Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Walter McInnes, Side B

This is a continuation of the interview with Walter McInnes on August 7, 2008 by Charles Mobley at his home in Seldovia, Alaska. In this second side of a two-sided original tape recording, Walter talks about changes in Seldovia after the 1964 Alaska Earthquake including flooding and the physical layout of the community. He also talks about logging and the sawmill, working as a bartender, and a number of old-timers.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2008-20_SIDEB

Project: Seldovia Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Aug 7, 2008
Narrator(s): Walter McInnes
Interviewer(s): Charles Mobley
Transcriber: Jan Yaeger
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Institute of Museum and Library Services, Seldovia Village Tribe
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.

Sections

Flooding in Seldovia with high tide

Bridge in Seldovia

Sawmill in Seldovia

Re-location of the cemetery

Quonset huts and mining of chrome ore from Red Mountain

Urban renewal and changes in Seldovia

Salvage and re-use of buildings

Old-timers and characters of early Seldovia

Henry "Mad Trapper" Kroll, Sr.

Luke Fisher and Steve Zawistowski

History of Dora Ursin's red cabin

History of the school bus in the yard of Dora Ursin's cabin

Working as a bartender

Seldovia Bible Chapel building

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.

Transcript

WALTER McINNES: Oh, the earthquake. When I got -- when I did get down to Seldovia, what they were really concerned with was the high tides in the spring and the fall.

And when I was here, I can remember there was a little skiff, and some guys got in it and rowed through the cannery. Like there was about two -- a foot and a half or two foot of water in the cannery. I think maybe -- I can't remember for sure, a foot and a half, maybe.

But that illustrate -- people had sandbagged -- during and after the earthquake, they had sandbagged the boardwalk so if, when the tides did come, the boardwalk, if case there was any wave action, the boardwalk would not be removed.

You know, it would -- And so the whole area was -- the boardwalk area was all sandbagged with weight to hold it in place.

And then I remember when that particular tide, which was a -- not only was a high normal tide, but the wind was pushing it in. Certain directions of wind make a bigger tide.

And at that time a lot of pic -- people took pictures, and as I said, they took one -- one was they took a canoe and then they took a little skiff, and then took pictures of that to illustrate the -- to dramatically illustrate how -- just how far it had sunk and how -- what effect it had on the existing cannery operations.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Did it have any effect on your personal house?

WALTER McINNES: Let's see, I had a -- no, I had -- I had a barge up -- I had a house on a barge and I had purchased it in '62 and floated it up under the bridge.

Floated it in at high tide and the tide came in surges here, and it didn't -- all the damage it did in the harbor was to break up the floats. It didn't really crush or sink any boats, but the surge was enough that it busted the floats loose from where they were.

And -- but up the slough where -- where I didn't notice any damage on my structure.

CHARLES MOBLEY: You mentioned the bridge. That was a drawbridge of some sort?

WALTER McINNES: Not at that time. At that time it was a -- I would describe it as an A-frame bridge.

It was a -- two supporting structures and then the -- that would be a good description of what it was -- was the bridge as it existed.

CHARLES MOBLEY: So it was stationary. It didn't raise?

WALTER McINNES: No, it -- it had -- it was -- had taken the place of the one -- the drawbridge, the previous was -- when this cannery -- the cannery property -- oh. (engine noise in background)

CHARLES MOBLEY: Seems we managed to pick a night when they're going to do some dirt work here, huh?

WALTER McINNES: I can't imagine what -- where he's going with that, and who it is? Must be Hopkins. He's the only one that works this time of night.

But, yeah, the drawbridge time was the time of when the sawmill was going. When I got here the sawmill hadn't -- in 1960 the sawmill was -- had -- was starting to fall apart.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Can you describe the sawmill at that point in time? The ruins of it or whatever?

WALTER McINNES: Well, there was a couple of old one-cylinder engines there, which is a low compression, one-cylinder engines, and -- which would -- were common to operations like the cannery, and I remember seeing belt-drive machinery.

Everything -- there was a belts to everything. And lots of sawdust around that area. Now you can't identify it but it was sawdust, and now it's all looks like dirt.

But at that whole area is a lot of sawdust. And there you go. Knowing the history of an area and then comparing that with what exists today and then knowing what might be in there.

CHARLES MOBLEY: What happened to the ruins? Did they move the machinery out or did it just collapse in place?

