Interview With Dick E. Wiltse

From the interview with Dick E. Wiltse of Port Townsend conducted at the Fort Worden History Center by Rick Martinez on February 5, 2004. Mr. Wiltse, a veteran of both the Army and Navy, also worked as a cook at the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center for six years. Here he discusses his stint as a Navy reservist doing active duty at the Harbor Entrance Control Post atop Artilllery Hill in Fort Worden:

“…It was a harbor defenses unit, now we know it as Inshore Under Sea Warfare. They put out heralds, hydrophones, cable connected in the water to detect shipping. Up on the hill they had a stack that’s electronic, that’d give you two things. It would give you the screw beat and it would also give you an audio or electronics across a screen, little wavy lines, and you could hear. A good operator can tell you what type of propulsion it is and how many tons. We had a Third Class Petty Officer up there and he couldn’t see the ships because he’s sitting inside looking at a little scope, and had earphones on for the audio part. That man could tell you what kind of power it had, whether it was steam or diesel driven, and how many tons that ship was just by listening.”

One day during his time working at the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Mr. Wiltse and his friends had an exciting adventure:
“…It was in March. We were on our way back from lunch at the Mill Restaurant and we were going by the old ferry dock. The ferry was there, it was shut down for lunch. There were about 60-65 mile an hour winds and all of a sudden the line of the ferry snapped and the ferry turned parallel to the beach and all its engines were dead.

Harold Gruver, myself, Oscar Lee, and Stan Robichaux got aboard the boat. Lee and Stan used to be skippers, and Lee was an engineer. Lee took me down to the engine room and Robichaux took Gruver up to the pilot house. Lee fired up the engine. There was a little box down there that had sight glasses right down the middle. He said,”I think if we keep oil about halfway on the sight glasses we’ll be OK.” There were copper lines going to the bearings.

So, we ended up over at the old pier at the Navy base on Indian Island. The base was closed except for the fire department and security. The rest of the crew came around by car and picked up help, then brought us back to Port Townsend. They stayed over there until the weather got better, then they came back. That was a hairy ride.”

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Interview With Norman H. Myhre

From the interview with Norman H. Myhre of Port Townsend conducted by Oran DeBois at the Fort Worden History Center on October 7, 2003. Mr. Myhre served in the US Navy at Fort Worden Harbor Entrance Control Post on Artillery Hill from 1942-43. Here he discusses how the townspeople treated sailors while he was here:

“Good. Matter of fact, we had a sheriff who was a big help. (Peter Naughton was Jefferson County Sheriff in the 1940’s) There were times when we would go downtown and catch the 11:00 o’clock truck going back up on Artillery Hill. There were guys who were there maybe during the afternoon and they had a little too much to drink. Rather than let the Shore Patrol pick them up, he would send them up the stairs at Delmonico’s and let them sleep it off util the truck came in. Then he’d get them back down and keep them out of trouble. What a guy, you could sure see how he felt toward the servicemen and how they admired him.”

Mr. Myhre also submitted a handwritten memoir describing his service at Fort Worden. Here is an excerpt:

…”I was on the Signal Tower crew here at Hudson Point. Then the Army and Navy set us up in a better tower on top of Fort Worden. Here we could keep track of and contact all the ships entering and leaving the Straits. We would give the Navy ships their berthing instructions for those entering.

When we had fog to contend with, we had a Navy PC cutter to check out their ships and smaller boats for us. The cutter was moored at the Fort Worden dock. The navy had sonar gear between Point Wilson and Whidbey Island. The sonar crew was a big help during the night and also with foggy weather.

In our Fort Worden signal tower, we had two signal lights that were both 12 inch and we had one arc light that was 24 inches. With the 24 inch light, we could contact ships that were many, many miles out. Below our signal tower, which was underground, we had quarters for Army and Navy duty officers. This was a 24 hour operation for all concerned. The Navy got along very well with the Army.

