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The first thing to go was Papa Jan Beukers and Alfred Romanski. They both quit in disgust over the company. This brought on a long fine of replacement transit so-called cooks in which only a couple of survived. When you affect the site's chow line, now, you're fooling around with live dynamite to be sure! The troops were constantly complaining about the poor quality of food, the indifference of this "new" Company, etc. To be for sure, the Air Force duly noted this and did everything to correct the problem. Another person, Louis Ludivico, quit and went back to college in New York State.
During this period of time, a few new faces showed up for the Burko Maintenance Company, some of those being Bob "Melon-Head" Mollette, Dale Finley, Herb Downing and son Mike, "Martini" Sam Theis the mailman, Bob "Horny" Hornell, Fred Ogdon, Ray Johnson, Chuck Mackey, Marty Woods, Leroy Mayberry, and Ceasar Jauquez, a bull cook. As I can recall, there wasn't very many more changes in the personnel until next year.
So, here again, the contractors changed. In July of 1963, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company took over from the Philco TechRep Division. It was an almost I 00% take-over, with just a few staying with Philco that went to the Donnelly or Annette Tracking Stations. This time, new equipment and configurations were being installed and required more new skilled personnel. A few of these new troops were John Thompson as the Station Manager, Pete "The Smoother-Mover" Smyth, Fred Voge, Bob "Slip-Knot" Siptrott, Dave Hudson, Dallas McCall, Marv Worden, Floyd "Chico" Gentis, John "Shoes" Shoemaker, Walt O'Neal, Frank Stelwagon, Eugene "Geno" Guerra, "Big" Jon White, George "Banjo" Smith, Roy "Maltzie" Maltsburger, John Eilert, Dave Ginrich, Danny O'Neal, Bob Lowenburg, Sam McCalley, Ed Chaveaux, Bill Hixson, Bill Ingram, Don Austring, Ross Ophaug, Chuck Lumsten, Dennis LaDrew, Mike Waller, Walt Reese, "Chiniak" Chuck Schmeizel, and Phil Andersen (no relation to the towns Andersons). Dick Monnell was retained at this time as the Operations Station Manager for Lockheed.
With Philco WDL, Roger Bagnetti, Vince Cappelletti, and Clarence "Buzz" Longstreth collectively took care of the maintenance control contract.
And of course, the Air Force managed to get rid of Burko Maintenance Company by awarding the O/M contract to Emerald Maintenance Company. As the "Story" line goes, the Air Force said that Emerald could have the contract ONLY if Herb Long was retained as the over-all manager. Well, I guess that it was a good "marriage" between Herb and Emerald for it lasted right up to the closing of the Tracking Station in 1975! Bob "Horny" Hornell was named assistant manager in addition to his normal duties as the air conditioning engineer.
The whole site's complexion was starting to change along this period of time. Newer and more reliable equipment and concepts were being introduced more and more making the entire operation smoother. The old Verlort and Prelort radars were replaced with the SGLS system (Space Ground Link Subsystem) which could effectively handled much more data and provide for more accurate tracking accuracy. This included a whole brand new tower with an equipment deck built-in. The old VHF system was removed from "T" hill and shipped back to Palo Alto, California. A portion of this equipment eventually ended up in the new Guam Island Tracking Station in the Pacific area. A new VHF type of an antenna was installed in the "Balloon" dome. All of the "Van" equipment effectively disappeared completely with the newer equipment being installed within the building operations complex.
Along with this new look came a on-site calibration lab run by Mike Waller and Frank Stelwagen, a complete scheduled maintenance system run by the Philco WDL boys, and of course something new to the "Afro-Engineers" of the earlier times, Documentation and Procedures. Those two words used to really get the troops riled up every time!! I know this personally, for I was the Procedures Editor and Technical Writer for about a year. And there weren't any computers for word-processing then either, it was all IBM level 80 key-punched cards. From then on henceforth, I was forever nicknamed "Tons of Paper Smaker". Phooey... Oh, and lastly there was "Soldering Certification". This really used to get all of the old-time technicians P.O.'d, but it was required because of "transistors", circuit boards, and miniaturization of components. You don't repair a circuit board with a 350 Watt "fender" iron old Boy!!
In this pre-earthquake period of Chiniak, personnel living quarters were running out which resulted in first, the Old Trailers, which was an AFCO camp set up in what used to be the parking lot. It provided essentially the same facilities as the main building, but a bit more "crude". The camp consisted of 30 new rooms, a laundry room, shower area that looked more akin to a "Cattle Stall", and the bathroom area. Each room had their own little pot stove heater that used the principle of the "dripping" oil carburetion. These stoves were real "death traps". Later in the year, another area yet was added, and it was called the "New Trailers", 10 two bedroom 60 units with everything in them just like a home including the kitchen. Needless to say, this was THE-place to have a room. Just like downtown .....
I am not going to get into any of the operations during this period, however, it should be duly noted that lots of overtime was being made! The operation was still a single shift effort, but that day was coming to an end soon. During this period, there were approximately 130 people living and/or working at the Chiniak Tracking Station.
March 27, 1964, Good Friday, 5:29 PM; it started with a low and slow rumbling sound as if a freight train was coming through, followed by the ground swaying to and fro, then about 5 seconds of real violent and sharp shaking, followed by nothing ..... Deadly quiet because of the Kodiak Electric Assn. power cut-outs had tripped. Then people started coming out of their homes, buildings, businesses, out into the streets sort of stumbling around as if stunned or confused. Finally, reality sunk in and the word spread "get to high ground", "up Pillar Mountain for there surely will be a tidal wave".
32 minutes later, the "First" Tsunami wave came through. All of the waves were as a result the water running down to the base and reflecting back towards town. The first wave was a small one around 20 or so feet high. It sort of rearranged the small boat harbor a little, and threw debris into the lower part of town. About 20 or so minutes later, the "Killer" came through, around 50 or 60 feet high! The height is still in conjecture with many people, but what the Hell, what's the difference of 10 feet, that's still damn high and a lot of water!! This is the one that did the most damage to the lower part of the town. It is not my intention to describe the Tsunami here in this book; rather only briefly noting what happened with the emphasis on Chiniak, the road system, and related events. The 3rd wave came through about 35 minutes or so later with an estimated height of around 10 to 15 feet, just sort of "finishing off' where the other 2 left off There were several other waves, but of no significance.
When the quake hit at Chiniak, the first thing that I can remember was the odd smell of smoking concrete. It wasn't quite like a death smell, but rather like a dusty sweet odor. The concrete walls on the basement level of the interconnecting hallway system cracked in several places. The only other apparent damage other than the usual losses from falling objects, was the main fuel line to the diesel generators in the power house which broke at a coupling. This was repaired immediately as soon as the bad joint was found (about an hour). Everybody on site knew that we got hit hard and lots of assistance was going to be required in town. We also knew that "our" families in town were going to require lots of help
As the waves came in and out, a lot of the guys were on top of the operations building roof watching all of the action. Then, our Chiniak radio frequency started crackling with a couple of guys in a truck describing the scene at Kalsin Bay on the State Highways side of the road. They described a "Big" wave had come into the bay and literally "ripped" up the Pasagshak Pass!! The return water somehow missed them on the road, as they were trying to get back to Chiniak. That was the first wave. The second wave caught these guys at the Rosalyn Creek area around "winter wonderland". That's where the truck was left. They couldn't go either way; no road or too much debris.