WALTER McINNES: Snow load collapses happen to a lot of buildings around here if they're not kept up. Some years you get a big snow load and it's enough to take buildings.

CHARLES MOBLEY: And so was it eventually removed?

WALTER McINNES: It was just -- it was cleared off and then somebody decided it was a good building site, and that's where the blue house is now. That blue house sits exactly where the old sawmill sat.

CHARLES MOBLEY: And whose house is that?

WALTER McINNES: Elvsaas's.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay. Fred?

WALTER McINNES: No, Pete. He died and so it's -- it's his -- Lillian Elvsaas owns it now. CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay.

WALTER McINNES: And Fred's right up here. Pete's over -- had the blue one. Pete and Lillian.

But no, it's interesting to me. I would have liked to have seen -- the -- the logs being floated up to the -- you know, because -- obviously, if you look up there now, not in this map, but, you know, this one here would show it.

Well, this little bite here is much more than what it shows here, but obviously they would have been -- they would have tied the logs up right in that little area.

And that would have been the sawmill and this would -- this would be log storage. So they only had to pull them up one time, but one at a time up into the mill to the saw.

But the significance here is, we lost some beach here. See this is all -- this stuff was filled in. And here, this was all filled in. Here and through here.

But we gained flatland and we gained roadways. Like I said, in the nine -- early 1960s there was no place you could play baseball in Seldovia on the Fourth of July. And I remember one time we did have a baseball game right up in this area right here.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Did you witness the cemetery move, the re -- moving?

WALTER McINNES: No, but I know -- Actually, I could introduce you to a fellow that -- I think that he participated in it. You might want to talk to him.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Who would that be?

WALTER McINNES: I think Eddie Boone did it. CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay.

WALTER McINNES: But I'll have to ask him first because he may not -- may or may not want to, and it's -- it's better I ask him before. CHARLES MOBLEY: Sure.

WALTER McINNES: Before -- instead of you asking him. CHARLES MOBLEY: Sure.

WALTER McINNES: Because I know a couple of guys that worked on it. It was a little -- they said it was a little spooky. I -- You know, it's not their ordinary occupation and --

CHARLES MOBLEY: It's mine.

WALTER McINNES: There you go. Yeah, they moved that. That was from down in this area. The old -- the old -- where all the ones that got moved up to the graveyard came from down in here.

And this is all boat storage here. But that's what this was.

CHARLES MOBLEY: So where the boat storage starts, is that where the cemetery used to be?

WALTER McINNES: No, the -- this was a board -- a raised boardwalk across here. Well, part -- it wasn't too high here, but up on this end, it was raised a bit to start up the hill.

And this was lowlands all through here. And I think the graves -- graves were in here somewhere. CHARLES MOBLEY: Uh-huh.

WALTER McINNES: It's -- it's -- Eddie -- the ones who did it would -- would remember. 'Cause they actually spent time doing it.

And it's just like this doesn't show it, but this is all way up on top of a hill right here. And this house is still here, and this -- a couple of these are gone.

In fact, almost all of this -- this and this is gone now. This -- these two up here. They were Quonsets.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Yeah? They were Quonset huts? Up on the north end of town?

WALTER McINNES: Yeah, see, you can almost see by the shape, this was a Quonset and this was a Quonset.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Huh. What was their history? Do you have any idea what were they being -- ?

WALTER McINNES: Well, all the Quonsets came from Red Mountain. Red Mountain was 19 -- I don't know, '40, '41, 1941 when the Red Mountain was a -- standby emergency supply of chrome ore for World War II effort, if needed.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Was there a mine there, actually?

WALTER McINNES: Yes. CHARLES MOBLEY: Yeah.

WALTER McINNES: Yeah, they did have a mine shaft and -- they -- all the Quonsets were up there and they had a certain amount of employees and they were proceeding to take ore out.

The idea being, Rommel was going across Africa and trying to close off the Suez Canal, and all the chrome ore at the time came out of Kenya.

And the chrome was necessary to produce the higher -- like the fighter engines and the -- part of the bearings and things were coated -- a certain amount of chrome to get those higher horse-power engines, which eventually --

You know, we developed stronger and better fighter planes as the war went on. But without -- without that -- at that time all the chrome ore did come from Africa.

