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Alice Carter Staples

Paul Staples


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.

“Alice Staples 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.

She 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 men.

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, she quit.

That was way back in the early years of her career in Utah. “I just took a stand and stuck to it,” she remarked.

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 yourself.”

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 a bit.

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 grounds-maintenance man.”

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.”

Paul 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 sentence construction.)

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.

It 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.

With Paul’s release from the Coast Guard in June 1945, he joined the Times, too.

Of her career Alice says, “It’s been exciting. I’ve enjoyed every beat I’ve covered.”

Of 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 for nothing.”

Here is the article written on the retirement of Alice and Paul from The Seattle Times on October 15, 1971.

“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.

County 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 after speaker spoke of the Stapleses’ integrity and their fair, accurate and objective reporting.”

Paul Staples

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 reporter.

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.

The Staples moved to Mesa in 1975 after living several years on Hood Canal.

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 Central.

Graveside services will be held in Richfield Thursday.”

The Accident:

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 by fate.

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 leg.”

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 handlebar.

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.

The 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 below me.

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 loose dirt.

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 J. Wilkinson.

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’ of morphine.

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?

We 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 touching him.

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 Veteran’s hospital.

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.

Kennedy 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.

“These roses 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! Wonderful!’

‘Wonderful?’ I was bewildered.

“Yes,’ she 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 and fingers.

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 Island.

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.

His own 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."
It became 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 hospital."

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
(New York: Monthly Review Press, ca. 1964), 226-7. By Ross Rieder, February 14, 2001


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