3 inspirational summer stories in Bremerton

You can feel fall coming. The weather’s cooling, the colors are starting to change and summer will soon end. But before it does, I wanted to reflect on three stories that just flat made me feel good this summer in Bremerton. They’re the kinds of stories that give you hope for humanity.

They found Tiffany 

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I remember physically cringing when I saw the sight of the crumpled Motel 6 in West Bremerton, the victim of a massive gas explosion. We braced for the news of loss of life. But somehow, in what can only be described as a miracle, there was not. Larry Jennings, the Cascade Natural Gas technician who was closest to the explosion, continues to recover at Harborview Medical Center.

In the days after, the lone casualty appeared to be Tiffany, a black lab and chow mix that could be seen in surveillance video running from the Motel 6 as it exploded. But Tiffany’s owners, who’d recently moved here, never gave up hope. Dozens of people took on the task of posting flyers around town, creating a Facebook page, and combing the area looking for her. Nine days after the explosion, she was found drinking from the Port Washington Narrows.

What touched me the most about this story was after the fact, when complete strangers came together on a Sunday at Lions Park. Everyone got a chance to meet Tiffany (pictured). It was a wonderful story of community coming together, and then celebrating that cohesion.

The mailman of Manette 

I’d heard a lot about Norm the mailman before Monday, when I got to tag along with him as he delivered on his 11-mile route. But I was awestruck by just how beloved he is in the community he serves.

On each block, a few homes, if not more, were in on “Norm Day,” an impromptu celebration of his close to 30 years delivering mail in Manette. From simple cards to bottles of wine, he was showered in praise throughout the day. It was fascinating to watch a neighborhood band together for someone like that.

Only here’s the thing: after walking with him much of the way, I can say with confidence he completely deserved it. Norm is more than a mailman. He helps people on his route each and every day, as I wrote about him in Tuesday’s paper.

Putting joy in Turner Joy 

Photo by Mike Stitt.
Photos by Mike Stitt.

Since becoming the executive director of the USS Turner Joy Museum last year, Jack James has been a man on a mission. The retired Navy Seal, who’s led tasks like removing explosives from beaches in Iraq, is known for thinking outside the box.

Earlier in the year, he came up with a crazy idea to swim from the Turner Joy to the Boat Shed, crossing the Port Washington Narrows — one of the swiftest currents in Puget Sound. It sounded just crazy enough that I thought I’d like to join him. When else do you get a chance to swim from west to East Bremerton?

We all know Jack’s a hard worker. But what was so inspirational to me was his determination. Right before plunging into the water Sept. 12, I complained about the currents and the possibility of getting stung by a jelly fish.

“Look,” he told me. “All that other stuff, it’s just noise. See the Boat Shed over there? That’s the goal — do not think about anything else.

“Focus on the mission.”

And I did.

I’m excited for Bremerton to see what James comes up with next.

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