About 2 hours later, Herb Long and some of the Lockheed management got into a truck and started to investigate the road conditions to town. Well, they only got to Miller Field where they were greeted by lots of sea logs and debris. Further investigation revealed that the bridge at Chiniak Creek didn't exist anymore. Over at the little Navy's side revealed a lot of garbage in the lagoon, but all buildings were secure. (Chiniak had taken over the little Navy buildings and facilities a month earlier when the Military pulled out).
So, the first thing that Herb Long did was got a crew with the "Corn Binder" trucks down to Miller Field to clean it up immediately and ready to accept air traffic. It was apparent that the strip was going to become the life line for food and required materials to keep the site operational.
The next thing was for a group of motorcyclist to get formed up, rig up a radio and antenna on one of the bikes for communications, and go out and report on conditions all the way into town. So, one bike was equipped with a "tube" CB that operated on our special Air Force frequency of 26.425 Mc/s and one of Emerald maintenance's low band whips. For the interested, the radio was one of those converted CB "Benton-Harbor" lunch boxes with the super-regen receiver!
Oh well. At the same time, there was a Piper Tripacer at Miller field that was going to fly into Kodiak just as soon as they could get reports on the City airport condition. Walt O'Neal, operating his Ham station at City hall and the author at the Chiniak end established contact and got the information pertaining to the field; it was OK. So, when Miller Field was finally cleared off, it was darkness, so it was decided to start out the next morning first light.
The motorcycle boys ventured out to about Rosalyn Creek before darkness reporting on what conditions were. They had to get this far in order to pick up the 2 boys that were trapped on the road in the truck. That night at the Casa de Toro, things were pretty somber and sober discussing the events of the past 4 hours or so. Most of this time was devoted to planning an attack in the morning. Via amateur radio link, they got news of their families in town and conditions. We still had telephone communications with the outside world for our link was through White Alice on Pillar Mountain. The problem was for Kodiak, their telephone exchange went out with the 2nd wave.
Lockheed and the Air Force at this point in time decided that they would fly back and forth and evacuate the families (that wanted to come out) to Chiniak. 24 Families took them up on the offer. They were put into the main building and the new trailer areas, and the boys "bunked" wherever they could. The messing facilities were immediately put on a 24 hour "open-status" to take care of any family's needs. Again, it was Herb Long that "bent over backwards" taking care of everyone's needs! (This was one GREAT Man!!) He said later of this event that the only thing he was really concerned about was running out of his cigars!! Although there was a lot of children running all over the place, and babies crying, etc., nobody seemed to care; just everyone making sure that the families were comfortable and their needs were being taken care of
The Kids all liked "Woody" Swartz and "Dixie" McGehee, calling them their "Uncles". They both spend a lot of time trying to keep them occupied and happy. I can still see it, those two on "Bottle" Patrol in the kitchen trying to not mix up whose bottle belonged to who, making sandwiches for the families, and in general, just being good folks. (Nice show, fellas!)
Well, the motorcyclists got going in the morning and started down the road towards town. Chiniak Creek bridge gone, Silver or Whale Beach road gone, the road towards Hawk Alley covered over with debris, sand, and garbage. Rosalyn Beach road "disappeared", the section just before the State Highway station partially gone and/or covered over with debris. Pasagshak bridge gone. Road to the base of the Kalsin Bay cliffs disappeared and under water. Then they stopped at the old Kalsin Bay Inn site, which is about 50 yards further down the beach from the present one, and found that building off of it's foundation and all windows blown out. No signs of life were found in the area.
The road from the base of the Kalsin Bay cliffs through Black Canyon, past Mayflower Beach, past the "S" curve and up and over the hill all intact. The base of that peninsula to the Rendezvous hill cattle crossing partially wiped out. A stop at John and Sally's Rendezvous found both of them OK and they had a working CB. The road just past the Rendezvous to about Lion's Park gone. Holiday Beach receiving area to the near bottom of Marine Hill was intact.
The road system from the base of Marine Hill to almost Aviation Hill on the Navy Base "disappeared". On-base road system other than a few cracks and washouts generally survived. The road just past "Deadman's Curve" into about where the Kodiak Inn is today partially wiped out.
Throughout the summer of 1964 and part of 1965, the Chiniak road system was completely rebuilt resulting in widening, complete rerouting in places, and straightening out of a lot of bad sections. This effort shortened the road system to it's present length of 49.2 miles measured from the KI to the Chiniak operations building.
And now for a little humor into this rather serious chapter. As you may recall, Dick Monnell used to have a salmon boat. That thing was a real "death trap", around 28 or 30 feet as I recall with a flat-head Chrysler 6 holer with a marine water-jacketed cooling system. As the story goes, Dick had just got rid of the boat about a week before the quake, so the registration hadn't been completely cleared up with the State of Alaska. When the quake hit, this "Boat" broke free and took off on it's own. It survived all of the tsunami wave action episodes. After the quake, the vessel was just floating around Chiniak Bay all by itself. The harbormaster contacted Dick and told him to pick up "as" vessel and get it back to port. So Dick would contact the new owner and inform him to get "His" boat back. The new owner would go out and get it and bring it back to Kodiak. The very next day, the damn boat was seen out in the middle of Chiniak Bay again doing it's own thing all over again. Same scenario as before. This went on one more time, except it ended up beached next to the old Kraft's Mercantile Store somewhat battered up. As the story goes, the new owner left town, didn't pay Dick and there the boat sat. I guess Dick finally took the damn boat out in Chiniak Bay and sank it. (Don't tell the Coast Guard this though.)
As it will be recalled, these Quonset huts were located adjacent to Miller Field, and used to be the living quarters and operations buildings for the Army Air Corps during Fortress Kodiak WW2. Prior to the earthquake, a few of these huts were fixed up a little and used for weekend camps for a lot of townspeople.
The condition of these structures were anywhere from a total loss to barely livable. The summer after the earthquake, and the period during which the road was being repaired, a lot of the Brown Baggers moved their families out from town and into these huts. It started out "for just the summer", but it ended up being almost "permanent residents". Of course, the sanitation problem had to be addressed, but, most of them just "roughed it" with outdoor "plumbing" houses, and 55 gallon water barrels.
One of the borough's problems with this was that there were approximately 30 some odd kids in all different grade levels living out in this Quonset area, and their educational needs had to be addressed. And be damned, the people out at this Chiniak community were not about to moved back to town.
So, the "self-taught" rule had to be applied with the parents doing the teaching. The teachers would come out each month to test and grade the student's progress. And of course, there was no funding for this operation for all of the people were just "squatting" on the land, therefore no way to tax them for a revenue base. It was a sort of "No-Mares land"; that not being borough, and not military. And of course, all of the Chiniak land out that way was unsurveyed at the time with no lots available for legally building a home.
Now, this Quonset area was protected quite well from the weather elements by virtue of the fact that it was located in the middle of a forest of trees. The only real problem was that the huts were fairly well covered over with tree moss from the damp environment. And, lots of the structure wood was fairly well rotted through from the damp exposure.
