Coming to Seattle


Dad was already working in Seattle when I'd finished my first year at Linfield in 1925. He wanted me to come to Seattle and find work here. I remember going through Portland the day of the Rose Parade.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived here was the smell of roasting coffee. Whenever I smell it I remember my first days here.

The first two or three days I stayed with friends from Missoula, Mrs. Shields and her daughter Josephine. Mrs Shields made Josephine show me around the city which she hated doing. We had never got along too well back in Montana.

In those days there was a huge scoreboard on the wall of the Times Building on 5th Avenue which was used for baseball playoffs. The place was called Times Square. Maybe it still is. Back then hundreds gathered to hear the scores.

Dad and I lived in an apartment on 9th Avenue almost across from St. James Cathedral. I remember Maggy Wright, a Seventh Day Adventist telling me that the two towers were stored with guns and ammunition ready for the time the Catholics were going to try taking over. She really believed it.

My friend from Linfield, Norma Ellis Mills, arrived in Seattle the same day as I did so we did many things together. We were fascinated by the Pike Place Market. She took me and introduced me to their garage man on 11th or 10th. You will understand what a naive girl I was when I stopped to say "hello" to him as I walked past one day. I felt lost and very lonesome as you can understand. I did have sense enough to know I shouldn't accept his invitation to spend the night with him.

Norma and I later even tried to be waitresses. I worked one whole evening at Roger's on University Way, but refused to go out with the manager. I was fired. We also tried a restaurant on Pine or Pike. Neither of us seemed to be cut out for that career.

My last attempt before going to Mt. Vernon was housekeeping for a wealthy family who lived in a beautiful three-story brick home across from Volunteer Park. The first thing I asked was if they had a piano for I had to practice since I was scheduled to play at the Chataqua in Portland in the late summer. The piano was on the third floor in the ballroom. The poor woman must have been desperate for she hired me. I lasted one week.

By that time Dad had met one of my college friends, Eva Findley, on the train coming back to Seattle from McMinnville one weekend. She asked Dad to get me to go to Mt. Vernon and share an apartment with her while we worked in the cannery. So away to Mt. Vernon I went.

Eva and I lived in the Anabel Apartments, which were across from the tower with tulips painted on it that you can see as you drive north on I-5.

Eva had gone to Mt. Vernon from Oregon because she had worked the summer before in a cannery in Salem and the managers there were running the cannery in Mt. Vernon. The over-all manager was a Mr. Walker with whose son I'd play tennis at 6:00 am. The head fore-lady was Mrs. Bothner who became a friend of mine.

The night I arrived several of us were put to work emptying a freight car of tin cans, which is very noisy. It didn't help my headache a bit. That night I took my first aspirin.

The second day Mrs. Bothner, much to my surprise, made me, an inexperienced person, a fore-lady. I was to inspect each tray of fruit before it was taken to be processed. Nothing escaped my eagle eye and I am sure I was very much disliked. But I was doing what I had been told to do. Nothing undesirable got into any cans I inspected.

Sometimes Eva and I and several others were asked to work evenings packing special orders. I remember finding bugs, bandages and other extraneous material in cans for restaurants. I've never ordered a fruit pie at a restaurant since then.

Several friends I met there: Thelma Moore Smith, Lydia Young Johnson. Later Lydia and her family lived in the 3800 block on Corliss Avenue, just behind our home. Thelma moved to Seattle to attend the Metropolitan Business College and graduated before I did. She is living on Greenwood Avenue now (1992).

One of the girls in the Cannery didn't have a very good reputation and she was hanging around a good-looking young man as often as she could. The women urged me to get better acquainted with this fellow. So the next time Dad sent me some of his home made cookies I gave some to Wilbur Washburn. He liked them and we started to talk. I found he had just finished a year at Washington State and he found I had done the same at Linfield so we had something in common to talk about. He finally invited me to see a Charlie Chaplin movie. His father managed the theater so we sat in the loge seats. I went to sleep! In spite of that Wilbur took me out again. The results of my giving that young man cookies are three children, ten grandchildren and eleven (almost twelve) great-grandchildren.

After the cannery closed I came back to Seattle and resumed going to the Presbyterian Church.

Some times I would stop in to see Mrs. Woody, Mother's friend. Knowing I was looking for work she advised me to apply at the Metropolitan Business College where they wanted someone to work for them in return for getting a business education. I applied and was accepted immediately.

08/20/2000 JA Typed. Handwritten on green spiral notebook, top spiral in 1992.
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