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Mary Barry

Mary Barry was interviewed on December 10, 2010 by Rachel Mason and Karen Brewster at her home in Anchorage, Alaska. In this interview, Mary talks about her family history and growing up in Seward, effects of the military presence and tourism on Seward, and how she became a writer. She talks about use of the Exit Glacier area, construction of the Herman Leirer Road to the glacier, how that affected use of the area, and her thoughts about establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2010-05-15

Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 10, 2010
Narrator(s): Mary Barry
Interviewer(s): Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster
Videographer: Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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Background information

Growing up in Seward

Exit Glacier and the road

Tourism in Seward

Hunting and fishing

Travel between Anchorage and Seward

Military in Seward

Leaving Seward

Meeting her husband

Husband's career

Her German parents

Germans in Seward during WWII

Writing history articles and books

Harding Icefield

Airplanes in Seward

Activities in the Resurrection River Valley

Cabins near Seward

Exit Glacier before it became a park

Getting out on the land

Downhill ski area near Seward

Family's country house on Kenai Lake

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


RACHEL MASON: I'm here with Mary Barry, we're in the home of Melvin and Mary Barry in Anchorage on Government Hill.

It's December 10th, 2010. My name's Rachel Mason, and also behind the camera is Karen Brewster.

So Mary, we'd like to start by asking you just to describe some of your early years and tell how you came to know about Seward.

MARY BARRY: Well, the reason I know about Seward was I was born here; in Seward, that is.

And so that's where I spent my early years until I got graduated from high school.

RACHEL MASON: What were your parents doing in Seward?

MARY BARRY: Well, originally my father was -- worked with the railroad as a dispatcher for the -- for the longshore union.

And then in the 1940s, he purchased a -- a building supply that was formerly owned by Cal Brosius.

He was one of the early Seward pioneers.

And he had died in an accident while using the machinery in the -- in the shop,

so his wife came to my dad and asked if she would -- if he would be interested in running it because he did work off and on for Cal Brosius in the past.

And my mother did the -- did the bookkeeping and things like that for the business.

RACHEL MASON: What part of town was your family's home?

MARY BARRY: It was in, on -- on the west side near the mountain at about a block from the beach.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what year were you born? MARY BARRY: 1928.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you grew up there in the thirties and forties, then? MARY BARRY: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what was that like? What was Seward like back -- what was it like to grow up there?

MARY BARRY: Well, I thought it was pretty ideal.

We had a lot of freedom.

People didn't worry about their children because it was a small town, and if -- if they got into mischief, the parents heard about it.

If anyone bothered them, the parents heard about it.

So they didn't have to worry about their children going out and enjoying themselves.

RACHEL MASON: What was the main industry of the town when you were there?

MARY BARRY: Well, it was -- mainly dealt with transportation.

It was a seaport, and they had -- it was the terminus of the railroad, so that was the main industry.

There was some fishing, there was some gardens, truck gardening.

KAREN BREWSTER: What's truck gardening?

MARY BARRY: Oh, they'd grow vegetables and sell them. KAREN BREWSTER: Out of the truck?

MARY BARRY: Oh, no, that's just the name. RACHEL MASON: It's just what they call it. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.

MARY BARRY: No, that was just a name for -- KAREN BREWSTER: I never heard that term. MARY BARRY: -- for a vegetable -- a commercial vegetable garden. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. Okay. MARY BARRY: Uh-hum.

RACHEL MASON: Well, back in those days, did anybody ever mention the Exit Glacier or did people know about the Exit Glacier when you were a little girl?

MARY BARRY: They didn't talk much about it because there was no road going to it, and there didn't seem to be a lot of interest in it.

They were mostly concerned with the glacier out in the bay.

RACHEL MASON: What did they say about the glacier out there?

MARY BARRY: Bear Glacier. Well, the boats would go by it, so they would mention it.

RACHEL MASON: I see. What -- what's the first thing you remember about Exit Glacier?

MARY BARRY: Well, that was -- I forget the exact date, but there --

way in the past they had an idea that they would build a road from Seward along the Resurrection River and reach the other side of the Peninsula.

RACHEL MASON: Here's a pen you can use if you want to show us.

MARY BARRY: That way they did -- but this road never did materialize.

So anyway, they knew about the Exit Glacier being there, and Mr. Leirer got interested in it

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARY BARRY: -- and decided there should be some access to it, so he started a road there.

RACHEL MASON: You can actually draw in on there where the road was.

MARY BARRY: It was unpaved, but it got people to the glacier.

You had to walk across the river when it first came out -- well, they had a little bridge, I think, kind of a foot bridge,

but you still had to cross streams to get to the glacier itself.

So they had quite a walk to get there at that time, but later they extended the road, they made a bigger road -- bigger bridge, so cars could drive over it.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARY BARRY: So now they could get right up next to it, practically, just a very short walk.

RACHEL MASON: So as I understand, there were some other people before Mr. Leirer decided that they wanted a road. Do you remember who those people were?

MARY BARRY: Well, there were some people that just had probably homesteaded along there, anyway, they had houses along --

they had kind of a short little road with houses along it, and in the lowlands by the river.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. And they -- why did they want to have a road?