So, our intrepid Chiniakers turned to and started fixing up these structures. There wasn't any 2 huts alike when it came to the remodeling processes. Some painted them up white, some green, and some gray (I wonder where that paint came from?) And inside, well, I guess you might say to each ones own tastes and pocketbook. They varied anywhere from barely living inside with Pearl Oil Crate furniture, to one palace that had store-bought furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting!! And of course, the evenings, you could hear 15 or so generators of various wattages all "roaring" away in a some-what loose and disconnected harmony. Some of the huts had good TV reception from AFRTS on the Navy Base in town. For heating, most of them used oil-fired cook stove-furnace combinations with heat coils in the bum boxes for hot water. Most people just used hot water kettles, but a few enterprising types had small water tanks mounted above their stoves for force-feeding the water down through the coils and into a spigot sink And of course, some actually had shower stalls with "Puppy-Pumps" to move the water around.
And of yes, lots and lots of real parties too. The finest party "House" by far had to be "Geno" Guerra's place. His wife Mickey would be grinding away on the accordion, "Banjo" George wailing away on a 5-string, the author on his Martin Guitar, John Eilert on my old Kay "F" hole guitar (a classic from the forties era), and Bob Mollette trying to "learn" and play along with his Sears "Special" Guitar. Old "Geno" would play the drums as it were on the kitchen pots and pans. Needless to say, everyone that heard us thought we were pretty good, but I sincerely do believe to this day that it was a direct function as to how much "LoudMouth-and-Water" all parties had consumed! !
And to be sure, there were the funny incidents to be remembered. At one such party down in Quonset-town, a particular Lady went outside to use the "Facilities" as it were and disappeared in the "Hole"; the board broke!! Well, as the "Yarn" went, another gentleman went out about 10 minutes later to relief himself and heard this "Faint" cry for help. The gentleman was pretty well "S-faced", and wasn't quite sure where this distress call was coming from. About 30 minutes later, another gentleman came out looking for both of those people when he stumbled on to the "distressed" Lady, It took 5 people and 2 ropes to get this Gal out of the "hole". (Now, I didn't say who it was, but I'm sure you got this one pegged!).
And once in a while, things would get out of hand, but not too often. As one party was progressing along, a couple of guys decided to redecorate this particular Quonset piece by piece. When fist-a-cuffs started, "Banjo" George and I "departed" just like in an old western movie when the "S" would hit the Fan. We got out OK, but good old John Eilert planted my beautiful Kay "F" hole right over the head of one of the "exercising" participants, totally, and I do mean to tell you TOTALLY demolishing it!! One of the participants in that "exercise" ran a laundry on Shelikof street in the later years, and used to be Herb Longs son-in-law. OK? Period!
Well, I might as well tell it, what the heck. If you went into this area during the daytime, you had better keep a real "Open" mind about yourself. The author had to go and get one "Troops" during the weekday for some information, so I went "Tooling" down there. I should have not gone. I stood in the shadows of my own Quonset hut and watched for about 5 minutes. I honestly do swear, I never saw such an "exchange" program going on down there in my life; men and gals coming out of one hut going into another, and so on! Talk about a "Chiniak Spa", that was the place!! What an education that was .....
Sooner or later it had to happen. The Quonset huts were nice, but they still lacked a lot of things. The Chiniakans then started looking down the road around Jake Blanque's blockhouse and a little beyond. Back in the brush in through this area there were several hidden and buried Quonset huts that were used for bunkers, ammunition storage, garages, etc. On top of these bunkers was some prime protected land. Discrete inquires to the Kodiak Island Borough revealed that bureaucrats had no intention (Then) of surveying off, much less selling any lands out in the Chiniak area until a foreseen settlement with the Alaska Natives was resolved. (This was 1966). That battle and settlement was the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act of 1971. So, what to do? The Hell with the Borough, "Let's build"!!
That's what the attitude was, and build they did. There was no shortage of available material at Chiniak for the no lack of old buildings to tear down. I must admit, there was some pretty "Raggedy" looking shacks that were thrown up. I guess that it was the disposition of people who figured that the structures were only to be temporary, and since they didn't own the land, or much less no hope of ever getting title to it, who cared. I would venture to guess that just about every building code in force and even some not thought of yet was violated. Some were really first-class fire traps, but then, on the other hand, there were a few "real" structures put up.
The Borough at this time did not have a building inspector, much less a very good program of enforcing violations either. Bell's Flats, at the time was another "Headache" for the Borough, so they had their hands pretty well full with that problem much less worrying about Chiniak. Bell's Flats was the "First" squatted area to be built up forcing the Borough to survey and legally sell the lots. Chiniak later would too fall into this category also.
Then, we come to Don Austring's house that was "built in a Day". This was in June of 1966. All of the previous months, Don, with a lot of us helping, were scrounging and collecting lumber wherever it could be found and storing it in one of the "subterranean" Quonset huts. This whole construction effort was the "Brainchild" of "Big John" Murphy and "Big" Tony Matson, a pair of local iron workers. (Now you see how the author was dubbed "Little" Tony!!) These 2 guys organized the entire effort and recruited all of the "available" (and not-so-available) Ladies of the town to help out with the food and "Go- For" duties of the operation. Don Austring organized the Chiniak end of things recruiting just about every available body as it were for the work force. Finally, on a Friday night, the whole "crew" as it were assembled down in the Quonset area to plan the following day's strategy. The whole problem of this plan was that everybody got pretty well smashed from a real rip-roaring party. Oh dear God, the next Day, Argh!!!
Bright and early Saturday, about 6:OO AM in the morning, the whole crew was out, and we had the floor plan and timber foundation completed in an hour flat! This was the effort of 20 people trying to work all at once. It took Big John everything he had to keep all of the workers going in the same direction all of the time!! The house was to be two small bedrooms, a kitchen/parlor combination, and a living room. In between the two bedrooms was going to be "Real" plumbing later on. By 11:00AM we had the entire house framed on the outside, and by 3:00 PM, the inside framed. By 8:00 PM, we had a roof up and covered. "Woody" Swartz "Nailed" the small tree on the gable of the roof signifying that it was an official home. (An old German tradition .... ) Talk about tired, oh brother. Remember, this was most probably the hardest that many of us had worked in years being "Desk-Jockeys" by trade. I sure remember the hammer blisters. (That's why those carpenters wear gloves!) OK!
Sunday afternoon, the Chiniak crew moved Don and his Lady into their new an completed home. After this operation was completed, about 4 more houses were built up in the same manner.
Why the name "Dingleberry Acres"? Well, I don't know, but it was Big John Murphy that named it, and I don't think anyone was going to argue with him over it ......
There also was a run on house trailers out there with large additions or wanagans. Chico Gentis in later years had a "Legal" trailer court with a certified septic system. The name of the place was "Kodi Trailer Court".
About a half of a mile west of Chiniak Creek, another "scabbed" home was built up from what I remember from a trailer to a wanagan and so on combination. This was the first home of Ernie and Dotti Hopper with their family at Chiniak. They both were employed by the Emerald Maintenance Company in 1965 to run the Kitchen facilities of the site. In later years, Ernie became the manager of the Hotel and Kitchen operations, and held that position until the closing of the site in 1975. This home eventually became the "Road's End" bar, grill, and saloon. Dotti of course will be remembered reverently as the "Mom of the Chiniak Kitchen" that took care of all of her "Children"!!
Then along about 1974 or so, the Borough finally realized that this "Chiniak" community wasn't going away, and people were serious about staying out there. So, they finally surveyed off the area and offered the land at fair opening price to the squatters in a land-bidding process. As I recalled, all that wanted to bid and keep their investments managed to get their property legally.
