90 years ago at PTHS | Tom Camfield

Tom Camfield
Posted 12/27/21

Six years ago I scored a 1932 PTHS yearbook on eBay. It was a cheap product that couldn’t begin to match even the annuals of the early 1900s for quality. The resultant blog article also was …

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90 years ago at PTHS | Tom Camfield


Six years ago I scored a 1932 PTHS yearbook on eBay. It was a cheap product that couldn’t begin to match even the annuals of the early 1900s for quality. The resultant blog article also was longer as length restrictions apparently did not apply. The yearbook was done on a mimeograph machine, on soft paper similar to something from a grade-school art class. The few photos were glossy 2-by-3-inch photo-prints glued to the individual pages. It was bound with staples.

Part of the article is reprinted here for earlier non-readers while I continue to scratch for new material following the year-end holidays.

It was long afterwards that it dawned on me that 1932 was when the Great Depression peaked, the final year of President Herbert Hoover’s administration. FDR would be elected in November. No wonder the students had to produce this traditional keepsake on the cheap. Seniors that year included my aunt Mary June Camfield. My uncle Lyman Camfield also then was a sophomore.

The entire yearbook is a nostalgic, melancholy thing for me, as I shared most of their lifetimes with many of the individuals contained in it. I was only 15 years younger than these ’32 grads, just 13 years younger than the sophomores. That 10th-grade class, for instance, included my uncle Lyman, my very good friend Bud O’Meara and his wife Dorothy (Black), Dan Hill (a Leader partner during my printer devil days there), Arnold Sather, Vic Coster, John Buhler, Leader printer Claude Mitton’s sister Doris, my assistant Scoutmaster Harry Pollard . . . Scattered through other classes I find Frank Norwood, Bill Benedetto, my former neighbor George Blankenship, Peggy Black (Ryan). . .

I can get lost in extended reverie in fondly remembering my interactions with some of those people over so many years as we all aged. It’s a long way from hyperthymesia, but I am blessed/cursed with a keen memory back to my early childhood in 1932. I remember the first name of my father’s friend who came to visit on his motorcycle in that 1932 year. It was Ole. And I helped my mother make home-made strawberry ice cream that winter; there was snow in our back yard up on Willow Street.

Bruce Blevins, who coached during my school years and beyond, and with whom I socialized some during his later years as athletic director, was coaching football, basketball and track in 1932. Superintendent William “Wild Bill” Carder was still there when I reached high school. I took typing from Emma Pringle when I was a sophomore (1944-45) and an elective course in English from Dorothy Meyers when I was a senior. Jean McLean was a lovely sort who mesmerized my small singing class when I was in fourth grade. We performed on the high school stage, and I can still remember the lyrics of the two counter-melodies from 77 years ago .
The football team that year had one of the poorest seasons in PTHS history, scoring just five touchdowns in eight games, being outscored 87-32, winning two, losing five and tying Sequim 0-0. The basketball team fared better, going 8-4 including an 18-17 win over Port Angeles. Most notable times in the Peninsula track meet in Port Angeles were Lennie Sporman’s 10.4 in the 100-yard dash and 24.1 in the 220.

The yearbook was dedicated to the area’s historic mariners and retained a nautical theme throughout. There was a memoriam to two members of the class of ’32 — Wm. Gillen and Willis Hedrick— with no explanatory detail. The page merely quoted Tennyson with “Sunset and evening star and one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea.” I hope you enjoyed fair winds, class of ’32.

Journalism was introduced at PTHS as a curricular subject during the 1931-’32 school year. The year’s highlight April 11, saw the journalism class taking over the editorial reins of the Port Townsend Leader and publishing a 10-page issue of the paper.

The class endeavored to show something of the historical background of Port Townsend. Leader staff assisted and also provided many pictures for the endeavor.


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  • MargeS

    Ruth Benson Short, was I believe a 1932 graduate of PTHS. She volunteered at the Museum at the front desk. Ruth of course loved to tell stories and I remember her telling me about her 1932 Annual. The class were not able to have it done by a professional so they put it together themselves. I believe the JCHS Research Center has a copy. Ruth was an amazing person. She was my real estate person in the early sixties (1960s) when we bought our first home on 19th & Kuhn Street. H.J. Carroll paid the down payment on the house and we paid him back a little each month. Ruth worked for H.J. You are so lucky to have grown up in such an amazing town. I got here as soon as I could, 1963. Thanks for the stories. Happy New Year to you and Jean and your family.

    Thursday, December 30, 2021 Report this

  • Thomas Camfield

    Hi, Marge. I remember both Ruth and Jack—and both are definitely worth remembering. Also 1963; you must have arrived about the time they had filled about half of Kah Tai Lagoon.

    Saturday, January 1, 2022 Report this

  • MargeS

    I remember Kah Tai from when I lived in Chima*** in the late 1940s & 1950s. We often visited Port Townsend and I remember the ride down Sims Way and the lagoon appearing, beautiful entry. Also visited relatives a lot as a teenager. Went to the Wheel-In motor drive- with a boyfriend, enjoyed Chetzemoka Park, the Fort. Lots of interesting places. Port Townsend was a great place to visit in the 1950s. It still had the old Victorian houses starting to crumble (before they were restored). Down town was full of stores, where you could buy groceries, clothes, go to a movie. In the early 1960s I lived in an apartment downtown where the old Salal Restaurant was. The Town Tavern was across the street and still frequented mostly by mill workers.

    I'm not quite sure when downtown became a tourist attraction, probably in the 1970s or 1980s. Now I seldom go downtown except to Don's Pharmacy. Sure miss the Fountain Cafe.

    Saturday, January 1, 2022 Report this

  • Thomas Camfield

    I remember the old downtown well. I frequented the old Town Tavern and Club DeLeo while still in high school (1946 and '47). I later covered the entire downtown, Uptown and Hilltop district for advertising during my early full-time days at the Leader.

    Friday, January 7, 2022 Report this