Kang History
Kirkland, Washington.  Home of the Purple Kangaroos from Lake Washington High School.

First, we need to recognize that it has taken years of slowing metabolism, receeding hairlines and vision loss to make our childhood memories seem idyllic.  But, alas our childhood is perfect!  

Before we continue the history of our home town of Kirkland, we'd like to thank all the countless individuals on the internet who have worked tirelessly doing time- consuming research for their own websites.... without whom, it wouldn't be possible to copy and paste all their hard wrought information onto these pages.  Of course, where we had memory gaps, they were filled in with make-believe stories and amusing falsehoods.   Think of this site, just like your life, as a work in progress.  New material, stories, pictures, insights and funny odors will be added continuously 24/7.... be sure to check back every 3 minutes for updates!
As written in the 1976 Seattle Times  article, "Many people associate the Eastside with explosive growth, suburban sprawl and housing tracts. The exception is Kirkland -- a 100-year old anomaly in an expanse of newness."  In the 70's, our city leaders were commended as, "being more responsible than anyone for leading the city into its position as one of the most desirable residential communities in the Seattle area."  Then, Kirkland was a quaint small town, perfect for middle-class families to raise their kids.  Today, it is an "upscale" small town, perfect for the "rich" middle-class families to raise their kids.  Still reflecting the charm of the community we lived in, only with nicer clothes and cars.
Above is a view of downtown Kirkland facing west as it was in the 1970's, and to the left is a view of facing east. Hard to imagine how many vacant lots were still available within the downtown area only thirty years ago, oh, and did I mention, affordable, as well.   Notice the J.C. Penny's in the heart of downtown, the two ball fields (for the Bath Ruth & Coast leagues) and the civic center.  Also, you will not see Park Place Mall and the numerous condo's that make up Kirkland's skyline today.
Click the photo and see it magically grow.  Then, look closely, and see if you can find Waldo (hint: he's wearing "Rebel" colors, so he's not at Herfy's). Really.... all you'll find are many interesting landmarks of old downtown Kirkland. But, we'd like to direction your attention to the top middle area .. between the fir trees .. there you will see the field lights of Lake Washington High football stadium.   Hey, the photographer was told "get us a picture of the field", and THIS is what he came back with!!  Yep, that's what we thought, too.
Yarrow Bay, facing Kirkland from the south
Yarrow Bay, facing Kirkland from the south
Now take a moment to think back on a time before there was “a computer on every desk”, we talked on  “communicators” just like Captain Kirk, we listened to "LP's",  before the "internet", or a Starbucks was on every corner, or we solved crimes with DNA or put a 1,000 songs in our pocket.  When we lived in a small town where our claim to fame was "it rained a lot", when Boeing ruled the economy, and life just seemed to move a lot slower and our bodies faster.  OK, now take a deep breath, stand on one foot, spin around violently while singing the "Chicken" song.  Just kidding...please read on....
The Kingdome opened in March 1976 and was imploded in March 2000.   Laugh if you will, but we miss the Kingdome!  We remember how proud we all were of it when built. It was the largest unsupported structure of it's kind in the world.  During the "Cinderella Years", when the Seahawks were running wild, that dome rocked like no other venue. Heck, the NFL made rules banning excessive noise because of us! Plus, we saw some great concerts there, highlighted by Zepplin. Okay, the sound wasn't great, but it was still fun! The Dome was utilitarian, functional, practical and tough, like us!
Remember, when Kirkland was just a quiet rurual / bluecollar town, where it was possible to afford a home near the water.    In those days Ben Franklin, JC Penny and Saint's Alive were Kirkland's downtown anchors. I doubt anybody who lives in Kirkland now recalls a downtown full of "low end" stores.  But more importantly to us, every Friday and Saturday night started or ended at the local Herfy’s.   The ultimate meeting place for our generation!    Oddly enough, about the only restaurant that hadn’t made it to Kirkland at this time was McDonald's, which would come a little bit later. In 1978, Herfy’s was a fairly large regional chain, and was considered a major player in the fast food market in the area.  Herfy’s eventually went into decline and was liquidated in 1986.  Today, the building is the local Wendy's.
For those of us that were lucky enough to live in Kirkland through the early 80's, who could forget the old historic Peter Kirk Ball Park?    It was a rickety old wooden covered grandstands that was the center piece of downtown Kirkland.  So many summer nights it was the place we would meet our friends, and baseball fans would cheer the Babe Ruth players.   In 1977 the stands started collapsing, and by 1984 the landmark was replaced with open air, aluminum bleacher seats.  The park remained, but the special ambience was gone forever.
And let's not forget our biggest rival, and home to many of our "non-Kangaroo" friends -  Juanita High School and the Juanita Area.   Located just north of Kirkland, its major attractions were a beach, a golf course, and the Jack-in-the-box.  Thanks to our cars, and relatively cheap gas,  a LWHS Kangaroo's territory would stretch from Bothell, Redmond, to Bellevue, and sometimes even to the "Renton Loop". 

