Interview With William A. Blaurock

From the interview with William A. Blaurock of Edgewood, WA conducted by phone from the Fort Worden History Center on August 19, 2008 by Patience Rogge.  Mr. Blaurock  grew up in Port Townsend, where his father worked at Fort Worden in 1941 and 42, first as a bookkeeper and then as post barber. Mr. Blaurock maintained his friendships with the children of soldiers at the Fort after his father left Army employ and often visited them on post.  Mr. Blaurock died recently.   Here he described coming to Fort Worden and some boyhood adventures:

“ In April 1941, my father was given a job at Fort Worden in the commissary as a bookkeeper.  We left our home in Port Angeles where he had been a barber from 1933 at different shops there, and had taken a home course in bookkeeping from La Salle College.  After he served as a bookkeeper for several months, the post exchange at Fort Worden needed a barber and my dad was given the shop at the PX.  This was a change for him.  As a barber in Port Angeles, he had only been making about 10 dollars a week or less through the Depression years.  In the Fort, he had a line up of several companies for haircuts at 25 cents apiece every week.  I remember that this was one of the first Christmases that my parents, Santa, had no trouble putting very nice gifts under the tree.  I got an electric train on that Christmas.  In the early days of World War II, Dad took a job at Crown Zellerbach (Paper Mill).  There were openings there because of the manpower shortage caused by the draft.

About 1942, a boy named Johnny Johnson started school in Port Townsend.  His father was a captain in the Army at Fort Worden, and his family lived on Officers Row.  I used to go to his house and we would go to the movies at the theater on the post.  Johnny ran around with Mike Fecho, whose dad was a sergeant and lived on NCO Row.  Johnny and Mike got a hold of a three or four inch artillery round.  They removed the projectile and emptied the powder into a paper bag.  They took this to the beach in the area close to the dock. They lit the bag but the powder didn’t explode as they thought it would.  It did however make a mushroom cloud of smoke as it burned.  The MPs were on them at once.  The punishment must not have been very severe. They had to go before their fathers. Later, they got a hold of a 30 caliber machine gun and a tripod.  They set it up on the hill overlooking the dock area.  Below in those days was a rifle range.  When the troops were there firing at the range, they would fire the machine gun covered by the noise of the shooting below.  They were never caught at this devilish prank. …

One day, my friend Norman Hartson and I went to the Fort to visit  Johnny.  He took us up on Artillery Hill.  This was during the war and we were in a secure area.  There were sentries guarding the area everywhere.  Johnny had no trouble getting past guards.  We sneaked across a road and up through the woods and came to one of the mortar pits. At that time, the guns were still  in place there.  The mortars were huge, as big as a small house.  We played on them and left, sneaking down the hill past the guards….The kids in our neighborhood used to play Army during the war.  This involved dressing up in as near to Army clothing as we could come.  The Bon Marche in Seattle used to sell Army jackets.  These were khaki colored windbreakers which came with a US pin on the collar. …To complete our uniforms, we found ways to get real Army chevrons.  I had a pair of sergeant stripes which my mother sewed on the sleeves.  We used to go to the dump at Fort Worden where we found discarded canteens, canteen cups, mess kits, and other metal items that were not damaged in the fires there.  We also went to the salvage building where the people in charge would give us cracked helmet liners and things like web belts, canteen covers, and even damaged ammunition belts.  One day at the dump, I saw a round hump in the fire.  I took a board and fished it out of the fire.  It was a real steel helmet.  I cleaned it up and painted it.  It was really heavy, causing my neck to bend from one side to the other when I put it on.  No matter. I owned a real steel helmet.

In the mid days of World War II, there was a war bond drive in Port Townsend to entice sales.  The motor pool at the Fort sent two jeeps that were assigned to them.  In those days, a soldier from the motor pool named the vehicles.  One was named Jive Buggy and the other Little Abner. To get a ride in one of the jeeps you had to buy at least two dollars and fifty cents worth of war stamps.  I paid my fare and got my ride in Jive Buggy.  What a thrill for a 10 or 11 year old boy!  (Another adventure) The post had dug a hole and covered it with planks and mounted an Army tank on it .  It was there for kids to play on.  One day my sister Evelyn and I went out to the Fort and we were playing on the turret.  I looked to see General Jim Cunningham coming down the sidewalk on the other side of the street where we were playing.  He was dressed in breeches in the Army pink of those days and high top boots.  His Class A jacket showed his ribbons and he carried a swagger stick as he walked on.  He spotted us on the turret and crossed the street to us.  I thought we were in deep trouble, we weren’t Army brats and I didn’t know if we had the right to play on post grounds or not.  He asked my name and I answered “Billy Blaurock.”  He replied, ‘Oh, your daddy used to give me haircuts,” and turned to go.  I breathed a sigh of relief.”Mik

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