Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Daisy Walton

Daisy Walton from Noatak and Kotzebue, Alaska speaks on February 29, 1996 during the Communities of Memory public storytelling event held at the NANA Museum in Kotzebue, Alaska from February 29 to March 2, 1996. She praises the men who served in the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG), talks about her husband's experience in the military, and the hardships of life back at home that she had to deal with. She also talks about watching the ATG soldiers training when she was a little girl and learning how to shoot a gun herself, and what it was like when the men returned home.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2015-25-02_PT.1

Project: Kotzebue Communities of Memory
Date of Interview: Feb 29, 1996
Narrator(s): Daisy Walton
Transcriber: Denali Whiting
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Humanities Forum
Alternate Transcripts
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Slideshow
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Sections

Appreciation for and being part of the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG)

ATG training and marching

Her husband being drafted into the Army from Kivalina, and serving as a gunner on a boat

Difficulty her husband had being in the military

Black outs during World War II

Hardships of life during her and her husband's younger years

Getting married and her husband serving in the National Guard

Strength of women having to survive alone when husband was away in the military

Creative ways to survive and earn money because no jobs in the villages

Finding happiness and helping others

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Transcript

DAISY WALTON: I have written very few things to remind me if I talk, I’m not a speaker in front of lot of people.

So, when I hear about talking about our husband’s life and our lives and how ATGs (Alaska Territorial Guard) are, I’ll start off with an ATGs. Because my dad, my uncles, my grandfather were ATGs in those days. And we were just a little girls. Probably about 14, 16 years old. 14 years old, 12 years old.

And the ATGs starts with them old people like in our home. Like these mens.

And to start with, I adore, I love them because they were dedicated for our world and their lives was dedicated for you and me.

We were also warriors, too. Us girls and our brothers and sisters. I’m so thankful I hear stories before me, before I tell stories.

When the ATG starts, my dad was one of them. And he start getting guns for my brothers. And I say they -- they are warriors, too.

He start training them to shoot. I was one of them, too. I had a gun. Even though I was a little girl. My younger brothers were younger than me and I’m the very oldest from our family. I mean, from my mom and dad’s children.

They -- my dad taught us to use a gun because they started ATG in those days. They were warriors. They were ready to fight.

Good thing Japanese never come in those days like she said, there would be no Japanese flying maybe above us. We all would start shooting, even us childrens.

That’s how dedicated we get when they start ATGs.

I remember when our ATGs start training, they used to be training outside and inside the building.

When they go train inside the building, we were girls lot -- lots of boys and girls would be watching. Even though most of it was confidential, most of it was not to be talked about.

They were trained not to be talked about. But as being a little girls and things, we all know what we are. We’re sneaky.

And when they start training in the building, when we’re small from -- when the windows are high, we’d get boxes and woods and things like that peeking through the window to see how they will be training.

And lot of time we see them making lot of mistakes. They turned that way, they turned that way when they command them. Some of them would bump each others marching.

We’d be laughing through the window but it was not funny -- it’s their life that they were training. And even when -- even when they go travel somewhere when my d -- my family take us to muskrat camps, they take their guns along.

They'd take their supplies along to the camps. Even across there in Nuvugrak, when there’s lot of people there when they come down they train them over there.

They go marching and everything, learning to shoot. And that’s how they were. That’s -- that’s how they were when they were a National Guard, dedicated people. Just for you and me.

And I’m so thankful we are living up to now. I was a little girl, I never thought I would get old like this. But I’m thankful, too.

I think that’s about it for the national guards. I’m proud of my family and my grandfathers and forefathers. And the relatives and all the ATGs. We love you.

We love them even though they’re gone.

And my husband -- I married a man that was in army.

Might be emotional for me -- but I just lose him not too long ago. And I’m just wishing that he would tell a story himself instead of me.

I’m going to try my best to tell stories about him. What he was when he was in the army. And I’m glad. And I love him. I lose him, even though I love him.

He was a Kivalina resident man to start with. And he was a young man when they start drafting people, the way he tell me.

Mens were drafted out, boys were drafted out like these men say they were drafted out and come back to Kotzebue. I often wonder why these young, strong boys were sent home.

And some men are drafted. Some boys are drafted. Because there were bunch of boys from Noatak that were very healthy and husky.

They were drafted out but they came back. Not being drafted to the army. And I -- and some -- for some reason they get some -- some -- and they were in the army. One of them -- one of them was my husband before I got married to him and I didn’t even really know who he was before I got married to him.

He was drafted out from Kivalina to Kotzebue and then to Nome. And his station was there at Nome, the way he tell me. And they -- they were in the army there. There’s bunch of people that was in the army with him.

I wish they would be the one to tell their stories. While he was in the army there at Nome, there was a bomb at the I -- at the islands down there.

And that’s when he was trained to use a -- he was trained to use a gun. A gunner. And after they bomb Pearl Harbor, they -- he was sent out down there. With a boat.

