Interview With Rosalie Lindquist

From the interview with Rosalie Lindquist of Port Townsend conducted by Eleanor Rigby at the Fort Worden History Center on July 14, 2005. Mrs. Lindquist is the widow of Elmer G. “Gus” Lindquist, the first superintendent of the Fort Worden Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center. Here she recounts how they came to settle in Port Townsend:

“We were going to Carleton College in Northfield, MN at the same time and we both signed up for the crippled children’s camp and that’s where we really met. … We married in 1948. We moved to Lawrence, KS where Gus went to graduate school and lived there until he got his master’s. Then we moved to Topeka, KS where he was a social worker at the State Industrial School for Boys. We lived there for a number of years, then moved to St. Cloud, MN where he had a job with the Minnesota State Reformatory for Men doing social work.

We had some very good friends from the Industrial School who had moved out west. The husband called Gus and said, ‘Hey, they’re starting a new program. I think you’d be interested.’ So we moved to Chehalis, WA. At that time we had a daughter and a baby boy. Gus worked at Green Hill School for a while because the place at Fort Worden wasn’t ready yet. I remember driving up and looking at it. It was an abandoned fort, and I thought, oh they’ll never get this ready, they’ll never get this fixed up. But they did, took some years but they did.

We moved in in 1958, when the daughter we had in Chehalis was still a baby. They were madly getting the Commanding Officer’s House ready, that’s where we lived. They were still working on it as they were working on everything here. The business manager was the first one here and then gradually the staff kept arriving.

…There were a lot of old fashioned things (about the house). They redid the kitchen and put in new appliances. They did some redesigning of the place where the maids had prepared food and then there was a little butler’s pantry which was turned into a bathroom. They had an interior decorator from Seattle who came and was kind of in charge of all the things that were done, she planned and picked the drapes and things like that. The furniture was furnished.”

About living in Port Townsend;
“I was pretty much busy raising kids (the Lindquists had five children, three when they arrived and two while living at Fort Worden). There was an artist here in town at the time , Tom Wilson. He had a studio and there were a number of us who took art lessons from him, things like that, but I didn’t have much extra time.

…When we first came here I just felt like we had gotten home. It was a very different place than from now. The first time we came to town we stopped at a place for lunch, we walked in and sat down and the lady brought us a menu. We never saw her again, so we thought we’re not going to get anything to eat here, so we got up and left. It was a very small town and it was still suffering from having the Fort closed.

…We had a lot of friends (with the other staff and their families). At that time we bought our groceries (at) Sullivan’s Grocery Store, and so we also became acquainted with people that way. They had a son who was about our age and he introduced us to his friends, and it just kind of spread. So, we did have a lot of friends who were natives of Port Townsend and that part was good.”

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