Harvey – Never Lets Us Down

Old Reliable – Harvey the Market Truck welcomes shoppers to Farm Days on the Cobblestones

Walking down Western Ave. I looked down into the open air parking lot and saw two young girls taking turns climbing up onto the market truck and snapping pictures of each other.  The bunches of grapes and flowers brightly called out to them. A reminder to me that the summer market season is truly here and of the memory of how this workhorse of a vehicle got it’s name.

How many cans of spray paint does it take ?

Last year, local artists, Jeff Jacobson and Joey Nix spray painted the old white CSA truck into a mobile mural showing off Pike Place Market farm products.  Its new look deserved a new name befitting it’s reliable and enduring service to the market community.

Crafters, buskers, farmers, submitted suggestions.  “Harvey” was chosen.  Why – You might ask?  Now Harvey was a man. A man that most of us who work at the market knew. Harvey had been a “cart pusher” for over 20 years. Extremely reliable. A necessary cog in the wheel. He would never let you down.  He delivered.  He delivered our carts to us so that we could run our businesses.  He never wanted to let us down.

This old CSA truck. With new life painted on to it, never lets the market down.  A mobile storage unit for tents, tables and everything market, you can see it at the Pike Place Market Express at City Hall from 10-2 on Tuesdays  and on Thursdays at South Lake Union from 10-2:30.  Both locations are within walking distance from Pike Place Market.  Have a long lunch hour and you just need to take a walk?  Come down and visit us at the market. More fun and satisfying than a trip to the mall or a stop at the grocery store.  You may see “Harvey” – the truck, setting out on the cobblestones at the market.  Some say that the “real” Harvey is still with us.  I sometimes feel as though I’ve caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye when I’m down in the locker spaces.

I have no picture to share of Harvey. He was elusive that way. But what I do have is a picture of the love and care that his community shared with him..

I want to share this remembrance of Harvey McGarrah with you that I wrote after his passing :

Harvey, Harvey. He’s my man. With Harvey, Harvey, Yes I Can

A little ditty that I would greet Harvey with as he stood in front of my table at the end of each market day, waiting for payment for the work he did pushing my cart up from my locker in the morning and back down at night.  I didn’t have to worry. Pack up. Go home. Harvey took it from there.

Harvey. Old and ageless.  Same soft brown pullover with little flecks of meals past and present.  Tooth challenged, he would often have a dribble that I would see splash onto the silk scarves used on my display.  I would just bundle them up and take them home to wash.

He had a conversation constantly going on in his head.  He would blurt out whatever part of the conversation he was in at the time he saw you and it was up to you to jump on board and go with it.  “Hey, you know…

this guy in Auburn…”
this guy used to own a restaurant…”
now this guy had money.  I mean real big money…”

Most days he just wanted conversation, contact, friendship.  Other days may have started in a more challenging way for him and by the time I arrived at the market he was spitting mad.

“Say now..I’m telling you..That’s what I mean.  You can’t tell them a f***ing thing.  Those pot heads in that place can’t make a f***ing hot chocolate. Not even a goddamn chocolate !”  He would bend at the waist, put his two hands on the handle of the cart and push.

Start of the market day.  Harvey is swearing up a storm. “goddamn guy is spraying water on the street and got my shoes wet.  I had to take off my socks.”

Despite the gruff exterior his voice would soften, his eyes brighten as he chatted with small children in strollers and to dogs.  Always a kind word.

For months I thought that he didn’t know my name and then one day he shows up and says “Well Kathi. How’re ya doin’?”  He looked pleased with himself and I felt as though I had been accepted into the club.

A few years ago Harvey suffered a terrible beating.  He had left some carts too long to push down to the lockers.  It was late and a rowdy crowd was out and about.  He is said to have mouthed off to one of them that had been giving him a hard time and ended up being beaten with a pipe.  The community was stunned.  No Harvey.  How’s he doing?  Will he be alright?  He did come back.  Probably way too soon.  Blackened eyes and bruised face.  Limping more than usual.  Bound and determined, he knew that he had a job to do.  He came back and got those carts taken care of.

His last illness, admitted to the hospital, was different.  He seemed to know that he wouldn’t be able to come back.  The nurses said that he was as gentle as a baby.  Never put up a fight.  He was quiet.  Quiet? Go figure.  I guess he had finished all of his conversations.

So – market friends gathered round him acting as surrogates for the entire community.  He passed peacefully on.

A Market Maintenance fellow overheard me telling a busker about Harvey’s death.  I’ve seen this tall, thin man for years now.  I don’t know his name.  But the conversation heard in passing stopped him in his tracks.  “Harvey? Harvey is dead?”  His eyes filled with tears.  He said that he had been visiting him in the hospital once a week since he was admitted.  I didn’t know.

People thought that the market would stop running without Harvey pushing the 40 some carts that he was responsible for.  But it didn’t.  Others have stepped into the void.  The market does go on.  A lesson, perhaps, in that anyone can be replaced.  But it’s the character and personality that can never be.

Cheers Harv.

Post by Kat Allen – Symbols in Art
Art tile reflecting World Religions and Cultures

For more information on the life of Harvey McGarrah –
Seattle Times Article – Market Community Loses a Beloved Figure


10 thoughts on “Harvey – Never Lets Us Down

    1. Thanks for letting us know Hobbit. I think that there is “more to the story” in just about every aspect of the market, giving us blog fodder for a long time to come. Thanks again Hobbit, for being in touch.

  1. Harvey was my Brother, we came from a broken family. last time i had seen him was in 1962, in Sacramento area, shortly before i took Greyhound up to the Seattle world`s fair ( and we lost touch). i lived in western WA for 14 years, and was full time Teen Challenge staff for 5 of those years. in 1983 i moved down here to NW AR. all this time, neither my Dad and step mom in Sacramento, nor myself could locate Harvey. And i tried various means to no avail. imagine my shock, when i came across an article in 2012 on the computor that informed me that Harvey had died in 2010, having worked for 20 years as the cart pusher for the Market. He had to have started work there after i left in May of `83. i would have given anything to have found my brother before he departed this life. The pike place market was one of my favorite hangouts on my days off, when i lived in Seattle.

  2. I have seen him in ghost form, as a shadow, down in the lockers where he used to “reside”….this was in late 2011…

  3. Edward, It’s wonderful to see you here! I work at Pike Place and have for 31 years,

    Is this blog post the article the you’re referring to? Or did you find the article in the Seattle Times? If not, here is the link: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2011750105_harvey01m.html

    Harvey was a character. Every day he came by with a smile and a story, and I looked forward to seeing him each morning at evening. We all did. He was a character and he worked hard, never taking a day off. When he was in the hospital at the end, a nurse told one market person that she had never had a patient who had so many visitors in all her years working at the hospital. He was one of our family. I hope that if you ever return to visit Seattle you will make sure to introduce yourself to all of us. You will be welcomed with open arms.

    1. PAM, Thanks for your wonderful comments about my Brother., i remember him, mostly from when we were boys. And Harvey always stood out, and despite our real rough upbringing, he was always one to plow straight ahead when we had chores to do, and he used to save all the coins he could find, storing them in glass jars under his bed. and even though he was a year and half younger than me, i knew better than to mess with his stash. we had our share of hot and heavy brotherly scraps. but i loved my brother.. our sister Roberta died a 9 yrs old, in the Lytton, CA., Salvation Army home.(1950).. i am 74, and live in Arkansas.and tooth challenged because of finances

  4. Edward, I rode the elevator with Harvey many times, as I brought up my cart and he brought up one of his many, while he wasn’t always happy about the day he certainly made the ride interesting. Still miss him.

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