Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cecile Hansen. Chairwoman. Duwamish Tribe. Chief Seattle descendant.

Cecile Hansen. Photo: Madeline Crowley ©

I’m talking with Cecile Hansen, Chairperson and Activist for the Duwamish people and their rights at their Longhouse. First though, I should state the obvious, not only is Seattle named for the Duwamish Chief but without the gifts of the tribe to the first white settlers, the city would not even exist as it did. And the Central Area was a part of their territory

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This interview is now available in the book, We Lived Here, published by Chin Music Press:

Duwamish LonghousePhoto: Madeline Crowley

Photo from Collection Duwamish Longhouse

Chief Seattle Photo : E.M. Sammis

Duwamish Longhouse, Main Room. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse. Canoe & Carving. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse, Main Room, Ceiling. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse, Main Room, Detail. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse. Floor, Detail. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse. Floor, Detail. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse. Main Room, Post, Detail. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse. Loom. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse. Wall, Detail. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Duwamish Longhouse. Lighting. Photo: Madeline Crowley

©  Madeline Crowley People of the Central Area 2016   All material is covered by copyright. Express written permission must be given for any copyrighted material on this page. Email to request permission to copy or paste materials

                                                                                                  This project was supported in part by 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Duwamish Longhouse: A Community Effort

Today I’m speaking to Chad Lewis, to whom all of Seattle and I owe a great debt of gratitude because he was instrumental in preserving the Duwamish operations and absolutely central to getting them the funding to realize the longhouse. So all of us who have enjoyed our time in the longhouse, we owe Chad a debt of gratitude. 

Photo: Madeline Crowley © 

Chad Lewis has very kindly agreed to talk about how this very complicated project came into fruition. Would you like to start at the very beginning?

Ok. (laughs) My father told me about a Coming Full Circle event at MOHAI, and this I think was in the summer of 2004. The ceremony was put together by a local group, the Descendants Committee, comprised of descendants of European settlers and of the Duwamish who helped them to succeed after their arrival.

I’m a Terry descendent. Charles Terry was a member of the Denny Party who landed at Alki Beach in 1851. My father was very interested in his great-grandfather and his pioneer roots. I wasn’t as interested but wanted to support my dad so attended the ceremony with him. After the ceremony, I met Duwamish Chairperson Cecile Hansen and I talked with her a bit. I learned that the Duwamish Tribe needed help with planning, and that’s how I got started. Soon after the event, I met with the Duwamish Tribal Services Board of Directors and took them through a strategic planning workshop. By the conclusion of the workshop, they had identified strategic objectives that focused on building and sustaining the longhouse.

One thing led to another. Initially I became involved with grant writing simply to help pay the bills, but that quickly segued into leading the longhouse capital campaign at that point in its history.

To build a building of this size and bring it in on time, on budget and on schedule in any city, but in Seattle in particular, is kind of a miracle.

It was a miracle and there was a whole bunch of remarkable people who helped make it happen.

Actually, I should go all the way back to the beginning. My involvement with the longhouse campaign was during the second phase of fundraising. The first phase was the most difficult. The heaviest lifting began in the late 1990s. This work was led by George and Arlene Wade and Cecile’s daughter, Jolene Williams, now Haas. Of course, Cecile was also involved. They got together around the idea of helping the tribe get a longhouse built. George and Arlene put together a group of philanthropist friends. They called themselves the Friends of the Duwamish: Judy Pigott, Ellen Ferguson, Michael Alhadeff, Martha Kongsgaard, and George and Arlene. This group donated the initial $60,000 to the campaign, thereby providing all-important seed money to serve as match for the grants to purchase the land in West Seattle. That’s what really got the ball rolling, getting the land purchased. This couldn’t have happened without the Friends of the Duwamish.

Do you remember the year the land was bought?

I’m trying to remember. Hmm…I think around 2000. Possibly earlier. My apologies if I’m off a bit here.

What happened after that?

Well, the first phase of fundraising went into 2003 then lost momentum for about a year. The second phase picked up after I became involved as campaign chair in 2004. At that point, the campaign was at about 40% of its goal.

So significant fundraising occurred in the second round between 2004 and 2007!  

You are correct. Overall, I think the first round of capital funding came in at around $1.4 million. The work I led after 2004 raised another $1.9 million. I also did additional fundraising to help pay the bills while the longhouse campaign was being finished, and the longhouse was being constructed. That was another $300,000 or so.

