Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Lillian Elvsaas and Sharon Bond
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Lillian Elvsaas and her daughter, Sharon Bond, were interviewed on September 7, 2017 by Jan Yaeger at the Public Library in Homer, Alaska. In this interview, Lillian and Sharon share their memories of Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Seldovia, Alaska, and discuss Russian Orthodox traditions in the communities in the area. They talk about resident priests versus traveling priests, how the number of people attending services has changed, specific traditions followed for Lent, Christmas, New Year's, Name's Day, and weddings, and how traditions are carried out differently in different places. They also discuss the closing, restoration, and re-consecration of Saint Nicholas Church in Seldovia.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2014-17-18

Project: Seldovia Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Sep 7, 2017
Narrator(s): Lillian Elvsaas, Sharon Bond
Interviewer(s): Jan Yaeger
Transcriber: Varpu Lotvonen
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
Institute of Museum and Library Services, Seldovia Village Tribe
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
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Sections

Lillian's growing up and moving to Seldovia

Family connections to the church and to Nanwalek

Resident priests in Seldovia

Priests traveling to communities, and schedule of services

Size of congregation attending services

Reconsecration of the church in Seldovia, bishops in Alaska, and differences in services

Helping with services, choir and as a reader

Singing songs, use of Slavonic and Russian, and learning the teachings of the church

Church in Port Graham

Lillian's grandfather who was a priest, and getting married by a visiting priest from Kenai

Traditions of the church for Lent and other holidays

Length of services and church not having chairs

Regional variation in how traditions are carried out

Differences in songs and tones

Starring activities that occur around Christmas and New Year's

Tradition of masking and dressing up in costume to celebrate New Year's

End of masking, dancing, and capturing your shadow

Closure, restoration and re-consecration of the church in Seldovia

Members of the Seldovia congregation, and family connections with Unga Island and Kodiak

Communion bread, and stamp used to mark them

Use of wine for communion

Wedding traditions in the church

Changes in attendance at church services

Name's day, baptism, and confirmation

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

Transcript

JAN YAEGER: It is Thursday September 7th, and I am Jan Yaeger. I am speaking with Lillian Elvsaas and Sharon Bond at the Homer Public Library and this is a recording for Seldovia Project Jukebox, and particularly the NPS (National Park Service) Traditional Heritage grant.

And we are talking about Lillian and Sharon's memories of Saint Nicholas Orthodox -- Russian Orthodox Church in Seldovia, and just Russian Orthodox traditions in -- in the communities in the area.

And so Lillian, you -- you grew up in Port Graham? Is that correct? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. I grew up in Port Graham ‘til -- went to school there ‘til I graduated the eighth grade and then from there I went to high school in Oregon.

The Indians -- Indian school, boarding school. But then my parents -- after the cannery burned down in Port Graham in 1960 -- ’59 -‘60, we started to move to Seldovia in the spring and be there during the summer, then move back to Port Graham in the fall.

So I spent most of my growing up life in Seldovia besides my four years in high school.

SHARON BOND: Was that before you went to high school? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: And so your family moved to Seldovia year-round later on? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I think my parents just stayed there after a while. After I went out to high school they stayed there because of the boys went to high school in Seldovia. My brothers. Two of my brothers went to high school there and -- my dad --

my dad's dad, Father Reverend Nicholas Moonin, was a priest in English Bay, which we call Nanwalek. Is the Native name for it.

It’s always been called Nanwalek: “with the lagoon.” And that's where they changed the name back to the -- the Alutiiq name from English Bay. People -- lot of people still call English Bay, but a lot of us know it by Nanwalek.

And my dad's dad, Reverend Nick, Nicholas, was a priest there and he was preaching also in Seldovia. There's a lot of services there, and he did a lot of marriages there, performed the marriages.

And there’s also -- I’m thinking it’s either Alex or -- I think it’s Alex Shadura, was a priest from Kenai that used to also come into -- into Seldovia for church services, weddings, funerals, baptismals.

And also -- how would they say, when you consecrate or -- when my dad was a -- blessed to become a sub-deacon, it happened in Seldovia when we were living there.

And so it -- there's been a lot -- also a lot other priests that have served in Seldovia, the people, the community. Like there’s very few of us that are there.

And I remember Mary and Phil Kehl there. They came from Kodiak. And they -- she kind of was the head of the church where she took care of -- they took care of the church and took care of the priests when they came in -- into Seldovia and had, you know, homes for them -- places for them to stay and to feed them.

So it -- there's been a variety of priests that have to -- have come to Seldovia and also the bishops. The bishops of Alaska.

JAN YAEGER: So did Seldovia ever have a resident priest or was it always visiting from other com -- was the priest always a visitor from other communities? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes, there was. We had our -- I think we've had two -- about two of ‘em. Permanent priests that live there, residents -- right, remember?

SHARON BOND: Yeah, George Pletnikoff and Sergei Active. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Sergei Active, yeah.

SHARON BOND: Was that -- really only was two? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Huh? SHARON BOND: There was it really only two? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, everybody else just came in -- SHARON BOND: Traveling. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Traveling priests.

SHARON BOND: Yeah, ‘cause the priest from Nick -- Ninilchik would come, and then the one from Kenai, right? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: And then sometimes from Anchorage.

JAN YAEGER: Do you remember when the resident priests were there? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Uh-huh. JAN YAEGER: Approximately? SHARON BOND: Yeah, JAN YAEGER: Like what years that might have been? SHARON BOND: George Pletnikoff would have been there in the ‘80s. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: Okay so Seldovia had -- SHARON BOND: ‘81, ‘82, ‘83. Around in then.

JAN YAEGER: Okay, so Seldovia had regular services then? SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: I wasn’t aware of that.

SHARON BOND: And then Sergei Active, he was there when I got married, so that would be like late -- like ’99 -- ’98. He would have been there before that, though. Probably ’96 through -- how long was he here? ´96 through at least 2000, I would think, or later. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

SHARON BOND: ‘Cause he married my husband and I, and baptized my kids, both, so -- But he moved to Nanwalek for a while and he was still serving our church in Seldovia. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: And sometimes Port Graham. ‘Cause I think Port Graham had their own priest. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Not until later. I think he -- Sergei Active served Seldovia, Port Graham, and Nanwalek.

And whenever a priest is established in the villages, they had to cover -- they always covered Seldovia and Port Graham, also.

JAN YAEGER: Okay. So then would they just skiff from community to community, or fly, or -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh, yeah. They had to fly.

JAN YAEGER: So they’d be doing several services every Sunday potentially? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: No, they usually had a -- a service one Sunday at -- with one community. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. ‘Cause he’d rotate the -- Sun -- Saturdays and Sundays between the three. Sometimes he came like maybe two or three month -- two or three weeks later to Seldovia? SHARON BOND: Yeah.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: We didn’t have him every weekend. SHARON BOND: Yeah.

If he wasn’t serving in our -- our town, I guess, was how it would be. Or sometimes they’d come on a Saturday. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: And then stay in their -- their resident town for the Sunday service. Or he’d alternate.

JAN YAEGER: About -- I know it obviously changed through the years, but about how many people would attend a service? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh, let’s see. One, two, three, four. Five or six at the most, huh? SHARON BOND: One -- with Father Sergei.

But like with Father Pletnikoff, I would say it was higher because we had like -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Ten. SHARON BOND: Yeah, and he had a large family. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Plus kids. SHARON BOND: Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Plus our kids. SHARON BOND: There was more then.

