This is a continuation of the interview with Fred Elvsaas on August 8, 2008 by Charles Mobley for the Seldovia Sewer and Water Monitoring -- Archeological Monitoring Project at Fred's home in Seldovia, Alaska. This is Side B of the first part of a two part interview. In this part of the interview, Fred continues to talk about growing up in Seldovia, and various buildings and businesses in the community. He also talks about Seldovia getting running water and sewer, the local sawmill, as well as fishtraps and canneries.
Digital Asset Information
Date of Interview: Aug 8, 2008
Narrator(s): Fred Elvsaas
Interviewer(s): Charles Mobley
Transcriber: Jan Yaeger
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Telegraph system in Seldovia
Playing on rope swing on Cap's Hill, and getting in trouble as a kid
Describing the different school buildings in Seldovia
Seldovia's first water system
Road and bridges in Seldovia
Sawdust from the sawmill
Buying groceries and supplies
Movie theater and going to the movies
1964 Alaska Earthquake
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CHARLES MOBLEY: The wireless tele --
FRED ELVSAAS: Right on top of the hill, they had several poles put up, antenna poles. And they had at that time, the telegraph system was wooden poles with the antenna, a wire antenna stretched between them.
And he had it in a configuration so that, as he explained it to us, no matter which way the weather was, the storms and the electric storms, whatnot and the aurora, he was able pick up wireless signals from San Francisco.
And Puget Sound at any time. But he said a single wire just wouldn't do it.
And he was a good friend of mine after I got married. But he had the telegraph station and he had the broadcast.
And he also was the radio contact between the fish canneries and the fish boats at first. The fish plants didn't have their own radios. They weren't that common in those days and so -- and many of the boats didn't even have radios.
Most of the boats in those days had just a compass.
And so Cap's Hill was an area in the middle of town with -- there was only one house up on top of the hill and a fellow named Bob Tibbles built up there during the forties. And --
But on the back slope, there was a large tree with a hawser-type rope that all the kids, and a lot of grown-ups even, enjoyed as a merry-go-round.
And they cut the limbs off the tree and so forth and you could swing out, way out over in the air and you know, it would be disaster if you ever fell, but we didn't.
And it was just, you know, a great place to play with all the kids. And people of all ages liked to use the rope. And I haven't a clue who put the rope up, but somebody climbed that tree and did it.
And the rope was probably, oh, maybe twenty-five feet up in the tree, because it was a big, heavy rope and it had a loop on the bottom for a long time, and then later just a knot when the loop broke. And it was just a lot of fun there.
And then it sloped down along the boardwalk. Then we had a couple of homes, and, of course, Shortleys had the meat store. And he would get meat in on the ships.
And anything that he didn't sell -- he would bring in halves of beef and butcher them up and people would buy meat from him. And then what wasn't gonna keep, he would salt.
So he always had salt meat. But he also had a lot of hams and bacons and chickens and stuff of that sort for people that wanted to buy meat. And he -- if you wanted pork chops, he would cut them out of a side of a hog.
And we always thought it was interesting to see everything he had, because, you know, a meat store has that smell of fresh kill or whatever you want to call it. And whenever we could go in there, we'd buy something for our folks if we had to run to the store.
And he would -- you'd have to go to his house, which was adjacent to the store, and get him and he would have to go through this big rigamarole of what a hard time it was to get to -- just to sell, you know, fifty cents-worth of meat and all this.
We had to listen to all this and as kids, we thought it was funny, but, you know, you have to put up with it 'cause we couldn't sass anybody or we'd catch the devil when we got home.
And there was no telephones in Seldovia in those days, but our mother seemed to know what was going on. If we got in trouble on the other end of town, my mother knew about it before I got home.
And that happened more than once. Quite a few times more than once. CHARLES MOBLEY: Yeah? FRED ELVSAAS: 'Cause --
CHARLES MOBLEY: What kinds of -- what kinds of trouble did you get into?
