Bill Clarke

As Interviewed by Matthew Novak, March 9, 2019

Bill Clarke, In His Own Words

One or two nights during the week you had certain maintenance duties that had to be performed in the store, and you would bring in people in the maintenance duties that has had to be performed.

Let me backup a here Matthew and say part of the, we won’t call them demands, but things that were being asked of the downtown merchants were to employ minorities. Now, sears and other retailers in downtown Naches certainly employed minorities in various positions as truck drivers, or maintenance people, or warehouse workers or things like this, but none were employed as sales people on the saleS floor and that was one of the areas that they wanted to address by putting minorities on the sales floor.

We were very fortunate at that time that we had a store manager by the name of Bill Hackney who understood the consequences and what was happening, and he basically brought all of the merchants in town together in many many meetings and they decided, OK, if you did not do this, if one store said “I’m going to employ minorities” and the others didn’t, that particular store could be boycotted, by whites and blacks. So they would set a time and say OK, on this day, say a Monday morning, we will all open our doors and minorities as sales people. Everybody said fine.

so we had to train people on how to right up sales checks, how to ring the cash register and do these various things. So when they would come in -- these ones who had been selected for training -- we would train them how to do this. We had a minority in the display department that had been there for many many years, and he was asked if he would like to be a sales person, and he says No -- if he could wear a suit to work that would be fine and would be just as good as being on the sales floor. So we said "Sure, fine, that’s no problem, wear a suit to work.”

So this went on for about a month or so of training and then the appointed day would arrive, and somebody would call an say “Such and such store is not doing it, they backed out.” So you would have to call all of this off and then these people that thought they were going to be sales people were told “Nope, not today, later on.” So finally after about two months of this back and forward the day arrived and it went very smoothly. All the stores in downtown Naches had minorities on the sales floor and we never really had a problem after that.