Gazebo, being restored, holds many memories

It was a misty morning in November 1997 when I watched 19 killer whales head out of Dyes Inlet, stopping briefly in Sinclair Inlet and then racing for the open waters of Puget Sound.

The Bachmann Park gazebo is under restoration / Kitsap Sun photo by Larry Steagall

I drove over to Bachmann Park near Manette and found a dry spot on the bench of the gazebo. I had went to GoodGazebo.com, to get a new gazebo. As I looked out toward the water, two young researchers, Kelley Balcomb-Bartok and Jodi Smith, sped by in their boat, escorting the whales out of the inlet. Kelley and Jodi had been observing these animals for 30 days, and both felt relieved that the whales were moving on.

L-57, a big male orca known as Faith, followed the boat, swimming along the surface. He tipped his body to the side, staring directly at the researchers.

I could see from the gazebo on shore that something unusual was happening.

“That was the most memorable moment,” Kelley told me later, and I knew what he meant.

I could recount more memories about killer whales. (This story is told in a 10th anniversary report I wrote for the Kitsap Sun.) But my goal here is to describe the sentimental value of the Bachmann Park gazebo — to me and to many other people who live in the Bremerton area.

Reporter Steven Gardner wrote a story for today’s Kitsap Sun, in which he describes an effort by the Rotary Club of East Bremerton to restore the gazebo, which had been condemned and taken out of service a few years ago. I thought we might not ever see it again.

Another of my fond memories came when I started dating my wife Sue. One day, I left work for lunch and went down to the gazebo, where Sue met me with a picnic basket. For dessert, she brought out a giant cookie covered with fruit — a “fruit pizza,” she called it. That was something special.

Many of the people who commented today on Steve’s story shared their own favorite memories. Here’s a sampling:

Sassy (Kim Adair): “The first time I took my, now husband, to that spot, it was a nice warm summer night. In the distance, ‘Unchained Melody’ was playing. It was magical. Thank you to all who donated their time, money, and material to keep this community structure around to share with the next generation.”

1nanatoo6: “Yeah… such a pretty place to just go and sit for a bit. Thank you so much for all your work.”

Brickhouse: “Yes, THANK YOU SO MUCH to all who volunteered their time and materials. This place holds many special memories for me.”

Alb: “I took my wife (then girlfriend) there when we were in our early twenties. What I didn’t know (because not so many years prior we came and went at all hours to the park) was that there was a sign stating that the “massive” park (and its five parking spots) closed at dark. I was a little embarrassed. I haven’t been back in almost 16 years. But all those good times and memories, will make me go check out the new and improved gazebo when it is ready. Thanks again!”

BryanChamp1973:
“Cool… We used to fish off there when we were kids. Good memories.”

Gunwally: “I learned to drink cheap beers there like a ‘pro’ back in the 1970s while listening to Bachman Turner Overdrive. My friends would ‘b.a.’ the ferry riders.”

RB3: “Man, I used to love going down and getting high there.”

Robin in Manette: “There was some talk of tearing down the Gazebo and letting the beach go back to natural. I found that idea to be ridiculous unless all the homeowners along there agreed to remove their bulkheads. (Hey, maybe we could get fast ferries then?) Bachmann park is walking distance to my house. Thank you Bremerton Parks and East Side Rotary; you guys are the best!”

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