FRED ELVSAAS: Mostly fighting with the other kids, and stuff. Me and my brothers, we'd -- we would wrestle and fight with each other, but if somebody else interfered, you know, we stuck together.
And, of course, people would complain about the Elvsaas boys ganging up on this kid or that kid and so forth. And maybe we did. I don't remember.
It seemed to me the odds were even. I don't remember, but -- but it was just the way kids grow up, you know. And we played together and we fought together and --
CHARLES MOBLEY: What was the school like? What was your school experience?
FRED ELVSAAS: Well, initially, the first school was -- of course, the original school was where the church is, the Russian Church. The middle section of the church was built as a school to start with, before it was a church.
And that was, you know, back in the 1800s. And then the Bureau of Indian Affairs built a school right downtown. And they built a fairly large building.
The -- they were large classrooms with the high ceilings, you know, which in those days, high ceilings were crazy because it was hard to heat. And they heated with coal.
CHARLES MOBLEY: Is that it? (shows a photograph) FRED ELVSAAS: No.
CHARLES MOBLEY: That's not it? FRED ELVSAAS: No, no. No, the -- no.
This is where the school was built later. It was two stories. But this is in the same spot. And it could be that they added a second floor.
But it was bigger than this. And it was up off the ground. CHARLES MOBLEY: Uh-huh.
FRED ELVSAAS: It was about -- the steps going into the BIA school was about, oh, five, six steps up. So that was probably built before I can remember.
CHARLES MOBLEY: This was -- this was there in -- it shows up in a 1906 survey.
FRED ELVSAAS: Yeah, see, yeah, that's long before I can remember. And -- but it was -- it was a large -- two large rooms on the ground floor that had classes.
There was a central storage area, and then there was stairs going upstairs and there was rooms up there, but they were lower ceiling and they were teacher quarters.
So they had one end for the women teachers, one for the men. And I think they had like three or four teachers there. I don't remember exactly.
And then the territory built the territorial school. And it was up near where the -- that paint shop and metal shop and stuff is for the school now. That big cement block building there.
That was built after World War II as an armory/gymnasium. They built several in Alaska at the time. I think Bob Bartlett managed to get the government to build these so-called armories so schools would have gyms. Because we didn't have a gym.
And the territorial school was four rooms as classrooms with a recreation room and that wound up being an additional school room. And so then they had the -- you know, K-12, and the high school had a lot of classes down in the basement which was low ceiling and beams and stuff.
And that's where the furnace was and the coal pile and so forth. But they made part of that as the school also.
And if you go up and look now, down in front of where the territorial school is, the cement steps are still there. I -- a couple years ago I went up and checked and they were still there.
And, of course, nobody needs cement steps, willing to pack them. They were quite wide, tapered, going on up to the school.
And it was considered quite modern. You know, it had flush toilets. I imagine they piped it down to under the boardwalk and out, because the first flush toilets in Seldovia all drained right into the slough.
Everybody along the slough, their toilets drained into the slough.
CHARLES MOBLEY: When -- when were the first flush toilets?
FRED ELVSAAS: Well, about -- about 1940, '41, somewheres right in there. The WPA, the Works Progress Administration, under President Roosevelt, they put the first water system in.
And I think Mr. Malcolm was the foreman on the project. And my dad worked on it. And they hand-dug all the ditches. 'Cause that's the only way to dig. There was no mechanical diggers.
And they built a log dam not quite as far up as the present dam. And from there they had a trestle that they built the box around and insulated the pipe. And then from there it went into the ground and down the hill and across the airport, just similars to what the pipeline is now.
And there was -- the reducing station was on this side of the slough. And as they -- as they built the line, people would plug into the -- to the line. So they would -- they would build a section of line to a valve station and then turn the water on there and go from it.
So people -- as the line was built, people were getting water. Now, when the ditch went by our house, it was about, oh, ten feet from our basement wall.
And my dad measured the depth to the pipe and then he went in our basement and measured the same depth. And he took a piece of galvanized pipe with a cap on the end of it, and he hammered it through the dirt. To the -- so we didn't have to dig a ditch. It was already like, oh, about four feet under the ground.