And then when we had a visiting priest, like early, right after they did the renovations to the church, we had a lot more then. ‘Cause we had Clara Oaks, and we had -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh yeah, I would never thought that far back. SHARON BOND: -- Elaine, and we had --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Was that in the ‘90s? SHARON BOND: -- like, Jessie and, I mean -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: ‘80s? SHARON BOND: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: I think the reconsecration was in the ‘80s. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: 1980. I remember exact day. October -- October 18th, 1980. I remember it because that’s Frankie Saracoff’s birthday. SHARON BOND: Oh, I didn’t know that.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. That was a wonderful -- wonderful thing happening, you know, for the church and for the community because Bishop -- oh, what was his name? SHARON BOND: Gregory. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Bis -- Bishop Gregory, I think. He was one of our favorites, I guess. He just fit into the -- into -- into the Native communities and he’s -- he’s -- he’s from -- could have been from Bosnia or somewhere? He’s --

SHARON BOND: I don’t know. But he was really friendly. He was really nice.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, he took to -- he took to a lot of Natives and he just loved being around the Native community. He even spoke the language. JAN YAEGER: Really? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: Wow, that’s impressive. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: And so he was the bishop for all of Alaska? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. JAN YAEGER: And he came for the -- to do the consecration.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Gee, we’ve gone through how many bishops within the last twenty years? Four? SHARON BOND: That’s more like forty years. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: (Laughter.) SHARON BOND: Many. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: No, no it’s -- SHARON BOND: Since then -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: There isn't too many between 20s and 40. SHARON BOND: It’s been forty years since then.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: But I’ve -- I’ve gone through a lot of bishops. And it’s, you know, it’s -- it’s a great thing to have. It just kinda like -- somebody new comes in, is a different ethnicity and they’re mostly Russians. Or -- or related to the Russian people, maybe. I think even one of them was from Czech -- SHARON BOND: Czechoslovakia. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

And it’s -- it’s interesting. I mean, you know, everybody’s got different ways of singing and -- and preaching and how they -- how they -- what’s the word? Mingle with people. I mean, it’s interesting.

SHARON BOND: It’s actually very interesting ‘cause they have like -- almost like a entourage. I mean, they have assistant -- what would it be -- is he a -- he’s a priest? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Who? SHARON BOND: The bishop. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: Travels. Like how the Pope travels. He’s got --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. He’d be like our Pope. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: Or -- yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Uh-huh.

SHARON BOND: And it’s different, like ‘cause then you have a lot of people in the service. It’s not just your priest and your reader. There’s the bishop and usually two or three priests. And then you have your reader, one or two maybe. And then you had some sub-deacons. And then you had -- what is the boy? Altar boy. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Altar boy.

SHARON BOND: And usually there’s three or something. So -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Sometimes I’ve seen six. SHARON BOND: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: Six altar boys? SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. JAN YAEGER: Okay. And so are they a part of the entourage or are they traveling -- SHARON BOND: No, that’s in -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. They're all out. JAN YAEGER: -- from the community?

SHARON BOND: Well, some of them are residents like -- JAN YAEGER: Okay. SHARON BOND: ‘Cause usually the resident, like the altar boys, are the residents. Usually there’s the bishop and he has an assistant and then a priest and then a couple priests will come and serve. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm.

SHARON BOND: But like the whole service is different. I mean, it’s the same, but there’s a lot more people involved. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. I know my dad’s been -- ever since I was a little girl, when we lived in Port Graham, I used to hike to Nanwalek with him for the holidays. And that’s one -- one of the reasons why I -- I love to sing in church -- or I -- I love to sing anyway. I go karaoke and it’s -- it’s -- it’s something because I learned when I was young, going to church, and we’d have to sing. So I love -- I love to sing.

And I’ve been a reader, like a choir director. Sometimes it’s me and the priest in the church and I’d be every one of those. Somebody that lights the candles, like the starosta, is someone that takes care of the church, makes sure the bells are rung, the candles are lit, and it’s warm in the church or whatever, you know, heat point.

And Shar knows, ever since she was little, I -- SHARON BOND: In general -- I’m sorry -- generally that’s a male. But I mean it -- most of the time it'd be the priest, his family, and us, too. Or maybe the priest and us, too. JAN YAEGER: Mm.

SHARON BOND: And -- and then eventually my -- you know, my brother or my kids. So we multi-tasked a lot. (Laughs.)

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, it’s a -- I’ve helped with a -- services. I’ve read, like what they call epistle. I’ve also -- like, I’d start the singing.

There’d -- like I said, sometimes there’d be me and the priest because everybody’s working or doing -- they are out of town, whatever, you know. There’s that -- not that many in our congregation in Seldovia.

But to sing the songs that we sing, in the church, you know, we know ‘em all. We know the tones and it’s amazing how you can pick up and -- and sing the songs. And know ‘em.

And I can -- ever since I was little, we started, you know, in Russian Christmas, we sing in Slavonic. And a lot -- there’s some, few songs that are sung in English, but most of ‘em are in Slavonic.

And I know every one of the songs that we go starring. When we go starring, you never forget. Once in a while I’ll be doing something and I’ll start humming or -- or singing when I’m home. But it’s a good practice for me ‘cause I won’t forget.

But it’s -- it’s same thing with Easter and all the church services. I practically know by heart. I just have to hear some -- somebody start the song, then I just catch on and harmonize.

JAN YAEGER: And are those songs in Slavonic also or is it mostly -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Some are. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Some are, yes.

JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. And so when you were learning the songs, did they teach you the -- the meanings so you could understand what you were singing about? Since I’m assuming -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Not ‘til later -- JAN YAEGER: -- Slavonic wasn’t spoken a whole lot.

SHARON BOND: No. In the beginning, there wasn’t. There’s not a lot of teaching, I don’t think. ‘Cause I would ask them like -- and sometimes there’s a -- that’s just, you know, that’s the way it is. This is what we’re doing now.

There’s not a lot of instruction, I don’t think. Especially in the earlier years. And there is more so now because the priests go to seminary and they are instructed a lot so they can explain a lot of that, which is really nice because in the beginning, like being a kid, you just did it ‘cause that’s what everybody was doing. (Laughter.)

And yeah, there is formalities and things and there’s no like handbook or no written like this is what you do. There -- in the books, though, there is like things in parenthesis, like it’ll say the priest is doing this, or the reader is doing this, or the sub-deacon is doing this.

But in the beginning it can feel a little bit lost when you’re trying to follow along in the book or the service book that you’re following.

JAN YAEGER: And what about the -- are there other parts that are in Slavonic also, or is it mostly the songs? Is most of the service in English or in other languages? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s mixed. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: It is mixed.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, it’s the -- it -- it’s either in Russian -- Or the way I understand is Russian and then there’s Slavonic. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: The Russian is a little harder to read, and I would have to have -- to have learned it when I was young. I -- I can’t read it. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. And so -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: But I can read the Slavonic.

JAN YAEGER: Is that because the Russian's in the Cyrillic writing? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, their -- their old-fashioned -- looks like an old-fashioned writing. And I look at it like, “Whoa, I can’t read that.”

So it -- it, like the Lord’s Prayer, I used to say that in Russian, and after I went to high school, for some odd reason, I quit saying it and now I say it in English.

Now it’s in Sugtestun, in our Alutiiq language. I still have to learn that. I would love to record myself or give -- put it in recording and give it to my grandboys. JAN YAEGER: That would be terrific. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And to Sharon and Peter. JAN YAEGER: Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

SHARON BOND: Yeah. So like with Father Active, he would do an English version, and a Slavonic version, and then Alutiiq. But he’s not Alutiiq, he just -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yup’ik. SHARON BOND: Did he learn it or did he -- ? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: He just -- he learned it. But he -- he -- they sing it in their Yup’ik language, too. SHARON BOND: Right. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: Yeah. So --

JAN YAEGER: Okay. And so -- when you were a kid, would the -- you mentioned going over to Nanwalek. Is that because there wasn’t a church in Port Graham? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: No, there’s never really been a -- in -- a church in Port Graham ‘til 19 -- or -- yeah, 1990? SHARON BOND: No, I wanna say it’s earlier. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: ‘80? SHARON BOND: Earlier than that. It was in the ‘80s ‘cause I was pretty young still.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: ‘Cause it used to be that -- you know where the church is now, that used to be a community hall. Have you been in Port Graham? JAN YAEGER: Only once. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh, okay. It was a community hall and they -- SHARON BOND: Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- and they converted it to a church. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: When they built the bigger community hall. And that was in the ‘80s, I think. And then they’ve added on since then.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: When -- when -- when we lived when you were small, when you were a baby, when we lived in Seldo -- in Port Graham, when we did go? SHARON BOND: Mm-hm? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It was a community hall then. SHARON BOND: I remember it.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: The phone -- remember the phone was in there? SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. They had one phone. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. In the community? SHARON BOND: Yeah, and it was a satellite phone if I remember right. JAN YAEGER: Oh wow. SHARON BOND: So you paid. JAN YAEGER: A lot. (laughs) LILLIAN ELVSAAS: You could listen to the conversations. SHARON BOND: Mm-hm.

