Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Alaskan Sister

Back in 1975 my sister (Goldy) and her then live-in boyfriend (now husband, Gold Digger), being the hippies they were, packed up their VW Van, and drove to the last frontier. In Alaska, you could still homestead. When they arrived they did several odd jobs to survive; and indeed, it was survival. They had no where to live. As my sister said, they lived out in the bush.

They plotted out gold mining claims for a large property owner. Living in a tent with a camping stove and dutch oven and supplies they could carry from their van on the long hike. She told me stories of digging out the snow in area large enough to accommodate their tent. The deeper they dug, the warmer they stayed. Fine dining included, black tailed deer , canned vegetables, and fresh baked bread. Goldy said she would mix her dough and sleep with it in her sleeping bag so it would rise and not freeze. Goldy and Gold Digger panned for gold for extra money as well.

My Aunt and Uncle owned small hunting lodge and lived in Alaska for two years. Goldy and Gold Digger grew tired of living in the bush and working for the man. Cold and tired, they trekked out of the bush, back to their hippie van for the long drive back to town. As luck would have it, their love bus broke down. On a remote highway, out in the middle of nowhere, it died. Goldy said it was a miracle. They spotted a truck and waved it down. Can you believe it? It was my Aunt and Uncle. They stayed with the relatives for a couple of days and it was time; time to homestead.

They packed their tent, clothes, and supplies and paid a Cessna pilot to take them to a small island off the coast of Alaska called Montigue Island. They built a log cabin and small barn. Of course, the cabin had no electricity and no running water. There were three other couples living on the island. A community hut was built were the islanders would eat dinner together. All couples took turns cooking. They hung their black tailed deer outside the hut and would lower it to get cuts of meat. A small plane flew in every three days delivering supplies and mail.

They cut tree bulbs and crafted sconces and furniture. They combed the beach with a metal detector to find treasures, and panned for gold so they could afford supplies to live.

As nature has it, Goldy found she was with child. Natural childbirth was the hippie way and Montigue Midas was born. (Yes, this what they named their son.) Montigue was for the island and Midas after the mythical King Midas with the golden touch. Goldy would strap Monty on her back, strap on her 357, and hall water back to her home. She had to protect herself and her baby from the bears. Goldy was and is tough as hell; all 110 lbs of her.

Around two years went by. Goldy and Monty were out in the barn when Monty fell from the loft and broke his collarbone. Poor baby, they would have wait three days before the mail and supply plane would arrive so they could take him to a doctor.

That was it. Goldy insisted they move back to civilization for the safety of her child. Living in Wasilla, Alaska, my sister is no longer a Kansan, but a true Alaskan.

A picture of my Alaskan sister and brother (who lives in Lori's town). I love those guys...


Ange (formerly Writer Mom) said...

If I ever complain about anything ever again, just smack me upside the head with an Alaskan salmon.

If you don't publish this stuff, can I steal your memory a couple of months? There's got to be a least a couple dozen best sellers locked up in that head of yours.

110 pound sister protecting her baby from bears! And we're hovering in the house tonight, avoiding the dive bombing cicadas!

Sassy said...

Oh wow that sounds crazy and interesting!

ZBTzahBTzoo said...

Cicadas dive-bomb? Yikes!

Becky, not only is your family tree branched in the most complex and interesting ways, not one of its precious apples is the same color or flavor. Amazing. Truly amazing. Ange is right -- it would make for a wonderful book.

Anonymous said...

Holy in-laws lived in Alaska on a military base and just the stories of the climate and such were enough to scare the 'i want to visit Alaska" out of me! How in the hell did they do it? lol

fineartist said...

I love those guys too, and the next time Goldy comes in country, I'm going to see her, no matter how crappy I feel.

I saw brother man yesterday at the grocery store...I was hot and sweaty, I hugged him anyway, I'm sure he was thrilled.

Goldy has always been an interesting, different kind a person, and tender, she was always so loving and tender. I miss her.

I think I always liked most the way she talked, gently, clearly, and with compassion.

Becky I love the way you told this story, and I'm kind a crazy about you too.

Sir James E. Watkins said...

Cool story.

Cool people.

Cool, Becky....

Sir James E. Watkins said...

I've a buddy that was born on an old hippy commune, said his dad and others, before he was born, lived in tipis all winter and ate pancakes, just pancakes.

Mike, John's dad, was killed while riding in a group motorcycle ride a couple of months ago.

They all got together and rode again, a month after his death.

Last weekend, we had a ceremony, spread his dad's ashes up there, on the mountain, on an "Indian" burial mound.

He is free now.

Goodbye, brother. Goodbye.


this story reminded me of eating pancakes in the winter time, inside of a tipi.

beckyboop said...

James, what an great thing to do. You hippy/biker friend sounds like he was a character. How cool to live in a tipi!

What a perfect send off; an Indian buriel mound. Beautiful.

I wish you could steal my memory, no one could write it as wonderful as you.

Hi Sas!!!! Miss ya Jess!

Zbt, Goldy could definitely write a book on her life experiences.

Oh Lori, no , I'm crazy 'bout you! XXX

LZ Blogger said...

Becky - As I read this... I kept thinking you were going to say (at the end) that you had just made this story up... but I was wrong! I can't wait for the chapter that has the name of the NEXT kid! Can I suggest "BACKTOTHECITY" for the first name. But seriously... that's an incredible story. And, I can't help but admire that kind of pioneering spirit! ~ jb///

Hawaiianmark said...

Toooooo Cool.


Rain said...

Great story. I love the sprit of Alaska and communes. More stories Aunt Becky! Tell us more!

Holly said...

hmmm....seems like you can grow your own marijuana out there, too...hmmm...thinking I would love Alaska....