MARY BARRY: Well, you mean the road to the glacier? RACHEL MASON: Yeah, the homesteaders.

MARY BARRY: Well, they, of course, needed a road to get their things in and out. RACHEL MASON: That's true. For their own purposes.

MARY BARRY: Uh-hum. And then so then it was extended, as I say, finally got to the -- very close to the glacier, so now just about anybody could get to the glacier without a lot of trouble.

RACHEL MASON: Why -- why did Herman Leirer want to build a road up there?

MARY BARRY: I guess he just wanted to do something for the community. Because it didn't really -- it wasn't any financial benefit to him.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARY BARRY: He just thought it was a good idea.

RACHEL MASON: Did -- did everybody else agree that he -- he was doing the right thing? MARY BARRY: Yeah, I think so. They -- they supported it.

RACHEL MASON: And do you remember when tourism became important to Seward?

MARY BARRY: Well, it was always important because then we used to have a passenger -- there were passenger freight boats that came up.

And that was the first place they landed if they wanted to go to interior Alaska because of the railroad being there.

And some of them just made a round trip on the passenger boats just to see the country. So Seward always had tourists.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. So even when you were a little girl, were -- there were people that came just to -- just to see Seward?

MARY BARRY: Uh-hum. Yeah, just to see the country.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. When you were growing up did your family eat a lot of fish and game from the countryside?

MARY BARRY: Well, my dad was not an enthusiastic hunter. He was a good marksman, and he never went off after moose and bear,

but we did get rabbits and grouse and things like that.

And he did have a fishing boat for a while, but we ate fish quite often.

RACHEL MASON: And did you ever go hunting yourself? MARY BARRY: Just for rabbits and grouse.

KAREN BREWSTER: And where did you -- do you remember where you went rabbit and grouse hunting?

MARY BARRY: Well, we'd just go along the road out in the country. Out of Seward on the highway.

KAREN BREWSTER: On the main road. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. MARY BARRY: And at that time, the road only -- when I was growing up, the road only went to mile 18.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARY BARRY: So then we'd just go in there and take off into the woods. RACHEL MASON: Where is mile 18, about?

MARY BARRY: Well, here, let's see where we are. Salmon -- oh here we have quite a big map. I didn't see that. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, and these are attached to it.

MARY BARRY: Yeah it's a -- it was right at the base of Kenai Lake. RACHEL MASON: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: And so -- MARY BARRY: They had houses along there. RACHEL MASON: Uh-hum.

MARY BARRY: At that time, it didn't go over here.

They called that the missing link because they did start a road from Moose Pass on, and then they finally, after much thought, I guess, because they had to work along the mountain there to make a road.

They added that in the fifties, as I recall.

RACHEL MASON: That -- yeah, that must have been -- MARY BARRY: Or the end of the forties.

Well, let's see, to be specific, I think about the mid- forties they put in the missing link, as they called it.

KAREN BREWSTER: That's the chime. RACHEL MASON: All right. KAREN BREWSTER: And now chiming the hours. Okay.

RACHEL MASON: Three, okay. MARY BARRY: That's a little fast. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, must not be on -- must be on Daylight -- MARY BARRY: Still on Daylight Saving Time, I guess.

RACHEL MASON: So before that, if you'd have to go to Anchorage, you'd take the train? Is that how you'd go? MARY BARRY: Oh, you mean -- KAREN BREWSTER: Before the road was finished. RACHEL MASON: Before the road was finished.

MARY BARRY: Oh. Well, if you wanted to go to Anchorage, you just got on the railroad RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARY BARRY: -- because it was -- it went all the way.

RACHEL MASON: I see. Did you -- did your family often go to Anchorage? MARY BARRY: No, not very often. They pretty well stayed in Seward and the vicinity.

RACHEL MASON: And where did you get -- I don't know if you got groceries from Outside or did you get any other --

MARY BARRY: Well, mostly -- yeah, mostly they came on the freighter -- RACHEL MASON: I see. MARY BARRY: -- for the town.

RACHEL MASON: How often would that -- the freighter come? MARY BARRY: Oh, they came quite often, it was several times a week, usually.

RACHEL MASON: And you must have been a little -- well, a teenager, maybe, when the military was there. MARY BARRY: Yes, I was.

RACHEL MASON: Did that -- did that cause a lot of uproar in the town?

MARY BARRY: Well, it had quite a impact on the town because there were so many of them, much more than the population of the town at the time.

And also they imposed a lot of restrictions.

RACHEL MASON: What were those?

MARY BARRY: Oh, you couldn't go to certain areas, you couldn't go out on a boat without permission, you couldn't go in certain areas of the waterfront, and they had a lot of different rules.

KAREN BREWSTER: Were you -- as a local person, were you allowed to fraternize with the military?

MARY BARRY: Oh, yeah. They didn't really -- in fact, they encouraged it because these fellows were so far from home, and some of them had been away from home for the first time because in those days, people didn't go far from their homes, usually, unless there was some special reason to.

So they were kind of at a loss. So they encouraged dances and programs and -- and sometimes they would put on plays and different things just to make them feel at home.

They had a USO building.

