Donkey basketball and other Port Orchard pastimesJuly 2nd, 2012 by Chris Henry
We (and by “we” I mean reporter Ed Friedrich, but he handed this assignment off to me) recently received a copy of “Port Orchard” a pictorial history of the town by the same name, by the Claudia Hunt and George Willock of the Kitsap County Historical Society.
The book is part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series. According to a press release from the company, based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, “Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places.”
Willock and Hunt, both history buffs, have deep roots in Kitsap County. Hunt’s family came to Bremerton in 1918. She serves on the historical society’s board of trustees and historical sites committee. Hunt, retired from the shipyard, recently designed the Old Town Silverdale Historic Sites Tour to benefit the Clear Creek Trail.
Willock is a fourth generation Kitsap County resident and retired state employee with a background in business writing. He serves on the board and volunteers for many museum projects.
The book features historical society photos starting with 1988, two years after the town of Sidney (now Port Orchard), was founded. In its early days, the town had a pottery works, shingle mill and saw mill, as well as a wharf for “Mosquito Fleet” boats that were the primary means of transportation.
Fast forward to the 1940s, and this picture, showing local youth diving like lemmings into the 50-degree waters of Sinclair Inlet … just ’cause. Kids still do this (so do adults during the Olalla Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day … just ’cause).
Before Fathoms O’ Fun, the town celebrated with something calls “Days of 49,” popular from the 1940s through the 1960s. Townsfolk dressed up in wild west garb and got pretty wild and crazy from what I’ve heard. “The name actually had no connection with Port Orchard. Celebration founders chose it simply because no other town had claimed it,” the book states. … Kind of like a domain name.
My thoughts: Port Orchard, where we celebrate by default. Because “Days of 47″ was taken … Makes “Fathoms O’ Fun” sound positively brilliant.
Here’s a picture of a parade float from 1950. The antique fire truck was purported by participants to be the first fire engine in Port Orchard not powered by horses.
My thoughts: Looks like it could use a horse or two or three. And a suggested caption: Now you see why we need that fire levy!
Here’s my favorite, a picture of donkey basketball at the old high school.
The sport was popular with everyone but the janitors. It spawned a special line of horseshoes, Air Wilburs. Also this explain why they needed a new high school.
Go ahead Bremerton, laugh. Just wait until Arcadia Publishing and the Kitsap County Historical Society get ahold of you.
“Port Orchard” is available for $21.99 at local retailers, online bookstores and through Arcadia Publishing, www.arcadiapublishing.com; (888) 313-2665.