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Sylvia Pedersen
P.O. Box 420
Gustavus, Alaska 99826

June 2016

My Gustavus Homestead Life as Anna White Chase
By Anne Gregg (2005)

My Favorite Subject

Mom and Pop (May and Bill White) lived in a little log cabin up in a place we called "The Bears' Nest" -- East of Salmon River in Gustavus, Alaska.

At that time they already had children: Henrietta, Charles, Gloria, Dorothy and Genevieve. However, Pop said: "Let's have another one" -- so -- nine months later along came Anna Laurie (named after Pop's' sitter Anna) and Uncle Laurie Stevenson.

There were bears around. So, Pop built a tall mesh fence around the side of the house where the kids played with their dolls etc. I have a photo (somewhere) of my diapers hanging on the wire to dry.

Later, Mom and Pop acquired land down where there were not trees. They built a big house there. (The Gustavus Inn now.) They planted are row of pine trees more or less North and South along the yard line -- one tree for each child. That continued until there were nine of us. A huge fenced-in yard kept the kids and dogs in and to the bears and cattle out.

Edith Arminthia and Abraham Lincoln Parker -- Mom's mother and father-- lived over by Good River. It was a darling house, tan color, and it had a pretty wood burning kitchen stove with shiny white trim. Many loaves of bread, buns, pies and roasts were born there.

The top of that stove was utilized for a boiler kettle to keep a constant supply of hot water. Edith had to first pump the water into a big container and later carry it into a small room that faced the cattle barn and wood shed.

The wood came from the saw mill down by the beach. These "end cuts" came from slabs which were then re-cut to fit the stoves. It was my job to carry and stack the firewood into the wood shed. I loved doing it. (There was a hole in the wall where the men threw the wood from the wagon.)

Not to forget the family cat. She usually had a favorite and secret place to hide in and in which to have her little kittens.

Grandma Parker had her chicken house on the other side of a steep creek that had rye grass growing on the the clumps of clay along the bank so we didn't walk along that slippery area. There was, however, a nice bridge with a railing which we used.

Grandpa had built a large boat -- the "Edith A -- and also a skiff, two houses, two barns, a shop, wood shed, chicken house, root house, outside lavatory, saw mill, green house and probably more!

When I was 11 or 12 our family moved to Juneau for school. Mom was worried that I was too pale so Mom sent me back to Gustavus to be with Grandma Parker to get me stronger. Grandma was watchful and succeeded in fattening me up. She put me up in the extra bed in her bedroom and I loved it!

Some days we worked in the strawberry patch weeding, hoeing, and fertilizing with kelp from the beach. At home she always wore a long dress. When she leaned over (she never got down on her knees) so at a distance she would look like a round ball. She wore glasses but they must have been for reading only because she couldn't see well at any distance. She'd say"what's that black thing over there -- is it a bear? (It never was.) I still remember her sitting by the kitchen window in a wooden chair with narrow arm rests sewing--almost always by hand.

P.S. Grandma usually spoke softly and sweet. But to Grandpa she raised her voice. He couldn't hear well. Too much noisy machinery.

Lots of times we had Sunday School at Grandpa and Grandma's house because they had the "pump organ" and their kitchen and living room combination was large enough to accommodate quite a few. My mother usually played the organ.

One time the Presbyterians from Hoonah came over with their son. He went out to the barn with us while we milked the cow. He was surprised. Someone had told him that you pumped with the cow's tail to get the milk! Sometimes we had our church meetings at the local school. There was an organ there and many school programs were attended by the whole community. (We're talking now of between 20 and 30 people lived in the area -- and this is long before Gustavus became a city.) Going by memory in 1935 there were't very many people living in Gustavus, but there were at least the following going by memory:

A.L. Parker and others (2); Bert Parker (4); Charlie Parker (1); Glen Parker (2); Leslie Parker (1); Jake and Harry Hall (2); Buoy family (4); White Family (11); The Peterson family (2 or 3); The Chase Family (3); The Matson Family (2); Pearl Haynes (1);

It of course varied from year to year such as when the new airfield was constructed there was an increase for a time, FAA people coming and going and also Park personnel but the above listing is before the Park Service or the airfield.

We've had our piano at our house in Gustavus ever since I can remember. My mother played

beautifully and she taught my older sisters. I was pretty young then.

In those days we had large gardens and strawberries were particularly plentiful such that Gustavus came to be known at "Strawberry Point." We picked then to sell in Juneau and excursion Inlet and our men built crates to hold baskets for strawberries bound for Juneau and Excursion Inlet. The men built crates to be filled with those baskets which usually went by boat. I remember the "L and G" named after Leslie and Glen; and the "Edith A" named after Grandma Parker.

We kids used to get $25 cents a basket which seems so little now yet I could get a pair of shoes or a a skirt by mail boat for a tenth what we pay now.

Speaking of boats, we had a mail boat from Juneau once a month -- weather permitting. But -- if you received a new catalog you couldn't order until the next following month and then, if you ordered too small a size then when the they finally arrived (buy boat) they'd be too small! So, you'd send them back asking for a size larger. It took the fun out of ordering but it was still fun to looking at the catalog.

