The Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley will observe Veterans Day by revisiting Sequim’s military past in a program at the historical Dungeness Schoolhouse.
The presence of U.S. Army soldiers in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley during World War II will be among the subjects addressed in “Sequim Wartime Memories,” a panel discussion at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road, Sequim.
Scheduled panelists include Helen Bucher, Charles Nelson, Velma Good, Larry McHone, Mayme Faulk, Bob Clark and Wilma Johnson. Author and historian Terry Buchanan, who wrote “The History of Fort Casey and the Defense of the Pacific Northwest,” will serve as moderator.
U.S. Army troops began rolling into Sequim and other coastal communities following the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Billeted at Sequim High School and occupying City Hall and other public buildings, the soldiers became a familiar presence in town and often socialized with area residents and families.
One such hospitable family was that of then-grade-school-age Charles W. Nelson, whose home was directly across from Sequim High School. The family, which operated Nelson’s Drug Store in Sequim, hosted waffle breakfasts for servicemen at the home every Sunday, as well as two Christmas buffet dinners in December 1942.
Bucher, who was 11 when she heard news of Pearl Harbor announced on the radio, recalls her family entertaining soldiers in their home and playing piano with some of them. She also said the soldiers often used an embankment on her family’s farm on Brown Road in Sequim as a shooting range for target practice and for testing the agility of their jeeps.
“These guys probably thought they were in the wilderness in Sequim. Being New York boys, they were fascinated by the cows,” said Bucher, who kept in correspondence with a few of the soldiers for years afterward. “My mom would cook dinner for them. The ones that we saw more than once, they became pretty good friends.”
Program fees, collected at the door, are $1 for students (age 17 or younger), $10 for MAC members and $12 for nonmembers per session and support continued MAC programming. Advance registration and payment also are accepted through the MAC Exhibit Center, 175 W. Cedar St. in Sequim.
The MAC’s ongoing oral history series, collectively titled “Then & Now: Old Timers’ Perspectives,” is held the second Friday of each month at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, with each session varying in topic and guest panelists. Each session is two hours, with a break for light refreshments after the first hour. Next month’s panel discussion, held on Friday, Dec. 9, will highlight “Holiday Traditions & Wintertime Memories.”
For more information about MAC programs, visit the MAC website at www.mac sequim.org or call the MAC Exhibit Center at 683-8110.