Alice Carter Staples
Alice Carter is the daughter of Levi Alfred
Carter and Clara Pollow Porter. She was born October 21, 1907 at
Porterville, Morgan, Utah. She married Paul Staples, son of
George Asa Staples and Clara Sorenson. Her second marriage was
to Harry Polomsky either 1981 or 1982.
This article is
from The Seattle Times, October 17, 1971. It was written by June
Anderson Almquist, Women’s News Editor.
Didn’t Need Women’s Liberation Movement
If you were to
ask Alice Staples for her opinion on the women’s liberation
movement, she’d probably wrinkle her pretty nose.
doesn’t quite approve of the activities of some of the lib
groups. “They’re so pushy,” she said. “And so many of the
members are so unfeminine.”
And yet Alice Staples in her
36-year newspaper career which she just concluded last week (28
of those years on The Times, the last 15 as real estate editor)
succeeded in achieving one of the major goals of the movement-
equal status in her profession.
She didn’t do it by
joining groups – she’s not a joiner. She did it by herself, no
mean feat years ago when the newspaper field was dominated by
Her method was simple, I learned as we talked about
her long career the other day. When she was asked to transfer
from general news reporting to a society-reporting job, she just
said, “No”. When she found out she couldn’t get overtime pay,
That was way back in the early years of her
career in Utah. “I just took a stand and stuck to it,” she
And she thinks that women in the labor market
can do the same today. “You don’t have to join groups and wave
banners and march,” she explained. “You can – and have to-do it
In other words, Alice Staples has been
somewhat of a militant, but in her way. She is one of the most
feminine creatures you could find. To begin with, she’s pretty,
with a figure any young girl would envy. She’s dressed and
groomed to the ‘nines’ every day and stays that way all day.
She’s the kind who can work an eight-hour day and look at the
end of it just as she did when she came to work – not a smudge
on her, not a hair of her curly red locks out of place. (For the
likes of me, it’s almost disgusting.)
Men stand when
Alice walks into a room. They leap to open doors for her. In
short, men are chauvinistic toward Alice – and she doesn’t mind
The way some women’s lib activists rant about men
being ‘chauvinistic pigs’ annoys her. So does the idea that
women and men should act alike.
“Women should remain
women,” she says, “and I want to be respected by men. It means
something to me because I like men.”
The man Alice likes
best is her husband, Paul. They’ve shared not only 41 years of
marriage, but also the same profession. His news-reporting
career began in 1935. He retired too, last week as the Times’
distinguished labor editor.
The former Alice Carter and
Staples are natives of Utah. When they met, she was teaching
school in Richville (she had studied at Brigham Young
University) and he was an electric welder in California. Paul
came home for Christmas in 1929 and found this pretty redhead
boarding in his parents’ home.
“The first time I saw him
was across the kitchen stove,” Alice related. “Gosh, he was
handsome. I set out to catch him.”
She did and they were
married the next June. They moved 29 times that first year.
“It was the Depression, you know,” Alice said, “and we had
to keep moving – both in California and Utah – wherever Paul
could find work. Much of the time we lived in tents and I cooked
on a wood-burning tin stove. Most of the time those days, I wore
trousers and knee-high boots.” (Looking at Alice today, that’s
hard to imagine.)
In 1931 they gave up the moving when
Paul landed a job operating a jackhammer with a
road-construction firm and they settled near Salt Lake City.
Alice did sewing to supplement their income.
It was Paul
who got into newspaper work first. “He’d always had a yen to
write,” Alice said. “We managed to buy a cheap typewriter so he
could learn to type and then he wrote stories for me. He was
good, and we decided he should go to school. He was accepted at
Brigham Young in Provo where he also got a job as
For the next two years, Paul
studied journalism, worked o the grounds and also became the
campus correspondent for the Provo Herald. Meanwhile, Alice kept
right on sewing.
Paul began his career in 1934 as the
Salt Lake City Telegram’s correspondent in Price, Utah.
“I’ll always remember that move to Price, “ Alice said. “We were
so excited about his job we decided we had to have a car, so we
bought an ancient one for $5.00 down. The biggest chore of the
move was packing the 500 jars of food I had canned.”
maintains that Alice “was never meant to be a newspaperwoman.”
