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Peninsula Reflections

Posted: Monday, October 22, 2007


  Dennis sits in the front row among other first-graders in Anchorages's only school at the time, serving kindergarten through 12th grade. Photos courtesy of Dodie Dennis

Dennis sits in the front row among other first-graders in Anchorages's only school at the time, serving kindergarten through 12th grade.

Photos courtesy of Dodie Dennis

Along with six others, Dodie Dennis of Kenai was invited by George Sullivan to attend a dinner for those who were born in the city of Anchorage before it was incorporated in 1920. Dennis remembers when there was one school only, which served all grades.

Anchorage was a small town, reaching a population of 3,500 in 1935.

Dennis was born to Edith and John Long-acre. The couple moved to Anchorage of because of Don's employment with the Alaska Railroad. Dennis attended Anchorage High along with other students from Kenai, the Wiks and Shaduras, as there was no high school in Kenai at the time.

After graduation Dennis worked at various jobs, but it was while she worked as a soda jerk that she met her future husband, Carl Dennis, who was stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage. They were married just four days after the beginning of World War II and lived the traveling life of a soldier's family. While at Fort Benning, Ga., Carl earned the rank of lieutenant, and then the couple was off to Germany. They were stationed at many other places, as well.

Upon Carl's retirement, the couple toured the United States to determine where they would like to settle down. It became a toss up between Massachusetts and Alaska. Dodie prevailed and Carl agreed to give it a try until their four children, Carol, Pat, Victoria and Carl Jr., finished high school. In May 1972 Carl said, "We're moving."

The couple tried living in Seattle and did not like it. They settled in Paso Roles, Calif., where they lived for many years among the almond orchards and vineyards.

Carl began to have some health problems and whenever he was hospitalized he would request, "Call the girls." Pat and her sisters persuaded their parents that living closer would be the solution to all of their long-distance trips.

After two years in Seattle, the couple moved to Kenai to be close to their daughter, Pat and her family. Carl died in 2004 and Dodie moved to the Kenai Senior Citizen Center housing, Vintage Pointe, where she now regales luncheon companions with some of her anecdotes.

One tale is about meeting John Hedburg, "Moosemeat John," while she was working at Anchorage Electric Municipal Light and Power. He gave her a vial with small flakes of gold in it that she had for many years.

Her tales of travel include a trip on the Delta Queen riverboat at New Orleans, with visits to old plantations. (Carl was playing golf.)

She said, "I traveled abroad and I'm still a broad."

Among her collected artifacts is a volume given to her by her father with issues of the publication "The Pathfinder" from the Pioneers of Alaska dated from the 1920s. She has plans to donate it the Anchorage museum, as many of the articles deal with Anchorage and the surrounding areas.

Elsie Seaman interviewed Dennis and provided this article for the Kenai Historical Society.

Editors note: Dodie and Carl's daughter Pat Porter is the mayor of Kenai, serving her second term.

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