Memories

Our Pets. Our brothers brought home Deloris and me each a baby duck; they were black mallards. We made a fenced-in area for them, and caught fish for them. I think we fed them all day long. We called them Sleepy and Dopey. Once they got out of the pen and waddled all the way up our hill past Auntie Barbara’s, past our old log house and down toward the water when Mr. Morris found them eating out of his dog dish on his porch.

Once they brought home a wounded sea gull, which we doctored up and fed. After the sea gull got well and would fly off, for a long time he would come home at night and sleep in the basement.

Dolly always brought home strays. Once she had a hen and a rooster. The rooster thought that he owned the place and when anyone came to visit he would chase them. Auntie Barbara always got chased and hated that rooster. José Carlough got chased once too often so killed both of them. Mom roasted them and, when she set them on the table, no one would eat them. Dolly went on a trip to Anchorage once and found a stray dog on the street and flew him home. I think she had rabbits once, too.

Man in suit and hat looking down on a small boy sitting with his sister on the rails of front steps
Mr. Morris, Dick, and Lynette.

Morrises’ Dog’s Funeral. One day Dickie Morris knocked on the door. When my mother answered, he said, “Can Bunson and Sister come to the funeral?” My mother was surprised, as in a small town you knew everyone that died, so she asked him whose funeral it was. He said that it was for his dog. They had a big dog, but I can’t remember his name. Mom dressed us up and sent us to the next yard for the funeral, then watched the ceremony from the kitchen window. Mr. Morris was in a long robe with his Bible. All the children were dressed up. Dickie was dressed in a white shirt and tie and all the faces were solemn. Mom said that she had a hard time keeping a straight face, as she watched them say words over the dog and bury him in the yard.

Dating. Among the kids I grew up with in Seldovia were the Cameron family, Gene and Kelly. I dated Gene a few times and he was fun to go out with. I dated Willard Brun for quite a while. He didn’t like to dance but enjoyed hunting. The Hostetters rented a house by the Morris store and I dated a cousin of theirs, Bob, a few times. Like all young girls in Seldovia at that time, I had a crush on Tuggles, but he ignored me. I always liked Charlie Boy, but he was a friend of my brothers and thought that I was just another brat. He drowned while fishing, which broke all our hearts. His brother Tommy took me to my graduation dance reluctantly, because I had no date and he was talked into it. While in my teens, I worked whenever I could get a job. I was more interested in working and dancing than dating.

Torso of young man wearing a leather jacket over a sweater
Willard Brun.

Hunting. I loved to hunt and fish. The first time I remember shooting a gun was when I was about nine years old and quite tiny. I was with my brother Thomas and a friend. He had a double barrel shot gun and let me shoot it. I had it propped up on a stump because it was too heavy to hold by myself. When I pulled the trigger, it blew me backwards.

When I was older I was out duck hunting with one of the boys. We were in a skiff, but decided to go ashore and hide behind the rocks so the ducks couldn’t see us and we could easily shoot them. While we were walking among the rocks a big eagle swooped over us and made me fall down. He scared me silly as I didn’t hear him until he was almost on top of me. The trouble with shooting ducks was they would disappear in the water and not come up near us again, so we never had much luck.

Working. All of us worked quite young. Mom had six kids to feed alone and wouldn’t go on welfare, so except for clothes all our money went to her. My brothers all fished and when they made good money, they had her quit work and supported her.

Sweaters. After working so hard all summer, I spent my clothes money on several sweater sets, which was the fashion at the time. The first day I wore one, it was yellow, with a short sleeve under and a long-sleeved cardigan. I was on the way to school with a friend when we stopped to chat with a group of boys who were talking by Baltizar’s store. We stopped for a moment and Anton (Tony) looked down at me and said, “Where did you buy those?” I was so mad and embarrassed that I hated to wear my new sweaters.

Young woman standing with a rifle
Young woman standing on a gravelly beach

My First Airplane Ride. I painted posters to advertise our little airline in Seldovia, and in return I not only got pay, but my first plane ride. I didn’t tell my mother that I was going, because the pilot said that we would be gone only a short while. The pilot didn’t tell me that the girl that was going with us was learning to fly, but when I realized that she was in the pilot seat it was too late to turn back. Getting in the air was beautiful, and so was seeing the bear in the woods below, but when we went upside down I wanted to cry. When we landed and I walked up the beach and home, I felt like I was still upside down; my head was pounding and my feet felt like lead. My mother was quite upset, as she was so afraid to fly.