Tell me about the business plan and development plan that you developed.

After my work with the Duwamish Tribal Services Board of Directors in 2004 to create strategic objectives, it was then important to develop a viable business plan in support of those objectives. This plan needed to connect the dots between the longhouse as a structure and how it would be used and sustained in a manner consistent with the tribe’s mission. The next step was creation of a development plan for fundraising. With these two documents in hand, a prospective funder could see that the tribe had the means to raise the money for the longhouse and the capacity to sustain it.

As it turns out, these documents couldn’t be set in granite. As we went along, the development plan had to be continuously adjusted to reflect failures as well as successes with funders. For example, production problems and testing at MOHAI for the original longhouse business plan, a dinner theater and gallery, showed we had overreached. A new business plan had to be written.

Funny story here. A program officer at the Gates Foundation, Annie Clark, as a condition of funding, required us to write a back-up business plan in the event the first plan failed. So, I had to grind through another plan. Turns out having this back up plan was a blessing because the tribe ended up needing and using it. So, Annie, wherever you are, thank-you very much!
Interesting, so it sounds as this process evolved not only were plans being adjusted and you and the tribe were learning what would best serve both goals getting the building and continuing to keep it viable and financially supported

Right. We were getting a lot of feedback from funders. It was really a dynamic process.

I’d like to say a few more things about the contributors to the longhouse project. I was primarily just a catalyst. There were many others involved who helped the project and me. It wasn’t like I was some kind of wunderkind who dropped in out of the sky and did a magical thing.

For example, there was a whole group of people that helped me learn how to do a better job of creating grant applications, fund solicitations, and business and development plans. They helped my strategic thinking as well. There was an Administration for Native Americans Consultant named Dan Van Otten and a local consultant, Fred Lighter, who mentored me. Local philanthropists Judy Pigott and Ellen Ferguson provided valuable insights. I got a lot of help and training from other people. And, as I mentioned before, the first phase of the campaign, the hardest part, had already been completed thanks to Arlene and Jolene and the Friends of the Duwamish.

We also had political support that was crucial to finishing the campaign and building the longhouse without debt. King County Executive Dow Constantine and Sharon Nelson, then his Chief of Staff, made earmark funding possible. State Senator Margarita Prentice also passed through an earmark at the state level. Anne Takekawa from the Seattle City Department of Neighborhoods and Debra Twersky from 4-Culture were always available to guide our efforts, and contributions from these organizations were essential. As already mentioned, Annie Clark at the Gates Foundation and also Peter Berliner at the Paul Allen Family Foundation provided invaluable assistance, though Annie was sometimes a bit brutal (laughs). ING Direct/Sharebuilders not only contributed $80,000 to the campaign, their employees also donated an entire day of labor. A lot of rocks got raked that day!

(laughs) It sounds effective…

There were so many who contributed. Byron Barnes, the architect, did an amazing job. Byron and Potlatch Associates his architectural firm went way beyond what one might reasonably expect from an architect and an architectural firm in terms of designing and building the longhouse in a cost-effective way. Speaking of being cost-effective, tribal bookkeeper, Carl Hageman worked with me to successfully track every penny that went into construction and supported me in timing payments to meet the payment needs of the general contractor and disbursement requirements of funders. He later made sure in his work with me that all funder progress reports were accurately reconciled. That was a big job.

Then, once the Longhouse was built it had to be sustained. The first Director of the Longhouse, tribal member James Rasmussen, put his heart and soul into the longhouse campaign and into the longhouse. Linda Dombrowski came along as the events coordinator in the second year of existence and has since done a terrific job.

I did a study in 2012 that looked at business plan projections by category, by revenue category, for 2011 based on the business plan versus reality in 2011. I was astonished at how closely longhouse operations matched my projections. A lot of that credit goes to Linda and to Cindy Williams, a tribal member, and of course to Cecile Hansen. The Duwamish not only got their longhouse built, but up to this point in time, knock on wood, they have sustained it. That’s remarkable. 

I can’t leave the subject of talking about significant contributors without returning to Cindy Williams. She worked side-by-side with me as my partner through all the drama of grant and solicitation applications and follow up reporting; the testing of business plan ideas, then the building of the longhouse, and finally the groundbreaking and ribbon cutting.

