Friday, November 13, 2015

Walking the Waterfront

 This week I was walking the waterfront of my home town of Gig Harbor, Washington. Being November the temperatures were in the upper 40s around 8am. The sun was out so it wasn’t bad though did feel cold along with a little wind. Later in the day rain came as well which is expected this time of the year. In fact I call it a great day if the sun comes out even for ten minutes. So it was a great day indeed.

While I was walking I had a lot of different things on my mind. Being Veterans Day I was thinking about the brave men and women who fought in wars and defended our freedom. Some of those men and women were grandparents and parents of those who I grew up with along with children of classmates who now are defending our country.

This reminded me what Gig Harbor and the waterfront was like over the years. Gig Harbor is so different than it was back many years ago when my grandfather and father first made steps here. In those days Gig Harbor was made up primarily of fishing boats, and saw mills to make up the building of the boats. Today there are still fishing boats; however, the building of the boats are not same as back in those days. Now Gig Harbor has a lot more small shops for tourists to visit. You can still see the fishing boats around when they are not on the Washington coast or up in Alaska. There are still many sheds where the fishermen work on their boats. One of the fishermen who I grew up with Ken Manning I ran into him at the local grocery store in September; he just got back home from his season up in Alaska. He said this year was not as good a year as normal although his older brother Ed was still up there in Alaska fishing. Ken showed me on his cell phone a picture of his new fishing boat. He worked on building the boat for at least three years during the off-season to prepare for this year. So Ken is prepared to continue fishing for some more time in the future. Most of the fishermen in Gig Harbor I went to school with, and they followed in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers.

When I was growing up in Gig Harbor itself we had one city park now they call Crescent Creek because we have several other parks in Gig Harbor. I used play little league baseball at the park along with football, a little basketball and tennis. There has been some added attractions to the park but in general it doesn’t look very little different than I was a kid. That park was my home field where I spent almost as much time at as I did at our house. There were other parks because other teams we played had home fields as well; however, they were not in Gig Harbor itself. Now Gig Harbor has I believe five other parks that have some significance as well. For instance, one of the parks is Skansie Park that has a shed as well. It has history because the Skansie brothers shed are where they kept their fishing boats many years ago. Also, they ran the ferry line before the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge was built. In fact, on November 7 the downing of the original bridge that was call “Galloping Gurdy” celebrated its 75th anniversary. Now it is not only a park they have concerts there every summer that large crowds come out to hear local bands. Also, the shed is open sometimes for tourist to visit. Also, the original house of the Skansies is still standing and used for information.

If you walk down the waterfront going north for about ten minutes you come to Eddon Boat Park. Originally it was the home and boat shop of Ed Hoppen.  He designed and built the sailboat series the Thunderbird at the boat shop. My dad being the avid sailor himself spent many days and hours at that shop talking with Ed. I went to school with his younger son Guy who was a grade ahead of me and we played some basketball together. Also, older son Mark who graduated from High School before I entered played basketball too. For some time he was city manager of Gig Harbor and Guy has been a fishermen for many years. He oversees Eddon Boatyard when he is in town. I actually see more of Mark especially when I am walking around the waterfront. When we were kids I used to see Guy and his best friend Gregg Lovrovich who is a fisherman now too play a lot of hoops in his yard at that location. Gregg went onto playing basketball at Pacific Lutheran University which is in nearby Parkland, Washington. I grew up with his younger brother Gary who was an outstanding basketball player and led the Seamount League while we were at Peninsula High School in scoring. He played basketball at local community college and at PLU as well. Though he did not play football at Peninsula High School he did play some semi-pro football and had a tryout as a tight end with the Seattle Seahawks. Anyway, you can stop by Eddon Boat usually on a Saturday where people are working on their own sailboats.

If you continue to walk for another five minutes going north you will find another park called Donkey Creek. Yes this is the second creek on the north end of the harbor down from the Crescent Creek Park I attended as a youth so many times. While I was growing up there was a hardware store located at that site. In fact I did not even know that there was a creek there until the hardware store was no longer standing. Recently on north Harborview where Donkey Creek is they built a bridge and the road goes only one way for a block where it goes back to two lanes. I found out to that they had a bridge at that location back in the 1940s as well.

There is so much history in Gig Harbor that I think about each time I walk along the waterfront, however, the Gig Harbor city council talks about how to continue expansion the waterfront along with the rest of the city at the same time being a small town for tourists to see.

Gig Harbor is not the only city that is working on their waterfront so I will continue on the subject next time. Have a great weekend.  

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