Sarah Andrews Thornton: Teacher and Lecturer

By Margaret Riddle

Sarah Andrews Thornton’s name was well-known in Everett social circles in the early years of the 1900s. An educator, lecturer, writer and volunteer committee woman, Sarah’s name appeared weekly in the local newspapers who covered her many speaking engagements. Sarah taught speech training and physical education, and as one senior citizen who knew her recalled, “Everybody who was somebody took elocution lessons from Mrs. Thornton.”

Sarah graduated in 1893 from Emerson College of Oratory in Boston and then taught as Director of the School of Oratory and Physical Culture for three years at Cornell College in Iowa. Though odd-sounding today, physical education and speech training were paired in the early women’s curriculum, marking the formal beginnings of women’s physical education. Gesture, physical control and public speaking were considered important social training for young women.

But males enrolled in her classes too, and it was during this time that she met and fell in love with one of her students, Snohomish County’s first professional baseball player, pitcher Walter Thornton who played for Chicago’s National League team.
Sarah and Walter were married in July of 1896, and Sarah continued her studies, completing post-graduate work at Emerson University. She then opened a studio of oratory and public speaking in Chicago. Walter had roots in Snohomish County, Washington, and in 1899, the couple moved to the town of Snohomish and later to Everett. Sarah immediately set up a studio in her home, the Thornton School of Expression, for which she listed herself as Principal and she continued teaching elocution and physical culture. In a few years, she was able to rent studio space on Colby Avenue in Everett, just across the street from the Everett Theater. For a time she taught classes out of the Everett Public Library’s Carnegie building. From 1909 to 1910, Sarah was on the faculty of Bethania College Conservatory of Music in Everett.
Sarah had wide experience as a stage reader and was nationally known as a club speaker from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. Her copyrighted outline charts on the subject of Physical Culture and the Evolution of Expression were used extensively by teachers in all parts of the United States. Sarah was active in volunteer charities, serving as third vice president of the Ladies Board of Governors, the women who established the first Everett Hospital. Sarah also helped to start the Snohomish County Orphanage (located in Everett) and was the orphanage board secretary in its early years.
There are many unanswered questions about the last years of Sarah’s life. She was born May 29th, 1866 in Leeds, Androscoggin, Maine, but her death date and place are a mystery. From city directory listings, it appears that Sarah and Walter separated around 1915, for they are listed as residing at different addresses. According to a newspaper story as well as a later interview with Walter Thornton, Sarah moved from Snohomish County to Seattle and died young. There is something very contemporary about Sarah and Walter’s story. Intriguing as a couple and individually, they seem much like neighbors and friends we know and meet today.

Resources : Much of this information was shared by baseball historian David Larson who gained his information from extensive Everett Herald research in the time period, the Polk’s City Directories for Everett, Washington, census searches and contact made with Cornell College in Iowa.
© 2006 Margaret Riddle, All Rights Reserved

Helen Parkhurst Sievers

Helen Parkhurst couldn’t wait to enter this world. Under normal conditions, she would have been born in Everett at the family home. The doctor had assured Helen’s mother that there was “lots of time” before delivery and that she could certainly accompany her husband to Walla Walla on his semi-annual business trip for the Oregon Casket Company. The very day the couple arrived in Walla Walla, Helen insisted upon making her debut at the home of a family friend.

Photo: Courtesy First Baptist Church, Everett

William Kendall Parkhurst and Mae Randall Parkhurst took the unexpected arrival of their third child in stride. Years before, Helen’s father left his family’s estate in Templeton, Massachusetts to heed the call to the Klondike in search of gold. He later left Canada’s Yukon Territory and moved to Everett where he met and married Miss Mae Randall, daughter of the local Baptist minister. Helen has said that her father’s Bostonian family always blamed that “western woman” for his decision not to return to the fold.

Helen was barely four year’s old when her father died in 1916 during a record snowstorm. Because conditions were so bad that the mortician was unable to get to the family’s Wetmore Avenue home, William Parkhurst lay in state in the family parlor for several days. Although Helen lost her father, she was not without a loving male influence. Her maternal grandfather, Reverend William Randall, who lived next door, was pastor of First Baptist Church and took Helen to services with him every Sunday. Helen remembers being allowed to sleep in the front pew as he preached with a thunderous voice, and said, “I thought he was God.” Rev. Randall also made sure that his grandchildren had extra-special Christmases. He purchased toys for them, and on Christmas Eve would gather round the tree with the family as they lit the candles and sang. Helen said, “He gave us very happy memories of Christmas that my mother could otherwise not have afforded.”

Mae already had a job as cashier at Snohomish County Courthouse and continued her work there to support herself and her three children. Like most mothers of the day, Mae made Helen’s school clothes and baked all the bread needed for the family. She also worked hard at home to make sure that there was no interruption in love and learning. Education was important to her. She kept a dictionary on the dining room table where all meals were served, and the children took turns selecting one word per day. At breakfast, Helen and her siblings discussed the word and its definition. They were all expected to be able to use the word in its proper context and correct spelling by dinnertime. Helen enjoyed the ritual, saying, “Mother made learning fun.”

She also demonstrated to her children the value of being informed. When the 1918 flu epidemic came to America, Mae, terrified that she might fall prey to the flu and leave her children orphaned, read everything that she could on the subject. When she learned that fresh air was highly recommended, she erected a large tent in the back yard and explained that it was their new “fresh air residence.” The family moved beds into the tent, and used buffalo robes to keep warm in the winter. “None of us was lost to the flu epidemic,” Helen said,” and we’ll never know if it was due to our fresh air lifestyle.” All three children were given their buffalo robes as they grew up and left home.
Helen enjoyed her childhood years. She and her friends delighted in playing “kick the can,” which she explained was an inexpensive version of hockey. Birthday parties were simple affairs without many gifts, but always included her grandmother’s wonderful coconut cake. Helen was taught how to punch the hole in the fresh coconut in order to drain it of its milk, then to grate the fresh coconut to apply over the icing. The family moved about a bit, and Helen attended Jefferson and Longfellow grade schools. In junior high school she lived in Pinehurst and played softball and took dance lessons from Betty Spooner, who Helen remembers as a great teacher. A move to a lakeside home in Lake Stevens brought opportunities to swim and picnic, but those carefree days came to an abrupt end when a loan was due and the lender foreclosed, taking the house and all its contents. The family was left with nothing.