Yeah, it’s no mean feat to keep a cultural organization moving forward. If you come into the longhouse, there is this wonderful feeling. Realizing how many people contributed to it to make this exist and continue to exist is humbling. It’s almost tangible. It doesn’t have that impersonal feel you can have when you go to a museum, say.  This place is suffused with a certain feeling and it could be that’s because so many people gave unstintingly to make sure that it happened.

And is still happening… One group I haven’t mentioned, I don’t know them well because they got involved after the longhouse was built, but I see their work when I attend Duwamish galas and have learned more about them from conversations with Cecile, and that’s the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites. They are a fantastic organization that has provided a lot of volunteer help.

Tell me about the Descendants Committee. You described this group earlier. What role, if any, did they play in the campaign?

Individual members of the Descendants Committee provided essential help. Leonard Garfield, a member of the committee by virtue of his job as the head of MOHAI, was particularly helpful. Leonard offered up MOHAI as a partner to the Duwamish Tribe during the campaign, and MOHAI as a venue for the business plan ideas we were testing. Without his support, my efforts would have most certainly failed. Other Descendants Committee members like Louise Brown and Pat Wright were also very helpful, committed, and cooperative.

The Descendants Committee as a whole was less helpful to the campaign in a large part because the agenda and interests of its chairperson, an emphasis on special events venerating pioneer roots, differed from my focus. Eventually, this chairperson didn’t support the committee as a source of volunteers for business plan-related events. Cecile and I eventually parted ways with the committee.

I need to emphatically state here that the Descendants Committee was never the initiator or the driver for the longhouse capital campaign. For a time, I consulted with the committee at monthly meetings and informed them of my progress and, like I said, some individual members really contributed, but I took my direction from the Duwamish Tribe and the capital campaign committee established for the second phase comprised of Arlene Wade, Jolene Williams, Jim Burns, Fred Lighter, Cecile Hansen, and me. The fact that I was a pioneer descendant was incidental to my involvement. I would have contributed my time and effort to the campaign regardless of who my great-great grandfather happened to be.

Let’s get back to the business plan and the development plan. Are there any other people you want to call out by name?

I have more people to mention but they’ll enter our conversation as we go along. When I get through this interview with you, I sure don’t want to have left anyone out. My apologies if I have.

What was one truly memorable event during the campaign?

Of course, there were several, but I’ll start by highlighting the Annenberg Foundation. What they did was so amazing. This foundation made a generous contribution to the campaign, even though they don’t traditionally do much funding in Washington State and don’t normally fund Native American projects. It’s an interesting story.

I did a lot of cold calling. I subscribed to a database called Philanthropy NW to identify potential funders. I’d sift the database and then pick up the phone and start calling. Sometimes, I’d connect with a program officer and start selling. That happened with the Annenberg Foundation. The program officer was willing to talk with me, but just kept insisting that her organization couldn’t help. I persisted. We ended up having several phone conversations. Long story, short, they asked us to submit an application. The program officer eventually asked me “Well, how much do you need?” I ran some numbers and said, “$248,458.” That was the amount we supported in our subsequent application and that was precisely the amount on the check that arrived in the mail!

Another time, I was shocked to hear about unexpected earmark funding from Washington State that came to us through the already mentioned efforts of Margarita Prentice. This funding, along with the earmark procured through Dow Constantine and King County, meant the tribe wouldn’t need the mortgage I had already arranged on behalf of the tribe through the Washington Community Reinvestment Association, another wonderful organization.

Well, that’s great. What’s interesting in getting to know you is you have these incredible writing and business skills but also are skilled at working with coalitions and different groups to get people who usually might not ordinarily want to contribute, to contribute. I’ve always loved this building and I didn’t know until recently about your involvement so I am personally grateful.

Well, thank you. I should talk about why you haven’t heard of me. I’m really only talking with you because I want an accurate description of the campaign out in the world. I shun publicity and declined opportunities to be interviewed in depth by the press. My family’s story is very interesting in terms of the Duwamish and the longhouse. Probably would have made a great feature story in the Times (laughs).

Turns out my famous great-great grandfather, Charles Terry, was no friend of the Duwamish. He was appointed to be the leader of the early trustees that ran Seattle and, no doubt, played a key role in the ordinance that banned the Duwamish from city limits. He was also the first signatory on a petition to Arthur Denny, then the Territorial Delegate to Congress, against a reservation for the Duwamish. Then, Charles Terry’s great-great grandson comes along 152 years later to help the tribe get a longhouse! What a great story. Of course, I didn’t help the Duwamish because of some romantic pioneer nonsense associated with making right the sins of my family. I became involved, as did myriad others, because it was the right thing to do.

