North Kenai, now Nikiski
We moved from a cold, cold large trailer house in a trailer court behind M and M Market, in North Kenai, (now Nikiski) where the bed sheets and blankets froze to the outer walls, and the windows and doors froze shut each night, to a house on Daniels Lake in January of 1969.
To get out of the trailer door to go to work and get the kids to school, I had to take a kitchen knife and chunk-away the ice on the frozen ice covered aluminum door to get out. The trailer, actually a very nice 14-by-72, was built in California. That should tell you it had hardly any insulation at all, and the furnace was itty bitty. Big single-paned windows in a tip-out and large single-paned windows in the kitchen. The floors were even colder! The kids and I went to bed in our coats and wool socks and I even put a stocking hat on my head. Oh my! We were cold.
The house on Daniels Lake was a small travel trailer with a big wannagan or “built-on large 24-by-42 room,” with a bedroom at one end, a small bedroom at the other end and an entry way. A great big fuel oil fired stove in the middle of the room. We were warm! No bedclothes sticking to the walls and the door actually opened and shut when you went in or out. It had great big double-paned winterized windows across the front overlooking the lake, so we could see the kids playing and learning to ski and skate on Daniels Lake
They also sledded down our steep-curved-tree lined, driveway. No little plastic sleds — just plastic garbage bags, plastic sheeting, garbage pail lids, anything that was flat and would move fast on the hard ice covered snow. We had one wooden sled — the old-fashioned kind with the steering in the front so you could (should) sit on it and guide yourself away from trees, bushes, cars and buildings. My one warning to all the kids was: DO NOT go down the hill head first! You will hit a tree and kill yourself!
After a day of sledding, it was time to eat. I called everyone in to undress and hang the coats, gloves and hats beside the stove, and pull the liners out of the boots to get dry. David complained that his arm hurt. I was busy getting supper on the table, and I said “Go wash your hands and eat.” He sat at the table and ate with his right hand — first clue I missed (he is left-handed). The second one was “my hand hurts” before he went to bed. My reply was “Get your jammies on. Go to bed. It will feel better in the morning. Good Night! Love ya.” Off he went to bed, just like he was told. About 2 o’clock in the morning, here was this little boy beside my bed, with tears running down his cheeks, “MOM my arm hurts really bad.”
I took one look at his arm — it had swollen to double its size. I knew it was broken — I had seen it many times when I worked in the hospital in Colorado. I felt so bad.
No phones to call a doctor, about 20 miles away in Kenai. I gave him a half aspirin and I put cold and hot compresses on it, until 8 in the morning arrived. We started into town in the Ford four-wheel-drive pickup to get his arm fixed. We arrived at 9, just as Dr. Pete Hansen was opening up his office. The kindly doctor took one look, said “it’s broken, but it is swollen so we will have to let the swelling go down before I put a cast on it. When did this happen?”
I felt so guilty when I said “Last night.” He never said a word, just turned around and got the gauze and splint and had his arm in good shape in no time. We had to go back and get a cast on it later. I never got over the fact that I ignored my son with a broken arm!
But on the other hand he did not kill himself going down the hill either! Yup! He had hit the big cottonwood tree with his hand, going head first down the hill!
To be continued next week ...