Then, in the summer of 1975, the Air Force closed down the complete Chiniak Tracking Station as a result of many reasons; i.e., budget cut-backs, other stations now essentially covered the same tracking areas, and the one that I think finally "Ripped" it, the technical employees "organized" into the Teamsters Union. With all of those problems facing the Air Force, I guess they thought that it was time to do something and move on.
Well now, a lot of people were "Caught" short with the closing, and what to do with the property and all of their investments? Enter Marty Woods, an ex-Lockheed employee now working for RCA at White Alice. He bought up for cash the majority of the lands and became the "Land Baron of Chiniak". We think that he made so much on the deal that he retired "early" to Arkansas to raise chickens or what-ever they do there .....
So folks, this is how "Chiniak Town" or Dingleberry Acres got started. Look at it today; all nice and legal, got a "World Class" School, and even a Post Office with your own Zip Code no less. And of course, the Borough would probably try to tell you that it was their idea for planned growth, or some rot like that! Believe you me, they did everything short of an up-rising to prevent Chiniak from being developed. Now, you have the straight "Skinny", period!!
Well now Folks, all of these homes going up everywhere, you might say it was time for the Chiniak Light and Power Company to make it's entrance. Dave Hudson was the gentleman that foresaw a chance to make "A Buck two-eighty" you might say, and took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself. This was in the spring of 1968 when the "Customer" count out at Dingleberry Acres was in the area of approximately 3 5 homes, all with independent "screaming" generators.
Now, Dave was a sort of a Lad that saved his money so to speak and was ready to invest in the required equipment. His first generator was an old (and I do mean very old) Cat 671 diesel that really smoked and howled. Dave started out with straight 115 VAC and 230 VAC feeders just "laid" on the ground to each customer. Later, after making a deal with Ole Johnson of Kodiak Electric Assn., he obtained some "retired" pole pigs (transformers) and raised up his feeders to go through the trees. And as a result of this effort, older and retired equipment was also obtained from KEA and his system got a little "Cleaner", so to speak.
Then, the only Cat 671 generator "died", and for a while, it looked like the Chiniak Light and Power Company had reached an end! Then Dave did something on the recommendation of Ole Johnson, "Why don't you apply for an emergency Rural Electric Association Loan?" So, Dave, with Ole's help and assistance, managed to get an emergency REA loan. With this loan, he managed to purchase 2 Cat 671 generators from the City of Homer, Alaska. The new "used" units arrived at Chiniak about a month later with everybody helping out to get them installed and running. Herb Long had an extra 500 gallon fuel tank (that wasn't on the books, as I understand it!) for the power new power plant too. So, in about 45 days from the death of the old plant, the new plant was up and running (and with power the full 24 hours a day too!).
All of a sudden, Dave was in the "Power Production" business including all of the State of Alaska and Federal regulations that went with it. I cannot remember whose wife it was, but this Chiniak Lady had experience with these regulations and red tape, and sort of took over things for Dave. I remember later speaking with Ole Johnson of KEA in reference to Dave's operation; Ole said that it was one of the cleanest run operations in the State as far as he was concerned.
I do not remember too much more about it, but I do recall that Eric Mueller had the first fuel contract for it, and Dave ended up purchasing 4 more 500 gallon tanks from him. Oh, and lights were fourteen (14) cents a Kilowatt Hour. Average light bill was around $120 a month. (Pretty cheap for Kodiak, wasn't it?).
What in the name of the Almighty is a "Grunion" you say? Well, its a small food type fish, about 2 or so inches long, and spawns once a year on sandy beaches of the oceans usually, in the northern latitudes, on the 3rd or 4th week of May. And would you believe, Only at full moon and high tide! When they come ashore, they come by the thousands and thousands, literally covering the beaches with their flopping and thrashing about actions trying to lay their eggs and bury them in the sands. It is quite a sight if you haven't seen it before. And of course, our "City-Dweller Californians", for the most part, wouldn't have known a Grunion from an Onion until they came to Kodiak, Alaska.
And naturally, with this annual event occurring, it was "another" excuse for a party. Usually, about 2 or 3 weeks prior to the "run", plans would be made for booze, food, outdoor Coleman stoves, lantern, blankets, chairs, and the like to be available on a moments notice. About a week before the run, a "Grunion watch" would be initiated just in case Mother Nature decided to be early (or late as it were). The "Toro" management would make arrangements for the invitations to "Selected" townspeople and all available Ladies (single or otherwise) announcing the "Annual Grunion Run Party of XXXX". Marti and Sid Urie, the then-owners of Solly's Office, usually donated quite a lot of booze for the event, sort of cosponsoring it with the Casa de Toro. The one State Trooper (I forget who that was in 1966), would shudder at the thought of "this" party, for there always seemed to be problems.
This year was a little different in that the participants had a fairly safe place to "Crash" at as it were, and keep from getting into trouble on the road system. This of course was the Quonset and Dingleberry housing areas. There was even "Safe" drivers (unheard of in those days!).
Well, the "Run" started showing at high tide on a Friday evening, and the word spread around and into town; "Saturday Night" win be the party! So, Saturday evening the crowds started showing up around 9:00 PM (just before darkness) with campers, pick-up trucks and the like. And of course, the music by Mickey Guerra was wailing away, with everyone getting "set-up". Then the tiny fish started showing up with each larger wave as it would come ashore. Soon, for about an hour or so there was grunion everywhere. Some people were trying to fly the little critters in their Colemans, some were trying to swallow them whole, and mostly just horsing around with the run. A group of fellas from the site started "stock-piling" some of the Grunion in the back of a white Ford pick-up, for why, I still haven't figured it out to this day. They must have had at least a hundred pounds of product in the back of this truck! As the party progressed along, people in general were having a great time, singing, laughing, and just plain "Horsing Around". The boys started chasing girls (and vice versa) along the beaches getting wet and all sandy. And then there was John Eilert, our Operations Chief. He was a very educated and gifted man. I personally really liked John, for he too loved his gin then. The only problem was, after about 4 or so Martinis, he sometimes "became" God, or as in this case this night "Moses". Now John then, had a beard of sorts, and he kind of looked a kinfolk of Rasputen. Well, here's John, on the beach, "Speaking" with God, blessing all of the participants of the party. Then he turns, up raises his arms, started speaking in some disconnected language (later we found out Greek), tells Rosalyn Beach to "Part", and proceeds to walk out to sea!! We stop him of course, but not after he did this 3 separate times during the evening! Well, the party went on and pretty soon I suspect, quite a few of the participants soon forgot what the original party was all about. Things really started to get pretty "Wet" with people sleeping on the beaches, in back ends of trucks, cars, just in general everywhere. About 2:OO AM, the author had enough of this and went back to my Quonset hut calling it a night. Around 5:30 AM, I awoke to "Banging" on my door with one of the parties "participants" asking for help. It seemed that at the Chiniak Creek right-handed comer, Walt Reese's white Ford pick-up didn't make the corner too well and rolled the truck. The participant that had awaken me was Phil Andersen (no relation to the Andersons in Kodiak), and he was really bloody in the seat of his pants. It seemed that he was in the back of the truck when Walt rolled it ejecting Phil out into the road on his "tush" with all of the Grunion for Company! The other passengers of the pick up were slightly banged and cut up and were going to need medical attention in town. So, I radioed the site in which Dick Monnell called for a Kodiak Airways "Goose" to come out and pick up these guys.