…We had about 60 Navy personnel at HECP Fort Worden. We had about six officers.”

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Interview With Edward G. Weed

From the interview with Edward G. Weed of Poulsbo, WA conducted by John Clise on April 17, 2004 at the Fort Worden History Center. Mr. Weed was a member of the US Army 248th Coast Artillery F Battery from 1941 to 1943. Here he discusses some of his duties:

“They had gun emplacements up on the hill. I was on the three inch guns. Those were the smallest ones. They went up to 12. They towed targets for us, clear out on the far side of the Straits. We could tell where our projectiles hit because there would be a sheet of water go uo in the air, especially on the big guns. Three inch range wasn’t that far.

I played on the baseball team and I was never shipped out. I went to Col. McMorris and I asked him, ‘How come I don’t go overseas like the rest of them/’ He said, ‘Because you’re an athlete.’ That was the only answer he gave me. I was a pitcher on the team. We played everybody and beat most everybody, it was just the Army, it wasn’t outside of that.

I was also an engineer on one of the boats and I guess I ran every boat there. We had quite a fleet of boats. This was after being on the guns. Sometimes I was coxswain, but if the Captain wanted to go on leave or something, I was the next guy up who ran the boat. The Colonel Willard was a big one that went to Seattle and took soldiers on recreation, I didn’t run that. I was strictly on one of those 50 footers, they were open, had a six cylinder diesel engine. They weren’t very fast boats, but they got you there and back.

About an encounter with the CO:
I met General Cunningham one time. F Battery had the smallest gun battery up on the hill, three inch. There was a trail that went down to the beach, so this one time I started slipping out for a walk and I no more than got started on it when I met that damn General. He had two black spaniel dogs. One of them grabbed my pants leg and ripped it. I kicked at that little devil and he beat me out. I never touched him. The General didn’t say one grunt. I went right past him. I saluted him but he never returned it. There was nothing ever said about it.”

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Interview With JDC

From the interview with JDC of Olympia, WA conducted by Patience Rogge at the Fort Worden History Center on April 13, 2004. JDC was a resident of the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center for six to eight weeks at about age 12. Although his memories of the time were vague, he related how it affected him:

“I think my family was happy that I was here. I was a troublemaker quite a bit growing up. I stayed in trouble a lot. Because I was so young I never even thought about life changes or anything else. You just did what you were told and hoped you went to one of the lighter reformatories down the line.

As far as I can remember, everybody was treated well here, because the better you looked here, the easier place you were going to go to from here. You didn’t want to cause any problems. I ended up at Cedar Creek Forestry Camp which was more or less a workfarm. There you worked five days a week. You’d go out and plant trees, do some slash and burn; or during the summer season when the forest fires were hot, then we would go fight the forest fires.

When I came out, I was out for about a year and then I went in the military. …Probably the smartest move I ever made was going in the Army because it took me from a young punk to grown up real fast. I stayed in 20 some years and I’ve served all over, Korea, Vietnam, Germany–been around the world quite a few times.

For me, it probably ended up saving my life in the long run, because I’d have probably been killed doing drugs or something down the road if I hadn’t gone in.”

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Interview With John Border

From the interview with John M. Border of Fresno, CA conducted by phone by Oran DeBois on May 11, 2004 from the Fort Worden History Center.. Mr. Border served at Fort Worden with the US Army Second Engineer Special Brigade 287th Signal Company in 1948. Here he describes coming to the Fort:

“I remember I was overwhelmed from looking at that post, just to see those beautiful white barracks and Puget Sound out there. It reminded me of Monterey Bay. But the buildings were what really impressed me. …The Fort was absolutely wonderful. The old gun emplacements, that’s where we did our training. We had the radios, the units up there, the radio repair and the radio operators set up their stuff up on top of the hill. We’d hike up there every morning and train. We’d set up teletypes and the radio people would set up their facilities.

