Interview With William G. Trafton

From the interview with William G. Trafton of Port Ludlow, WA conducted at the Fort Worden History Center on August 13, 2013 by Clio Ward. Mr. Trafton is the son of Gordon Trafton, who was the maintenance supervisor at Fort Worden during the Juvenile Diagnostic Center days and the early part of the State Parks era. Here he describes some of the high jinx of his adolescence:

“I used to have a Model A roadster. We lived in the second house up the hill outside the gate. Late one night Richard Stapf and I were working on that car in the barn. We decided to sneak out and take the car down through the Fort in the dark. We drove through the area behind the girls’ dorms.

They had a clothesline in the back where all their clothes were hanging. As we drove through there, some of their clothes came off the line. The girls were standing in the windows waving at us. We were laughing and just having fun in this old hot rod. The Fort had police cars that were station wagons, and they chased us around the area. I drove across the Parade Ground and jumped the curb, went across, made a shortcut to the gate and snuck out of there. The police had to drive around the road,so they couldn’t catch up.

My mother (Ethel June Beatty Trafton) realized that we were gone. She was standing out in the middle of the street in her bathrobe, waving us into the barn, ‘You get that car into the barn right now!’.

Another adventure with his pal Richard:

“On the other side of town, out at North Beach there was another military installation that had railroad tracks that went around the edge, so I built a car that would run on railroad tracks. I was just a teenager, but I loved to read Popular Mechanics. I figured out how to make this little car with an old lawnmower motor that would run on the tracks, the car in the book was not made to go on tracks but mine did. I made this little dome-looking car with aluminum and plywood and some old springs off a car, and I took some rims and removed the tires so the wheels would ride on the tracks.

We only did this once. We put it on there and rode. We thought no trains ever went there, but we found out that actually a train did run there. We got scared that we’d meet a train, so we took the little car and dismantled it.”

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