“It only happened because of 18 inches of snow,” he said.
Alice explained: “One day Paul went for a plane ride with a
friend. They were off in the next county when a snowstorm hit
and they were stuck for three days. I worried that Paul might
get fired if The Telegram didn’t get his daily reports, which he
used to send on the 2:15 a.m. train.”
“So I went out and
covered his beat. And it took me almost until train time each
night to write the stories.”
(A few days later Paul got a
letter from his editor telling him to clean up his typing and
That little stint of success (“I
consider it a success because Paul didn’t lose his job”) caught
Alice’s interest. “I began to pay attention to Paul’s work. And
when he had to go out of town, I’d fill in on the local stuff.”
A year later The Telegram transferred Paul to its Provo
bureau and six months later brought him to the main office in
Salt Lake City to cover the legislature and labor. This time
Alice was left behind – the paper felt she could handle the
Provo job. Her career had begun.
And the militant part of
Alice Staples began to show. After five months she told her boss
she’d had enough of living without Paul – she wanted to work in
the main office. The boss said he didn’t have an opening. Alice
quit, and of course, joined Paul.
Not too long after, she
was offered a job on The Salt Lake City Tribune covering the
county beat. In 1942, Paul joined the Coast Guard and Alice went
back to The Telegram, this time as state editor. “And I also did
the drama page.”
It was about a year later that all the
overtime work and no extra pay got to her and Alice quit again.
She came to join Paul, who was stationed in Tacoma.
was November 29, 1943, that Alice joined The Times, first as a
general-assignment editor, then covering the federal-court beat,
then real estate. She was The Times’ first full-time real-estate
reporter. She built her coverage into the Real Estate Section,
which she had edited since its inception in 1967.
Paul’s release from the Coast Guard in June 1945, he joined the
Of her career Alice says, “It’s been
exciting. I’ve enjoyed every beat I’ve covered.”
course, Alice Staples has seen to it that she got to do the work
that interested her. “Some of these lib groups are wrong in the
way they agitate and push as a group,” she says. “I think it’s
an individual thing. You have to prove yourself first and then
go after what you want. I did.”
She did. Without marching or
banner waving. She did it with talent and hard work – and
stomping her feet once in a while. She isn’t Red-headed Alice
Here is the article written on the
retirement of Alice and Paul from The Seattle Times on October
“Alice and Paul Staples Feted On Retirement”
They came from far and near yesterday to honor two retiring
Seattle Times editors, Paul Staples, labor editor, and his wife,
Alice, real-estate editor.
Labor leaders, businessmen,
public officials and fellow workers all joined in.
Executive John Spellman named the Stapleses as Outstanding
Citizens of King County. Lt. Gov. John Cherberg, in a telegram,
said a Distinguished Citizen of Washington certificate was on
its way to their home.
The luncheon, held at the
Catholic Seamen’s Club, drew more than 150 persons. Others could
not attend, but sent their best.
Ed Altman, vice
president of Hughes Airwest and a former labor leader, came here
from San Francisco to be co-chairman of the luncheon with James
K. Bender, executive secretary of the King County Labor Council.
Telegrams came from Senators Warren G. Magnuson and Henry M.
Jackson and Representative Brock Adams.
speaker spoke of the Stapleses’ integrity and their fair,
accurate and objective reporting.”
Paul Staples was born in 1908 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He
was the son of George Asa Staples and Clara Sorenson.
This is his obituary from the Seattle Times on
October 17, 1971:
“Paul W. Staples, 73, labor editor at the
Times for 26 years, died yesterday after suffering a stroke Sunday
at his home in Mesa, Arizona.
Mr. Staples was widely
respected in both labor and management circles for his reporting.
When he and his wife, Alice, former real estate editor at the Times
retired in October 1971, tributes citing his fairness poured in.
Mr. Staples came to the Times I 1945 after serving in public
relations with the Coast Guard during World War II. He previously
worked for the Salt Lake Telegram as a labor and government
While at the Times, Mr. Staples and another Times
reporter, Ed Guthman, uncovered dishonest practices in the
Teamster’s union headed by Dave Beck. Beck was imprisoned in 1962
for income-tax violations.
