Nordic Heritage Museum Vanishing Generation Interview with Herb Goodman

  • By David Barlow
  • Posted 9/23/2004
  • Essay 5769

This interview with Herb Goodman (b. 1907) is part of the Vanishing Generation Oral History Project in the Nordic Heritage Museum. Herb Goodman is a Ballard resident of Icelandic heritage who was interviewed by David Barlow on May 27, 2000. He describes his employment history in the area -- from delivering firewood on a horse-drawn wagon as a youngster to his days as a union longshoreman -- and he recounts his experience of the 1934 Waterfront Strike.

It's May 27th, 2000. I'm David Barlow. The Narrator is Herb Goodman, and we're at Herb's house at 1528 Northwest 62nd.

Maybe we could start off with a little background about your parents. Your dad, where was he from?

My dad?


Well, he was a pharmacist, in Canada.

Was he born there?

I don't know for sure that he was born there or not. My mother wasn't. She was born in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Okay. And what do you know about when she was born?

My mother was born -- she died when she was about 72 or something like that. So I didn't never know how old she was.

Do you know how old she was when she came over to the United States -- I mean to Canada?

From Canada.

Or from Iceland to Canada?

Yeah. From Iceland to Canada. Well, from Iceland to Canada. Well, she would probably be in her probably -- oh, I can't make a guess at it. But she was in Canada for a quite a little while. She was a waitress there. And she left Iceland -- left Canada and came here.

Was that after --


Was that after your dad died?

Yeah. Yeah, my dad didn't die, he -- I guess they separated or something. Couldn't make ends go too well. So that's what happened.

Well, so then --

My mother had a real good friend that lived here in Ballard, and she came over here and lived with her. And I did, too, for awhile.

How old were you?

Oh, I was about six years old.


Yeah. Yeah.

So, did you live in -- do you know where you lived in Ballard?

Oh, I lived in different places in Ballard here. I lived on about on 65th for one place. And this friend of my mother's, she lived over on 65th -- about 65th. That was the end of the -- end of the line from there -- from where she lived. So we lived with her for awhile. And my mother worked at the laundry on the north end of the Market.

Oh, Pike Place Market?

Pike Place Market.

How did she get there? Did she take the --



Yeah. And I would go meet her. And at that time, of course, they were all going to war, and when I rode the streetcar down to meet her on the north side of the Market, Pike Place Market, he left me a dollar certificate of some kind.

Who's this, a soldier?

Yeah, that was just leaving -- just happened to be traveling down that way. And we got talking about this and that, and he left me a dollar. And I thought that was really nice.



What did -- when you were younger, what did you do while your mom was working? Did you stay with friends or --

I went to school, of course, and spent some time there. And well, let's see --

So you're talking about what you --

Where I lived --

And what you did when your mom was at work when you were younger.

Went to school and -- like the rest of the kids did. And I used to -- I'll never forget that place. She had a feather -- feather blanket. A puffed blanket, you know. And I thought that was great to be able to sleep in that. That was wonderful.

Who was this that had the puffed blanket?

This friend of my mother's.

So, would you go to her house then after school?

Not really, no. We had our own house, too, across the street after that, almost directly across the street, at the end of the car line. So -- yeah.

Did your mom work like five days a week or --

Oh, I don't think -- I don't think it was quite that much. I remember it was that piecework. A job on piecework. She was a presser. And she'd, you know, bring this big machine down. And one time, she got her hand caught under there and burned her hand pretty bad. So, she was off for awhile.

How did you live when she was off work?

Well, we lived -- we still lived with this friend of ours. She was a real nice person from Canada. And she had a sister that lived in Canada. That's how my mother got acquainted with her. And so, then we made a trip back to -- up to -- where my mother was born in Reykjavik, Iceland and -- the wife and I. And that was quite a nice trip, one of our good trips.

Did you see where she was born?

Yeah, we did, yes.

Was she born in the city then?

Yeah, she was born in the city, and she worked there in a restaurant, of course and -- a waitress. So, that's the beginning of it -- starts it. And --

Now, did you, when you lived in Ballard, did you speak Icelandic with her, or did you speak English?

Oh, we never spoke nothing but English most of the time. The only thing I could say at this time, would be just a few words...

