October 24, 2016

Bravery or Stupidity – You Be the Judge

These stories are not in any particular chronological order, or of any importance really, except maybe to me. C.

Out On a Trestle

When I was a teenager I was with a group of friends who decided to visit a local railroad trestle so we could see it for ourselves. This took place here in western Washington State, but for the life of me, I can’t remember just where the bridge was. I just know it was up in the hills somewhere with no buildings or houses around. This trestle had no rails on it except the railroad tracks for the trains. I presume this was an old logging train route.  I didn’t go out on the trestle as far as the other kids because I knew there was going to be a train coming with just my luck and I wouldn’t be able to run to escape it. It seems like there might have been some curved culvert type things on the edge of the trestle but not all along the sides. That could have worked for a quick escape, but what if I dove into it and flipped right out? What if the air being pushed by the engine just blew me right out of there and into the creek below? In any case, I lived and never went out on a trestle like that again.

The Body in the Middle of the Road

This next event happened here in Port Orchard, Washington sometime in the early 1990’s. Jim and I were out in the early evening on Halloween night driving home to dole out candy to our own trick or treaters. We were just rounding the curve on Lund Avenue after turning from Jackson and alarm bells went off in my head as we saw a small “body” laying sprawled across the road. I yelled at Jim to pull over and I jumped out to go rescue the kid. As I was bending down to see what I could do a car was coming at me from the opposite direction. I put my hand up hoping to stop them but they didn’t seem like they were going to slow down. Great, not only would they run over this kid again, but me too in the process! It was one of those scenes where to you everything seems to creep along as it all happens, but in reality it was almost immediately that I determined that this was not an injured child, but a “body” dressed up like one and flung in the road for fun. In my defense, it ‘could’ have been a real kid who fell down and the other kids didn’t know it. We were in a heavily populated area and on Halloween you know how excited kids seem to dart from house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood. After I got back in the car I was amazed at myself to think that I was just ready to rush to some injured person’s aid.

The Attorney and the Homemaker

In the 1980’s we lived in a big two story house in rural Port Orchard. Surrounding us were neighbors with ten and five acre parcels. Ours was just shy of one acre and we had spent many days of hard labor trying to reclaim to the yard from the overgrowth of wild huckleberry and salal bushes. We’d even fenced off our yard in the front with the intention of keeping out ‘critters’ of all kinds. In that era Jackson Perkins would sell a large variety of roses in reduced prices. I wanted to fill my front yard with them and little by little we did so. In those days I was younger and spryer than I am now and I took on the task of mowing the yard and weeding the flower beds. It was so infuriating to me when I would go out to admire my yard, or to mow and there would be ‘deposits’ of dog poop here and there. The most frequent depositor was the dog across the street who had a whole ten acres to poop on, but no, it came in our yard to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs for the most part. It’s their owners who irritate me.

It wasn’t just this one neighbor, we had a few other dogs  on our street and in nearby acreages that would also come by to share their processed cheap dogfood piles. One of them was a big golden lab that came from our neighbors behind us who also had ten acres. This dog would show up in our yard way to frequently and after a while it was just too often. The road we lived on was about a half mile long and straight so some of the cars would really get up a full head of steam and race down the road at unhealthy speeds. With trees on the sides of the road too, there was no way that man nor beast could get out of the way fast enough. My first attempt at trying to keep the dog on its own property was to call the owners and let them know we had their dog at our house. On that occasion the wife did come and get the dog. The next time though, my phone call to them was for naught and it seemed like I was being unreasonable to ask them to keep their dog on their ten acres. That gave me a clue that these people thought that the leash laws didn’t apply to them and that I was just “bothering” them.

The next time the dog showed up I had a leash and I put the dog on it and called animal control to come pick it up. I felt sorry for the dog, but my intention was to send a message to the owners to follow the law. Apparently, that didn’t sit too well with the husband because a day or so later he and his wife, kids and the dog rolled into our driveway like Lord and Lady Gotrocks. Jim and I were sitting out in the front yard and the husband, who happened to be an attorney at the time, got out of the car and proceeded to berate me for having their dog impounded!

He began his little tirade and I gave it right back to him. He thought he could brow beat me for reason. I knew he was wrong and told him that as an attorney of law he should know there are leash laws in this county and he needed to abide by them. All this time Jim is sitting on the picnic table just watching the verbal exchange. It wasn’t about winning the argument and him driving off in a huff, but I did feel rather brave to go up a practicing attorney, make my case and not be browbeaten by some pompous ass. Also, I don’t think their dog came in our yard ever again.



Throw Back Thursday – When Greg Worked As A Deckhand

foot ferry, kitsap sun,

I [Greg Wilkerson] worked on this vessel as a deckhand in ’88/’89 when it was the passenger ferry that did the early runs to PSNS from the downtown Port Orchard, WA dock. Occasionally, I would work on the Retsil and Thurow as well. I also got to work on the Spirit of ’76 and every once in a while the Eagle. Each one was so different and special in their own ways. And each Captain I worked with while I was there was as unique as their favored vessel.