Again, Helen had an opportunity to see bravery and practicality in action. Mae started over by opening The Variety Store in Snohomish. By the time Helen graduated from Everett High School, Mae was back working as a cashier in the courthouse. It was now time for Helen to decide what to do with her life. She had spent the summer after junior year back in Petersham, Massachusetts working at the West Road Inn where her aunt was manager. “I wore my smocked uniform from the inn to my high school graduation.” Helen recalled. “It was beautiful.”
During her senior year, Helen had also worked at the Bon Marche, the Everett Co-op and the Big Four Inn, an exciting place frequented by Hollywood. Not wanting hotel work as a career, Helen went to beauty school, where, after earning her certification, she became a teacher. Life was not all work though. Mae had recently remarried the Everett Fire Chief, Charlie Swanson, who taught Helen how to fish for steelhead. She adored her stepfather and the feelings were mutual. In later years, he would introduce her to her first husband, and then to her second, who became the love of her life.

But, marriage was the farthest thing from her mind at this point. She was auditing classes at the University of Washington, riding Harley Davidson motorcycles with one of her male friends and climbing Mt. Pilchuck whenever she and friends had the chance. Then she met a young Croatian fisherman, Tony Marinkovitch, who had moved to Everett from Astoria, and was part of the large Slavic fishing community. Tony was the brother of Mrs. Paul Martinis. Tony was Catholic and Helen was Baptist, but that did not matter to the young couple. Rev. Randall, who approved of the friendship, died by the time they married, but his old friend, Father Van der Walle, married them. “We bought a house at Fifteenth and Grand, but soon moved to Astoria,” Helen said, “I had loved living near the Martinis family in Everett (Tony was the brother of Mrs. Paul Martinis), as they were so much fun.”
The marriage did not last long after the move. Helen and her son, Kirk, settled in North Everett, and Helen went to work as a “Rosie the Riveter” at Boeing. She recalled with a laugh, “The only problem with this job was that my sister Mary was the Inspector!” Helen also taught at the Beauty School to earn extra income. A working, single mother, she did not have a lot of free time, but did reluctantly agree one evening to have dinner with her stepfather at the Elks Club.

That night she became reacquainted with Vern Sievers, someone she had met before he served overseas in World War II. Now divorced, Vern was quite taken by Helen’s flaming red hair that had earned her the nickname, “Red.” They courted for a while, and when Vern proposed, Helen put him off, saying that they needed more time to know each other. “By the time I was ready, he made me wait!” Helen laughed. “I really had to wear him down!”
They married in November 1946, and she thought that they would have a quiet honeymoon trip to Seattle. But Vern had other ideas. He invited many friends from his old fraternity along, which, she says, was just the start of a lifetime full of surprises. Although his good friend, Henry “Scoop” Jackson had encouraged him to run for Congress, until his death in 1990, Vern served as Snohomish County Treasurer.

“My life has been a merry ride,” Helen said. “I had the best mother in the world, a woman way ahead of her time who had a career and stepped out ahead of the crowd when women were quiet and removed. She always had an honorable job, and I admired her for it. She was a leader. My stepfather was the most loving and caring man that one could ask for. My son, Kirk, and I have had a wonderful mother/son relationship, but we are also friends.”
She was active in the community and took great pride in Everett. She was a volunteer and believed that giving back to the community was one of the greatest ways to help others. Helen was a member of Chapter Q of PEO, YMCA, DAR, Mayflower Descendants Society, Friendship Club, Antique Club, and the Garden Club. She was not only active in the community but her yard was her pride and joy. It was a great source of tranquility and pride.

Although peppered with tragedy, personal loss and struggle, Helen had the fondest of memories and a most wonderful outlook on life. Her life may have been a merry ride, but somehow she put herself into the driver’s seat and never let go.

Source: Helen Parkhurst Sievers, Letters

© 2004 Sandra Schumacher All Rights Reserved

Hazel Clark (1906 – 2000) – Everett Librarian

Photograph Courtesy Everett Public Library Northwest Room Staff

by Margaret Riddle

Hazel Frederici Clark lived a quiet but amazing life that included the roles of professional librarian, wife and mother, writer and historian, amateur musician and artist, devoted church leader, community activist and dedicated volunteer.

She was born in 1906 in Belltown, a district that is now part of downtown Seattle. “In those days,” Hazel said, “Seattle didn’t exist much above Pike or Pine.” The family moved next to Sunnyside, (now part of Capitol Hill), and were close to the University of Washington campus when it hosted Seattle’s Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909. Hazel’s father took photos of the family at that event.

The family numbered three, Mom, Dad and Hazel. They enjoyed reading books together and hiking Western Washington trails, two loves that Hazel continued throughout her life. Hazel’s parents encouraged her studious nature. Upon graduating from old Broadway High School in Seattle, Hazel entered the University of Washington, planning to become a teacher, but upon receiving a degree in education continued her studies, earning a second degree, a Bachelor of Science in Library Science. At that time the requirement needed for professional librarians extended through three college quarters— “short in comparison with the academic curriculum, because the general educational equipment of the librarian is of larger significance than the technical education, but neither is sufficient without the other.*”

In 1928, Hazel came to work for the Everett Public Library when it was in the Carnegie building on Oakes Avenue. Library patrons remember her during those early years as stern and intimidating, her tallness and large build adding to the persona. She spoke her mind. When Everett decided to build a new library during the Great Depression, prominent architect Carl Gould was chosen to draw the plans. Librarians and staff workers were asked to estimate how much book space they would need to grow. Gould, however, did not take their advice, and according to Hazel, the built-in shelving was full shortly after the new library opened.

Officially, Hazel worked at EPL from 1928 to 1975, taking only a few years off, during the 1940s, to raise her daughter Roxanne. Hazel had married millworker Roxor Clark, and the Clarks took up housekeeping in Lowell (now part of present-day Everett). Hazel became an active member of the Lowell Community Church which Lowell founders E. D. and Margaret Getchell Smith had built. Hazel knew many of Lowell’s senior residents and those she did not know personally, she recalled through stories she learned from elders. Hazel became a storyteller, sharing these stories with the younger generation. By the 1970s, Lowell residents considered Hazel their official historian. Hazel began writing Lowell history, and in 1977, the Lowell Civic Group published her short history called Lowell Remembered. Hazel later wrote and published Reminiscences of Sunnydale and An Informal History of the Everett Public Library.

