Interview with Ella Sandvig

From the interview with Ella Sandvig of Port Townsend conducted by Teddy Clark at the Fort Worden History Center on January 18, 2003. Ms. Sandvig worked at the Fort Worden Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center from May 1958 to May 1971 as clerical supervisor in the social services department. Here she discusses the final day of the Center:

“It caught me very unaware because we’d been dwindling down gradually with less and less work to do and I stuck it out to the very last day. A lot of people transferred and left so we were kind of a skeleton crew. The last day came and I got ready to leave and some of the bosses came in to say goodbye and the women who worked for me gave me presents. It just dawned on me all of a sudden what was happening. By the time I got down to my car in the parking lot I was crying. I had not even given a thought to how I was going to feel when those doors closed for the last time. It was traumatic. A lot of people faced it earlier than I did. A lot of people took it very, very hard. A lot of people fought the state over what they were doing with it. I didn’t do that because I thought the governor probably had a lot more information about what was right for this place than I did. So I didn’t join the group that petitioned and fought for it. It didn’t feel right to fight to save a job. It felt like they were fighting to save their jobs when sometimes people have to make decisions about change regardless of who loses a job.I don’t think that was very popular with some of the other people there but that’s how I felt about it. I took it very hard the last day, but I didn’t up until that last day. It just hadn’t occurred to me how I was going to feel, because we had all worked so closely together and we knew people were scattering off all over the state.”

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