Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Percy Blatchford

Percy Blatchford was interviewed on April 12, 2010 by Rachel Mason, Don Callaway and Karen Brewster at the Van Gilder Hotel in Seward, Alaska. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, working as a longshoreman, the Native community in Seward and organization of the Qutekcak Tribe, hunting around Seward, changes in wildlife populations, and the 1964 Earthquake. He talks about helping build the Herman Leirer Road to Exit Glacier, especially the blasting work he did, how people have used the area, and how the road affected use.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2010-05-06

Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: Apr 12, 2010
Narrator(s): Percy Blatchford
Interviewer(s): Rachel Mason, Don Callaway, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
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Sections

Personal background and coming to Seward

Growing up on a fur farm in Teller, Alaska

His father's background and work history

How his father met his mother who was from Shishmaref

Moving to Nome, Alaska

Moving to Seward

Work history

Meeting his wife and getting married

The Native community in Seward

Goat hunting

Hunting partners

Moose hunting

Hunting in the Resurrection River Valley

Changes in moose populations

Sheep and bear hunting

Other hunting activities

Snowmachines

Dogmushing

Observations of changes

Construction of the Exit Glacier Road

Marking the road route on the map

Working as a driller and blaster on the road construction

Goat hunting up Box Canyon

1964 Earthquake

Working on the Exit Glacier Road construction

Effects of the Exit Glacier Road

Effects of the establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park

His hunting partner, Aron Wiklund

Establishment of the Qutekcak Tribe in Seward

More about working on construction of the Exit Glacier Road

Experience in the Army in World War II

Changes in Seward

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Transcript

RACHEL MASON: Hi. We're here with Percy Blatchford in Seward. It's April 12th, 2010.

My name's Rachel Mason, and with me are Don Callaway and Karen Brewster. So just to start out -- --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: -- what we'll ask you first is to tell us about your life story.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: My life story?

RACHEL MASON: Yes. You know, the things that you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I was -- I was born in Teller.

RACHEL MASON: Teller, Alaska?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, that's right out of Nome, about 70 miles away. My dad was a fur farmer.

RACHEL MASON: Okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And when the war started, that cleaned us out because we couldn't get -- get rid of our fur. So we moved to Nome.

RACHEL MASON: I think I'm going to move here, and then I'll -- I'll talk to you here. So you moved to Nome?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: What year were you born?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: 1929. November 11th, 1929.

RACHEL MASON: How did you happen to come down to Seward?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, I was -- after I got out of the Service, I went to Veterans school at Mount Edgecumbe.

And my mom and my dad's family moved down there because she had tuberculosis, and we thought she could get into the ANS hospital there but she couldn't because at the time, there was a federal law saying if they were married to Whites, you couldn't -- she couldn't get in there.

RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: So mom had tuberculosis, so we kept her in a separate room and boiled her dishes and everything, and the health nurse would come once a week and check up.

And they found out there was a san here, so pop -- we were going to settle in Sitka because pop liked it there, you know, and the family liked it there.

And mom had tuberculosis, so we had to -- there was a san out here where the Army is now, that used to be the Seward sanitarium for...

And that's how we got to here.

Now they changed that law. It used to be if you're married to a White, you couldn't go into the -- that's the silliest law.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: You know. I mean, you're a Native and -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PERCY BLATCHFORD: That's --

RACHEL MASON: What happened to White people that had tuberculosis? PERCY BLATCHFORD: They -- they came to here. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: My sister and brother in law both got it. He was in the service. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: So how many brothers and sisters do you have?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, by my mom, it was six boys and six girls.

RACHEL MASON: Wow.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And dad was married before, but in the flu of 1918, he had -- had been married before, and he had four boys, and his wife and three boys died, just within days.

And my brother Tom was two years old, he survived, he was there two -- two days by himself, two years old --

RACHEL MASON: Wow.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- until pop came home.

RACHEL MASON: And he survived?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: He survived. He's the only one. He's my half brother.

RACHEL MASON: So where -- where do you stand in the family?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I'm the next to the oldest now.

RACHEL MASON: Great.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. My sister in Kentucky just passed away this -- this year. And I've got one brother older than me. He's 82 now and I'm 80. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Uh hum. What's your brother's name?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Eugene. RACHEL MASON: Okay. So he's still alive. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

DON CALLAWAY: So where -- where were you -- were you in Teller?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: We were in Teller. I went to grade school in Teller.

And when the war came on, you know, we couldn't get rid of our furs. That was our business.

They had a -- right across from Teller is the -- Grantley Harbor is the name of that harbor there, and right across, oh, about maybe not even a mile away, we had our fur farm. And we had --

DON CALLAWAY: Foxes?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Foxes. We kept them selective. You know, I mean, we keep breeders so we would get good fur, and had them all in the pens.

In fact, when my brother went back there, he said that the place is -- we called it the platform, it was off the ground, and the pens were off the ground about 5 feet, I guess. That's what we did.

RACHEL MASON: What did your dad do for a living when they came to Seward?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, he just went -- he went to -- he went to work for the Army there.

He was just -- he always worked for himself, but I guess that's the first time him -- he really worked.

Him and his brother had a saloon in the Gold Rush days called the Golden Gate. And Uncle Will migrated to Canada, and he started a dairy farm there.