Hazel officially retired from library work in 1975, but she did not really leave. She volunteered one day a week at the library, working on indexing the Everett Herald, a project started in September of 1971, upon the suggestion of another librarian. This, she felt, was important work, so she continued until The Herald began computer indexing in 1992.
To those who worked with her at the Everett Public Library, Hazel Clark was a faithful and constant presence, the most esteemed senior member of the library family, the one who was always there. Her health began to fail in 1998 and she decided to leave as a volunteer in the spring of 1999. Library staff said goodbye with a party that united present personnel with many retirees who came to wish her well.
Hazel Clark died February 14th , 2000, at the age of 93. In March of that year, Senator Jeralita Costa honored Hazel with a State Senate Resolution, read in Olympia. In addition to her library work, Hazel was honored for authoring books on local history, as well as for her volunteer hours with the Snohomish County Museum, the UW Alumni Association, Bethany Home and the Public Employees Retirement Association. As the resolution stated, “Hazel Clark was one who took on the role of promoting literacy and preserving the history of the great Northwest, with passion and dedication, both in her paid and volunteer careers.”

Hazel earned affection and admiration many times over. Hers was a lifelong commitment, to her calling, her family and to the library where she began her professional career back in 1928. She was a librarian, and for 70 years the Everett Public Library was her library. Only when she was physically unable to continue did she cease to serve. On a daily basis her legacy of works, such as the Everett Herald Index, continues to serve the public, and her example continues to motivate and inspire.

~Clark, Hazel. Lowell Remembered. Everett, Wash: Lowell Civic Group, 1977;
~Clark, Hazel. Reminiscences of Sunnydale: Early Days, School Days in Highline. Everett, Wash: Lowell Printing and Publishing, 1994;
~Clark, Hazel. An Informal History of the Everett Public Library. Everett, Wash: Lowell Printing and Publishing, 1996 ;
Interview with Hazel Clark by David Dilgard and Margaret Riddle, March 1, 1983 and 15 years of Wednesday chit-chats between Hazel Clark and Margaret Riddle.
© 2006 Margaret Riddle All Rights Reserved

Nancy L. Weis ~ Professional Volunteer

By Roberta Jonnet

It is said that the leaf does not fall far from the tree. When Nancy Leaf Weis was asked what made her want to reach out to her community, she said, “Well, I just remember my mother volunteering.” Nancy helped, too. Referring to a time that her mother was a Red Cross volunteer working at a flood site, Nancy says, “I remember standing on a bank serving mash potatoes out of a brand new garbage can to all the workers.”

Nancy arrived in Snohomish County in 1953 and began her long term of service to the people of this county. The Human Services Council of Snohomish County’s Liz McLaughlin Award of Excellence presented to Nancy in 2000 says, “(this) award epitomizes an individual committed to excellence in the delivery and maintenance of quality human services to the citizens of Snohomish County.” The award is given to “acknowledge a lifetime of contribution which expands contributions in the actual development and delivery of services and includes contributions in the area of public policy.”

Nancy sums up her commitment to community with her business card, which reads, “Nancy L. Weis, Professional Volunteer, A People Caring Person.”

Nancy was born at Scofield Erickson Army Base, Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father was a 1923 West Point graduate. Nancy terms herself “an Army brat” and says, “I went to twelve different schools before I graduated from high school.” She attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. She met her future husband, Don, who was a pre-med student at the University of Iowa. They married and began life in a Quonset hut on the Iowa campus.

In response to the Navy’s call upon Don, Nancy says, “We got out the map and thought, ‘We can have an internship in Massachusetts, Florida or Bremerton, Washington.” We (looked at Bremerton and) thought, ‘We’ve never been there.’ We took one look at the Northwest and said, ‘Forget the rest of the country!’”

The Weis family was comprised of four children at that time, and a fifth was on the way. The couple bought a “beach house” on Lake Stevens. Nancy laughs and says, “That first year the pipes froze, and there were rats. The kids had mumps for Thanksgiving and chicken pox for Christmas.” Asked why she became involved in the community with so much going on at home, she replies, “I just couldn’t stay home and be a mother. We started our own childcare center at Lake Stevens because I had this three-year old who had an imaginary bus driver. And I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this child in reality.’ We started in the basement of one of the gal’s houses. It was a volunteer thing, and the parents took part. I was the music director (because) I played the piano, and somebody else did the art. We had two scooters and an inner tube; that was our gym stuff.”
Nancy always enjoyed being part of the community, whether at work or at play. “I always tell people I’m too stupid to play bridge,” she laughs, “and I like to play nine holes of golf, and not keep score, and go out to lunch. I don’t want to play eighteen holes of golf.” She continues, “I did a lot of volunteering at the school. I was a room mother for a hundred years.” When five school levies failed, the district had no library. Nancy and some of the other parents volunteered to keep the library open. She also supported her children’s participation in extracurricular activities. At one time Nancy had a daughter each on the cheer squad in elementary, junior high, high school and college teams.

As the wife of an anesthesiologist, Nancy was deeply involved with the Medical Auxiliary. The auxiliary went beyond giving away “Mr. Yuk” stickers and began a reference list for medical students so they would know where the scholarships were and what courses they had to take. “There were no computers,” Nancy says, “We just looked it up, typed it out, and got it on a card that was kind of like a Rolodex.”

When United Way of Snohomish County asked for a representative to start a new Social Planning Committee, Nancy volunteered. Asked to serve on United Way’s board, Nancy was the first woman president in Snohomish County. She went on to represent Snohomish County at the state level, and became the first woman president of the United Way of Washington. “It was a real education,” she says. “I met people from all over the county and learned about programs.” Nancy paid her own way across the country. “Most of the men who were on the board, their companies would send them,” she says. “I didn’t have anyone to underwrite me.”

In 1965 Nancy became a charter member of the Assistance League of Everett and served as the first Operation School Bell chairperson. “Each community started a program their community needed,” she recalls. “We started Operation School Bell because we learned from the teachers that there were kids who were unable to come to school because they didn’t have school clothes.”

The school district gave the Assistance League a portable building – with no bathroom. “We had to work there for hours!” she remembers. The women started by collecting their children’s outgrown clothing. Nancy says, “We outfitted one hundred children that first year, most of them in Everett.” More than 850 children had been clothed by the start of school in the year 2000.

“I loved that job because you knew you’d taken care of kids and changed their lives that day!” Nancy states emphatically.

Nancy was asked to serve on a Department of Social and Health Services pilot program called the Foster Parent Citizen group. She stayed for six years. “It was really exhausting,” she says. “You hear about kids who have had thirteen placements and they’re only ten years old. And it’s not the department’s fault. I want to ask these people who criticize, ‘How many foster children do you have?’ It’s a hard job. I had foster children. I took teenage girls and had five over a three to four-year period.” Nancy remained close to her foster children. One of them had her wedding at the Weis home on Rucker Hill, and years later Nancy was able to be in the delivery room with another foster daughter when the had her first baby.