It is taking a deep, deeply unfair and tragic act, which was to take the Duwamish out of their own land when they had not only lived here for at least ten thousand years but they had helped the early (European) settlers, they had intermarried, they were part of the fabric of Seattle. Then later for you and all the others to provide them with help to provide them with a place that is their own. People come from all over the world to see this because this is where they can see and experience Chief Seattle.

There’s no way to right past wrongs. I don’t want to sound like a fortune cookie, but really all we can do is the right thing in the present.

Yes, thank you. That’s true.

I also need to add that I benefited greatly from my involvement with the campaign. I met wonderful people and I was able to participate in something that was a lot greater than me which I think is one of the reasons to be alive. I’m thankful for that.

Now, I want to add one more thing, if I can jump around a little bit here. I should also mention that there were also many small individual contributions to the campaign. From the late 1990s all the way up until about 2007, there was $200,000 raised in small sums from individuals. Hundreds of people contributed to the longhouse campaign and we need to recognize them as well. 

Yeah, absolutely, because without a wellspring of support, it’s very difficult to ultimately raise millions of dollars. Sometimes it’s the less glamorous part of cultural work but is the only part that allows people to enjoy an institution. Without clear cooperation and clear financial support, wonderful things have ceased to exist.

Well, the Duwamish will always exist

Yes. I meant the building.

I understand. To elaborate, though the Duwamish may not become federally recognized, there will always be a Duwamish people. Their existence doesn’t depend on the Federal Government blessing them. It’d certainly be nice if they were recognized. You know, I thought getting the longhouse might help the drive for recognition. It hasn’t happened yet. I may have missed the boat on that in terms of my assumption

Certainly having a real, tangible cultural institution in a city is a significant thing. However, those decisions involve federal law and…

Well, it’s politics. And sometimes it’s just luck. If George W. Bush had not been elected President, the Duwamish would be recognized today. Their recognition, granted to them by the Clinton administration, was taken from them in the first weeks of Bush’s administration.

Is there anything we haven’t covered that we need to cover?

Can you speak to Native involvement in the campaign?

There was no support from local tribes. In one of my earlier development plans, I targeted seven different tribes and tribal associations in this area. Not a single one contributed to the longhouse campaign. However, The Potlatch Fund, a local Native American organization, provided significant assistance in the form of advice, consultation, and some financial support. Ken Gordon, then the executive director of the organization, was particularly helpful. Also, the Shakopee Sioux, a Minnesota tribe, contributed $60,000.

The architect is also native. Byron Barnes is Blackfeet and he knew Cecile, I believe, before his involvement with Potlatch Associates and the longhouse. The construction company, Saxas LLC, was also a Native-owned business.

So, how’re we doing? Are we just about done?

I believe we are. Thank you very much for spending this time with me.

Thank you, Madeline. I appreciate having this opportunity to talk about an important project, and to tell the story of how the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center came to be.

 ©  Madeline Crowley People of the Central Area 2017   All material is covered by copyright. Express written permission must be given for any copyrighted material on this page. Email to request permission to copy or paste materials. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Andrew J. Harris - Of Seattle's Pioneer Denny Family, Former MoHAI Trustee and Businessman

This is an interview with Andrew J. Harris, Pioneer Descendant, though very occasionally his daughter, Amy Johnson contributes. 

Andrew J. Harris. Photo: Madeline Crowley

Today we're in Andrew J. Harris's house and we're going to talk about his family's experiences and role in the Central Area. Were you born in Seattle?

No, I was born in Riverside, California but we returned to Denny Blaine in Seattle in 1932.

Did you spend most of your childhood there?

Yes, I didn't leave Denny Blaine until I got married at the age of 23.

How would you describe the Denny Blaine neighborhood when you were a child?

A very nice neighborhood with very nice neighbors. It was certainly a wonderful place to grow up. I can't think of a better place in Seattle to grow up. I went to Madrona School on 33rd and then to Edward Meany's School. I didn't like that school because I didn't like the building itself. However, the experience there as a student was just fine.

What didn't you like about the building?

