Red Cup regular celebrates his 99th
A Table of “Nalage” regular at Red Cup Café turned 99 on Thursday.
Frank Platt, of Everett, celebrated his birthday at the Mukilteo café with the group of friends that meets daily at 9:45 a.m. to sip coffee and share stories of yore. Platt goes every Thursday with Bob Boyle, founder of the group.
“I can’t believe it,” he said of turning 99. “I’ve just been very fortunate.”
Platt was born on Jan. 10, 1914, in his parents’ home on North Grand Avenue in Everett – and after 99 years, Everett is still his home.
In fact, every job he’s ever had – and he’s only had four in the better part of a century – has been within blocks of Hewitt and Colby avenues in downtown Everett.
“I feel very fortunate I’ve only had four jobs my entire life, and I never asked for a job,” he said. “People asked me.”
His first job was working as a delivery boy for Chris Culmback, a tobacco and candies merchant. The Culmback Building, built in 1924, still stands on Colby Avenue.
Platt, then 16, delivered boxes of candy bars, gum, cigarettes, cigars and snuff to stores all over Snohomish and Island counties. His route included two stops in Mukilteo – to N.J. Smith’s and Zahler’s stores.
Platt took a schooner out of Everett to get to stores on Whidbey Island, because there wasn’t a ferry at Mukilteo yet. The boat used a flag system to pick up and drop off passengers on Whidbey and Hat islands.
After delivering his goods, Platt would stay the night at a hotel in Coopeville and then go back home over the bridge.
“They didn’t have a ferry at that time, so you didn’t have all that traffic,” he said. “Mukilteo was just a small village with a nice beach and the lighthouse, which was the main draw.”
At 18, Platt took a job working for a Coca Cola warehouse. He and another worker took on the soldiers’ cola habit at and around Paine Field during World War II: They had the job of filling 87 Coca Cola machines. The cola was made with less sugar during the war.
“The biggest day we ever had out there, we ran 1,000 cases of Coca Cola through those machines in one day,” he said. “A thousand cases of Coca Cola, 24 bottles to a case – you can see how many soldiers were drinking Coca Cola out of Paine Field.”
After three years trucking cola, a man named Harold Walsh approached Platt with a business proposition: Buy Murphy Motors and start their own car dealership. In 1953, they opened Walsh-Platt Motors on the corner of Rucker and Hewitt avenues.
Thirty years later, they sold the dealership to Dwayne Lane. The name stayed Walsh-Platt Motors until 1978.
Platt is now staying at Washington Oakes Retirement, formerly Washington School, where he had attended grade school from 1921-1926. He walks the same halls as he did when he was 8 years old.
He keeps busy by going to Everett Elks Club and Snohomish County Shrine Club meetings – and to Red Cup to visit once a week.
Bob Boyle takes him to the café to see old friends from Everett High School at the Table of “Nalage.” They’ve known each other since Boyle was a baby, and “lived just a block apart,” Boyle said.
“I’ve been going in and out of Mukilteo quite a lot,” Platt said. “I knew all of these guys when they were in Everett.”
Some of the regulars at the table had birthday presents for him on Thursday. Marianne Brown, owner of Red Cup, gave him a bowl of 99 M&M’s – “representing a very colorful life” – and a red scarf she knitted. Everyone at the café sang “Happy Birthday” to him.
Platt had tears in his eyes, sitting there at the Table of “Nalage,” overwhelmed by it all.
“He’s a really sweet man with a really great attitude,” Brown said. “He’s always appreciative of what you do, and never complains. He always smiles and says, ‘Thank you.’”
“He just likes to be thankful for everything. Maybe that’s the secret to his longevity.”
He said to Brown recently: “You know what? In 13 months, I’m going to be 100!” Though, Platt said later, he doesn’t need to get to 100 to know he’s lived a good, long life. He’s not trying to set a record, he said.
“It’s been a good ride,” Platt said. “I’ve had a lot of fun, met a lot of neat people.”
“I don’t look ahead. I play the game, day by day, and make the best of it. I’m not a negative person. I’m just happy. And if I make it [to 100] that’s fine, and if I don’t, that’s fine, too.”