Jack Perry Memorial Shoreline

As night falls you find yourself somewhere along Alaskan Way, near the hulking ghost of the viaduct, writhing along an endless coil of street-level train lines.

A sign calls out to you and you head west through a landscape of parking lots, chain link fences, and buildings designed for bureaucracy. The road ends at a small rocky patch of waterfront at the mouth of the Duwamish East Waterway. It’s the Port of Seattle’s gift to you, a nicely wrapped box of required public shoreline access.

In front of you is Terminal 18, the largest container processing facility this side of Los Angeles. The sprawling scale of the operation evades comprehension.

Jack Perry Memorial Viewpoint

The terminal glows under a canopy of incandescent light. The sky resonates with infrared, but you only see pitch black. The crane stoops like a giant to gather containers. The work of a thousand men, performed in a fraction of a second. What is human here? What is machine?

In the distance you see a homeless man shuffle through bushes. You hear voices mutter on the wind. You consider the risk and realize it belongs to another world. What is human?

You hear the water splash against rotting piers, as the terminal dulls the air with bass and snare drum repartee. Containers rise, swing, and fall, transferring endlessly from ships to shore, shore to ships. The source code of the global economy, actions repeated as instructions, caught in the infinite loop of commerce. Empty or full, copied and pasted, repeat business. German ships with Chinese goods unloading on American shores.

Jack Perry Memorial Viewpoint

You are in someone’s favorite park, a small viewpoint born of unspeakable tragedy and the fortuitous availability of a hundred-and-twenty feet of unpaved shoreline. You are paying tribute to the life of Jack Perry, beloved son and father, someone just like you, someone not even the internet could identify.

The viewpoint is something small, less than promised, an inadequate tribute to a better man. It is also a window into something far greater than photography, than any still image. It is a honeypot for eyes that cannot close. It is an industrial elephant and your camera is blind.

This cannot last, you think. As the night deepens you will eventually tear yourself away and sleep, while the terminal remains standing. It will hum and snarl through the days and nights, a colossal perpetual motion machine bent on forever, until someone finds a way to disconnect it, or until the Earth itself breaks under its feet.

The complete Flickr set.

16 thoughts on “Jack Perry Memorial Shoreline”

  1. If you would have searched just a little more you would have found out that Jack Perry was killed in a crane accident while working for the Port of Seattle. He was a father, grandfather, husband and a wonderful giving friend. He was an electrician for the Port of Seattle working on brand new cranes that had been installed. Some one bumped the boom lever and he was pinned. He could have survived the accident if the Port of Seattle or the Fire department would have had ladders to reach him. They didn’t and he died. I take offense you your comment “You are paying tribute to the life of Jack Perry, someone not even the internet can identify”. He can be identified. He was a good caring person and with a little more research and fortitude on your part, you could have found out.

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  2. Sherry:

    Thanks for the comment, and for the insight.

    I’m sorry to hear that Jack’s story is a sad one. I suspected it might be. In my defense, one of the internet’s two major search engines does not tell the story. But you’re right, I should have tried both.

    Are you a relative of Jack’s, or did you know him personally? Would it be possible for you to tell us something more about his life? That way, I might be able to find the right words to update the text above. And the internet will then have a better answer, the next time someone asks the question.

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    1. I’m Jack Perry’s Daughter He was not only a good worker for the Port of Seattle But friends to Longshoremen Security, Actually they shut the Port down the Day of his funeral cause so many wanted to pay there last respects to a Great man that why they all got this park in his name but it is for a lot of people lost. If you met him you were a friend great man with a lot of loving friends and family in area.

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    2. Hello, I am the son of Jack Perry. He was an amazing person that gave his life to the port of Seattle. I could tell you were not trying to be rude in your comments, but it does come across that way. The park is not just for my dad it is for all workers of the port and all who have died on the job. Everyone that met my dad loved him. He had over 300 people come to his funeral. So many people they could not all fit in the building. I was always amazed at how many people told me he was there best friend. Sherry thank you very much for your kind words. You must have known him. I do agree the park is not much and we were promised more, but it never happened.

