Few words ... and much finery

Nancy Hilliard
Around the Island

Words blossom in spring. Short and easy does it.

Ever played the game of six-word-life-philosophy, such as: “Every thing finally works itself out.” Or, “Crossing lines, blending lives, meeting eternity.” Or, “Take time to assess; judge slowly.” What’s yours?

Japanese haikus of only 17 syllables also distill the season:

Mountain cherry blossoms

Against the snowy peak —

Silent harmony in heaven.

Don’t miss hearing our own talented teen poets to be celebrated at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, at the 2nd annual Mercer Island Poets Cafe. Winners of the library-sponsored MI Teen Poetry Contest will be announced, and the top 10 authors will read their works.

Urban Outfitter: Come along inside Wall Street Custom Clothiers, tucked sedately into the strip mall at 2448 76th Ave. S.E., across from the old Safeway. It doesn’t count on foot traffic, so it’s not surprising if you’ve not been inside. “Lots of our customers never see the store; we go to them,” said Kurt Riber, VP for sales. Owner Dale Dunning is packing up to fit groomsmen for a wedding. Head tailor Victor Markovets cuts fabric and steams seams for a woman’s custom skirt.

In his monogrammed shirt and Robert Talbott tie, Riber shows me a lady’s shirt and men’s suit cloth samples of the finest quality — wool made from Kirghizstan goats, silks, satins and the highest thread-count woven Egyptian cotton. It’s like wearing air, I say. He nods knowingly.

Dunning has run the business for 22 years on the Island, expanding from mainly gentlemen’s fine suits, sports jackets, slacks and custom shirts to additional casual wear, and the Doncaster collection for women, shown mainly in homes and at events. He now partners with Soloman Events to outfit wedding parties and other formal affairs.

“It’s all in the measurements,” explains Riber, whose top goals are perfect fit, quality fabric and construction. “We can replicate something you see in a magazine or on stage, upgrade a favorite outfit you already love but want the best fabric for, or suggest a style by a person’s build, line of work and personality.”

Custom suits range from $800-5,000; a custom shirt in the $100 range. The store claims to have top sales of custom shirts on the West Coast — as many as 2,000 a year. WSCC’s main product is hassle-free personal attention, free delivery and fittings. Result: You feel real fine in the threads.

We salute you: Bradley Jennison, son of Brian Jennison and Rachel Paysse, who served four years as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan and now works for the state department over there. The 25-year-old used to deliver MI Reporters and graduated from MIHS in 2001. Just deployed (April 21) to the Middle East is Marine Lance Corporal Philip Darin Krein, grandson of Islanders Patricia and Bo Darling. “He is such a fine young man — just had his 20th birthday,” said Patricia. Both eager to do their parts.

Dalai Lama credo in action: Why should affluent Islanders align with the region’s poorest people? David Bley, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Pacific Northwest initiative, shared the Gates family’s belief with local Rotarians last week: “Mary Gates planted the seed in her son, Bill, that ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’ and that every life has equal value.”

The Gates’ initiative addresses housing, employment, education, access to technology and counseling to help meet special needs of more than 600,000 people in Washington who live in poverty. One in four is a child under age 18. On any given night, 25,000 people don’t have a safe place to sleep — Washington has 13,000 homeless children.

B&MGF’s “Sound Families” demonstrates in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties how 1,500 affordable homes have created stability for 2,700 kids who no longer have to shift from school to school; and how education, health and employment opportunities can jump-start their parents. The foundation always partners to reach goals — with governments, private funders, tribes and nonprofit organizations.

During 1998-2003, it provided funds that made a difference on MI for NW Parkinson Foundation care, treatment and outreach, B’nai B’rith Jewish humanitarian support, and funds to remodel Youth Theatre Northwest.

“U.S. News and World Report” ranked Bellevue, Newport and Issaquah as the Gold-winning high schools in the state, if not the nation. Mercer Island ranked in the Silver group with Issaquah, Bainbridge, Garfield, Roosevelt, Olympia, Mary Walker and Vancouver.

However, in the same issue, Islander senior Brian Tolkin, son of Laurie and Kevin Tolkin, was announced as one of 52 winners in the nation to win an AXA Achievement Award of $10,000. It will help with Brian’s Stanford University education next year. He demonstrated drive to set and reach goals, respect for self, family and community, and an ability to succeed in college. [You might remember reading about Brian earlier — the one who does a ton of community service such as boat rides for cancer patients, Relay for Life, helping younger students to golf, and so much more.] He is an especially happy senior right now because his golf team gets to go to State next week. The future is his.

Ending in the woods: Early morning on April 14, two deer sauntered into John Nelson’s backyard (6753 80th Ave. S.E.) and moved west toward West Mercer Way. Let’s track and count our Island deer this spring and see if fawns appear.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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