Residents think way back before recalling winter similar to this one

Area seniors: I remember when...

Posted: Friday, December 13, 2002

Older folks at senior citizen centers from Sterling to Nikiski don't recall a winter as mild as this on the Kenai Peninsula and many are appreciative of the fresh covering of snow the area started receiving Wednesday.

"I looked out the window this morning and saw the snow and I laughed," said Sylvia M. Johnson, 77, at the Kenai Senior Center.

"It did my heart good."

The last time she remembered not having snow for Christmas was in 1952.

"We got here the weekend before Christmas 1952, to go on our homestead and there was no snow until the following February. We got about 12 or 15 inches in February and it was all gone by March," said Johnson.

"Then we had mud. Back then, there were no paved roads south of Anchorage."

Opal Robison, 71, and Barbara Basas, 63, also at the Kenai center, could not recall a winter this mild.

Basas' advice about the weather is to "enjoy it while you can. You can't stop it so you might as well enjoy it," she said.

Robison agreed and said people should slow down when driving on snow-covered roads.

"I can remember not having enough snow to snow machine on 'til after Christmas, but it wasn't warm like this," said Marjorie Adolf, 78, who has resided on the Kenai Peninsula since 1973.

She, Betty Whitcomb, 77, and Pearl Burton, 83, were gathered at the Soldotna Senior Center and reminisced about winters past.

"We've almost always had snow for Halloween," said Burton.

"I do remember one Thanksgiv-ing in the early '80s when it was all muddy and we didn't have any snow, but it didn't last long," she said.

Adolf said, "I never remember fearing we wouldn't have a white Christmas," and Whitcomb added, "That meant it was snowing on Christmas day. We always had snow on the ground."

Bill Burket, 78, who has been in the Soldotna area for 20 years, said he only remembers one year when he wondered whether there would be snow by Christmas.

"Just after we came in 1982, I remember my daughter came up from Arizona and we were waiting for it to snow that Christmas," Burket said.

"It didn't come 'til almost Christmas day."

At the Nikiski Senior Center, Ken Baker, 75, said this winter is pretty close to being the mildest winter he has experienced here.

"It's just about like 1960," he said, recalling his first winter on the Kenai Peninsula. He did not remember any Christmases without snow.

"I'm just tickled with it," he said after Wednesday's snowfall.

Jim Herrick, 68, and Tom Holland, 67, also at the Nikiski center, said the mild weather was fine with them.

Herrick, who said he first came to Alaska by driving up the Alaska Highway at age 17 in November 1951, said, "It'd be OK with me if (the weather) stayed this way 'til spring, but I know it's not going to."

Holland, who has lived in Alaska 40 years, said he only recalls one Christmas when it didn't snow.

"I bought two snow machines that year," he said with a laugh.

Jean Nappier, 74, also at the Nikiski center, said she likes snow better than rain because "the rain makes the roads so dark."

Her advice to people with regard to the weather is, "Drive sensibly. Slow down a little bit."

Will Josey, 62, at the Sterling Senior Citizen Center first came to Alaska in 1970, and said he remembers a couple of years with no snow for Thanksgiving day, but always has seen snow for Christmas.

"It's much warmer this winter ... at least 15 to 20 degrees warmer on average," he said.

B.C. Smith, 81, and his wife, Carol, 74, also at the Sterling center, said they have never seen a winter this warm.

"I was in construction," said B.C. Smith. "And about mid-October, you couldn't find the redheads and then you couldn't work any longer." He explained that the redheads are red markers surveyors set in the road to identify work locations.

B.C. first came to Alaska in 1964 and the couple moved here permanently in 1968. Carol said, "There's always a little bit of snow by Christmas. I just take the weather the way it comes."

Asked for his advice for dealing with the weather, B.C. simply said, "Put a coat on."

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