Ditto That!

By Charlotte Hatfield

December 2016

I joined Boeing in 1961 at age 18. I hired on as a stenographer in the steno pool at Plant 2. My first assignment was typing employee names, phone numbers and mail stops for the Boeing telephone directory. This was daunting as I had to use a Selectric typewriter, which was unfamiliar to me, but I prevailed. My next assignment was transcribing a test pilot's transmissions from a Dictaphone. It was difficult to understand the pilot through all the static. I was given an Aeronautical Terms handbook to help me through this project.

As time went on, I had opportunities to expand my skills in a Finance department as a pricing estimator of commercial airplane parts. Being one of the first females, if not the first, in this role, I experienced challenges that women in today's workforce generally don't encounter. Acceptance from my co-workers did come, and subsequently I was promoted to supervisor, manager and senior manager of Materiel Division Cost Management, overseeing both airplane parts and human resource operating plans.

During my time at Boeing I was encouraged by my bosses to pursue a college education. I took this on at age 35 while working full-time, taking one class a quarter, and after a decade earned a B.A. and M.B.A. The company paid for my entire education including books, and for that I was extremely grateful.

During my 36 years with Boeing, I saw many technological changes, from typewriters, clunky Friden calculators and purple ditto machines to computers and copy machines. Once, when in a secretarial role, I was required to type a letter to the U.S. Air Force that was composed of a letterhead, six carbon copies and a ditto master. Needless to say, errors were not an option; the alternative was to start over.

I had the opportunity to take part in community projects sponsored by the company, travel at times for my department, including a two-week assignment in England, and witness the rollouts of the 737 and 757 airplanes while working at the Renton plant. I was there during the great times and the downturns, most significantly 1970. (Remember, "Last Person Leaving Seattle Turn Out the Lights.")

A highlight for several years was the fantastic Christmas parties put on by the company for employees, held at the Kingdome in Seattle.

One more anecdote: I worked in Commercial Airplanes for 15 years before I experienced my first airplane flight. This was a fact I felt compelled to keep to myself for quite some time.

I have fond memories of all the great people with whom I worked and who made my time at Boeing enjoyable.

I could not have worked for any other company than Boeing at the time and been able to accomplish what I did. I had supportive management throughout my career and enjoyed all of the benefits provided by Boeing. As an 18-year retiree, I congratulate Boeing and all the current employees who strive to continue the tradition of new products, new technology and much more.