Well, about an hour later, the Goose finally arrived with Bob Hall the owner, flying it. Bob took one look at this group of "roaring-drunk" people and said, "No Way Jose you get in my plane in that condition". Dick Monnell pleaded with Bob, but he stuck to his guns. So, Dick and the author with his "companion" flew back into Kodiak. During this time, the site called for an Ace-Mecca cab to come out and get this bunch.
The Taxi arrived about an hour and 15 minutes later. The driver was that cabby that always had that a little dog with him in a special box up front. (I'm sorry, I can see him but cannot place his name). Well, our fellas jumped on board with a case of beer and "Crazy Brothers" brandy and to Kodiak they went. When the group reached the cattle crossing at the top of the Rendezvous hill, the right front wheel bearing caught fire on the cab and was threatening to burn up the tire! All passengers got out and started throwing dirt on the fire in a attempt to put it out. Well, that wasn't working, so someone said "let's pour beer on it". Well one guy said, "No way, not until I drink it". Well, they finally got the fire put out with "used" beer for better words A cab ride from town used to cost $25, but after that morning, it officially became $75 thereafter.
When the group finally arrived at the Griffin Memorial Hospital, Dick Monnell and the author met them. We got them into the clinic where a Sister (cannot remember her name, but maybe someone will remember for her flowers in the lab). She took one look at this "bunch" and asked one "What have you been drinking, son?" He replied "Crazy Brothers and beer, Sister". The good sister then made a telephone call to Jess' Ballard, the owner of the "Booze and Beer" saloon and asked him to give me a pint of Christian Brothers brandy. She fed this to all of the patrons, and at the same time trying to extract blood and get them bandaged up. Then, something very funny happened. The good sister discharged a portion of each blood sample into the vials that were suppose to be sent to Anchorage, and with the left-over blood, fed it to her plants!! No wonder those plants were so "healthy" looking.
About a week later, you just couldn't stand that corner in the road at Chiniak Creek for the terrible odor of all of that hundred pounds of "rotting" Grunion decaying away in the bright sunlight!! (Well, are you guys smiling ? I dare not tell you just who the others were!)
I do not know how things were done in previous years, much less in the years following 1967, but everyone that I have addressed this subject with in Kodiak and- Chiniak all agree this "one" was a "Doozy". In 1993, I observed one of these in Wasilla, Alaska, and let me tell you, it was mundane in comparison to the 1967 Kodiak one. These tournaments are just like any other convention, or out-of-town get-togethers; people just tend to let things go a bit and attempt of have a good time. It's just good old human nature, that's all, and it will never change either. Now I see why all of the Gals like to come to Kodiak for their Tournaments!
Now, for our fancy-free young 'bucks" at Chiniak, this event was looked upon with great anticipation and zeal. "Can you imagine, 300 fresh 'ones' in town all at once! " Most of them made reservations 4 months ahead of time at the Kodiak Inn to make sure that they had a room. And Frank Irik, the owner of the KI being a bit of a "quick dollar" man that he was, "jacked up the prices". I remember I had a single for 2 nights and he nicked me $65 a night when the regular rate was $40!
Then the reservations started coming in from all over the state. So, the bowling committee decided to try something new; that was a "hot" bed system whereas since the gals were bowling around 8 hours a day, they shared the room and the bed with the KI changing the sheets each 12 hours. This way, they could get a lot of the gals booked in.
As the tournament date approached, Frank Irik kept calling us at Chiniak to see if we would give up our rooms for a "price". Well now, naturally, not. And poor Dick Monnell, the now new site manager, got hit with about 30 leave requests all at once. Naturally, he couldn't let all of them go at once, but he did take care of a lot of us. And of course, the local ladies were pretty upset about "their" boys going after all of that fresh "game" so to speak Come to think of it, I never did hear the last of it. (I can remember at least 3 ladies today that are in Kodiak that still "yank my chain" so to speak over this!)
This was in the second week of May as I recall and the gals started arriving in Town on a Tuesday afternoon. Registration was to begin on Wednesday morning with the first groups bowling that afternoon. Well, you know our boys "thought" that they were pretty "slick" in that they would meet the incoming Western Airlines flights to look over the "Visitors" as they came in. And of course, some of the "greeting" committee were our local gals, and they would tell these guys who and from where each arriving group was coming in from.
Well, I guess that I do not have to describe what happened for the next 3 or 4 days. I do know that many of the bars would reduce their prices if you showed your registration badge when the drinks were served. And even Kraft's and a lot of the other local merchants did the same on some items. Now, I'll describe some of the interesting occurrences that were experienced by our guys.
The first one I was almost caught up in and, by Gawd innocently. It could have been a real bad one too. The second night of the Tournament I had just turned in to bed because of not feeling to hot, and the weather was "snowing" one of those "do-it-at-night things", and "melt-in-the mornings bits". About a half hour later, a "Bang, Bang, Bang" on my door, sounding like it was coming off at the hinges. I say "Just a minute, be right there! " I open the door, and I am greeted by a little guy, slightly bald, holding a stub-nosed 32 caliber pistol pointed right a me and screaming "I know you have my wife in there because I have been watching you". He then brushes by me screaming I'll kill you Evelyn, I'll kill you!" Well obviously I am innocent of that, and then he discovers that he had room 30, instead of 32 (couldn't count either, I guess).
He storms out of my room, goes down the hall to 32 and the same banging on the door. I close my door, and did my very best to stop shaking (among other things...) Then I look out of my window, and there was "one of my friends" shall we say out on the wooden fire escape with not a stitch of clothing on shivering in this "Flash" snowfall! I open the window and get him in. "Where are your 'hee, hee, hee, clothes 'ha, ha, ha! fella?" In a stammering weak voice he said "out in the snow" (the gal threw them out of the window). No, there wasn't any shots fired next door, but there sure as hell was a verbal "exchange" or two. It seems that this irate husband "followed" his wife from Petersburg just to catch her doing "something". Wow!!! (Narrow-minded, now wasn't he?) Oh, and the desk clerk through all of this action was Betty May (Gentis). How about that?
Then, I heard the next one was a little more humorous. It appears that one of our more braver bucks was handling two at a time. As I heard the story, he was caught bringing in one gal into Tony's while the other gal was suppose to have been bowling, but had sprained her wrist in a fall, and was looking for her roommate. Bang, gal two clobbers Gal one with one of those "huge" glass ashtrays, and decks her. This "buck" thought this was very funny, but gal two then finishes him off right on the dance floor sticking his head into the band's base drum! Talk about a floor show and I'm told, it brought the house down with applause!!! And naturally, not a cop in sight anywhere. (Maybe Jack Rhines knew something we didn't, uh?)
Several of the guys were "showing off' the Island to their new found friends even to the point of bringing them out to Chiniak. One such incident occurred on a Saturday night when I had already returned home. Since I had a ground floor room in the supervisor's wing, this group of people from town wanted to use the "facilities" without Herb Long knowing it, so, what the heck, go ahead, I don't care, but stop the damn giggling and horseplay! So, upstairs all of us went into the Casa de Toro and got "Maltsie" Maltsburger to sign in the visitors and we had a few. As you most probably recall, it ended up at the Chiniak Water Supply! Nuff said .....
And of course, during this "Marathon Event", lots of the Chiniak fellas were driving cars that the town normally didn't see in order to sneak around a little more easily without being detected by their "regular" girl friends. Oh brother, what grown men (and women too, do at times ) Don ask me how I survived those years either!