Nancy also served on the Homeless Task Force for four years and became chair. “We learned there was some money available, and it makes a lot of sense to cooperate because a person may have a hotel room from the Red Cross and it gets you out of the cold, (but) you need to make a plan; you need a caseworker or a bus ticket home,” she explains. “We needed to have everybody talking to everybody.” At one time a person had to go to five different agencies, but the Homeless Task Force streamlined and computerized the process through the Red Cross of Snohomish County.

“I have a passion for people taking care of one another,” Nancy says. Her children know that she is such a person herself. One of them says, “Through the years, we as a family have relied on her for her knowledge, her willingness to always be there to support, teach, organize, direct, respect and always love us, no matter what.”

And Nancy wants people to know her children are active in the community as well. Beth, an emergency room nurse, gives her free time to place dogs and cats in special homes; Sue, an Intensive Care Unit nurse, volunteers for youth conferences and camps; Bill, known as “always the guy that helps you move, build a ramp, fix a deck,” donates handmade items to auctions; Patty has worked as a volunteer teacher’s assistance, chaperoned choir trips and raised money for the school; Peggy has been a United Way team leader at her work and donates her own flower arrangements to auctions.

Perhaps when asked why they do all this, Nancy’s children will give the same reply that she did. “I just remember my mother volunteering.” It is a legacy worth repeating.
Source: Interview with Nancy L. Weis 10 December 2001
©2004 Roberta Jonnet All Rights Reserved

Martha Solie Muckey

Martha Muckey

Career Social Worker ~ 1895 – 1967
By Sandra Schumacher
“Everett has been very good to me, and I’ve had an interesting life.” Martha Muckey made that understatement in 1952. But the life that this woman lived was more than interesting. It was remarkable.
Martha Muckey, who was born in Wisconsin in 1895, studied music at St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota, then journeyed west during the Depression to teach high school music. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, music teachers were not in demand. Rather than wring her hands and bemoan her fate, she found a job at a bank in Everett.
She married and settled into family life, but was widowed when her twin sons were only eight years old. Knowing she needed a career that would support her children, she enrolled at the University of Washington and studied social work. She spent twenty-eight years working for the Department of Welfare, twenty-five them as a case worker on the Tulalip reservation.
Martha MuckeyAlthough she worked full time, Martha somehow still found time for volunteer work with the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Volunteers of America, as well as with the blind in Snohomish County. She was named Snohomish County’s 1951 “Woman of Achievement” for her service not only in the community, but for her work state and nationwide as well. Even after retiring from social work in 1963, she continued to give of herself to the community as long as she was physically able.
Martha Muckey died in 1967, leaving behind many whose lives she had made healthier and happier, her own life a testimony to what an “ordinary” woman can accomplish.
Resources : The Everett Herald.
© 2006 Sandra Schmacher All Rights Reserved
Originally published as WLP Story #18



Everett Woman’s Book Club

An Ongoing Legacy to Literacy

By Roberta Young Jonnet
“A room without books is like a body without a soul constant vigilance as stewards of the diverse cultures of our society.” – Cicero

Everett Womans Book Club group portrait
Everett Womans Book Club group portrait on the Monte Cristo Hotel steps

The women of Everett, Washington decided in 1894 that this was also true of the city and began plans for a public reading room. This was the genesis of the Everett Public Library. The women also founded the Everett General Hospital when the city was only three years old. The story of the Woman’s Book Club is the story of Everett and Snohomish County. Our foremothers saw a need, rolled up their sleeves and made it happen.

The women founded the Woman’s Columbian Book Club of Everett in 1894 and it still meets today. Now known as the Woman’s Book Club (WBC) with members from all over Puget Sound, there are over 300 members and 21 departments that gather to discuss the books they have read. The departments meet separately from September through May and gather monthly at the Everett Main library to hear speakers deliver talks on books like Trailblazers: The Women of Boeing by Betsy Case; or speakers from the Dawson Place Advocacy Center; or a hear a synopsis of books from local independent book sellers.

The organizational meeting in 1894 was held in home of Alice Baird. Those present decided it would include married women only (this is no longer the case). Mrs. Baird was elected the first president and she formed a committee to draw up a constitution. “We do not mean to let a year go by without doing at least one good thing for our city,” Mrs. Baird said. “We hope to have a library before a year.’ A resolution that was passed at the November 12 meeting of that year petitioning the mayor and council reads in part:

“The Woman’s Book Club of said city, being desirous of founding a free public library in said city, respectfully petitions your honorable body to aid in this direction and to take such steps as may be necessary to carry out the purposes herein set forth…”

Mrs. Baird’s leadership was so significant that a bronze plaque still hangs in the entrance hall of the library on Hoyt Avenue. It was presented by the WBC October 1, 1915, the year of Mrs. Baird’s death. Mrs. J.J. Clark spoke a tribute: “our lives are richer because of her.” Also in November of that year the women elected to join the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, made up of 450 women’s organizations. This is noteworthy because Mrs. Baird then wrote to these clubs asking for a donation of books. This garnered almost half of the nearly 1000 books for the first library. In an article from the Everett Herald, April 20, 1935, entitled “Pioneer Era Recalled as Everett Public Library Prepares for 40th Anniversary” traces the donations: “The response was generous, club women from Maine to California sending volumes…representative of the best authors of their respective districts and sets of works by standard authors.” The article states “At the time of its (WBC) resolution for a library in 1895, it was the only club in the general federation of women’s clubs to start a public library.” The goal of 1000 was reached in the summer of 1896. The city had committed to the idea of a library but gave it no funding. The WBC announced it was ready to turn over the books and the city accepted. It was February 1898 that the WBC decided to accept the offer of three rooms in City Hall for the books. The books were carried there an armful at a time by the women. The library formally opened April 21, 1898. The first librarian was Mrs. J.T. Lentzy, who had been appointed at the July 2nd meeting. By the April opening Alice McFarland, who was the daughter of Mrs. R. McFarland, was librarian. The donated books had been kept in the McFarlands home on Colby Avenue. Alice later married Leverich Duryee.