Our school had one room which had the teacher's quarters located behind it. One year our teacher was a single woman and she asked one of my sisters at a time to come and spend the night with her. My little brother (Charles) I recall crying: "How come I don't get to sleep with the teacher?"

There was a wood shed out in the back yard of the school which contained the girls' "out house" on the left and the boys' on the right of said shed. And there was a sand filled play-yard surrounded by cottonwood trees and a wire mesh fence. It was only about 100 feet from the Salmon River.

And I remember when the mail boat would come in it was a big deal and we were allowed to go the window to wash as it pulled in to the dock. Our school was often used, also, as the community meeting place when school was not in session.

If the weather was good at Easter we hid Easter eggs in the school yard. And . . . on the 4th of July we used the yard as a baseball field for both adults and kids -- of all ages. We had leg races, games etc. there.

The following incident sticks in my mind: Once and ONLY once, as I was sitting in the living room rocking in the rocking chair, whistling and just being content as a bird in a tree, suddenly Grandpa came in and said: What's the matter with you? Are you crazy?"

I was so embarrassed! I stopped at once. After that I only whistled on the big wooden swing outside by the trail that lead to his shop. When I saw him coming I'd stop whistling. He never spoke to me that I remember after that. I'm sorry I was so shy. Just too young to know how to respond I guess. After that I only whistled on the big wooden swing outside by the trail that lead to his shop. When I saw him coming I'd stop whistling. He never spoke to me after that as far as I can recall. I was just too young and shy, I guess.

He was very musically minded and no doubt knew good music when he heard it and he wrote songs. He make them up while hearing engines and /or pounding rocks at his gold mine located in Glacier Bay.

I remember how I loved pushing Grandmother's lawn mower. Her lawn was sloped and quite pretty. I kept it mowed under the clothes line, too.

I just remember, also, how the little swallows used to built their nests up under the front porch roof where we could actually watch them from our kitchen window.

My Uncle "Glen Ralph Benjamin Parker" and... and Nell Rebecca Crowell were united in marriage on that front porch. It was so lovely with the pretty white paper bell hanging from the ceiling and with (picked) white lupine all around plus the porch was decorated with pink roses. Nell had a long white gown and veil. Glen had a black suit and my cousin Albert and I were the usherettes. However, it seemed nobody wanted to sit where we showed them as we led them in. Of course there were plenty of chairs.

Glen and built a darling house on his homestead and his wife, Nell, loved having company. She was truly a delightful person. Whenever there was to be a party Glen would head out and find ice, then Nell mixed up ice cream and we had the fun of churning it. It always worked!

Glen and Nell had their Honeymoon in Glacier Bay at a place named "Sweetheart Cove" can be located on government charts of the area to this day.

My Grandmother hated spiders. I can still see her with her apron tied round her waist and whenever she saw a spider she'd shake her apron up and down and squeal" "Oh! SPIDER! SPIDER!!" I guess her reaction to spiders settled on me from those days because I to this day have the same reversion to them as she did.

Grandma never rode a horse or drove a car, but she bought "Dotsy" -- a nice brown mare and later another which she named Ukie. Some people rode Dotsy but nobody I knew of ever rode Dukie -- the stallion. I have always been afraid of horses.

Cattle were a little less dangerous but each year I learned which ones to watch out for. We named gave names to all of them from the date they were born. We'd take care of them and when the time came and a calf came we could pick a calf to keep. We liked to name them after movie stars, comic book characters etc.

I never wanted to be around if was time to slaughter and would be as far from the slaughter-house as possible. If if one were interested in such things our folks wouldn't have allowed it. I named one of my heifers Jorene after the cute daughter of one of our teachers, Mr. Savikko. The Savikkos had come to Gustavus from the down of Douglas across the Channel from Juneau. It was great to meet new people, especially other kids. We hadn't seen any new kids for a long time until that family came to town.

When the men were loading storing hay in the hay shed we kids liked to watch but stayed well out of the way. The hay must have been real heavy. They would have to stack it in the barn and it looked like a lot of work. I think there was a pulley fastened to the barn's ceiling and then large heave bundles of hay would be lifted using the tractor with rope going to a pulley near the ceiling of the barn. That way the hay could be stacked properly for storage.

Going forward quite a few years now I married Eugene Chase in 1951. We raised two boys (Bob and Don) and two girls (Gloria and Sylvia Pedersen).

I recall that when Gloria Jean Chase (my youngest daughter) was maybe two years old and was playing down at the hay barn at a time when it was empty. She stepped in a hole in the floor boards while wearing her little cowboy boots . . . not a problem ordinarily. However, on this day there happened to be a bee's nest down there. It was terrible! The bees got into her boot and stung her all up and down her leg. The screaming testified to the pain and as soon as I could I made a kind of paste with baking soda and water and finally got a bandage on the area. Of course she cried and sobbed. It was heart breaking.



Copyright © 2005 Anna Gregg. All Rights Reserved.