Peninsula Reflections

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2007


  Jerry and Marilyn Hanson (Kari Mohn) are shown in this November 1968 photo outside their log house on Strawberry Road. Photo from the personal collecti

Jerry and Marilyn Hanson (Kari Mohn) are shown in this November 1968 photo outside their log house on Strawberry Road.

Photo from the personal collecti

When I arrived in Kenai in 1968 it was a boom town. It was hard to find a place to live. You couldn’t get a mailbox and there was a waiting list for a telephone.

Teachers from Outside were hired over the telephone sight unseen. Kenai Elementary School was on double session waiting for Sears Elementary School to open.

Jerry Hanson and I bought an unfinished log house on unpaved Strawberry Road. It was an unusual log house — the logs between the windows were vertical. The windows were single pane with Visqueen over them to retain heat. We put up our own mailbox out on the Kenai Spur Highway. Our address was Route 2, Kenai.

Two months later, we still had no phone. Jerry hooked up the phone himself, called the telephone company and told them they could start billing us. We were on a four party line.

I wanted to volunteer at a hospital or library. Since there was no hospital I opted for the Kenai Community Library next to where the Kenai Fine Arts Center is now. I walked in on the only day it was open — Thursday. I asked if they could use a volunteer. Eager eyes turned toward me.

“Can you start tomorrow?” came the question. The all-volunteer library was going to be open two days a week. I volunteered Fridays for years.

Our first child, Paul Hanson, was born in Dr. Peter Hansen’s Kenai office with nurse Gloria Wisecarver assisting. Paul was delivered feet first but with the medical team’s skill arrived safely. Dr. Hansen carried me from the delivery room to the overnight room. Paul was placed in a bassinet that had held the Hansen’s children. Wilma Thompson stayed with me in the early evening so Jerry could rest. Then Dad took over; checking me and changing his new son’s diapers. We went home the next day.

During the 1969 fire, when Paul was 3 weeks old, all of Strawberry Road had to evacuate. We loaded up the important things first, like diapers, into the utility trailer we had pulled up the highway from California. As we listened to fire bulletins on KSRM, we kept loading; a cedar chest, the television and camping gear. Then it was time to go. We drove through thick smoke right across the Beaver Creek wetlands.

When we got to Kenai, we realized we couldn’t get to the cloth diapers. Jerry had to take off the front trailer panel to access the essentials. When we were released to come home we discovered a big firebreak in our back yard.

Each spring the road would go out. Water from the big field would drain across the road and puddle between the curve and the highway.

One Sunday, a Cat was working on Strawberry Road trying to make it passable. The boys and I were headed to church. I took one look at the muddy road, asked the guys if they’d pull us out if we got stuck, told the boys to hang onto the casserole for the after-church potluck and gave it a go.

I made it through, much to the admiration of the highway department.

Submitted by Kari Mohn (Marilyn Hanson) with the Kenai Historical Society.

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