But so they -- they knew there was chrome here, and there's actually another one down at the end of the peninsula. At a place called Chrome Bay. Which is down by off of Portlock. But this was the better source. So they were ready to go.

CHARLES MOBLEY: (engine noise in background) Let's jump to Urban Renewal. The actual process of it, and I know that the fellow who's in charge of that here, Lou?

WALTER McINNES: Collier.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Collier. I hope to talk with him. But what was it like when they -- when they were actually doing the -- they used bulldozers and -- did they use bulldozers on Cap's Hill and heavy equipment?

WALTER McINNES: Dynamite. Dynamite and bulldozers. CHARLES MOBLEY: Uh-huh.

WALTER McINNES: And I didn't really -- I think at that time I was still partly involved with the -- with the folks up in the homestead.

And I remember, I brought my mother down here, I think in '64, my mother and stepfather, and they stayed here for two years.

And I don't know why, but I don't have much recollection of the actual movement of the rock, though I did remember the buildings being torn down, because that -- that did bother me because it -- I had some sense of appreciation for what was here.

And to this day, there's nothing replaces this building here. And there's nothing replaces what was in -- down in this cannery complex, they had a woodshop, a welding shop, a machine shop. They're not here anymore.

CHARLES MOBLEY: So if -- those functions -- WALTER McINNES: All the equipment and machinery is gone. CHARLES MOBLEY: Uh-huh.

WALTER McINNES: And so what you've got is you've got a more modern place, but you don't have the self-sufficiency that this place used to have. You could do in Seldovia -- you had had a better hardware store than any place in Cook Inlet, including Homer and Kenai. Better hardware store, right here in Seldovia.

And -- they -- the couple -- they had two machine shops. Each cannery had their own little machine shop, and they could fabricate stuff, make stuff.

And they had their wood shop and they could repair a boat. Take planks or barges and rep -- maintain them and repair them and they had wood storage.

You know, they had everything that they needed to be self-sufficient and self-reliant.

And so when they lost those things, you can no longer get a bearing drilled in Seldovia. You can no longer go to a place like this and stretch your net out in February and March, and work on your net which you could then, if you were part of that cannery.

You fished for that cannery, you could go there in the middle of winter, work on -- just pull your net off a pile and stretch it out and mend it, shape it and whatever.

So that, to me, that was a significant loss. These large warehouses and buildings were -- were very much an asset.

I'm trying to look here and figure out, because I remember one place you used to walk down past the cannery, and in the -- if it was in the wintertime, boy, it was scary because if that roof -- if that snow ever come off that roof, why, you were -- you were in -- it would be like going past avalanche country.

CHARLES MOBLEY: What happened to the -- the buildings? Did they just burn them, the wood, or did they salvage -- was any of the wood salvaged by the community?

WALTER McINNES: Well, they most -- mostly they used machinery to take stuff apart. And at first, they let people get some stuff and then it got to be too much of a --

Right away, the guy that was in charge -- by the time -- I was out of town for a little while. When I came to town and I asked him like, you know, for when are you going to do this building or that building.

Well, they wouldn't turn them loose and they wouldn't let people in because they -- people ended up arguing and one --

I remember one place, the store, and I was going in there to get a sink and somebody had a bathtub they were taking out of the second story.

And somebody down below was yelling at them, hey, careful with that thing, you know, goddang. I mean, they're shoving a whole bathtub out of the second story window or door -- window, I think it was, you know.

And I remember one building in this area down here. In fact, it was the old -- it was the old hardware store building. And I got some of the planks out of there.

And I went in and these guys had -- they were going to take the flooring. There was good planks in the flooring and the welder at the time, his name was Merle Berger, and he welded together about a five foot long, five and a half-foot long bar with two round-plated priers on it.

And you could put that underneath a plank, inch and a half, two-inch plank, and you could pull the spikes out. That was designed just for -- or for -- taking these old buildings apart when we were allowed to.

And there was a couple of cases where they did that. The -- can't remember, it was Stuart or Studnick. Stuart or Studnick.

Studnick, I think, was the contractor and he was pretty good to let stuff go, but there was a couple -- as I said, there was a -- the incident of the grocery store and that, where it was just -- you get too many people and, you know, --

One guy wants -- everybody wants the window or everybody wants the sink and so they just stopped that.

And I did get one building from them, way down at the end, which was just plain boards and he let me have that one, but he said you have -- he said, don't tell anybody -- don't advertise it.