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  3. Jack Perry is my cousin, he is not “someone not even the internet can identify” what a disgusting way to refer to another human being! Did you ever stop to think that the family of “someone not even the internet can identify” would read those words and feel the pain of losing that husband, father, cousin all over again! His death was a tragedy that could have been avoided if the proper equipment had been in place! So now, “someone not even the internet can identify” will never know his children as adults, he didn’t get to walk is daughters down the aisle, he will never know his grandchildren and even worse, they will never know him, the sweet, kind man that would do anything for anyone! He is missed by so many that knew him, and the city of Seattle naming a park after “someone not even the internet can identify” is the least they could do for my cousin Jack Perry!!

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  4. Jack Perry was a great man! He taught me many of life’s lessons!! He was my uncle that acted like a father to me!! He was well known in the community always volunteering to help people in need! Very active in the Lynnwood Eagles. He had great 4th of July party’s in Brier that was the highlight of his year! Miss you every day Uncle Jack!!

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  5. I am the granddaughter of Jack Perry. My mother was pregnant with me when he (her father) was killed. This park means more to me than you know. I never got to meet this wonderful man that everyone tells me about. The same man who I am proudly named after. He died 27 years ago. Of course the internet can’t tell you much about him. He was just a normal human being who did everything in his power every day to take loving care of his family! His family who never got to see him return home after one day of work turned tragic. His children who have been fatherless ever since the day. His grandchildren who never got to spend anymore of that precious time with their loving grandfather, or even meet him. Jack Perry is such a wonderful amazing man! And you should be more than honored to even be able to be at this tribute memorial park. Before you go whining and complaining about not being able to internet search a man who has been gone for 27 years, maybe you should think twice. If you passed away today, would they make a memorial park for you, would they make a park in your honor. Because my grandfather was an amazing man who deserved it. And still does today!!! Thank you for all your invalid input on the death and remembrance of my grandfather.

    Accepting your apology,
    Jackie

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  6. Jack Perry was my uncle. He was one of the best men I have ever had the privilege of meeting. He taught me so much. He taught me what it meant to be a man, a good man. The time spent with him I will forever cherish. He was selfless and always gave of himself to others. I will never forget the trips to Ocean Park and the incredible 4th of July celebrations.

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  7. He was my cousin, more like a brother as my mother took him in as a young boy. He was a loving father of three beautiful children that he adored. A husband of a very happy sweet wife that has since joined him in Heaven. He loved life to the fullest in a very humble way. He was known in the shipping industry as the best coin trader ever. He was an honest man with great integrity. He loved horses, kayaking and keeping family values alive. He was the glue. How I miss him. Love you Jack. See you one day at our BIG FAMILY REUNION ♡ COLEEN

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  8. I googled to find out about Jack and came up with 3 articles… (2 below)… I see that this article is old but it was very insensitive to the family members that he left behind and not even sure what the point is in your story. If you think us tax payers are paying for something that isn’t serving it’s members then offer a solution such as fix the park up so people are more likely to visit it or find another way to pay tribute to the Amazing man that my Uncle was. Sadly not only did he wrongfully lose his life but his family wasn’t awarded any of the funds that were in the article below because of what I believe was them finding a loop hole to get out of it. Either way before writing an article perhaps consider the harm you cause by stating more less that nobody would even notice.

    Jack Perry was the most honorable, admired, and loyal friend, father, uncle, husband, and worker. There is not a day that those that were lucky enough to of met him were not positively influenced.
    He lost his life far too early in his 40’s doing a job that he had much passion for. He in my mind will always be a legend and very thankful that he was thought so highly of that they honored him and other’s lives to a very dangerous job at the port.