And so he had the thing all ready, so when they put the valves in the pipe, they just hooked in and he had a valve on the inside in our basement, and we had running water.
And from there, he piped it up into the kitchen and made a -- with a can, he made a drain that drained out into the slough. So we could turn the water on. It would run all day and it would just run right to the slough, see? If we wanted to, but, of course, our mother wouldn't let us.
And so we had cold water running. I mean, it was a miracle. We didn't have to pack water no more. And it was a great day for us!
And other homes, when the pipe went by them, they put in a fitting for them, and a valve, but they didn't -- they didn't get around to -- they either didn't have the pipe or they weren't ready and so forth.
Now, our neighbor, John Olsen, he was ready and our neighbor across the street, the Olsens, they put their water in all at the same time we did. We all got water the same day.
And then the pipeline went on down through town and went clear to the end of town. There was two places where they had blow-out valves for high pressure.
And if the pressure built up for whatever reason, those blow-outs would open. And one was under the boardwalk so you could tell if there was a problem and they'd call the water people and they'd take care of it.
But when Seldovia got running water, that was a real big day for everybody. And -- but it didn't all happen in one day. It took a long time.
And at the same time, they had the CCC - Civilian Conservation Corps - working building a road, supposedly to go to Port Graham, but it got up to the head of Seldovia.
And at that time, the pipeline ran right down the trail. Our trail along here was only four feet wide. Wide enough to put a wheelbarrow or a sled.
And it wasn't like today. And so if we had -- everybody shoveled snow. Everybody that lived along, you know, we had to go out and shovel the snow.
And we also put ashes when it was icy. Everybody had coal ashes and you didn't just throw them away in the wintertime. You saved them for the street.
And so when you got home, your feet were full of muddy ashes material. And my folks had these mats and you had to take your shoes off and we wore slippers in the house and we used these lace-up boots was common in those days and show pacs.
And shoe pacs were something we all liked because you could slip into them so easy. And you could wade with them, where, if you wore the leather boots, you had to keep them greased for waterproofing.
But you know, for a kid in those days, those were important things. Taking care of your shoes and taking care of your boots and it was really a big deal and today kids don't think of that. You know, they just cry to their momma to get a new pair of shoes.
And everything we got had to come from Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward and there was stores here, but my folks ordered from the catalog a lot.
And then as the road went on down to where the boardwalk started, you see, it got wider and wider, so the road kind of just naturally widened.
And then the bridge that we had at the time was a cantilevered bridge, because boats had to come up to the sawmill to pick up lumber and so forth.
And there was a bridgetender lived right where that bridgetender's house is, Mr. Garner, and he had a system. The far side of the bridge worked on a cantilever, so if you let the first part go, it would lift automatically. And it had a rope hanging down.
And we always watched when a boat went through with rigging because the rope would glide along their rigging and, you know, it never got snagged. Never did that I know of. But we always watched to see if it would.
And then, this side of the bridge, you had to crank it up and crank it down. And so when you cranked the bridge down, Mr. Garner was an elderly, humpback man and he would let us crank the bridge, you know. And we liked it, you know, and it was not that easy to do.
But when you got so far, there was a mark where you had to stop. On the rail of the bridge, it was marked. Then you could reach out and get the line from the other side and pull that bridge down.
Pull that part of the cantilever down with the rope. And then you laid the one bridge down on top of the other. Then it was open again for traffic.
And, of course, it was only a walking bridge. It wasn't wide enough for a vehicle.
And then later they built what was called the yellow bridge. The old -- the initial bridge wasn't painted.
Before that, they had anchored boards down in the slough, where people could cross at low tide, but that was before I could remember. My first memories was the cantilever bridge and then Mr. Garner, when everything was secure, and there was pins he had to put in the bridge to make sure it was secure.
He would take the crank home and he never let us have the crank. Unless he was standing there.
And -- but whoever designed it, built the bridge, you know, really engineered it right. It was wide enough that large boats could come up in the slough at high tide.