The company commander was Morgan Evans. The first day I was assigned there I walked into the company commander’s office and he said,’We’ll take you up to your barracks and get you bunked out and everything.’ The company clerk took me to the upstairs of this big huge barracks building. I walked in and heard a loud bang. Two guys were going at it, I mean knuckle drill, bare knuckles. For some reason, they didn’t like each other; other than that, everybody in the company was just–you couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people. They had all reenlisted like me and most of them were five or six years in the Army.”

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Interview With Lucille Reinen

From the interview with Lucille Reinen of Port Townsend conducted by Carter Huth at the Fort Worden History Center on August 19, 2004. Since moving to Port Townsend, Ms. Reinen has participated in many Centrum and Port Townsend Marine Science Center programs. Here she discusses what led her to settle here:

“It was Washington State itself. My dad was in the military, in the Reserves, and we had come here many times. I fell in love with the undergrowth in the forest, the ferns were so beautiful and that’s what attracted me. Both my mother and father had part of family in the area and that’s why I remembered Washington.

I arrived in Seattle in the end of September 1988. I had no idea where to go. I had to do my laundry, so I went to the laundromat. While I was sitting there, a woman came and sat down beside me. She said,’What do you want to do?’ I said,’Well, I want to move.’ ‘What are your interests?’ She was from the University of Washington. She told me about Port Townsend and I came here. I stayed one night, then went back to get my bearings and think about it and came back over here. I’ve lived here ever since.. There are so many things to do here as an artist and a writer.

Fort Worden is so similar to Fort Warren, near Cheyenne, Wyoming where I lived when I was 16. To me it is so beautiful that it has been transformed away from the military base into a recreational and educational area. I’m excited that Peninsula College is here.”

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Interview With Gwen Lovett

From the interview with Gwen Lovett of Port Townsend conducted by Rick Martinez at the Fort Worden History Center on February 27, 2003. Ms. Lovett was born in Port Townsend while her father, Master Sergeant Archie Christensen was stationed at Fort Worden.

“ I lived at Fort Worden until I was five or six years old. We had just a small little bungalow type house on post. At that age all you can remember is playing, being outside, playing with your playmates.I got to go down to the motor pool where my dad worked. Sometimes I wasn’t supposed to, but just things like that because the little house we lived in was so close to the motor pool. I remember kind of vaguely some of the things on the parade ground, but they are not real vivid pictures.

One thing I do remember is my mother used to help with the parties at the Commanding Officer’s house. I remember going in there back in the kitchen because she would take me with her. I do remember her helping when they had parties to put on.”

Ms. Lovett moved back to Port Townsend after her husband retired and became an active volunteer at Fort Worden. She has been a member of Friends of Fort Worden since its early days and volunteers at Centrum.

“When we first started, our main object at the time was to organize for the 2002 centennial. We originallly got together to start the little gift shop and to promote the Fort and its history. It is a labor of love, I tell you.”

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Interview With Grimanesa Amoros

From the interview with Grimanesa Amoros conducted by Clare Ledden at the Fort Worden History Center on November 4, 2004. Ms. Amoros is an interdisiplinary artist. She was born in Peru and currently lives in New York City. In 2004, she was an Artist in Residence at Centrum in Fort Worden working on a project entitled “Rootless Algas.” Here she discusses the residency and her reaction to the local environment:

“I heard about the program through a friend of mine. There is a process of application, you have to do a quite extensive application. It is like winning the lotto, because there’s a lot of artists out there. In the case of Centrum, they don’t interview you on the phone. You just have to send your resume as well as an application in which they ask you a lot of things about your career so they can see what stage you are at. Also they have to like the project that you want to be doing here at Centrum.