I didn't like the architecture; it was too old. I liked Madrona much better. Of course, when I got to Garfield (High) I just loved Garfield.

You were saying earlier that the student body was quite varied. Could you explain that a little bit?

Well, there was everybody there. There were the rich people from Broadmoor, there was poorer people from the Central Area, there were all races. I don't know so much if we had American Indians, but there was everybody else. We got along just fine. It was just a real good experience.

Were you involved in any groups or sports when you were at Garfield?

I got a letter in tennis - barely. I was in a couple of high school fraternities. The girls had their clubs and we had our clubs, of course there were other activities too. I wrote about sports for the school newspaper. I was on the Annual Arrow staff, which helped me when I got out to the University of Washington. I was an editor on the Ty-ee, which was the yearbook.

When you were at Garfield, who else was on the yearbook and newspaper staff?

It was a good mix of folks, people that were interested a little bit in writing. However, we did have a couple people that were so good that they went on to have career as writers at the Seattle Times.

It sounds like they were serious. Was the tennis team mostly white?


Yeah. When you covered sports, did they just cover, games win-loss or did they do as they do now where they have, you know, features on the different star players?

I was a sports reporter and we tried to cover all the sports and if there was a reason that someone stood out, we would do so (a feature).

That meant you got to spend time with people from all the different sports. At that time, they would have played football, baseball, basketball... were people playing soccer back then?

No. Golf, tennis, track. At the football games I got to sit up in the press box with the reporters from the local papers. That was fun.

Did you think about writing as a career?

No.It was something I wanted to learn about but--no. There were other things that interested me. I think that one of the best classes I took there was business law. I didn't have to take it, but I heard about it. I got myself in it as a Senior. Amazingly, as I got in business later on in my life, I remembered quite a bit of it. It did help.

It sounds like you had a love for sports but you were more interested in business. Is that accurate?

Yeah. I didn't participate in sports, just the tennis. I tried track but I was slower than anything. (Laughter)

What did you end up doing once you got out of college?

Well, during college in my Junior year, I got a job at the Davie Chevrolet company on Capitol Hill which was a very big, well-known, Chevrolet dealership. As the lowest ranked employee in the place, I would go down there at one o' clock and work 'til 6. I did every odd job you could imagine.  I liked it. I liked doing it. I got familiar with, well, at first, I didn't know anything about cars. I learned about them. I got familiar with the industry. After a couple of years I wanted to be a floor salesman but they had quite a staff of guys that were very, very good salesmen. So they hired me out to the used car lot in Renton to learn the business. I was there for a couple years and came back and they hired me as a used car salesman. I was in the business there for 20 years and worked up to Assistant General Manager. Then, the business changed. I wanted to have a business of my own so opened a little used car lot, if you can believe it.

What year was that?

It must have been about 1960. That was kind of the heyday of big, beautiful cars.

When you started working on Capitol Hill, that whole area was auto businesses.

It was the center, virtually, of the industry here; our building is still there. It's exactly the way it did except it's been turned into part of Broadway College. In fact, you can see exactly where my office was. It's still there.

Really? There's the old Edison High part of the building. Where is the part you were in?

Well, it's on East Pike and Harvard. It's a brick building.

East Pike & Harvard. Google Earth. 

It's one thing in Seattle that's still close to the same.

Yes. That district was interesting because it was a very good district. Commerce was great. The banks, restaurants, auto dealers, motion picture theaters, and it had its upswing and then later on, its down turn. And then it's comeback. It's amazing. Most of the communities in our city have had their ups and their downs and then back ups. In fact, we had a group from cities around the country. About 10 or 12 cities were represented. The idea was to come out here and take a tour of our districts and trying to see why in the world they were so prosperous. Their districts back home were failing! All of our districts are prosperous at this time and they were very interested.

Yes, Seattle has taken leadership in a lot of city issues.

West Seattle. Madison Park, my goodness. The Capitol Hill district. Quite different (now) but it's booming.

When you were growing up, were you very aware of the role your family had had in the beginnings of Seattle?

Yes, but it wasn't of importance to me. I knew about it. My Uncle, Victor Denny, was the grandson of David Denny. He really was a force for representing the Denny family. He did a wonderful job. My goodness, he was just a fine fella. He was big in tennis and was, at one time, President of the United States Tennis Association and then the World Tennis Association. Just an amazing guy.

