Tuesday, October 8, 2013

From Pelican to Seward

Pelican had a two-room school for grades K-8. I took eighth grade there and graduated the year Alaska became a state--1959. Since Pelican had no high school, Barbie and I began taking correspondence courses that fall, our freshman year. Grade school had been easy for me, but now I had to dig everything out for myself. That was the year I learned how to study.

The only option to correspondence courses for high school in Pelican at that time was for the students to go away to boarding school. Instead of that, since there were six or seven teens in Pelican, the school board decided we could all take correspondence courses. They arranged for us to meet daily during school hours in the tiny library on the second floor of the fire house and paid my dad to supervise. That arrangement worked well. Most of us were freshman so we could help each other on coursework, and my dad proved to be a good teacher when we got stuck, especially in algebra. This job also helped us financially.

My parents had put in a request to be transferred to another church in a town with a regular high school. In February 1960, my dad was offered the pastorate of a small church in Seward, Alaska. We packed up, shipped our household goods and books, and flew to Juneau on the Alaska Coastal Airlines Grumman Goose. (Since Pelican had no roads, we didn't own a car). In Juneau, we boarded the Pacific Northern four-engine prop plane, the Constellation (nicknamed "Connie"), and flew to Anchorage. There, we transferred to a single-engine plane to fly to Seward.

The day we flew south through the Chugach Mountains and swooped down toward Resurrection Bay, on which Seward was situated, the weather was picture-postcard perfect. Surrounded by rugged, snow-capped mountains, the clear blue waters of Resurrection Bay reflected the azure canopy and sparkled in the bright sun. As I peered out the plane's tiny window and caught my first glimpse of our new hometown, I thought Seward was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and I'd seen most of southern Alaska as well as much of the United States from Washington to Pennsylvania.

When we entered the parsonage attached to the tiny church, though, I cried. We had left a lovely home in Pelican. Though the living quarters in Pelican had not been large, the upstairs, which extended the full length of the building, had afforded enough bedrooms for each of us to have our own. Now, we three girls had to share a room only large enough for a twin bed and a set of bunk beds set side by side with only an orange crate between as a lamp stand. One double dresser extended from the foot of the twin bed to an open closet across the other end of the room. My sister's dresser stood outside our door in the nine-by-twelve living room.

We could see daylight through cracks in the plank floor in our closet. That winter and every winter thereafter in that house, I often could not change my sheets for weeks on end because they were frozen securely to the wall. Our parents' bedroom was even smaller--one double bed with enough space for one person to walk around and built-in drawers along one wall and a closet along the wall by the door.

Our "central" heat consisted of a furnace in a hole dug under the floor covered with a large metal grate not quite three-feet square. That became a favorite place to stand during those winter months when the strong, frigid winds blew in off the bay and rattled the house.

In spite of the inadequacies of the house, though, I soon made many friends and learned to love Seward. God again proved His faithfulness in meeting our needs. See my previous post, "God Is Never Too Late," and my next post of how God showed His concern for a special need I had.

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