Monday, February 21, 2011

How the Times Have Changed

 I can't really remember why I took this top picture.Several weeks ago I was out and around with the camera just enjoying the day and the reletively mild weather. I guess I wanted to show anyone who might be interested, a shot of the booming metropolis of Hoonah, Alaska. This is Front Street, the main drag. Actually, it looks pretty good compared to what it looked like when I arrived back in 1976. Back then the road was about half the width and was an unpaved,muddy, potholed disaster. The only cars I saw were the ones that other people from Mt. Bether had brought up here with them.  They  had to leave them in town  because there was no way to transport them to the farm; even if there was, there was nowhere to drive. Now it seems like there are almost as many cars as there are people. It's really apparent when  you're trying to get into the parking lot at Hoonah Trading. Lord knows how many accidents there have been in that lot. I guess it was fine when there were only about six vehicles in town. Now everyone seems to have an extended cab truck with an extra long bed, and they all want to shop at once. It's like parking a semi-truck on a postage stamp.
 On the left hand side of the top picture you can see a skiff on it's side in someone's front yard. That's pretty much the way it's always been. You don't see too many appliances laying around in peoples front yards nowadays, although there is a red fire hydrant laying in the bushes that I pass by everytime I walk Jan to work. Close to the skiff there's a couple stacks of half-moon galvanized steel laying in an empty lot. The house that used to be there burned down years ago and the land owner is looking for someone to erect a quonset hut where the house stood. So far he hasn't found anyone who can do it. I hope he never does. There used to be a bus parked where the skiff is. It had been used at one time as a dwelling by someone until it was rendered unlivable. It still sat in the front yard for quite a number of years afterwards before it finally disappeared.
   For those who are familiar with Hoonah and haven't been here for awhile I took a picture of the new fuel tank farm. Unfortunately it's located right by the blue warehouse and is going to block the view of the landowners who built homes down by the water so they could enjoy the beautiful scenery. Originally the tanks were supposed to be located in the rock pit across the street from the warehouse, but it was found that the land might not be stable in the event of an earthquake, so they had to move them. It's not really what you want to see when you wake up in the morning, but I guess things could be worse. They could have built a quonset hut instead.


  1. Found your blog and was interested to see that. You were originally from Marion, Ohio. We live close to there. Was also interested to see you have seven they all live there in Alaska? How do the cars and trucks get there if there are no roads. Shipped in? Your lifestyle is so very interesting.
    The truck issue is here too and sometimes even Amish!

  2. Hi Donna, I assume you were the same Donna that posted a comment on the last blog entry about the crabbing? You mentioned you live close by Marion- which town? I used to go down to Delaware Dam to fish quite a bit and over to Mt.Gilead. The Whetstone River runs through there and it used to be really good fishing. When I went south last time I tried the little spot there and it was nothing but a trickle. In thirty some years a lot of things change. Most, if not all of the cars and trucks come by the Alaska State Ferry system. We have regular runs between the various towns of Southeast Alaska.It's the most economical way to get around. Years ago there was a barge that made a monthly run to the outlying villages in Southeast. They supplied almost all of the groceries, building supplies, or whatever else you might need.You had to plan a month in advance of needing something in particular.It was a unique way to live, but it was a real nuisance too. The tug was called the Klehowa and they had a reputation for ruining the cargo they were supposed to be transporting. Sometimes they would run a forklift into a whole pallet of soft drinks, or stick a pallet of plywood into the freezer where water from the condensors would drip on it. I was running the L. Kane store one time when they put 18 cases of eggs in the freezer. I was furious.
    My oldest daughter still lives in Hoonah, two other daughters and a son live in the state and the others are scattered around the country.
    Thanks for checking out the blog and leaving comments. It's nice to know that people are interested.

  3. Hi there, just finished your book which I have been wanting to read for awhile. I went to that area in 1973 and the first year was about as miserable as you describe! Ha! It wasn't because because I was joining a religious subsistance community though, but the FOOD, COLD, DISCOMFORT, my god all that! I blamed my boyfriend for it because he was trying to live subsistance. This gives me some perspective. Upshot? It can be a miserable place, period, even if it is beautiful and you are young and tough. I hope fishing is well, that's a hard way to make a living. I miss the wood boats, the water, the color. By the way, do I possibly have a book you signed? That would be so charming. It says inside the front, "11/5/07 To Mom - thanks again for all you've done for me. I love you, Tom" I got it over the internet at Best Wishes.

  4. HI- I happened to be going through some comments and I noticed yours. Did you live on a boat? If so, which one? I didn't get there until 76, so obviously you were here before me. You wouldn't believe how it has changed.
    I don't believe that my mom would get rid of a book I'd given her. She doesn't even have a computer to advertize anything, so to answer your question, I don't believe it's one I signed- sorry. I did write another book that just came out that I would be glad to sign for you. It's totally different than Wilderness Blues. I interviewed ten local fishermen and put the interviews in a book titled The Greybeards. Anyway, thanks for commenting.

    1. HEY wow, I just came back to see if you ever found the comment - sorry I took so long. I lived on a float house around Prince of Wales Is and left in 79 back home to SF area. I KNOW it has changed because now I can check it out via internet, wow. Does everyone outside the cities have internet now and cellphones? I went back to KTN for a short visit in '96 and was depressed to see most of the wood boats had vanished, but things must have changed a lot since then too. At that time they had espresso in KTN and that was a big deal. I'll check out your other book. Glad your mom it still among us, I thought if it was hers it got swept up in an estate sale or something you know how it goes...

  5. HI- I can't comment on what all the other small towns and villages have available as far as internet and whatnot, but I assume that cell phones and internet are pretty much availble everywhere. If you look at my latest blog post on Elfin Cove, you can kind of get the feel for how one place would like to be off the beaten path, but it looks like civilization has found them. I was out fishing in the area around Dundas Bay last week and went in to sell my fish in Inian Cove and saw a large sign that one of the locals had written that said Tourism Rapes Alaska- so even though modern times have come to remote areas, they aren't always welcome. Thanks for following up.