What grade school? Did you go to Adams or --


I went to several of them. My mother, she moved around. Just the two of us, you know. And she went -- I went to Adams, lived on 25th and 65th. And -- 25th and 65th, yeah. And they had some tough times there, too.

Who had tough times?

I had -- people. They were not making too much -- they weren't making any money, and things were high in price. So consequently, it was a rough row to hoe. And, then, from Adams, I went to Webster School, and they had a little dinkey that ran from 60 -- from -- a dinkey that ran from Market Street up to Golden Gardens.


And there was an individual there that -- you can believe this or not -- he was a wealthy person, and we used to jump on the back of this dinkey.

What's a dinkey?

It's just a little trolley car that took people down into Ballard and back out to Golden Gardens. And this fella had a well. They had a well at the end of that streetcar behind -- at Golden Gardens. And we always used to jump on the fender of that.

Oh, that was an oil well, right?

An oil well, that's right. Absolutely right.

What was out at Golden Gardens at that time?

At that time?

Oh, we're talking about when you were like 10, 12 years old?

Yeah. There was an old guy out there. He had a -- he had a well out there, you might say, an oil well. And he -- he -- there's an old fella down at the end of the Golden Gardens down there, right on the water. And there was net -- fish nets down there. And this old guy would rent his boats, rowboats to these people at the end of the line. And they'd come -- they'd rent our boats. And every so often, the fish would get out of that net that they had down there, a fish net. And they'd get some fish out of there. So this is the story there.

Was there a dance hall there?

There was a dance hall, yes. And we used to go down there and watch them dance down there and look through all the knotholes and watch them dance.

Do you remember any of your classmates from grade school, or friends from grade school?

Grade school? Ah, not really. See, it was right across the street from the Webster School. There was a policeman who lived across the street there. And he had a couple kids, I think, two or three kids. And they used to kind of give us a rough time there.

His kids did?

Yeah, yeah.

Why was that?

Well, they -- we always thought that they thought themselves more -- more -- upper class than what we were, you know. And, so, then we -- let's see, so then we --

Don't talk so loud, Ellen. I'm trying to concentrate here. Please.

I -- so then, did I tell you I went to Adams School?

Right. Then Adams and Webster, then. After grade school did you go right to Ballard High then?

Yeah. I went to Ballard High in '23. And I played football at Ballard High in '23.

Didn't you win the City Championship then?

That was the year we got the championship, '23, 1923. And that's the picture in here that shows you.

What was your position?

I was a guard. And a tackle as well, at times. I was on the second team, what they called the second team, you know. So, I wasn't just one that was playing every game either, you know, either. I played over at the Denny Regrade over there.


You know where that is?


And I probably repeat this to you. They had strips of material going across that you could walk. Put one foot on and then one up till you get up to the top, and then you get in for nothing. So that's what we used to do.

To get into the stadium?

To get into the stadium to see the game, yeah. But there was times, of course, that we -- when we got up to the top, a cop would peak over the side and motion for us to come on in, and they'd take us down there and put us loose where we should have been.

Oh, that's nice. Did you have any other activities besides football?

Oh, not really too much, no.

Now you went to high school how many years?

Oh, I had -- I only went to -- just the one year. I never -- I knew it all, you know. One of those deals.

So, what were you, like 16 when you left high school?

Let's see. Well, yeah, about that. Yeah. Yeah.

Maybe you could tell me about some of the jobs you did now. You mentioned that you sold newspapers?

Stole them?


Sold. Oh, sold them, yeah. I sold papers at the foot of the --or at the -- Madison Park ferry used to come in there. And I had a paper route there. And a fella came by with a couple pretty sturdy looking horses, and he asked if we would want to make a couple bucks or so, me and another fella, and take them into the Public Market, which we did. We grabbed -- jumped onto those horses, and they were big ones, believe me, plow horses. And when we got out at the Market, we couldn't walk for two or three days. So bow-legged and everything, you know.

How old were you when you did this?

Oh, I don't know. Probably about -- oh, nine or ten. No, no, no, no. About 11 or 12, I think.

How did you get down to Madison Park to sell the papers?

Well, then we lived down there pretty close to the -- Madison Park. Right in Madison Park, in fact.

Oh, so you moved out of Ballard for awhile and went to Madison Park?

