Moose Meat John

by Ron Maley

Moose Meet John

Moose Meet John

In 1949, I got on the O'Hara bus line in Mt.View. I was going to the Empress Theater on 4th Avenue.

At the next stop, a bearded man got on and sat down next to me.

He started telling me a story about his morning adventure.

He heard a noise outside his cabin and opened the door to see what it was, a big brown bear was about 20 feet away.

He grabbed his rifle from over the doorway just as the bear stood on his hind legs. He shot the bear in the mouth, the bear turned to run, and the bullet came out his back side and hit right in the door jamb.

I later learned that his name was John Hedberg, aka “Moose Meat John”.

By the way, he never paid to ride the bus. His 16 hunting cabins have saved many a stranded hunter.

I moved to Anchorage in 1946, lived in a tent house for 2 years. No water, no electricity, the best years of my life.

In 1951, I moved to Wasilla where my folks ran the Wasilla Road House.

A Note from Anchorage Memories

Did You Know?

In 1940, Moose Meat John won the contest for the longest beard during the Fur Rendezvous.

One thing is certain. Alaska has no shortage of characters.

From grizzled old prospectors and trappers to homesteaders living way out in the bush. In all our years in Alaska, we met our share. And they loved to tell their sometimes “very tall tales” to anyone who would listen, or buy them a beer.

Maybe, this is one of the many reasons that Alaska is often referred to as “the Last Frontier.” It's a place where colorful characters still dot the land and where a campfire, a bar, or even a city bus is a great place to hear their stories.

But above all, these characters and these stories have one thing in common. Alaska.

It's a land big enough to hold them and amazing enough to make their stories believable.

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Moose Meat John
by: Debbie G

Moose Meat John was my grandfather.

I was adopted, so it's fun learning about my biological family.

My Mom met John in the 1940's in Anchorage
by: Backwoods Barely

During World War Two, my father was an Army Air Corps pilot stationed at Fort Richardson near Anchorage.

Dad was up there almost three years, flying the Chain, without my Mom, Marjorie.

In early September 1945, after the Japanese surrender, my mother had had enough of being alone, working as a ranch hand in Southern California.

Although "dependent wives" were not allowed in the "war zone", she packed her bags and flew to Anchorage where she surprised my father by showing up at the base gate, unannounced.

Fortunately, my father had a good relationship with the base commander (whose name I forget) and she was interviewed for a job there on base. The commander asked her if she could type, and she could, so he hired her as his secretary.

Dad warned Mom that she was one of the few young women in that "area of operations" with plenty of men who'd not seen their wives or sweethearts in many years.

Mom didn't care, as she was quite independent and strong-willed.

However, while walking about the streets of Anchorage on her days off, she'd notice this bearded man following her. When she would be accosted by the local or stationed men asking her for a date or to go have a drink, this bearded man would intervene, and tell the fellows to "Get outta here and leave her alone!"

That man was Moose Meat John.

He was her "Guardian Angel" during the time my parents were in Alaska.

Mom fondly told stories about "Moose Meat John" until her last days.

Moosemeat John and his Children
by: Matt Boyle

In 1911, he married Anastasia Nutnal'tna. Together, they had eleven children (John, Lillian, Elmer, Alice, Mary, Minnie, William, Robert, Flora, Gladys, and Lucy).

Lillian is my grandmother. My mother, Lois and I visited Hope, AK and the house in Hope where her mother, Lillian was born.

My Great Great Grandfather
by: Anonymous

He was my great-great-grandfather.

I Loved hearing the stories of him and his love for the community.

My painting of Moosemeat John
by: Betsey Ficke

In 1958/59 I was in an Anchorage Community College watercolor class.

One of our subjects was "Moosemeat John".

I still have a wonderful watercolor painting that I did then of Moosemeat John in my house here on Maui.

He Was My Great Grandfather
by: Pearl

I always heard stories about him, (he was) my great-grandfather.

My mother Beverly said that when her mother was away, he would take care of her and her sister Nancy.

My mother also said that he made the most awful stew ever. He tried to take care of babies, but he wasn't a good cook.

My mother loved him with all her heart, she even named her first son after him.

She mentioned that he always smelled smokey like a camp fire.

And my mother remembered him as a loving, kind man who called her "cookie" because she wanted cookies instead of that awful stew he always made.

Moose Meat John
by: Ron

When my folks went to VFW meetings, I would follow John around town.

He was a door checker, that's what I called him.

He did night security for a lot of business in town. We would always start at the Ambassador Club. My folks always knew I was safe with John. We walked the whole town, and my dad would pick me up at O"Neils bar at the other end of 4th. He was a great guy Marv. I was 13.

Grand Uncle
by: Marv Hedberg

Moose Meat was my Grand Uncle.
I always like hearing stories about him :-)

Marv Hedberg, Minnesota

"Bear at the Door"
by: Mary J Dougherty

Very interesting story and to learn about the cabin that helped save hunters lives.

Living in Alaska in the 40s and having the outdoor experience must have come in handy.

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