Frances Sears, a founding mother, wrote on the club’s 80th anniversary “Before you can understand the important function of the Women’s Book Club in the lives of the Charter members, and in the life of the community as well, you must visualize the new and crude Everett, that was our home prior to the advent of the Book Club. We had no street cars then, no paved streets, and scarcely any boardwalks…Stumps grew like sentinels around our houses; ferns grew luxuriously around the stumps…The saloon was everywhere in evidence. It was the chief social and political centre for the masculine population…our real privations were a dearth of amusements and lack of intellectual stimulus. So, we had amateur theatricals. It was a bookless town…Then the Book Club came; it sprang, it had no infancy. Renewing our youth, we went to school again. It is impossible to estimate the influence of the Book Club.”

Carnegie Library Everett Washington
Carnegie Library Everett Washington

The Carnegie library was opened October 3, 1905 at Oakes and Wall. Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire philanthropist, donated $25,000 for the new library in 1903. The city was required to pledge $2500 yearly. Checks of $5,000 each, were sent from the East, payable to Mrs. L.E. Thayer personally whenever the board required funds. She was the first woman member of the library board and its secretary for 12 years. The Carnegie building was the library’s home until the 1930s. One tradition that continues today with the WBC members is the Foremothers’ Luncheon, honoring those who founded the organization and created the library. The first banquet was held December 11, 1899. The members used a colonial tea party theme wearing caps and kerchiefs. They sang “Auld Lang Syne” at that meeting, a practice which is followed today.

A History of Service
During 1917 the WBC spent time at the Red Cross doing sewing. Also 8 dictionaries were purchased for the Reformatory in Monroe. In the 1920s and 1930s the women provided bus fare for poor children to attend Kindergarten; they advocated for the wrapping of bread; endorsed a proposal regarding meat inspection and narcotics control. Funds were given on a regular basis to Deaconess Children’s Home, Red Cross, General Hospital and Washington Girls Home. The WBC donated 405 dozen cookies to soldiers at Fort Lewis in 1941. By 1943 the Club began sponsoring students in nurses training at both hospitals. The USO presented a “Meritorious Service” certificate to the Club in 1946.

In 1945 a new tradition of donating a book to the library in honor of a deceased member was begun, in lieu of sending flowers. The Club donated $2000 in 1975 to the Northwest Room, at the downtown library. They also split a $3000 donation in 1987 between the city library and Everett Community College library, this being the year of the fire that destroyed the college’s library and in which firefighter Gary Parks lost his life. A recent donation was given earlier this year of $5000 to the Imagine Children’s Museum to purchase new books for the PJ’s Treehouse reading room. This purchase was to refresh the book collection originally donated by WBC in 2004.

In May of 2017, the Woman’s Book Club held a used book drive at their annual Spring Tea Luncheon. Hundreds of used books – both adult and children’s – were collected, sorted, and divided by book club volunteers, then hand delivered to local charities, including Housing Hope and the Reach Out and Read program in Monroe through the Providence Foundation. This book drive signified the ongoing commitment of encouraging literacy in the community.

© Roberta Young Jonnet 2018 All Rights Reserved

Lorraine Smith

One of Everett’s “Rosie the Riveters

By Teri Baker

Rosie the Riveter. Her picture was everywhere. A fit, young woman sporting a bandanna and wearing blue coveralls, sleeve rolled up and arm flexed to show a worker’s muscle. Her motto was “We can do it!”
Two days after arriving in Everett from Haugen, Wisconsin, Lorraine E. Smith answered her country’s call for female factory workers and went to work at the Boeing Branch Plant, located in what is now Everett Public Market. She knew she “could do it.”

“My two sisters and I grew up on an 80-acre farm,” she recalls. “We grew all our own food and had 14-17 cows to milk every night. We all worked, and we all worked hard” Looking on the bright side, she adds, “At least living on a farm during the Depression, we always had wood to burn to keep warm and food to eat.”

After high school graduation, Lorraine worked two full-time jobs in Highland Park, Illinois, one at a restaurant, the other as a telephone operator. “At the telephone company, they left me on my own and told me nothing,” she says. “Bells were ringing, the board was all lit up and there was no one to help. I was pretty nervous, but I finally found out how to shut the thing down.”
She moved to Chicago to work in a quilt factory and on the occasional weekend visited her uncle in Milwaukee. It was there that she met Army Tech. Sgt. Gordon Wells. It was 1942, and although they did not become engaged, Lorraine and Gordon had “an understanding” when the sergeant left to fight in Europe. In October 1943, Gordon’s parents, Orly and Lucy Wells, who had become close to Lorraine, decided to head to the West Coast to look for work. Dissatisfied with his job at a Wisconsin creamery, Orly felt he could be of more use in a “war job,” possibly at a shipyard. “They asked if I would like to go with them,” Lorraine says. “I said ‘yes’ and packed my clothes and my new little Singer sewing machine. They picked me up in a 1939 Buick, a real gas guzzler, and we headed west.”
The trio eventually arrived in Everett. Orly got a job the next day, and the family moved into a new, two-bedroom, partially furnished apartment at Baker Heights. A day later Lorraine was hired at Boeing, where she was required to wear overalls and a bandanna similar to Rosie the Riveter’s. The head scarf was a safety precaution to keep hair from catching and being wound onto the drill. She called the uniform her “tux.”
Everywhere she looked, Lorraine saw reminders that she was involved in a serious business. Walls displayed Rosie posters and signs that said “Buy Bonds” and “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” Lorraine says, “You didn’t say ‘boo.’ Not a word. No one talked about what was being built or how many worked at the plant or anything else that might be useful to the enemy.”
Lorraine started out as a bucker. She explains, “When the riveter goes rat-a-tat-tat, the bucking bar flattens it on the other end.” It was not glamorous work, but it was vital to the war effort. Boeing had not yet built its great complex in Everett. To increase production, the company opened branch plants in Everett, Chehalis, Bellingham, Aberdeen and Tacoma. Initially, the branches accounted for 15 percent of the Seattle Division’s Flying Fortress (B-17) production, but that number soon increased to 20 percent.
A monthly branch edition of Boeing News was started and included small articles about the plant, along with personal events such as births, marriages, visits from sons in the military, etc. of branch employees. In the first Everett edition is a photo of former major league pitching great Cy Young working at the Everett plant as a jig-maker. Lorraine is in the background, clad in her Rosie uniform, operating – what else? – a riveter.
Lorraine still has the pay stub from one of her biggest checks from Boeing. For two weeks of work, including overtime, she was paid $77, a grand sum in those days. She recalls that to address the concerns of its “feminine employees,” Boeing added a “women’s supervisor and councilor” for each shift to be available at all times “either for discussion of ‘on the job’ problems or any other matters women wish to discuss.” Lorraine never went to her councilor, but her heart went out to those who did, women who received telegrams beginning, “We regret to inform you…” which meant a son, a husband, a father or a brother had been killed.
The war was never far away from Lorraine’s mind. She anxiously awaited the mail and was thrilled whenever she heard from her intended, even if the censors blacked out some of the words. Day after day she toiled, hoping for more mail, dreading the thought of a telegram. Then one afternoon, shortly after she checked in at work, an announcement blared from the loudspeaker. The war was over! “There was just this big celebration, then we went home” she recalls. “That was the last day we worked.”
She and Gordon married in 1946 and, along with Gordon’s siblings, lived with Orly and Lucy, who had by then purchased Olivia Park Store, until the young couple purchased a house nearby. “I was happy to be a stay-at-home mom,” Lorraine says. “We had been in the Depression, and we wanted better for our children.” She grows quiet for a moment and speaks of her generation: “I think we made it too good for them. There was just too much materialism.”
Lorraine, who taught sewing for 4-H, wove fabric and turned it into stunning garments. She has passed down her giant loom to her daughter. When Gordon died in 1984, Lorraine coped by staying active in church, maintaining friendships and continuing to travel at home and abroad. She started a daily journal that she still keeps up and became active in Widowed Information Consultation Services. It was at the Eagles Hall after a WICS meeting that she met John W. Smith. “John said he was going home to read a book,” she recalls with a smile, “but my friend Margaret found out he could dance and told him, ‘You are not going home!’” Being a gentleman, he asked Lorraine to dance, and in 1988, a year to the day after they met, John and Lorraine were married.
Among the couple’s interests are fishing and travel. Lorraine belongs to a “Rosies” organization and was honored along with 90 others in 2002 at Seattle Center by Washington Women in Trades Association.