When looking back on high school, most of our memories probably had little to do with our school itself.   Remember, the day you got your first “real” job (face it, taking out the trash and mowing the lawn for your parents was never really a job), earned your drivers license, drove with your friends for the first time, listened to Boston, Styx, Van Halen, or whom ever was your favorite band.  And there were a lot of them to chose from in the 70’s - great times for Rock-n-Roll.   And,  remember when parties were interrupted at 11:30pm to watch Saturday Night Live, no matter whose house you were at.....

Click to enlarge photo
Click to enlarge photo
Remember the magic about Bel-Kirk drive-in theatre?  It featured a giant neon block letter "E" atop it's marquee, left over from when the theater was named Evergreen.

As poor teenagers we developed an ingenious method to see the drive-in movies for free: two of us would take their car to the drive-in, and pay for two tickets.  After entering and parking, we'd open the trunk, and our friends hidden inside jumped out to enjoy the "free" movies.  Remember the expression on the faces of the people next to us as they watched as we appeared from nowhere in the back seat of the car. In those days as a young teenager, you did anything to save a buck.    It also helped to have fellow Kangs Julie Johnson, Susan Obert, and Marcia Smith running the ticket stand.   Don't worry girls, we're sure the statue of limitations on handing out "free admissions" must have expired by now!  Excuse me, do you hear sirens getting closer?
Click to enlarge photo
Click to enlarge photo
In 1981, Microsoft briefly moved their headquarters to a block northwest of the theater, on Northrup Way.  This is true!    Eventually, the economics of real estate made land far too valuable, testosterone laden kids became much more scarce, and people got tired of running their windshield wipers during the steamy loves scenes, even though in most cases it was still summer.  When widespread adoption of daylight saving time subtracted an hour from outdoor evening necking time, it was the beginning of the end. These changes and the advent of VCRs and video rentals led to a sharp decline in drive-ins.  Not to mention, the 1986 infestation of giant killer termites that completely devoured the movie screen, only to die a horrific death after eating a box of drive-in popcorn.  OK, we made that up, but Bel-Kirk closed in 1986.  Pictured to the right is what the Bel-Kirk Drive-In Area looks like today.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Kirkland was noted for a summer festival called Moss Bay Days that used to draw as many as 100,000 people. The festival was canceled after the 1985 Moss Bay Days, when police made 137 arrests, issued 161 traffic citations, wrote 195 case reports and answered 259 calls for service in three days. The situation became so bad that officers threatened to sue the city unless the event was toned down.  We assume all of you have an alibi for that night, right?

So much was happening around us on a larger scale.  The seventies were a time of great change and events, in particular 1978.  It was the year Reverend Jim Jones gave new meaning to the phrase "Drink the Kool-Aid".  John Voight won the Oscar for “Coming Home” with his co-star Jane Fonda won best actress.  While we listened to heavy  rock-n-roll, Billy Joel’s “52nd Street” album topped the charts.  And, the highest grossing movie that year was Grease followed by Animal House.  How many of us went to college the next year thinking it would be like “Alpha Delta Phi”, and John Belushi was your role-model?

Let’s not forget, as a generation that grew up with TV, we had Laverne & Shirley, Three’s Company, Mork & Mindy, Happy Days and Love Boat as our window to the world beyond sleepy Kirkland.  Was everybody really that happy and funny all the time?

With M*A*S*H, Taxi, Charlie's Angels, WKRP in Cincinnati and Soap, it was a time when the comedy sitcom reigned supreme.   It isn't like we had a lot of options in 1978, what with a whopping four channels, and yet the subsequent 30 years haven't done a lot to cushion the memory of how fun TV was back then.   We were a generation that just wanted to have fun.  And, the Kangs of '78 had fun!   Issac, I'll take my drink on the rocks, thanks!

The television series Monty Python, broadcast in the United States in the 70's, was conceived, written and performed by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Loosely structured as a sketch show but with an innovative stream-of-consciousness approach (aided by Terry Gilliam's animations), it pushed the boundaries of what was then considered acceptable, both in terms of style and content.  There are differing accounts of the origins of the Python name although the members agree that its only "significance" was that they thought it sounded funny.  
We all remember what we were doing when we first heard the Rutles right? Well obviously we were listening to the Rutles. Duh. Thirty years ago today – well not today but thirty years ago tomorrow, well depends when you’re reading this but anyway about thirty years ago "All You Need is Cash – The Story of the Rutles" was 76th in the US weekly TV ratings.  And who watches The Rutles today? At least eight people in Iowa.