And they had barges where they loaded the lumber on at low tide and they would tow them on out. And up to the fish canneries and so forth around Cook Inlet.
But it was a very busy sawmill. There was about eight or nine men working there all the time. And --
CHARLES MOBLEY: Was it noisy? FRED ELVSAAS: Huh?
CHARLES MOBLEY: Was it noisy?
FRED ELVSAAS: It had a one-cylinder Fairbanks-Morris engine, with a -- it had a fourteen-inch piston with a sixteen-inch stroke on it.
In later years, I worked it, so I got to know the engine very well. And to start it, (phone rings) you had (break)
CHARLES MOBLEY: -- banks-Morris --
FRED ELVSAAS: Oh, the engine? CHARLES MOBLEY: Engine.
FRED ELVSAAS: Yeah, that old engine, it run the sawmill for years. And when it would start running, it would go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, as it would fire. And every time it fired, it would make these smoke rings through the stack.
So you could see, on a calm day, you could see the smoke rings going up in the sky. And beings right over there, it was fairly close to the house and we always heard it, you know, real, real loud.
And whenever they were sawing, in a hard log or pulling logs up out of the millpond, you could hear the engine slow down.
But it would stand there and it was on a cement block and it would jump and after about forty years, when they took all this down, --
CHARLES MOBLEY: That sawmill was running for forty years, you think?
FRED ELVSAAS: Oh yes, yes. Let's see, it ran through the thirties, the forties, the fifties and into the sixties. And then it collapsed from snow.
And that was the end of the sawmill. But the engine bolts that held it in the cement block -- there was about a half-inch of space around it. Just from the vibrations. It wore the concrete out.
And it actually wasn't bolted down. It was just sitting. The weight of the engine kept it from falling off the concrete. And there was a small, hand-crank motor that pumped air to start -- the engine started with air.
And it was a great thing to be in the engine room when the engine started, you know. 'Cause it was belt-driven shafts to the sawmill and you would see the main flywheel, which was about six foot high and probably weighed in the neighborhood of three or four tons.
Heavy, heavy flywheel. And it would turn the belts and as the belts would go, we used to put things on the belt. And to see how far they'd go, because we knew when they got to the big flywheel, they would get smashed. Pieces of wood and so forth.
And they'd come out the other side just all pulverized. And, of course, the mill owner at that time was Mr. Murphy, and he would chase us out, you know.
But the sawmill at that time, the sawdust from the mill was by a chain drive, taken up into a large hopper car. And they had railroad tracks going out into the swamp by Lake Susan, where my brother's warehouses are now.
And this -- this track was up on a trestle about six feet above the ground. And so then they would go out with the cart full of sawdust. They pushed it by hand.
And that was one thing they let us kids do, you know. We -- we did a lot of things that people let us do that actually was work for them.
But, then they'd pull the pin and let all the sawdust out. And then we had fresh sawdust to play in and so forth. And it was -- it was a great sawdust pile there for years and years.
And people would come and get sawdust for insulation in the homes. And matter of fact, the insulation in our house was sawdust. My dad poured it in as he built the house.
But the sawmill, you know, cranked out a lot of local, domestic lumber. But the big thing was the boardwalk contracts and the timber for the fishtraps and things like that. The bigger the timbers they could cut, the better money they made.
In later years, the saw -- the track was taken down and they just dumped the sawdust and it went into the slough. And which really wasn't good for the fish. And there was lot of herring in the slough at the time. And some salmon and then, of course, all the humpies that went up Fish Creek.
But there would be times when the tide would take sawdust up into the lagoon to where the lagoon was covered with sawdust. And then it would all absorb the water and either drift out or wash up on the shores.
But, you know, within a few days it was gone. But I recall a lot of people talking about that. How terrible it was.
And I couldn't understand why it was terrible, but that was the thing. But the sawmill did a lot of good in that it produced a material and they brought logs in from Dogfish Bay, down south of Port Graham, and up Seldovia Bay. And even up Fish Creek, they drug logs out from there with a small Cat.
