Community Spotlight: Local glass man is a living legacy
June 11, 2008 · Updated 9:49 AM
By PAUL BALCERAK
It may be hard to imagine Silverdale without a mall, much less without any traffic lights, but Harold Dahl has seen it and then some.
Dahls father, Ole, started Dahl Glass in 1932. Harold started working at the old Dahl Lumberyard during World War II to compensate for the workers his father was losing to the war effort.
In those days it wasnt, I dont want to do it, or, How much are you gonna pay me? he said. You just did it.
Dahl took over the business in 1972 and ran it for nearly 20 years before turning it over to his son, Kevin, in 1991. The elder Dahl also served as a Port of Silverdale commissioner for 20 years.
Recently, we sat down with Harold to talk glass, Silverdale and the Dahl family legacy.
Question: Did you ever think Dahl Glass would come as far as it has?
Answer: Absolutely not. When my son put this project (the current facility) together, I was in awe. I mean, it made me teary-eyed just to even comprehend this. You can see the complex this is downtown Bellevue stuff. I am so proud of that young man.
Q: What made you want to become a Port of Silverdale commissioner?
A: I enjoyed it immensely because you want to be part of the community, especially with self employment. You want to give back to the community as much as you possibly can because thats what its all about.
Q: What kind of work have you done with the youth in Silverdale?
A: I have been working with young people (on the weekends). What they do is they come in and clean the shop, clean the trucks, just get everything ready for Monday. I hate a dirty truck going down the road cause my names on the door. They (the youth) just have such wonderful history and weve kept in touch. To me, a young man needs work ethics and if he doesnt get that, hes not gonna go anywhere. Ive had some of the young men who (had troubled lives) and didnt know how to put air in a tire, for Gods sake. And I figured if I dont help them, whos gonna help them? The list is so long of success stories with these young men and what theyve done in their life.
Q: Does Dahl Glass make bulletproof glass?
A: We dont make it, but we do (install) a lot of it out of Bangor.
Q: What makes the glass bulletproof?
A: Its extremely thick and layered with heavy chemicals that I cant really explain to you. Its like concrete. Its probably an inch-and-a-half to two inches thick. This stuff is so heavy that you have to use a forklift to move it around.
Q: How many windows have you broken in your life?
A: I dont know. Very few. Id say its a very small percentage because were so careful.
Q: Have you ever broken a window just because you felt like it and because you could?
A: (Laughs.) No, because Id have to replace it. Even when I was a kid, I never threw rocks through windows just to be mischievous.
Q: Have you ever dabbled in artistic glass sculptures?
A: We do a lot of stained glass. My wife started the stained glass part (of Dahl Glass) probably in 76, I think. It was kind of a little hobby and it grew into, we had to get our own store down in Bogards Drugstore.
Q: Whats your favorite part about Silverdale?
A: Having everything here that we dont have to go anywhere else. (In the old days) if you wanted to go shopping, you had to go to Bremerton cause there was nothing here. There were no stoplights. There was nothing here until the mall came. Weve always been very fortunate to ... not be extremely busy, but just on that beautiful climb.
Q: Whats your first memory of Silverdale?
A: I was born in Central Valley, which is four miles over the hill. We lived there on a little farm and in 1937 I was 4 years old and my brother told me, If you clean up your plate (at dinner) Im gonna take you to Silverdale and show you something. We came to Silverdale and ... where that house is, its a two-story home just north of the John Deere place where Kitsap Tractor is its the only original house on Silverdale Way my dad built that in 1938. We moved in there in 39. And that was my first experience in Silverdale, was coming to see them digging the basement.
Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?
A: Well, my job. I mean, I love my job, so ... does that qualify as a hobby? I really enjoy working with my wife with the art glass.
Q: Do you have a favorite meal?
A: Chicken. Barbecued. I love to barbecue.
Q: Is there a particular local event that you always participate in?
A: We did Whaling Days for years. We started a waterski tournament at Whaling Days and it was a huge success. I mean, people were coming from Seattle, even.
Q: If you could change one thing about Silverdale, what would it be and why?
A: I cant answer that cause I dont know what in the world you would change with an incorporation like this. I cant think of anything off the top of my mind that needs changing. I think we need to work with what weve got and make it better if we have to.
Q: What person made the biggest impression on you?
A: Paul Linder. He was a guy that I always looked up to because he was the same on Monday as he was on Friday. He was an extremely good mentor to me and just a clean-living guy.
Q: If you could have any magical power, what would it be?
A: To take care of people in need, that would be my goal. Im a very Christian person and I just always am out for that underdog and to help somebody in need.
Q: Do you have a favorite TV show?
A: Boston Legal. Its so wide-open, it just relates to so many crazy things of todays world.
Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: I love Tom Brokaw. Hes probably my favorite author. The Greatest Generation really turned me onto his writing.
Q: Whats your favorite holiday and why?
A: I love Christmas because our familys quite large and were all together. Thats rare.
Q: Whats your favorite type of music?
A: I like the 40s and I like light classical.
Q: Do you have a favorite flavor of ice cream?
A: I like strawberry and vanilla.
Q: What has been your most memorable vacation spot?
A: Lake Chelan. We took our boys there when they were little. And then of course, Maui. My brother has a condo there so we get to go there once in a while.
Q: What is something you havent done yet that youd like to try?
A: Own a Harley. When I was in the service, this buddy of mine had two Harleys and we did a lot of riding in the desert and I just loved it.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: Patton. Its a good one.
Q: Do you have a favorite historical figure?
A: Rosa Parks. I just admired that woman. Heres a woman who said, Time is up. Its time for me to stand up and say, I can ride in the bus wherever I want.
Q: Whats your ethnic background?
A: My parents came from Norway, both my mom and dad.
Q: Whats the biggest window youve ever installed?
A: I think about 10-by-12 (at) the Bike Peddler down in Silverdale.
Q: Was that also the most difficult window installation youve ever done?
A: Yeah, because theyre so big and in those days you didnt have the fancy equipment to handle them.
Q: Do you want the business to continue to be owned within the family?
A: Oh yeah. I really do, but my goal was dont take it over just because your names on the door. You wont last a year.