Six decades have passed since Lorraine moved to Everett and first took her lunch pail to work at an airplane plant. Two more stars have been added to the flag. Boeing stopped making B-17s long ago. But the spirit of the Rosies, women like Lorraine Smith, lives on. Rosie’s poster said, “We can do it!”
And they did.

Source: Personal interview with Lorraine E. Smith, 2002.; WLP Story Number 20

Marian Harrison

She Never Let Color, Gender or Age Stop Her

By Teri Baker

Don’t try to stereotype Marian Harrison. It just won’t work. She’s a woman, she’s black and she’s a senior, but belonging to three “categories” prone to discrimination has never stopped her from making her own way in the world or, from being a positive influence in the lives of others.

Marian Norwood, the second child of Glenna and George Norwood Jr., was born in Everett in 1931. The family home was located on State Street. The Norwood family traded their home for a farm of 62 acres near Arlington on the Jordan Road. Marian was eighteen months old at the time. A second son was born while they lived on the farm. Her mother and father divorced, but her mother stayed on the farm for seven years. “At least with the farm, we could always eat,” Marian says. “We never had money, but we weren’t ever poor.”

Marian started school in Arlington, but during the war went to Marysville for fourth and fifth grade. She describes a different experience than many might expect about growing up the only black child in her grammar school class. She says, “There wasn’t much teasing, perhaps because I wasn’t as dark, but I think it was more that I grew up in an area that was mainly Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and German. They didn’t come from a prejudiced society. Also, it was the Depression and it was neighbor helping neighbor.”
She attended Catholic school for awhile, went back to Marysville High School in tenth grade, graduated in 1949 and then attended the University of Washington for a few months. She married Lyman Lewis and had a son her husband never got to see. “Before I knew it,” she explains, “I was the 19-year-old widow of the Korean War.”

Glenna Barton (Courtesy Marian Harrison)
Glenna Barton (Courtesy Marian Harrison)

A few years later she wed Van Harrison, but the couple eventually divorced, leaving Marian with a son in college and six children at home. She says her older children had less difficulty growing up black in Arlington than the younger ones. “It was at the time when all the civil rights stuff had gone on,” she says. “Boeing was laying everybody off, and they were all leaving, while people from the rest of the country started flooding the area, bringing their prejudices with them. One year’s time can make a lot of difference in a high school, but it didn’t stop my kids from doing what they want to do.”
Glenna Barton (Courtesy Marian Harrison) Much of her children’s success can be attributed to the love, determination and perseverance Marian personifies. “There are no welfare moms in this family,” Marian states. “My mother, Glenna Barton, was a college graduate. She came here from Normal, Illinois with a degree in home economics. After we kids were grown, she went to nursing school at Old Edison Tech in Seattle and became one of the first LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) at Veteran’s Hospital in Seattle.”
And so, Camp Fire and Cub Scout leader and PTA member Marian did what had to be done to help her children succeed. “When my son went to college, I went to college,” she says. “I got a special degree at Everett Community College and went to work at Arlington High for eight years as a teacher’s aide, then transferred into custodial because they got a man’s wage. So I worked in that for 14 years.”

It was hard, honest work and Marian did it and more. She was required to join the Public School Employees of Washington Union, and at one time or another held every chapter position there was, became zone director for all chapters in the county and sat on the statewide board of directors. Two-time recipient of the Employee of the Year award, she is a lifetime member of the union and still represents it on the state retirement advisory committee and the employee retirement benefits board.
Marian is pleased that her children are also productive citizens. “I’m so proud of them,” she says. “One went to college on his dad’s GI Bill. The others got scholarships and student loans. One child was an exchange student to Japan, another to Iran. They are all very accomplished.” Best of all, Marian says, is that they learned to know themselves, and to be themselves.
And they have much reason to be proud of the woman who says, “My children went much farther than their mother ever did.” Marian has never used her gender or color as an excuse for anything. Yes, she has encountered prejudice, but she refuses to let it make her bitter. She volunteers her time and expertise for the good of others. She works with the State Family Policy Council and is on the Snohomish County Health and Safety Network and the Snohomish County Children’s Commission. She is also on the board of Evergreen Manor, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
She works tirelessly on the Foster Care Review board, which she describes as “A bunch of citizens trained to look at out-of-home placements of children and make recommendations to the court for disposition.” The main focus, she says is to see if parents are following the court order and getting into court-ordered services. “We don’t let these kids languish going from foster home to foster home,” she says. “I am passionate about monitoring so kids don’t get shuffled around.”
Marian has also been politically active since attending her first Democratic caucus in 1984. She has worked on at least 30 campaigns, has been a national delegate to the Democratic Convention, was chair of the 10th District Democrats and currently chairs the 38th Legislative District Democrats. She is also a member of the League of Women Voters.

