Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.
Gary Hammon2.JPG

Working Community

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Gary was born and raised on 28th Ave South, in the Central Area. He took up the tenor saxophone while a junior at Garfield High School, played in clubs all over the Central District, and went on to join the first cohort of black jazz students allowed admission to the New England Convervatory, in 1969. He came back to Seattle fifteen years ago to care for his aging mother, who still lives in the home on 28th Ave South, where Gary grew up. He teaches jazz at Ballard High School, and he shops at the Red Apple every day. 

Gary Hammon

Everything was right there in our community. Even like when we were kids. There was a movie theater over there. I could walk up Jackson Street, and we had our barbershops, we had our own soul food cuisines. Jesse's store on 28th and Jackson was just one example. People that worked at Todd shipyard, that worked at Bethlehem Steel, worked for Boeing, worked for Sears, worked for all these great companies,  could send their children in, and they knew everybody in the neighborhood, and if you needed meat, or you needed something, you signed credit, and they knew who you were, and they knew that they were going to get their money. It was actually a working community.