He was a -- Uncle Will was a businessman. He was always -- in fact, he was -- his company was one of them that started the Alaska Steamship Company.

RACHEL MASON: Did you guys trap any foxes or anything when you got --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, we -- my brother trapped a little, but we were in the fur business, so it...

KAREN BREWSTER: Where did your father come from originally?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: From Stratton, England. He was a Cornishman. Because I remember my youngest sister here in Seward, they brought -- what do you call that language? She brought it --

RACHEL MASON: Welsh?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Welsh -- it's Welsh, but it's a -- you know, the Irish do it, too.

RACHEL MASON: Celtic. KAREN BREWSTER: Gaelic. RACHEL MASON: Or Gaelic.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Gaelic, yeah. She brought a bunch of Gaelic papers home and pop read it for them. And my mom came from Shishmaref.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know what inspired your father to come to Alaska originally?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Uncle Will was here and sent for him.

Pop was going to be a veterinarian, he went to one year of college, I guess, and they were writing back and forth, and the whole family, all the boys left, I guess.

They -- most of them ended up in Canada.

RACHEL MASON: He made his way to --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. There's a air -- there's an airfield in Canada named after my cousin. He was a fighter pilot in the Canadian Air Force, he got shot down in the Battle of Britain.

Yeah, I forgot how many German planes he shot down. He didn't have to, he volunteered to go over there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you say what year your father came to Alaska?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I don't know, but he was one of the original dog racers.

He had to come in the early 1900s, because I still got -- my mom had the original autographed books that showed us Scotty Allen and Leonard Seppala, and all of those.

There was -- they were supposed to go to my -- maybe I better not say. My sisters might hear.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so your father was involved in that serum run? Did he --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, he didn't get in that, but he was a dog racer.

KAREN BREWSTER: He was a dog racer, huh?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. That's where dog racing started was in Nome. And he said it was big business.

He said that before the race, they had to have a guy guard their dogs because the gamblers would try to poison them. It was big money in those days.

RACHEL MASON: How did he meet your mother?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I don't know how he -- he never did say, I never did ask him.

RACHEL MASON: She was from Shishmaref -- PERCY BLATCHFORD: I think he's -- RACHEL MASON: -- probably come to Nome or --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, I think he was going to start a little store there, and mom said he was too easy going, he'd give everybody credit. And they just -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

DON CALLAWAY: So how old were you when you moved into Nome?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I was 13.

DON CALLAWAY: 13. And you went to school in Nome?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, I went to high school. I didn't finish, though. I went three years and then went in the Army.

RACHEL MASON: And how old were you when the family moved to Seward?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, I was there already.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, you had already come? PERCY BLATCHFORD: I was 20 years old. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. They went there -- the reason they went there was because mom thought she could get in the san there, you know.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so that was in the '40s they came here?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, this was the -- they came here in the '50s. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I came here in '54, they came here in about -- I'd say '50 or '51. I'm not sure. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you got out of the Army and came to Seward?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. I stayed in Nome a year, and then didn't see any future in Nome, there was no -- I don't think any of us ever went back.

I mean, or settled there. Ernie my older brother stayed there for a while, but he moved -- moved here.

RACHEL MASON: Well, what did you do for a living when you came to Seward?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: My brother? RACHEL MASON: No, you. KAREN BREWSTER: You.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I longshored. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, I was -- when I left Edgecumbe, I was a storekeeper and purchasing agent at Mount Edgecumbe in the central kitchen.

I supplied all the -- well, there was the school and the sanitarium, and I took care of the food department, you know, ordering the food, and I had a guy under me who delivered.

But I left the government service after that because I made more money other places.

RACHEL MASON: How did you like longshoring? PERCY BLATCHFORD: It was good. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So when you moved to Seward, what was the first job you got?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: It was hard to find a job. I longshored. Then I worked construction later on.

I started out in the Carpenters , I went to carpenter school at Mount Edgecumbe, and I got more work.

There wasn't too much carpenter work around here. Then I got on the Laborers Union, I got a lot more work there. In fact, I retired from there.

And my wife was a -- going to nursing school, and we got married at Mount Edgecumbe. They had an LPN school. She's one of the first ones to graduate from there, I guess.

RACHEL MASON: Is she from Southeast Alaska?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, she's from Fairbanks. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: She's Athabascan, half Athabascan.

KAREN BREWSTER: What was her maiden name?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Barnabas. I remember Elizabeth Andrews interviewing my -- my mother in law.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

DON CALLAWAY: From ADF & G.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. There's no more -- there isn't any more full blooded Athabascans from the Salcha Tribe, they are all -- they are all mixed.

RACHEL MASON: How did you meet your wife?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: She was going to school there.

RACHEL MASON: At Mount Edgecumbe?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Yeah. She was --

KAREN BREWSTER: Your wife's first name is Daisy; is that correct? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: And did you have children?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Oh, yeah. Two boys. One, three years ago, my oldest boy died of leukemia.

So I've got one -- one son, he works in accounting in Anchorage.

He worked for the IRS for years, and he quit and went to work for the Native Corporation.

And I've got one granddaughter.

RACHEL MASON: Were there very many other Native people living in Seward back in the '50s?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Not too many. Yeah, there was quite a few. The Hatches.

And Tommy Hickland was right up the street. And Wemarks (phonetic).

They've been here for years. Yeah, there was quite a few. Not as many as now.