He also was president of the historical society for the Museum of History and Industry. When he died, I was 40. By that time I was in the investment securities business. It wasn't too long after he died that I got a call from a worker at the museum who said, "Well, you're now on the Board of Trustees." I said, "I am?" (Laughs)

Then I, of course, had become much more acquainted with the situation. I was up there for 13, 14 years as a trustee. It's a fine thing that I'm proud of, of what I did out there. I don't think I missed hardly two meeting in 14 years. I did some really great things. I don't want to brag but I did.

I believe you. It sounds like you were very busy with different businesses until you were in your 40's. Did that ignite an interest in history, being involved with MOHAI?

Well, yeah, you had to. I'm certainly not a historian, no more than most, let`s put it that way. There's some facts I'd like to have people know. It's the date that the Denny party arrived at Alki Point. You've heard of Alki Point?

Oh yes. I've been there.

The name of the point is Alki Point. It is not (pronounced) ‘Alkey.’ Alki is a Chinook word for ‘by and by’ meaning something in the future. Originally, it was named New York Alki. New York By and By. It's a Chinook word and it shows that the time in the future by how you pronounce it (if you say) Alki (it means) pretty quick. Alkiiiii - a little more. Alkiiiiiiiii - that's way out in the future.

Oh, interesting! That sustaining of the note indicates the amount of time.

And most people (back then) knew about that and called it that. Then into the 30's somehow newcomers couldn't pronounce it. The date that the founders landed at Alki Point, of course, was November 13th, 1851. And if you know that, you know more than 99% of people. (Laughter)

I suppose it's natural that most young people aren't interested in history or their families until they get to their middle years. But as you took over for your uncle, did you spend much time thinking about how Seattle, as we know it, would actually have been different without the Dennys. There's no doubt about that. Have you thought about that too much?

Yes, I'm very proud of what the Dennys did. I think they probably did more than most at that time to keep Seattle going and not failing. There was a point after the unfortunate business with the Native Americans that it might've failed. There's other places that people might've wanted to come. Our people and the rest of the pioneers, they stuck it out and look what happened. The patriarch of the Denny family, John Denny, actually went down to Willamette he and a son founded a town in Oregon called Sublimity, which is still there.  It’s a small town. Then he decided to live up here and tried to help Arthur Denny and David Denny, in particular, to get the university (started).

They worked very hard. John Denny was a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. He served in the Illinois State Legislature in both houses with Lincoln. When Lincoln was inaugurated he sent an invitation and he went!

Also, everybody working together, we did get the (state) capitol here (it was moved later), that's why it's Capitol Hill. And, of course, Arthur Denny and another pioneer had the land for the university. That (land) is still owned by the University (the land roughly where the Fairmount Olympic is and extending over about 11 acres from Seneca to Union Streets from 3rd to 6th Avenues. Including the land of the actual Avenues)

The University owns the land and it leases it as a source of income. (Founding the University) was certainly a united effort of all the folks in town. I think everybody in town was up there pounding nails (laughs) to build the first building. And look what we have now! The greatest institution, obviously, in the state.

Do you think that your experience growing up in Denny Blaine and in Central Area schools, do you think that had an influence on the man that you became?

I think so, sure. Sure. There were the great friends I had and the neighbors were so good to you. I mean, you'd go play in their yard and that was fine with them. It was just good people.

Do you think it influenced the way you did business having been in school with so many different types of people?

I think so. One thing you learn is honesty. Don't lie to anybody. I remember when I was at Garfield, one of the fellows said, "You can sign the coaches name on a slip, turn it in and can go home early." So I did. Of course the coach saw it the next morning and said this isn't my signature. I was in my first period class; I was President of the class. My teacher said, "There's a report right now that the coach… don't lie." So, I got to the coach's quarters, there was the football coach and the basketball coach waiting for me. He handed me the slip and said, "Is that my signature on there?" I said, "No." "Did you sign that?" I said, "Yes." My punishment was instead of taking Physical Ed twice a week, I had to go in early and take it every morning for 2 months. I learned right then, never, never, never, never tell a lie. (laughs) You gotta learn the hard way sometimes.

Yes. Back then they weren't afraid to actually punish people in ways that were meaningful. It's a lot harder to do that now.

Well, in school, the coach, if anybody got out of line, he used a tennis shoe and whapped you on your posterior. They don't do that anymore, I don't think.

