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Cantillon, Betty (Nelson)

by an oral interview with Betty and Bud Cantillon

My grandfather, George Bach, was born in Bavaria, Germany, and came to Douglas in the 1880’s, because his brother Frank, a businessman, was here. He was a geologist and had a claim up in the Basin. He met and married my grandmother, Sophia Hannila in 1897. My mother, Vivian was born in 1900, and her brother Ed, in 1898, in Douglas. George and Sophia divorced in 1903. In 1905, Sophia married Peter A. Carlson and they had a daughter Winifred, born in 1911. Peter Carlson came to Juneau in 1896, from Sweden and worked at the Treadwell Mine. In 1898, he went to Atlin and then on to Dawson, returning to Juneau in 1900. He owned a tavern, “The Montana,” on Front Street, worked for the Territorial Fisheries and was a custodian for the Juneau schools just three blocks from their home on Fifth Street. He died in 1947. Sophia died in 1951, and both are buried in Evergreen Cemetery. My grandfather, George Bach, died in 1946.

My dad, Ludwig Nelson, was born in Norway andcame to this country with his mother and two brothers about 1913. They settled in Chicago and then went to the west coast where a half-brother lived, eventually settling in Bremerton, Washington. He came to Juneau in about 1916, and worked in the Perseverance Mine as an electrician, even though he had no electrical experience. He met my mother about 1918, and they were married in 1919. They then went to the States where he learned to make nugget jewelry and watches. When they returned to Juneau, he started his own jewelry shop, Ludwig Nelson Jewelers. He was known for his beautiful ivory and nugget jewelry.

I was born in 1924, and my sister, Patricia, was born two years later. We had a brother who died when he was about seven. I can remember starting kindergarten with Sandy Sanderson Selby as my teacher at the Fifth Street School. I remember Mr. Keller, a very tall man, was our superintendent and discipline was very strict. Mabel Burford was my second grade teacher, a very, very nice person.

We lived up Starr Hill on Kennedy Street until we moved to Auke Bay. When we first moved out to Auke Bay, the Forest Service had parceled up this land into lots. My father had gotten a piece of land in 1934, as a summer home site, and built a house down on the beach. At the time, Roscoe Laughlin had a little one room country store where Fisherman’s Bend is, with just a few groceries. Roscoe’s store was a center of activity for this area and fascinating for us children as he had a big green parrot. It would fly outside through the trees, and we would be playing on our swings with it up above us. It could imitate the voice of the mother of one of our playmates and call him home. My mother swore that every time she went to the outhouse that bird would find a hole and stick its head in. She refused to move from town until we had indoor plumbing.

Roscoe later sold the store to Jim Hickey, Sr., who in turn sold it to Neil and Helen Taylor, who built the dock. Jim and Jane DeHart obtained the large piece of property where the Bible Church is now, and lived there. Jim worked in the mine, and just at the start of the war he started their store where the Horton property is, and later moved it over to where DeHart’s is now. One time, Jane DeHart, my mom, dad, and I took my dad’s boat out to what had been a farm on Shelter Island to get some trees and plants he had been given permission to move. We got caught by weather and just made it to the beach on Portland Island. There was a couple living there and we ended up spending the night with them while Jim was home, worried sick. The next day we made it home safely with the plants.

I graduated from J-High in 1942, and met Bud that spring. He had come up with the first group of soldiers to be stationed at the Duck Creek Camp. I worked for the Office of Price Administration until Bud was sent to Nome and I joined him there, where we stayed for about a year. I flew up and back on Pan American, from Juneau to Whitehorse and then to Fairbanks where we spent the night. The next day we flew to Nulato and then Sand Point where we landed on the beach, and then into Nome. Spending the winter in Nome was quite an experience even though we had a very nice apartment. Our son, David, was born the next spring after I returned to Juneau.

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