I think this AVTEC has drawn a lot of Native people to this region.

KAREN BREWSTER: I always wondered if the -- was the Jessie Lee Home still operating -- PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yes, it was still here when I --

KAREN BREWSTER: -- that if that brought a lot of Native people to Seward?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. There was a -- they were predominantly Native kids going there.

KAREN BREWSTER: And did they -- when they grew up, did they stay and live here or they --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Some of them stayed; most of them left, though. Yeah.

Because you know, what is there for -- you couldn't find work or anything, so why stay here, you know.

RACHEL MASON: And the same with the san, that maybe some of the Native people -- PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: -- that had TB --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, a lot of them settled here -- RACHEL MASON: Uh hum.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- after they got out of the san. In fact, they had a little store out there that they -- you know, it was right up -- right at the intersection there.

But I think a lot of the townspeople that owns the stores here, they didn't like it, you know.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. They -- they ran a store that was -- PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: -- run by Native people?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, it was run not by all Native people. No. It was the Seward san store, but it was open to everybody. RACHEL MASON: I see. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: The local stores didn't like the competition, you mean?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. That's it. Maybe I shouldn't say that, but I know --

KAREN BREWSTER: That was a long time ago. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, they're probably gone.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: They are all gone anyway. Seward Trading used to be right here where this green building is.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. Well, what was Seward like back in those days? What was it like for you living there as a young man?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I -- I liked it. I used to hunt ducks are out here where the railroad is.

RACHEL MASON: Did you used to do a lot of hunting?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Hell, yeah. I'm a hunter, yeah.

RACHEL MASON: So what -- in the early days since you were here, maybe you could show us where you hunted. This -- let's see.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Right around here, are the only thing I hunted -- RACHEL MASON: Let's see.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- big game was goats.

RACHEL MASON: Here's the Exit Glacier here.

KAREN BREWSTER: This is the whole -- the road and the valley all the way up.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Yeah. This is the town of Seward.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. I hunted up in here somewhere. We called it the --

RACHEL MASON: You can mark it with the pen if you want.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, we called it the goat pasture because there was always goats there.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Aron and I. The old -- RACHEL MASON: Mark --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- Swedish friend and I -- RACHEL MASON: Mark the goat pasture here.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- hunted a lot. RACHEL MASON: Where was it, around --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: This side of Blackstone Point up there. RACHEL MASON: This side of Blackstone Point?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. On that side. RACHEL MASON: Oh, this side of the mountain. Okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Right about in there. We hunted goats in there because it was accessible.

They didn't climb too high, and there was mountains on both sides, and it was kind of flat in there, you know. It was a good place to get goats.

RACHEL MASON: How did you get up there? Did you climb up?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Climb up. Yeah, we'd just climb up.

KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like hard work to be getting there.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: It's hard work. And I used to get two every year because it's pretty good meat.

And I'd quarter them and just take the meat and the horns and tie them on my pack board and come out.

RACHEL MASON: And who did you used to go hunting with?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I hunted a lot with Dan Wheeler, Senior. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And Aron Wiklund.

RACHEL MASON: And who were they?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Dan was a half -- half Native guy from up north around the Noatak, I think.

But he settled here, and Aron was a Swedish friend from Sweden. In fact, when he went in the home, he gave me a lot of his guns because I hunted with him.

I didn't want to take them, but this real good friend of his said take them because if you don't, you'll hurt his feelings, you know.

Because I thought people would say I'm taking advantage of him, you know.

KAREN BREWSTER: Now, was Aron older than you?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yes. He was about 40, 50 years older than me.

In fact, when he was 85, we were going up to Carter Lake and he was complaining about being old, and here I'm -- I'm about 40 and trying to keep up with him.

RACHEL MASON: He must have been a tough guy.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, he was. He was a good -- good friend. Honest man. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Did you just hunt goats with him or did you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I hunted moose with him. We didn't hunt moose around here, we'd go up to -- we'd go up the Snow River, then we'd go up by Summit Lake.

RACHEL MASON: Is that near here?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. That's way out the road. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: It's out there by Summit Lake. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And then we'd hunt down in the burn off -- they called it Mystery Creek Road. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: We hunted that. That's in the moose refuge, I think. We hunted all over, wherever.

KAREN BREWSTER: Before we were on tape, you mentioned something about how common or not common moose were up in this valley

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. That was -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- back in those days.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- that was in the '20s. There wasn't any moose there. Aron said that they'd go for days before they'd see a track.

But after the -- after the fire of '47, I think it created a lot of moose feed, you know.

I was in the Service and -- I mean, Fort Rich when that fire was -- Great -- Great Kenai Fire they called it.

It was all down in the -- and when you go towards Kenai, all that low land out there, that was -- that's all under fire. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: And how -- how did that affect the moose population? Did it bring it back?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: It brought it back. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: In the '50s, '60s, there was a lot of moose out there.

At that Summit Lake, you could see trails in the -- up on that side because you could see good on that side. You don't see those anymore.

There's regular trails all over. I think I killed the biggest moose there in '56. It was 62 and a half inches. RACHEL MASON: Wow.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And that was in the -- he was still in the velvet.

I remember how heavy he was because I weighed one -- one leg when we got back, at Riley's down at the meat and fish plant, and it was 173 pounds.