Torso of young man wearing a leather jacket over a sweater
MayJoyce, Mae, Erick, Bruce in my boat.
Torso of young man wearing a leather jacket over a sweater
Mae, Erik, Bruce.

Nordensons. I took care of Erik, Bruce, and Inga for quite a while. Erik was a handful. I had so much trouble feeding him that finally when I set the table for Bruce and myself, I wouldn’t set him a plate. He would say, “Where is my dinner?” And I’d say, “You never eat your dinner, so why dirty a plate?” When he agreed to eat, I would set his place. It worked. He would go to his father’s bar, sit on the stool, and say, “I want a drink.” Once when I was staying at their house, they had a party. Erik was riding his trike throughout the house and when he would go by a person with a drink they would give him a sip of beer. He must have gotten tipsy, because I heard him go up the stairs to my room and I opened the upstairs door and there was Erik with a big gun pointed at me. Luckily it wasn’t loaded.

One morning when I was staying at home, I went to work and when I opened the door, the kitchen was filled with smoke. They had a wood stove converted to oil and it had lids on the top. Well, Erik took some of Inga’s diapers and stuffed them into the stove and they caught fire. He had pulled them smoldering out of the stove. I woke his parents who were sleeping through this.

Another time I came in and went quietly into Grace’s room to get Inga out of the crib. Erik had put a quilt over her and she was beet red and gasping for air when I picked her up.

Bruce was a doll, and was so quiet. He never got into much trouble. Once he turned the hot water on in the bathroom sink and climbed in with his high top white shoes on. It probably was a good thing he had on shoes as his feet were pretty hot. He was always getting into the medicine cabinet and once broke a bottle of perfume that was his mother’s. At first she thought that it was me.

Inga was born while I was working there. I had to bathe her and feed her. Once while bathing her in her little tub, I had too much soap and she slipped out of my hands and went under. She was gasping for air; I was afraid that I’d killed her.

I bought my piano while working there, a little money at a time. I took a plane ride once to their cabin up the inlet. It was located on a small bay, a little bridge went to the house, a beautiful place, but I was there only a minute as they only had to pick up something from the house.

Mrs. Lloyd’s Cake. When I worked for Carl and Grace Nordenson, her mother lived nearby and she always sent over cakes, etc., to Grace‚Äôs house. She baked an angel food cake that was so good that I had a hard time to keep from eating the whole cake. It was orange and lemon, and very moist. I tried over the years to make one just like it but so far never succeeded.

My Boat. When I was about thirteen, Mr. Graves, who lived below us, gave me a skiff. It was about 14 to 16 foot and quite big for a scrawny girl. He probably figured that it would never get into the water as it leaked so badly. I spent days caulking it. Finally when it was ready I would row all over the slough and bay. I took Bruce and Erik Nordenson for rides in it when I took care of them. MayJoyce Yuth and I fished with it. One day by the bridge we filled it up with chum salmon and the skiff sunk right where we were fishing. We could get 20 cents apiece for the salmon at the canneries. I got the skiff going again, and later took friends across the bay to Hoen’s. I had Cricket and his grandmother and a couple other kids with me. We started out fine, then the bay got rough and I couldn’t row out of the channel. It took us out of the bay into Cook Inlet where I had to beach it on the Outside Beach. I tied it to a large rock hoping that it would say there, then we walked to town. The next day we went back to where the skiff was and there was no sign of it. Maybe it was a good thing we lost it then as we could have drowned in it.

Lost. One day we got lost in the woods. This was unusual. With all the hiking we did, I don’t think anyone ever got lost, at least they didn’t tell anyone. Well one real nice day MayJoyce Yuth, my sister Deloris, and I went hiking up the head of the bay. When the tide was in, you had to go through the woods for quite a ways. We had gone on this trail several times over the years, but somehow we got off the trail and into a group of alder trees.