RACHEL MASON: Well, that must have been nice for the locals, too. Do you -- did you meet any of the soldiers? MARY BARRY: Oh, yes, we did. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

MARY BARRY: Yeah, we were bound to because they -- like I say, they participated in a lot of the social activities.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did many marriages come out of those days?

MARY BARRY: There were a few of them. There weren't that many eligible girls around, but they did -- some of them did marry the soldiers, or occasionally sailors.

RACHEL MASON: And, let's see. And how long did you stay in Seward? Or how did you end up leaving Seward?

MARY BARRY: Well, I stayed in Seward -- well, I -- for about a year after I was out of high school, and then I went out to the states to go to the university.

So that was the first time I really had left Seward except for short trips around Alaska.

RACHEL MASON: Where did you go to college? MARY BARRY: UCLA. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. RACHEL MASON: That must have been quite a change from Seward.

MARY BARRY: It was nice. I liked the weather. RACHEL MASON: I bet.

KAREN BREWSTER: Why did you just pick UCLA? It's a big change.

MARY BARRY: Well, my -- my aunt lived there, and she was so enthusiastic about Los Angeles, so she says, "You should go to UCLA," so I went out there and they took me. RACHEL MASON: Wow.

KAREN BREWSTER: What did you study there?

MARY BARRY: Well, I was interested in journalism, but at that time they didn't have a journalism major, so I took English, which mostly was English literature and writing.

KAREN BREWSTER: What year did you graduate? MARY BARRY: 1951.

RACHEL MASON: And did you come back to Alaska after that? MARY BARRY: Yes. In fact, I came back every summer RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARY BARRY: -- too, during vacation.

Except for one summer because I had started during the spring semester -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that's the cuckoo clock. MARY BARRY: -- and so I went and took some summer courses to fill in so I could graduate with everybody else.

KAREN BREWSTER: I'm thinking, is that the cuckoo clock I just heard? MARY BARRY: Pardon me? KAREN BREWSTER: We just heard the cuckoo clock? RACHEL MASON: That was the cuckoo clock. MARY BARRY: Oh.

KAREN BREWSTER: That's okay. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, we'll just -- we'll just ignore it.

KAREN BREWSTER: So, so after you graduated from college, you -- MARY BARRY: Well, I had met Mel a year before on one of the summer vacations.

RACHEL MASON: How did you meet him?

MARY BARRY: Well, I'd gone out to Palmer, I had met a girl at one of the summer camps in Palmer, so I --

she had invited me up to her house for a week or so.

So I was up there and we'd gone camping up by Eklutna Lake, and then when they came back, they said, "There's a dance going on, would you like to go?"

And I said, "Yes, of course." And that's where I met him. RACHEL MASON: Oh. Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: And he was one of the Matanuska colonists family? MARY BARRY: Yes, he was, his parents had come up with -- and he was 13 years old at the time.

KAREN BREWSTER: So was it love at first sight? MARY BARRY: It must have been. Because we didn't know each other very long.

RACHEL MASON: Did you go -- then you went back to school after you'd met him -- MARY BARRY: Oh yeah, I went back to school because I wanted to finish.

RACHEL MASON: How did you keep in touch? Did you write letters? MARY BARRY: Oh, just the old snail mail -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARY BARRY: -- in those days.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you had one more year of college to finish? MARY BARRY: Yeah, it would have been a year and a half, but I went and took the summer course so I could get out a little faster. RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

RACHEL MASON: And then -- and then you came back home and got married after graduation? MARY BARRY: That's right.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. All right. And where did you -- you and Mel live?

MARY BARRY: Well, we got married in Seward, and we lived for a few months in Palmer because he got a job working on the power plant that they were putting in at the time.

Then we came to Anchorage and lived there ever since. RACHEL MASON: Oh. Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what year were you married, then? MARY BARRY: 1951. KAREN BREWSTER: 1951, okay.

RACHEL MASON: So you said you had two kids? Did you raise your kids here? MARY BARRY: Oh, yeah.

RACHEL MASON: In this very house? MARY BARRY: Yes. That's their room back in there. RACHEL MASON: Oh, no kidding. And what -- how old are your kids now?

MARY BARRY: Well, they're in their forties. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. A boy? Girl? MARY BARRY: They're both boys. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what type of work did Mel do here in Anchorage? MARY BARRY: Well, mainly electrical work. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

MARY BARRY: Although he had little sidelines every once in a while. He and one of his friends had a -- they called it the trap line.

They went along the highway and had jukeboxes and pinballs and various coin operated things at the different roadhouses. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: So we'd go on a round trip every once in a while to make sure they were all working.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, and see if anything is caught in the trap? KAREN BREWSTER: Or to get the money out?

MARY BARRY: Yeah. Yeah, we got to get our money out, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: Fun. RACHEL MASON: That's funny. Did you ever do any real trapping?

MARY BARRY: Well, my husband did when he was a boy. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: Because they had bought some land and they had to pay for it. RACHEL MASON: I see.

MARY BARRY: They left the colony because the area they were given was too small to do any practical farming, so they bought a homestead.

So in order to pay for it, they did all kinds of different odd jobs; and one of the things was going, he and his brother, one of his brothers and his father, trapping for beaver, muskrat, things like that.