This was a "theme saying" that Lt. Colonel Titus C. Hall, the Air Force representative at Chiniak during 1968-1969 tagged on us. No matter how hard we shook and squirmed, we just couldn't get rid of it. The theme was saying that we could do anything, anytime, and anywhere when it was ordered!! Needlessly to say, the "Colonel" was just a bit "gung-ho" with our skills and expertise. To give you a fairly good handle on this man's "drive", he arrived in 1968 as a major, and departed a lt. colonel. A year later, he was a full "bird", and about 6 months later, a spot promotion to one star General!! (fighter jockeys do it every time!) No moss grew under this guy's feet for sure. His wife was a junior high school science teacher. Oh, and he leased Alfred Romanski's old house on Spruce Cape Road. Got him placed now, nuff said.
Now, this man was trying to be real civic oriented, in that he felt that Chiniak and it's personnel should donate something to the community. (He really didn't know it at the time, but most of us had "given at the office", Solly's that is, plenty of times through the years!) I further think that he didn't know anything about the Lockheed Buck-of-the-month- club that we all participated in. So, in this great community gesture, he thought it would be "nice" if some of our engineers would be "guest instructors" at the local schools, teaching, and/or lecturing. Well, you know who got tapped as the first one, and I didn't have too much to say about it either! Poor old Pete "the smoother mover" Smyth, our then station manager for Lockheed was sort of "ordered" to release me to the colonel on special civic duty, you might say. What could Pete say, he was the commander and contract administrator. I was reassigned to the colonel as his "staff engineer and advisor" for community relations. (Gawd!) That started it (OK Pete, keep your face straight, you Turkey!)
First off, I ended up teaching in Mrs. Hall's science class radio and electronic basic theory to about 20 students 2 times a week. one of the students in that class was Duncan Fields, in the 8th grade I think it was! This was the fall of 1969 and it was a real "Hummer" of a season. I would naturally have to travel back and forth for these classes. It wasn't really too bad, for I had just gotten rid of the red 1966 "Poo-Tang" and now was driving a blue 1969 Ford police packaged sedan which really handled the road in comfort. (This car was a "look alike" for an Air Force staff car too ... ) In between all of this running around, I was "assigned" another "civic" project, a "small" plaque for the site.
Now, this plaque was to contain all of the names of the personnel working at Chiniak for the past 2 years, and was to include all contractors. After about a week's research on this project, then I was to scout out with the Navy a source to 75 have all of these names engraved on brass plates for proper mounting. I finally found Clem Greenup, a PO 1st class that was the captain's personal aide who had an engraving shop of sorts in the administration building's attic no less!! Well, I confronted poor old Clem with my project, and he just shook his head. "You don't need a plaque, you need a damn door for this thing!!" You know, he was right for their were 338 names to be placed on it! OK, so off to Sutliff's and I buy a finished hollow door for the "Plaque" wood mounting! Now, the Brass stock; Clem didn't have anything near this quantity in stock, and would have to "order" it. Well, the Colonel said "Order it, we need it and this thing has to be completed in three week's time". The only way to get this much material in this short of time was to order it commercially which Clem did. And then we had to "make" the Air Force emblems, the AFSCF emblem (Satellite Control Facility), and each contractor's emblem. Boy, was this becoming a "Nightmare"!
Now, the reason for all of the panic, the good colonel had "invited" the commanding general of the satellite control facility to Chiniak to see for himself how a Tracking Station should look and operate! "We are the best station in the network", and "Kodi-can-Do"; we'll show you!! (Kodi was our Network call sign on the hotlines).
Well, Clem and I finally got this "thing" finished, and for the sake of conjecture, it looked pretty good at that. Now, how to get it to Chiniak? I couldn't fit a door into my 1969 Ford sedan, so we wrapped it blankets and put it on the "daily stage" (mail truck) to Chiniak. And now, the fireworks; Clem's bill was $950 for labor and material! The Colonel "hit the roof". Clem was real "Cool"; he just turned over the problem to this Navy Captain. End problem ....... The Colonel and I never seemed to see eye to eye from that day on!
Well now, the commanding general was coming to Chiniak to "praise Ceasar", and not to "kill him"; or yea? Now, we have to make everything look good for the old boy, right down to using my 1969 Blue Ford sedan to pick him up at Miller Field. So, I had to surrender my vehicle to the Chiniak garage while they "installed" 2 star license plates on it with "Blue" covers. (The covers were Chevis Regal bags, no less!!) And site spit and polish, oh brother. The colonel was running around ordering, checking, and in general making "waves" of himself.
Then the big day finally arrived. Down to Miller Field I went with the Colonel in the "general's staff car" to meet the Navy helicopter. The general arrives (looked like Sadat arriving in Israel the first time). I'm opening and closing doors, driving, opening and closing doors, etc. And the good Colonel; let's face it, he's shook, just a jabbering away to the General. About have way up the hill to the site, the general said to me "How did you get involved in all of this with the car?" I answered purtly, "My car, right color, your stars". So help me God, the general came completely "unglued", roaring in near uncontrollable laughter, said to me stammering "Carry on man!!"
Upon our arrival, the good colonel had everything planned out right down to "Coffee and Cakes". The first thing that the general wanted was a drink in the network- widely known saloon. The colonel didn't plan on this and it sort of "altered" his near perfect schedule. Well, the general and his aide had there libation and continued on with the colonel's itinerary. A big to-do in the mess hall, the dedication of the "plaque", review of the operations area, and back to the saloon. I had to stay pretty close to the party, for you didn't really know what was going to happen next. Well, the general wanted to buy me a drink and we got to talking a bit which made the colonel very nervous. It seemed that the general was a ham radio operator also for he had spotted my antenna on the way in. I forget the general's name, but the call sign I won't; W-Zero-Old-Stinky-Jeans".
Then, when the show was over, back down the hill again, but this time the general invited the colonel a ride back to the Navy base for another "party" at the officer's club. So, exit the General!
Back up on the hill, a "real" party had started up. Pete Smyth, the Lockheed manager had declared a "Holiday Hour" and threw open the Casa de Toro at 3:OO PM with free drinks until 5:OO PM. And Away Things Went .
The plaque, well, it was nailed to the wall in the main entrance hallway for several years being covered over with an Air Force Blue blanket for protection. When the site closed down, Ernie Hopper rescued it and it now graces his dining room wall in one booth just off of the bar. Next time you're out to "Road's End", take a look!
This portion of the book is a sort of "It should be in the book, but where the hell do we put it" thing. These are events, occurrences, stories, and the "like" relating to Chiniak and/or it's people. So, for better words, a catch-all chapter.
In 1968, Bill Beaty went "outside" for the first time in years to visit some relatives or something, and was gone for about 2 weeks. Now Bill's room used to be on the top floor first unit of the center wing. And of course, right down the hall so many paces was the Casa de Toro. Bill could get out of the Toro and back into his room just by merely "counting" his steps, something like being a blind man (well, he was that too sometimes!) Now, while Bill was outside, Herb Long and 2 site carpenters "closed" off his room perfectly, right down to plaster board, painting, kick-board, and even pin-striping. You could not tell that there was a door or a room there ever.
So Billy returns. Sam Theis, the mail driver, picks him up at the Western Airlines terminal and brings him back to Chiniak. All of the site was alerted to the fact that he was on his way. Now, Sam timed this perfectly. Billy NEVER missed a meal, so, upon arriving, Sam told him to get chow, don't worry about your baggage, "I'll take care of it". So, Billy just makes chow.
