University District Museum Without Walls Oral History: Margaret Hoban Moore (University District resident, 1940-1967)

  • Posted 3/16/2010
  • Essay 9343
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Margaret Hoban Moore was born and raised in Seattle's University District. She is currently a volunteer for Blessed Sacrament Parish. In this oral history transcript she describes her childhood growing up in the University District. Moore was interviewed by Dawnee Dodson for the University District Museum Without Walls in March 2009.  The Museum Without Walls, a project of the University District Arts & Heritage Committee, draws together the history and life of the University District through a variety of formats, including temporary exhibitions, community events, and oral histories.

Margaret Hoban Moore

I am Margaret Hoban Moore, and I grew up at 5511 12th Avenue N.E., and that was the home of my mother and her mother from about 1912, as far as I can find the records. My grandparents were Harry and Mary Shaw, and they came to the University District in 1907 so my grandfather could obtain work at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition as a finish carpenter. And they lived in two houses on 14th, which is now University Way, until their house was built and they moved there in 1912. My mother stayed in that home until 1974, when she sold it for $20,000 cash.

My grandparents were instrumental in establishing Blessed Sacrament Parish with the Dominican Fathers. And I know that my grandfather volunteered many, many hours on the construction of the building itself, as well as my mother raised these chickens in our backyard and in the Sisters' backyard, and then she would slaughter them and dress them and bake them and sell tickets to dinners, and she was a workhorse for that community. I'm very, very close to the ties at that church. In fact, this past year, I have been the tour guide of the church on a monthly basis.

I have a brother and a sister, older than I. I lost my sister in 2004. She was 71. And in 1951 my sister was Miss University District. That entailed a contest of several young women who had some kind of talent. I don’t remember what her talent was, 'cause she just went to this thing and our family didn't know about it. And she -- my sister had suffered from polio, and so she had to do special exercises for her back, and she was very good at cartwheels and backbends; she was pretty limber. So I think that’s probably what she did for her talent. And she won, and she came home, and she told her mother and father that she was Miss University District, and handed them a list of things that she was going to need. Shoes and formals and suits and jewelry -- and my mother was absolutely furious. There was a competition between the two of them anyway, and the University Herald was sponsoring this contest, so my mother marched down to the editor of the Herald, and she said, "If you want my daughter to be your Princess, you will supply the clothes." And they did.

And she went on -- that was in August of 1951 -- she went on to be the first Lady in Waiting, the one after the Queen. And this is a little bit of dirt, but Shirley Flowers was the Queen, and she was selected -- she represented the Seattle P-I, and Ed Donahue, who wrote for the Washington State Teamsters, told us that the Seattle P-I paid $5,000 for Shirley Flowers to be the Queen. She was not from Seattle; she was from Los Angeles, and shortly after the Seafair year was over she moved back to Los Angeles. 

Good-luck Penny

There were two grocery stores that my mother and I could walk to, and since I was the youngest, and I don't know what my brother and sister were doing but I went with my mother to the grocery store and she pulled a grocery cart. And we either shopped at Big Bear, on 50th, which is a destroyed building now. I believe it used to be Tubs. And that was one grocery store. Or the Safeway here on 50th. And one day I found a penny on the way home from the grocery store, and she said, "Put that in your Daddy’s shoe. It's a good-luck penny."

And what I didn't know that day was that my dad was reporting for the Army for World War II. And he didn't get accepted; he had a punctured eardrum. But my mother said that it was because of the penny that they didn’t want him. But he ended up being an air-raid warden for the block; they were very involved in the cause. 

Then other things that we would walk to on the Ave were to get shoes. Penney's had a wonderful shoe department with a man who knew how to fit you properly. Because I went to a private school, we had to wear regulation shoes, and J.C. Penney had an X-ray machine where we stood and we could try the shoes on and we could see our toes inside. We were probably glowing when we walked out. They don't use those anymore, but that's how they checked to see if our shoes fit.

A fond memory I have, which will probably make you all laugh, is roller-skating on Brooklyn Avenue. Brooklyn Avenue had a different type of asphalt; it was extremely smooth. And you have to remember that there was one car per house, if that. Dad took that car to work, so often during the day there were no cars on the street. And we would strap on our skates and march over to Brooklyn Avenue and it was like being in a skating rink. It was just absolutely wonderful. 

Play, School, Church 

The city used to rake up all the leaves along the Boulevard, and then they would burn them on a particular day. I can remember playing in the piles of leaves. 1950 we had a tremendous snowstorm, almost like what we just had, and there were people skiing down all the steep hills around the area. And that was the year my dad and my brother and I marched up to the top of Latona and 55th and we three got on one sled, and sledded all the way to Roosevelt Way. Now, there was no freeway, so that was almost a mile, 'cause we lived on 12th and Latona was just before 1st, and it was scary. But we had to wait in line to run our sleds down there -- the snow was just perfect that year. That was one of the few times I remember my dad playing.  He worked very hard and he decided he was going to be a kid that night. And we came down safe. Of course he was steering. That made a difference.

Now I did go to University Heights grade school. I enrolled for kindergarten, because I was eventually going to go to Blessed Sacrament grade school, but they didn't have kindergarten. So I assume that 1945 was the year I was enrolled, and I went to school from '45 to '46. And probably my fondest memory of the school was finishing and leaving when the school was out, and seeing my grandmother waiting for me across the street. I was only six when she died at age 80, and we were very close 'cause she was always around when I was home and my brother and sister were in school. And it was just a fond time that I got to spend with her, all by myself, and we would walk those two blocks back to 5511 and she was only my grandma at that time. She was really good to me.

You asked what am I most proud of, and my family made a huge mark at Blessed Sacrament Parish, and I think that’s the thing that’s most important in my life. All of my religious background happens to be in that building, in that space, and all of the teachers that I had were a tremendous influence. And we were very close families -- when somebody had a crisis, my mother was sending food. Or people were sending food to us. We just took care of each other and there was a real bond between all of the families. And it's a very special place to me.

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