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

Job Opportunities

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Cecil Beatty moved to Washington state from Oklahoma, during World War II, to work as a machinist in the shipyards. In the early fifties, he bought a home on 31st and Olive, in the Madrona neighborhood (pictured here). 

Cecil Beatty

Cecil: You couldn't get jobs other than menial jobs, you know. The jobs, when I came here, the most jobs people had was riding on the railroad as a waiter or down on the waterfront sailing. But, you go to Bon Marche or any of these places and try to get a job, "Well, we can give you a job in the basement, ironing clothes, take em out of the box you know, ironing new clothes." My wife was, she could type 70 some words a minute on an old typewriter, before electric typewriters were invented, when you had to use some strength, she could do 70 some words a minute, and she'd go to these places like Penny's or what have you, "Well, we don't want anybody that smart. But we can give you a job, we need somebody down in the basement to unpack some clothes, stuff like that." That's the kind of jobs they offered her. So she finally went and found a job with the federal government in the MSTS, that's like a maritime shipping company, but it's run by the government, MTS, and that's where she got a job there, and then she worked for the Port of Seattle down there, and she passed tests for supervisor - "Well, you're too young to be a supervisor." So they wouldn't give her the job of supervisor. She was very smart. And then, her latest job was working for the federal government as, let's see...
Phyllis: Health education and welfare, and she was part of health and education.
Cecil: What she did was she had three states, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho, and she would investigate hospitals, like up in Alaska, Juneau and those places, and nursing homes, to see if they were feeding those people the right kind of food that they eat. You know, Eskimos, they don't eat, they don't know about beans, they want some whale blubber or something, and if they didn't feed them that, they'd lose their contract from the government, so naturally when she went there, they all, oh they would meet her at the train, at the airport, limousine service, so they could get a good write up, but she wrote what she found, and the same thing in Idaho, down in Oregon, she wrote what she found. That was the last job she had.