JAN YAEGER: Okay, and -- so but you mentioned your grandfather was a priest. So he lived in Port Graham but the church was in Nanwalek? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: No, he lived in Nanwalek. JAN YAEGER: He lived in Nanwalek, okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: He was -- he was -- he was born in Nanwalek. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: His father was from Fort Knox. JAN YAEGER: Fort -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Fort Knox. JAN YAEGER: In Kentucky?

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: No. Fort -- not Fort Knox. Fort Ross. JAN YAEGER: Okay. California. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: That’s where his grandfather came from. And I don’t remember how Father Moonin ended up in Nanwalek. Oh, there was a -- a settlement in Nanwalek. Russian settlement. That’s how. SHARON BOND: So there’s the -- Alex, or -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Alexandrov. SHARON BOND: Yeah, that’s what it is. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Alexandrovsk. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: And so that -- that was your great-great-grandfather who was from Fort -- Fort Ross? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And I don’t remember exactly what year my dad’s dad, Father Moonin, was ordained a priest.

JAN YAEGER: So when you were a -- when you were a girl, was he still there and still doing services? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh yes. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

As a matter of fact, when my husband and I got married in Nanwalek, my dad was there and his dad, Father Moonin, was there. Father Moonin was in a wheelchair and my dad was there. It was quite an event. Beautiful. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm.

SHARON BOND: Who was the priest? Somebody from Kenai, right? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. He was a radio salesman.

SHARON BOND: Yeah, some of the priests have, like, other jobs to pay -- you know, depending on how big their community is. What they can afford.

I think most all priests work like a Monday through Friday, nine-to-five job. Within reason. You know, they know that like on Wednesdays we would have church. Wednesday evenings, I think.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, well, there’s services during Lenten, too, during the week. SHARON BOND: Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Whole week. Especially the Holy Week. SHARON BOND: Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And Bright Week. Easter. SHARON BOND: Church in the day, I would say, during that time. JAN YAEGER: During -- during the Lenten week before Easter? SHARON BOND: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

And so what are some of the other traditions tied to different holidays that you can think of? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: You know, there’s -- our Orthodox calendar has all the feast days. We call the feast days the holidays because of the -- oh, my mind went blank.

Feast days is because of the saints -- saint days were our -- celebrated by church services maybe two days in a row. One the day before and one that day is -- which is a saint day.

They have Saint Herman day, we have a Saint Nicholas day, we have Saint -- Sergius of Valaam.

We have -- we have different days throughout the year. Every month there’s some kind of feast day. And there’s days of the month, certain time of the year we have Lenten where you’re -- you’re -- Lent, you can eat only certain thing, no dairy, no meat.

SHARON BOND: Right. Your diet is more restricted, so no dairy, no meat, and fish on Fridays. No alcohol. So -- what’s left? Sugar and bread and vegetables. You can have all the vegetables you wanted.

JAN YAEGER: So you could have sweets and so on? SHARON BOND: Yeah, well -- JAN YAEGER: During Lent, or -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, because -- SHARON BOND: -- that was -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- everything has sugar in it. JAN YAEGER: Right. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: There’s -- bread’s got sugar in it. SHARON BOND: But there would be some people, like, as I was older and I was sorta like, “Oh, for Lent I’m giving up soda.” You know -- JAN YAEGER: Right. SHARON BOND: -- like it was more conventional. Like, as you would -- as we progressed, I guess. People would just give up different things.

And then I know even like, to this day when it comes to Easter, not -- people of my religion, they’re like, “I am not gonna be on Facebook during Lent.” You know, so they take forty days off. You know, just --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Just like that’s -- abstain from something. Something that you really like, you need to kinda abstain from it for forty days.

SHARON BOND: Yeah. So I know the priests are more strict about that, like there’s certain foods they can’t eat. And -- but yeah, meat they don’t eat and they don’t eat dairy. And I don’t remember if they do eggs. I wanna say no. And that’s why I think when it’s Easter, we get to have eggs. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, yeah I think it’s -- SHARON BOND: Eggs and ham. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Eggs, anything, you know, warm blood animals. Fish you could eat -- SHARON BOND: On Fridays. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Or anytime.

SHARON BOND: The more -- people who are more strict -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, their -- SHARON BOND: -- with their Lent, it was only Fridays. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: Which -- that leaves a lot of -- I don’t know. What would you eat? Beans? Yeah, I don’t know.

And that’s -- it’s not just at Easter though. There is some during some of the other holidays, isn’t there? JAN YAEGER: There’s some restrictions? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, there is -- there is throughout the year.

SHARON BOND: Yeah. I wanna say there’s one around Christmas, too, but the one that we follow mostly was at -- Easter. The forty days before Easter.

And then, of course, -- so we would go to church a lot that week ‘cause it’s Holy Week, right, the week before? Is it week after? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s -- I think it’s both, but it’s more -- more of a Lenten restricted diet before Easter. SHARON BOND: But -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Holy Week.

SHARON BOND: -- what I’m getting around to is that, so then we would go to church a lot that week and then on Easter, on Saturday night, we'd go at 11:30 to church. And you’re going to church ‘til like four or five in the morning. Yeah.

Those ones, there’s a lot of memories ‘cause it’s goofy stuff ‘cause you’re really tired. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: But -- hair catching on fire, stuff like that.

JAN YAEGER: Hair catching on fire? SHARON BOND: Well, you’re holding a candle. (Laughter.) JAN YAEGER: And maybe nodding off ‘cause it’s four in the morning? SHARON BOND: Yeah. Falling asleep.

And just, you know, there -- and everybody comes and there’s a lot of people. And you can smell like the frosting in the air from the kulich, and there’s --

And so we dye our eggs red. And how -- how is that done? ‘Cause I’ve never actually done it. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: What? SHARON BOND: Our eggs, dying ‘em red. It’s with crepe paper, isn’t it? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Crepe paper or food coloring, and vinegar.

SHARON BOND: Being the way that I eat now, all I could think of is red dye is really toxic. (Laughter.) But, anyway -- JAN YAEGER: I -- yeah, I think -- I think they -- SHARON BOND: You don’t eat the eggshell anyway. JAN YAEGER: Yeah, right.

SHARON BOND: And so, going to church. I would say, that’s what I remember is three-four-five in the morning, depending on which priest you had ‘cause sometimes it was they sang slower.

And then they would have a brunch in the morning. And I remember having it immediately, like four or five in the morning. Everybody brings a dish.

And so you’re tired and you get to eat meat and you get to eat all these other foods you haven’t ate in a long time, and then sometimes we did it where we went home, took naps and then came and ate at like nine or ten, right? Or noon or something more -- a little bit more. That was probably easier. But it was still fun.

Like I remember doing that in Port Graham, being crazy tired and, you know, you look around and you see kids asleep everywhere and -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: The celebration. SHARON BOND: Yeah. But even in church, kids would be sleeping on coats everywhere. Little -- little babies and stuff. And yeah.

And so, in our churches, we don’t have pews. I mean they have chairs aside for, like, elderly or people who are disabled, or -- so you stood a lot. So that many hours of church is -- it’s hard.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I remember when I was going to -- when I was a kid going to church in Nanwalek, there was no such a thing as chairs. Sometimes I’d see a Blazo box and I’m thinking, “Oh, I wish I could sit down there.” A lot of times we were on our knees. JAN YAEGER: Mmm. SHARON BOND: Yeah.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: In the old church in Nanwalek. It’s a -- it’s all wood planks. And we were on our knees and when we stood -- I’d stand up I’d have a big red mark around my knee, and you could see the crease from the boards, and I’m like, “Wow.”

