"I can’t remember barely much of it. Sometimes I remember missing home and next day they’d let me forget about home. I stayed there a year or two, I believe two years."

FRANCIS ASHEPAK

What years were you at the Children’s Home?

 

 

 

 

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    I can’t remember what year I went there, maybe ’70, 69-70. I remember coming home in 1971.

     

    Not really. I missed everything that was going on up there. Helping each other out. Church… Mr.Henkelman was the story guy. He would always read us books, storybooks. Mr. Lyle and Mrs. Lyle were… they ran the boys dorm and I didn’t know who ran girl’s dorm. But girl’s dorm they’d always be cooking over there. They’d do all the cooking stuff and the boys were separated from the girls. I can’t remember barely much of it. Sometimes I remember missing home and next day they’d let me forget about home. I stayed there a year or two, I believe two years.  Me and my two older brothers.

     

What do you know about Gabriel Fox?

 

 

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    Gabriel Fox was there. He woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me to get dressed and so I did, not knowing what was going on. And he told me, let’s run away. And I said, run where? There’s nowhere to run in the middle of Summer. So he went down a fire escape. And I went in and I woke somebody up, I forgot who. And he walked away asking me to come down, and I said no! I don’t want to come down. He went behind this Christmas tree and I never saw him pop-up, either side of the tree or the top. He just disappeared.

     

    Was it middle of Summer or Winter?

    Summer, summer… he wanted to go somewhere I didn’t know which way he wanted to run or where he wanted to go and I didn’t know how to swim. He said the only way we can get to another place is by swimming across this creek and then we’ll walk out a mile or two and we’ll see Kwethluk. I didn’t want to go with him that night he ran away.

     

    I don’t like to really talk about it because he was the one that woke me up last and I seen him walk away from the building. And after that I heard stories after we moved out, or after we moved back home, here. I heard stories about him, running fish camps or certain village. But he’d never want to be seen. What was he like before he left? Just another normal kid. I don’t remember playing with him. I just don’t know, I was maybe a little too young.  I stayed up there, I don’t know two years at least, two and a half?

     

Did you ever feel lonely up there?

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    Not really, because I had a lot of peers, peers of my age and boys that were older than me. I know we ran away a couple of times there, a few of us boys came here to Bethel and as soon as we jumped off the boat we got arrested, jumped back in the boat and head right back up. I’d laugh about it when I think about it today because we didn’t know them people that were at the beach. We thought they were just gonna say, “Hi! Camai! You ran away, congratulations!” But it wasn’t like that, it was just approach Bethel and jump off and they told us to go back in the boat, you’re going back where you came from! It was a laugh. We made it out of Children’s Home all right but ended up going back the same day.

    Why did you run away?

    Because someone came up to be and asked me, “Ain’t you getting bored of this?”

     

    And it’s always in winter time rather than summer because we had transportation. Winter was no problem, you would just walk.

     

     

Why did you go to the Children’s Home?

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    Mischievous little boy. I remember starting a tractor down on 3rd Road. That’s about it, that’s all I can remember. Next thing I knew I was taken away from my parents and I wound up at Children’s Home. Middle of winter. I went up by truck. And the first person I ever seen and met was Robert Nicholai, Eskimo name…

     

When were you there last?

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    Last time I went up was… seven.. eight-years-ago? Nine… ten-years-ago? They were demolishing the girl’s dorm, no.. recently. About three-years-ago… four-years-ago. The boy’s dorm was still standing, complete building, still intact. Boardwalk is somewhat still there. Generator is all pretty much still there. Mr.Henkelman’s house is still there. Girl’s dorm is probably demolished by now. The church was still there, no bigger than this house, or a little bit bigger.