Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Elaine Meader McCausland, Part 1

Elaine Meader McCausland was interviewed on January 4, 2003 by Karen Brewster at her home in Cazadero, California, a small community along the Russian River. She is currently a practicing psychologist. Elaine's small home is nestled among tall redwood trees that are often shrouded in fog that rolls in from the nearby Pacific Ocean. The interview was conducted in her living room, which was dark from the heavy tree coverage outside. Elaine talked about her younger days with her first husband Fred Meader and their years of living off the land in the Brooks Range. She openly and honestly spoke about both the joys and the hardships, about the underlying philosophy behind their lifestyle choice, and the tragedies she suffered with the death of her son and husband. She preferred not to name the lake where they lived out of habit of protecting it from too many visitors. She and her two daughters continue to use their cabin at the lake.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2002-27-05_PT.1

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Jan 4, 2003
Narrator(s): Elaine Meader McCausland
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Elaine's personal background and early days of meeting and marrying Fred Meader

2) Looking for a remote place to live

3) The remote lifestyle at the Lake

4) Her self discovery while living off the land in a remote place

5) Difficulties and benefits of living in a remote place

6) Basics of living at the lake

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Section 1: birthplace -- Massachusetts\ Meader, Fred\ birthplace -- Adirondack Mountains, New York\ husband -- meeting\ Boston University\ Nursing School\ Meader, Fred -- Masters in philosophy\ marriage\ travel\ Colorado\ Rocky Mountains\ Boston\ Meader, Fred -- dissertation\ Nietzsche, Friedrich\ Europe -- backpacking\ Boston Science Museum\ beard -- intolerance\ Americanization in Europe\ pregnancy\ California -- hitch-hiking\ New York -- Elaine stayed in\ Meader, Fred -- job\ teacher\ Petrolia, California\ son -- birth of\ Meader, Dion|

Section 2: Canada -- immigration\ British Columbia\ Burns Lake\ cabin -- building\ depression\ winter -- effects of darkness\ Arizona\ Mexico -- artist colony\ mainstream -- avoidance of\ children -- ill\ Los Angeles, California\ UCLA University Library\ move -- looking for remote location\ Yukon Territory, Canada\ Alaska\ Porcupine River area\ Arctic Circle\ Allen River\ Crevice Creek\ Anchorage\ job\ Bettles Field\ Anderson, Andy\ pilot\ lake\ cabin -- rebuilding|

Section 3: Anaktuvuk Pass\ Meader, Fred\ subsistence lifestyle -- learned about\ books -- Steffanson\ Northern Explorers\ diet -- Native\ food\ bread -- made own\ hunting\ fish\ food -- rabbits\ dried fruit\ berries\ household supplies\ clothing -- thrift shops\ boots -- canvas mukluks\ Fairbanks\ mechanical equipment -- lack of\ self-sufficiency\ airplane -- reliance on\ two-way radio\ Anderson, Andy -- pilot\ airplane -- supplies and mail\ books -- library\ length of stay at lake\ lifestyle -- difficulties\ way of life\ Mumford -- philosopher\ civilization\ winter -- activities\ cabin|

Section 4: winter\ lifestyle -- difficult\ humanity -- attitude about\ Meader, Fred -- theology, philosophy\ philosophy -- existentialism\ Nietzsche, Friedrich\ attitude -- positive\ humanity\ negativity\ anger\ nature\ survival\ judgement\ soul searching\ personal revolution\ Meader, Dion -- shared experiences with\ Meader, Dion -- part of nature\ Meader, Dion -- games\ wrestling|

Section 5: health\ Meader, Fred -- knee\ injury\ wood -- collecting\ activities\ nature\ child rearing\ child -- influences on\ animals -- amazement with\ attitude\ negativity -- lack of\ hand tools -- use of\ hand tools -- types of\ cabin -- windows\ windows -- bear proof\ cooking -- utensils\ butchering -- methods\ fishing\ sled -- use of\ sled -- breaking\ supplies -- ordering\ LL Bean\ sled -- birch|

Section 6: bathtub -- canvas\ outhouse\ fuel -- use of\ fuel -- kerosene\ wood stove -- use of\ cooking\ heater\ lake -- years lived at\ accident\ Anderson, Andy\ Meader, Dion -- burned\ help -- calling for\ SOS\ airplane -- arrival\ Bettles\ airplane -- regular schedule\ hospital|