SHARON BOND: Yeah, serious. And -- and there is a lot of kneeling and standing for Easter week, so -- Yeah. And then --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And the church services aren’t one hour. They are from -- they can start anywhere from nine o’clock until one o’clock, two o’clock in the afternoon. SHARON BOND: But generally, I would say, it was like 9:30 until -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Ten until -- SHARON BOND: 11:30. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Ten until noon, sometimes. Depends on what’s -- what’s -- you know, what’s been in the service.

Sometimes they have quite a few people that receive communion, or it’s a special service. Or if they are -- if the service is for prayers for that -- that have died -- have -- you know, have deceased, we pray for our deceased.

And we have special -- something special like rice -- it’s a rice pudding but it’s dry. It’s got raisins in it, or it could have pineapple in it. My mom used to make the rice pudding. It’s not -- it wasn’t wet. It wasn’t like rice pudding.

SHARON BOND: It is a little bit. I mean, it’s -- it’s just not like how you see rice pudding now. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s sweet. SHARON BOND: It would be like coconut rice. Have you seen the texture of that? JAN YAEGER: Mmm. Okay, yeah. SHARON BOND: But there’s fruit in it and it’s sweet. So -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And that’s the remembrance of -- of the -- of the dead.

And the thing that I -- you know, I’d like to see is if this put -- is put on CD, I would love to have some pictures, like the Easter -- Easter time when there's all the Easter bread, kulich that everybody brings. They’re all different decorated Easter breads, with the frosting. And red eggs everywhere.

SHARON BOND: But what I can say about this is, because I lived in Seattle, went to church in Seattle, and also in different communities, that is really territorial. Those traditions.

Because we dye our eggs red and we have kulich and they’re in coffee cans -- made in that. It’s a sweet bread and it’s frosted and then we decorated it.

Well, when I went to Seattle, nobody’s eggs are red except for people who are from my area, and we were like, “Hey!” Then you knew, you know, you’re from that area.

They just did their eggs either white or they dyed them like Easter color egg dye. And they did not decorate their kulich. They were -- some of ‘em weren’t even like the tall shapes. Some of them were -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Bread loaf. SHARON BOND: -- look like a -- yeah. And they did it -- and they just kinda put a glaze over ‘em and they weren’t even frosted, and I was like --

So when I brought mine out there, people knew where I was from which was kinda neat that it is territorial. I don’t know about other places. I just know here and -- or Seattle and Seldovia, or our area.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, everybody’s different. Everybody decorates their -- you know, like you said, territorial. Lot of us, we just put our bread, you know, our Easter bread decorated a certain way and we -- we do put ‘em -- some people put ‘em in baskets, some get fancy and -- and make nice. My mom had a plate and it looked like it was just made for that.

JAN YAEGER: For the kulich? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Easter bread. And eggs. Because the center of the glass is about this big. And the outside is got hollow spots where you’d like put deviled eggs. But these -- my mom and her sister-in-law put eggs, colored eggs around it, and the kulich was in the center.

SHARON BOND: So generally, that’s what I remember is that on a plate they would have the kulich, which was tall, probably about seven or eight inches, and then you put your eggs around the kulich. So that you bring ‘em to that church service and they bless all of them and you bring your eggs, too.

And then when I was younger, we didn’t have Easter egg hunts, but I know in Port Graham and Nanwalek, they do. They have Easter egg hunts that morning. For the kids. Which they have a lot more kids. I mean, it was like me and my brother. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: And the priest’s kids. But yeah.

And then on that same note, I think, like for Christmas with starring. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh yeah. SHARON BOND: That’s territorial, too. Like they do things different.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: By the tones of the songs. How they sing. SHARON BOND: And even what treats and things they put out. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. It's all together different. SHARON BOND: It is. Because like the Kuskokwim area, they do things -- it’s kinda the same, but it’s different. Like the way that they sing is different, their customs. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Different tones. SHARON BOND: Yeah.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And they’re all different. And the thing, you know, about it is I have been to the starring during the holidays -- Christmas holidays in Anchorage, and I’ve seen different people from different areas that celebrate Christmas -- this is in Jan -- January 7th ‘til the 18th.

And they sing the same songs, but they’re all in different tunes. SHARON BOND: Yeah, so when she says ‘tones,’ in the church -- you have -- is it eight tones, or six -- eight? Seven. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Eight. SHARON BOND: It is eight? Okay.

So it’s like, you would say, like the melody. Like the way the rhythm of how they sing the song. So to us -- we’re just like, “They’re singing it wrong.” (Laughter.) But I don’t know. You can talk about starring and then -- what is --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: You made me think -- you made me think of when we were singing in Seldovia, I was totally off on that tone. And I could see Father’s shoulders going up -- (Laughter.)

JAN YAEGER: ‘Cause he was using one tone and you were using a different one? Or -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Well, I started in a different -- different tone and -- that’s when I've seen his shoulders doing this upward. Peter was the altar boy and here's Peter, you know, he’s facing out towards the -- where we are. And Father’s facing the altar and I could see he’s doing this number and I’m going like, “Oh no.” I already knew it -- it started off wrong.

And after that I started hearing -- Sergei probably told Uncle John. They know there’s tone nine? (Laughter.) Tone nine is off with that tone that’s on. Yeah.

So, yeah, the starring has -- it’s a very, very traditional event, also. And I remember as a little girl when we’d go house to house and the only thing I used to like to see is the table full of goodies. And talk about goodies. Anything, everything you could think of that was set on the table for the appreciation of the people in that home, they put out. And I think it was like a competition, too.

They -- they’d have pies. Ten, fifteen different kind of pies. They’d have fish pies. You know what that is? And they’d have soups of different seal, ducks, chicken, beef, whatever. And name it, it was there. By the time you got done eating at that house, you were too full to sing anymore.

I mean it’s -- it’s such a celebration that it just uplifts. Especially with the singing. If the singing is as perfect and you know it and you feel it and I’m like, “Oh, wow.” And thinking, “Gee, I hope this don’t end.”

So the tradition is still going and all the songs are sung -- sung in Slavonic. And there’s some that are sung in Sugtestun, in our native Alutiiq language, and there’s some that are sung still in Russian.

SHARON BOND: And then they have English, too. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And English. SHARON BOND: Yeah.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: So the -- the people carry the star. It’s a -- they call the Bethlehem Star. The three wise men follow the star. So that’s what -- that’s what the -- that’s what the tradition of our starring is from. That scenery.

And when -- you go into the homes and the people are ready. They’re there waiting. They’ve been waiting for you to enter their homes to go starring.

We call it Slaviq or it’s the Russian word Slavic, and ours is Slaawiq with the Native accent in it. So this -- you know, it’s still going on. And it’s --

I’m hoping I can get something going here in Homer, because in Seldovia -- when I’m -- when I go over, I need to bring the star over. I think I’m gonna retire it maybe, and put it in the museum here.

SHARON BOND: So the star. It’s traditionally decorated every year, so it’s tinsel and it’s the streamers. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Crepe paper. SHARON BOND: And it’s -- it’s very vibrant. It’s a metallics and they use wrapping paper and there’s a icon in the middle.

So it’s a stick with a circle with an icon, and then they build it out of wood, the frame. And it’s just a wood frame and it’s got -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Eight points. SHARON BOND: -- eight points on it so that it can spin. I think it spins one direction, too, right? Only certain direction.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I see -- I see people just swing it in different directions -- in both directions. SHARON BOND: Oh, it is both? And so they carry that, and it’s decorated, I think, right before Christmas.

So the starring is on the 7th, 8th and the 9th. Yeah. So, and everybody -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Three day -- three nights. SHARON BOND: And I don’t know if they just go to everybody’s house or if people let somebody know that they want the star to come to their house and they make a list.