And also up in Tutka Bay area. And anyway, up in that area.
But -- so they brought logs in in large rafts. And they would bring -- some of the rafts were too large to get through the bridge. They were too wide. So they'd have to break them up down in the bay and tow up smaller rafts.
And they had a couple of boats, fishing boats, that would work for them and do that.
And the mill was originally built by a fellow named Martin Peterson and Zenas Beach Sr., who calls -- called Shorty Beach. I doubt that many people knew his real name.
They built the mill together. And they built a couple of boats out of the lumber they cut in the mill. And then they sold it to Mr. Murphy.
And Murphy sold the mill to Casey Patton, who ran it for several years. And then he sold to Mr. Svedlund. And Mr. Svedlund owned it at the time that the snow collapsed it.
And that was the end of the mill, at that point. Also, right across the slough was a steam-driven mill owned by Mr. Svedlund's father. And --
CHARLES MOBLEY: What was this mill driven -- this was a -- oil? FRED ELVSAAS: This was driven by -- CHARLES MOBLEY: Diesel? FRED ELVSAAS: Diesel, yeah. CHARLES MOBLEY: Uh huh. Okay.
FRED ELVSAAS: Yeah, the Fairbanks-Morris engine was a diesel-driven, which was, apparently, in those days, much more modern than the steam-driven.
And the steam-driven mill, they -- they burned slab-wood and also the narrow tops of logs. And any log that wouldn't make lumber and if it had too much knots for lumber because it -- you know, with the amount of wood available, there was no need to get a lot of knots in your lumber.
Because spruce tends to shrink and the knots drop out and you got holes in the boards.
So Mr. Svedlund, he had the steam-driven mill, and he had an overhead system built over the mill, but it was never enclosed. I think they covered the mill with tarps during the snowstorms and so forth, as I recall.
Mr. Svedlund, who bought the diesel mill, was telling us about when his dad -- he cut lumber, but he could never cut enough to keep for himself, because there was such a demand for lumber for domestic use.
And then we had a mill before that, even, up at Powder Island, which was Keller's mill. And Keller also had -- his was steam-driven. He had two large boilers.
But he also used coal to burn in his mill. He got coal from Bluff Point on the Homer side. Just like everybody else did here.
And he hired quite a few guys. And he had much better production than Svedlund did. But one day the mill burned and that was the end of that mill.
And so timbering in Seldovia, sawmilling, through the years, was pretty active. The big thing was getting guys to go out and cut logs. And bring them in. That was the other thing.
I know at one time, when I was a kid, there was all this talk about a large raft of logs down in Dogfish Bay that the workers had cut and then they caught a boat and came to town and left the raft. They never brought it.
And then later, a boat went down and brought the raft up. And I don't remember how they ever settled on ownership or whatever, but I didn't know any of that. But I know the -- when I was probably around eight or nine, hearing all this talk about this tremendous raft of logs that was abandoned.
And 'cause the guys wanted to go to town and celebrate. And so, you know, cutting, cutting trees with cross-cut saws wasn't that easy and we cut all our firewood with cross-cut saws.
But my dad had a furnace that burned coal and he would get coal from Bluff Point, like everybody in the fall time went over. September was the time for bringing coal in.
And our basement was such that he could open the doors right to the slough and the boats could drop the coal right inside the -- So we didn't have to pack it up off the beach like most people did.
The boats would bring the coal and dump it on the beach and then people would pack it up from the beach. And ours was --
My dad was pretty ingenious in the things that he did. He built a mast and boom on our boardwalk over the water so that he could swing the boom out and lift logs up and put them right in the sawhorses for sawing.
And, of course, in doing that, it was all with rope and by hand, and we would get a whole bunch of kids to help pull the rope to lift the logs. And it was -- you know, it was a great operation for us and to my dad, it was just work, you know, but we enjoyed it.
So growing up in Seldovia was interesting at all -- I don't know of any kid that didn't have to do chores. Everybody had a lot to do, you know.
And -- but yet we had time to play, too. That was pretty important.