After dinner, into the Casa de Toro he went. Now, I believe that Billy had missed his free drinks on the house for his birthday, so we gave it to him that night. We got him wiped totally out, and like Billy would always do, went wandering down the hall counting out loud the steps to get to his room. Oh Brother, was that real funny seeing Bill retrace his steps 2 separate times and each time coming up on this blank wall! Then, he would peer outside between the wings at his room's windows just to check himself, and then try again! Finally, Herb Long couldn't handle it no longer and "opened" the room! (Billy, you got any of those pictures for Chiniak Too?)
In the summer of 1961, Herb Long used to allow us to use the Air Force 6 pack Ford trucks to go home with. Now, depending on what group went with who, announcements were usually made around 4:30 PM that "so and so" truck was leaving with so many seats available from the operations building at 5:OO PM. On weekdays, usually Wednesdays, 2 trucks only usually made the "Brown Bagger" run, but on weekends, usually 5 and sometimes 6 trucks ran. Now, if you "missed" a truck, you were flat out of luck.
Well, one Chiniaker "missed" a ride in the middle of the week. This guy was real scared, for this Wife had told him that he had better come home tonight for there was going to be a party at his house and if he wanted to get in on "any" of it, best he come home! Yea, you know "he missed it" (Claimed his watch stopped ) Oh Gawd, what to do, and this guy was a real nervous type, and his wife most probably "dressed" out around 200 lbs or so! Yep, you guessed it, he started walking to Kodiak if you can imagine...
8 hours later, he shows up at the Rendezvous where John and Sally call this character a taxi cab. We didn't know it at the time, but I am told that this guy had some "company" for a little bit of the way around Mayflower Beach, and it wasn't a black angus cow either .... At 3:15 AM he finally arrives home only to find the place empty. The party had moved on to the Town Club. Soooo. he sleeps on the porch. I'll leave it to your imagination as to what happened at that household later on.
In 1968, 2 "couples" were sitting in Solly's Office one afternoon passing the Saturday in a normal manner, and in runs "Maltsie" Maltsburger shouting "Just saw your wife get off of the plane from Anchorage, and she's heading for your place". "Oh brother" one sez to the other, "the fit is going to hit the shan now". It seemed that one was seeing another lady in town while his spouse was in Anchorage or something like that (I never understood that one either .... ).
Well, at the time, I had an Aleutian home (Corner of North Blvd and Birch - the Skonberg home today I believe ... ), and it sort of became a "safe house" for better words. So, this "one" guy puts this lady into my house (everybody had a key to this place .... ) and tells here "stay put until I call you". Well, the cabby drops off this lady at the Aleutian home and she goes in only to find her spouse in there too with someone else!! I know that this sounds like a real Chinese fire and boat drill in 3 acts, but it DID happen. The next thing that happens, (I was at Chiniak at the time) shots ring out and out the back window goes this "guy" (remember, Aleutian homes had no back doors then .... ) pulling up his pants on the way. The other "lady" goes out the front bedroom and runs. Well now, the cops weren't that completely deaf, and here they came, and arrest this Lady for discharging a firearm within the city limits, and most probably should have charged her also for being such a poor shot ......
I get notice of this when the city police calls me wanting me to come down and bail this gal out. "Gosh man, I'm at Chiniak, and I cannot come in for at least a week or so" I tell them. It ends up that Pat Monnell, the police dispatcher, bails here out for me and sends her back to the same house. Yea, you guess it, another "couple" in there but this time no shots. Needless to say, this house became quite famous, and I shortly later got rid of it. Just a little too dangerous for me. Oh, and besides, you never knew whose car was parked in it for hiding purposes ......
Which brings up a popular sport we Chiniakans liked to play on Jack Rhines' force, and that was "swap-a-car". Now, the city cops pretty well knew who was who by the vehicles that were driven. Speaking to Conrad "Walt" Walters years later, he said they knew me by the red Mustang, Walt Reese by the "yellow Submarine", Marv Worden by the only Chrysler convertible, Chico Gentis by his red Ford convertible, and of course Swartz by his many VWs. And Walt admitted, that his police officers were confused when they would see a Lady driving one of the cars for say a week or so, or, a respected elderly Lady driving my red Mustang. It was quite a sport for them too (they later admitted). Once and a while, Jack Rhines admitted to me later, he would get a little pressure from the City fathers to sort of "discipline" the Chiniakers resulting in crackdown on speeding, and the like.
And then, we controllers at Chiniak sort of stuck together with the Sunnyvale controllers, and there was a club down there that we all supported when we were in town. It was run by a Chinese gentleman that really liked king crab. Well, I used to order the crab from Ray Martin Sr's plant by the 100 lbs loads. I got to know the lady that would take the orders for me pretty well. Now, If she is reading this right now, she knows who it was, but, the humorous thing about it is that I never told her to her face what the club in Sunnyvale referred to her as. Why I haven't said anything in 29 or so years was because I just now ran across one of Chan's notes on the crab. She was known as the dreaded and feared "crab lady". (She works for the Telephone Company today). Together, we must have processed at least a ton of crab via air freight to the San Francisco Airport. And as I understood it, Chan only "lost" one shipment due to lateness of a flight. Not a bad record for 1967 was it?
Now, we had the $100 haircuts at the old Ships Tavern. The pre-earthquake Chiniakers (circa 1958) knew all about this, but I don't think the others knew. Old Curley the barber (was there any other name for a barber?) had his shop just inside of the old Ships Tavern main entrance, and his "waiting room" was the bar. Now, poor ole Harry never missed a "gig" and would keep Curley's customers well entertained awaiting their turn for a haircut. Now Curley wasn't the speediest barber I have ever seen, which resulted in a lot of his customers spending a $100 in the Bar before they even got a haircut from him.
Then, there was Betty "Boo Boo" Doyle and her side-kick Dotti Valen. Boy, what a pair to draw to! Now Town Folks, we all knew how those two used to operate, and it was always in josh and good clean fun. In 1969, we decided to have our Chiniak Christmas Party at the Elk's Lodge room, so I, being an Elk Officer, made all of the arrangements. Now, while decorating the Hall, I was approached by these two Gals and jokingly they were trying to get me to invite them to the party later that night. Then, Dotti spies a young looking gentleman assisting in the work at hand and said to him "Old Tony is a prude, he won't invite us to the Chiniak party, will you?" The "young looking" gentleman was Major Manning, the commanding officer of Chiniak. He sez "Well now, if he won't I will and you will be my personal guest, and you are to sit at my table" I then introduced the major to the two Ladies. Talk about 2 red faces, oh boy, did I laugh about that one. Later that evening, those two showed up with their husbands dressed "fit to be killed", and had a ball. I know the major picked up the tab that night for them. He later thought that it was really funny the way they approached me on the invitation. I just merely said "That's pretty much the Kodiak way, sir! " And it still is, isn't it?
Now, we had John Eilert. I'm not saying that he wasn't running with a "full tank" all of the time, but shall we say "his compass was Boxed in a little different manner" than the rest of us. (30 degrees always to the starboard ) As an operations manager, HE WAS BRILLIANT!!! But off duty, a bit "strange". He was an excellent guitar player, for as you recall, he used to borrow my old Kay "F" hole until one night when he used it for a hammer on somebody's head. You would find John wandering through the weeds down at little Navy picking flowers, weeds, and later we found out herbs. He was a herb nut, and he was good at marrying all of those different tastes together in some real exotic dishes (Mostly east Indian). And at night, he was always wandering up and down the hallways mumbling in some strange language. I thought for a while it was latin, but having been to Catholic school, knew enough latin to recognize that it wasn't that. Later, I found out, it was Greek. He was a mythological nut, and new his myths to boot. Definitely an Educated Man. But logical in everyday things, D I F F E R E N T ! !
