Cooper Landing

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2005


"Luck 'o the Irish" is the name of the St. Patrick's Day dinner fund-raiser for Cooper Landing Elementary School Thursday at the Sunrise Inn. The 5:30 p.m. seating is full, but spots are available at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Corned beef and cabbage dinner with dessert is $12 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under.

Traditionally, pictures are taken as dinner guests enter and CLES students are the wait staff under adult guidance.

Michelle Stewart, Cooper Landing Volunteer Ambulance president, called with congratulations and thanks. Congratulations to Cheryle James, Grace Reger, Heidi Thrasher and Phil Weber who recently completed Emergency Medical Technician II training and testing. Tom Bailey from Lifeguard was the trainer during the week of 10 hour days followed by practicals and written tests. Thanks go to all the community members who donated veins for the intravenous practice. CLVA now has a roster of three EMT Is, six EMT IIs and two EMT IIIs. CLVA recently completed the paperwork regarding changing the lease of the public facilities site from the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Mike Williams, Meghan Day, Maggie Daly, Fran Daly, Kirstin Forbes, Jess Stewart, D.J. Fair and Dustin Fair are the members of the community middle school children's basketball team. They were coached by Dennis Fair and Alice Daly was the assistant.

The Cooper Landing Lynx were the regular season champs after winning five out of five games with Moose Pass, Hope and Whittier. The end of season tournament was held in Whittier on Feb. 26 with the Cooper Landing kids taking runners-up position to the Whittier kids. Duane Ohnemus refereed and a dozen parents and friends made up the cheering section. Special awards were given at the tournament to D. J. Fair for most valuable player, to Fran Daly for sportsmanship, and to Maggie Daly for most improved player.

Life in 1958 and 1959 in Cooper Landing according to Floyd McElveen in his book, "The Call of Alaska," was challenging. Mac came to Cooper Landing as a missionary following the work started by Conservative Baptist Home Missionary Ula Smith and Marie Barber who commuted to Seward to teach school. The McElveen family moved into a home near Cooper Creek.

"Next to our cabin was sparkling Cooper Creek filled with rainbow trout," Mac wrote. "The mighty Kenai River filled with salmon raced by several hundred yards across the road from us. Those rainbow trout, rolled in corn meal and fried in butter were memorable. Once while fishing Cooper Creek, I caught a 39-inch trout with a small hook and a single salmon egg. I wondered what that tremendous fish thought when the little egg or insect he attacked suddenly started dragging him all over the river."

With help from Lee Van Sickle, Mac started hand digging the foundation for Kenai Lake Baptist Church. Permission to harvest enough logs for the church was given and Mac and Lee went to work logging above Snug Harbor Road. They used a "ski mobile" to drag the logs down the mountain. "Finally, a Christian brother from another village, Dr. Pollard, let us use his horse, Jerry. That horse was a godsend. Many times, we got the logs jammed into other trees and had to cant hook the log loose by sheer muscle and prayer. After about a year, they had enough logs and began to peel them.

In the meantime, the necessities of life were met. "There was no electricity in the village, and our standing joke was that if you wanted running water, you had to get a bucketful and run with it." The McElveen's got water from a stream on a hill near their house. "We got empty Blazo cans which held five or 10 gallons of water, and strained up the slick, icy hill In the middle of winter, the creek froze and we had to cut holes in the ice to get the creek water We made shelves from orange and apple crates and Blazo boxes. For light, we had Coleman lanterns."

Mac describes several moose hunts. Moose was a staple in the McElveen family diet. One of the largest bull moose Mac saw in his 14 years in Alaska had a 57-inch rack which "is a beautiful centerpiece in the den room of my home in Petal, Miss." This was an animal Mac downed with one shot from his 30:06 rifle, and then silence. While looking for the moose it suddenly jumped up, almost on top of him.

To be continued.

Mona Painter can be reached by phone at 595-1248 or by email at

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