Guthman, now editor of The
Philadelphia Inquirer, said Mr. Staples in his quiet, basic way was
“one hell of a reporter.” Guthman recalled that Mr. Staples was
named to supervise the Joint Council of Teamsters’ election I the
late 1950s “to keep it honest.”
Mr. Staples suffered burns
over more than 80 per cent of his body when his riding mower
exploded in June 1962. He recovered and returned to work, winning an
award for the articles he wrote about the near-fatal accident.
Mr. Staples was born in Salt Lake City, where he worked as an
electric welder and powder man in road construction. He attended
Weber College in Ogden and Brigham Young University.
Staples moved to Mesa in 1975 after living several years on Hood
Surviving besides his wife are three sisters, Lorna
Nielson, Richfield, Utah; Virginia Walker, Central, Utah; and Lula
Peterson, Glenwood, California and a brother Bert Staples of
Graveside services will be held in Richfield
In January 6,
1963 Paul wrote a series of articles about his accident on June 20,
1962 that left more than 82 per cent of his body covered with burns.
Here are excerpts.
“A doctor told my wife that it would be a
miracle if I lived. Yet her voice was cheerful as she spoke from the
shapeless world of dim light that was my hospital room. “Hello,
darling,” she said, “You are doing fine; I just know you are.”
I resented her cheerfulness. I hated the world and was filled
with anger and self-pity. I believed I had been dealt an injustice
It was a mixture of emotions I soon learned I would
have to suppress in the weeks ahead if I was to survive the injuries
from that fire that dimmed my eyes and seared my face, arms and
A balmy June evening ten days earlier, Alice and I had
returned home. A riding lawnmower was in the carport. I was bright
green and red and had a bow of ribbon and greeting card were tied to
The mower was Alice’s Father’s Day gift to me.
It fulfilled a wish of mine.
I was filled with the
exhilaration of a boy with a new bicycle several evenings later when
I rolled the mower from its shed and cranked the motor.
evening air was heavy with the sweet scent of grass and flowers.
Birds were busy in the shrubs and trees. Mallards foraged on the
lawn. It was great to be alive, I thought.
My mowing was
nearly finished when I came to grief. The mower veered sharply and
struck a stump. At the first feel of resistance the governor on the
motor responded with full power. Instantly the mower became a
lurching, clawing monster. I struggled to hold my seat and at the
same time cut the power and disengage the clutch. At times I feared
the enraged machine would rear over on its side and pin me
underneath it. The whirring cutting knives on the mower’s reel were
In a surge of fright and brute strength, I managed
to wrench the mower from the stump. But the handlebar twisted on its
shaft like the handlebar on my bicycle sometimes did when I was a
boy. The mower leaped forward toward a chain-link fence. I still
fought for control. Suddenly I was chilled and filled with horror.
There was fire.
I tried to push myself free of the mower.
There was no escaping. The fencing was over my left foot and had it
trapped against the mower’s frame. In a moment I was enveloped in
roaring, gasoline-fed flames.
Fortunately the mower’s engine
did not stall and the clutch did not disengage as I was dragged
under the fence. I was left stunned and afire. The mower went on and
turned over on newly plowed ground.
I attempted to douse the
fire with dust as I scrambled clear of the fence. I clawed at my
shirt and tried to rip it off. The fire filled my hands, and only
burned more fiercely.
The mower lay on its side a few feet
away still burning and spinning its one wheel in the dirt. For a
moment I felt a responsibility to do something about it. Then, I
realized I was a human torch and slowly burning to death.
Turning toward Lake Washington, 35 feet away, I cried for help as I
beat the flames and staggered to the edge of the water. A speedboat
passed within 75 feet of me, but its occupants did not see me.
I crawled over some logs and plunged into the lake. I splashed
around and then lifted myself from the water. Flames billowed again
from under my shirt. I dropped back into the water and waited.
For the first time I realized I was seriously hurt. I looked
into the twilight sky. My left eye was blurred. I was cold and
breathless as I climbed from the water. I strode uphill through the
My mind was filled with fearful thoughts. I
wondered if I would lose consciousness and not be found for several
hours. My vision was bad. I wondered if I could find my way through
the gates and trees.