The Monty Python group (including Cleese) reformed in 1974 to write and star in their first feature film of new material. The film, Monthy Python and the Holy Grail, was based on King Arthur Legend and directed by Jones and Gilliam, the latter also drawing the film's linking animations and opening credits. Along with the rest of the Pythons, Jones and Gilliam performed several roles in the film, but it was Chapman who took the lead as King Arthur. Holy Grail was filmed on a budget of nearly £150,000; this money was raised in part with investments from rock groups such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin
How could we celebrate the 70's without mentioning the most successful stand-up comedian in America, Steve Martin.  He was the first comic to earning the level of commercial success -- sell-out arena performances, platinum records, hit singles and delirious fan adulation -- usually reserved for rock stars.   His first album, Let’s Get Small (1977) , was a major success. He shouted "happy feet" and danced, played his banjo, made balloons into animals, and made the exasperated "excuuuuse me" into a national punchline.  Although his career went on to encompass stints as an acclaimed dramatic actor and playwright, for many supporters the "Wild and Crazy Guy" persona defined his artistic legacy and our generation.  We never actually had to buy the album since Jeff Pruss could recite every joke perfectly.
You know you've met a native Washingtonian if they know J.P. Patches.  The one and only, Julius Pierpont Patches (J.P. to his "Pals") helped raise a generation of Northwest children.  The J.P. Patches character was a clown that lived in a shack at the City Dump (only in Seattle)   And, there was Gertrude, J.P. Patches' clown sidekick (girlfriend?) played by Bob Newman (who by the way actually lived in Rosehill).  The Emmy winning J.P. Patches Show aired for 23 years on KIRO TV.  When it left the air in 1981, it was the longest running, locally produced children's program in the country. Today, almost 20 years after the last show, J.P. is still in demand for personal appearances. 
Remember the days when people used to get excited about TV programs. During those days, we didn't have a VCR to record specific programs and we simply didn't have the luxury of waiting for late night re-runs – you had one chance, and one chance only to watch the latest episode of your favorite TV show. You knew the rules and what was at stake, and you always made sure to be in front of the TV at the same time, at the same channel, every day of the week. Of all those TV shows that somehow managed to control our lives and dictate when we could go out of the house, no other program was more addictive that "Dallas," a TV series that captured Americans' attention like no other series before or after.
We lived our high school years in a decade where the best selling albums came from K-Tel and Ronco - The same people who brought us such labor-saving devices as the Fishin' Magician and the Buttonmatic. A decade where Charlie the Tuna, for years tried to join the Star-Kist company as food, only to be told that "Star-Kist doesn't want tuna with good taste, it wants tuna that tastes good.", and a Maytag appliance repairman who finds his work lonely because so few customers need to have their machines repaired.  Do you remember the most popular songs of 1978?  They may surprise you....
Click to see full list
Click to see full list
Top 100 Songs of 1978

1. Shadow Dancing, Andy Gibb
2. Night Fever, Bee Gees
3. You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone
4. Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees
5. Kiss You All Over, Exile
6. How Deep Is Your Love, Bee Gees
7. Baby Come Back, Player
8. (Love Is) Thicker Than Water, Andy Gibb
9. Boogie Oogie Oogie, A Taste Of Honey
10. Three Times A Lady, Commodores

(Yes folks, that is the BeeGees(3), Andy Gibb(2), Grease(2), Barry Manilow, Chuck Mangione, Johnny Mathis, and Debbi Boone in the top 30)
KJR was the quintessential Northwest rock station during the 60's & 70's.  KJR is still around, of course, with KJR-FM now an "oldies" station. In the old days, when we were teenagers, everyone listened to KJR.   The format was Top-40, notable for not only playing national bands, but local groups, as well, and in many ways was the prime force behind the establishment of the Northwest Sound.  For some old KJR memories CLICK HERE and hear what's playing today.  Now it's called "Classic Rock", oh, just one more thing to make us feel old.
Remember when.........
  • there were only 2 flavors of potato chips--normal and BBQ
  • everyone had those tall flags on their bikes
  • they tried to pass a law in Seattle to require bike licenses
  • all tennis shoes were canvas
  • phrases like "he dogged you" "that's my name don't wear it out" were in
  • your could drive through issaquah and see people parachuting
  • The "Triple X" was a drive in
  • the Seattle Mariners were the worst team in the league
  • the Sonics had Sikma, Gus Williams, DJ, JJ, Silas, Shelton, Freddie
  • King and KJR were the top AM pop stations
  • the Bud, Pay n' Pak, and Atlas actually gave us some good unlimited hydro races
  • the place to go for good ice cream was Farrells
The legend began in December 1973, when the North American Soccer League (NASL) awarded a franchise to Seattle.  The team held a “name the team” contest, and “Sounders” was selected as the winning name, beating out over 3,000 other suggestions, including “Mariners” (one of the finalists).  