CHARLES MOBLEY: I've got a question about fish traps. The -- can you describe the -- where the fishtraps were located in the area, here?
FRED ELVSAAS: Locally in Kachemak, there was a fishtrap down at Flat Island. On the inside of Flat Island, just outside of Nanwalek.
Then there was a fishtrap here at Seldovia, just in the cove right outside the bay. Just below Hoen's Spit. There was a fishtrap.
These were all pile-driven traps. They weren't floating traps. And there was one at McDonald Spit. Just outside of Kasitsna Bay.
There was one over at Diamond Creek on Bluff Point side on Homer. That was the longest trap in Alaska. It reached way out.
And when the season was over, the fish plants would pull the traps up for the winter. Pull the piling and stack them up.
And the Bluff Point trap, every other year they pulled it. They -- most of the time they'd leave it there.
And apparently it was pretty hard driving it in the coal seams over there and so forth. But it was a long, long trap. Longest one in Alaska.
Then there was traps on up Cook Inlet. As you get past Anchor Point. But these traps here were all operated by Fidalgo Island Packing Company out of Port Graham. But they were all local people working on them.
CHARLES MOBLEY: And so there -- they all went to the -- the fish all went to the cannery in Port Graham?
FRED ELVSAAS: Right. Yeah. Yup. Fidalgo Island Packing was a large cannery down there. And back about in the sixties or somewheres right in that time, it burned. But --
CHARLES MOBLEY: Did you ever work on the fish traps?
FRED ELVSAAS: No. My dad had a fishtrap for thirty-some years, but I never did. I was on them, you know, with him but I never, I never worked one.
One time, when I was gill-netting with a friend, we went to his trap. They were brailing 20 to 25,000 fish every day. And the trap was just full, and we asked him if we couldn't take a few, you know.
The trap belonged to Libby, McNeill and Libby. And he would not allow that. He was a -- he was a true company man.
And you know, those guys like my father and all his friends, they were convinced that if you didn't skimp and save, Libby's would go broke. You know, they're a nation-wide, world-wide company, you know.
So when my dad came home from the fishtrap, he would buy the winter's supply of groceries from the cannery up there. They had it in the store. So we ate a lot of Libby's products.
Other people that worked for Alaska Packers, that was Del Monte products, and their CalPak second brands, so there was a lot of CalPak foods here.
And I can't remember the others. But people bought from the traps at the end of the year. Or from the canneries that owned the fishtraps. It was just -- they would sell to their people like my dad, you know, who was a good friend of the superintendent's, and so forth, at a cut-rate price.
And, of course, they didn't want to be stuck with the food all winter, you know. It would freeze and what not. So it worked out well for us.
In our basement, the shelves were all Libby's product. It -- we didn't see Del Monte products. And -- but you know, it was good, wholesome food.
Then, of course, we bought in the stores. We had several stores at the time. There was -- Mr. Young had a store. H. S. Young Mercantile. And Charlie Sharpe had his Seldovia Cash Store. Baltazar's (sp?) had a clothing store.
Seldovia Bay Packing Company, which is Squeaky Anderson's, had a commissary. And Morris and Morris Store was on this end of the boardwalk. So we had a lot of stores.
And then we had the meat store, Shortley's Meat Store.
And we had the movie theater down -- initially down on the end of the boardwalk at Joe Hill's bar and dancehall.
CHARLES MOBLEY: Did -- do you remember any of the movies you saw there?
FRED ELVSAAS: (laughter) No, I -- you know, we went to the movies but I don't remember the names. I remember one thing was that if you missed a movie, you missed a serial. There used to be serials.
And, you know, they had the news, and they had the comics -- comedy, and they had the serial, and previews, and the previews were movies we never ever saw. They wouldn't buy them or whatever.
You know, so they didn't mean much, but we watched them. (laughter) And, you know, and the movie was two and three reels. And so, when you went to the theater, initially at Joe Hill's, it cost twelve cents. And it was hard to raise twelve cents.
