Bremerton’s first snow this fall blanketed our
peninsulas and all of Western Washington and
Oregon. It closed down many school districts and
undoubtedly led to more than a few snowball fights.
I walked the bridge-to-bridge trail this morning to survey the
scene. Here’s my photos from the trek. Do you have a photo you’d
like to share in your neck of the woods? Send them to me at
The Dugout, Ironhead, Psycho Betty’s, Lucy’s Little Hole —
the Sixth Street location long home to the Hi-Fidelity Lounge has
been many different incarnations. It’s back once again,
and its new owners are keeping the classic name.
Eddie Aquino and his wife, Amber, have renovated the space for
more than three months and on Saturday, the lounge will bring back
live music. There are lots of changes inside, including new
bathrooms. (While it may seem strange to point that out, anyone who
visited in the past knows this is a big improvement.)
Elsewhere on this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast, you’ll learn:
In Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, I chronicle Wetzel’s life from a teen
to his penning “Victory Gardens and Barrage Balloons.” HIs first
byline? The July 31, 1945 edition of the Bremerton Sun. The topic?
Wetzel’s impressions of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
The thing that impresses me most is the maturity of his writing.
We’re often told journalists write the first draft of history, but
Wetzel’s story here, documenting the tragedies of the Nazi death
camps, feels like it could have been written yesterday.
Here’s the entire story he wrote:
Horrors of Buchenwald Told In Letter From PFC Wetzel
The Bremerton Sun, Tuesday, July 31, 1945
(The following letter to the editor was written by PFC Frank
Wetzel, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Wetzel, 1606 Gregory Way, who
is now in Bavaria with the army. Pvt. Wetzel graduated mid-year
from Bremerton high school to enter ASTP at the University of
Idaho. After finishing there, he was sent to Buckley field in
Denver, then made a plane dispatcher and transfer to Mississippi.
He was then transferred to the infantry in Georgia and from there
left the State for active duty in Europe where he fought with
Patton’s Third army in the 76th division—editor.)
By Pfc. Frank R. Wetzel
SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE — I just returned from Buchenwald and I
feel what I saw should be common knowledge to every citizen of the
U.S. in order to more fully understand the cruel and sadistic
nature of our recently defeated enemies. This is not the work of
just a handful of men— every German condoned with his silence this
project of mass butchery, and is, in part, responsible.
Buchenwald is small — only about the size of two city
blocks — yet the suffering that took place there is
indescribable in its scale and intensity. It is located near the
city of Weimar, in a part of the most beautiful sector of Germany,
but the spector of death hovering in the vicinity dins any
appreciation a visitor might once have had, for it is here that
over 51,000 humans were tortured, burned or starved to death.
MET BY GUIDE
A German-Jewish guide, formerly a prisoner in the camp, met us
at the gate and volunteered to show us around. Three months of good
food had erased all outward signs of malnutrition, but his broken
English was made harder to understand by the loss of most of his
front teeth, knocked out for a minor infraction of rules by an SS
Our first stop was at one of the barracks, typical of the camp.
It was a one-storied wooden building about 200 feet long. Along
each side were bare shelves, starting with the floor and reaching
the roof. These were beds. An indication of the living (?)
conditions is the fact that between 700 and 900 men were crowded
into these structures. The one meal per day, consisting of thin
soup and bread, was not only insufficient in bulk but gave many
diarrhea. The woeful lack of sanitation facilities made long lines
throughout the day and night inevitable.
Perhaps the grimmest part of Buchenwald was the eight ovens used
for burning the dead. By stuffing two bodies in each oven, 32 could
be cremated per hour — even so, the Germans had to work day and
night to dispose of the dead. The ashes were irregularly collected
and used for fertilizer. Evidently proud of his work, the
manufacturer had his name stamped on each oven. I’m sure that none
of the inmates would recommend them for him, however.
I could go on — tell you about the SS men who took their
children on a tour of the camp for being good, or the pitiful
scratches in the concrete walls, made when prisoners were being
strangled, or even about Herman Pister, the “beast of Buchenwald,”
who personally murdered 2800 human beings whose only crime was the
courage to cry out against the outrages of the Third Reich. But why
go on? For Buchenwald is beyond description. The only way to fully
believe it is to see it.
In a world in which typewriter stores are rare,
Bremerton now has two.Typewriter Fever joins the
longtime Bremerton Office Machine
Company on the fifth floor of 245 Fourth Street, and, in
this latest Bremerton Beat Blast, you’ll get to take a look
By the end of the year, the blue parking enforcement
signs once prevalent in downtown Bremerton will be a thing of
the past. A judge ruled
they violate state law and the city claims it was already
beginning to replace them. The whole project will cost the city up
to $8,000 to remedy, the public works department says.
The story generated a firestorm of comments, ranging
from: “More tax dollars wasted! Research people! Research!!!!”
to: “Stupid! I liked the signs. Apparently people don’t want to
have to read? The blue was different and nice looking.”*
Here at the Kitsap Sun, we received a lot of feedback with a
simple question: if the Poulsbo man
who generated the lawsuit had demanded the city use federally
allowed white signs with red lettering, what’s the city doing
erecting all that green lettering?
For that answer, we turn to the Manual
on Uniform Traffic Devices (MUTCD), devised by the U.S.
Department of Transportation. The manual, adopted by Washington
state, is what the Kitsap judge relied on in making his decision
Bremerton’s signs are unlawful.
