Interview with Fred Antrobus

From the interview with Fred Antrobus of Port Ludlow, WA conducted by Patience Rogge at the Fort Worden History Center on February 10, 2004. Mr. Antrobus taught science at the Fort Worden Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center from August 1964 to June 1966. Here he tells the story of the fish tank in his classroom.

“My science classroom was on the second floor and we had three of the trout from one of our trips (that) did not die. We had them in a bucket in the back and there were 12 kids sitting around with rubber tubes going into this bucket hyperventilating into the bucket to keep the trout alive and we got them back and put them in a separate aquarium. At that time they weren’t chlorinating our water and so we just ran tap water into the top of the aquarium and then the water overflowed into the sink below. We worked with them and found that they were also motivated by food, so we would go over and get a piece of steak or something from the mess hall. One of the kids was cutting it up in small pieces and noticed that all three noses were right up against the glass. He picked it up and the fish came up, he moved it over and the fish followed it. Within three days we had the trout so that they would come out of the water onto a platform that just had a skim of water on it, take the food gently out of our fingers and then wiggle back into the water. So we had three trained trout. There was a screen over the top of this aquarium. I went in on a Sunday morning to feed the animals and there was three inches of water on the floor. One of the trout had dived down the drain head first, and I assumed that one of the kids had not put the screen on properly. I called my boss, John Kanaar, (who came to help clean up the water). We went down to the Home Ec room that was directly below, there were large ceiling tiles, each filled with about three or four gallons of water, all bowed out. The biggest leak in the entire room was over a big table where the teacher had hundreds of patterns. They had turned to soup. Below this room was where the Industrial Arts teacher stored all his fancy plywoods, birch and mahogany, sitting on edge in about 18 inches of water. We vacuumed up all the water, opened windows, turned on the heat. About 7:00 that night the Art teacher called and said, “There’s water coming out underneath your door.” So, not only had we taught these trout to take food from our fingers, we taught them to butt their way up into the screen and let the screen off. Two trout were down the drain alive, water was getting through their gills. The other was on the floor. I quietly cleaned the three rooms up by myself and was not a happy camper.”

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