"We Don't Serve You"

Esther Hall Mumford collected Seattle African American oral histories in Seven Stars & Orion: Reflections of the Past. According to James Green Kirk:

"While I was with the railroad, I was running out of here most of the time, when I wasn't going up to Canada. I stayed with my wife's people, her father, in Green Lake, until he passed away, and her sister and brother-in-law left. We sold the place in Green Lake, and I stayed in a hotel after that. I stayed at the Coast Hotel some, Idaho Hotel, and the Golden West, and the U.S. Hotel that was run by Japanese. The Coast Hotel was run by 'Noodles' Smith and Elva Smith, 'Noodles'' wife. Most of us stayed in the Chinatown area.

"The Idaho was run by a colored lady, Mrs. Orey, and some stayed there. 'Course everybody stayed down in that area, down on Jackson Street. It was convenient, and that's about the only place you could get to stay at the time. See, you couldn't go in one of the first class hotels uptown in the city. They wouldn't admit you. You could get in most of the Chinese restaurants. They had one further downtown there, and I used to eat in there once in a while. I went in there with a young lady I was going with, and we sat out in the main part of the dining room. So, they come along and asked us to move back in the back booth. I didn't want to go, but we finally went on back there, but we didn't enjoy our meal very well. I had sat out there in front a few times, but this time for some reason they decided they wanted us to go back in the booth. They didn't want us to eat out in the main dining area.

"There was no White restaurants down in that part of town. Most all were run by Japanese and Chinese, one or two colored. And you know better than to go uptown and try to eat in one of those White restaurants, because they'd tell you right quick, 'No, we don't serve you.'

"I was running here at the time when the Japanese were relocated. They was takin' 'em back to those camps they had for them, different places. I'd see 'em going, and when they was coming back also. I didn't feel too good about it 'cause most of the places we had to stay was run by Japanese at that time, you know. I felt kind of bad for them. It didn't look too good. They seemed to be quite sad. Naturally, they would be, taking all their livelihood away from 'em, an' puttin' 'em out in a camp someplace."