    Thank you for the reminder that we need to be the voice for those that are not able to. Had you of done your due diligence you’d of gone to the port and asked around there are still people there that could tell you exactly what a fine man we lost. I wish I had seen this earlier and I’m glad that his name still stands today. Perhaps they will make it a place which kids will be thrilled to visit and check out the port. He was amazing with youth and would be something that would make him proud.

    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910525&slug=1285348

    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19900726&slug=1084411

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  9. Jack was my nephew,Love him like A son. He was that type of A parson that would give you his last dime , their wasn’t any thing he would do for you, he was the type of A guy that would give you his Wight arm if you needed it, I would go any where for him if he would ask. p.s. I don’t have enough space to tell you All the good things about him I don’t know any one that didn’t Love him. Miss you very much, your uncle Al .

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  10. Just for reference sherry pretty much stated who Jack was. He was the type of man who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it and would not expect you to return it. He was known so well by the people in the port that the park was there way of remembering him. The church where they held his funeral was over crowded that people had to stand outside the church where they held it. That is the kind of man Jack was. He loved his family so much he did all he could do for them and more. If you needed his help he would drop what he was doing to help. To this day almost 30 years later he is still greatly missed by his family. He definitely was not a no body as he touched the lives of so many people. This park is a monument to that love. The sad thing is that all he was has disappeared, Most have forgotten him and your right there is no record of him on the internet. But those of us who remember him pass on his memory and it is important that people know the reason this park was built in his honor.

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  11. I just want to say that I’m grateful to the family for these testimonials, and I’m honored that my humble blog has been given the opportunity to host them. I hope that anyone who searches for Jack Perry in the future will find your words prominently displayed here.

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  12. Wonderful set of comments on a park I’m about to visit! I’m taking my grandson to watch the port in action, and it seems appropriate that Jack Perry Park would overlook the port. So, yes, all these wonderful family testimonials are found when I searched for Jack Perry Park.

    But I’d suggest you edit the post to take out the line that was objectionable. The writing won’t lose anything to make the sentence: You are paying tribute to the life of Jack Perry, beloved son and father. (and delete: someone just like you, someone not even the internet could identify.)

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  13. The ‘Jackie’ Perry I knew in the 50’s is probably not the man referenced here, but I wanted to share this story just in case. The Jackie Perry I knew sounds like yours in that he was kind and sensitive, and even wise.

    I don’t think of him much today. He was just a kid in the neighborhood who was at least 5 years older than we were. This put him almost in a different generation. I suppose my brothers and I were ten years old and less. Jackie was in high school at Queen Anne.

    That he paid any attention at all to us was remarkable. This was the 50’s and I remember him with longish, greased dark hair. He lived a block from us, right next to Seattle Pacific College. Jackie didn’t attend our church and we never saw his parents. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it must have been his grandmother that he lived with.

    They lived in the Ross Marche in North Queen Anne, only a block or two from the canal. The Ross Marche was was an old building that had grocery and hardware stores on the corner of West Bertona and 3rd West in Seattle. Blue and white hexagonal tiles spelled out ‘Ross Marche’ in the pavement at the corner. Above and behind those stores an apartment/boarding house was attached. The back of the Ross Marche had three floors with outside wooden staircases. Jackie and his grandmother lived on the ground level, off an alley. Jackie’s room had a separate entrance and consisted of little more than a place for a bed. His grandmother’s room wasn’t much larger.

    Jackie was cool. He smoked. He told us about school dances at Queen Anne and described ‘the bop.’ He taught us some of the lore of cigarette smoking, warning us to respect the protocols of the habit. He was magnanimous. He gave me my first football helmet and shoulder pads. They were made of heavy cardboard.

    Jackie and his buddies would go fishing and even spearfishing. He was the first person who ever told me about the dangers of a ‘red tide.’ He once shared something, creating a memory that has endured 60 years. It seemed wise then and still does when I reflect on it. He was describing a fishing expedition that was bleak, cold, rainy and unproductive. I must have asked him why he went fishing.

    His answer still strikes me as wise, as if from another world,
    “We don’t really go out to fish. We go out to gripe.”

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