Saturday, December 5, 2009

Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest

Puget Sound's deep and secluded waters were perfect for world-class shipyards and in 1941, their proximity to the "Pacific theatre" (i.e. Japan, the Hawaiian islands, and the Phillipines) raised the status of the primitive Pacific Northwest to "Important." If WWII had not happened, I wonder how long it would have been before the surge of population would have occurred? No matter - it did and all is history.

At the urging of his new son-in-law, Grandpa had travelled without his family, to the island. No stories exist of his anxieties or questionings - who would dare to have chronicled any weaknesses or failings?

The Island's once small ship repair yard was bustling with Navy contracts for mine sweepers. That the Yard had been built by the Hall brothers and had once commanded a world-class shipyard building and repairing sailing ships, was early 20th century history. In 1941, "the Yard" was poised to change the Island's portrait, forever. To house tall sailing ships, there was a huge shed. It was one of the Island's icons before it was torn down to make way for progress. It had weathered black, Douglas Fir siding, and green asphalt roofing, and was big enough to shelter mine sweepers during their construction; no camouflage (like hid the airplane factories on the mainland) was needed. When they were poised for launching, the shed stood at the deep water's edge. It was perfect. Not as big as many but the workers there thought it was better than any other shipyard. Loyalty was fierce, palpable. It is difficult if not impossible, to put words to the patriotism, energy, and devotion that charged the Nation in those days. Perhaps never again will that kind-of-fire engulf our country.

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