The manual states that for areas where parking is prohibited,
red letters will be used. For areas where parking is limited to a
certain number of hours, the signs are green. Here’s a diagram to
So, now that the city is following the MUTCD on parking signs,
that’s the end of the case, right? Not quite. Kitsap County
Superior Court Judge Kevin D. Hull has not ruled on a remedy for
what happens now. But since the city has already chosen to replace
the signs, the only other big question is whether the
thousands of people who got parking tickets since 2012 could recoup
their fines. Hull has asked both lawyers for the plaintiff and the
city to “provide further briefing.” The next hearing in the case is
For this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast, consider me your
social calendar. Culturally, this city’s got a lot going
on this week, and I wanted to share with you four ways you can join
in the fun.*
So, enjoy the episode, and here’s my inside tip sheet on what
must not be missed:
Yvonne’s 95th: Yvonne McAllister turns 95
today. As she always does, she’ll grab the trumpet she bought in
1958, and she’ll play McCloud’s in
East Bremerton, on the corner of Perry Avenue and Sheridan
Paint Your Heart Out: Artist Angela Perryman
brings the paints, the location supplies the pints, and you get to
take home the canvas. First up: 6 p.m. at LoveCraft
Brewery on Fifth Street; next is 6 p.m. at Hot Java Cafe on
Pacific Avenue; and next week, at 1 p.m. Nov. 26 at Hot Java
little ones. Adults: $45, kids, $25. To reserve your spot,
email email@example.com or call LoveCraft or Hot
Tradition 5: Looking to see some amazing
all-style dancing? On Saturday, breakdancers and hip hop artists
will come to Bremerton for Tradition 5,
an annual celebration and competition. At noon, the preliminary
rounds will be held at The Eagles on Sixth Street. At 6 p.m. the
final rounds will be at the Fountain Room inside the Puget Sound
Naval Museum on First Street. Tickets are $10 and kids get in
Bremerton Jazz Festival: All day Saturday,
choirs and jazz bands from around the northwest will be performing
at the Bremerton High School Auditorium. (The host 13th Street Jazz
Band performs at 9 a.m.) For the main event at 6:30 p.m., Dave Tull
— a drummer, vocalist
and songwriter who’s even been featured on the TV show Family
Guy — and Rebecca
Kilgore, a song stylist featured on NPR and at Carnegie Hall,
will perform. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door.
Kitsap Quiz Night: I host my monthly news
quiz at the Manette Saloon on E. 11th at 7 p.m. Thursday. Join
us; there will be free pie.
Story Walk: And last but not least, the
Bremerton Police Department will throw open its doors for our
latest Kitsap Sun
Story Walk, at 1 p.m. Saturday at 1025 Burwell Street. Tours
will be provided and the event is free. Be sure to RSVP.
Questions? Comments? Send them to me at
*The fifth story on the Beat Blast is unabashedly about
The concrete span that connects Manette to West
Bremerton turns five years old today. The $60.6 million
span, completed after years of planning and construction,
opened to much fanfare on Nov. 10, 2011.
I’ll often ask Bremertonians which bridge they prefer — that
classic green steel truss or the far more functional new span?
Closer to the new bridge’s opening, the vote was mixed. However,
has time has wore on, the city’s residents increasingly prefer the
new bridge. Particularly popular its wide pedestrian walkway.
Walkers are crossing it constantly, taking in views of Bremerton
and the Port Washington Narrows — especially on a sunny day.
Happy birthday, new Manette Bridge. You’ve got a long way to go
to get to 81 years old, the age of the old one, but you’re on your
way. Here’s some photos of the bridge over its first half
Here’s a list of those projects, what we know about them, and
where they currently sit in the realm of possibilities.
Water, Wind & Sky: This one’s new. City
community development officials have received plans for a
110-unit complex off Lower Wheaton Way at Schley Boulevard,
overlooking the Port Washington Narrows. Seattle Developer Mark
spearheaded the 400 Condos in downtown Bremerton, has been
working on the project. There’s a city sign up about the project
but it is merely at the start of the permitting process.
Spyglass Hill: Work is wrapping up
on the $15 million, 80-unit project on Highland Avenue
(see photo at the top of the blog). It looks like the project,
developed by Sound West Group, will open in late winter.
Pre-renting has begun.
Fourth Street North: And speaking of
Sound West Group — the Bremerton-based development company is also
at work on Fourth Street,
having purchased the Roxy Theater and two properties east of it
(as well as others downtown). They received about $240,000 of
federal grant funding from the City Council to install new facades
on the dated buildings there. That work could begin soon. Once
done, the developer plans 35 or so apartments to go with existing
parking and two commercial spaces. (This is also the area where
Quincy Square is proposed.)
Inhabit Bremerton: The 51-unit
project by longtime Kitsap County resident and developer Dale
Sperling is being built in blocks in China and will then be
the site of the former Nite Shift Tavern and Evergreen
Upholstery. I don’t have word yet for when the “modules,” as
they are called, will arrive. But when they make it here, I am told
putting them together on site will be quick.
Smaller projects downtown: Last, but
not least, there are some smaller commercial-retail projects going
downtown. Chung’s Teriyaki,
under construction near the Bremerton ferry terminal, will have
three apartments atop it. And Sound West Group is doing one other
project on Pacific: the 707, which is a renovated retail space and
five apartments above. That project has cleared the city’s design
The hive inside the Kitsap County elections office is
indeed buzzing. More than 100,000 ballots have already
been turned in en route to what officials expect to be a
record breaking turnout on election night.
Learn more on this
week’s Bremerton Beat Blast, including: