By PATRICIA THERRELL
Published May 9, 2012
SNOHOMISH — Geoffrey Wall, a resident of Snohomish since 1989, emigrated from England in the 1960s. He recalls being greatly frustrated because no one understood his English.
Wall was not the happiest transplant to the U.S. because he was drafted. His two-year stint turned out to be quite pleasurable. His prior expertise as a professional soccer player landed him in the U.S. military’s version of the Olympics. He played soccer in CISM, the International Military Sports Council. Young Wall’s stint was much better than his father’s. His British father didn’t even see the young Geoffrey until he was three years old. He was fighting in World War II.
Driven to play soccer at the highest level, Wall left school in Manchester at age 14. He apprenticed for a pro team in England. At just 17, he began living his childhood dream. He traveled all over the world playing in matches — until his knees gave out. Then just 24, married with children, Wall decided to embrace the American dream. He played and coached up until a few years ago. But back then, as a young family man with an American wife, he could no longer support himself financially through the game.
When one dream dies, resilient immigrants make others come true. Wall ended up in Snohomish, a town he claims as his own. An animated affectionate personality he loves that many of the young patrons of his British pub, Piccadilly Circus, kiss and hug him. This means a lot to him — as does his adopted city. This kissing and hugging, a European gesture of affection, helps make him content now that he is older.
How did this cosmopolitan world traveler end up in our country town? He and his wife, Marion, who is a Washington native, wanted out of the fish bowl of Seattle. They began a business. It has evolved and they’ve grown wiser dealing with all that having a business in Snohomish means. Too many city managers aggravate him to distraction. His contention is, “we have more city employees than any third world country and certainly more than our local transportation department.” Hard of hearing now, and tired of complaining, he doesn’t bother to attend city council meetings anymore. He says he can’t even hear the members when they speak and can’t understand why they even have microphones as they don’t use them.
Seriously, this man speaks as someone with a great deal more living to do. Wall just crashed onto the rocks in Hawaii while body surfing; has a trip back to England quite soon; can’t even remember all the countries he’s been to; thinks he’s the oldest business owner in Snohomish; and still thinks he has the answer to the ongoing woes of lack of business downtown — if anyone would just listen:
No. 1 — close off First Street to traffic for events all the time.
No. 2 — have social and cultural festivals every week during the good months — and the not so good months. Example: Fifteen years ago he put on a Guy Fawkes cultural event, which was a huge success. (Guy Fawkes was a ‘Brit’ in 1604 who burned down Parliament and every year the British have huge celebrations).
Wall even says he’ll help organize a calendar with citizens working together and the city supporting everything. Bring in more lights, get rid of the parking, pave the street, have more trees, etc. Let the pick-ups and deliveries be done before businesses open.
And please, he requests with blunt British good humor. “Could we please have a decent Christmas tree?” He says the trees he and his staff brought in years ago were magnificent. Now he is embarrassed by the pathetic representations of a proud city’s Christmas tree. Where does our money go? He queries with impatience.
Not the person to answer that particular question, I can only say this immigrant’s perspective of little Snohomish was fun to hear. It felt like a small sip of aged wine. I found his candor, passion and expressiveness about Snohomish endearing. I liked when his lovely wife and partner, with whom he raises miniature horses on five acres, left for the bank — they kissed and hugged. Quite a good tradition brought from the countries in Europe from which many of us and our ancestors immigrated. We might want to incorporate that tradition into future city party/events in the form of a kissing booth. Wall could be in charge.
Patricia Therrell will be taking the next three months off from her Profiles of People column in order to promote her first novel “Justice for #997543.” You can find the book through her publisher, Tigress Press, or contact Therrell on her website, authorpatriciacage.com. All proceeds go to Matthew House in Monroe. The 10-year-labor is dedicated to Jayme Biendl, the corrections officer who was murdered by an inmate in one of the prison units at the Monroe Correctional Complex, a place Therrell is all too familiar with. Therrell taught for 20 years in the Monroe prison complex for Edmonds Community College and taught a class in the chapel where Biendl was killed. Therrell served for decades on an international professional board dealing with criminal justice and incarceration and still speaks for free to groups regarding correctional education.
Profiles of People will return in September.