The Flip Side Of
Peter Dana show
by Laura O'Siggins
Dad's Talkeetna Sign
My dad hosted a show back in 1967 or 68. It was either called “The Flip Side of Peter Dana” or “The Peter Dana show”.
My dad was an entertainer, a self-taught piano player, and back in the 60s in southern California, he played with Louie Armstrong, and many other blues singers.
He was a comedian and folk singer and the name of his album was, “The Flip Side of Peter Dana”. It had an intro done by Doodles Weaver.
Dad moved to Anchorage after spending 2 years in Vietnam where he learned Vietnamese fluently. He spoke 7 languages fluently and sang in 21 languages.
In 1969, my mom, my brother and I moved up to join him in Anchorage and in June 1970, he moved us to a tiny cabin in Talkeetna. (Back then, the population was “75 counting the dogs.”) My dad bought the cabin for $5 and back taxes. It had no water or electricity and the ceiling was probably only 5 or 6 ft high. To move around, we took all the floorboards out and dug down about a foot and put in a new floor.
We took our showers at the Fairview Inn and retrieved water there as well. The outhouse was rickety and, as I remember, had big black spiders in the summer. So an old coffee can is what I used at night.
Dad entertained at “Evil Alice's A-framed bar” and he and my brother Mark started Talkeetna's first garbage hauling business.
Dad made the wooden sign that is seen in many pictures of Talkeetna. It reads, “Welcome to Beautiful Talkeetna, Alaska”.
Mark, my brother, and dad both stayed in Talkeetna for another decade before moving to Oregon.
Mom and I both worked as waitresses to earn money to go to Oregon to live with friends because we did not like living in such a small town without running water or electricity.
Mom worked at the Double A frame bar or restaurant, and she often had black bears rummaging through garbage cans on the street and was frightened as there were no streetlights. I was 13 and worked from 10am to 7pm at the Hurt café across the street from us, and the owner taught me to wait on tables, cook burgers, make fries etc. While I worked, she would sip on her whiskey and when she ran out, she would write notes for me to be able to run to the Roadhouse and pick up a fifth of whiskey for her. At least that is what I remember.
I have plenty of rich memories of that summer, enough to fill many journals.
Sadly, both my father, my brother, and my mom have all passed away.
If anyone knows how I can get copies of my dad's shows and, or if anyone has any stories or memories of my family, I would love to hear from you!
Laura (Olson) O'Siggins