Yeah. Yeah. So --

And how -- when did you move back to Ballard about?

Oh, let's see. Oh, I moved back to Ballard about -- about -- let's see. I just off my -- I can't figure it.

About 14 or 15?

I'd say about 15, I think.

Now, you told me, when I was here before, about delivering firewood from the --you'd pick it up at the mill and take it out with horses?


Why don't you tell me about that?

Yeah. I'd go down into Stimson's with a team of horses, and it was cord wood. And everybody was -- it was pretty popular with people. And it carried a cord of wood. And it had bark on the outside of it. Slab wood, they called it. And, I'd walk it quite a ways. Well, in fact, I used to walk from Ballard here out to Golden Gardens and hook up my team of horses out there. That's where the stables were, see.

Oh, tell me -- now tell me about that.


Were there stables then at Golden Gardens?

At Golden Gardens, yes.

And you had your own horses there?

Not my own. I drove a team of horses for another individual that owned them. And they were pretty lively horses, too. They got them at Frey's Packing House. That's way back. And so, we were coming down 59th here in Ballard onto 24th -- 59th and 24th, when those horses got on the -- they kicked over the tree and they started off. And boy, did they go.

And you were -- you were on the --

On the -- and I was on this wagon. And with me was -- you always had a kid or two. They liked to be with you and see those horses and stuff. So there was one of them with me that day. And I hung on to those reins the best I could. And I thought we were going to straddle that telephone pole. But I hung on and stopped them. And that took care of that. So that was one of my experiences with horses.

Now, how many horses -- were they big stables down there? Is that where most people in Ballard kept their horses, or did people keep them in their own yards, or what?

Well, they had different stables; different barns that they'd keep them in, yeah, around Ballard here. And they -- yeah. So -- yeah. But they used to have some peculiar things happen. For instance, the wagon was pretty lengthy in size, and, like I said, it was -- oh, it was good sized cord of wood. And they'd back -- I'd back that wood wagon into the driveway, and they had little small windows in their driveway. And the women would come outside and raise Cain with me because the horses were eating up their strawberries -- their roses, roses.

Now you told me -- how much did you get paid for hauling a cord of wood and unloading it and stacking it?

Oh, we never stacked it too much. We threw it in -- outside or in the drive -- in the window. About 60 dollars -- 60 cents a load. Sixty cents a load. And then, as a rule, the horses -- we always trotted them back one way. Coming back, we always trotted them back to make sure that we could get enough to haul another load someplace else. And we did.

So you'd do two loads a day then?

Oh, more than that. Three or four, at least. Yeah. And let's see . . .

Did you ever have a horse?

No, I never owned a horse, no. No, no. Different ones did. Down in the Salmon Bay Park -- I don't know whether you know where Salmon Bay Park is or not.

Oh, that's up on 70th?

About 70th and 20th. Yeah. 70th and 20th. And -- but one of them was right by Salmon Bay Park.

A stable or --

A stable, it was a stable. And they had about -- about six horses. Two to a wagon, you know. Always had two. Two to a wagon. And his name was Bowman. Bowman was his name, and he had a son that was driving, too. So they had -- kind of had it between them to be owners of the -- in other words, four horses. Two apiece. And so then, from there I went down to the -- I went down to the --

Is that when you went to American Can? Or did you go to another job first?

That was -- I did go to the American Can, yeah. And I had --

But what time period is this? Are we talking -- were you about 20, or what?

Oh, I'd say maybe about 20. Yes, 20, yeah. And we lived down -- I mean we used to work down there, of course. And we used to go into the -- they called it the -- I can't think of the name of the place. It was Mac -- I want to say Macaroni. They're still there, I think, as far as I know. But we used to park our cars, and before we went to work, we would stand and talk to one another about things that had happened and whatnot. And I always parked my car in the same place. But I never had any way of unlocking -- locking it, to lock it. And -- but I stood there and we were talking, about four or five of us, and here a guy come along in my car and looked me right in the eye. And he was off with my car, coming down, going down south on the waterfront. It just so happened that a fella was coming to work, and he said, "Jump on the running board here and I'll take you down there and see if we can catch this guy." But we never did catch up with him. And there wasn't too much of my car left when I got it back.

Oh, they'd stripped it?

They'd stripped it, yeah. That was the choice thing to do in those days. Yeah.