And he says, whatever, you got -- you got so many hours tonight. He says, "Whatever you can get done tonight. Tomorrow we're tearing it down and I don't want you anywhere near it."

So I went there and I worked into the dark. And got some planks and stuff. And a couple people came by. That was way over by this side, by the church.

And one lady that I had known and she -- who do you -- what are you doing? Who told you you could do that? You know. Because she knew the people who originally built the property, etc.,

And I said to -- I said, "I asked permission." "Well, I don't think you should." Well, the next day the bulldozer arrives, so I -- I did -- You know, it was -- there was a certain amount of that.

So the contractor allowed as much as he could to get stuff salvaged, but wherever it was going to cause him a problem he just simply said, nobody -- nobody gets in. That's it.

So the -- some of the old timers would go to the dump all the time and salvage from there.

CHARLES MOBLEY: So they did haul it to the dump?

WALTER McINNES: They had hauled it to the dump that is right there. Right here, right here, right in here is the city dump. After -- this was the original dump.

CHARLES MOBLEY: At the confluence of those two --

WALTER McINNES: Anderson. CHARLES MOBLEY: And -- WALTER McINNES: Winifred, CHARLES MOBLEY: Winifred, uh huh. WALTER McINNES: Yeah. CHARLES MOBLEY: That was a --

WALTER McINNES: And, and any -- and then -- I can't remember, right around earthquake time, maybe the year -- but any rate the city dump -- before earthquake, the city started -- decided that this was where the dump should be.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Further up the slough on the west side?

WALTER McINNES: Yeah. By that time, the road -- this road was already there.

CHARLES MOBLEY: What's the name of the road?

WALTER McINNES: No, there's no sp -- Beach Road is all we ever used to call it. CHARLES MOBLEY: Uh-huh.

WALTER McINNES: And it used -- and it used to go out here. There used to be a guy, Calhoun, oh, about two miles out of town. He had a sawmill. He had trees -- cut trees and had a sawmill out there.

Red Calhoun. He moved to Homer mid -- just about earthquake time. Just after the earthquake. His whole family moved over there.

CHARLES MOBLEY: I read in the book here that Susan Woodward Springer wrote that the Urban Renewal period, a lot of old families left Seldovia. WALTER McINNES: Some. Yeah.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Some. When you first got here, in those three or four years before the quake, who were the old timers here? Who were the characters that inhabited Seldovia? Can you --

WALTER McINNES: I've -- I've had people ask me, you know, why did you -- what did you like about Seldovia? Why did you stay there?

And, well, number -- you could come here and get a job. And, you know, and you could -- if you were willing to work, that's all that was required. If you were willing to work.

And you could get a job and you could -- if you get a good reputation and you wanted to go on a boat, you could get on certain boats.

But, you know, and the longer you were here, the better the boat, the better the season, etc.

But the thing that attracted me to Seldovia, aside from the jobs, was the character of the old timers. They were -- they were cosmopolitan. There were people from -- who'd been all around the world.

They weren't end-of-the-road, never-been-anywhere people. The people that were in this town, who were sailors, had been before the mast all over the world. Ouch, my -- I'm getting a cramp.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Well, but before we get into that, you were saying the old-timers here were really cosmopolitan, and that was one of the things that attracted you.

WALTER McINNES: Oh, what I liked about it is the -- I'm going to stretch my leg out there -- CHARLES MOBLEY: Yeah.

WALTER McINNES: Yeah, it was -- it was -- they were sailors, but they were very genuine people and that's not a good word, but -- they were -- they'd been around. They had an open mind. And they were -- they made their own judgments and they lived here by choice.

You know, a couple of them old guys, a standard answer -- you'd ask an old guy, well, of all the places in the world, you've been to Tahiti, you know? You've been to Hawaii, you've been to southern France, you've been to Greece, Spain. Why did you end up in Seldovia?

And they just smile and say, well, the tide's out, the table's set. Which means you never need to starve if you live on coastal Alaska, if you've any knowledge of what's available.

But it was just an attitude. And I've seen some guys up at Talkeetna that were -- that I liked that were similar. That were miners and they lived their own individual lives, and they had a lot of colorful history, but they chose to live there.

And Seldovia had quite a few that were like that, and it's just where they chose -- they arrived here and decided this was where they were going to stay.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Can you talk about anybody specifically? Any names or any people in particular you really enjoyed?