RACHEL MASON: Wow. And did your -- did your boys do any -- any hunting as they were growing up, or --

MARY BARRY: They never were too interested in hunting.

I remember one time we were there somewhere and there was this rabbit or hare by the road, and so my husband took out his pistol, and the kids all looked so sad.

He said, "I can't do it." RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: So I guess they were kind of failures at hunting.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. Did you go back to Seward a lot while -- while you were -- MARY BARRY: Oh, it was quite often. RACHEL MASON: -- a young married couple? MARY BARRY: Uh-hum.

KAREN BREWSTER: So were your parents still living in Seward? MARY BARRY: They lived in Seward pretty well the rest of their lives.

My when my dad retired, my mother had passed away, he went back to Germany for a while because he thought his money would stretch much further there at the time.

So he was over there for a couple of years.

While he was there, he got us in the antique business. It was kind of interesting how we got in the antique business. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

MARY BARRY: He -- come -- well, after the purchase of Alaska from the Russians, the anniversary of that came up, the hundredth year,

and there was a lot of activities going on concerning this and a great interest in Russian history at the time.

And just about everybody that had a social occasion got a samovar so they could serve tea and so on.

So I thought, well, everybody's getting samovars, and I always kind of admired them because years ago in Seward, our jeweler had one, which probably did come from the Russian/Alaska, and I always thought that was kind of a fascinating object.

So when this -- when they suddenly got so desirable in Alaska, I had a roommate that was half Russian, and I said, if anybody knows about samovars, she probably does.

So I asked her if she would get me one; she was living in California at the time. So she did send us one and it was really nice.

So it was sitting in our living room, and my dad came. He said, "I see a lot of those in Munich." I says, "Really?" I said, "People are looking for them here."

So he said, "Okay. When I go back, I'll send you some."

Well, sure enough, he not only sent us some but also a whole bunch of other things, so we were suddenly in business.

RACHEL MASON: How would you send a samovar? I mean it seems like it would be pretty -- pretty difficult to package.

MARY BARRY: Well, he actually sent them by air -- RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARY BARRY: -- so they wouldn't be. He'd box them up and -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah, pack them. MARY BARRY: -- take them out to the airport and send them.

RACHEL MASON: What -- KAREN BREWSTER: So did you have a shop that you sold things out of? You had an antique shop?

MARY BARRY: No, but we -- we supplied some shops with them, and some we just sold at home just putting ads in the paper.

KAREN BREWSTER: So they were as popular as you had anticipated? MARY BARRY: Oh, yeah, they all went rather quickly.

RACHEL MASON: Did your dad stay in Germany or did he come back after a while. MARY BARRY: Well, he came back afterwards.

RACHEL MASON: What -- what year was that about when he went to Germany? MARY BARRY: Oh, it was in the sixties, about the mid- sixties. KAREN BREWSTER: The hundred year anniversary must have been 19 -- MARY BARRY: It was before the earthquake.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Yeah, the anniversary must have been around 1967. Wasn't the purchase in 1867? 1872? RACHEL MASON: 1867. KAREN BREWSTER: 1867.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So a hundred years.

RACHEL MASON: So he missed the earthquake in Seward, and you were here for the earthquake.

MARY BARRY: Yeah. We were here. Uh-hum. RACHEL MASON: Did you have any relatives that were down in Seward at the time?

MARY BARRY: Well, my brother was still there. I asked about how he experienced it.

His house was quite a ways from the beach, and he says, "Oh, he was sleeping." RACHEL MASON: And he missed it?

MARY BARRY: He woke up all right, but he wasn't too -- it didn't affect him.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, we have to wait for this clock, again. RACHEL MASON: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that was it.

RACHEL MASON: That's good. KAREN BREWSTER: That was the chime again. MARY BARRY: Oh, yeah, every 15 minutes.

KAREN BREWSTER: So I -- maybe I didn't hear you at the beginning, your father was from Germany originally? MARY BARRY: Yes, he was.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Do you know why he came to America?

MARY BARRY: Well, the first time he sat foot in America, he was working as a -- I guess you might say a merchant marine

He was working on an English ship at the time. And he said they were so stingy when he landed at New York, he deserted them. RACHEL MASON: Really?

KAREN BREWSTER: He was hungry?

MARY BARRY: Well, he just didn't like being on there, I guess. I don't know just what the problems were, but he -- he didn't like it.

So then he went back to Germany and came back legally.

And then he was -- came to Alaska in 1915.

And at that time they were building the railroad, but he didn't work on the railroad itself, he worked on the riverboats.

They were hauling supplies up the Yukon. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did he go to Skagway? Was that where he started?

MARY BARRY: No, he -- he went -- he came to Seward. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, he came to Seward.

MARY BARRY: And then he walked, actually, because there was no railroad or road going up to Nenana. RACHEL MASON: Wow.

MARY BARRY: So then he got this job on the riverboat. KAREN BREWSTER: So he walked from Seward to Nenana? MARY BARRY: Pretty well. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. MARY BARRY: There was a short railroad track at the time, but it didn't go too far. RACHEL MASON: Wow. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

RACHEL MASON: That's amazing. And where -- at what point did he meet your mother?

