"The five of us as a family were homeschooled, and there was a certain amount of drilling, and knuckle-rapping, and chores to be done around a homestead environment without electricity. It had that kind of 'idyllic' sense."
(Mike grew up on a homestead around Mile 31 of the North Road, and started attending public school in 4th Grade.)
"If you were visiting and got snowed in, you just stayed. Or if you had potatoes and they had meat, you got together and you had a meal."
(Denise recalls her homesteading childhood)
The building didn't have any insulation in it to speak of, so the wind ~ the north wind ~ came right through it. But it was comfortable, and it was convenient, certainly."
(Peggy speaks of the apartment
she and Jim lived in above the school where Peggy taught)
The next day the wind delivered more ash to the [Unocal] plant, but it was also snowing, so what fell on us was mud.
(George describes conditions brought on
by the eruption of Mt. Saint
Augustine in 1976)
"My cousin owned the Lamplight Bar in the Swanson River fire. We had standing orders that any of the fire fighters that come in, they have all the pop and beer that they wanted. We kept the bar open 24 hours a day just to give the fire fighters that were helping some relief."
(Recalling the generosity of neighbors during the fire of 1969)
"We'd cut wood, and when we weren't cutting wood, we were splitting wood, and stacking wood, and hauling wood, and hauling ashes, and I was spending a lot of my time trying to figure out ways to sneak off and go fishin'."
(A kid's view of Nikiski homesteading)
"OH! It was horrible! I hated it! The mosquitoes were out, and it was hot, and I was tired, and the weeds, and the buck brush, and the devil's club ... then just all of a sudden, WOW! Here is this nice lake … So then I thought, 'Well, maybe this isn't the most horrible place on the face of the earth.'"
(Telling of the first time she hiked into
their homestead in Nikiski as an
"And we finally got the road fixed when Tim Holt had a meeting at his house, and Joe Kuchta had to go get the official on the back of his tractor. The next year, we got the road fixed."
(Remembering when the roads in Nikiski swallowed cars)
"I went and got pans and beat on them. It just seemed to amuse him. He was a real friendly, jovial bear. And he didn't look too big, but when he stood up, he was taller than I was."
(Jim recalls a bear who wouldn't leave his homestead in Nikiski.)
"Well, we hauled water from that little stream that emptied out of that little lake or swamp, until one day when I dumped the rest of the water into the dishpan and here's stickleback swimming around."
(Sylvia recalling early days of homesteading in Nikiski)
"And it hit. We're all looking at each other and our eyes are getting big. We're going, 'Thsi is a WHAT?' At one point, I was standing with my feet about 3' apart, trying to stay steady, and when I looked down, my right foot was at the height of my left knee."
(Remembering the 1964 quake, having never experienced one before)
"Stan Thompson told me he spent the time during the earthquake trying to keep some door mirrors from falling down - just trying to hold them up - and finally he gave up and got our of the way and let them crash."
(Talking about the 1964 earthquake)
"If someone was in the car with me, I could tell them stories all the way home - just by looking at places, especially out on the North Road. 'Cause I've just completely grown up here. You don't think about that till you go away, but when you come back you'll be just like - 'I know this place!'"
(Raised on a Nikiski homestead, Ellee shared her deep sense of connection to the place with a younger Alaskan)
"And there was a weasel dancing in front of them about two and a half or three feet. The children were just standing there, just enthralled, and this weasel, it was like a ballet. This animal was the most graceful dancer I have ever seen."
(From "Voices of Wildlife")
"So we went out to Monfor's - he was always the first one to have a salmon in the spring - and as we went through the basement downstairs, here is my washing machine sitting - with a SALMON in it!"
(Alex White had traded her "beloved" washing machine for Monfor's because it wouldn't work without running water.)
"One of the ravens was hopping along on the corral fence. Our horse was curious and would be nosing up to him and kind of follow the hopping one. The other raven was sitting on our horse's back and very carefully plucking out all the winter fur. They were lining their nest with our horse's fur."
(From Voices of Wildlife)
"We didn't know how to put a hole in the floor to get the sink going, because we didn't have a drill. So we put an 'X' on the floor. My husband stood on a chair with a shotgun, and shot the hole in the floor."
(Betty always insisted on having a sink she could drain out, even before she had running water.)
"About two summers ago I was at the Net, and I was joined by my daughter, her husband and my grandchildren. We were pulling the Net, and my grandsons were on either side of me, and I remembered the time forty years earlier at Nikiski with my Grama. Nothing really changed. The salmon have returned again."
(Speaking at the Kenaitze Tribal Educational Fishery with her family)
"The next year after the ['69] fire my nephew would work out there, and
he would come home with grocery
sacks full ~ two and three sacks
FULL, every night ~ of morel mushrooms ~ the prize mushrooms! … That's what comes after a fire."
(The bounty after the burn - 1969 Swanson River fire)
"The women that drove bus out here had bad names as m-e-a-n women! We were gonna keep law and order on those buses!"
(Erma was proud to be a Nikiski bus driver in the late 1960s, early 1970s)
"When we sat down to eat, it was terrible! It tasted like a distillation
of spruce needles, and nobody
would eat it.
(Elsie tells of cooking her first spruce grouse - she didn't remove the skin.)
"We still had twenty miles to get home. I had no earthly idea how fast that cloud would move, so I insisted that we go home. We did, and all the time I was looking behind us to see if it was going to catch up with us.
(Recalling the ash cloud from the 1989 Mount Redoubt volcanic eruption)
"They said, 'I don't know what's happening to us, but there's something burning our eyes - burning our skin.' This was in the middle of winter, so there wasn't much skin exposed, but what was exposed was being burned.
(Recalling the 1976 Mt. Saint Augustine eruption that blew ash and sulfur dioxide on Unocal dock employees)
"As I approached the cabin I could tell that something was bad wrong. There wasn't any smoke coming out of the chimney."
(Shirley Henley, public health nurse, telling about an unfortunate patient she tried to help in February 1950.)