MAY 7, 1941
SEATTLE, Tuesday—Yesterday was a very interesting day. In the morning we went down to the Boeing Aircraft factory. This was my first view of four-motored bombers. They also make smaller two-motored military aircraft, but I did not see any of them finished. One order of bombers was just completed, and the machines on the floor were there for modernization.
That seems to be one trouble with building military aircraft when a war is going on. In actual use, weaknesses of design or of armament are discovered and inventors try to find new ways of correcting them. This means that machines that have been out for a year, or even less, have to return for drastic changes.
This is a tremendous plant, covering an area which seemed at least a mile long as we walked around it. I was interested to find some women sewing in one section. They still do it better than men.
Our main object in being there yesterday was to attend the graduation of a group of apprentices. Washington has been one of the state that, for some time, has had an apprenticeship council composed of employers, organized labor representatives and a member for the public. This year, the Governor has signed a law giving the state a Director of Apprenticeship.
The apprentice programs have been carried on even during the depression. Young men work for four years in the shops. Each year they cover a certain amount of work and, at the end, they are skilled mechanics with a knowledge of the whole job. In addition to their shop work, they take four hours a week of related training in the Edison vocational school. They are paid during this period of training; beginning with a minimum of 40 cents an hour, and receiving an increase every six months until they earn the journeyman's wage. They work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and their related training is 4 hours of extra study.
In the evening we went over to the graduation of the building and metal trades apprentices at the Mercer School and saw all the different classes at work. The instruction is all given under expert workmen. The only thing which grieved me was to see so much really excellent work being done, which might be of real use, and which had to be torn up so that the next class could do it over again.
However, someone else must have had my sense of thrift, for they have just begun to build a small house in which each of the trades will do its practice work. The house will then be taken and put on a foundation, and either sold or given for some useful purpose. A new house will then be begun. Since the materials used are all donated, a double purpose will be served. The boys will obtain their experience and someone will have a completed place in which to live.