Metropolitan Business College


After I came back to Seattle from Mt. Vernon I looked for work but I was not qualified for anything, not having taken shorthand or typing in high school. I've written about my one effort at being a waitress in the University District. A Mr. Stapp, a music teacher in the Wallingford district, advertised for someone who knew music to file for him. I was so nervous and scared when I went for the interview I said I didn't know how to file! Knowing me now as you children do that is hard to believe. I find it hard to believe myself.

A friend of mother's, Mrs. Anna Moody, suggested that I work my way through the Metropolitan Business College. I applied and was accepted.

In 1925 the business college was in the Henry-White-Stuart Building on 4th Avenue between Union and University. It was owned by the Metropolitan Building Company, and Florence Douglas, sister of one of the owners, was President of the college. At that time there were about 200 students. There was a cluster of offices, a huge typing room, and at least 7 classrooms. I remember when Lindberg's parade went down 4th Avenue. We were all at the windows, and again we saw Queen Marie from Romania drive past.

The shorthand teacher then was Mrs. Ida Snyder, a super teacher but one who scared students. There was no fooling around in her class. Her reputation has survived over the years for when I meet former friends who attended there, she is the one they remember.

Unlike public schools, students in the business college weren't given grades or even failed. Each student signed a contract when they entered that promised a job, so Mrs. Snyder, as well as the other teachers, had to make them learn.

After I started to teach I learned to love Ida Snyder. She was kind, empathetic, helpful and fun outside the classroom.

When we moved into our home on Bagley in 1933 the pipes were frozen and when we started a fire in the fireplace the house filled with smoke. So I took Viola to Mrs. Snyder's who lived at 3819 Meridian, to heat the formula and change her. Mrs. Snyder loved babies. But would Viola go to her? No! But she went to Mrs. Beck, another teacher who disliked babies! Much to my chagrin.

At that time Mr. and Mrs. Vick, sales people, visited high schools over the state to enroll students. If needed, homes were found where students could work for board and room and in some cases, a little spending money. Wilbur and I agreed to have Ruth Norton live with us and work for room and board. We remained friends until her death several years ago.

In order for these out-of-town students to have some social life, the college several times a year rented a hall on the second floor of a building at Broadway and Pine and held dances. The faculty always went early to decorate. Refreshments were always served.

In the 20's and early 30's wealthy Seattle business men sent their sons and daughters to the Metropolitan to learn how to handle their money and to learn the rudiments of business. One girl in particular I remember. Her name was in the society section of the Seattle Times quite often since she was a member of the Junior League. Several times she appeared in a beautiful velvet dress, but it was torn. My first encounter with drugs came when we found that the son of a wealthy businessman was stealing things to buy drugs. Then I understood why he was so lethargic. I had my first taste of scallops when two wealthy girls took me to the Rainier Club. One of Mayor Dore's sons was a student but not a very good one.

The day I was graduated Miss Douglas called me into her office and offered me a job of teaching shorthand. It was so unexpected that I didn't know what to say for a minute. But of course I accepted and never regretted it. The fact that my best friend, Frances Hastings, was already teaching typing influenced me. Several of the students have been my life-long friends: among them are Frances Hastings Rosenquist, Lelia Read Barney and her husband Floyd Barney, Grace Read Lapham, Dorothy Shea Carrey, Lillian Larson Amundson. We get together once or twice a year even though several don't live in Seattle. Thelma Smith was a friend in Mt. Vernon and went through the business college before I started. One night Wilbur and I were invited to meet her fiancé and much to my surprise it was one of my students at the college. He got angry with me one day and dashed out of the room, slamming the door. In spite of this Thelma and David and their two children Marilyn and Jim have been friends over the years.

Before I left the Metropolitan I taught not only shorthand but typing, business English, and business arithmetic. I took a brushup course in bookkeeping only it was not brushup for me, it was absolutely new. The others were reviewing. I've never worked so hard in all my life. We covered the bookkeeping up to accounting in six weeks. Now all I remember is debit and credit.

I taught bookkeeping and typing in the U. Branch in the building where Verna and Roger were born, and which is now the Safeco Building.

In 1932 when I became pregnant I left the business college. For a time I attended the meetings and parties of the business sorority, Alpha Iota, taking Viola with me. When she was about six I played for her to dance at one of their banquets at the Olympic Hotel, the last affair I attended. I remember when Viola was nursing I sang at an afternoon affair at the Meany Hotel and milk leaked out. I hadn't expected to be gone as long as I was.

On March 29, 1989, a number of us were invited back for the 100th Birthday Celebration of the Metropolitan Business College. Since my time, there have been a number of different owners and it has deteriorated so that I wouldn't recommend it. Those of us who went were saddened by the change. It is quite a bit smaller. I would rather remember the school as it was when owned by the Metro Building Company. I won't be here for the 200th celebration (and maybe they won't be either) so I expect that is the last time I will have contact with that institution.

Later addendum:
Not long ago a notice appeared in the daily paper naming institutions not living up to requirements for those getting financial help from the government. Sorry to say, Metropolitan was one of those listed.

1992 addendum:
Since that anniversary celebration the school closed.

 

Metropolitan.txt Page 3 of 3 01/19/01 10:22 PM