KAREN BREWSTER: Jeez.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: More than I weighed.

KAREN BREWSTER: And you packed it all out?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Well, I had a friend took three -- three trips apiece. Well, it's -- I packed a couple moose off by myself, one in the burn, way back there, too.

RACHEL MASON: Wow.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And that was tough packing because there were downed trees and everything.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And it was the last day of the season, so I thought I had to have it out that day, so I got it out.

I started packing it, I think it was 11:30 in the morning, and 9:30 that night I got the last load out of there.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, brother.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And I didn't have any water. That was the main thing.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, that must have been hard.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I didn't have any water and I was so thirsty, I stopped at Sportsman's Lodge, that's where the Ferry is now, there used to be a lodge there.

I bought a six pack of Coke, and before I got home, I drank every one of them. I lost 9 pounds that day. I guess it was water.

RACHEL MASON: Yikes. That's it. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: That would have been in, what, say, October?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, it was the 20th of September. I was 40 years old then.

RACHEL MASON: Wow.

KAREN BREWSTER: That's good. But you mentioned -- did Aron talk about going up the Resurrection River Valley?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, he said they'd -- they'd pull a sled in the second season and hunt moose up there.

Because there wasn't hardly any around here. Even on the Kenai Peninsula, there wasn't that many moose.

KAREN BREWSTER: So he went up that valley -- the Resurrection Valley?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Oh, he went up there, yeah. He said he camped up there under a tree sometimes.

He said he'd find a good tree where the branches came way down, you know, and he'd make his camp in there.

RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And he -- I can remember him saying one year the snow was so thick he had to go way down to get under the tree to get shelter.

RACHEL MASON: Wow.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so was he successful on his hunting up there?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Sometimes, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And he packed moose all the way back out?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Well, he put it on a sled and pulled it out.

KAREN BREWSTER: So he did it in the winter.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Did you ever use any of those cabins that are up there for staying in?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I -- I never did. I stayed at Lost Lake. There used to be a cabin up there.

Most of my moose hunting was farther out, you know.

RACHEL MASON: Are you retired from moose hunting now?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Oh, I go out. I don't get anything. RACHEL MASON: So you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I haven't got anything for about 10, 12 years. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: Nature retired you.

RACHEL MASON: What -- what are some of the other changes in the population that you've noticed other than from the fire?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: You mean the population change?

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Had they grown? Have there been more moose or less, fewer?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: There's -- I think there's less. I remember in the -- when they had all those cow seasons on the Peninsula,

and they'd go from -- they come out of -- before you -- well, after you leave Gene Lake, you climb up and you hit a big flat,

I remember going down there and had these cow seasons, and looked like a slaughter place, people never hunted moose before were -- RACHEL MASON: Oh, really?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- were shooting them and shooting them in the foot, and -- RACHEL MASON: Oh, gee.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- you know. They weren't hunters. RACHEL MASON: Like a battlefield.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. I thought that was a -- and I talked to a biologist, he said, oh, you're going to have a lot -- lot better moose hunting now.

Well, it hasn't come back, far as I can see.

DON CALLAWAY: When was that? When was that?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: That was in the '70s, I think.

DON CALLAWAY: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: They had one -- one season for cows for 40 days, I think. They thought they had too many moose.

RACHEL MASON: What about sheep hunting? Have you ever done any of that?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I went once, but most of the time you have to have fly in, you know, and I couldn't afford it. RACHEL MASON: Uh hum.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: So, that's why I hunted goats, I could climb right here.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Or how about bear? Have you ever done any bear hunting?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I've shot bear but I don't care for it. Gave it away.

RACHEL MASON: Is that black bear or brown bear?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Black bear, yeah. Once in awhile you have to shoot a bear because they won't leave.

RACHEL MASON: Right. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Have you noticed any changes in the bear population?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I think there's more bear now. Yeah.

We never used to have brown bear come into town here, but the last few years, there's been sightings of brown bear, back right up where I live at Forest Acres.

My neighbor said he saw one one day and another time he saw a brown bear chasing a cow down the road.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, gee. That's terrible.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Right down the main road.

RACHEL MASON: Well, when you used to get goat there and carry it back, were there other people doing the same thing or were you the only one?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Not too many of them there. They thought it was too tough.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did they go other places, do you know? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know other places people hunted for goat or sheep or anything?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: A lot of them would go out the bay here if they had a boat, you know, and get them closer there.

They land and they are not too far up. But it's dangerous landing in the surf. So I'd stay -- I'd hunt inland.

RACHEL MASON: Did you do any seal hunting or beluga or --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, I did it for my mom. Used to do it years ago. But I haven't done it for -- mom moved away in the '60s, so I just quit -- quit hunting it.

KAREN BREWSTER: When you were -- when you first got here, did you -- or even since, have you done any trapping up in this area? Ever tried trapping?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I didn't trap because we had a fur farm, and I didn't --

KAREN BREWSTER: You were -- you were tired of furred animals?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I hunted though. I'm a hunter and a -- not a trapper.

DON CALLAWAY: How about fish? Have you done any commercial fishing or --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I never did. We -- we used to -- I had a friend that had a 40 foot J boat.

In between working on the dock sometimes we'd go out and get some bass and sell them, but we didn't make it a real habit out of it, you know.

I remember going out to Rugged Island there and getting a deck load, got so many bass they were going out the scuppers, you know.

