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Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jean Godden / Times staff columnist

The colonel was cookin' at Teepees

Hey, history buffs. Turns out there's truth to the oft-told legend that the late Harland Sanders — the "colonel" of Kentucky Fried Chicken — once flipped burgers at the Twin Teepees. (That was the quirky Aurora Avenue North restaurant that, sad to say, was razed July 31.)

"Mr. Restaurant," a biography of the late Seattle restaurateur Walter F. Clark, reports Sanders and Clark met at the National Restaurant Convention in 1941. Business was slow at Sanders' Kentucky restaurant, so he agreed to work for Clark, starting at The Salad Bowl on Fifth Avenue.

Alas. Sanders annoyed the other chefs by spending too much time dabbling with his chicken recipes. One chef wrote Clark a memo saying, "Get this clown out of my way." Sanders moved on to the Twin T-Ps, as it was then called. (The restaurant was originally built for Herman E. Olson, who opened it in 1937.)

While cooking at the Teepees, Sanders got rave reviews for his Brunswick stew and chicken with cream gravy. In August 1943, Sanders moved back to Kentucky and the rest is history.

The colonel went on to international fame, the only fast-food franchiser honored with a statue in a state capitol.

•   •   •

Trouble in paradise: Seattle author Fred Moody's op-ed essay, headlined "Even paradise — Seattle — needs basic maintenance," appeared in Friday's New York Times. The opinion piece seems a little far afield for New Yorkers, but Moody's reasoning resonates.

Moody blames this state's evenly split Legislature for failing to raise taxes to repair or replace crumbling bridges and inadequate highways. He also faults head-in-the-sand environmentalists who refuse to acknowledge the reality of growth.

He writes, "We've lived with the idea of free things — good water, natural splendor, abundant exploitable resources like fish and timber. Even the 1990s technology revolution that pumped billions into the local economy was in large part a something-for-nothing phenomenon."

The free ride is over. It's a gloomy but timely message and, appropriately, the messenger is a guy named Moody.

•   •   •

Rite stuff: Quite a moment at the FareStart graduation the other night. By the luck of the draw, Allen Ekman was scheduled to graduate from FareStart — the nonprofit agency that trains disadvantaged men and women in the food industry — on the 18th anniversary of meeting his longtime girlfriend, Lorelea.

During a graduation speech, Ekman, who had become a hard-working role model, told fellow trainees how FareStart had helped him change his life.

He said, "I've cleaned up my act. I have a new life and, if she'll have me, I'd like to have a new wife." At that point he knelt and asked his girlfriend to marry him. And, while everyone collectively held their breath, she said, "Yes."

•   •   •

Mini-Mojo: Spotted at the Starbucks in Ravenna yesterday was a mom with an 8-month-old daughter and 2-1/2-year-old son outfitted, head to toe, in Mariners togs.

A female patron asked the boy, "And what team do you play for?"

Said the miniature Mariner: "Ichiro!"

Jean Godden appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Phone 206-464-8300. E-mail: jgodden@seattletimes.com.

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