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Milt and Cora Holmes
Milt and Cora Holmes
Milt and Cora Holmes talk about strange experiences in Chernofski, Alaska.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2009-16-02

Project: Unalaska Communities of Memory
Date of Interview: Apr 26, 1996
Narrator(s): Milt and Cora Holmes
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Humanities Forum
Alternate Transcripts
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Ghosts on Chernofski

Cora's experiences at Chernofski

Weaving on her loom in the barn

Oldest son's strange experiences in Chernofski

Changes in Unalaska

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RAY HUDSON: Okay, Milt and Cora, we'll turn it over to you folks. MILT HOLMES: Okay. Somebody wanted to hear some ghost stories. This is about as close to a ghost story as I know.

I spent a lot of time by myself down there at Chernofski and Kashega, around various places. I rode into Kashega one night and it was getting dark and I staked my horse out and went in and fixed some supper and got ready to go to bed and put the dog out on the porch.

Well he wouldn't go out on the porch. No way was he going to stay on that porch. He was just really scared of something. I don't know what it was.

But he was scared to stay out there on that porch and he never stayed in the house, the home. I never let him stay in the house but there was no way he was going to stay out on that porch.

So I let him come in the house and I went to bed and nothing bothered me during the night. That dog sure thought there was something around there.

Go ahead.

Cora Holmes: That was a short ghost story. Milt Holmes: Well, short ghost.

CORA HOLMES: Yeah, well, when you stay at Chernofski, it's a different planet. It's not the same as here at all. We live in a different century.

And, we really do feel the third dimensional affect of isolation and solitude and a lot of history that’s gone on down there. And there are several places on the ranch where it's more noticeable than others.

One of them is the barn, which I will not go into after dark, even to shut up the dogs. And another one is between the corral and the generator house.

If I have to go out after dark and turn off the generator, I can hardly do it. I can hardly make myself go past the cattle chute because there's something there.

I mean, it's just a presence there. So if I'm there by myself I only run the generator in the daytime even if I want lights at night. I just run it in the daytime because there's something there.

Anyway, I don't think anybody has ever been bothered out there when two of us were there. But if only one of us is there, then we have company.

And a couple years ago Milton was in town. He was in Anchorage and I was there by myself because all the Canadian cowboys went down on the west end and left me by myself.

And I was too chicken to ask one of them to stay there with me. So I was there all by myself. And I fed their horses and it got darker and darker and I'm a spinner and a hand weaver and I had my studio in the loft of the barn.

So I had my big track loom out there and I'm making a rug and I have a little, I had a little combination of lines that I did. Five lines of weft, two lines of ties, five lines of weft.

I always left off at the same time. It was quite a simple twill weave. Something that I was not going to mess up, probably: And I stopped where I always stop, at the end of the weft, before I started tying my knots and I went into the house and turned on my lamp and stayed in my baby bathroom all night where I could see all four walls (Laughter)

And the next morning I went back out to the loft and someone had been weaving on my loom.

Audience member: Were they good? (Laughter) Because it had been, it was different. Nobody was there. It was very strange.

Then about the next six hours until somebody came back from the west end was very difficult for me. Because something had definitely weaved on my loom.

And it wasn't unpleasant. It didn't threaten me. But somebody from another dimension just said "hello."

And they do that to Chuck, too. My oldest boy. He was there alone and he's been there alone a lot.

And he's walked from here to Chernofski and from Chernofski back. So he's been, he's had a lot of solitude. He's a guitar player and he has his amplifiers and he has them all set up with batteries and invertors and all these things.

And he was, he had everything all set up in the living room and he was playing his guitar. He went out in the evening to do all his chores, feed the horses, feed the chickens, shut the dogs.

When he came back in all of his battery cables had been changed. and his amplifier didn't work. So Chuck and I are believers. (Laughter) So those are my ghost stories.

And while I still have the floor I wanted to comment on what Kathy said about the village and about what, I don't know the names here very well because I'm not very well acquainted,

with the fellow who said he didn't think he would live long enough to see paved streets here in Unalaska.

Well, I think this is the first time in four years that I've been in the village for any length of time and it worried me that I saw paved streets and sidewalks in Unalaska. And I wondered if the village could survive that kind of ... [inaudible] ... and we stood in that church and held our candles,

and it was drafty and everybody stood on both sides, and then we went to, and that was a hundred year old church. Then we went to the memorial and threw our roses in the water.

And that beach had been there for a thousand years. And then we went to the new Senior Citizen Center that had been there for six months. And it was all the same. I mean the village is still here underneath the pavement, underneath the ... so I was glad to see that. Okay, that's mine.