Interview With Timothy Schmidt

From the interview with Timothy Schmidt of Easton, WA conducted by Patience Rogge on January 4, 2007 by phone from the Fort Worden History Center. Mr. Schmidt, who was born and grew up in Port Townsend, worked as a Park Aide at Fort Worden during the summers of 1973 to 1976.  At the time of the interview, Ranger Schmidt was the park manager at Lake Easton State Park in eastern Washington.  Here he relates the story of a scary episode during his early days at Fort Worden:

“I was probably about 20 at the time.  I had come back from college and was asked if I’d work the graveyard shift, from ten o’clock at night to six in the morning to replace the regular night watchman, an older gentleman whose wife was ill. The job was to make sure the park was closed up, that everybody was out of the park, to get the gates closed.  Then you went down to the beach to clean the restrooms, and then back up to check a list of buildings.  The buildings were all empty then—all the barracks and houses.  Every night there were certain ones that you had to make sure were locked up and secure.  There was some electrical construction going on, if I remember right, in the band building. It was one of those nights when the wind was blowing like crazy, and it was about two in the morning. The trees’ leaves were rustling in the wind, the moon was out but the clouds were running across the moon, kind of eerie with the wind whistling.  I had been given an old flashlight to use when checking the buildings.  I went up to the band building and the front door was open.  It wasn’t supposed to be like that, I thought, so I went inside with this dim flashlight that was getting dimmer by the minute while I was trying to look and make sure nobody was in there.  I got to the middle of the building, there were no lights inside.  Suddenly I heard this SLAM!! behind the building. I went running out of there, got in the truck, went down to the office and sat until daybreak.  It scared the what out of me.  Now I know that it was because I’d opened the front door enough that it caused a draft and the back door slammed shut.  But in the dark with no flashlight and no other light, as a young buck by myself in this great big park and a great big building, it was pretty traumatic.  It must have made an impression because I can still remember it 30 years later.”

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