MARY BARRY: Well, he went back in about 1922 to visit his relatives. RACHEL MASON: To Germany.

MARY BARRY: And then he was in Munich, my mother happened to be working in a butcher shop at the time, and that's where he met her. RACHEL MASON: Wow.

MARY BARRY: She was only 18 years old when they got married. RACHEL MASON: He had already been to the U.S. and back? MARY BARRY: Yeah. He had -- RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARY BARRY: Oh, I mean, she was only -- KAREN BREWSTER: He was a bit older? MARY BARRY: He was older, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then so she came back to Alaska with him? MARY BARRY: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did she ever talk about what that was like to come from Munich to Seward?

MARY BARRY: Well, she was -- it was quite a cultural shock, I think, because from the big city to Seward at the time was quite small.

But after a while, she learned to like it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, did she speak any English when she came? MARY BARRY: I doubt it. But she learned very quickly. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: And there -- there must not have been any other Germans, other than your father around? MARY BARRY: There were a few Germans. RACHEL MASON: Oh, there were. KAREN BREWSTER: There were?

MARY BARRY: Uh-hum. Germans and Austrians. KAREN BREWSTER: They all came for the railroad maybe.

MARY BARRY: Well, they had all different jobs.

RACHEL MASON: Did they, your parents, sometimes have -- have some of these Germans over -- MARY BARRY: Oh, yes. RACHEL MASON: -- to the house?

MARY BARRY: Uh-hum. There was one special friend, well, he was really Austrian, and -- and he came over quite often through the years.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did you grow up speaking German at home?

MARY BARRY: No. Actually, I didn't learn much German at home.

They were intent on learning English.

At that time, there wasn't a big emphasis on foreign languages. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

MARY BARRY: And in fact, foreigners were looked at kind of strangely.

RACHEL MASON: So yeah, so they probably were anxious to have you and your brother speak English. MARY BARRY: Uh-hum.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did they -- did your parents ever talk about having experiences where they felt prejudiced because they were foreigners?

MARY BARRY: Well, not very much, but during the war. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, during World War II it must have been difficult for them.

MARY BARRY: They did because one time the marshal came to the door, and he told my dad that they wanted to confiscate his guns.

And at the time, they were having a lot of problems with crime because we had -- you know, most of the men were in the Army, so they hired just about anybody to come up and work on the railroad and other places.

And some of them weren't the best of people. There was a lot of crime going on, there was people were disappearing.

And people started locking their doors. And my dad says, "There's no way," he said, "I give up this gun," if he has to leave his family unprotected.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARY BARRY: So he had his way. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, he won that one. RACHEL MASON: Wow.

Well, on another topic, I was wondering how you got started writing history.

MARY BARRY: Well, I started writing for the Alaska --

well, they called it the Alaska Sportsman at the time, it's now the Alaska Magazine.

I had a friend who had this interesting honeymoon, she got married to a fellow that had a trapline over in -- near Katmai area.

And once she married him in Seward, they went over there, traveled with dog team, and practically lived off the country for a long time, for a year.

So I wrote about her adventures, and she had pictures that she had taken, and it got published in the Alaska Sportsman.

And after that, it seemed like they were interested in different Alaskan history, so I sent them an article every once in a while and it usually got published.

So that was the start of it. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: And then one day Mr. DeArmond wrote -- he was one of their chief editors, and he wrote and said he would like an article on the Hope and the Gold Rush.

Well, I got interested in Hope and the Gold Rush before and had taken some notes on it, so I said okay.

So I started and I thought, well, this won't be too hard, but there was hardly anything written about it at that time. There just was not very much.

So I started -- well, my dad helped out, he told me who all was mining around there and everything, so I went to talk to all these various people.

And finally got the -- I finally had to tell Mr. DeArmond that I can't write an article for him because I have enough material for a book.

So after I got finished with the book, he got them to print it.

RACHEL MASON: That's great. Well, we're particularly interested in the people that used to go up on the Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield, like in planes or --

and I remember from one of your books that you talked about all the pilots that did guiding, and I wonder if you could tell us a little more about that.

MARY BARRY: Well, they did have people going up there. They had people that tried to cross the glacier, too.

RACHEL MASON: What were they doing? MARY BARRY: They just wanted to get to the other side. RACHEL MASON: Oh, really. When was that? MARY BARRY: In the forties, maybe the thirties, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: So were you living in Seward, you remember when they came across and were successful?

MARY BARRY: Well, they -- sometimes they were successful, sometimes they weren't and had to quit because it wasn't -- well, it was pretty hazardous, actually, if you didn't know your way across.

RACHEL MASON: So the point was just to get to the other side, there wasn't any special reason for it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I wondered if people in Seward, you know, were excited and paid attention, or was it like, oh, yeah, whatever, somebody just walked across?

MARY BARRY: Well, they did mention about it in the paper that somebody was trying to cross it, so they did take an interest in it, but most people thought it was kind of a foolish thing to do.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, especially when it wasn't a successful trip. MARY BARRY: Uh-hum.

RACHEL MASON: What about dog sledding up there? Do you know about anybody that -- that did that? Or took dog teams around the glacier?

