May 12, 2022
By Kayrene Gilbertsen
Carlton Appelo had a passion for his community and its history: past, present and future. He loved telling stories, sharing ideas and working to make the county more user friendly. I first worked with Carlton as a Port 2 commissioner, a port district which he and several others worked to establish when a large portion of the county was outside the boundary of Port 1. He went on to become the longest serving port commissioner in Washington State. Knowing the entire history of the Port was a great asset for the board. Vista Park was created in Skamokawa to be central and accessible to everyone from both ends of the county.
Growing up in Deep River, he and his brother Burton were an enterprising pair. When logs were being loaded onto barges, wedges were used to keep them together. These floated away once the logs were in place so the boys salvaged them with their pike poles and sold them for firewood. They saw that people were throwing food scraps into the river, so they collected them to feed a pig. They did so well selling that pig that they decided to raise two, but could only collect enough food for one, so Carlton decided it was a one pig town.
In 1939, 35 FFA boys and their principal took the old school bus to San Francisco to the World's Fair. They took a 100 pound sack of potatoes and several cases of eggs which they cooked each night when they camped along the way. For three days they explored, unchaperoned. The driver told them that the bus was leaving at 2 p.m. on Wednesday and if they wanted a ride home, they better be there. And they were.
Carlton would travel extensively in his lifetime, coming home each time with new ideas and purchases which many of us hadn't seen before. On one trip, he bought a Volvo in Sweden, drove through Europe and through their marketing program, the car was shipped home for free. On the trip Carlton bought a toilet with a new flushing system. It rode all through Europe in the back seat causing many comments along the way. Carlton was one of a kind and a joy to know.
A former Wahkiakum County resident and Puget Island native, Kayrene Gilbertsen served on the boards of commissioners of Wahkiakum County and Port District No. 2. She now resides in Battle Ground.