There were voices somewhere. I kept
shouting for help. My cries were unheard. Alice was in Seattle
attending a meeting so I headed next door to the home of Mrs. John
Mrs. Wilkinson and her sons, John and Robert
summoned a doctor and ambulance. My face, arms and body were
blistered and black. Mrs. Wilkinson wrapped me in wet towels and
placed blankets around me. The doctor arrived and gave me a ‘shot’
As the ambulance turned and weaved along the
streets a few minutes later, I watched the reflection of the lights
from my cot and wondered. Would my injuries be fatal?
reached the Sunset Highway. The attendant who had sat silently
beside me this far spoke to the driver, “Have you got your big light
on top on?” he asked. “How’s your siren” I thought you had better
roll on this one.”
He was rushed to Virginia Mason Hospital’s
burn unit. It was felt that there was not much possibility of him
surviving the accident. Doctors cautioned Alice not to show shock as
she looked at him. His body was blackened and swollen. He almost
didn’t look human, but Alice kept her composure. Paul was sandwiched
between two stretcher type cots. They were suspended between two
steel circles that turned like a small Ferris wheel. The bed enabled
nurses to put him on his back, stomach or other positions without
He battled depression. Alice told him doctors
expected him to go into a deep depression and that he would refuse
to eat. She told them they did not know her husband, that they were
going to fight and prove the doctors wrong. He had trouble with heat
and cold. With so many skin pores destroyed his body could not
regulate temperatures. Alice and Paul made a pact that she would get
information from the doctors on what he needed to do to stay alive
and together they would make the difference between life and death.
“So I’m supposed to go into a deep depression?” Paul said.
“Like hell, I will, and I’ll eat everything they put in front of me
if it kills me.”
On Friday, June 29th, Paul was moved to the
Veteran’s Hospital. Alice told him that Mrs. Jacobsen, the wonderful
nurse who took care of him would be going with him. Mrs. Jacobsen
helped him get settled. But it turned out that regulations prevented
a special duty nurse from outside being with him. But, one of the
nurses reassured him, they were mighty proud of the nurses at the
However, what Paul did not know is that
the hospital had decided to leave him in a back room and just let
him die. They were not changing his dressings often enough. At
Virginia Mason Paul had been turned several times a day. This wasn’t
done at the Veteran’s Hospital.
When Marjorie Jones, a
friend and reporter from the Seattle Times visited and saw what was
happening, she made a call to Bobby Kennedy.
Paul, as Labor
Editor, worked with Bobby Kennedy on investigation of Dave Beck and
Jimmy Hoffa. Robert Kennedy was chief counsel (1955-1957) of the
Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee in its investigation of
Teamster Union executives David Beck and James Hoffa.
responded by calling the Veteran’s Hospital’s administrator. Almost
immediately they resumed giving Paul the care he needed.
Paul says, “The next morning a woman’s hand touched my arm. She was
standing by the side of my bed.
“Mr. Staples, I’m Miss
Dammeier”, she said. “I’m our physical therapist. I’m planning to
spend a lot of time working with you.”
Paul says he was
amazed by the outpouring of love from people. The Most Rev. Thomas
A. Connolly, archbishop of the Catholic diocese of Seattle and Bruce
Roberts and Gene Barrett, elders from the Bellevue Ward of the LDS
Church came and gave him blessings. Flowers arrived daily. Cards and
messages of hope arrived. Paul says he wept when he got a letter
from Keith Cochrane, a 7-year-old Mercer Island boy which ended.
“I’m sorry you got hurt, dear Mr. Staples and I hope you are all
right now. We prayed for you as hard as we could and I hope it
worked, cause I want God to help you.”
Our girls sent cards.
Paul says, “among the least expensive was a bouquet sent to me by
Valerie Carter, 8, a little dark-eyed little girl who lives in White
Center. I still have it. The flowers were three pink roses and a
pink rose cut from a seed catalog. They were arranged on a
background of silver foil on a homemade card.
are asking you to get well very soon.” The message was printed by
hand in large letters. “We are very sorry about your accident and
remember you in our prayers. Please get well.”
(Alice says he
put all the cards he got from his nephews and nieces in a hat and
drew one out to mention in the article.)