How old were you when you got your first car?

Get what?

How old were you when you got your first car?

First car?


Oh, I don't know. I must have been about -- about 18 or something like that. Yeah.

So what did you do at American Can?

I delivered tinplate. I would load three-wheeled trucks and -- with tinplate. And tinplate -- and then I would deliver it upstairs and pull it onto the elevator and up to the -- where they were making these cans. Oh, I can't think of the name of that machine. Yeah. Let's see . . .

Oh, I don't -- yeah, I don't think it's important. How did you get the job there? Did you have a friend? Or a newspaper ad?

No. No. I just happened to know somebody that worked there, a few guys. And they -- I knew one of them that was a -- he had something to do with body makers. Body makers were the machines that they put this tin on and made up the tin cans. And that was supposed to be a pretty good job. And I got 45 cents an hour, and I got about a 5 cent -- five dollar -- five-cent raise -- about a five-cent raise after I was there for about a year and a half or two.

How long did you work there?

Oh, I didn't -- I worked there about three or four years, I guess. We used to sort it -- sort tinplate. We dragged this tinplate -- it came from all parts of the world, I guess. And they had the tinplate in these containers, wood containers. They were about that thick with tin.

And you're showing about four inches.

For the flat -- huh?

I just -- for the tape, I'm just showing that you're showing me it was about four-inch thick, the tinplate.

Yeah, about a four-inch. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, that's right. And so --

So this was the 1920s?

Yeah, about 1920.

Were you living in Ballard?

Let's see now. Let's see. Yeah, we were living in Ballard.

Were you still living with your mom?

Yes, I was. Yes, I was. Yeah.

When did you -- how old were you when you moved out from living with your mom?

Well, then my step-dad, he and my mother married.

And how old were you then?

I was about 21 or 22, I guess. And he was working on the waterfront. He was a longshoreman, and he was there in the '34 strike, of course. Lots of strife there.

Maybe you could tell me a little bit about him. Where was he from? Was he a --

He was a Swedish fella, and a real nice guy. He always thought a lot of me and my mother, of course. And he never owned a bicycle himself, but he did -- went down and bought a Columbia bicycle. And he pushed that all the way home to where we were living at about 25th and 60th or something like that, and -- but he was okay. He was a nice fella. So then he got me in on the waterfront.

Before you -- how did he and your mom meet? Do you know?

Yeah. He had a friend that -- he had a friend that he knew -- that he knew, and they got acquainted with this guy. And he -- he -- and he, so he was pretty handy with tools, this -- and so -- then I got on the waterfront. Of course, that was in '34.

So, were you part of the strike, the great strike, or was that afterwards?

Yeah, I was part of it. I wasn't even in the union at the time. But we used to -- we used to go into the hall and pick up the extra work sometimes, if -- it wasn't very agreeable jobs that we got. It was -- sometimes it was the skins off the animals. And I guess they made things out of them. So then, I finally got in, in '34.

Okay. Can you --

In the waterfront.

Can you tell me about the strike? How did that start?

Yeah, that strike. That -- well, I was in the -- in the hall at the time. And we were told that these guys were going to have a bunch of finks come in there the following morning. It was a place where they made garbage cans. And -- and so, we went down there, knowing that they were going to have this strike.

All right. Who told you to go down there? The union? Or --

Yeah, we did -- we were told that -- yeah. So, we went down there. This was across Spokane Street, right close to where the hall is situated now. Indirectly, it's right across the street where it still is. So when we got there, we put locks on the doors. And these finks that came in, they didn't know that we had them locked up. So, I -- they had a glass that went all the way down in the door. So I could see this fink standing there -- sitting there.

Inside the building?

He was inside the building with a shotgun.

So you'd locked him into the building?

No, they'd locked themselves in.

Oh, I see.

And they were there -- thinking that they would chase them away, but they didn't -- they didn't know that they had them locked up. Well, I saw this guy's gun, and I bent down to get it, you know, just to pull it away from him, and I got the whole barrel in my -- on this leg here.

Your left leg?

Left leg, yeah. Yeah, so I was pretty bad off for awhile.

