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Mears, Marianna (Brandes)

by Marianna Brandes Mears

I was born in 1920, in Portland, Oregon, to Fred E. and Katherine Sophia Swen Brandes. When I was six, we moved to Ketchikan aboard our boat Wanderer. As a young man in the early 1900ís, my dad worked at the herring reduction plant at Killisnoo living with the Soboleff family. Father Soboleff was the Russian Orthodox priest. Daddy always had a desire to return and after his father died, decided to relocate. However, after a little over a year in Ketchikan, a sudden death in the family had us returning to Portland.

When the Depression came along and jobs were scarce, Daddy was offered the postmasterís position at Angoon. Life was very different in an isolated community, where once a week a mail boat brought news, supplies, and travelers, from stateside living. It was not an easy adjustment, as I missed my friends and it seemed to rain every day. Gradually, I made new friends and learned to play a bit differently. The first summer found an Indian girl and myself the only kids in the village. Everyone else our age had gone to the cannery with their family to spend the summer. Although she didnít speak much English, and I no Thlingit, we managed to have a good time together cutting out paper dolls from the catalog.

I went to the BIA school through eighth grade and spent my high school days in Juneau staying with Fred and Mae Crowell and their daughter, Mickey. After graduation, I returned to Angoon helping my parents with the store and post office. Since Angoon had no docking facilities, my dad had to go by boat to Killisnoo each week to meet the mail boat. I usually went along as deckhand and freight handler. Since there was no way of knowing whether the Estebeth (our mail boat) would sail Wednesday evenings as scheduled, we would have to have the mail ready regardless of the weather and make the run to Killisnoo and wait.

In the early 1940ís, Angoon got a Territorial radio station. I handled all the telegrams, emergency calls and later was the Airway Weather Observer for the Weather Bureau transmitting weather data to the CAA on Biorka Island. In 1947, I married a Coast Guardsman, Gordon J. Mears. The next year when his hitch was up he enlisted in ACS and we were stationed in Juneau for a few years. Later, we spent time in Fairbanks with ACS. In 1959, we left Alaska and two years later my husband retired. My brother, Fred Jr., lived in Ketchikan in the 40ís and 50ís running the mail boats Discover and Dart. Before that, he skippered Andy Gundersonís Pirate and worked at Hood Bay and Chatham canneries.

After retiring, my father moved to Sitka, living at Jamestown Bay. I have a daughter and son-in-law and a son and daughter-in-law and a baby granddaughter.

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