Everywhere we looked it was the same type of tree and we could see no mountains or water. We carried nothing to eat that day as we didn’t think that we would be gone very long. We saw that no matter which way we went it looked the same, so we stopped and figured out what we should do before we went off further in the woods and really got lost. MayJoyce said, “I’ll climb this hill and see what I can see.” Deloris said, “I’ll just sit under this tree and die.” I said, “I’ll climb this tree and see if I can see the mountains or the water, and that way we can be sure of going the right way.” When I climbed, I could see the bay and we headed that way and got home in the dark, but safe.

Moosic. We called him Moosic. His name was Arsenti Romanoff, and his family came from Kodiak. He never had a home or family, but lived everywhere. He could barely see, and always seemed to look the same age. He did odd jobs for everyone and everyone fed him and gave him a place to sleep. He had an accordion, which he played by ear. He gave me an old one of his and I would play along with him, not knowing a note of music, but we made a lot of noise, with guitars that no one could play, banjos, and a piano. We managed to get a few knocks at the door asking us if we were having a party. We had a lot of fun. He also taught us how to play flip the coin, heads or tails. I remember cheating on this one, and I’m sure he knew it as we all won when we played with him.

Bike Crash. Once when I was about seven or eight, I was sent to town to buy silk stockings for my mother. On the way back Moosic and I think a Lund girl were riding a bike. They ran into me and pushed me against the rail of he boardwalk. It stunned me. I can remember a man selling my silk stockings on the rail in front of Morris’s store. I think Moosic bought me a doll later.

Table with a cake and candles, 8 children crowded together at the end, behind them a woman in a print dress holding a child looking down; house to the left, laundry hung on a line to the right
It looks like it is my sister Dolly’s birthday. Aunt Barbara is holding her.

Mr. Wolf. A man named Wolf was in town in the summers. I think he was a fisherman and he was a friend of the family. Every time I met him on the road he would say, “Hello, Miss Fox,” and then proceeded to tell me a story of the fox and the wolf. The kids all bummed the fishermen for nickels for candy when they came to town and usually they were given a nickel or so.

Once with a group of kids, we met Mr. Wolf, and all the kids had bummed a nickel but me. They taunted me until I went up to him and asked him for a nickel. I don’t remember getting one, but he never let me forget that I had bummed from him; he had taught me a lesson, I guess, because I never asked another person for money.

Mr. Wolf. Birthdays. When we were real young the only birthdays that I remember were at my great aunts Florence and Barbara’s house. They always had birthday parties for the children in the family.

When a child turned sixteen years old, he or she was considered grownup and could work or even leave home without any trouble. At that age the children could get jobs anywhere. Some of us finished high school, and like me went to the big city of Anchorage and worked for Civil Service. I actually went to try to be an airline stewardess.

Picnics. In the summer since it was daylight all night, we always went on long picnics. My mother could always be talked into furnishing the food; there were always cakes, potato salad, etc. We didn’t have hot dogs and hamburgers in those days; that was a treat that you got when you went to the restaurant. I don’t ever remember having a hamburger at home.

One picnic we went on when I was quite small was with the Gundersons that lived near us. A friend that we called Big Fat Johnny was with us. We had so many Johnnys that we had nicknames for them. It started to rain so we went under the trees where there was an old dynamite shack. While talking, I looked over a log that was beside me and there was a huge black bear just sitting looking at us. The bears around our sawdust pile were small, but this one was big. Everyone was busy with the fire. I tried to yell, but my voice quit, I was so scared. I couldn’t move or yell. Finally I poked my friend that was sitting next to me and pointed. She yelled. Johnny saw the bear and chased him away.

When we got older, our picnics were beach parties, with a bonfire. We roasted marshmallows and anything else we could find at home. We never seemed to pair off; we were always as a group; besides it was daylight all night.

There was always a boat to take a bunch of us on trips to the islands where we could hike the beaches and eat. Sometimes coming from our beach parties from the Outside Beach, we would go through town and wake everyone up with our singing. Mrs. Young (Raby) was always looking out the window as we went by, but there were never any complaints. We never had drinking at our picnics unless it was with a bunch of adults.

Seven children at the end of a small log cabin, all drinking something
On a picnic—Tom, me, Alice, Deloris, Richard, Andrew, and Arthur.
Muddy lane through slushy snow, a wooden rail on the right, small homes and shacks, the hillside with pine trees at the end
Our Slough Road