My Alaska Cabin Adventure

by Michael R Dougherty
(California)

The actual cabin off Goose Bay road

The actual cabin off Goose Bay road

An old homesteader named Al, rented our family a tiny two story cabin off Goose Bay road near Wasilla, Alaska. Al had lived in the cabin before he built himself a swankier pad just a stones throw from the cabin.

Our dad was foreman on a large road construction job on Goose Bay Road and we rented the cabin so we could be close to dad's work.

It was a tiny two room Alaska cabin with a very steep stairway connecting the two floors. It also featured a very "rustic" outhouse and had no running water.

Now you know why Al had moved.

Our water supply came from a well that was located below the cabin, at the bottom of a steep hill. Me, my sister Anna and brother Tom were reminded daily of the story of "Jack and Jill" who of course went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.

We, on the other hand, went "down" a very long and steep hill to fetch our water. And as we did our daily chore of fetching water from the well, we always hoped that we would not follow the story of "Jack and Jill" by falling down and busting our crowns.

Our dad had a standing rule to keep our water-fetching horseplay to a minimum.

First, we used two buckets for balance and so we could carry more water. Second, if we spilled too much water, we had to go back down for two more buckets full. With that in mind, us three kids would protect every drop of water on the way back up the hill.

Inside our cabin was a short set of narrow stairs leading to a small landing, then an even steeper set of stairs that took you to the top floor. On the outside wall of the landing was a row of big nails sticking out head first, that were used for hanging up our winter coats.

One day when I was starting to go downstairs, I caught my boot on something, tripped and started falling face-first down the stairs.

My world instantly went into slow motion -

During my fall, all I could think of was protecting my face from certain destruction if I slammed my kisser into those big coat hanger nails at the landing.

So at the last moment I stuck out my arms and hands to keep my face out of harms way.

The force of my fall bounced me off the wall and flipped me backwards where I landed on a table on the first floor.

There was a metal wash basin on the table and all three of us, me, the wash basin and the table went flying in every direction.

As the three of us began our crash landing we sounded a bit like a cheap circus. The table went "ker-slam", I went thud "ouch" and the metal wash basin continued bouncing between the table, the wall and me as it spun out of control making all kinds of fun metallic crashing sounds.

After all the loud noise settled down, dad looked up from his reading and said something compassionate like "knock off the noise."

There I was on my back, sprawled out on the floor, looking for nail marks on my hands. But don't worry dad, don't get up to see if I'm dead or anything. Just keep reading. Mom will scrape me off the floor and stop my bleeding - somehow.

I exaggerated here, but only a little, and only about the bleeding.

Now you can listen to Mike read this story -


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Name of owner
by: Anonymous

Al was likely Al Hostein. Great old guy. Super gardener.


A Note from Mike

Yes, "Al" was indeed Al Hostein. And yes, he had a very nice garden. I especially liked to sample his strawberries.

One afternoon when I was about 10 years old I was in his garden uninvited and Al came out to his garden to get some peas.

I quickly got down in the dirt on my stomach and tried to hide from Al.

I was successful and after he left I continued enjoying his garden fresh strawberries.


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Our Generator
by: Linda A. Wingfield

At our homesite two miles outside of Old Valdez, we didn't have running water or city electricity until 1962 (from 1951 until then).

After that, we had a large gas generator which mainly got run on laundry day. We still used the pump which Daddy had added inside of our house a few years before.

In 1963, I think it was...the summer before the quake, we got a smaller, more efficient, and less-expensive-to-run diesel generator. We still didn't use it all the time, because of the noise.

I think it did all of us kids good to be raised as pioneers. ;-)

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Loved It!
by: Linda A. Wingfield

That's a great story! I'm really glad you survived that fall!

A Note from Mike

Me too...

Living in a rustic Alaska cabin with no running water is something few people get to experience. As a young boy I learned a lot, got to spend a great deal of time in the woods, and since we had radio but no TV, our family got to spend a lot time together.

Goose Bay Road out of Wasilla is now a major highway, but back in the day, it was nothing more than a small, two lane gravel road.

Sharing this story is what Anchorage Memories is all about.

Mike
Anchorage Memories

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