But you had to set up the chairs and the benches. All us kids had to sit on benches. And the grown-ups sat on folding wood chairs.
And then people visited, and then the movie would start. And, you know, you had to be quiet. You know, no talking during the movie and so forth.
And, you know, the movie was on the screen and the sound was back here. But, you know, to us it was wonderful.
Then, when the reel was over, instead of just putting another reel on, they would rewind that reel. They'd turn the lights on, and everybody got to visit for awhile, then they'd blink the lights so you'd all run for your seat, and sit down and watch the next reel.
And then if the movie stopped but it wasn't the end, we knew there was a third reel. 'Cause we never -- I don't remember ever asking, you know, I'm sure people did, but I never did.
It wasn't until I -- they showed the third reel that we -- then we felt like we really got a long movie. And we got our money's worth if we got a third reel.
But the serials were always cowboy things and, of course, you know, every kid wants to be a cowboy. And so we had to see the serial, and boy, if we missed, that was disaster. And it was once a week, you know.
And then later, after Joe Hill's place burned, Carl Lindstedt had -- and Joe Wood, they had built the Linwood Bar. It was named after Lindstedt and Mr. Wood. And they had built out behind the bar on piling, a dance floor.
And then they started showing movies, too. And Carl had high school kids run the projectors and stuff. Being from Sweden, he didn't really savvy that much in modern technology.
And it was the same thing. We had -- but they had a side door to an alley, covered alley, that went into the theater so the kids didn't have to go through the bar. And people that objected to the bars, too. You know, even in those days we had do-gooders telling people how they should live or what they shouldn't do in life.
But the movies were great, and they were a great, great time to visit and so forth. Then Junior Anderson, Jack Anderson Jr., he built the theater along the boardwalk. And it was the first sloped theater that we had.
And it had real theater seats. You know it was first -- first class. And -- but they had -- in the projections on the screen, it would be a little orange dot would come when it was time to switch reels, but they had two projectors.
But they -- Junior and whoever he hired to run the projectors would always miss the dot, you know, and then -- then there'd be a blank spot 'til they got the thing going again.
And it was hilarious because we all laughed, you know, and he would get mad. And you know, telling us to shut up, and so forth.
And they sold popcorn there out of a popcorn-making machine like you see in the theaters. It was the first one we ever saw. And you could get hot, buttered popcorn and boy, that was a treat.
And right across from the theater was a soda shop, and they had a soda fountain. And I'm trying to think of the girl that ran it. She would make ham and cheese sandwiches and so forth.
It was a pretty good soda fountain, a nice place to go after the movie. And being right over the water, it was a terrific view with the windows. And she sold candies and gum and so forth.
But see, she would watch the movie, but she'd never get to see the end of the movie 'cause she'd have to dash over and open the soda shop and warm up the grill and stuff like that.
And she always wanted somebody to do that for her, but I don't recall anybody offering to do it. I know I didn't.
But the theater was there right up until the earthquake. After Junior had it, a fellow named Pete Polson had it. And then he built a theater after the earthquake with Urban Renewal and so forth. But Urban Renewal changed Seldovia drastically. It was --
CHARLES MOBLEY: Well, let's -- that seems like a good place to ask what your experience was when the earthquake happened.
FRED ELVSAAS: (laughter) I lived on the east end of the bridge, over -- I don't know if you noticed the red warehouse there? I built that, and there was a two-story house I had behind it.
And it was my daughter's fourth birthday, and we were having a birthday party. And so there was all these four and five-year-old kids at the birthday party.
And we were taking pictures and having a good time and they -- Fortunately, they already had eaten the cake and ice cream, and they were playing games.
And I was trying to reload my camera, when the earthquake -- and I couldn't get my hands together. Something with -- wasn't gelling.
And then I noticed everything was shaking. And so I put the camera down. And the girls didn't seem to mind. I remember real clear that, even though we were shaking, they were having fun.
But my wife, she realized, and she screamed "earthquake." And, oh boy, that set them kids off. And so I got them outside on our walkway outside the house, and they're all hanging on to me, screaming and crying.