And so it’s -- it’s, you know, anywhere from ten to thirty houses you go to sometimes, don't you think. Depends on how many people you have in your -- your church community. But like in Port Graham, Nanwalek, it’s -- they start like two or three in the afternoon and they go well until probably ten or eleven or midnight, because every place you go you sing the same -- which would be like a Christmas carol -- the same song, and they include the family members in the household.

And then when at -- and after they say a prayer for the family, then you get to have the treats and sometimes it’s just cookies and candy and chocolate. Other times it’s a full meal.

And I think they try and organize who’s gonna have, like, the bigger meal. I mean people will talk and say, “This is what I’m offering.” And so, yeah, they put out the treats and then once everybody’s ate and had their treats and visited, and then they go onto the next house. And so that continues on.

But that was a really fun part ‘cause you never knew what someone was gonna have out. And do you remember those mandarin oranges that came in the box at Christmas? JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: The Japanese ones? JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: Everybody usually had those in the red paper.

And that’s like a Christmas memory to everybody, but for us -- I mean that was probably a pretty expensive thing because fruit in December in a village is kinda hard to come by.

And those little hard candies. We ate lots of those and the ribbon candy and -- JAN YAEGER: Card candy? SHARON BOND: Hard candy. JAN YAEGER: Oh, hard candy. Okay. SHARON BOND: The filled ones. Yeah, those kinds of things is what I remember about --

JAN YAEGER: So do you remember doing starring in Seldovia? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh yeah. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: But it wasn’t always the 7th, 8th, and 9th. Maybe the 9th. They would -- ‘cause they would bring people from the villages to come over and do that, and they’d bring their choir and the reader or the priest. So -- and so we would have one or two nights of that.

And then -- so the masking. I don’t know if that’s church related. I would say, no it is not. I would say that it’s culturally related. JAN YAEGER: We’re still interested in it, though. SHARON BOND: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: Yeah, I mean I know Nanwalek has -- SHARON BOND: Yeah. It’s -- ‘cause there’s like rules with the church and their masking and --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s -- it’s a tradition. The music is Russian, or, you know, it’s -- it’s an Oriental.

SHARON BOND: ‘Cause I wanna say that like the priest almost -- there’s some of them that frown on it a little bit like if -- especially if it started too early. ‘Cause you had to wait until the 9th, right? Or the 10th? The 9th? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: 9th. 9th. SHARON BOND: Because --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Seven-eight-nine. It’s on the third -- third day. SHARON BOND: Yeah. But that makes for a late night.

JAN YAEGER: So 7th, 8th and 9th would be starring and so you’d go starring and then when -- as soon as the starring finished on the 9th, you'd go into the masking? SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: ‘Til the 18th. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: 17th or 18th. SHARON BOND: Until the 17th ‘cause that’s New Year’s.

JAN YAEGER: So there’d be masking every night? SHARON BOND: Or, no, no, that wasn’t. That would be the last night. New Year’s is the 14th. Okay, so Christmas is the 7th of January. And this is the Gregorian calendar. And then the 14th is the New Year.

So they would have the New Year celebration, but they’d start masking on the 9th and that would be every night. Right? Until the 14th, and the 14th is the New Year unmasking. What do they call it? The New Year’s -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: New Year’s celebration. SHARON BOND: Celebration.

And then they do it a couple more nights and then the 17th it’s done. Because the 18th they bless the water. Right? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Midnight of the 17th, maybe. Midnight. SHARON BOND: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: Okay. So -- yeah, I’m a little bit familiar with, you know, the masking in relation to the New Year and so on, but do they go through the whole -- the whole process every night? With the old year and the new year and so on? SHARON BOND: No. JAN YAEGER: Okay. SHARON BOND: That’s only that one night.

JAN YAEGER: Okay, so what are the earlier nights like? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s -- it’s -- it’s just like a Halloween. It’s like Hallowee, but you’re dancing to music, to a -- a -- what is it, Scandinavian music or Russian music.

SHARON BOND: It is, and it’s the same -- I thought it was the same song, but then when you hear other people play it, sometimes it’s a little bit different.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Remember that cartoon -- the box cartoon? That sponge -- Sponge Bob? That song. SHARON BOND: Well, that’s -- that’s how they -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: They use that. They use that. SHARON BOND: They use that now. And like some people really don’t like that, though, ‘cause it sounds like that Sponge Bob song.

And then you’ve altered it a little bit to where it does sound like that. So I would say, each band -- or they -- it’s a little bit different.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s younger generation. The younger generation’s taken over the music and you know, a lot of things. And as -- as -- as the years go, everything changes. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I’ve -- I’ve noticed that. Since I was a kid, different beliefs, different -- the tunes are -- songs are different.

SHARON BOND: I liked when they had the accordion in it, though. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, oh yeah, they had the accordion. You remember -- do you remember grandpa’s violin? SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. Yeah, they had -- I mean they -- for long time when I -- in such remote areas they had some pretty cool instruments. And they would sometimes have a drummer. I know they do now. But at least the electric guitars and the accordion and the -- the violin.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I was very fortunate. My husband used to take us down to the village for the holidays when Sharon was growing up.

JAN YAEGER: And when you say the -- the village, you mean Nanwalek or Port Graham, or -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Peter didn’t get a chance to do that. SHARON BOND: He went to Port Graham. A little bit. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Peter, yeah. But he didn’t go as much as you did.

SHARON BOND: No. ‘Cause we had actually a house in Port Graham for a few years when I was younger, and I don’t remember -- the -- I just remember what dad always said is we had the first house with running water and a CB -- CB radios.

And I -- I don’t know. You would know if that’s true or not. I just remember Dad always saying that. But with the masking. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Us and Riley and Stella. SHARON BOND: Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Was the first people to use a CB. Citizen’s band radio.

SHARON BOND: Then we had the running water, too, that was -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: Which -- it was a really tiny, little house, but it was a house.

So with the masking is they -- I think somebody gathers all the clothes or do they keep clothes every year? Like do they have a stash for masking? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: They wash -- they wash ‘em, but they -- every once in a while somebody will donate some clothes. They’ll maybe buy some at the thrift store and bring ‘em in.

And they usually wash the masks -- the cloths. They’re -- the masks are made of -- you know, people paint -- use crayons to color pieces of cut sheet, you know. From a white sheet, they cut them up and make cloth masks.

SHARON BOND: Do you -- do you think in the beginning they may have been flour sacks? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: That’s what I thought, ‘cause that’s what it reminds me of, when you see how flour sacks were white and they were reused for stuff? And they probably fit on a head perfectly. And they just cut holes for the eyes and I don’t know about the nose. I know the mouth and the eyes. And they would draw like faces, like makeup on ‘em and different things.

And then as things evolve, then there was masks like latex masks and different costumes, but a lot of times it would be like the -- they’d be wearing normal clothes, like robes were pretty popular and snow suits and blanket sheets, you know.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, and I think they -- they also celebrated in Seldovia years -- earlier years. Because a lot of the people from I think the Kenai area, Kenaitze tribe's Natives would come because there was family and relatives and they just came down to celebrate with who was living in Seldovia then.

They'd, you know, bring the tradition down and -- and I think they still try to do it for New Year’s. New Year’s there. And it’s all -- it’s, you know, it’s different in every community.

JAN YAEGER: So the masking would usually be at some sort of community room? SHARON BOND: Community center, yeah. JAN YAEGER: Yeah. Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s an event, you know, to keep -- there’s also -- there’s religion in it that I remember as a kid, even now, there’s always prayers that they say before you start and after.

And there’s tra -- tradition is after you ma -- have masked all those days, you take -- on the last night, you go after your shadow. You capture your shadow, and they take their masks off. And what they have to do is go to the streams and that’s when they make the holy water. And they wash off their faces with that, with the water.

JAN YAEGER: So can you explain a little bit more what you mean by capturing your shadow? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s just a -- capturing of the shadow, it means that, you know, you can’t stop -- you can go masquerading and just leave it at that and take you mask off and you’re done. But th -- the tradition is, you need to grab that spirit and make sure you captured it. And if you didn’t, it meant that spirit is still wandering around.