Louisa Donalson, Marian’s great grandmother (Courtesy Marian Harrison)

In addition, Marian has a well-developed interest in history, particularly her own family’s. As a child she would visit her great-grandmother Louisa Donalson’s store on the east end of Everett Ave. Mrs. Donalson had been born a slave and along with her second husband and family came to Everett from Abbeville, South Carolina before 1900. Louisa Donalson was a founding member of Everett’s Second Baptist Church. Marian’s grandfather, George Norwood worked in the woods at Granite Falls because black were not allowed to work at local mills.

She searched tax records, business directories, newspapers and family photographs and discovered her own father, George W. Norwood, Jr., served in World War One. She also learned about her family’s history as far back as the Civil War. “I hated history as a kid,” Marian says. “I didn’t care about elephants that went over the Alps. Now look at me. I’m involved in history all the time.” Louisa Donalson, Marian’s great grandmother, courtesy Marian Harrison

While working on the county’s Black History Project, she and fellow researchers discovered an old Ku Klux Klan membership form and an article about a gathering of 10,000 Klan members in Arlington. She learned about black ball players, military men, barbers and others who came to the Northwest after the demise of slavery looking for a chance to own property and make a fresh start. Her research has led her to become a member of Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project, which seeks to recognize the contributions that women, including women of color, made, and are still making to the county.
Even with all this volunteering, Marian still finds time to enjoy her 11 grandchildren, be active in church, root for the Seattle Mariners and go to the symphony. She loves music and was a member of Everett Chorale until a car crash in 1994 broke several of her bones, including her spine, taking her five-foot-six frame to four-foot-eleven. But she hasn’t let even that become an excuse to sit back and become idle either.
How could anyone dare stereotype such a woman!

Source: Interview with Marian Harrison, February 2005
© 2005 Theresa (Teri) A. Baker All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 16

In Search of Nora Burglon

In Everett , from the 1930s to 1976, lived a woman who made her mark upon society, her physical environment, and the minds of countless children whom she taught and who read her books. She was Nora Burglon, author, artist, teacher, world traveler, and Scandinavian folklorist. Born April 28, 1900 in Minnesota, she came from, as she was proud to say, “sturdy Swedish stock,” She researched and shared that heritage for much of her life. For someone who was so well known nationally and internationally, little was known about her private life. In 1935 she was listed in Polk’s City Directory, as a writer and as managing director for “Scandinavian Crafts”, a small business in Everett. Also in the 1930s she began to fulfill a life-long dream to build a little cottage in the Swedish peasant style on Rucker Hill.
Burglon became known in the ’30s and ’40s as a prolific author. Six books of fiction for children were written from 1931 to 1939, another four between 1940 and 1947. Add to that a large number of magazine articles. Her stories were carefully researched, for accurate detail and a sense of place, through her many travels-to Europe and Scandinavia, the Carribean and Hawaii, even to the Arctic.
One book, Children of the Soil, A Story of Scandinavia ,1933 (serialized 1931-32) was named an Honor Book by the Newbery Foundation. That award placed Burglon alongside Laura Ingalls Wilder and Isaac Bashevis Singer in the pantheon of writers who won similar Newbery awards. The story follows the adventures of two children and their widowed mother as they struggle to rise from the status of poor crofters to respectable farmers. It is filled (as are all her books) with adventure, moral lessons, cultural and environmental education, and (usually) a young girl as heroine, who has the commonsense, will, and faith enough to turn every ill to the good.
Burglon’s observations on fairness and justice ran through all her work and society fell short of her ideals much of the time. In Children of the Soil she spoke of feeding weeds to goats: “That was one fine thing about goats. It was as if they were related to the crofter folk, for they did not believe in wasting anything they could make good use of. Now cows, on the other hand — well, cows were more finicky – they were more like the gentry: nothing was ever just exactly enough, nor ever just exactly good enough, either.” At a point in the story when the heroine’s little brother is falsely accused, Burglon wrote, “Nicolina wanted to fly at the big red-faced woman – she who always made the girl feel as if being a crofter were something akin to being a thief or a beggar.” She had no patience with people who act as sheep and sweep along with the crowd: “People never knew half the time what they themselves really wanted to say. Somebody said, ‘Cry-lunta [crybaby].’ Then all the rest said the same. Somebody else said, ‘Bravo!’ Then they all said that.”
One of Burglon’s traits was a talent for description that painted in words a picture so clear that she might as well have applied it to canvas. On the appearance of children dressed in many layers against the cold: “A red nose and a pair of bright eyes shone out through each bundle. There was a pair of heavy overshoes under each bundle which kept it moving along, and a pair of red mittens which helped it get up when the bundle fell down.”
[Book cover on left is for Ghost Ship : a Story of Norway Published in 1936.]

In 1941, Burglon was in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was bombed. After watching the catastrophe from her hotel window she spent days helping the injured. During World War II she organized dispatch of thousands of relief packages to Scandinavia. She spent time in Hawaii as a teacher and had, as a mentor, Mrs. Moriama, “whose deep and kindly understanding of children supplied the model for Mrs. Urago” in the book, Shark Hole, A Story of Modern Hawaii, published in 1943. In the story Nani, the young girl, observes, “Mrs. Urago understood that some people were untamed spirits. Their work was to give light and understanding to others, not to store knowledge within themselves.”

Burglon didn’t shy away from the war, but tried to help children understand their feelings and those of others in that time of turmoil. In one part of the book she spoke of the legend of the Black Shark which terrorized the Hawaiian people. Years before, it had promised to stop if the people brought offerings to the sea once a year on the seventh day of the last month in the year. In the story, it was believed to have returned. ” Nani’s face lighted with sudden understanding, ‘….. That’s the seventh of December. Pearl Harbor was bombed on that day and the people forgot.’ Her eyes widened with fear.”

Another observation on the war deals with black-outs and the emotional toll they took: “[Before Pearl Harbor] the hamlet had bloomed with the lights of a thousand windows. Now there was no light except the glimmering of the moonbeams upon the cane sheds. It was this darkness, more than anything else, that reminded the three children that their country was at war.” For balance against the gloom, Burglon wrote, “War had changed many things in the Islands, but the sound of the cane rushing down through the flumes over the valleys, had not changed at all. Neither had the sweet smell of cane juice, which rose like a warm breath.”

Another point she had to make regarded the discrimination against Japanese-American citizens that was prevalent in that time. In the story, a teacher speaks to a student who injured a Japanese-American child, “‘My grandfather came here from China as a coolie laborer,’ Miss Chun went on. ‘Yoshio’s grandfather came from Japan as a poor farmer. Your grandfather came from Puerto Rico as a contract laborer to work in the sugar cane. It is the people who have come from all these various lands that have made Hawaii the wonderful place it is. Not one of these people could have done it alone. All of us, not any one people, are called Americans.'”

