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Sharon O'Malley
Sharon O'Malley
Sharon O'Malley talks about the first place she lived in Unalaska and about living in a cabana.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2009-16-02

Project: Unalaska Communities of Memory
Date of Interview: Apr 26, 1996
Narrator(s): Sharon O'Malley
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Humanities Forum
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First place she live in Unalaska was Skibowl Hill

Musical gatherings

When the pipes froze in her cabana

The good and the bad parts about living in a cabana

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SHARON O"MALLEY: I don't know if it's a story really with an end or anything. I was just thinking when you were talking about the cabana lifestyle. It brings back really fond memories for me because I moved here 14 years ago.

The first place that I lived was up on Skibowl for a few years. And it was just, it was so wonderful to live up there back then. There was this great, great community of people that lived there.

At that time, there was just, for a period of a few years, the same people were there and we were all really best friends and we did everything together. We had great potluck dinners all the time.

Holidays were just wonderful. We'd usually meet at Pete Hendrickson's place, which was the biggest one up there at the time. I guess it was some general's house or something.

But it was really big comparatively. And that's where the big gathering place always was for everything. It was always just really casual and everybody would come.

I really loved it and like you, we didn't have, you know, we didn't have water. For a long time we had a big oil cookstove which was considered kind of a luxury actually.

But it didn't work really well. It looked really nice but it backfired a lot and there was always soot in the cabana.

I remember one night though. One thing that we would do a lot up there, there was a lot of people that played musical instruments. Just amateurs.

So we'd get together at someone's place a lot in the evenings and just play. So one night we were up at, I don't know if anybody remembers there's this German guy named Jurgen, who lived here then.

He had a cabana and he was just this incredible classical guitarist. I think Abbie was telling me actually now he has a CD out. But he was amazing. He studied, you now, forever in Germany.

So he was always the best one. We'd always accompany him on our little things. So one night we were up at his place and it was the middle of winter and my pipes had frozen. We eventually got water in there.

Skip Southworth had put in some kind of a water catch system and we hooked into it in our cabana. I was living with a friend at that time.

My friend moved out and I was there alone and my water had frozen. I was out of water for a few months. It was no problem but one night we all went up to Jurgen’s and we were having one of our little jam sessions and it went well into the night. It was like 3 o'clock in the morning when I stumbled down to my place.

I guess it had thawed just enough for the pipes to break. And so when I walked in the place was just flooded. It was totally full of water. Water everywhere. It was pouring out.

And I just panicked because the thing was, there was tons of snow still. Lots of snow and the little valve thing that you turned my water on and off with was buried at the bottom of, I'd say probably, well taller than me, you know.

Probably about 6 and a half feet of solid icy snow.

So there I am at 3 o'clock in the morning running out of my cabana yelling, you know, cause all these people, I'd just seen them anyway. Help, help. They all came. It was great, you know. Everybody came down at 3:00 AM with their shovels.

It took hours but they did it. You know, they were able to shut that thing off. The house was totally flooded. People were helping me, you know, bail the house out. It was just this big party.

It was just great. You know, I really miss those days. I remember in the winter time, whoever built that place, the door opened from the outside.

So in the winter it would get so snowy up there that I would have to set my alarm clock, lots of times, like every two hours and I'd have to get up and I'd have to get out there and shovel because one time I actually did get snowed in.

I couldn't get out of my place. But it was just a lot different. I was really sad when the cabanas came down from Skibowl. That was a very sad thing for me to see.