And he was a gunner and they placed him with a gun in a boat. In the story he tell me, he was ready to hit a submarine with his gun.

They really thought it was a submarine as they were crossing across to the place where they were going. To that place where they bomb.

As they were going they saw that submarine, they thought it was submarine and my husband was ready to shoot. He was all ready to shoot.

And one of the commanders that if he -- if he tell him to shoot, if he say go ahead and shoot, and he was all ready and next thing, somebody told him it was a big tree with the branches just coming up. Go down, come up, go down. And it was a big tree instead.

He was so thankful. He said he was kind of scared to kill people inside that submarine. Because he never kill before.

So many times when he tell me stories about that his throat would want -- would wanna cry. Because he don’t want to. But we -- they were all ready to shoot anyway.

That’s how my husband’s story was in that time. And when he say -- and when he tell me, he said when they get to that harbor where -- harbor where there was bomb -- where it was bombed, it was already evacuated.

There was nobody there except the armys. And he said most of the time when he think about it and talked about it, he said he feel like crying, getting inside to house to house.

He said some table were ready to eat, all ready to eat and that’s when they fled and go. They were evacuated. They were some food on the table just ready to eat.

Some were cooking. They saw some pots cooking in -- on the stove but turned off. That’s what he was telling me. It was -- he said it was so some way to get to that kind.

That’s how he was drafted -- I mean, when he was drafted -- how he go through that army life.

And when he come back after they clean up down there and was ready while they -- I think while they were down there, or come back to Nome, I don’t remember part of it.

They tell -- they tell them that the war was over. I mean, you know. There’s lot of things that he tell about but I don’t remember some of them. That’s how he was at that point down there.

Oh, I skip in talking about ATG in like when they were talking, when they had black out, let me tell that little bit story, too.

While we were stay -- while we were having games in school as young people, the teacher tell us that we have to run and go tell our families and the whole town to black out the whole town.

And we said why? They -- they said they put -- bombed Pearl Harbor. And we all run. Every child start running.

And our -- and our -- in our homes they don’t know nothing about it. And we were at the school, and when we start running to their homes, as soon as we get inside to the house we would grab a dark blanket and start putting black -- black blanket on the window and our family would wonder what they’re doing.

And when they ask us they say there’s a war, there’s a war. And we’d run out and go to other house, grab a blanket and put that heavy blanket on the window. That’s how we were. Just ready. Just ready to fight.

Or whatever. And that’s what we did in that time when there was a black out, too, in Noatak. That -- that’s one thing I skip while ago.

And when I say our life is not easy in those days -- well, after my husband came back I met him at Noatak after he was in the service.

He was raised by his grandparents. My grand -- my husband was. Two old couples.

His grandma can’t even walk. She was just crawling on the floor. I guess she know it because she’s from Kivalina. The way my husband tell me that she can’t walk and yet he was drafted out.

He was the only one that raise with his grandparents. But his grandfather was lively.

And along with his uncle William Penn, he was raised by his grandfa -- grandparents and by his uncle.

His real parents are Fred and Mabel Walton. And in that time while he was drafted out to the army, he was -- they -- his real parents were resided up in north slope being a reindeer herder.

And while he was in the army, his grandparents died.

And he didn’t even come home for their funerals. ‘Cause in those days the life was hard -- we don’t even go to the funerals somewhere like we do right now.

When he think of that, his tears would go down. I wish I would have attended my grandparents’ funeral. But he go through it.

And when his real parents that were herders somewhere north slope area heard that their son’s grandparents died and he’ll have no where to go home if he come back from the armys they start coming back to Kivalina.

And after they stayed in Kivalina for a while, he was still in army then.

They'd go to Noatak where some of their relatives were, too -- there, too. And while after they move to Noatak, Delbert come home from the army to his real parents whom he doesn’t know very well from his childhood.

It’s a pitiful life he have. But he go through it. And he doesn’t complain or anything about it.

I’m sorry. And -- that’s when he come back. We met each others. And about a year after we got married.

And our life was happy. At first I was scared of him, but later on I wasn’t either. We -- we live a life that was not easy.

And -- and in 1950’s his army life was -- 1940’s and he served in army life for four years, I think it’s more than four years.

And after he go back, he start up another -- he joined into the national guard after we got married.

And after we got married, our life was not as easy as now.

To talk about our life, if it’s okay with you, the story -- the life we have in those days while our husbands are in national guards, I don’t know.

Our husbands were National Guard and they would go meeting fall time, springtime, and that’s when the wives stay home with their children.

Small childrens. We -- we always be left home for that meeting when they go to Anchorage. Fall time is the hardest time to be home without a husband.

Because it’s just covering up snow, and the ice is still young. And that’s when they leave us. And us womens, we are womens.

We love our husbands when they are called for National Guard. We just let them go.

I want to tell you young people, don’t pity yourself if your husband is serving an army life. That’s one thing we try not to be -- to pity our lives.