MARY BARRY: Well, that came rather late. RACHEL MASON: Oh. I see. MARY BARRY: That came after I -- I wasn't living in Seward when this started -- but.

Then they started flying people up there and having dog teams and other activities. But that was after my time there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Rachel, can you not write on the table, maybe? It's making -- I can hear you writing. Thank you. RACHEL MASON: Sorry. Okay.

When did airplanes come in to Seward? Were they already flying in and out when you were a little kid? MARY BARRY: The airplanes? RACHEL MASON: Uh-hum.

MARY BARRY: Well, they were quite a novelty. We didn't see them too often. And they were the small planes.

Once in a while I even took a picture of one because of the fact that we didn't see them too often. Everybody would look up to see them flying over.

Mostly it was -- RACHEL MASON: When was the first -- MARY BARRY: -- pontoon planes that came. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: Then they started an airfield up at the end of the bay. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: And people started having their own planes. RACHEL MASON: Now, when did the first plane come in?

MARY BARRY: Oh, I think that was before my time, the first planes. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: In the twenties there was an around the world plane that -- RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah. MARY BARRY: -- that landed there. And there was a Russian plane that landed there that was going the other way, trying to go across around the world. RACHEL MASON: Really?

MARY BARRY: Uh-hum. RACHEL MASON: And why did they pick Seward as their stop? MARY BARRY: I guess it was just a -- on the way. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARY BARRY: A handy place.

Because they would come up across Southeast Alaska, and then they'd come over to Seward, and then they'd go over toward Asia.

RACHEL MASON: And then they -- as you recall your youth, do you remember that they started coming more regularly?

MARY BARRY: Well, by the time I was in -- in the forties, they had regular flights coming from Anchorage to Seward and back. RACHEL MASON: Wow.

KAREN BREWSTER: So were you around Seward when the first person successfully crossed the ice field?

MARY BARRY: Well, I had heard about it, but I don't know whether he was successful or not. I don't remember.

KAREN BREWSTER: And who was -- do you remember who that was?

MARY BARRY: It might be in my book. I don't always remember everything I wrote. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: But so when you were growing up, did people go up the Resurrection River Valley and do activities out there?

MARY BARRY: Well, I imagine that they did because in the old days, people did a lot of travelling whether there was a road or not, they just went for -- looking for mining claims or hunting.

RACHEL MASON: Did you ever go up -- up to the Exit Glacier just to -- for a picnic or just to look at it or anything?

MARY BARRY: Well, I went to it, but that was after the road was put in. RACHEL MASON: I see.

KAREN BREWSTER: So what's your first memory of that trip going up there?

MARY BARRY: Well, we thought it was pretty neat to travel up along the river and -- and cross over, and I had my boys with me.

RACHEL MASON: How did you get across the river at first? MARY BARRY: Oh, it had a foot bridge, as I can recall. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: And then otherwise, you were sort of on your own, you just had a little trail.

And there were some small streams and they were ice cold.

But I learned one thing about crossing them.

The first time I did it I took off my shoes, and boy, my feet almost froze.

So coming back, I left on my -- well, they were tennis shoes, and actually, they were warm.

RACHEL MASON: How did that work? MARY BARRY: I don't know. But -- they were wet, but they were warm. So I thought, well, that's the thing to do. RACHEL MASON: That's good.

You know how they have the signs there now that show where the glacier used to be? MARY BARRY: Uh-hum.

RACHEL MASON: Do you remember it being a lot different from what it is now? MARY BARRY: Well, yes. It's gone back even more since we were there.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. And do you think those signs are accurate?

That, you know, they have one that says where it was in 18 -- I don't know if you'd remember it. KAREN BREWSTER: We have to wait for the chime. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

But, I mean, I know you don't remember 1830, but they have, you know, where it was in 1940, where it was now, and we've heard some people say they don't think that's -- that's the right --

MARY BARRY: Well, probably from maps or something like that, they must have had some kind of guide. RACHEL MASON: To show -- MARY BARRY: Maybe it showed how the -- how the plants changed as time went on.

KAREN BREWSTER: So that trip you made with your boys the first time up to Exit Glacier, do you remember about what year that might have been? That was after you had already moved, obviously, and had children?

MARY BARRY: Yes. That -- let's see, when did we go up there. They were still probably in school at the time.

KAREN BREWSTER: So the sixties? The seventies?

MARY BARRY: I'm just trying to think. KAREN BREWSTER: Try to think how old they might have been and...

MARY BARRY: Well, let's see, now. Probably the seventies, I think it would have to be.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah I don't know what -- do you know when that road was put in?

MARY BARRY: Not too long before that.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So what was the road condition like when you went out there? MARY BARRY: It was pretty good. It was a -- it was a dirt road, but it was pretty well kept.

RACHEL MASON: And did anybody in your family ever go skiing up there? MARY BARRY: No, none of them did, but I guess they do now.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, some people seem to be doing -- MARY BARRY: I hear about them skiing and climbing -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARY BARRY: -- the mountain there, and doing a lot of activities, even in the winter.

