“True Tales of Puget Sound,” new from The History Press, is a quirky, often funny collection of stories taken from the lore of 20 different Puget Sound communities. For instance, Fort Nisqually was built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in what is now DuPont, but today it stands at Pt. Defiance Park in Tacoma. “How did it get there, and why?”
Author Dorothy Wilhelm wondered about history not included in school classes. There were other puzzling tales from the Puget Sound country. There’s the story that, in 1938, a mule ran for Mayor of Milton – and won. Well, there was an election and the mule did win but what’s the rest of the story? From Orting comes the story of how the community saved their own Dark Tower (What Dark Tower?), or how about Nellie the Pig who guested on the late night talk shows and built a house in Gig Harbor? There’s the heart-warming story of the Heart Lady of Fox Island. True Tales of Puget Sound even contains an interview with Karl Frederick, the last of the Puget Sound octopus wrestlers. Octopus wrestling was huge in the 60’s. The octopuses weren’t too crazy about it. From the shores of Gig Harbor to the slopes of Mount Rainier, the towns surrounding Puget Sound all have incredible stories to share. Did Eatonville’s copper-infused paint inspire the phrase “painting the town red”? Read about the famed Pie Goddess of Enumclaw and about a cookbook compiled by Emma Smith DeVoe of Parkland that included helpful tips from suffragettes.
For more than a decade, author Dorothy Wilhelm collected quirky historical stories as she produced her TV show, “My Home Town,” on location in Puget Sound communities. It wasn’t until she moved to DuPont – where her daily walks took her past the vacant lot where historic Ft. Nisqually once stood, marking the beginning of Washington Territory – that she began to ask questions. There’s no fort on that spot now. Why was it gone? As Wilhelm researched this and other puzzles of local history, her new book, “True Tales of Puget Sound,” was born and had its launch at Fort Nisqually’s present site in Pt. Defiance site on Jan. 20. An exciting thing at the book launch was a visit from Karl Frederick’s son Ron Frederick. The book launch was also a birthday party, as author Wilhelm celebrated her 85thbirthday. “Not quite as old as the state, but I’m gaining on it,” she says.
This new book, with a foreword by radio host and commentator Dave Ross of KIRO radio news, features tales told by residents of the communities spotlighted. But there’s a surprising twist to the rest of each story that the community members themselves often don’t know.
Guaranteed to grace coffee tables and complement your favorite reading place, “True Tales of Puget Sound” is a must-have for those who have a special affinity for this beautiful, quirky and fascinating part of America.
MEET THE ‘PORCUPINE TRAINER’
Dorothy Wilhelm calls herself a porcupine trainer. That’s her term for the sticky situations and prickly people we all have to face on a daily basis. She believes we all handle porcupines every day, whether we want to or not. Wilhelm is a professional humorist, speaker, radio and TV personality who brings energy, good humor and fun to her presentations on using creativity to solve the problems of daily living and welcoming life change with enthusiasm. She is a familiar Northwest media personality and appears regularly on radio and TV, hosts and produces a TV series on TCI-TV called “My Home Town” and writes a newspaper column that appears locally and in other publications nationally. But it has not always been this way.
Some time ago, Wilhelm was a widow with six children and a bleak outlook. She had less than a year toward her college degree, no work history and, as far as she knew, no employable skills. She could not even drive her car on the freeway.
Today she still has six children, but everything else has changed.
Faced with a need to put her life on track, Wilhelm put into practice her belief that every person has untapped, and often unrecognized, resources that can maximize every opportunity.
That belief paid off: She is now creator of seminars that use humor and practical strategies to enable audiences to develop their own creative resources to manage life change and the “second 50 years.” In addition to her current program, Wilhelm was the creator of the award winning “Never Too Late” on KH20 radio Tacoma and her humorous features aires weekly on KIRO radio and TV where she was known as the “Creative Living Expert” for many yearsShe has a degree in communications from Marylhurst University – and she drives anywhere she wants!