Walt Norblad

Walt Norblad in the Army Air Corps (1944).

10 years ago this week — 2009

Warrenton resident Debra Meeuwsen leaned into the SeaPort airplane window and craned her neck to take in the bristled landscape Saturday along the route from Portland to Astoria.

“That’s got to be Vernonia,” she said, pointing at a cluster of buildings nestled in the trees. “There’s nothing else between here and there.”

With a quick check over her shoulder at the cockpit four short rows away, she hopped up from her seat, crossed the narrow aisle and leaned over her husband’s shoulder to catch the view from his window.

“This is so cool,” she said.

SeaPort Airlines has shuttled nearly 250 paying customers between Astoria, Newport and Portland in its first month of service. So far, so cool.

But not so cheap.

The company has claimed $130,696 in grant-funded subsidies for the first three weeks of service on top of $62,386 in start-up costs.

The Port of Astoria and the city of Newport are trying to stretch around $4.5 million in subsidies from state and federal grants as far as possible while SeaPort works to make its service self-sufficient.

Ticket sales, so far, have brought in $17,571.

There’s a reason all the athletes in Monday’s Daily Astorian Invitational track meet in Seaside had a little more “spring” in their step.

Temperatures in the 60s had coaches smiling, jumpers soaring, runners recording personal best times, and throwers ... well, throwers don’t really care about the weather.

50 years ago — 1969

Astoria has been invited to enter the Crab Cooking Olympics in San Francisco May 19-20, but no one has come forward yet to lead the team.

“I’ve gotten no response,” Dr. Ed Harvey of the Otter Trawl Commission said today of his efforts so far to organize an entry in what San Francisco plans to be an annual event.

Is Astoria, the dowager city of Oregon, who sits enthroned at the mouth of the Columbia, getting too big for her ... er ... pettiskirts?

A survey this past week revealed that more than 500 families have moved into Astoria this year, all including at least two persons, and some with several children.

Best source of information on not “what’s new?” but “who’s new” is Mrs. Louis Washer, head of the Welcome Wagon. In a record compiled by months from March 1968 to March 1969, she and her assistants called on 569 new families here. Largest influx was in August-September, with 91 families coming here to settle; July and August had 86 and June-July 90, showing the greatest growth during the summer months.

The old Chinook Hatchery in Washington state is once more operational!

Early in the 1930s, when it became illegal to use traps on the Columbia, it was abandoned to time and history by the trap men who had maintained and supplied it with fish for spawning purposes since 1896.

Prime Chinook fingerlings held in a temporary holding pond at the old site were released to sea this week.

Norwegian ships are beautiful. They’re not pretty, maybe, and they’re not cleanly scrubbed sea-going hotels. But they are functional, and to some, functionality is beauty.

Take the Mosgulf. She is one of the biggest ships to come into the Port of Astoria. She’s 546 feet long and, when loaded, draws 36 feet. But she can reach Japan in 13 days.

And that’s not bad, considering she displaces more than 28,000 tons fully loaded.

75 years ago — 1944

Walt Norblad, Astoria attorney and captain in the Army Air Corps’ air combat intelligence, has been named to his bomber command’s “general court,” which hears all major crimes and serious cases.

Norblad is the junior officer on the court. He has been very active in court-martial work, obtaining considerable reputation for his outstanding defense of men he has been assigned to represent at court-martial hearings. The former Clatsop County representative is with a command of Martin B-26 Marauders operating out of England.

Following a second visit of public roads administration and state highway engineers here Monday, a definite project involving the reconstruction of the road between Astoria and the new naval hospital will be prepared at once by the PRA for submission to the 13th naval district for approval. The plan contemplates widening of the Williamsport road and the realignment and widening of the Nehalem highway to the hospital. Cost $330,000.

Hugh Bernard Boyle Jr., 21-year-old member of a Navy armed guard crew on a Liberty ship, is in Astoria on a short leave visiting his wife, Mrs. Meriam Boyle and children, and his mother, Mrs. Irena C. Parker Boyle. He will leave Friday.

Boyle’s ship carried supplies to islands in the southwest Pacific, leaving San Francisco in November 1943 and returning in March 1944. Islands visited included Mila Efate, Espiritu Santos, Guadalcanal, Florida (Tulagi), Munda, Morton, all in the New Hebrides or Solomon groups.

Besides frequently being a target, the ship Boyle sailed on itself sank several enemy vessels. The ship hit a reef in the Solomons and for a day was such a good target for enemy fire that Boyle reported things really uncomfortable.

Before entering the Navy, Boyle worked as a crane man for CRPA and did excavation at Tongue Point.

Bob Duke is the author of the weekly Water Under the Bridge column in The Daily Astorian. Contact him at beachduke@gmail.com

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