We'd filet them and sell them to different people. Now you can't do that.

RACHEL MASON: Once the snow machines came into town, did you ever get one or did you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I don't -- I didn't like snow machines.

RACHEL MASON: You never got one?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Four wheelers. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I noticed since the snow machines came, Snow River out here, we used to go out in the evening or in the morning and the kids were little and we'd look at the moose, you don't see them anymore.

Another place was Portage, with all that feed there in the -- in the wintertime, there's moose all over that place.

But now all there is is snow machines, I think they've driven them back.

Yeah, I know they have because we don't see them anymore there. That was one thing going to Anchorage, we'd slow down and see how many moose we could count.

You know, you don't see any moose. Once in awhile you'll see one there, but very seldom.

I believe that snow machines have chased them out of there.

DON CALLAWAY: Did you ever ski or mush dogs? PERCY BLATCHFORD: No.

KAREN BREWSTER: I think -- I think Dan Seavey mentioned that you gave him some good advice for his first running of the Iditarod for dog mushing.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: That was my brother.

KAREN BREWSTER: That was your brother?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, Ernie. I remember he told him -- I remember when I was a kid we used to -- dad would mix up Neatsfoot oil, and what else was it?

And we'd put them on the dog pads. I forgot the other ingredient, but those dogs would get -- they'd hold up their paw and we'd rub their -- rub it. It toughens their pads, you know.

And I remember putting -- putting mukluks, we called them mukluks on the dogs. Especially towards spring.

You know, they -- they just are regular -- like a little bag with a couple string.

And mom would make them out of canvas. Put them on there so they don't cut their feet.

KAREN BREWSTER: That's when you lived up in Teller?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Teller. Nome. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: You guys used dogs? Yeah.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Our last team when we moved to Nome, they just -- we just kept them until they died off. They died off one by one.

We didn't go out and -- a lot of people go out and -- when they are done with a dog, they shoot it.

We didn't believe in that. They are part of the family.

I know people that when the dog was no good, they just take them out and shoot them, you know. I don't believe in that.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So when you came to Seward, you didn't start up with a dog team?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. There was no dogs here. In the early days, though, I remember seeing pictures of dog teams on this main street here.

Yeah. I think it was a lot colder in the older days.

KAREN BREWSTER: Have you noticed a difference just since you've lived here?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, yeah. I think it's -- I think it's warmer. I remember a north wind used to blow, you'd work on the dock and you would come -- after 10 hours,

you would come back and your face would be all red from the wind and it would take three or four hours before it would go down. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Over the years of hunting did you notice any changes like in the ice of the glaciers or of the ice fields?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I never paid attention.

KAREN BREWSTER: You never -- you never walked up -- went up the glacier up into the ice field?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. I've been to the base of it, you know, and just to look at it.

RACHEL MASON: Maybe you could tell us a little about when they first started talking about building that road, the Herman Leirer --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Herman Leirer, yeah. I don't know, he just -- you know, I worked construction, he just came and got me because he knew I worked that kind of work, you know.

RACHEL MASON: Did he tell you or do you have an idea why he wanted to build the road?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: They wanted to build it to the glacier. RACHEL MASON: Uh hum.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: So he thought it would help the community to have a road there where tourists come and look at it, you know.

I remember we'd drill and we'd load our holes, and I remember one time there was a pickup parked down the road, and we were going to shoot,

and I told Herman, I said, let me walk through the shot one more time, make sure nobody's there. "Oh, nobody's there," he said.

But what happened is two guys went up and they went that way, went beyond us, and came down, and when I walked down there to where the shot was,

they were walking right -- right in the middle of the -- they didn't know, you know. And we would of blew them up.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, gee. What year was that when you first started doing it?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: That was in the '70s, I think, yeah. I remember I hated to -- all this bare ground, all these little birds would land there,

and I'd try to shoo them away and I'd walk back to -- and I'd look back and they are right back in there.

I didn't want to blow them up, you know. But we had to. Yeah.

I'd chase them away, and then by the time I turned around and walked back, they'd be landing again, so we'd just have to shoot.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Can you show on the map where you were doing that blasting?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I don't know. Just --

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember where?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: It's this side of Blackstone Point.

KAREN BREWSTER: On the north side of the river?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. On that side.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. Yeah, if you could mark it here. Here's Blackstone Point. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: And here's the road.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. It's -- they were -- wherever there was, you know --

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, you can actually write on there.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Actually, I don't know where we are at here. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Wherever you saw, wherever we saw -- RACHEL MASON: Okay. I'll just write.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- rock, we had to go through it, you know, we couldn't go around it.

KAREN BREWSTER: So it's wherever there was rock that came right down to the river?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. We had to -- we had to drill it and shoot it.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did you have to do that a lot?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Quite a bit.

KAREN BREWSTER: So how did you know how to do that?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I just -- I just worked with the driller. He -- he was the one. He was a powder man and I helped him.

I remember making the primers at Herman's basement.

We'd take a piece of dynamite, run the screwdriver through there and take your primer cord and tie it, and then you'd drop it down the bottom with a shot.

Then you'd put your fertilizer, you know, just that explosive is nothing but fertilizer and you put diesel oil on it.

