Where’s Dexter? | Guest View

By Elizabeth Erickson | Nov 06, 2013
Courtesy of: Gallery Homes The brass statue known as “Dexter” that stood on the corner of Third Street by Gallery Homes Real Estate was stolen on Oct. 24.

The statue was bought 10 years ago in late 2003 for the original location for Gallery Homes Real Estate on the corner of 5th Street and Mukilteo Speedway.

A Mukilteo Historical Society member brought me a black and white photo of the "Real Estate office," which still hangs in my office.

That building had been Mukilteo's first real estate office in the 1950's with the Copley family.  The formerly unknown historical connection was rich.

The building was remodeled from what had been a dull green, utterly flat-topped and with asphalt right up to the building. That ugly entrance to Old Town was transformed with help from Fred Baxter's sketch of a raised section.

(Though Fred said his sketch looked “a bit like a fruit stand,” the change was transformative.)

I felt a piece of art for passersby would be appropriate for that busy corner.

As a young girl in the 1950s, I remembered our semi-annual trip from Everett to the big city of Seattle, driving down "the" Highway 99 traveling to the only store with shoes for skinny feet – Nordstrom Shoe Store.

(Where we'd repeatedly put our feet into the X-ray machine to see the bones of our feet.)

During that ‘long drive’ to downtown Seattle, I'd always look for the 'washer lady' who moved up and down, showing her bloomers in the back. To an 8 year old, it was delightful discovery every time.

As I was forming the mission for my company, it included community involvement. Thus, in my beginning, I felt a piece of art for the city would be appropriate for the thousands of kids like me, who'd pass by.

But what exactly?

Finally, I came across ‘the boy,’ a bit Tom Sawyer-ish, standing on the bow of a boat, canvas backpack with map, in vest and boots – peering through a spyglass. I knew, instantly, that he was perfect.

He arrived in his shipping crate in early 2004. My contractor Eric Anderson was concerned about his safety from theft, so he poured a huge, 'overkill' lump of concrete beneath and bolted him to it.

We sited him looking down for adventure over the lighthouse, the ferry and beyond.

After finally settling on my company name of Gallery Homes Real Estate,  I learned from the Washington State Registrar that a Dexter Oppalah in Spokane had once had a company years before called "Gallery Homes."

I remember racing to Olympia to claim it, exactly what I wanted for my company’s name.

During the four months of remodeling, while tearing down walls and reconfiguring spaces, I found an old key with the name “Dexter” on it.

Dexter Key Co. turned out to be an old key blank manufacturing company, no longer in business. That key still resides on my desk.

That’s how, when the statue arrived, he already had a name, 'Dexter' in honor of a man who years before had thought it was a good name for a company too.

For seven years, I didn't see too many folks walk by Dexter in that location.

When I sold that building and moved my company two blocks down to 700 3rd Street, (and another remodel), I brought Dexter along.

I realized on the new corner he could continue his gaze down at the lighthouse, the ferry, and places yet for this dreamer to explore.

But something else happened in that move.

People walked by – a lot of people.

I found that the foot traffic on Third Street increased a hundred fold over the old corner – and so did Dexter's admirers.

I often happened upon kids behind him with parents taking photos and newly wedded couples, their vows completed at the Rosehill Community Center, and tourists from foreign lands.

Occasionally, I'd take their photos so they could all be in the picture.

And those were only the few times I happened upon them – many, many more enjoyed Dexter, the steady, sturdy, whimsical little adventurer on the corner.

Thursday morning, Oct. 24, he was gone.

A police officer said thieves most likely threw a chain around him, tied him to a truck, pulled him off his secure bolts and concrete and threw him into their truck. The officer said he was most likely melted down in the woods somewhere, with other wires and scrap metal, to be sold for the weight of the brass.

The empty hole in the rugosa roses is a stark reminder of his loss to me and untold others.

Elizabeth Erickson is the owner and designated broker of Gallery Homes, LLC.

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