When The News Tribune published C.R. Roberts’ meticulous history of the ferry Kalakala this week, Frank Patchell couldn’t help but smile.
Now 99 years old and a widower since September, Frank married his wife, Mary Jane, on June 19, 1940, in a small Tacoma Methodist church.
“Afterward, we drove my 1936 Plymouth rumble seat up to Seattle and the Olympic Hotel,” he said. “That was supposed to be one of the best hotels in the Northwest. When we got there, they made us show our wedding license.”
Next morning – none too early – the Patchells drove aboard the Kalakala and sailed to Bremerton.
“At the time, it seemed to be going pretty fast, but it probably wasn’t,” Frank said. “I remember the vibration, and the large windows on it were impressive. We went upstairs and there was a band playing.
“I played the saxophone in an orchestra, and they invited me to sit in, but I didn’t. When we got to Bremerton, we drove around the Peninsula.
“Neither one of us ever set foot on that ferry again.”
The Patchells were married 74 years and had seven children – all of whom still live locally. Frank lives in Tacoma and now has 27 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.
At 99, he still drives.
“I just drove to California and back recently,” he said.