We just learn to live our life in the hardest way. Like when I say it’s not easy life, let me tell you, it’s not easy life.

There was no electric lights, we had to use these gas light pumps with the pump in it and put gas everyday.

There was no electric stoves, no propanes, no running water. No flush toilets. Everything was not there in the ta -- time we use right now. Nothing.

We only have to use our body. Our whole body to live and survive. We use our hands to go get wood.

We use our body, we use our feet to go somewhere. That’s why we got to be thankful that our body is useful.

That’s why we got to be thankful for our world that we are living in.

HELEN WELLS: No honey buckets. DAISY WALTON: No honey buckets, no nothing. Go ahead, help me. HELEN WELLS: -- or have to go out.

DAISY WALTON: Yeah, everyday life. We have to go spill our honey buckets out. And it’s a five gallon can.

So our life was not easy when I say it’s not easy being home without a husband at home for two weeks, one month or so.

But we are dedicated to our husbands, too. We love them. We have to chop wood. There was no snogos. No chainsaw.

We have to go out to go get wood. Before they go they would really try to get piled up woods for us. But in cold weather our woods can’t last.

And when we go get wood, we have to have a tool for chop -- getting wood. We use our dog team, our husband’s dog team.

We use their snogo and an axe. That’s a tool. And a rope and a sled. That’s all there is. No snogos to go right now.

That’s why I say it’s not easy. And to keep our -- their dog teams alive we have to feed them, take care of their dogs.

Take care of everything real good in the way we should as being a woman behind them.

And they always pile up lot of dog feed before they go but their -- when we have lot of dogs the pile of dog food can’t last until they come back. We have to go get them upriver.

Me, I live, I’m a resident of Noatak before I got married. I’m not living here in Kotzebue by then. I don’t know about Kotzebue life here.

I’m talking about my life in Noatak. And after we get wood we chop wood to keep us warm. The woods we get we start chopping them, too.

And you know what? There’d be a baby behind us too. Amaqing our babies behind us (carrying the baby on their back inside their parka) and chop wood. There would be a baby behind us if we go get water from the river.

There’d be a baby behind us and one right side of us when there’s more children, when somebody have more children there’s a baby right here, they don’t supply babysitters in those days.

We have no money to pay the babysitter. And besides, we don’t know about getting paid from a babysitter.

All is worked out with your own body.

The hardest part -- part -- we are not left with money when they’re going out for National Guard. There is no job in those days.

They don’t have jobs so they can leave us money. We have to try to earn it ourself as being a woman.

I’m gonna ask you womens what’s your favorite -- or what’s your friend in a home. What would you say?

In us -- in those days, a thimble, a needle, and a sinew, and a cook stove is a women’s tool when they’re left behind for the army. If they go.

You gotta to use your hands. You gotta sew to earn money, to earn milk for your little one.

Believe me, I had to chew ugruk bottom, one pair ugruk bottom, even for one can of milk sometimes. That’s how hard it was for us womens.

Just for one can milk. Or one dollar a pair. That was the life we lived when we stay home while our husbands are gone. Because they don’t leave us money to supply our family.

Sometimes they do, they get wood and of little what they earn they take them for their food or something. Or something they can use over there and they just give us little bit out of it.

It’s not like right now, right now ugruk pair of bottom you sell for forty dollars or more compared to one dollar a pair. And you have to make mukluks to sell.

And when you sell mukluks, I do sell mukluks for five dollars a pair just to keep my children alive. ‘Cause for their milk and some flour to feed them.

It’s hard, I want you young people to know that our life was hard. And right now the living is easy.

There’s lot of women that are hard working ladies in those days. And right now it’s very easy, it’s just like heaven to me. It is just like heaven to me sitting down in a warm home.

Even though the money is scarce, as long as I have my stove oil. And you women got to learn to be humble.

It’s not easy. The life we live. There is lots to talk about but I make it short to remind how our life was since I hear that we got to teach our children, our forefa -- our future children, they got to hear what life we have.

It’s not easy for our lives in those days but we were happy. Happy people. Once we start helping each others we don’t say -- when someone needs help we look at them and help them, help each others.

And right now a woman, when she wants a babysitter, a babysitter needs a money. They’re not helping each others like the way we see.

And they don’t eat what we eat right now. When I see these animals around here -- the main thing we ate was caribou, ptarmigan, there -- there’s hardly any moose in those days. We don’t see moose in those days.

We saw bear. We saw fish. We saw foxes. That’s what our -- our parents are looking for to make money. Foxes, wolverine, and wolf.

That’s the only thing they look for is to make money and supply us. I’m so thankful my dad supply me with what he have. And I’m always thankful for my parents. They let me live up to now.

Lots of more things I can tell, alright, but -- but I don’t think I’ll tell it all right now. A woman got to be humble when I say a woman got to be humble.

My husband was in army life but where is the money he promised that I’ll get after he die?

I’m glad he worked hard after his army life and I’m glad I worked hard to retire myself from working. I think that’s all I have to say.