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Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 12:00 a.m. Pacific

Remembering Seattle in the 1930s: Tom Sandry

He's a thin man with steel-gray eyes, hearing aids tucked in behind his ears, and a wad of papers and pens stuffed into his shirt pocket. We find him at the Museum of History & Industry, where he is a volunteer, tending to the maritime collection.

I was raised in the University District, but any Saturday, I was down at the waterfront. I'd take my dad's Eastman camera and take pictures of those big ships. I remember watching them unload bales of Asian silk onto fast trains headed for Chicago and New York. Those cargoes were worth more than the ships.

I wanted to be a shipbuilder. So I apprenticed at Schertzer Boat and Machine Works at the foot of Stone Way — until the bottom dropped out and everything closed down. Couldn't get a waterfront job anywhere from Olympia to Everett.

But I was lucky. I went to work as a meter reader for Puget Sound Power and Light. A typical electric bill was maybe $2.50 a month. People had lights, a radio, a toaster, a curling iron, maybe a little electric heater.

Oral Histories

Bill Cumming

Jesse Petrich

Patsy Collins

Marian Valley-Lightner

We were in full depression for 10 years. Then came the war, and that spike, and everybody had jobs. I'd take the streetcar downtown and the cars would be lined up to take workers to Todd Shipyards and Boeing. It was the same city, the same buildings, but it was different. All these new people who hadn't grown up here. And things just kept going. People were hopeful again.

Related info:

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Museum of History & Industry
The Washington State Historical Society
National Register of Historic Places
UW archives
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