I learned a lot in those brief years working rain or rain (joking). Scraping rust, sanding, painting and washing just to do it all over again. In hindsight it seems so strange that there I was, as a 14-16 year old, riding my bike down to the dock and checking all the fluids (oil, coolant, fuel) and starting up the engines so they could warm up for the 1st run of the day and being responsible for the safety of the passengers while we were underway; and the counting and tallying of the fares, then going to school and then after school going back down and doing it again for the return passengers from the shipyard. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity and often look back on the experience and smile.

Our son Greg wrote this last November 2014 after I sent him an article about the Carlisle II that was in the Kitsap Sun (our local paper). He is now in his 40’s and has a son that is 15, the same age he was when he began working as a deckhand. That was his first real job and he matured (seemingly) overnight. A tall, thin young boy that he was when be began the job, he left it when we moved to Florida because Jim’s job took us there.

Greg the surfer 1991 FL

Greg in Florida 1991

He was exposed to the co-workers of his dad where Jim worked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and saw them go into work each day ready to put in another shift, and took their fares as they went home tired each night. Most likely, in Greg’s eyes, he was “one of them”. Greg met friendly people, enthusiastic tourists, and became the personable guy he is today.

View of the U.S. Navy Puget Sound Naval Shipya...

View of the U.S. Navy Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washionton (USA), in 1913 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ships at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, ...

English: Ships at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, seen from Port Orchard across the harbor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: BREMERTON, Wash. (April 5, 2010) Work...

English: BREMERTON, Wash. (April 5, 2010) Workers at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility hold their TIP passes as they wait for transportation. The shipyard and maintenance facility Transportation Incentive Program, or TIP, has been recognized by the Washington State Department of Transportation for their commuter program, which along with the worker/driver program is a well-established alternative to driving to work every day. (U.S. Navy photo/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Water

Water, Water Everywhere

It seems like I’ve been around water in some form almost all my life.  The above picture is of the Port Orchard, Washington marina where were currently live.  But I was born in Olympia, WA which is surrounded by water sources of many kinds: It’s located on Budd Inlet; the Deshutes River flows into the inlet from mountain snows in the Cascades.

The west side of Washington state is the ‘rainy’ side of the Cascades, while to our west is the Olympic Mountains with it’s famous rain forest. It’s not a  tropical rain forest that you would naturally think of, but a temperate one with giant firs, native maples, and ferns that grow on the side of trees.  There’s even a blue glacier up there!

My parents lived in a small logging town south of Olympia from 1926-1941 and their lives were surrounded by water there too. Nearby were lakes such as Black Lake and Deep Lake, and “cricks” and small rivers like the Black, the Cedar, Waddell.

In my article Car Camping—50’s Style I describe our trips to Waddell Crick/Creek and all the fun we had getting muddy, wet and enjoying food in the great outdoors.   The article is on my older blog Pentimento if you have time to read it.

Florida Beaches & Rivers, and The Mississippi at Clinton

That’s not the extent of my adventures with “water” though.  When I left home after getting married in 1970 we visited for a short time in Jim’s home town of Clinton, Iowa.  Clinton is right smack dab on the Mississippi River and is the eastern most point in the state.  I remember the night we drove up on the levee to see the river and having ( Bye Bye) American Pie playing in my head. Oh, and we were in a ’57 Chevy too. 🙂

I don’t remember being around water when we were in Germany, other than knowing the Rhine River was not too far away.  We came back to Iowa in 1972 and for eight years I got to know the Mississippi in all it’s incarnations: at flood stage, frozen over, brown and dirty, and full of nice cat fish.  Our travels brought us to Port Orchard again in 1980 (just after the volcano blew!) and we lived here until we migrated again, this time to Amelia Island in Florida.

Amelia Island is located at the northeastern most point of Florida and a barrier island with the St. John River flowing between the island and the mainland.  In order to get to the island you only cross and bridge at either end to go over the river.  North of Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a beautiful location, but it does get some cooler weather, unlike further south into the state.

The Pacific Ocean

I think I love the ocean here the best. Yes, Washington does have rocky beaches, with lots of driftwood and is prone to wild storms on occasion too. All during my childhood we made multiple trips to places like Moclips (where my uncle Lem and aunt Della Yates lived), Copalis, and Pacific Beach to dig clams or just to visit and enjoy the sound of the surf and play in the sun.  If we went with friends we’d run all over the beach (within sight of our parents), splash through the tidepools and hunker down behind the windbreaks Dad and his friend Al would build back near the rocks.

A Visit To Old Bordeaux

Thank  you to Amy Coffin at WeTree and Thomas MacEntee at GeneaBloggers for making this meme possible!

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