"Everything was strange to me you know. So, I didn’t know what to really look forward to. They had no place for me to go other than the children’s home. Everybody was ending up there that needed help or had no parents."
Why were you at the Children’s Home?
I was living at the Clark’s Point at the time. And, my mother had passed on that summer. Then in the winter I flew over with the pastor from Clark’s Point. His name was Jim Ditmar, in a little small silver airplane. I just remember that flight it was a nice flight, sunny day. Flew over the Children’s Home a couple of times. Everything was strange to me you know. So, I didn’t know what to really look forward to. But I got there and I don’t remember how I started fitting in but, like I said I had no choice but ended up there. I had nowhere to go.
They had no place for me to go other than the children’s home. Everybody was ending up there that needed help or had no parents.
Do you have any difficult or sad memories?
Like I said, they were pretty strict. There were a lot of things you could do and couldn’t do. Sad memories as far as wanting to go home. I had sister in Bethel, she was living in Bethel then. Or going back to Clark’s Point, where I was from. A lot of kids came and went you know. I guess whenever they’d find a place to stay they’d go home. They were the lucky ones and we’d all be wishing we could go too you know.
Why did you want to go home?
Well I had friends there. I made a lot of friends there but you never forget your friends at home. And that’s why I wanted to go. Well the kids that wanted to stay were the ones that had a hard time growing up. They didn’t want to go back to the place where they came from. Maybe they had mean parents or they didn’t want to go back and they liked it there. I don’t know, everybody had different reasons for wanting to stay or wanting to leave. But I sure wanted to leave.
What else do you remember from living up there?
In wintertime we used to, well actually before freeze-up, we used to build a little fence around the buildings, boys' dorm and the girls' dorm. Especially the girl’s dorm, that was a cold building. Then before the first snowfall, the grass we’d cut from back at that old runway back there by the slough. We’d put inside the little fence around the buildings there. Kind of banked up the buildings to keep it warm, to keep drafts from coming in. Then as always in the middle of the night there’d be a chimney fire. Then we’d all have to get up at night and go on fire watch. Watching for sparks to come down and light that grass. So it was always the middle of the night, 2-3 o’clock in the morning.
Everybody had to go out with a wet burlap sack. Girls and all!
Harold Strand and I used to, like I said, go hunting. They’d give us five shells. We’d each get five ptarmigan a piece, and the girls would cook them and we’d eat them. And they said, well why don’t you get enough for everybody. So they gave us a box of shells and we went out and got a whole bunch of ptarmigan. Everybody ate ptarmigan! That was fun. A lot of them boys are gone. Even the girls that were up there.
Are you glad that you went there overall?
In a way, and in a way no. I learned a lot you know. Up there. Well, religious things you know. Like I said we went to church a lot and I learned a lot of things about religion.
I mean it was sad to see a lot of these kids that grew up there with me. They are no longer around now. They are abusing a lot of things that they shouldn’t have been abusing be like alcohol and drugs and stuff. But, I don’t know why. Maybe they had too much religion taught to them. I don’t know, that’s my feeling you know. Too many “no-no’s” and they had to try it and it just done them in. But I managed to survive.