Jimmy Gabriel took over the head coaching reins in 1977.  Average attendance broke 22,000 as Gabriel took the team to the championship, which they lost 2-1 to the Cosmos.   The team squeaked into the playoffs in 1978, only to lose to the Cosmos in the first round, and suffered their first losing season in 1979.  The year AFTER we graduated.  A coincidence, I say NOT.
Remember Mr. Microphone? It was a microphone with a transmitter that allowed you to broadcast your voice to a nearby FM radio. Truly, with this innovation, life was perfect. Remember the ad where some guys cruising in a convertible slow down to schedule a date using Mr. Microphone: “We’ll be back to pick you up later!” I’m sure the ladies were swept off their feet. Since rediscovering it, Mr. Microphone has proven to be so handy to have around the house. To the dishes in the sink, I wink and say, “I'll be back to wash you later!” To the laundry: “I’ll be back to fold you later!” You get the idea. The possibilities are limitless. Of course, the ad is available here via YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

In the late Seventies, Hollywood made a discovery - namely, that the audience that mainly bought records were of the same age group that went to the movies most.   Why not exploit this connection to the mutual benefit of both?  No surprise then, that the top money maker in1978 was Grease with $181,484,409.  That was followed by Animal House at $141,600,000, Superman at $134,218,018,  Jaws 2 at $102,922,376, and Halloween at $47,000,000.

Other new movie releases were Coming Home, Every Which Way But Loose, Foul Play, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Revenge of the Pink Panther, The Deer Hunter and Up In Smoke (Cheech & Chong).  We also discovered Rocky Horror Picture Show, with future stars Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick.  Now, that's a real "time warp".

Lakeview Elementary School, once school to about 1/3 of us Kangs.
Lakeview Elementary School, once school to about 1/3 of us Kangs.

In high school to us "the economy" meant buying a 15¢ hamburger and 63¢ a gallon for gas. Here's what it looked like to our parents.
    * Dow-Jones:            807 - 893
    * Inflation:                 12.4%
    * Unemployment:      7.1%
    *Average income      $ 16,975

And, this is what things cost:

    *New car                     $   5,405
*New house               $ 54,749
  *Loaf of bread            42¢
*Gallon of gas            63¢
    *Gallon of milk           $ 1.72
   *Gold per ounce        $ 193.60
*A postage stamp:    15¢

Then, there were the cars.  As America experienced its worst recession in years, Detroit became increasingly concerned with the growing popularity of imported cars.   AMC responded to the situation with the Gremlin, a tiny two-door hatchback with a base price starting below $2,000. Available in various unpleasant earth tones, the Gremlin was one of the quintessentially ugly cars of the 1970s.

Then, Ford's Pinto was without question, the most notorious American car of the decade. The popular compact has the fuel tank mounted in such a way that it was extremely flamable in rear-end collisions.  Thank god, we were too middle-class to afford a new car.  We happily made do with whatever set of wheel our parent graciously provided or we could afford on our own.  


Congratulations, you made it to the end of our history.  We're surprised you've read this far.  The rest of us have already moved on to the next page.   This is a sure sign of your vast intelligence or it means we forgot something.  Something so important to you, that you had to make sure it really wasn't mentioned.  So unforgettable, it was like yesterday.   We'll... sorry... we must have slept through it. 

By our calculation there were 1,576,800 minutes of high school, not including 9th grade, which counted towards your cumulative GPA, but no one really ever considered "high school".   Now, extrapolating 1.5 million minutes over 470+ students in about three languages, and a few altered states of reality, you can see the odds of us missing a few significant events in high school are approximately .... ummm ... ok ... lets see ...... the math is obvious... you know.. a lot.  With that said, if you have some general event that is an example of our youth, please share it.  Pictures are also good.  Especially, pictures that can be used for blackmail... we mean.. "fundraising".  
What we really need are some stats and highlights from our sports teams.   We have none, and maybe there is a reason for that, can't remember.  But we certainly do not want to slight the jocks and stars, whom embodied our school spirit.  Without sports there would be no reason for cheerleaders, and high school without cheerleaders would've been.... we'll ..... need we say more?

If you think of something, anything at all, just send it to us via the "Contact Us" page, and we'll take it from there.   Mainly, we'd just like to see you in person at the reunion.  Yeah, you may feel nervous, but guaranteed you'll have tons of fun. After all, the thirty only happens once, and regardless of what little remains of your memory, this is your one opportunity to reconnect and rejoice in your childhood.  So, don't procrastinate .... like you did in high school .... so order your tickets now.  Go Kangs! 

Any questions about this Lake Washington high school 1978 alumni website, or to share information about our missing classmates, or other classmates from 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979 or 1980, or about kirkland, juanita, redmond, or whatever, please contact Jim Neir via the Contact Us page. In the meantime, just continue smiling :)