Yea, you might say we had kind of a bad run of Lockheed Managers if you want. Jim Paris, and also known as "P _ _ _ _es Paris". Good ole Harry Gottschalk conned Jim into a timed race event, that being a run from the corner bar stool near the entrance in the Ships, up Pillar Mountain to the site main door and back again. You could only carry one canteen of water with you, or whatever you wanted to put in it for the race. Some of the "cronies" of the day conned Jim into filling it up with Martinis. So, Jim started out right down main street, around "Blackie" Patterson's garage, through the old neighborhood, and right straight up the mountain to the White Alice site. Now, this was in May of 1959, and the pushki was out in full bloom. Yep, you guessed it. Jim made the round trip in 2 1/2 hours, but he was a drunken mess. His entire body was Pushki'zed. He spent 4 days in the old Griffin Memorial Hospital most probably in a "Calamine Lotion" bath. Jim didn't take anymore bets again from poor ole Harry.
The next story was told to me in 1960 by Bobby Grilli, who used to live quite close to where this event took place. Bobby was renting one of Angi Huer's houses that faced the old school yard, or in back of the Main Street Saloon Row.
Now, across the street from the old Ships Saloon (pre-earthquake days), there were two other bars. Over each one of these buildings along this street were second story structures such as offices and living quarters apartments. Now, I know well the names of these establishments, but one must be a bit careful here with this story. One of these Bars was owned by a lady and a gentleman who were partners in the business, and occasionally "other" partners. Well, one "southern" gentleman from Chiniak used to frequent this Saloon often, and shall we say, got to "know" the female partner quite well. His drink was Rum and Coca Cola for those who are attempting to place this man. Human nature being what it is, this Chiniak man was spending an evening up-stairs. Well, now the "other" partner came home one night, used his key, and walked in. Well, out the window goes the "Southern" gentleman, over the back stairs in ducked into Bobby Grilli's back porch clad only in a pair of red boxer shorts!! He stayed with Bobby the whole weekend daring not to venture out and be seen! And another "close call Chiniak" legend surfaces ......
As with my group of people, there are always one or two that are gullible, believing anything if you wish, that you tell them. Chiniak was no exception, and there were a few of those guys there too. Usually, these individuals were the very serious and intellectual types that would always take information on as additional education, and never as a josh or a kidding as it were. Sometimes, serious problems can result from this kind of horse play.
One of these individuals took serious about a bounty on all bald eagles in Alaska because of their over-population in certain areas, one of which was Kodiak Island. A bounty of $200 was offered to anyone shooting an eagle and just merely turning in one wing or any part of the body to any Alaska Department of Fish and Game office. Well, this "yo-yo" comes into the Casa de Toro one night with 3 "blasted" bald eagles, and was asking the "fellas" where the ADFG office was in Kodiak'? In all of my life to then, I have never seen grown men go into total panic as that night!! Herb Long was in the Toro at the time and almost "killed" that guy!! We ALL swore to secrecy that night that this event never took place.
Herb Long got some of his crew together right on the spot, fired up a back hoe, dug a very large deep hole out back of the buildings, and buried all of the deceased birds. His last comment to the guy that shot those birds was that he should have shot and buried him with the birds!!! (Can you even imagine someone being that dense??) The "grave" as it were today is where the new Chiniak arctic garage is located.
This roadhouse has to be one of the more unique and colorful "stops" along the road system to Chiniak. Just to walk in (watch your head on the entrance with that low- hanging roof eave), one immediately senses an all encompassing "warmth" with Jenny Sargent's "Hi Folks, Nice to See Ya" welcoming. And once being seated and looking around at all of the "real" memorabilia on the walls and ceiling, you really get the sense of the genuine hospitality of the establishment. Even if its just a stop for a cup of coffee, a coke, beer, sandwich, or whatever, you are always treated the same way every time!
Now, this author had forgotten many of the names, events, and characters involved with this place, so I finally had to call up Jenny one afternoon in the fall of 1995 and "bend her ear" so to speak to get some information to fill in the history of the Kalsin Bay Inn (aka KBI).
When I arrived in 1959, the Kalsin Bay Inn was known as "Moe's Place", after the owner, Moe Kimes. It really wasn't much there, just more or less a "beer stop" of sorts. Old Moe would welcome people on the road system traveling out usually on weekends for rides, going to their favorite fishing holes, and the like providing a bit of humor, road information, and a rest stop for the needy (out back, please).
When the Earthquake came along (see Chapter 22), the original place of course was effectively destroyed. Moe did have one thing; the liquor permit and that was something of value. Well, Dorothy Spenser and Roy Schneider, the owners of the Mecca lounge in Kodiak bought him out and rebuilt a new building where it is today. It was one of those "Kit" buildings (Lincoln logs or something like that ), and it provided a good cheap way of getting going with the bar business out that way especially since the road construction and repair crews were in full swing rebuilding the Chiniak Highway. One of the unique things about the bar top in the building; it was salvaged from the old Elk's bowling lanes in town after the earthquake.
Well, Roy and Dorothy ran the place for a few years with various tenants, but it never really got off of the ground. One of the last tenants was Danny Insulyn who ran it for about a year before giving up. The Author and a very good friend in town, Milty Smith, considered running it for a while in 1968, but decided against it once we looked over the place. It was in a very poor condition with busted heating pipes, etc as a result of non- occupancy. Roy and Dorothy finally repaired the place and got a few more people to run it for a while, but it wasn't until Sarge and Jenny Sargent came along did the place finally got going. They eventually purchased the place in 1971 and the family has had the place ever since. We will cover this place more extensively in the upcoming book CHINIAK TOO.
Well now, after thirty-two chapters of wild events, stories, history, and general information, one might get the impression that Chiniak was a real" country club"; being just full of gags, laughs, and kidding around. Although these events did take place, there was indeed a VERY SERIOUS SIDE OF CHINIAK Obviously, the author cannot (or shall we say, I will not) reveal all of the "Crisi's" that we lived through, but I will describe in much general terms some of the panic and desperate moments of "Leading Edge" tracking station life.
Each man, regardless of his operating position during flights, was equally important to the overall mission when the Station was in "contact" with the satellite. Any one man that dropped the ball made it very hard for all of us to pick up his slack and still provide the mission data. This includes the air conditioning man, the Prelort technician, the procedures key-punch operator, and/or the command controller. We ALL were a team!! Since well all lived, played, and worked together, we would as we used to say it "Would hang together, BE DAMNED!" The Air Force FINALLY realized this important fact and wisely chose to "leave us alone".
SO BE IT ........
Well Folks, sooner or later it had to happen, and it finally came all out in January of 1996. The Air Force finally declassified the Discoverer series satellite program and openly admitted that it really was a program of spy satellites. The name was "Coranado". This information came out in two areas; the first as a lead and cover story for Popular Science Magazine, and the other in March of 1996 as a television series on the Discovery channel.
As far as the author verifying as to the accuracy of those articles, I will only say "that it is near accurate enough" and leave it at that. I am not going to comment either way thereby still maintaining a neutral ground stand. Oh well, maybe I'll comment when I write CHINIAK TOO. Who knows ......
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