Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Leonty Merculieff
Leonty Merculieff
Leonty Merculieff talks about duck hunting with friends, games they used to play as children, and finding leftover unexploded military ordinance after World War II.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2009-16-01

Project: Unalaska Communities of Memory
Date of Interview: Apr 26, 1996
Narrator(s): Leonty Merculieff
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Humanities Forum
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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Sections

Duck hunting with friends

Finding and playing with leftover military ordinance after World War II

Looting the old warehouses after World War II

Camping with friends and scaring each other with stories

Playing war during World War II

Games they used to play as children

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Transcript



LEONTY MERCULIEFF: I remember when I was a little kid, well we used to go camping all the time. Up Summer Bay, Morris Cove.

We used to go out there and just horse around. We'd take bread and salt, just enough, just so we could live off fishing, off the land really.

We would just go out and catch rats on Captain Bay, we use to camp up at Captain's Bay, too. That's the only reason we used to go out there, was just to catch rats.

(laughter). Then I went duck hunting with all these, all the younger guys, the older ones, didn't know. They put me in a little cove, like, they'd tell me to wait for the ducks to go by, I would wait, wait.

Nothing went by, though, I'd hear the guys shooting but nothing passed by me. Some of the guys, when I was going home, they gave me one duck. "Tell your dad you shot it." I said, "Okay." (laughter)

I was waiting a long time and nothing passed by me. I used to follow these older guys footsteps walking in the snow.

Boy they take big steps, you know I was just short. I just walked, boy I had a hard time walking, Paul and them guys, I'd be all tired out by the time I got home.

I know during the war, too we used to have a lot of fun here. Well you know, the army used to put these, uh, well they had all these little shacks, and grenades, there's a firing pin, that's holding it in.

Well we didn't know what they were, me and Paul [?], we didn't know what they were, you know. So we decided to try one out. We used a fishing pole.

We put one on a rock, you know, one of those pins on the rock, and we just walked way back and then we jerked, you know. All it made just a little, (makes "click" noise) just like a 22 you know, well we were all hiding, wondering where's the loud noise was. So we got a bigger one, you know.

Then Charlie Hope come around and grabbed it, said "Let me try that." Well, he grabbed it and it flipped out of his hand, well we all started running. One minute, (laughter) you could just feel the concussion from it, you know. Just from the back of your head, you know. But it did sound like a shotgun, real loud (laughs).

We used to catch fish like that, too! (laughter). Just throw 'em in the water and it'd blow 'em out. We had a lot of fun with that.

But, later on, you know, we couldn't get no more of that, they cut us off of that stuff! (laughter)

We was just used to loot around...Vern Robinson, the Marshall, doing that. But I used to follow this one kid, you know follow these tracks in the warehouse.

And then they didn't know I was there, really. I hid in an old clothes, you know old clothes, you know a big hamper, I hid in that thing.

I had my dog with me, he was trying to growl, and I kept holding his mouth. And I hid away real good. And all the guys, "Okay, Leonty, you came come out now." They didn't even know I was there! (laughter)

They said you can come out now. I had to come out. And then they told us "You'd better go home and have your dad spank you guys." (laughter). We’re gonna tell the Marshall, you know. When I went home, my dad just sent me back out to get some more stuff.

(laughter) . He didn't even spank me neither. We hid all our stuff away, they had us in a jeep, you know. I just put all of my stuff underneath the chair in the Jeep, just wouldn't, finally they all come searching.

"Where's all the stuff you got?" I didn't have nothing, it was all in the Jeep, they went across on the inside .... They didn't know we had it.

All I had was these gloves, and uh...we used to have a lot of games here too. The Army, we used to loot around upstairs, look around for stuff.

Then we'd go out camping on Summer Bay, and then we'd tell stories. Real spooky stories, you know. I'd be sitting around -- well, I was young, too, you know, but then I was scared.

But then I heard this noise on the top of the roof. Boy everyone was sitting there, boy, everyone covered themselves up real quick, you know and boy were we scared and it was all the old fox on top of the roof! (laughter).

We thought it was something really weird out there. We were even scared to go to the bathroom out there. I was with these other young kids, Paul [?], we had this little copper tube, we used to go to the bathroom, that’s what we used so we wouldn't have to go outside (laughter) .

We be scared to go outside. They said there were Outside Men, so we were just scared to go out there. We just stayed, we didn't open the door, if somebody opened the door, we always had our shotgun pointing towards the door (laughter).

We had a lot of fun down there. But, I enjoyed, during the war, you know, but then, uh. Well, we used to play war all the time, golly, you see a movie, then you go play war.

Well, I got spanking for that, too. We were up on top of haystack, well we didn't know these planes were coming down, you know and we were just playing war, you know, running up there.

My dad was right behind, boy he really, really spanked me real hard. We thought they were just playing war, and didn't think they were really shooting, you know. We didn't know, we didn't know about war. We were really dumb.

Really playing around. And then they finally told us to stay away from the hills, so we had to stay down. But I was in the little -- we used to have these little -- well we used to have outhouses, but they used have a little chamber.

I was sitting in one one time, they had to pack me out of the whole thing (laughter). Put me in a dug out. You can hear these things actually drop on your, when they come over, you can hear these shells dropping down, the empty cartridges, you hear them come down.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: How old were you? LEONTY MERCULIEFF: I was really young then. I was 7 when I went down to Burnett's.

I must have been around 6, I guess. No that was after the war, though, when we come back here, '45. But when I was younger, we used to have a lot of fun here.

We even find to these old [wall lockets???], and make a little boat out of them, you know. Put alot of tar, and then, the we'd tug boat and be rowing along and suddenly the bottom would fall out and we'd all be scrambling along trying to get out.

We use to have a lot of fun. But I used to be scared of outside men, they used to tell about "Outside Men".

My dad told me there's no outside men. I didn't believe him, though (laughs).