So it’s -- that’s how I understand it. Somebody might explain it different -- different ways, but that’s how I understood. And seem like I heard that before from somebody, maybe my dad? I can’t remember.

But it’s -- something that you can’t just leave out there. It’s because of the way we grew up and what the beliefs were. In our -- in our culture. And every community is different .

SHARON BOND: ‘Cause the masquerading is fun, but it can be scary. Especially like little kids, you'd see them hiding. If there was a pool table, they’d be hiding underneath there. ‘Cause there’re people you don’t know who they are. I mean you can, as you get older, you can recognize the way people dance, the way that they move.

‘Cause they’re wearing a mask, they’re wearing different clothes, they’re dancing goofy, you know. And they’re -- they’ll -- they interact with the crowd a lot and it’s just goofiness and dancing. And they’re going in a circle to the right? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: Opposite of Na -- opposite of Nascar. They’re going right. JAN YAEGER: (Chuckles.) SHARON BOND: But --

JAN YAEGER: All -- all the dancers are going in a circle or just the masked ones? SHARON BOND: Well, mostly it’s -- it’s a -- the -- it’s masquerading -- JAN YAEGER: Or -- or -- or everyone is masked? SHARON BOND: So everybody’s wearing a costume -- JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: -- is what you’re ‘sposed -- I think your face is supposed to be covered, right? Is there a rule on that? It just seems like everybody’s face is covered. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. It’s somebo -- somebody will -- if the -- if they -- especially the elders -- if they -- if they don’t like something on their face they’ll just get up and dance.

SHARON BOND: Yeah. And then after that -- after they’ve done masking, they’ll do waltzing, right? They’ll dance, partner dance. So and that -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: For New Year’s, yeah. SHARON BOND: But I’ve seen it on some nights that wasn’t New Year’s, though. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. They -- well, you could -- SHARON BOND: Like at the end.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: When there’s masking, there’s also dancing. Two step dancing, waltzing, square dancing. You know, whatever -- you know, what the people know what to do. We do -- we s -- growing up, I did a lot of square dancing. My dad was a caller. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. Sergius Moonin. Yeah. So it’s -- it’s hard to -- it’s hard to lose that tradition that’s always there. You know, how I grew up and -- and -- like I said, it’s different everywhere.

It’s -- when we moved to Seldovia, we brought that tradition with us, and I’m sure that people from Kenai area that moved to Seldovia, their tradition was different, also. But they just went along with what they had because they didn’t -- they didn’t celebrate anymore after -- I don’t know what reasons -- why the reasons -- maybe because they’re -- the people had -- have died off that, you know, celebrated the holidays.

JAN YAEGER: So when you say you brought your traditions with you to Seldovia, did you find traditions in place also, or was there not much happening in Seldovia when you moved over? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: There wasn’t much happening in Seldovia.

I -- I think when me and my -- my -- my parents and my brothers, we moved there, and dad used to do se -- ch -- a readers services in the church, and they condemned the church at one time because it was so worn down. And they put a yellow ribbon around it and my dad and I used to go to church. We used to crawl under that tape and we’d open the church and we’d go to church.

JAN YAEGER: And your dad would kinda lead the worship service? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Mm-hm. That’s where I learned a lot of the church service from is from my dad.

JAN YAEGER: Do you remember when it was condemned? Approximately what year? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Before 1980. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: That’s was -- it was consecrated. SHARON BOND: Yeah. Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

SHARON BOND: See, I don’t remember that, so -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It might have been '78, '79. No, ‘88, ‘89. SHARON BOND: No. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Well, no, it was before that because Dad passed in ‘89. SHARON BOND: You got a -- It would have been -- no. The consecration was when they re -- did the -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: 1980 when the consecration happened. So it happened before that. SHARON BOND: It would have been before that. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, ‘79. Before ‘79.

JAN YAEGER: Okay. So that -- I guess that’s one thing I’ve been curious about is how that -- when the community or -- when -- when the church got kinda fixed up and then reconsecrated, how that whole movement started?

Who -- who kinda led that and who was involved and what kind of work was done? Do you have any memories of any of that? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, there was quite a few people. Most -- JAN YAEGER: ‘Cause it’s a big project. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- of he community -- I mean the church members were involved.

Elaine Giles and Helen Josefsen. I don’t know if they’d be able to -- maybe the City. But I remember Elaine Giles and Helen were totally involved in it.

JAN YAEGER: Was there a lot of fundraising that had to happen for that? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: What’s that? JAN YAEGER: Was there a lot of fundraising that had to happen for that or -- ? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: No, it was a grant. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: A --

SHARON BOND: Probably like a historical restoration -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Historical -- historical grant. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. So it’s -- yeah -- it -- they totally redone the foundation, put heating in there, new roof. SHARON BOND: Lots of paint. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Paint, yeah. SHARON BOND: Carpet? There wasn’t carpet. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Carpet, yeah. Was wood, was wood floor.

SHARON BOND: But I think they had to do some structural work to it ‘cause that’s why it was condemned. It had issues. Because what it is, is a church that was a smaller church and you can see inside where there’s different boards, like they’re not the same size.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: They added on to it. SHARON BOND: So they added onto the side that’s near the cliff, right? JAN YAEGER: Right. SHARON BOND: Yeah, yeah.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And it was a school. They taught -- JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- school in the church also, years ago, in the early 1900s. Eighteen -- JAN YAEGER: Yeah, I think -- wasn’t that -- the first school that was in Seldovia I think was the church before they built the -- a -- a separate -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: But they taught in -- you know, in Russian, and -- and they, you know, they -- they weren’t going by a territorial -- JAN YAEGER: Right. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: Yeah, I -- I remember reading somewhere that when they were doing the -- the work in 1980 that they found some old school books or something up in the rafters somewhere? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I know I h -- I heard that, too. I don’t know what they did with it. JAN YAEGER: Yeah, it would be interesting to -- to know. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

SHARON BOND: But one of the cooler things about that whole restoration thing is when USA Today came and did interview just -- interviewed you for that, right? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Uh-huh.

JAN YAEGER: Oh really? SHARON BOND: There is a picture of my brother in the church, peeking out, and he’s probably about five or so, huh? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Four or five. JAN YAEGER: That’s Peter.

SHARON BOND: So that -- it had to have been after the restoration, so that would have been -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: -- like ‘89-‘90. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Fresh -- it was fresh paint. SHARON BOND: Yeah. ‘Cause he was pretty young. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: But -- yeah, somewhere --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I still have that article. SHARON BOND: Mm-hm? JAN YAEGER: Hm. SHARON BOND: So that was pretty neat.

JAN YAEGER: So Elaine Giles and Helen Josefsen, were they part of the congregation? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. JAN YAEGER: Okay. And I know I’ve seen pictures of the consecration that Helen had that -- the Trinket’s -- Trinket’s allowed us to copy -- scans of -- of those.

And I know Katy Kashevaroff is in the pictures. Was she part of the congregation, too? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Clara Oaks. SHARON BOND: Alice Nutbeem? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Alice Nutbeem. JAN YAEGER: Alice Nutbeem? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Those are the ladies that came from Unga (Island). JAN YAEGER: Mm. Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Down from out the chain (Aleutian Islands). JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: Is that how my grandmother woulda came with them or not? Did they come separate? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Didn’t your grandma come from -- no, your -- your dad’s grandma came from Kodiak, I think. SHARON BOND: Well, one of them was from Unga Island, though. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Maybe (Unclear, name)? I don’t know, you have to ask Fredrick.

SHARON BOND: Yeah. ‘Cause he’s always told me that our relatives are from Unga Island. Unga Island.

JAN YAEGER: What would the names -- names be? SHARON BOND: Ponchene, right? JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Ponchenes are in Kodiak, but I’ve never heard where they’re originated from. SHARON BOND: Right. I think they came from Unga Island then to Kodiak and then to Seldovia. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: As far as -- least, that’s what I think I was told. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, ‘cause I told Peter, I said, “You guys have relatives in Washington.” SHARON BOND: Oh. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Irene’s son. What’s his name? SHARON BOND: Billy? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Billy. Billy Ponchene. That’s -- Dad’s uncle’s son. Would be your grandma’s brother. Grandma Agnes’ brother, Alfred. So, they’ve got relatives. SHARON BOND: We have relatives everywhere. (Laughter.)