How did you get out of there? Did your friends carry you away? Or --

Well, I just happened to be lucky. There was a fella coming by to pick me up. And I was bleeding to beat hell. And they took me right up to the hospital. I can't remember the name of the hospital. It was up on top of the hill on Spokane Street. Right up straight -- straight up from Spokane Street? They were lucky enough to -- oh, Seattle General was one of them. And they were lucky enough to get ahold of a guy that had been in the Second World War. And he knew how --

Probably the First World War, right?

Yeah, the First World War, that's right. And he knew how to take care of it, these shots, you know. And I've still got a lot of lead in my leg yet, you know, shotgun lead.

How long were you in the hospital? Several days?

Oh, several weeks and months. Yeah, I was there quite awhile.

Were you married at the time?


Were you married at the time?

Yeah, I think so.

The Narrator: Weren't we married there, Ellen, during the strike? We were married during the strike? Yeah.

Mrs. Goodman: Sure, when you were shot in the leg?

The Narrator: Yeah.

Mrs. Goodman: You bet we were. You were in the hospital a hell of a long time.

I was going to ask you, how did you -- how did you live when you were in the hospital? Did you get money from the union or --

Yeah, they -- the union gave me, I think it was $500.

The union gave you $500?

Yeah. Five hundred. Well, that was quite a bit of money in those days, you know.

Did they raise -- pass the hat, or did -- or do you know how they got the money?

Yeah, they didn't pass hats around at that time. No, we took care of it in the union meetings, you know. And I soon went into the union after that. And then --

Could you tell me how the union changed how the work was done on the waterfront? Like how was it done before the strike, and how was it done after?

Yeah. There was -- it was all done by hand. Mucking. We called it mucking. Mucking. For instance, you'd have these -- piece cans, canned fish, you've seen them, I'm sure.


And that was all mucking. And of course, then from there on, they went to -- into mechanization. And rather than take money, they took -- instead of -- they took -- they took mechanization, and let mechanization go through and didn't fight it because they felt in lieu of wages, you're better off to have something in the line of money for medicines and medical purposes, you see.

Well, when did they start mechanizing? Do you know about when? Was that the '40s or the '50s, or --

That was in -- that was in -- let's see -- let's see, about -- about -- about '40s, I think. Yeah.

Now, my understanding that before the union came along, people would just go stand in front of the piers and people would come out and call people to come in and work? Was that around when you were working on the waterfront?

Yeah, they did. They did. They used to. You bet.

Yeah. Tell me about that, how that worked.

Well, it didn't work out too good at all. It's the times when the guys that were working in there, some of them took a notion that they could -- they could steal things at midnight. They'd go uptown and -- and go eat uptown and stuff. But there was a guy that worked there. He was -- he was really a -- a pig for packing stuff off the dock. So he had -- he -- this night, he packed something off of the dock, and he went up and went uptown. And while he was uptown, they made a switch in there -- a train to switch in there. And he had put in a package there; he was going to get it when he came back. And when -- in the meantime, this train switched in there, and he -- they grabbed him.

For stealing?

For stealing, yeah. They called him Bacon Johnson ever after that, you know.

Because he'd stolen bacon?

Yeah, yeah. Sure. He had a bacon -- a whole big slab of bacon on his back. See? But he left it there because he didn't want to -- thought he was -- he was afraid he'd get caught. He left it there and intended to get it when he came back. But they were waiting for him and they hauled him down.

After the strike in '34, did you still go and kind of shape up in front of the various docks, or would they -- would you go to the union hall, then they'd send you out to where you were supposed to work?

Oh, yeah. We went into -- into the union hall. Had to be there at seven o'clock to shape up. And then -- and then we'd peg in.

What does that mean?

Well, that's a pegboard system. And if you were a guy that knew mechanization and everything in line -- in mechanization, they put you on the bull board. And that's just another machine that you drive. And you get a little -- you get extra money for that, of course, knowing how, you know.

Yeah, that was like a Hyster, is that --

There you go. A Hyster, yeah.

Were you a bull driver then?

I was a bull driver, yeah. I drove a lot of it. I drove one of the first bull driver bulls that ever came on that waterfront.

And when would that have been about?

Well, there again, it takes me back to the American Can, because these people that used to come in up to the American Can, some of them were in the fink hall. The fink hall was located in the north --

Now, what's a fink hall? Is that --

A fink is a guy that -- that's getting on the job and he don't belong to the union.

