Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mrs. Christmas


  This fine gal is my friend Ladonna Dybdahl, or as I usually call her, Ladonna Momma. Fortunately she has a good sense of humor- either that or she is exceptionally patient with  me realizing that I'm just an overgrown kid myself and therefore not as responsible as most adults. As you can see by her attire, she really gets into the holiday season. Notice the ornament earrings. I've thought more than once about getting my ears pierced so I could adorn my head with some of the colorful accessories that so many ladies gravitate to. I've often thought that with just a few modifications most earrings would make wonderful fishing lures. As you can see by this picture, I caught Ladonna totally unawares- that's why she has this look of surprise and perhaps confusion and is possibly saying "What in the HECK are you doing Tom?" I have to admit that its not really fair to catch people by surprise, but otherwise you might end up with  no picture at all. For over twenty years Ladonna has been an integral part of the school. Frankly I don't know how the high school could run without her. She's seen ten principles come and go and during that same twenty years there were four years with no principle at all. She's had quite an adventurous life, having spent her early years growing up on Lemesurier Island, located near the mouth of Glacier Bay in Icy Strait. For years she didn't realize there were cities until her dad, Captain Don Gallagher started taking her with him on his mail boat, the Forrester. He used to deliver the mail and some groceries to various small communities in Southeast Alaska- Hoonah, Pelican, Elfin Cove and even Idaho Inlet, even though there was no town per se, just a few homesteads. She said her father treated her like a son, letting her swear like a sailor and even let her share in his beloved cigars in the wheelhouse of the boat. When she was old enough for school her family moved to Juneau and lived on a house boat, the Veteran.  When she was eleven or twelve she spent her summers in Elfin Cove where her parents ran the store there- Swanson's. When all the other kids were learning to drive cars, Ladonna was running around in a speed boat. As she was growing into young adulthood, her parents sometimes worried  that perhaps the Cove, with so many transient fishermen could be a problem. As Juneau began to grow and the two lane road became four, her mom and dad  relocated once again, this time to Hoonah, where they spent the remainder of their years.  Her folks were well entrenched in the town when I came on the scene. Captain Don was a regular visitor at the L. Kane store, where he stopped on his daily rounds of the town, never without a cigar in his mouth. Her mother, Fay, was a little slip of a woman but feisty and I felt like she could hold her own in dealing with the captain. She used to peddle around town on a three wheeled adult tri-cycle. Every Christmas she would drop by the store with a loaf of war cake, a molasses cake with an abundance of raisins and walnuts. When her mother passed away, Ladonna picked up the torch and has continued the tradition. The captain kept log books from his travels around Southeast for a number of years which were stored in their home. After her parents passing, Ladonna acquired the home. Unfortunately the house caught fire years ago, I think as a result of kids smoking, and the the logbooks were destroyed. It's a shame to lose such a volume of written local history. When I spoke to her last time, I asked how much longer she would be working at the school and she replied four years. When the time comes to retire, she will be sorely missed. Her value was expressed in the last graduation ceremony, where so many of the students on stage praised her for her help and guidance. It's quite the testimony that when it's time to go your employers are left wondering how they're going to replace you. Way to go Ladonna.

9 comments:

  1. I swear she never looks any older!
    I sometimes have dreams about being back in school and having to go to Ladonna for the combination for my locker which of course I've forgotten, or my class schedule which I haven't been going to all semester!
    And yes, can't forget the war cake! :)

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  2. Hi Autumn- I can't think of a student at the highschool who didn't count on Ladonna for some manner of help. She's pretty incredible. Ahh, war cake- it wouldn't be Christmas without it.

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  3. I never counted on her,..Ben

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  4. ha...jk...she's always been a great gal,. and her war cake was phenominal.,,..there's no question about that..Ben

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  5. Hey Ben- I know for a fact that things wouldn't have gone nearly as smoothly in the school if it hadn't been for Ladonna. There's no two ways about it- she would speak her mind, but I would too in her position.She saw more crap in a few days from kids than most people saw in a lifetime.Like most adults who worked at the school, it was frustrating to have to deal with all the problems that kids came to school with, which frankly, were the result of poor parenting. She is a real asset there for sure- and I agree, the war cake is great.

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  6. Oh yea,..definitely a better place because of her...

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  7. Good blog dad, Love that lady :) and of course her war cake to.

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  8. Hey Camille- yeah she's a great gal. She brought a war cake up to your mom at the office the other day- it lasted part of one day. It was great!

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  9. If I was there the war cake wouldn't even had made it from the office to the house hahahah. just kidding

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