JAN YAEGER: Make sure I’m not keeping you too terribly long here. Any other -- I guess memories or events that kinda stand out with -- with the church? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I think we kinda covered everything.

SHARON BOND: Only thing you haven’t covered is bread. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Huh? SHARON BOND: Bread. JAN YAEGER: Bread? SHARON BOND: Church bread. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh. SHARON BOND: You’ve made it, though, right? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Uh-huh.

JAN YAEGER: Church bread for, like, communion? SHARON BOND: Communion. Mm-hm. JAN YAEGER: Okay. So is it un -- unleavened bread or -- ? SHARON BOND: Yeah. It is. Doesn’t rise. It’s made of flour and what do they put in it? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Baking soda? SHARON BOND: Is it baking soda? I’ve never made it.

But, you know, typically for going to church like on Sunday, we don’t eat before we go to church. Do you have coffee, though? Like coffee, water -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It depends -- SHARON BOND: And your meds. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It depends on if you take meds. You have to take something with your meds.

SHARON BOND: Yeah. And so you go at ten and then I would say it’s probably three-quarters of the way through church, they have communion, and then they have some of the bread. So it’s a little circle and then it kinda goes in in the middle. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Look like -- Bisquick biscuits. JAN YAEGER: Mm, okay.

SHARON BOND: They kinda have a shape, though, and then -- then their top. And they’re probably about two inches tall. And then they have a stamp for ‘em. And so they cut it up and put it out so when you go through communion, then you get to have more bread at the end.

And it’s the best bread in the world 'cause you’re starving. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: (Chuckles.)

JAN YAEGER: So I’m trying -- SHARON BOND: You’re hungry. JAN YAEGER: -- to think, there’s a -- this is terrible ‘cause, you know, I sh -- I should know the objects in the museum better than I do since that is part of my job, but there’s a stamp that’s -- looks like it’s about that tall. SHARON BOND: Is it wooden? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It could be wooden or metal. Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: Okay. I was almost thinking it was stone for some reason. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, stone. JAN YAEGER: But -- yeah, I wonder -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Or stone, yeah. SHARON BOND: And that’s for the church bread. JAN YAEGER: And that’s for -- okay, all right. SHARON BOND: I’m assuming, right? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Mm-hm. SHARON BOND: Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: ‘Cause it -- it -- I think the surface of it’s about that big, but -- SHARON BOND: Yeah, and that would be -- JAN YAEGER: -- about an inch across.

SHARON BOND: So does each church have one or does the priest have one. That’s what I’ve always been curious about. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Each church has ‘em because -- I think you can order ‘em because people make -- like they ask somebody to make -- SHARON BOND: Bread. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- the bread for communion.

JAN YAEGER: So you’d have the stamp at your home and be stamping ‘em before you bake them. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Mm-hm. JAN YAEGER: Okay. SHARON BOND: Or they’re at the church, maybe. No? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: No, people had ‘em ‘cause I had one. SHARON BOND: Oh. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: I don’t know if it -- I don’t know where it’s at. Maybe it’s in one of my boxes.

JAN YAEGER: You’d almost have to do it before you baked it, right? SHARON BOND: Right, you do. JAN YAEGER: Yeah. So. SHARON BOND: You stamp it. JAN YAEGER: Okay. So --

SHARON BOND: And everybody’s bread is different, too. Just like, you know, when we were talking about how long you go to church, ‘cause sometimes you’ll have a priest that sings really fast and you’re out at like eleven. You’re like, “Wow.” (Laughter.)

You know, each priest is different, just like how people talk slower or fast and it’s -- yeah, the older priests, I would say, probably sing slower and sometimes we wouldn’t get out ‘til 12:30. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Some of ‘em are really fast like Father -- SHARON BOND: That’s what I said. Sometimes we’re out at eleven and -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: What’s his name, Father --

SHARON BOND: And typically -- like once a month we would have like a little potluck after -- after church. Right? ‘Cause, you’re hungry. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm.

SHARON BOND: But yeah. The communion, instead of like Catholics, they have the wafers, we have bread that’s unleavened.

JAN YAEGER: And then would you have wine also, or -- ? SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: And I would say -- did they add water to that? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Mm-hm. They dilute it if they use -- if they use wine. But -- SHARON BOND: And it’s hot. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- you know -- we don’t consider it -- SHARON BOND: Which is odd. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- we don’t consider it wine when it’s been blessed.

JAN YAEGER: It’s -- it’s actually warmed? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: And so do th -- how do they keep it warm? SHARON BOND: In a Thermos, I think. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Thermos. SHARON BOND: Or they have a little hot pot there, don’t they? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Thermos, yeah. SHARON BOND: Yeah. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Or Thermos, or -- we bring it in Thermos when we don’t have -- a lot of times we never had electricity in the church in Seldovia. SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. So it was in a Thermos.

JAN YAEGER: Is there a certain age that people start taking communion? Or is it for everybody? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh, you take it when you’re eight -- eight month -- eight days old. JAN YAEGER: Okay. SHARON BOND: It’s such a super tiny amount, though, and like I said, they water it down.

So when -- the actual communion part, though, is -- it’s in a chalice with little bit of the bread and -- and the wine. So you’re literally getting like a tiny -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Hundred percent. SHARON BOND: -- tiny piece of -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Little spoon, yeah. SHARON BOND: Not even like a teaspoon or -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Quarter of a teaspoon? SHARON BOND: Maybe. JAN YAEGER: Of the -- ?

SHARON BOND: And then a chunk of bread with it. JAN YAEGER: Okay. SHARON BOND: Yeah. It’s mixed together in the chalice. JAN YAEGER: Okay, okay.

SHARON BOND: So. And then, when you’ve gone through -- and then there’s the extra bread on the side, which is -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: The kids used to get so excited ‘cause they’d be so hungry.

JAN YAEGER: I was gonna say, if you’re getting just a little piece, if you’ve been hungry, that’s not gonna do very much so then you can take another piece with you. Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: The chunks are, you know, they’re inch by inch or two by two. Depends on how many people there is in church, but when they’re -- nobody in church, they’re huge chunks. SHARON BOND: You got a whole, like biscuit sometimes. JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: (Laughter.) And the kids get excited ‘cause they get to eat a bunch of bread -- SHARON BOND: Or if they get to have seconds.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: With -- a lot of times the juice that they pour in cups after communion, it’s usually canned grape juice maybe or the, you know, the juice that you mix. SHARON BOND: ‘Cause it’s a bigger quantity. Like in little Dixie cups is what I always remember.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: When I was a kid growing up, we’d -- it was all wine. And you could feel the hot -- I could feel the heat. My body would heat up.

SHARON BOND: Yeah, and when you get married, the same. You have -- they have a special little -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Sips -- SHARON BOND: Sip cup.

And my husband and I -- that was heated, too, if I remember right. I took a little tiny sip and he didn’t know that ritual. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: He drank the whole thing. SHARON BOND: Well, I made him drink a lot of it, yes. And he was just like, “Wow, yeah.” And so he drank most of it.

JAN YAEGER: Can you talk just a little bit about some of the wedding traditions in the church? I think it’s -- I haven’t heard anything about what the weddings are like. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh, I got married -- like I said I got married in -- in Nanwalek in the church in Nanwalek. The old church.

And it’s a ceremony from nine-thirty, ten o’clock until two, three o’clock in the afternoon, because you have to -- before you get married you have to read the instructions and the laws about becoming Orthodox Christian to marry in the church.