WALTER McINNES: Well, I liked -- Mr. Pils -- Nels Pilskog was -- was one of the nice people that I liked. I'm trying to think of his name --

CHARLES MOBLEY: Wait. Wait. Why did you like him?

WALTER McINNES: Because he was not -- he was honest, hard-working, friendly, helpful, a good --- just a good person -- a good -- a good person to have as a neighbor, and as -- somebody to get to know.

And having some people like that in the neighborhood, you just were amongst nice people.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Mm-hm. And I interrupted you. You were saying another person down --

WALTER McINNES: I was trying to think of -- used to -- this house on -- boy, for -- my mind is just slipping. Right up on the hill corner here. Ah, no. This one right here. And it's still here.

It's that -- it's a little -- used to be yellow. Gerry Patrick owns it now.

Of course, Gerry Patrick has a house right down in here. None -- none of that -- See, this is all built up.

But any rate, this one -- I can't think of his name but it was an Englishman, English-type person, descent. And right up on top of this hill right here, there was a little -- Fred had a -- there was a little shack and there was two brothers in there.

And I can't think of their name right now. And at any rate, there was -- there wasn't just four, five or six or seven. It seemed to me -- I would say, over a dozen of those type of -- of gentlemen like that. That had the background that -- that had been around.

CHARLES MOBLEY: You mentioned earlier today Mad Trapper Kroll? WALTER McINNES: Yeah. CHARLES MOBLEY: Who was he?

WALTER McINNES: Henry Kroll, Sr. He was known as the Mad Trapper. And he started out in the Cordova area. And he used to have a small plane and he'd fly over the city of Cordova and play a violin.

And then he'd -- he'd got -- he didn't like one bartender so he went into his bar and shook a wolverine out of a bag loose in the bar.

And another time, when the Fourth of July or something, he had a wolverine on a -- on a line in front of him, and I think, though I don't know all the details, but I think he had a chain and rattled it.

But any rate, the wolverine respected him and didn't turn around and attack him. And if you know anything about wolverines, for somebody to have -- get ahold of and master one was really, really significant.

But even with the old trappers and them, you know, the mountain men out in Montana and Idaho, the wolverine was a nasty character.

So Mad Trapper because he did mad things. But he did all -- He did anything and everything he wanted to and he was capable of doing anything and everything.

If he wanted to -- if he wanted a fish site, he'd go -- go and get a fish site. And if he wanted a boat that would go -- take more punishment and harder than anybody, he built it himself.

And the -- and he built it stronger. And if he wanted to -- some lumber to build his boat or to build his house on the other side of the Inlet, he'd start up his own sawmill.

And he did just everything. And he went gold mining and built a reputation for himself. That's why he was -- it originally started out as the Mad Trapper and the wolverines got him the title of being mad.

CHARLES MOBLEY: You mentioned also -- Luke Fisher? WALTER McINNES: Yeah. CHARLES MOBLEY: Who is he?

WALTER McINNES: He owned the Seldovia Hotel. And that's -- that's another one you could check if you talked to -- and I see Lou is back. He must have got off the ferry today. Lou Collier.

He was -- I say again, a character and there was -- when I think of it now, easily a dozen to twenty, if -- depending -- somewhere, you might say by Seldovia standards, twelve of them were real characters.

But by anywhere else standards, twenty or more would have been characters.

And what I liked about it is, this town wasn't bigoted or hypocritical in my opinion. It --These guys were here and they had a worldly attitude and they make a judgment.

If they -- if you -- if they accepted you, you had carte blanche acceptance, you know. They were very generous and friendly.

I found them friendly. I found -- and I liked that, I liked that.

And it's certain amount of -- imagine any of these coastal towns, you will find that. Even in Vancouver, Canada, I found some, but Seldovia had a concentration.

And you'd talk to certain people -- even ask Mr. Collier, why did you end up in Seldovia? At that time, you'd ask different ones, and I think Zawi -- Steve Zawistowski and he lived on Main Street. Was a fisherman.

And his story was that he was on a boat and it had gone all the way down the chain (Aleutain Islands) and back and around and come to Seldovia and he just signed off the boat, walked -- got off the boat. I'm going to stay here.

And this was in the 1930s. That some of these guys came here. You know, quite a few of them.

