Capturing History

Monday, August 14, 2017

Aunt Jean being interviewedFor those that are relatively new to our blog, Max has an Aunt Jean who is his dad’s little sister. Jean as a young woman during WWII, went to Alaska to work on the civilian side of the building of the Alaska Highway. While cleaning out Jean’s home when she had to move into assisted living we found an awesome photo album of her time in Alaska. She in her usual way told us that no one would be interested in that old thing. WRONG!! We were very interested. She told us we could have the album so we took it to Alaska when we went in 2014. We met with the people at the museum at Denali National Park and at Alaska University in Fairbanks. Both were very interested in our donating the photo album to them. The people at Denali also asked if they could send someone here to interview Jean and capture her oral history of her time in Alaska. They said there was limited information from people who actually worked on the building of the highway and almost none from women. Jean also had some photographs taken in 1944 at Denali National Park – then called McKinley Park – that the park does not have. They have contacted us several times over the past 3 years and tried to send someone but budgetary constraints always stopped them. That visit finally occurred today. This morning we met a gentleman from Memphis University that specializes in taking oral histories to visit with Jean and go through the photo album. She told him about flying to Alaska to work. Laughing, she told about how much fun that flight was because she was the only female on the plane with a bunch of guys. She also remembered a few other things as they went through the album so hopefully it will be of some use to the Park Service. Sadly, Jean could not tell him nearly as much as she shared with us when we first found the album in 2013. Those memories have just faded over the past 3 years. She did seem to enjoy the visit with the interviewer so it was a good day. We will now finalize the donation and get the album to Denali National Park. To bad we can’t carry it back personally. Maybe next time we go to Denali we will see the album on display in the museum there.

After returning home, we worked on getting ready to go to North Carolina and reloading FRED. Still a ways to go on that but we will make it happen. When we walked over to Aunt Helen’s this afternoon we heard another funny story. Seems Juno heard Helen get up about 1:30 this morning and she told us that Helen got up and went to the kitchen and got something, probably a snack. Helen denies this. “I did not get up at 1:30 and if I did I would remember it.” Juno’s response was “I saw the light come on so did your walking stick just walk down the hall by itself.” We all laughed – for different reasons. We also enjoyed a nice walk with Barry and Donna this afternoon. We got in a total of about 4.5 miles today. It was a good day.

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