Let it sit for several hours. Then you load your hole with it. It's explosive --

RACHEL MASON: it sounds like it. Yeah.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- after you put diesel oil in it. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Was it just you and Herman working on that?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah -- no, Herman and Leon Maloney. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: He was a regular driller and powder -- powder man.

RACHEL MASON: How did Herman know to come to you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: He knew I worked construction. Yeah. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: What's -- oh. I just wanted to know if everybody in the community supported that idea, or if you had to fight to get to build the road.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, they didn't seem to have a -- there wasn't any opposition, I don't think. I never heard of any.

Another one that worked once in awhile is Del Branson. He'd -- sometimes he'd fill in.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so how were you getting paid for that work? Did Herman just pay you or you worked for free?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. It was appropriated money and they paid us union scale, you know. So they paid us good.

I remember when twelve o'clock came, I could hear the coyotes yelling, we knew it was twelve o'clock.

But they could hear the -- you know, they hear the whistle down here. We couldn't hear it but they could.

Yeah, they'd start howling, and Herman would say well, it's lunchtime, he said.

RACHEL MASON: Did they make a -- make food for you or did you have to bring your own lunch?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Oh, we brought our own lunch, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: It's not like --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: They didn't give us nothing. We even -- sometime we even use our own vehicles to go up there. Most of the time we did. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I heard it was Foster Brothers Construction Company? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. They --

KAREN BREWSTER: They were involved?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: They did the Cat work.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you didn't work for them?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I worked for -- I don't know who I worked for. I worked for Herman.

Well, actually, Herman, I don't know what they called it, but the -- they appropriated money in Juneau, and that's how we got to get to work.

RACHEL MASON: We heard something about start -- it starting out the road in one -- one direction and then it ended up having to be on another place. Do you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I don't remember that. We were the early -- they might have changed it after, you know.

RACHEL MASON: Changing it --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: After awhile, they -- they put it out for bid and they got a regular construction company, so I don't know anything about that.

KAREN BREWSTER: So where did you start putting the road in? Off the highway, where did you come out, start out?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, it was -- there was a -- there was a road out there by --

RACHEL MASON: Here's the Tom Gillespie's place. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Seavey Corner.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, there was a road up through about here. There was a few people living here.

And Dr. Gentles in here someplace. And the real road started about here.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: After you get away from the flats, you know.

KAREN BREWSTER: So there was already a road to Seavey's house? Was Seavey out there?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. He's -- that wasn't Seavey's then, it belonged to some --

KAREN BREWSTER: Rutledge?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I forgot his name.

KAREN BREWSTER: Was Rutledge the name? I think that's who Seavey bought it from. But out to there, there was --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Another thing, I used to -- in October, when it was -- when it was stormy,

Dan Wheeler and I would go up Box Canyon because the goats would come right down and we could shoot them right from the canyon floor.

RACHEL MASON: Was that after you built the road?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, that was before.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: There was a road just to where Seavey's is now.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And then you'd walk in from there?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. That -- Box Canyon used to be -- that's where the -- you usually see the first black bear, you know, I'd walk up there just -- sometime I'd just take a hike, and take my rifle.

I didn't hunt anything, I just went for a hike.

DON CALLAWAY: What -- how about the earthquake and the tsunami?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: We lived on the -- you know that green building out there.

There was a community on the other side there. Five or six families. And the earthquake destroyed it.

DON CALLAWAY: Were you in town?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I was out there when it hit. My wife's a nurse, she was at the Wesleyan.

My other older boy was 11 years old, he was at the dentist, and I was home with my 3 year old boy.

And it just started shaking. He was playing on the other side of the room with his little truck, and my wife made stew just --

the stove was over here, and it just came and hit the wall.

And I grabbed my little boy and I tried to get out of the house, and the doors were jammed, so I just kicked them down, and went outside and my car was just bouncing and black water shooting out of the cracks of the ground.

And my neighbor down the road, Geo Nelson (phonetic), he said, "Percy, what are we going to do?" I said, "We better get the hell out of here." He said, "Well, I'm going to wait around and see."

And then I went down the road and the culverts had popped up and Joe Lemas (phonetic), my other neighbor, was there, he said, "What are we going to do?"

And I said, "Well, I'm going." I went and hit bottom when I went over them and I got through.

DON CALLAWAY: Oh, wow.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And headed towards town, and the Airport Road -- we used to call the Airport Road -- there was debris all over there from the shockwaves.

And I looked out and there was a big, black swell coming, so I poured the coal to that car, and debris and everything, I think I tore something because it quit.

I stopped and grabbed my boy and ran to the highway.

And the next morning, when I looked, my -- you know where they keep the horse at the end of town here, Herman Leirer's property, I -- my car was in that pasture.

RACHEL MASON: Wow. What happened to your boy that was at the dentist?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: He start running home, and my sister and brother in law were coming from Anchorage and they saw him running and they grabbed him; otherwise, I wouldn't know where he was.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so your house was destroyed? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. That's --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Then two neighbors, Jim Elliott and Chip went out there, they were going to see if anybody was left there,

and they spent the night in a tree, and they said the waves would come and the dogs would run ahead of it barking, and the water would go down, they'd go back where the houses were.

RACHEL MASON: You said your wife was at Wesleyan. Was that in Anchorage or

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. That's -- it was the Wesleyan Hospital next to the mountain up here.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, what happened to her during the earthquake?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, she -- I came -- after I got my kids out to Forest Acres, I went and got her.