Okay. And when you said a "fink hall," did they have a -- where did they go? I mean was there a --

They called it a fink hall, but I don't know why they ever called it a fink hall. Most of those guys were good union men, and yet, they were getting good money for lifting it into the American Can, across the street into the American Can.

Okay. When you went to work for the union, did they provide you like medical benefits and stuff like that? Or did you pay for that on your own?

Oh, sure. Sure. We had medical care. Sure, we did.

And how about a pension?

Pension, we had a pension. You bet. I can't remember what the pension was. You know, we used to get three weeks, three weeks to -- if we -- three weeks for -- if we wanted to go on a trip or something, we got three weeks' trip.

A paid vacation?

A paid vacation, right. And some of those guys were too lazy to get their -- them years in -- to get the years in, and they never did get it.

Oh, you had to work a certain number of years to get paid vacation?

Well, no. You worked three -- let's see, if you worked three weeks -- a number of months -- a number of months you wouldn't work for three weeks. For three weeks. But anyhow, it was three weeks that you had to have all your work in at the time. But some of them were too lazy to get them all in.


And -- but, I always saw to it that I got my required amount of years in, in order to get a good retire -- get a chance to make a trip, you know. We made a lot of good trips in those days due to that, you know.

Okay. Where did you take your vacations?

That was a smart way to go, I think. It's something that we've always cherished and remembered. We went with all those -- all those years to -- and just before I retired, there was another thing that they had -- put on the waterfront. And that was a big machine -- it was up on -- oh, about maybe 200 -- two feet or -- no.

Two hundred feet?

No, 1500 feet in the air. It's like a machine that picks up one of these units full of the cargo and brings it in to where the ship is. And there -- from there, then they picked it up with the cranes and put it where they wanted to put it.

Did you operate the cranes ever?

Never did operate the cranes. But they gave us -- they paid the same money for riding -- for the cranes as they did with this other deal, getting underneath it, you know, and then packing -- it was a four-wheel deal. And yeah, so that's what happened there.

Okay. Now let me stop this for a second. I want to turn over tape.

Yeah, okay.

(End of side A)

(Continuing) -- from Australia.

Okay. So you were just telling me about the leader of the longshoremen was Harry Bridges?


Why don't you tell me about Harry Bridges?

Well, he came from Australia. And he worked at San Francisco. And I guess because he was a real good union man, they took it upon themselves -- they took it on themselves to call him a fink. But believe me, that guy done more for people that needed it than I'll ever know.

Didn't the government accuse him of being a Communist?

They did. They tried him in court two or three times, and they never did get to him.

Was he --

He seemed -- he always made sure that they didn't get him. And he sure was a smart guy. He knew what it was all about. He had good people behind him, you know.

Now, did you ever meet Harry Bridges?

I -- just one time.

Where did you meet him?

That -- we were in a meeting. We always had meetings, you know, sometimes. And he just came in, and I started to shake his hand, and he shook my hand. And he said, "You know," he says, "I don't see any -- as good as I used to." Well, he didn't -- I don't think he recognized me as being a longshoreman. So that's the way -- that was the end of that.

Were there Communists in the union when you were around?

Not that I know. I don't know. I never attended any Communist meetings. No. Not in my way of thinking, but -- no doubt -- no doubt there was. You know.


Bound to be.

How often did you have your Union meetings?

We had our union meetings at -- well, twice, twice a month. Yeah.

Did you attend them pretty faithfully?

I attended them whenever I should, yes. Should have. Yeah, yeah.

So in the end of the 1930s, where were you? What part -- where were you living in Seattle?


Like right before World War II, where were you living?

Oh, World War II? Let's see. Let's see. I can't remember that.

Okay. How about, do you remember where you were when Pearl Harbor happened?

Pearl Harbor. Oh, I was -- yes, I do.

What were you doing?

It was Sunday morning. It was a Sunday morning. And I was working on the waterfront that Sunday. And -- and Pearl Harbor -- I was down there. I didn't go to that war, because they wanted me -- I knew how to drive the equipment to handle some of those explosives that they were having. They sent us out here in the north end, quite a ways out in the north end. I can't remember right now what it was called. But it was a 60 -- let's see, I got 60 dollars for that night.

For a shift?

For a shift, yeah.

