I have been on the road in the hinterlands of Bremerton, Silverdale and Port Orchard for the past couple of months. Hanging out in another land always bring about different stories from different folks.
One of the most interesting came from someone from this area – the mayor of Black Diamond, Rebecca Olness.
I was talking with her on the phone recently concerning a story when the subject of Bremerton came up.
Olness found out I was staying in Bremerton and said she was raised there. Her parents were prominent citizens in the city and Kitsap County. She met Ron, who became her husband, in Bremerton during high school.
She said her grandmother, who worked at Harrision Hospital, signed Ron’s birth certificate. There is some synchronicity.
The best part of our conversation was about being allowed to carry a canvas bag and throw newspapers.
Olness and a friend were walking home from school one day when they decided delivering papers would be fun and a good way to spend time after school.
She and her friend went to the paper, the Bremerton Sun, a daily, and asked about a job.
“We thought it wouldn’t be a big deal,” Olness said.
To their surprise, the girls were told no because only boys could be paper boys.
This was the early 1950s and girls just didn’t deliver papers, or do a lot of other things.
“I think we complained,” Olness said. “They said, ‘No, girls can’t do this.’”
Olness said it was her first experience with discrimination. During the following decades incidents like that would be major battles in the country, and they rang a bell with the mayor.
After 32 years working as a teacher and spending the last three years as mayor of Black Diamond, getting gypped out of carrying a canvas bag remains a touchy subject.
“I’m still mad,” she said.
How things have changed…. I hope.