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Harold Bruce Hartt
1887 - 1970
 
Bruce, William C, Aaron S., Aaron, Samuel Sr., Jonathan, Samuel, Isaac
In Memory of HAROLD BRUCE HARTT 1887-1970 Services November 28, 1970 Officiating Charles B. Joss, Organist Eugene Nye, Soloist Erick Diffner Concluding Services Mountain View Cemetery – Tacoma, WA

Harold Bruce was the second oldest child of William Charles and Letitia Wilson Hartt. Harold was born on June 15, 1887, in Blackville, New Brunswick. Bruce graduated from the eighth grade in January 1902 and then joined his father who was already working at the Northern Pacific shops. Bruce worked as a drill press operator. He married Grace E. Torrens October 14, 1920, in Penticton, British Columbia. Grace was born March 1, 1891 and died August 1971. Recollections by Roy Hartt This story was told. One day Bruce and his brother Frank saw a huge black bear that frightened them so they ran to the neighbors for a rifle, which they didn’t have. A few days later, the neighbor, Mrs. Peterson and her daughter were walking through the same area. The Hartt boys decided to have some fun. Frank put on his black coat and waited in the ferns and bushes until the ladies got near. Then, Frank went hopping through the ferns and over a log. The ladies were screaming and Mrs. Peterson fainted dead away. Their small dog came smelling around Bruce where he was hiding, so he kicked the dog in the nose and made it yelp. The ladies ran away as fast as they could. Now, for the next few days, there were hunters with high-powered rifles looking for the bear. Of course, the Hartt children thought it was a joke, but Father forbad us to ever tell as he feared that it would reflect on his testimony. When we bought the “Hannah” place, father bought the horse, a light spring wagon, and other pieces of farm equipment. Father had hoped that Bruce and I could run the farm, but I am sure he was disappointed many times. One job Bruce had was with his cousin, George Cherry, digging ditches for water and sewer in Tacoma. After a time, Bruce went to Alberta as a harvest hand. In 1915, Will McLean taught Bruce to drive a 1913 Ford touring car and hired him as his driver. I was then hired on as the second driver. McLean’s had a maid who turned out to be my future wife Jennie Roach. Bruce and I saw no future in jitney driving so we made a crazy trip to Vancouver and were hired on by Sears in Seattle. Bruce in Dept. 32 working under Mr. Lowrey as a mechanic, and I in Dept. 15 under Mr. Eaton as an office clerk. Bruce got $15.00 per week and I at $12.50 per week. I stayed there for three-months but Bruce stayed on. Bruce was drafted into the service in September 1917 and went to Fort Lewis. From there, he was sent to Camp Dody where he served in the hospital corps for 19-months. At one time, Bruce was interested in Bertha Miller, but did not have any freedom from the Lord to propose to her. I don’t know where Bruce contacted Grace Torrens, but he did and became somewhat serious. In answer to one of his letters, Grace signed her letter G. E. T. and Bruce read it “get,” and at first opportunity drove to Penticton over difficult road conditions, where, I believe, he proposed. October 14, 1920, Bruce and Grace were married in Penticton, B. C. and started life at Morningside near Seattle, Washington Their son Allan continues with this history story I will pick up as a 1½ year-old when dad and mom lived at Morningside in N.E. Seattle. Dad worked at Western Auto Supply and the company sent him to salesman’s school and business school at night. He had moved to Centralia in 1924 where he was made manager of the store there. (Centralia was a prosperous lumber town with a population of 8,000). Dad was in Kiwanis and other organizations and active in Ford’s Prairie Church and Sunday school. Jane, Eleanor, John, and Isobel were all born in St. Luke’s Hospital in Centralia. Mom and dad had a home built at 920 “J” Street -- walking distance to work and to Edison Grade School. Dad was very conscientious and I recall his discussions with mom over having to hire and fire employees at the store. Western Auto was a large business with sporting goods, tents, tackle, bikes, boats, etc. in addition to auto parts. There was a large separate tire shop that sold “Western Giant” tires. Dad led family devotions after supper using his big family Bible. We also sung hymns and choruses at this time. In 1929 or 1930, as the depression began to affect Centralia, Western Auto had to downsize and dad had to “let go” one or two employees -- much to Dad’s chagrin. Dad had a good relationship with employees and mom used to have them over for supper occasionally. Also, officials of the company came occasionally for dinner at our home and it was a big, but stressful visit for mom and dad. Then in 1930, the auditor found a discrepancy in the funds and accounts of the Centralia store. Dad was called onto the carpet and ordered to appear before the Western Auto Board in Los Angeles, California. He took my older brother and me in his 1928 Chevrolet pickup and we drove to L.A. where the Western Auto accountants interviewed him. He apparently was cleared personally. I have only second-hand information on details later gleaned from mom. Dad kept his family out of his professional business. Dad and my brother and I visited Uncle Roy and his family in San Francisco on our return trip. . In 1930, the depression hit harder and Western Auto downsized the Centralia store and told dad he had two options: Leave Western