And of course, the other thing for -- during the Depression days, well, people came up here and worked. The Norwegians had set up the herring industry and they could be self-employed, make some money, make a life for themselves, and, you know, instead of sitting around having no jobs or nothing.

So this was a very active area in the '20s and '30s. They say there was way, way more population in Kachemak Bay all the way to Seward at the time that they were running the herring and the fox farms. The one overlapped the other.

And at that time there was more people resident and you know, it was the height of the Depression in the Lower 48, but up here people could work. And so they, you know, they -- they had a contented existence.

CHARLES MOBLEY: I've got a specific question. If you know where we're at here in this house, and it's -- by the way we're in the Bridgekeeper's B&B here, right by the bridge across the slough. WALTER McINNES: Right.

CHARLES MOBLEY: And just to the west here, there's a little red cabin with a school bus in the yard? Just right there. WALTER McINNES: Right.

CHARLES MOBLEY: What's -- what's the history of that place? Do you know?

WALTER McINNES: Oh. What you don't know is this road goes through Dora Ursin's house and yard.

And the amount of houses that existed here -- It was one, two, three houses that came out in order for this road to be corrected when the bridge was -- the new bridge -- when they changed the road design and then they put the bridge in.

And in order to change the road design and put this bridge in and approaches, the Ursin property was -- was taken. And only that little red shed was -- just -- little red house was something she had built on the back of her property.

I don't remember if she ever used it as a rental or what but --

CHARLES MOBLEY: What was her name again?

WALTER McINNES: Dora, D-O-R-A. Oh, I got to walk. CHARLES MOBLEY: Sure.

WALTER McINNES: U-R-S-I-N.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay, yeah. So, Dora Ursin, and she had a house and it was condemned for the bridge construction?

WALTER McINNES: Yeah, what they call, condemned, or -- they take it over, the property. CHARLES MOBLEY: Yeah.

WALTER McINNES: There was three houses. And if you go down here, just by the corner, you'll see that there's a fire hydrant. And the fire hydrant used to be on the corner and it's -- the road used to be the other side of the fire hydrant.

So down where all those alders are is where the old road was. So up here, it took out Ursin's property and it took out Dorothy Parker's property.

This is Ursin's big yard here. This house -- there was another house here. At the -- and that's long gone. It was torn -- Not long gone, but -- that was taken down way after the earthquake.

And then this is Ursin's right, right here. And apparently this, actually '59, wow, that little shed there was the real -- original bridgekeeper's shed, right there.

CHARLES MOBLEY: So there was actually a bridgekeeper?

WALTER McINNES: There was actually a bridgekeeper. And that was a little, wee shed. You can see the size of it compared to -- see that? Just that little dot. It was real small. And this is Dora Ursin's.

And the present -- and the little red -- okay, up here -- oh, you can't hardly see her cabin. This is Alice Nutbeem. And then that little cabin is right underneath this pen.

And that's Dora Ursin's house. So the road went -- at present. This is the old road, and the present road goes right through here and then makes a sweep. CHARLES MOBLEY: Mm-hm. And --

WALTER McINNES: So Dorothy Parker had this and she run a restaurant. She had this one. And David Swenson owned this one.

And so that's -- the road is so much different now. It comes up here and then goes like right through there.

CHARLES MOBLEY: And the school bus? Did you know anything about how the school bus ended up there?

WALTER McINNES: Ah, that old bus. Gerry Willard bought it from somebody and he wanted something from Nick and -- Nick Elxnit, and Nick Elxnit died here about -- there's a bench down in front of the harbormaster gives his date of birth as being, what, 2003? Two -- oh, oh, no. 1903 and he died in -- oh, it was ninety -- '98 or '99 or something like that.

He was in his nineties. And I think he was around 97 years old. But anyway, Nick's thing is now -- dang it -- Nick's -- Nick Elxnit was one of the old timers here and trying to recall. What was your question again?

CHARLES MOBLEY: Something about the bus. How Gerry Willard got the bus.

WALTER McINNES: Oh, oh, the green -- the green bus. Well, Gerry -- Gerry got it -- so people would come here -- those old buses were means of getting to Alaska.

Just like home -- some of the first people who'd come here would bring a little trailer. 'Cause then they knew they'd have a place to live while they were building their homes or log houses or whatever.