There would be a big stink if they did, no matter how badly somebody needed it.

You were saying earlier that you have memories of Quincy Jones. He was in a class behind you?

Yes. I didn't really speak to him because he was always busy. But I admired him for the fact that he had this orchestra that played at the new hour. You could even go and dance to it and use the gym. He was a cool cat.

I did know how much Parker Cook, the teacher, felt for him. So he (helped Quincy) get in the band in at the National Guard for a while. I was in the National Guard, too, but by then he was already doing something else. So I think he was in the division band for a couple of years or so.

You said that one of your teachers described him in a particular way.

As the only true genius he ever had.

Yeah. Did the other kids see him that way, too?

I think so, because of the teachers remarks. It pretty much got around. Everybody kind of laughed when he kept coming to school at different hours than the rest of us because he was working nights.

People would dance in the in the cafeteria or the gym?

The gym.

At lunch time?


What was the style of dance back then?


And can you describe that for me?

Well, it was kind of a slower dance. You got pretty close to your partner; it was a dance where you had to really be smooth, as we called it in those days. The kids got pretty good at it.

Did kids spend a lot of time learning to dance then?

Well, you wanted to learn to do the Avalon because you didn’t want to look like an idiot out there on the floor. The guys, everybody tried to do as good as they could.

Where would you learn to dance? Did you learn from other students?

You’d watch.

Must have been a little easier for you because you play tennis so you were good at footwork.

Amy: (laughs)

But, for some kids, just watching to learn would be hard.

Well, yeah. But you had to have your partner be good, too, or you couldn't do anything. As you went from your freshman year on, well, you got better and better.

Did a lot of social events involve dancing when you were young?

Yes. We had high school dances all the time.

That's not true anymore, is it?

Amy: No.

Not really!

That or that whole culture of learning to dance that's kind of gone.

Back then it was a big deal. They'd have a prize dance. It's very, very hard to get it.

Did you ever win the prize?

I got in the final. Where there were two couples. I should'a won it. (laughs)

Amy: Oh well.

Oh, yeah. I was really… mostly me and my partner were scared to death, but we didn't miss a beat.

Now, did people choose partners based on dancing ability or did they choose partners based on romantic interest?

Oh, I think romantic interest. They could dance together fine. Though sometimes your partner… was not very good.

So you'd let her-- you'd let her tread on your feet if she was cute?

Yes. (laughs) Well, I got other tidbits (for you).

Yeah, that's a great point, is there anything we didn't cover?

Amy: Oh, I mean, there's just so, so much. Well, you could tell about Victory Denny and tennis when he was President of the Tennis Association and then they wouldn't allow Black people (in the club).

Oh. I can't remember the girl's name but she was invited to the U.S. Open in New York. And there was a problem. She apparently was refused entrance to the women's dressing room. At that time, Victor Denny was head of the Tennis Association, so he was actually responsible for the tournament. A manager on the site physically was getting the thing done and he came up to Victor and he said, "We have a problem. This Black lady wants to get into the women's dressing room." He said, "Well, why can't she?" "Well, it just isn't done.”  Victor Denny looked him right in the eye and-- and said, "If that lady is not invited in the dressing room, there will BE no U.S. Tennis Open." From then on, it was open tennis. Huge victory.

Yes. When you grew up, was that something that you were aware of in your family, that there was this sense of fairness and justice?

Andrew: Oh, sure. Sure.

That makes your family unusual in another way.

Thank you very much. This was a wonderful addition to the project! 

©  Madeline Crowley People of the Central Area 2016   All material is covered by copyright. Express written permission must be given for any copyrighted material on this page. Email to request permission to copy or paste materials

This project was supported in part by 
4Culture's Heritage Projects program

Popular Posts

About Me

Seattle, WA, United States
I am not a professional photographer nor a trained journalist. At community meetings, it became clear that many of us don’t know each other. We haven’t heard each other’s stories and don't know each other’s circumstances. This is my attempt to give a few people the chance to tell their story, to talk about our community, to say their piece in peace. As such, comments have been disabled. The views and opinions expressed here are those of each narrator and do not necessarily reflect the position of views of the CentralAreaComm.blogspot blog site itself. The is not responsible for the accuracy of any information supplied by narrators of this project. All interviews have been edited and in places condensed.

Search This Blog Heritage Project. Copyright, Madeline Crowley, 2012-2015. Powered by Blogger.