That was a lot of -- a lot of money.

It was then. Of course, we were handling cargo that was explosives, you know, and could be very dangerous, too. And it was definitely a risky job.

Right. So --

(Continuing) --at that time.

So you stayed in Seattle during the whole war?

Oh, yeah. Yeah. I never left Seattle.

Now, did the workforce change? Like did they have women working on the waterfront during the war?

They did a few. They started to have them. A few of them. Yeah, they did.

What kind of jobs did they do?

Oh, they did about the same as we did, some of them. The guys didn't like it very well.

Had there been women working there before the war, or was it just during the war that they worked on the waterfront?

Oh, they had them during the war. After the war even. They became members, of course. So they were just like any of the rest of us. Yeah.

Did you have any Japanese guys that, when the War broke out, they were working as longshoremen, or --



No. We had some colored guys, colored people down there. Not a lot of them, but some. And I never give any of them a bad time at all. I thought just as much of them as I did the other guys. Yeah. That was the fair way with me.

I think you mentioned you knew one of them that was an old neighbor of mine, Earl George?

Yeah. Yes. You, you -- I remember you telling me. Well, yeah. Crippled guy. But he was -- but he was an old-timer, believe me. He was around the waterfront before I ever got there. He used to walk to the meetings. And he walked down -- he'd ride the bus down to Spokane Street and then walk across from First on Spokane to attend the meetings.

How did you know that?


How did you know that?

Oh, I used to -- we used to talk all the time, and stuff. We met on the job as well as on the waterfront, too, you know.

So, who did you socialize with? Who were your friends at that time?

Oh, I had a lot of them. A lot of different friends. There was the good and the bad, you know.

Were they friends from work or other places or --

Well, yeah. From work most of them. Yeah. This guy, for instance, this colored guy, every time we went to a meeting, why, he'd always come over and shake hands, because his birthday was on the same date as mine, this colored guy. And he thought that was great. Yeah, so -- and . . .

And where -- what would you -- during the War in Seattle, what would you do -- was entertainment the same as before, or were you limited in what you could do, or . . .

Oh, yeah. Entertainment. Yeah, sure.

What would you do for entertainment during the War?

Oh, well -- it's -- not too much entertainment, but some. But, you know, we used to -- we used to go into the taverns and have a drink or two, you know, before we went home. But I always could never see that. Here I am working with a guy in a hold of a ship all day long, talking to him about everything that's going on, and then I'd go home and talk the same thing. I couldn't see that.

Couldn't see go --

I always went home.


Instead of staying too long in these damn taverns, you know. So . . .

So the taverns were down along the waterfront then?

They were, yeah. Plenty of them. Plenty of them. Yeah. Yeah, you bet. Yeah.

And -- now you were -- when did you become involved in the Masons?

Oh, that's 50 years ago.

Okay. Why don't you tell me about that, how you joined?

Or more. Fifty years or more.

How did you join the Masons?

How did I?


Well, I knew people that belonged and I done my part, my share of Masonry. I was a Past Patron from the Eastern Star. That's a part of the Masons, you know, Eastern Star.


And --

What's a Past Patron? I'm not familiar with that.

Yeah, a Past Patron is -- would be like a -- it would be like a -- he's the head of the Eastern Star for a year or two. A year or so, see? So . . .

And what kind of responsibilities did you have doing that?

Oh, you'd have quite a few responsibilities. We'd always try to see that our meetings were -- we had plenty there, plenty of people there. Now, people -- they're all got -- they've all gotten older, just like me here. I don't attend like I used to. Can't do it. Walk up steps and drive my own car. I do that, I do some driving. But . . .

How many people would you have come to meetings back -- when was it probably the busiest, or the most people?

Well, you're talking about two different kinds of meetings.

Oh, okay.

One is -- one is a meeting where the people that belong to the Masonry, that are -- have a bigger clientele than what we had, or vice versa.


And, I've -- I've always enjoyed Masonry. But now I'm getting so I can't get to the meetings, and it's a struggle. Yeah.

Well, besides the Masons and union, were there other groups you were active in, or --

Well, the Masonry, oh . . .

Like a church, or --

Oh, we -- we belonged to Our Redeemer's Church for awhile. And she -- and the minister there was a real nice guy. And when I went on our trip back to Iceland, he had me meet up with some of the ministers that were -- were born over there. And he -- was a real nice guy. Of course, he passed away. And we haven't attended that church too much, now.