Burglon was also an environmentalist before the word was even coined. Her writing is full of vivid descriptions of nature, guided by her artist’s eye. She appreciated all aspects of the natural world and decried mankind’s ignorance in upsetting the order. In Shark Hole she speaks of the damage caused by imported species and plants: “Because the original Hawaiian birds had become nearly extinct, bird lovers had brought in others. The imported birds, lacking the food to which they were accustomed, became fruit eaters and the Hawaiian orchardists paid dearly for their birdsong.” Crawfish had been brought in to eat mosquitoes, but fell on the taro roots instead. Lantana had once been grown in gardens. Now it made miles of highland country all but impassable.” Although Burglon’s head-on approach to the world’s problems was accepted without a blink by her many young readers, it was not necessarily so with their parents or teachers. I was told by one former student of 1944, that when she suggested that Burglon be read aloud, the idea was put down because of the impression that Burglon had “communistic leanings.” Her deep faith in Christianity might have surprised her detractors. For instance, how many kitchens do you know that have the entire Lord’s Prayer written in Swedish (or any other language, for that matter) surrounding the room in a border? Or “Blessed are they that do” and “Work is Love made visible” written in decorative script on a cupboard door or ceiling beam? Burglon’s little cottage had these and more.

In Better Homes and Gardens magazine (Sept.1940), Burglon described her motivation for building her home, “I suppose it was those hearty, stubborn Swedish pioneers, my grandparents, who bequeathed to me my life-long hunger for simple walls of white, for bright rafters and flowering beams, for vibrant homespuns, gleaming copper-studded chests, and sunny braided rugs.” And build it, she did, throughout the 1930s, and often at odds with the advice of her carpenters. Her books were typed out from a desk by the window of the small loft bedroom, designed as “the maiden’s bower” where unmarried daughters slept. She described this room as containing “great quantities of manuscripts in various stages of construction or decomposition.
“Mine is a joyous little home of singing colors and great peace. In my many authoring trips to the north countries, I had gathered the weavings and chests, the buckets and kettles, the color harmonies and folk designs that would make it truly Scandinavian, completely my own. I built a harmony of vermilion and royal blue, hues as strong and hearty as the Swedish peoples themselves. The motifs on doors, rafters, and beams I drew from the peasant art of these people, …..” “The limb [of the tree of life] was their first symbol, the wheel of the sun-worshiper, the second, the “sacred heart of Jesus” their third. The heart has become a heart-shaped leaf, the base of a flower, or the center of the design from which stalks and buds appear to grow.” Burglon lived, surrounded by the beauty she created, for the rest of her life in the little cottage in Everett.
Nora Burglon died in 1976 at the age of 75. Her books were out of print, most of the print forms having been melted for scrap during the war. A short obituary stated that she was a retired teacher with the Everett School District and left numerous cousins across the country and a niece and nephew in Sweden. But, what of her life before and after that prolific and public period of the ’30s and ’40s? The Women’s Legacy Project members are writing a book about Snohomish County women. Burglon deserves a prominent chapter. If you have any information about her, please contact us (see menu above). I want to fill in the gaps and do justice to the story of a remarkable woman.

© 2003 – 2006 Louise Lindgren, All Rights Reserved

Mae Randall Parkhurst Swanson

Hard-working Businesswoman 1879-1952
WLP Story No. 6 ~ By Sandra Schumacher
Mae Randall Parkhurst’s role as breadwinner was thrust upon her by the death of her husband in 1915. She was already working, but as a young widow with three small children to support, Mae knew life would not be easy. Determination, perseverance and love would be required to keep her family together, but these Mae had in abundance.

She had come to Everett at age 26 around 1905 with her parents, William and Rose Ellen Randall, and Mae’s sister, Lydia Randall, from Cedar Falls, Iowa, where William, previously a farmer, had studied for the ministry. Rev. Randall was to become the pastor of the First Baptist Church on Lombard. Mae attended business college, then promptly went to work as a court reporter.
Mae recalled that it was a challenging job because it was difficult for her to understand the testimonies of people with Scandinavian accents, a sound new to her ears. She had a good head on her shoulders, and before long was working for the county treasurer at a time when most transactions were done in cash.

Still close to her parents, Mae took a trip to Portland, Oregon with her father. There she met Paul Parkhurst, who had left a comfortable life in Templeton, Massachusetts to mine gold in the Klondike with several friends. The adventure was not successful, but they did not return to the East Coast, choosing instead to remain out west. Paul and Mae married in Everett around 1907. She continued to work for the county and was promoted to County Cashier. It was a good job and convenient since the couple lived a few doors away from the courthouse.
Throughout the marriage, Paul had never been well, due to an illness he contracted in the Klondike. His death left Mae with three children under the age of seven. Mae’s daughter Helen Parkhurst Sievers remembers her mother as a very resourceful, generous and hard working woman. Helen remembers, “She stepped out in the world at a time when most women were in the background.”

Mae recognized that she needed more income in order to raise her children, so she opened Vanity Bazaar, a variety store on Hoyt Avenue in Everett. Later she would open opening The Variety Store in Snohomish. She counted Pilchuck Julia as one of her many customers, and, because of Julia’s recurring leg problem, often had to drive Julia home. By 1925 Mae decided that she would ply her business skills in the Delicatessen business and opened Parkhurst Deli in Everett with her sister Lydia.
Her retail business may have continued for years were it not for a late rent payment on her Lake Stevens home that resulted in the loss of her home and all of her household belongings. She and the children were forced to start over with the help of Mae’s father. May applied for a position in the cashier’s office in Everett again, and was gladly rehired due to her fine work record over the years.
In 1928 she remarried Everett’s beloved Fire Chief, Charlie Swanson, a long time family friend. During her retirement years, Mae enjoyed fishing and boating with her husband, and divided her time between Everett and Baby Island Heights. Emphysema took its toll on Mae, who said that she “probably contracted it by talking too much!”

In December 1952, the city of Everett lost one of its earliest female business owners, as well as a respected employee. Never the victim, she rose from adversity and built both a strong family and a successful career.

Source: Helen Parkhurst Sievers

©2006 Sandra Schumacher, All Rights Reserved

To learn more about Mae Randall Parkhurst, see the story of her daughter, Helen Parkhurst Sievers, on this web site.