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Peninsula Reflections

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2007

 

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  Above, Land's End in Homer is shown right after the 1964 earthquake. Below, Douglas Spaulding is shown in this November 1963 photo astride a moose, soon to be the family's dinner. Photos courtesy the Spaulding co

Land's End in Homer is shown right after the 1964 earthquake.

Photos courtesy the Spaulding co

Gordon Spaulding, a World War II Navy veteran trained in underwater mine demolition, working as a surveyor with the Oregon State Highway Department, met me, Pauline Spaulding. I was a bank teller, and we were married in Salem, Ore., in November 1949.

In the summer of 1962 Gordon applied for a position with the Alaska State Highway Department and was accepted as a project engineer. We, along with daughters Gayle, Kathy and Janet and our son Douglas, sold our home in Eugene, Ore., bought a new 10-by-55-foot trailer and arrived in Anchorage in October. We had the typical cheechako experiences of learning to live in Alaska, of which some were painful and some were laughable (our first Christmas tree was a spindly swamp spruce.)

In the spring, Gordon commuted to Kenai, surveying the road from Bishop Creek to Captain Cook Park. In July the family was transferred to Homer and we arrived at the Homer Spit on the day of the dedication of the new Homer Boat Harbor. Sen. Gruening was the guest speaker and, having met our family, he introduced us to the crowd.

 

Above, Land's End in Homer is shown right after the 1964 earthquake. Below, Douglas Spaulding is shown in this November 1963 photo astride a moose, soon to be the family's dinner.

Photos courtesy the Spaulding co

Our trailer was located at the Bear Foot Trailer Park across the street from the original Wild Berry Products Store.

The family was at home together during the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and we stood outside and watched the ground come in waves, much like the ocean waves. That was quite a shattering experience for everyone and then the townspeople were alerted to evacuate in fear of a tsunami.

The independent thinking of Alaskans was demonstrated by a sign on an outside spigot at the then telephone office in Homer, "Keep up with the Joneses — Carry your own water!"

Also in dealing with the many homesteaders along the new highway construction, many threats were made that if things didn't go the way they wanted, the homesteader would "Call Bill!" It seemed like everyone knew Gov. Bill Egan personally.

The fall of '64 found our family located at Nordby's Trailer Park in Soldotna, where Gordon was traveling to work in the Turnagain Arm area as all 19 bridges had collapsed during the earthquake. He also was working on the new highway construction from Kasilof to Homer. Also during that fall our family was transferred to Anchorage, where in 1968 we bought a new home in Chester Valley. Gordon was project engineer for C Street Bridge, C Street Extension, Tudor Road, Muldoon Road, Debarr Road, Minnesota Bypass, etc., until he retired in July 1979.

I enrolled at Anchorage Community College to reinforce my secretarial skills (the electric typewriter had been invented since I last worked outside the home). I was hired by the University of Alaska in January 1969 and held various positions for the next 10 years. There was no campus at that time so college classes were held at West High School, the Air Force and Army bases and other locations.

I was the secretary for Dr. Lewis Haines, provost of the Southcentral region, for three years and during that time property for the Kenai Community College was donated to the university system. I was the administrative assistant for Dean Eugene Short and then for Dr. Bill Stewart, president of Anchorage Community College. I retired in 1979.

After caring for elderly family members for a number of years, we retired to our favorite place in Alaska — Kenai! Having raised our family in the majestic state of Alaska, we are happy that senior citizens are now well served and we can remain at home to be near our children and grandchildren.

Written by Pauline Spaulding for the Kenai Historical Society.



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