Interview With Robert Costain

From the interview with Robert Costain of Port Townsend conducted by Patience Rogge at the Fort Worden History Center on August 14, 2008. Mr. Costain was a history teacher at the Fort Worden Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center. Here Mr. Costain tells of one of his students who became the Rhododendron Festival Queen:

“At that time, the Rhododendron Festival was a big deal. Girls qualified for Queen by selling buttons for the festival. As sometimes happens, the people with a lot of money could buy more buttons. Of course that eliminated part of the female population, so the Festival Committee decided to change it…They hired some judges from Seattle and outside the area to be judges up here…Anyway, Mary won. It was unusual because the kids out here—the town put them down a notch or two…because they were thought of as bad kids. But a lot of them were not, they were just caught up in situations they couldn’t tolerate…a good portion of them were guilty of nothing other than being runaways committed by the court. Mary became Rhododendron Festival Queen and some of the local people were a little bit upset that she was chosen over the local girls…Everybody out here was happy because she was a good student and she played well in the band and was a pretty girl. She was being abused at home, ran away from home and got picked up and ended up here.”

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