RACHEL MASON: We've heard about horseback riding, too MARY BARRY: Oh. RACHEL MASON: -- that -- horseback hunting.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. But it's interesting that when you were growing up before the road was there, there wasn't the big center of activity that it is now, huh?

MARY BARRY: Oh, no. Not at all. Makes a difference when it's accessible.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum. Did you know anybody who ever set a trap line out there or -- MARY BARRY: Not personally, no.

KAREN BREWSTER: You heard about it? MARY BARRY: Actually, I didn't hear too much about it. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. About trapping around that area. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MARY BARRY: They probably did, but --

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I didn't also know -- in your historical research if you found out anything about people going up there and trapping or hunting or things.

MARY BARRY: No, I didn't run across any information about it, but I know people went everywhere.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. And the other thing we were kind of curious about is the cabins. There were -- there were some cabins that were built there, and some of them apparently were crushed eventually and did you know anything --

MARY BARRY: Whenever I hear about something that's pristine in Alaska, I think pristine, that means nobody was ever there.

Between the Natives and the prospectors and trappers, I don't think there's really much area that wasn't stepped on by people.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. And do you know about any Native stories about the Exit Glacier or anybody like -- MARY BARRY: No, not at all. RACHEL MASON: -- anything that they -- no.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, well those cabins, in your research, have you found anything about the history of those cabins at, like, Placer Creek and Martin Creek, up higher?

MARY BARRY: This must be the cabins here, all these little black -- RACHEL MASON: Oh, those are -- those are just houses that exist now -- MARY BARRY: Oh, now. RACHEL MASON: -- along -- down along the road.

KAREN BREWSTER: The cabins -- RACHEL MASON: Where are the cabins? They are way up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Farther up there -- there's Placer Creek. MARY BARRY: Oh, way up there.

KAREN BREWSTER: I didn't know if in your research you've come across any -- MARY BARRY: No, I didn't get into that. I'm sorry. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: Well, I think I'm out of questions, unless you have -- if there's something else you'd like to tell us about your experiences around the Exit Glacier or anything else?

MARY BARRY: Well, at the time we went there, they didn't have any rules about getting on the glacier. RACHEL MASON: Uh-hum. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum.

MARY BARRY: So we did. And hiked around it. And actually, we didn't have any -- nobody ever warned anybody about it until a woman had an accident where a piece of ice fell on -- upon her. RACHEL MASON: Oh, dear.

MARY BARRY: She was evidently a visitor to the area, and she and her husband were there standing next to the glacier, and this piece fell off onto her.

So afterwards, well, her husband sued the city because they had said that it was a glacier you could touch. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: And, well, nobody had ever had an accident there before, so that's why they didn't warn anybody about that. Now they have signs saying don't go next to the glacier.

RACHEL MASON: Yes. Was that before it was a national park? MARY BARRY: I think it was -- it might have been afterwards.

RACHEL MASON: I was wondering if that changed things a lot once it became a national park, if that changed how -- how much people were able to get to the glacier or go to it?

MARY BARRY: Well, of course, they made the road and it went in further, so a lot of more -- it probably -- it could have been after the park because I imagine the tourists didn't go up there crossing the river like we did.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you waded across -- you walked across the river? MARY BARRY: Oh, not the big river, just some of the streams that -- KAREN BREWSTER: So how did you get across the main river? MARY BARRY: Oh, it had a foot bridge.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that's right. By the time you were there. Because other people have talked about putting a canoe across. And so you said you used the foot bridge.

Well, a question that comes up in my mind is how Seward reacted to this national park coming in, and did that national park change the way people could use the area, and if people talked about that.

I know you weren't living there anymore, but maybe you still had connections.

MARY BARRY: Well, I think having the park there made it more accessible for everybody, including the people that lived there.

It also gave a little more employment to people, they had to have busses going out there and they also have boats going out to the other areas of the park.

KAREN BREWSTER: When they were proposing it to be a park, do you know about how people in Seward talked about that?

MARY BARRY: Well, I wasn't there, so I don't really know of how the general public felt about it. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum.

MARY BARRY: I don't think there was too much objections. I haven't heard of any objections to it.

KAREN BREWSTER: What do you think about it? Since you grew up there, there was no park, and now there's a park. Do you see a difference?

MARY BARRY: Well, I don't think it -- I don't think it affected people as much as some areas that were made into parks and kind of blocked people's activities afterwards.

And -- because people weren't climbing on the glaciers very much before that, or -- and it didn't stop them from fishing and doing their other activities. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And when you were growing up, they didn't have snow machines? MARY BARRY: No. Not -- not at that time. KAREN BREWSTER: No.

RACHEL MASON: How did people get around for hunting in those days? MARY BARRY: Well, they had to use snowshoes. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARY BARRY: Dog teams if they had, in the early days. And otherwise, they kind of stuck to the road.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, it's hard country to get around in. MARY BARRY: It is. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

MARY BARRY: Yeah. When you get out into the woods, it's a little difficult because you run into the famous devil clubs, and alders that block your way and are very difficult to get through.

So they did have some trails up the mountain, Mount Marathon.

And I guess some people started climbing on the other side, but it was kind of hazardous.

RACHEL MASON: Just for the fun of it? Or were they -- they hunting or something? MARY BARRY: It's over here.