Yeah. And we stayed -- we stayed out at Forest Acres.

Next morning, four o'clock, I grabbed my family and put my little boy in a sleeping bag, we walked out to -- three miles out there, a friend of mine, stayed with him for a...

KAREN BREWSTER: So that night in Forest Acres, you were just camping out?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, we went to a house in Forest Acres. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. Okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Everybody was there, though. There was aftershocks and a bunch of old women and they started yelling and praying. RACHEL MASON: Oh, gee.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I was glad to get out of there.

RACHEL MASON: Did you -- did your house get restored or how -- PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. No.

RACHEL MASON: What did you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Nobody -- they -- they wouldn't let anybody build out there anymore.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you built a new house someplace?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. I bought one in Forest Acres. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

KAREN BREWSTER: It must have been a busy time for your wife as a nurse, huh, after the earthquake?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. She didn't work for a while, though. She wanted -- we didn't have a house or anything, we had to try to -- hard to find a place after the quake. KAREN BREWSTER: Sure.

RACHEL MASON: Sure. Yeah. There must have been a lot of people out of a home.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. All this lower end of town, that's -- that was destroyed. That -- where --

where the boat harbor is, that's all -- I worked on a dredge that brought all that fill, that came from the sea, that whole lower end of town. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I didn't think it would compact. It didn't -- I thought all the fines would wash out of there but it did compact after awhile.

DON CALLAWAY: Did you think of leaving Seward after the quake?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I thought about it, but there was quite a bit of work. And all my family was here, you know.

Is there a bathroom around here? KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. (Recess.)

KAREN BREWSTER: I just had some more questions on the road, and your experience of working on the road.

And what that was like. And it seems like that is -- was that hard ground to build a road through?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. It was. It was -- some places was hard and other places was -- you know, we were going through the trees, why we'd fall them and then the Cats would come in and push -- push everything out of the way.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, so you were cutting the trees by hand? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Chainsaw.

KAREN BREWSTER: Chainsaw. Yeah. That's what I meant by hand. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: What year did you start working on that road, do you remember?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I forgot. It was in the '70s, I know. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Or late '60s. I don't know.

KAREN BREWSTER: And how -- what time of year did you work on it?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: We worked in the winter. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: How come you worked in the winter?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I don't know. That's -- seemed like we just did it in the winter.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you didn't have to deal with swamps and mosquitos and --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, that's one thing, the swamps and bugs and stuff.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Well, after you were done, did that make a big difference in how many people came up to the glacier?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, I think it did, yeah. Before they used to walk -- very few of them would walk up there because --

the hunters walked up there, and that was about it, I guess.

Oh, there was a lot of -- later on in the years, there was sightseers that would go up there just to take -- take pictures, you know.

RACHEL MASON: Did it help your hunting out at all to have a road going up there?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I didn't hunt there much after the road. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you think having the road was a negative thing for your hunting?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. It was easier. I'd drive right to the bottom of the place we hunted and climb up.

There was three ridges came down, I think, and I forgot which one, but if you didn't take the right one, you got into trouble.

RACHEL MASON: And did the establishment of the Park in 1980, did that affect your hunting and your use of that area in any way?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Well, I was getting where I didn't hunt that much, and in the '80s here, I'd go up north and hunt because it was easier. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you never did any -- trying to hike all the way up this Resurrection Valley and -- PERCY BLATCHFORD: No, I never did. KAREN BREWSTER: -- up there?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. I had friends that had planes that used to go up there and land someplace and hunt moose. I remember --

KAREN BREWSTER: People didn't talk about using that Exit Glacier valley up there?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, the -- they did years ago, I guess. But it would be mostly in the second season they'd -- this is when the moose was scarce, you know, they'd go up there and hunt.

I remember Aron saying that hunting up there by Moose Pass. It was just a trail then. He said he'd pull his sled.

He had a sled they called a Yukon sled. It was just a flat sled, you know. He'd pull that with his gear.

KAREN BREWSTER: Sounds like he was a pretty tough guy.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. He was. A little skinny guy. You wouldn't think he's -- but he was tougher than nails. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

KAREN BREWSTER: He was Swedish you said? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: How did you get to know him?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I worked with him. Yeah. He was a finish carpenter, real -- he did all the -- a lot of the finish work around town here.

DON CALLAWAY: What about -- there was an attempt to have Native peoples recognized in the town of Seward. Were you --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. We are -- now, you mean? DON CALLAWAY: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: In recent years. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. We -- RACHEL MASON: It's going on now.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: We started a tribe called the Qutekcak Tribe, which in the Aleutic language means a big beach.

We're working on tribal recognition now. We haven't got it, but we're working on it.

But we served, I forgot how many hundred people from here to Hope, Native people we -- my wife is one of the founders.

I was one of the original ones, but I dropped out. They all would say the Blatchfords are getting into everything, so I -- people get jealous, I guess they say.

Blatchfords get into everything there is around.

KAREN BREWSTER: Why did you guys decide to try and organize as a tribe?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Because we couldn't -- they used to get funds from the ANS, and about five days after you'd go up to the hospital and they'd say, oh, the funds are all gone.

There was no accounting of it. So I think we put a stop to that.

And we -- we had -- I figure we had to do something for our people, you know. They were kind of put back on the back burner, you know.

