Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

Allen's Newspaper

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Oscar Cerrillo grew up in Mexico City and came to Seattle in 1990. He has worked at the Red Apple for 13 years and at a second restaurant job for 17 years. He works 60 - 75 hours a week, and helps his wife with her cleaning business on his days off, to help send his son and daughter to university. 

Oscar Cerrillo

There was a man who came to the store every Sunday. His name was Allen. Every Sunday morning he came for his newspaper. I always work Sunday mornings. He only came for the paper. I would see him walking to the store, and I’d get his paper for him. He was pretty elderly. We would always talk and catch up. He was such a good person. Then he got sick, so his wife brought him in the car. His wife told me, "he wants to come to see you.” I told her that when he can’t come, just tell me, and I’ll bring him his paper. I’d see him arrive in the car and have such a hard time getting out of the car. He was really sick. I told him, "You don’t have to get out of the car. I’ll bring you your paper." But he insisted that he wanted to get out and walk. Then one day he stopped coming. His wife came to tell me he had died. She said he had really looked forward to our time on Sundays. His daughter even came to thank me, and I got to know her too. It’s sad, because he was such a great person. I don’t think that other stores are like that, I don’t think they have such close friendships with their customers.

We get that paper The Facts. We joke that it’s only good for finding out who died. Every Wednesday when the paper arrives, we all open it to see which customers have died.