Some of My Earliest Memories of Alaska

Some people say that they don’t have any memories from when they were little… I’m not one of those people.  My earliest memories are from when I was 4 years old.  We were living in Seward, Alaska.  My dad was stationed there in the Coast Guard and my mom was pregnant with my little sister.  I remember the house that we were living in was painted dark green on the outside and stark white on the inside.  My dad had built a metal swing set in the front yard…right in front of the large living room window so they could watch me from the inside of the house.  I remember it because I got a metal splinter one day while swinging on the swings.  We had a weenie dog named Heidi.  Who, whenever she got excited would pee on you (if she was on your lap)…Annoying!  One day, she hadn’t come home after being let out for one last time before bedtime.  When we found her the next morning, she was underneath the porch giving birth to puppies. I’m not sure if we even knew that she was going to have puppies.   Heidi died delivering the last puppy and so did her puppies because they were too young.  To console me, my parents got a new dog for me, a German Shepherd named Snoopy.  She was a good dog.

One day, Snoopy was in front of the living room window.. just sitting and looking outside.  There was about a foot or two of snow on the ground from the snow fall the night before so our yard was completely covered in white.  There by the swing set was a huge moose.  It was as big as the swing set itself.  I turned to yell at my mom but all I could get out was “MOmmmm…” because my mom hard put her hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling.  “Shhhhh…we don’t want it to hear us.”  At that moment, the moose looked our way and we all froze.  It then turned towards the window and began walking towards the house.  I wanted to run but my mom said to stay very still.  The moose brushed up against the window and I could see every hair on it’s back.  I gasped but my mom held my mouth again and said, “shhhhh.”  The moose turned and looked liked it was about to lay down but walked away instead.  We didn’t move until it was completely gone, not even Snoopy budged.  All I could do after that is sit by the window.  I watched the patch of brushes where it walked into to see if I could see it for what seemed like forever with Snoopy beside me. (I’ve got a Norman Rockwell painting going in my head.)

Sometime while we were there, I experienced my first earthquake.  I was in my room which was down the hall from my parent’s room.  First, I heard a rumbling noise that got louder and louder and then the house shook.  I remember screaming for my mom and string to run down the hall but I kept hitting the walls and falling.  I couldn’t even stand.  My mom told me to just stay where I was and sit down.  It last only a couple of seconds but it felt like an eternity.  A lot of things fell off the walls and the shelves but surprisingly very little broke.  That night I slept in my parent’s room with my mom.  My dad was out to sea.

I don’t remember too much more about Seward except for nap time in my kindergartner class, taking the polio white marshmallow thing and playing house with the boy the street.  It was his idea.  During one of our play dates, he gave me a kiss (a peck) on the lips before leaving to go home.  I must have given him the oddest look because he says to me, “That’s what grown ups do before they leave for work.”  I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “okay.”   I guess, technically, that was my first kiss.

traveling Seward Highway winter


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