DON CALLAWAY: So tribal recognition brings with it Federal funds for a lot of services?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, if we get Federal recognition, you get funds. And they are giving us some now, but not as much as -- we've got our own building down here right down the street down here.

Before we used to meet -- I worked at AVTEC for one winter, and I got to know Bob Boulier (phonetic) pretty good, and if we'd need a place to meet, I'd just call him up and he'd give me a key to one of the rooms, you know.

DON CALLAWAY: So are you going through the BIA recognition process? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, that's what it is.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know what -- what year you started trying to do that?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: '70 or '71, I think. '71 or '72. It was just a few of us start it. And gradually kept growing and growing.

And now we've got Bear Mountain Apartments, and I don't know how many homes, you know.

A lot of them -- some of them we'd have White people in there, too, you know, because you can't --

RACHEL MASON: Discriminate.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: -- you can't discriminate too much, you know.

DON CALLAWAY: So these are extended care facilities, in a sense? PERCY BLATCHFORD: Pardon?

DON CALLAWAY: These are extended care facilities?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: We didn't have -- the only ones was Wesleyan up here, but they took anybody, you know. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So how -- do you have a sense of how the community of Seward has responded to your efforts?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Pretty good. Yeah. They are -- I lived in Nome and there was a lot of discrimination there when I was a kid.

And not on the surface, but you can notice it, you know. Like I remember the Native, they'd get -- they didn't get the real good jobs, you know.

Seward has been pretty good to Natives, though.

KAREN BREWSTER: You haven't felt that discrimination?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. Once in awhile, you run into some -- of course, you run into that every -- anywhere, you know.

DON CALLAWAY: What did you say, after your mom got out of the sanitarium where did your mom and dad move to?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: They stayed right here. DON CALLAWAY: Oh, they stayed here?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: They're both buried out here at the cemetery.

DON CALLAWAY: Did your mom recover?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, she recovered and lived to be 83. DON CALLAWAY: Oh, okay.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I remember when she was sick in Nome, I remember the doctor saying she's not going to make it, you know, and she said, I'm going to -- I'm not going to die, I got all my little kids to take care of. And she lived.

RACHEL MASON: All right. That's good.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is there anything else about the work you did on the road that we haven't asked you about you want to mention? Any of your memories of being on that road crew?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I remember one time the -- we shot on that side and one line didn't go off. And they wanted me to go in and try to find it, and it was just hanging like this.

You know. And I said, no, I don't think I should do that. Well, we were talking, and the thing came down, and I found the line anyway and retied it and we shot it.

And the guy I was with, he never -- he never told me to go back in that much. I wasn't going anywhere. I looked at it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, it sounds like scary work, working with all those explosives. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, it was. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Nobody ever got hurt?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: No. We kind of watched it. If you don't watch it, you're done.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you work on the road every year, or you worked off and on? How did that operation go?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I worked just about every year there for a while, and then they -- when they got money, they bid -- bid it out and a regular contractor came and did it.

KAREN BREWSTER: They finished it off?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. We just started, you know, going through the bad spots.

And then Maloney, he was a Catskinner, too, he'd -- he'd bring in fill and put it in the bad spots. But it was kind of a shoestring operation.

KAREN BREWSTER: So it was kind of a rough road when you were doing it?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. It was drivable. I'd drive my pickup up there, yeah. Because I kept a chainsaw in the back of the truck. Once in a while you'd run into a tree, I'd knock it down and push it out of the way.

RACHEL MASON: Gee. And you said you're the last one left that --

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I'm the only one left. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: All the other guys are dead.

DON CALLAWAY: What were your experiences during the World War? What branch of the Service were you in?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I was in the Army. My two brothers were in there, too.

I was in right at the tail end, the war was just about over.

But my brother was in England, but he didn't get in the fighting, he just -- it was right after the war he said that they crossed a channel, he said that was the roughest ride he had ever been in. 20 miles across.

He said the GIs were puking all over the place, you know. And my -- he was supposed to meet my Auntie over there, but he never got a chance.

They kept in contact, you know. Since dad died, we lost track of our relatives in England.

KAREN BREWSTER: You said you were stationed at Fort Rich?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah. I was an MP up there. And then I was at Big D, Delta, they call it Delta Junction now.

I remember we were supposed to be on patrol, and I took the Jeep, go down to the dump, because that's where all the buffalo were. They finally fenced it off.

RACHEL MASON: Big D.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that's what they used to call it. PERCY BLATCHFORD: Yeah, Big D, they called it.

RACHEL MASON: Well, can you think of anything else that you need to tell us about Seward or about the road?

PERCY BLATCHFORD: I just know that the -- the head of bay, there wasn't anything out there years ago.

That railroad dock wasn't there. It was a little stream by there and John Paulsteiner had a little shack, powder shack we called it, he kept all his dynamite in there.

RACHEL MASON: Oh.

PERCY BLATCHFORD: And that big green building, you see that used to be the Army communications center out there.

They used to have a big -- oh, antennas up there -- not antennas, I mean big, tall, you know, all metal.

In fact, the bases are still there out there. I remember that building right -- right next to it, there was an artesian well, every spring it would open up and run.

The best tasting water you ever drank. And we drilled -- after the quake, we drilled out here by the railroad dock, it must be the same -- same artesian well, because the water came up there real -- real good water.