Interview With GEW

From the interview with GEW of Issaquah, WA conducted by Hazel Hatfield on May 11, 2002 at the Fort Worden History Center. GEW was a resident of the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center here as well as several other juvenile facilities as a child and adolescent.  In this interview, he recalled scattered memories:

“When I stopped at the Fort Worden Visitor Information Center, I was excited about being in the building that had been the pokey.  We didn’t call it a jail.  If you got in a fight with somebody or if you got in some sort of trouble here, they would lock you in there for a couple days.  They had some in the barracks too, isolation areas. They’d lock you up there too.  I was in them too, but when you were more of a trouble maker or they were too full, you got put in the pokey.”

“We used to take a walk to go play in the bunkers.  We had beach parties down at the beach just as you go down the trail towards the lighthouse on the right hand side, we used to play down there and have bonfires and marshmallow roasts.”

“One of the staff members I remember was a Dick Roberts from the cottage I was in.  He was there when my dad wasn’t.  I’d be waiting for my dad to come and visit and my dad wouldn’t show up.  Dick Roberts would let me take my frustrations out on him.  The staff here had to be very tolerant.  I don’t know how they did it. Like Miss Vineyard, she had the first Renault I had ever seen, a little Dauphine, she used to drive. I would put her through the wringer.  She would tell me to do something and I’d say, ‘Yes, Your Highness’.  Some of the stuff we used to do!  You figure, you’ve got a dorm full of 20 kids that are mouthing off to you—I don’t know how you could tolerate it.  …When you’ve got a variety of different kids, there will be fights.  I got in a fight with this one kid.  I don’t remember what it was even about, but he was banging my head on the pool table in the dorm.”

“One of my favorite memories was every Christmas, and I spent several Christmases here, is down by the flagpole they’d bring in about a 20 or 30 foot Christmas tree and put it up with the big light bulbs on it every year and it would stay out there for almost a month.  We had gifts.  One of the gifts we got was those three foot long candy canes and a box of  a variety of Lifesavers.  I think we got some other stuff like clothes. We had some toys, because I know we all had something to play with.  There is this fake fireplace brick stuff that we used to tape on the walls and pretend we had a fireplace in our dorm.”

“We didn’t just sit around.  They had things for us to do, like make sure we got up every morning, took a shower, brushed our teeth, made our beds, made breakfast, cleaned up afterwards.  We had a structured lifestyle that we had to do.  We went to school at certain times.  Once a month we got to go downtown to go shopping, I don’t know if that was a thing we were all supposed to do, or just a special thing.  Roberts took a few of us to his own home one time when he lived in Port Ludlow.  He had the neatest A frame house, the first A frame I had ever seen, in the woods, it was beautiful.  He had a Siamese cat at the time.”

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