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
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
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
Here’s my favorite, a picture of donkey basketball at the old
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.
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