SHARON BOND: Mine wasn’t that long. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Huh? SHARON BOND: It wasn’t that long. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Well -- SHARON BOND: Yeah.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- remember -- remember how many years ago? Forty-some years ago when I got married. SHARON BOND: Yeah, yeah. There might have been -- and also you had a traveling priest, too, whereas -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. SHARON BOND: -- my priest lived there. And so we did -- like you -- they do like a counseling session before in the -- I think those are those parts maybe.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: You -- you -- especially when somebody is non-Orthodox, they have to read the -- they give you a book to read to understand what it is -- what is -- what it is to get married as -- in Orthodox -- Orthodoxy. SHARON BOND: Mm-hm.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Is that you’re talking about? SHARON BOND: Probably. I don’t know. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Counseling.

SHARON BOND: But I think what she’s asking about is the ceremony. Like when you come in, I came in with my dad and you wait in the -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Oh yeah. That’s -- SHARON BOND: -- like a foyer. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- it’s still -- it’s a tradition that your dad brings you in. SHARON BOND: Yeah. But they ask --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: If you’re giving -- how does it go? SHARON BOND: I can’t remember what the terms are. It was twenty years ago. It’s like permission, though. That he’s giving permission or they’re asking permission for me to come into the church. As the bride -- and the husband is already in there.

And then they transfer from the father to the husband. And then you come in.

But what I remember is, we went around that middle s -- what is it, like a podium type thing. It holds the icon in the center. And you go around it three times that I remember, but --

You have a -- a maid of honor and a best man. Your witnesses. And they have the crowns. So each church has a set of crowns, right? I know ours does.

And so they hold ‘em over you during the ceremony. For most of it, but not all of it.

And they’re metal crowns. I think they’re velvet-lined and they have icons on them. They’re really pretty.

But I would say it takes some dedication ‘cause you’re holding it up for a while. (Chuckles.) It’s really pretty, though.

What other parts you can remember about the ceremony? I just remember the crowns and the going around it and you have communion during it.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And what was the reason for the -- I -- it’s been so long since I -- I’ve never really looked into it. Tell me what’s the significance -- significant of the three -- circling three times? SHARON BOND: I don’t know. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And then you stand up by the -- in front of the altar. SHARON BOND: Hm mm. At the end.

JAN YAEGER: Is there a tradition of the Trinity in the Russian Orthodox church? SHARON BOND: There’s a lot of things in threes. Everything like Trinity-based, I would say.

So three times around the altar. It seems like there’s threes, twelves, and forty. Those are the very common themes for --

But you start in the foyer, the -- like a porch or the entry, and then you go to the kind of the middle area. And then you end up at the top, at the --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s like a prayer for both of you before you enter the altar or into the -- into the church. SHARON BOND: Uh-huh. Yeah.

JAN YAEGER: Okay. Well, thank you so much for giving your -- your time today. We really appreciate it.

Like I said it’s just memories that we really wanted to -- to save and not have -- have go away. Related to St. Nicholas Church and some of the traditions in Seldovia. So we really appreciate you coming to share with us.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And I think we shared a lot of what we -- what we’ve gone through living in the villages. We’ve brought -- you know, I’m sure they have different -- they had different traditions in Seldovia by the -- the Kenaitze Natives that live there that migrated from Kenai.

You know, like we said everybody’s different with the -- their traditions and their beliefs.

JAN YAEGER: Yeah, that was one thing I found interesting looking -- we have a book in our library that has a lot of the priests’ journals that have been translated and so they talk about, you know, “I had this service and, you know, we had this many people here and so on.” And, you know, he talks about -- this is early 1900s, you know, 1905-1910, somewhere there.

And he talks about, you know, 160-150 people at a service, which is, you know, it’s hard to imagine 160 Seldovians at anything anymore. Maybe -- maybe graduation or a basketball game, I guess. Maybe. But even then.

SHARON BOND: And that church would get very full. JAN YAEGER: Yeah. SHARON BOND: Like when -- my had -- my dad’s funeral -- there was people outside. It was super. And you’re -- it’s packed in there. And you have the person in there, you know, in the -- in the coffin.

But the -- two things we didn’t talk about, though, is baptismal and there was something else I was just thinking about. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And funerals. SHARON BOND: Baptismals and funerals, and, oh, name’s day. JAN YAEGER: Mm. Mm-hm.

SHARON BOND: So. Yeah, you can talk about name’s day. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Name’s day -- you’re -- everybody had a name’s day and your name’s day is because of your guardian angel had, you know, is named -- you’re named after a guardian angel. Mine is Ljudmila. Her’s is Agnia. Agnes.

SHARON BOND: I thought it was a saint. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Baptismal name. SHARON BOND: It’s not a saint? Or is it? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: There is saints, yeah. Hm mm.

And I do have a picture of -- Lydia gave me a picture of Ljudmila, Saint Ljudmila. And I -- I know you have one, too, but we’d have to kinda research on it.

SHARON BOND: So generally you pick that -- there’s several name that -- but I think you pick the one closest to your birthday, right? The day you’re born. So like I’m born January 28th and my name's day is February 3rd.

But there’s different -- there’s other saints with the same name during the calendar year, so that is typically another big feast day. Where on your names day, it’s like having a birthday.

JAN YAEGER: And how -- how old would you generally be when you first celebrate that? Would that be as soon as -- SHARON BOND: Right away. JAN YAEGER: -- soon as you’re born? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Soon as you’re baptized. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

SHARON BOND: Yeah, so we’re baptized. You know, like a lot of them have confirmations and they’re baptized when they're -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Eight days old.

SHARON BOND: No, I mean the -- I thought you had to wait ‘til you’re forty -- forty days old? For baptismal.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: At the time -- I -- I think it’s changed. At the time I was -- I was a -- it could be anywhere, eight -- eight to forty days because the mother can’t enter the -- into the church after -- 'til after -- she’s -- forty days after you’re born.

SHARON BOND: Yeah. So what I was saying is, I was like Catholics or Lutheran, they’re not baptized ‘til they’re older. LIke, I think, they’re adolescents, maybe. But we’re baptized as -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Infants, yeah.

JAN YAEGER: And so the -- I notice you said it’s the closest to your birthday, but both of you have female saints that you’re named for. So is it -- is it always the same gender saint? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah. JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: It’s -- yeah -- JAN YAEGER: Okay. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: -- yeah. Males, males, girls -- women, women.

JAN YAEGER: And so then your name’s day is celebrated every year -- LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yes. JAN YAEGER: -- also? And would that be in the church or is that just among the family? LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Among the family and the church. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: They -- they sing "God grant you many years" on your birthday, your name’s day. And -- and holidays. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: So it’s -- it’s -- it’s a celebration. I remember in the villages, you know, every -- there was a name's day, you know, ten name's days in a month, and I’m like “Okay, we’re gonna have a feast. We’re gonna have -- you’re gonna eat.” (Laughter.)

SHARON BOND: And so with a baptismal, you as a parent, you pick two godparents. You know, a male and a female. And so they come to the ceremony. And they have like a -- they have some body of water that they baptize them in -- the babies. LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah.

SHARON BOND: Like it’s a tub or Trevor’s was a basin. Yeah. And they wear white. It’s pretty neat, but a little shocking for the baby. (Laughter.) But --

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: And the baptismal, too, is you ask a couple that you think that would take over your child if you, you’re -- both your parents pass. Or -- or they would take in the child as theirs.

So we have -- her godparents are in Port Graham, therefore their kids are her godbrothers and sisters. Same with everybody else.

SHARON BOND: And like in church, it’s like your spiritual mother, too, kinda almost like -- Or for guidance, I would say, maybe in church. Don’t you think? JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: Yeah, and -- yeah, they would -- they’d be your guidance as to you obey -- or obedience. You know, if they see you doing something in church and -- or they teach you something if you have a question. Or they kinda volunteer to teach you the beliefs. SHARON BOND: Mm-hm. JAN YAEGER: Okay.

LILLIAN ELVSAAS: So that kinda keeps the families, you know, connected. It’s -- it’s -- it’s helped. But I don’t know if it’s practiced so much anymore. Everybody’s so busy. Both parents are working and it’s kinda hard.

JAN YAEGER: Mm-hm. Well, I sure appreciate it and -- and, yeah. Thank you again.