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Ruth Sandvik

Ruth Sandvik: Interview Outline: Section 9

Dog team, mail carriers, and mail orders

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: You mentioned dog team mail carriers.

Ruth Sandvik: Yes.

Bill Schneider: And that's a subject that's -- that's been of interest to -- to some people because information about dog team mail carriers is -- you've only got a limited span to get it from people.

Ruth Sandvik: Right. And I'm trying to think.

Bill Schneider: Your dad was involved in that?

Ruth Sandvik: My -- when my dad was in the service in Tanana, that was his main job, carrying mail. He had 22 half-breed wolves. And when he was discharged, they had to kill the wolves because they were pretty much one-man -- one-man dogs -- one-man dogs. And you couldn't -- they --

Eileen Devinney: Couldn't be transferred to another owner?

Ruth Sandvik: Right. Right. Now, they also, I do recall, but I don't recall who carried mail to these villages, and that was, like, once a month. But you know, that wasn't very much mail because not much was coming up from the states. So...

Bill Schneider: Did you mention that your dad carried mail on this route?

Ruth Sandvik: No. On the Yukon.

Bill Schneider: On the Yukon.

Ruth Sandvik: Uh-hum.

Bill Schneider: Okay. But you don't remember any of the early mail carriers here?

Ruth Sandvik: I recall dog teams coming up with mail, but not -- they were few and far between. And not much mail. And then when we got airplanes, it was only like once a month.

Oh, how we got -- like some people would order -- order from Walter -- Walter Field and Sears Roebuck or Montgomery, and you had to order early in the year. I'm trying to think how it even got out because they would come on one of those boats I'm talking about that freighted -- that brought everything into Kotzebue. So you -- you got your order once a year. And perhaps twice a year if -- if the second boat got there in time for the -- for the barge that brought the goods up this way.

Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. That's interesting, the mail order.

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