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Ruth Sandvik

Ruth Sandvik: Interview Outline: Section 7

The village store and how it has changed from the old days

Tape Reference Number: H2002-09-11
Ruth Blankenship-Sandvik talks with Bill Schneider and Eileen Devinney in Kiana, Alaska on February 28, 2002.

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Bill Schneider: Maybe that's a theme we ought to talk a little bit about is "what is a village store" and how it's changed over the years. First remember your dad ordering supplies, how did they come in? When did they come in, and --

Photo of Blankenship's Trading Post

Blankenship's Trading Post in Kiana

[Photo courtesy of Eileen Devinney]

Ruth Sandvik: Well, we had two ships from Seattle a year. And so it was necessary to get your supplies on the first boat because you never know -- you never knew whether it could be freighted up from Kotzebue on the last boat because of the season. And the things that he ordered were -- was some lumber, ammunition, of course, ammunition. A few guns, but it was not too -- so complicated to order guns as it is now. Everyone wants a Mini 14 now, and there was no such thing as a Mini 14. And -- and those basic things, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and soda.

Bill Schneider: So the ship would come into Kotzebue?

Ruth Sandvik: Kotzebue. And --

Bill Schneider: And -- and then we learned a little bit about -- I always used the wrong term, what's the term when you carry stuff from the boat to the store?

Ruth Sandvik: Longshoring.

Bill Schneider: Longshoring.

Ruth Sandvik: Uh-hum. Right.

Bill Schneider: The other day.

Ruth Sandvik: Uh-hum.

Bill Schneider: So the goods would have been longshored?

Ruth Sandvik: Shored from the beach up to whatever store --

Bill Schneider: Yeah.

Ruth Sandvik: -- there was. Yeah.

Bill Schneider: And then they had to be put on a barge for up here.

Ruth Sandvik: Oh, longshored onto a barge in Kotzebue, and then the barge would bring it up here, and then long shore it up to the store. Yeah. That -- in fact, my cousin Rob was the first one to get a vehicle up here of, not only a Jeep, but also snow machine and those things, which made -- made things a lot easier.

Bill Schneider: Yeah. It's certainly a lot different. I mean, when young kids hear your story about that, they may be surprised at that supply line.

Ruth Sandvik: Uh-hum. Uh-hum. Uh-hum.

Bill Schneider: And of course, fuel was not as big an issue back then.

Ruth Sandvik: No. My mother had a three-horse Evinrude. We had that. Percy Jackson's father had an outboard. Let's see, I'm trying to think what that was. If you -- and he will tell you. He will know. And there were -- so there was not too much -- too much necessity for gasoline. And then they didn't burn -- everybody burned wood until when -- I -- I think until I was in my teens. And then I think my father got the first oil stove. And then as the Eskimos went to work at Nome, at the mining camps and other places, they began buying oil stoves also. They bought cook -- cook stoves, which took care of heat as well as cooking on. You -- you probably know those old stoves with the fire.

Bill Schneider: Yeah.

Ruth Sandvik: I mean, not a fire, but a water thing in the back. Yeah.

Bill Schneider: Yeah.


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