Community Spotlight: Local glass man is a living legacy


Staff writer

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.

Dahl’s 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 wasn’t, ‘I don’t 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 that’s what it’s 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 name’s on the door. They (the youth) just have such wonderful history and we’ve kept in touch. To me, a young man needs work ethics and if he doesn’t get that, he’s not gonna go anywhere. I’ve had some of the young men who (had troubled lives) and didn’t know how to put air in a tire, for God’s sake. And I figured if I don’t help them, who’s gonna help them? The list is so long of success stories with these young men and what they’ve done in their life.

Q: Does Dahl Glass make bulletproof glass?

A: We don’t make it, but we do (install) a lot of it out of Bangor.

Q: What makes the glass bulletproof?

A: It’s extremely thick and layered with heavy chemicals that I can’t really explain to you. It’s like concrete. It’s 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 don’t know. Very few. I’d say it’s a very small percentage because we’re so careful.

Q: Have you ever broken a window just because you felt like it and because you could?

A: (Laughs.) No, because I’d 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 Bogard’s Drugstore.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Silverdale?

A: Having everything here that we don’t 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. We’ve always been very fortunate to ... not be extremely busy, but just on that beautiful climb.

Q: What’s 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) I’m gonna take you to Silverdale and show you something.” We came to Silverdale and ... where that house is, it’s a two-story home just north of the John Deere place where Kitsap Tractor is — it’s 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 can’t answer that ’cause I don’t know what in the world you would change with an incorporation like this. I can’t think of anything off the top of my mind that needs changing. I think we need to work with what we’ve 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. I’m 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.” It’s so wide-open, it just relates to so many crazy things of today’s world.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?

A: I love Tom Brokaw. He’s probably my favorite author. “The Greatest Generation” really turned me onto his writing.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday and why?

A: I love Christmas because our family’s quite large and we’re all together. That’s rare.

Q: What’s your favorite type of music?

A: I like the ’40’s 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 haven’t done yet that you’d 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.” It’s a good one.

Q: Do you have a favorite historical figure?

A: Rosa Parks. I just admired that woman. Here’s a woman who said, “Time is up. It’s time for me to stand up and say, ‘I can ride in the bus wherever I want.’”

Q: What’s your ethnic background?

A: My parents came from Norway, both my mom and dad.

Q: What’s the biggest window you’ve 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 you’ve ever done?

A: Yeah, because they’re so big and in those days you didn’t 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 don’t take it over just because your name’s on the door. You won’t last a year.

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