Auto or move to Seattle and accept the assistant manager position at 1122 E. Pike Street under manager Gilbert Finnegan. So, in 1930, Uncle Paul came to Centralia with his 1925 white truck and he and dad loaded all our stuff that had not been sold. Paul and my older brother headed for Seattle while dad brought the family in his seven-passenger Hudson. Dad had earlier obtained a rental house at 1523-23 Ave in E. Central Seattle. Rent was $8 per-month because it was next to a Puget Sound Power Transformer Station, which emitted a constant hum day and night. The house was on a trolley line served by a “dinky” streetcar running North and South from Madison St. to Cherry St. We had three bedrooms, two down and one up. Dad and mom in one, the three girls in two rooms downstairs, and we three boys in an upstairs (unfinished) room. Dad was happy to have a job at $30 per-week (six days per week from 9 AM to 6 PM) plus overtime at inventory time and cleaning with no addition pay. Mom took all this down sizing in her stride. She now cooked on a wood stove and heated with wood; all donated by uncles Frank and Paul, as needed, from their forest wood business in Manitou near South Tacoma. The neighborhood bordered “Coon Hallow” with about one-quarter black. We kids played and fought with blacks and attended school with them. Dad got us started at Hope Gospel Hall, a Plymouth Brethren assembly, near Auroma Avenue. Mom and dad knew many people from years past. Dad raised a garden and also got garden food from Frank and Paul who had a large garden at their acreage in Manitou. Milk was four-cents a quart delivered by virtue of our getting four quarts every other day. The milkman, “Casey,” cried when mom had to tell him that we would now buy our milk at the store to save money. Dad had my brother and I ride our bikes to Barnes’ Bakery to get four loaves of “day old” bread for three cents a loaf about twice a week. In 1936, dad received about $900 Soldiers bonus from his service in the Medical Corps (stateside) in WW I. This was fortune in those days, and dad found a four-bedroom home at 1726 33rd Ave. in the Madrona district, and was able to get it for the $900. Moving was a big change for the family. Five of us transferred from T.T. Minor Grade School to Madrona grade school. Bruce was already in Garfield High (no change). Dad had about a mile farther to work. Mom still cooked on a wood stove and the furnace system was wood and coal. Frank and Paul still brought us wood. Then in 1941, Dad was “let go” by Western Auto -- only a year short of qualifying for a pension. So, he took up building small houses and cabins. First, on Cedar River for a brother at church. Then, he purchased 20 acres outside of Manitou, south of Tacoma and built a number of small homes, commuting on weekends back to Seattle. From late 1942 through 1946, I was in the military, all stateside, and so had only mail contact with dad’s building work. In 1946, he and mom moved to a house he built on two-acres in a rural area between South Tacoma and Puyallup at 6912 Vickery Road. This was about three blocks from Uncle Arthur and Aunt Katherine’s place also on Vickery Road. Dad continued building in the South Tacoma area at this time. He rented the Seattle home to me where my first wife, Olive, and I kept house for John and Isobel. Jane was married and out of the nest. I was attending the University of Washington. Then in 1948, dad sold the Seattle house. John moved to a bachelor’s apartment and Isobel went to live with Dad and Mom. I moved to student housing. Olive and I had two children by then and I graduated in February 1949. Dad and mom continued in their little “mountain view” home on Vickery Road until about 1968. When upkeep of yard and garden were too much, we moved them to a pleasant basement apartment in a single home on Greenwood Avenue in Seattle. From there, son John and Peg, his wife, Olive and I could “look in” on them and take them to church and shopping, etc. Dad’s death came quickly and peacefully in 1970. He had heart/lung problems for his last six to eight years. Mom died, in 1971, having being allowed to fulfill her desire to “live long enough to be with Dad till the end.” I must add here, that I don’t really know Dad and Mom’s financial resources in their later years. They got either a pension or a cash settlement for the death of my older brother, Bruce. He was killed over Tokyo in 1944 as a B-29 pilot. Also, I suppose they had Social Security and, maybe, Dad had a Soldier’s pension. Anyhow, they left only their little home free and clear plus a car and about $1000 in the bank. Total estate: a little over $8000. What kind of a man was Harold Bruce? From my perspective very conscientious and had an unwarranted “Fear of Man.” When participating in prayer or word at the Lord’s Supper, he frequently wept. He did not confide in his children. Never mentioned the problem with funds missing at Western Auto at Centralia. He was a loving husband and father, but not a hugger. He took us boys fishing as he had time. He was an excellent fisherman; mainly streams with bait or fly. He let mom train the girls. My sisters recall a lack of dad’s input in their lives. He was generous to a fault. Taught us boys to drive early. He set a great example of love for the Word and His Lord. In retrospect, he must have felt keenly the demotion to Seattle and the firing just short of qualifying for a pension from Western Auto. But never complained, “Just kept on keeping on.”
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