Interview with Harry L. Fridman

From the interview with Harry L. Fridman of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico conducted by Oran De Bois by phone from the Fort Worden History Center on March 12, 2004.  Mr. Fridman was stationed at Fort Townsend in 1942 as a diver in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal section of the U.S. Navy.  Here he relates an incident he witnessed at Fort Worden:

“They started a big expansion program for the Officers Club.  Because there was so much going on, they couldn’t find the powder monkey.  There was one guy who was very famous, a Swedish bird who was quite a drinker, nobody trusted him.  When he was mentioned to us, we said,  ‘No, we don’t even want this guy around the property.’  But anyway, the Commander of the Officers Club hired him.  We told him that he was going to have trouble.  The Swede was an old fashioned guy, he drilled with a hammer and a star drill.  He had a partner who was his helper.  There was a big boulder in one corner of the restaurant of the Officers Club, and he put his helper to work pounding down a hole in it so that they could blow the boulder.  Meanwhile, the manager of the club, who was very hospitable, invited the Swede in for a drink.  There was a big, hard stone to go through so it took a little bit longer, so the Swede got another drink, and another. Every time the Swede came out he said, ‘I think we’ll have to put a little more  charge in there.’  There were paperhangers on ladders putting up wallpaper in various parts of the club and electricians working there as well.  Finally, they were ready to blow.  The Swede lit the fuse and stood off, all was quiet and then KABOOM! Half of the Officers Club collapsed.  Paperhangers were falling down, all covered with paper and paste, the electricians were all fouled up.  There was a catastrophe all through.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  The Commander came down and said, ’What the hell is going on here? Who did this?’  They all pointed at the Swede.  The Swede said, ’You hired me to blow this rock out and you don’t see no rock, do you?”

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