And you could buy eighteen, twenty, twenty-foot trailers in the Lower 48. Old trailers for a pretty reasonable price. Still can.

And any rate, that old bus came here and whoever brought it here -- Gerry Willard would -- any rate, it was not abandoned, but Gerry acquired it for a storage thing.

And he used it for awhile, 'cause he never has enough storage, like most -- a lot of Seldovians are acquirers.

Any rate, Nick needed it and -- Gerry sold it to Nick and it actually got drove to where it is. Drove it up there and that had to be -- boy, I would guess in the late 70s.

'Cause I remember the bus. I remember when Gerry had it and I remember when --

CHARLES MOBLEY: And Gerry's the person that lives in the old hospital, is that right? WALTER McINNES: Right. CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay. WALTER McINNES: Willard. Gerry Willard. CHARLES MOBLEY: Uh-huh. WALTER McINNES: Yeah.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay. I've got another question I'd like to jump to. You said that you were a bartender here for awhile?

WALTER McINNES: Yeah. For one year I bartended. CHARLES MOBLEY: Where at?

WALTER McINNES: It was known as the Knight Spot. K-N-I-G-H-T. And that was because the Knight brothers owned it. And one of -- Chuck Knight also owned the grocery store.

CHARLES MOBLEY: And what was it like being a bartender there?

WALTER McINNES: It was -- I was -- I think I was 39 when I started bartending. 38 or 39. Educational.

Different outlook. You learned to evaluate people differently. And appreciate and evaluate. Or, some cases, depreciate. CHARLES MOBLEY: Mm-hm.

WALTER McINNES: But a different way of looking at people. It -- At that time, we had the loggers and the fishermen.

And the loggers were -- the logging was pretty strongly -- going strongly at that time, and the fishing was still going strong, so the -- it was two separate economies.

The fishing wasn't -- had dropped off a little. But, oh, I would -- maybe not, depending on when you compare the two.

So that was '70 -- '70 or '71 when -- I think it was '71 when I was bartending.

Yeah, they both -- both the fishing was going strong and the logging was going strong. And -- and I knew people from both areas and got along fine.

Didn't have any phone. Couldn't call the police. So you had to handle any problems. You had problems, you had to handle them.

Diplomacy's the first -- first educational thing. Learn diplomacy, that's much -- so much better than -- than any other choice. Yeah.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay, I have one more thing. In the back of Susan Springer's book, here, she's got a list of old buildings. I don't know if you've ever noticed.

But I wonder if you could comment on them. Seldovia Bible Chapel. Built in 1944. Strongest concrete in town. Are you familiar with that building?

WALTER McINNES: Very -- yeah. I know Mr. Tobleman. My wife and I were married -- oh, was it Tobleman?

Any rate, yeah, I knew Mr. Tobleman. No, we weren't married by Tobleman, we were -- I'm trying to think of the other guy's name. It -- Tobleman was tall, thin man.

So Tobleman built it, I'll be darned. Okay, there -- yeah. Of course, I came in fif -- in 1960 and -- it's still there. It has had quite a few additions to it, but the basic Bible Chapel is -- building is still there.

It's had quite a few changes and expansions. But the property, it's the same location.

Buchman's home, that was the one that I mentioned, down here that is one of the bigger ones from -- left over from the original Seldovia.

CHARLES MOBLEY: On the far north end of town?

WALTER McINNES: Yeah. The old city cemetery. Seward and up Main Street.

CHARLES MOBLEY: An outgrowth of the original Orthodox cemetery, it says, and was not moved.

WALTER McINNES: Oh, okay. It's a little patch up on the hillside there. Yeah. It's a small patch and it's -- I think it's got a wire fence around. Yeah.

CHARLES MOBLEY: Whereabouts? Does it show up on this map?

WALTER McINNES: It's -- Let's see. Remember I said that big building that's right up -- the city dock now is right, right about here.

CHARLES MOBLEY: You know what, let's mark these on a different map and we can just write right on it.

Which map should we use? 1996 or 1959? Aerial photo, I mean. Should we use the '59 or '96?

WALTER McINNES: I kinda like -- I kinda like this because it's easy to write on, but -- CHARLES MOBLEY: Okay. Sure. Let's do that.

WALTER McINNES: Yeah, and then again, oh, boy, 'cause this has got the new -- there, there again you have the trouble with locating --