He says the big day came
soon after he entered the Veteran’s Administration Hospital. The
nurses placed him on a frame that could be lowered into water.
The next big step was skin grafts, which were agonizingly
painful. Later he was slowly conditioned by the physical therapist
to be able eventually to stand. He was turned in his bed until he
was in the standing position. When it came time to step from the bed
to the chair he said,
“Oh God, I can’t, I can’t” I was
terrified as I spoke. “I can’t make it! I can’t make it.”
“Miss Dammeier was insistent. I held her waist and she backed away
leading with one of the nurses on each side to steady me. The pain
was so agonizing that I cried when I sat in the chair. I was there
20 minutes. One day, after sitting in the chair, I was weeping in
agony and he realized Miss Dammeier’s uniform was splotched with
blood. I felt ill. “Oh, look at your pretty white uniform”. I said.
“Look it is covered with blood.”
She clasped her hands
together like a delighted little girl.
‘Wonderful?’ I was bewildered.
replied. ‘Your sight is coming back!”
The next big step: “It
was a tall glass, it was gripped firmly in my left hand. It quavered
and stopped as it neared my lips. I sipped.
Alice, my wife,
turned and faced me from across my hospital room. She had gone there
to get a straw. She held the straw in her hand.
‘I just had a
drink,” I said. I was beaming triumphantly. “I just had my first
drink.out of a glass, I don’t need a straw.”
For nearly four
months the nurses and my wife had fed me.
At night, I would
be terror-stricken with dreams that I was turning to stone. I would
awaken fearful that stiffness would completely engulf my legs, arms
What if my fingers ‘froze’ so that I could not
run a typewriter, hold a pencil, fork, knife, spoon or glass? What
if I could not get my arms up to shave, eat, comb my hair or put on
my clothes? What if I could not walk?
My daily visits to the
Hubbard tank with it warm, swirling water, white with soap, helped.
The tank also became the starting point for overcoming my most
difficult problem…learning to walk.
I was unable to use
crutches or a cane because of the burns on my hands and arms. Miss
Dammeier had me put my hands on her shoulders. She backed through a
door and down the hallway.
The first day I walked 30 feet;
the next day 100 feet. The third day I walked down a long hallway
nearly to the elevators. A day or two later Miss Dammeier took me
outside into the sunshine. The time was near when I would leave the
hospital. Doctors and technicians had given me the finest medical
treatments. But I would miss the nurses most of all. They had been
so tender and thoughtful. Their job often had been far from
pleasant. The day came to say good-bye. I would go back only for
checkups. Alice drove the car. The bumps and turns in the streets
caused me pain. It did not matter, though. I was going home.”
Background information on Dave Beck:
Dave Beck ended his
career in a corruption scandal (concerning the use of union funds)
for which he served a two-year (1962-1964) sentence on McNeil
He was born on June 16, 1894, in Stockton,
California. His family moved to Seattle in 1898 when he was four. He
never hid the fact that he was raised in a ramshackle house in
Seattle's old Belltown near the south end of Lake Union. "We were
poor as hell," he said. He helped out by selling newspapers,
catching and selling fish, selling fir trees at Christmas, even
shooting wharf rats to turn in to the Health Department. He got
$5.00 for each dead rat that showed signs of bubonic plague.
Beck became Secretary Treasurer of the Laundry Drivers Union on
December 1, 1924. In 1926, he was appointed part-time general
organizer for the Teamsters, and the next year was appointed as
full-time organizer for the Teamsters with responsibilities for the
whole Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.
predilection in labor-employer affairs could be deduced from his
statement: "I'm paid $25,000 a year to run this outfit. … Why should
truck drivers and bottle washers be allowed to make decisions
affecting policy? No corporation would allow it."
unhealthy to drive anything for pay if you didn't wear a Teamster
button. The apocryphal Teamster slogan was "Vote no and go to the
McCallum, John, Dave Beck (Mercer
Island, WA: Writing Works, 1978), 18, 20, 46-47, 104, 106, 147-8;
Murray Morgan, Skid Road (New York: Viking
Press, 1951), 221,
247-49, 253-4; Harvey O'Connor, Revolution in Seattle
Monthly Review Press, ca. 1964), 226-7. By Ross Rieder, February 14,