I am living here in Building 260. It’s very simple accommodations, what I call rustic. But they are very clean and that’s important to me. It is a very interesting transition for me (to be working on her own). Coming from New York City, you are used to have so much bubbling energy all around you. Then you arrive in Port Townsend, Fort Worden, and you realize that you’re pretty much on your own. Sometimes you could pass a whole day and you have not spoken with anybody. For me it is wonderful that I’m able to experience this because it gives me the balance that I need for my happiness. It has given me time to do a lot of writing, a lot of reading, a lot of filming. I have filmed almost six video DVDs, I have done over 400 pictures and I have done about ten drawings that are almost 80 per cent complete. I have been enjoying the town. I have been going to the movies at the Rose Theater, which I absolutely adore. I think it is a jewel and if they had a different movie every night, I would be there every night. The people around are just wonderful, very helpful, very warm.”

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Interview With Cynthia Johnson

From the interview with Cynthia Johnson of Lake Oswego, OR conducted by Rae Tennyson at the Fort Worden History Center on July 7, 2002. Ms. Johnson and her young son Shane had been participating in Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes for several years. Here she discusses her experiences:

“I’ve been coming for years and I think there’s nothing like it. I have very fond memories here at Fort Worden. You get the rare opportunity to really sit in rooms with people who are the best in their fields, for example, Dewey Balfa, who has died. You can just sit with these people and hear their own style of music and really get a feel for their repertoire. It is something you can’t get off a recording. It is really wonderful and a lot of wonderful musicians have come here over the years, but now many of them have passed on. So, I really cherish my memories.

I’ve also learned a lot about different styles of music, because the whole American Fiddle Tunes covers all styles of music. Not only for me, but for my son, it has been a really wonderful education that you just don’t get anywhere else. The faculty comes from all over the country and sometimes beyond.

There’s a band lab session for all the adults and children as part of Fiddle Tunes. What they do is, you pick a faculty member whose style of music you like and people come together and they learn a tune together to play as a band. They also have them for beginning levels, and they have one for kids. The kids’ band lab is particularly wonderful because children don’t usually get to play as part of a group….It doesn’t matter if you already know how to play an instrument, a lot of kids do play beginning fiddle a little bit. But if you don’t know how to play they let you just pick something. Some of the kids play maracas or rhythm sticks. This is Shane’s third year of playing the banjo at band lab, as a result of this he just started taking banjo lessons in Portland.

I think they’ve fine tuned some things over the years. The kids’ program is an addition that wasn’t something they had in the beginning. And I think they’ve opened their styles of music a little bit, so when they say American Fiddle Tunes it now includes Irish, Scottish, and Cape Breton and Mexican and Cajun, clearly old times. I think they’ve broadened a little bit as to what type of musicians come, but they’ve stayed pretty much true to their goal in the respect of the passing on of the music.”

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Interview With Paul Stock

From the interview with Paul Stock of Cottage Grove, OR conducted by Eugene Walker on July 8, 2002 at the Fort Worden History Center. Mr. Stock served in the Boat Battalion of the 369th EASR during the Korean War era. Here he relates his duty while serving in Korea :

“I went to Pusan. Then I got sent to the 501st transportation corps, harbor craft, and wound up running a fire boat. At first, I went up the coast and ran a launch at an ammo dump for awhile, then back to Pusan and stayed there on the fire boat in the Pusan harbor.

The kind of calls we responded to were mostly Korean buildings. In the winter time, they heated with hibachis and it was pretty cold. They would start a building on fire, accidentally. Then they had short fire-fighting platoons, firemen, and we’d run the boat in close and provide water. We didn’t normally actually put the fire out. We weren’t firemen, but when a boat would catch fire, we became firemen. We saved a couple of Korean boats.

At the time, the Korean boats were crude. They had a cargo boat that they used and they lived on them full time. They had a big single Diesel engine in it, probably three or four cylinders. We called them a hot-head Diesel and they were pretty archaic, but they worked. Their fires were caused by careleeness. Somebody probably had a kitchen fire and started a fire on board. Then we’d come along, respond to the call, and gently put a fire hose over to them and provide water.”

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