliest way. My better-half informed me I would definitely be in need of an eye-patch if my camera remained focused on their attributes for too long.Pirate Festival Vallejo, CA June 20, 2009

Pirate Festival Vallejo, CA June 20, 2009The word pirate is such a varied term; it goes back to ancient times of the Phoenicians, when marauders from the sea plagued the Greeks and Romans. References to pirates are found in just about every culture from China and India to the Vikings in Scandinavia. So it was only natural that this gathering of pirates in Northern California would include buccaneers of every size, shape, culture, color and time period, which could be imagined. Even postmodern pirates equipped with cell phones, digital cameras and Mp3 players were all present – socializing and exchanging salutations.

What more can I say about an unexpected adventure experienced within a unique atmosphere other than what I saw? It was one of those rare surreal events that make you ponder – did I really experience that and what century are we living in again?

Here’s to wishing you a summer of smooth sailing.