RACHEL MASON: Did they just climb it for the fun of it? MARY BARRY: Yes, they just --

when I was growing up, it didn't seem like -- we did have skiing and skating, but there wasn't as many outdoor activities, especially older people were just mainly occupied with trying to make a living. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

MARY BARRY: So they didn't really do a lot of outdoor things.

RACHEL MASON: Probably took longer to get from one place to another and to do everything, so... MARY BARRY: That's true. We did use our bicycles a lot as a kid. RACHEL MASON: Oh, really? KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you had bicycles?

Well and as you say, when you were growing up, the outdoor activity might have been hunting, it wasn't just to go have fun?

MARY BARRY: Oh, well, people did do some fun. They had a -- they had a little skiing area back on Mount Marathon, but they had a much larger one about, oh, 50 miles out of town.

RACHEL MASON: Where was that? Can you show us on the map?

MARY BARRY: I'll have to take a look here.

RACHEL MASON: This is the Seward Highway, here's snow something. MARY BARRY: Divide. Well, it's probably somewhere around this area.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. Can you write "ski area" or something right where -- where it was. KAREN BREWSTER: And was that a downhill ski -- MARY BARRY: You know, there's a -- there's a site on the Internet.

RACHEL MASON: That tells about it? MARY BARRY: A fellow was making -- writing history about the skiing areas in. RACHEL MASON: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: So was that for downhill skiing or cross country?

MARY BARRY: Oh, downhill. There wasn't much cross country at the time, they were all -- it was mostly downhill.

There were some people that did cross country. I remember a fellow that stayed at our country house, he was a Norwegian, and of course, they come from a cross country skiing area, so he would go along the roads with his skis in the winter. RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So tell me about -- tell us about your country house. What was that? MARY BARRY: It was on Kenai Lake.

RACHEL MASON: Up here? MARY BARRY: About a mile from Lawing. RACHEL MASON: Oh, here's Lawing.

MARY BARRY: It was on this area next to the mountain.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so how did you get there? MARY BARRY: Oh, the road -- we had the road at the time. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. MARY BARRY: That was in the fifties.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that was -- oh, so that was a country house -- MARY BARRY: Forties and fifties.

KAREN BREWSTER: From -- for you and your husband from Anchorage, or was that was your family's. MARY BARRY: No, that was my family. Uh-hum.

RACHEL MASON: So what times of year would you go to it? MARY BARRY: Well, mostly the summer, but we did go in the winter now and then. RACHEL MASON: Uh-hum.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what would you do up there? MARY BARRY: Well, we just enjoyed being out there. We'd go down to the lake, row around in it, or climb the hill behind there.

KAREN BREWSTER: So -- MARY BARRY: And we also always seemed to have company. People would drive by and stop in. And then if we wanted more lively entertainment, we'd go to Moose Pass.

KAREN BREWSTER: I don't think of Moose Pass as lively entertainment nowadays. MARY BARRY: Well, at that time, it was. KAREN BREWSTER: It was a pretty big.

MARY BARRY: They had the -- the moose -- well, the building's still there.

We used to go there and they had a jukebox, and they had lunches, and railroad people would --

they had railroad people, some of them lived there because it was a station, and they'd come in, and so it was just a social area.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, they probably enjoyed the company. MARY BARRY: Uh-hum.

RACHEL MASON: Could you ever swim in Kenai Lake? MARY BARRY: I did, but it was very cold. RACHEL MASON: Oh, I bet.

KAREN BREWSTER: So how long would you go stay at that cabin? MARY BARRY: Oh, we'd just stay there for the day, usually. Well, we could stay overnight on the weekends.

My dad was pretty busy with his building business, so we didn't stay away from town too long.

KAREN BREWSTER: This chime's longer. MARY BARRY: Yes, that's the way it goes. Winchester's chimes, they -- they add a little to it until they get to the -- RACHEL MASON: To 12:00. MARY BARRY: -- hour, then they really go to town.

KAREN BREWSTER: So I don't think you said what your father's name was. MARY BARRY: Oh. John Paulsteiner. That's P-A-U-L-S-T-E-I-N-E-R.

KAREN BREWSTER: Since he had the building supply store, it's important to get his name. RACHEL MASON: And what about your mom, what was her name?

MARY BARRY: Her name was Johanna, and her maiden name was Schauer, S-C-H-A-U-E-R. KAREN BREWSTER: And Johanna, J-O-H-A-N-N-A? MARY BARRY: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I don't think we have any more questions. Is there anything else that you wanted to make sure we know about Exit -- when you hear the word Exit Glacier, and the uses of that area, anything else?

MARY BARRY: Well, I just want to say that I -- we really enjoyed going up and being able to get near the glacier. RACHEL MASON: Oh, I bet. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MARY BARRY: It was beautiful.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you're glad the road got put in? MARY BARRY: Oh, yes. KAREN BREWSTER: Yes. All right. Well, thank you very much for your time this afternoon. RACHEL MASON: Thank you. KAREN BREWSTER: That was great.

MARY BARRY: Well, I hope this was helpful for you. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, very. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, very much. RACHEL MASON: Very interesting.