Kenai Alaska, July 10, 1967; David’s 8th birthday and on to North Kenai
We checked out our clean little motel room finished in pine. The beds had homemade quilts on them. The kids kicked off their shoes and crawled up on the bed. I handed them warm washcloths for their face and hands. They all stretched out and settle down for a nap.
I sat at the edge of the bed, opened my purse, counted what money I had left. My mind and my brain were churning as I had to figure out what our next move would be. I had left word at the airport where we had gone in case Jack Bateman showed up. Telephones were nonexistent in Kenai. Most communication was by CB radio and somehow Ken at Ken’s Auto got the word to Jack now working for Pan-American Oil in North Kenai.
My tired sleepless brain was finely winding down and I lay down beside the kids. I am sure I had my eyes closed at least 5 minutes when I heard a big racket outside our door. A big lady with a booming German accent was pounding on the door next to our room and shouting “Open zee door – You – you robber you! Open zee door!” She continued to pounding scream and with her last “open zee door” she added “I gonna to go gets zee PO-LICE!” I heard the door slam to her car and off she went.
OH! My Gosh! We had just gotten off of an oil dripping airplane, survived a ride the old “taxicab”— gotten safely inside a motel room and now we were just about to be surrounded by police! Ten minutes went by and I figured she had left. Just as the thought left my head here comes the car with the German lady and the police right behind her. She slammed her car door, went up to the door and started pounding and screaming again. “I gots the police this time — you better open up! Did you hear me? I gots the police.”
The policeman stepped up to the door and asked in a nice quiet voice for the man to come out. The man opened up the door, and the big German lady — started screaming again. “You — you robber you — where ees my propane tank?” The man pointed to his pickup truck. The policeman told him to go get it and put it in the lady’s car. A few more choice words were exchanged and a “Tank you” to the only policeman in town, the lady got in her car, slammed the door and spun off into the twilight at 3:30 in the morning.
The kids, too tired to understand what had happened, except for all the noise, went back to sleep but I was wide awake. My thought was, “I can’t stay here again tonight!” I had to find somewhere else to go, preferably North Kenai, as Jack had told me in a short communication before we left Colorado, that he now lived at Sleepers Trailer Court. OK, I thought — that is my next move. Find Sleepers Trailer Court!
I must have dozed off, as I was awakened by a knock on a door. It was our door this time! It was 9:30 in a sunny morning. I peeked out the window and saw Jack standing there. A man at the airport went by Ken’s Auto and told him that Jack’s wife and kids were in town at the Harbor View Annex. Ken called on the CB to Pan American. They got word to Jack where we were.
I do not know to this day whether I was happy to see him, relieved to see him or just calmly fuming inside at what all we had been through. He explained that he was going to pick us up in Anchorage but he broke down at the Moose Horn Garage in Sterling early the day before. After working on the old green 40’s era Willys Jeep, he drove back to North Kenai for further word from us.
The kids were more than happy to see their dad and he wished David a happy birthday. Things were pretty terse and strained between us. He told the kids to get their shoes on. He picked up our three suitcases and put them in the Jeep. The three kids climbed in the backseat, after dusting off a layer of dust. I climbed in the dusty passenger seat. We chugged off down through Kenai and on out of town. The pavement stopped at Tanglewood Gas and Grocery. (This was a mile north of Fire Station No. 1. It is a gravel pit now.) The pavement dropped off and we were on a dirt covered, dusty trail. The dirt and dust as I later learned was volcanic dust, churned up through all of the cracks and crevices of the old Willys Jeep. It settled in big clouds on all of us. Jack pointed out where the kids would be going to school, North Kenai Elementary School. Now this is the site of the North Kenai Recreation and Swimming Pool.
We choked, coughed and chugged our way out to Sleepers Trailer Court. Jack drove up to a big white double wide trailer setting in the bare ground and dust of the trailer court. I was so impressed that we had a nice big home to settle in. I thanked Jack over and over again and told him how nice it was.
He told me that we could not live there very long that we would have to find someplace else soon. I guess I did not hear that part!
Next week: Strawberries in Sleepers Trailer court, dirt and warm sunshine most of the 24 hours of the daylight. The birds chirped and sang all the time. I felt happy and satisfied we were finally going to settle at our final destination. I loved the sunshine and the birds and the friendly, happy people. And we get to meet the big German lady….again.