In 1990, I was working on a calculation of Boeing's earnings from a historical income tax perspective. This was a very interesting project because I was reviewing tax returns and financial data going back to 1916, as well as data for companies that Boeing had bought. But the story I want to tell is about my visit to an aluminum bunker sitting inside a hill at the Tulalip Indian Reservation.
I had found everything I needed to complete the study, with the exception of the 1934 tax returns. I searched in a number of places, even calling the IRS and United, since that was the year of the United reorganization. The Boeing Records Storage organization suggested I visit an offsite facility that had quite a bit of historical information. At that time, Boeing had a procedure requiring that important contracts and other company information be sent to this facility. The Records guy said he was taking a batch of contracts up to the facility and did I want to ride along and search the place. It sounded promising.
We get up there and all you could see was a door -- the facility was encased in a hill. So the Records guy gets a sledgehammer out of his car and explains the latch is tricky and he has found it best to pound it open.
We go inside and the first thing I notice is that the facility looks like a Quonset hut. There is an old refrigerator and several metal beds -- my guide explained the thinking had been that the hut could be used for protection during a catastrophic event. I found the Boeing corporate seal tucked in a drawer, banking information, payroll records dating back to the 1940s and other financial records, tons of microfiche, and old and new contracts. I went through everything, marveling over the existence of the hut and treasure trove of corporate data, but I never did find the tax return.
A few years after my visit, I heard the company stopped sending its contracts up to the Tulalip site and that the Boeing archivist had gone through it and collected what he needed for the archives. I plan to retire this year and will remember this as one of the most unusual experiences working at Boeing.