Uh-huh. How long ago was that that you quit going?

Oh, it's been about -- oh, about 14 or 15 years, I guess.

Now, when did you retire from the waterfront?

I retired in 1970.

Okay. And what kind of -- how old were you when you retired?

How old was I? Well, I --

About 62 or 3?

Well, you'll have to figure that one out.

Okay. When were you born?

I was born in Winnepeg, Manitoba.

But the date you were born on.

January the 29th.

Of 1906 or --


January 29th, 1907? So you were 63 then when you retired?

No, I -- let's see. Yeah. That's right, 63. Yeah, I had -- I could do either. I could stay till I was 65, and -- but I got so one morning, I just got up and I thought, "Why should I go to work? I'll soon be retiring when I'm 63," so I did. And I've enjoyed every minute of it.

And then you got a pension?

Oh, yeah.

You were telling me it was almost like a $1,000 a month pension?


And did you get medical benefits after you retired?

Oh, definitely.

And that came through the union as well, then?

Yeah, through the union. Yeah, sure.


Through the -- through the employers, yeah. Yeah.

Now you indicated you had a place down on the beach after you retired?

Yeah. We had a place down there in Grayland. You ever hear of that?


Grayland. And we used to go down there, that is after I retired, and we'd stay down there. Change of pasture here a little bit. We'd do a lot of work around this place here. Compared to what it looks like now, it's terrible. But, we'd -- then we'd -- then we'd come back here, and I'd do the same thing. Work here and then go back down there. And this is the way it went.

And we saw a fella there -- he wanted to get out of Grayland, and he had a little place on a lot right next to ours. And he thought, well, maybe he could sell it to us. And I said, "Well, we'll see." So time went on a little bit, and pretty soon we bought that from him. We bought that from him and moved it over next to my lot -- our lot and just tied it right in with ours. Made it a bigger building.


And this is the way it went. We had good times down there, fishing and clamming, and everything that goes with it.


Tuna fish. The wife canned tuna fish, always canned tuna fish, albacore, yeah. You bet.

I was just going to go back and ask you a couple of things that I'd written down that I hadn't asked you. One, your mom. So after she remarried, what did she do? Did she keep working, or could you tell -- tell me a little bit about --

Well, she married. She married this longshoreman. And he's the one that got me in on the waterfront. See?

Uh-huh. And how long were -- when did she die, or pass away, your mom?

Yeah, she was up at the General Hospital, and I used to go up there every night and see her, every night, and every day I worked or whatever. Always I went there to see her. And I went up there one night, and the doctor hurried away and took her out of the room there in a hurry. She must have had a tumor. It looked like a tumor to me. And I saw it, that is a picture of it. And that's the last I saw of my mother.



And I think, when we talked before, you'd said that Ballard had -- there were black families, and Asian when you were a boy, that lived in Ballard? The Jenkins, I think you mentioned?

Andy Jenkins. Andy Jenkins, he was a colored guy. And he had a brother that went to Ballard High, too and he went to Ballard High. And real good people. He used to come down to the ocean down there to see us. He stayed, of course, at the -- down in some -- in another apartment -- another place down at the beach. Westport.

Okay. So you're talking back when you lived in -- when you were in Grayland then, that he'd come down there?

Yeah. They did. Yeah, yeah.

I see.

Yeah, you bet. Yeah.

Okay. And the other thing I was going to ask you, what was the-- did you live in Ballard in the '20s, during Prohibition?

Twenties? Yeah, I did.

What was that like? Were there --

We used to trade different things. For instance, we got the gas for our cars and other things that we could trade, if you wanted to. And we did, used to trade. Take advantage of it, you know.

Uh-huh. Okay. Well, I -- you know, this is -- anything that we haven't talked about that you think might be good to go over? Or you'd be interested in maybe --

Well, I would -- I would --

Okay. Well, I wanted to thank you for your time and appreciate it.

Well, I --

And if you think of something else, let me know.

I sure will. You bet I will. I'll make it a point to.

Thank you.

You bet.

Thanks very much.


Audio cassette interview of Herb Goodman by David Barlow, May 27, 2000, Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You