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Cantillon, Betty and Bud

by an interview by Betty(Nelson) Cantillon


My grandfather, George Bach, was born in Bavaria, Germany, and came to Douglas in the 1880ís, 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, ďThe Montana,Ē 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 Fishermanís Bend is, with just a few groceries. Roscoeís 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 DeHartís is now. One time, Jane DeHart, my mom, dad, and I took my dadís 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.


My fatherís parents left France and went to Ireland and then came to Canada. Both of my grandfathers worked for the railroad. My other grandparents were from Hamburg, Germany, and came to St. Louis where my fatherís parents had moved. My parents met there and were married. I went through school in St. Louis and after graduation joined the National Guard. We were called into active service in 1940, and went through the Louisiana maneuvers. When our division was broken up, my company was sent to Alaska to the Duck Creek Camp which was an old CCC camp. That is where I met Betty, at a picnic. We were married in the fall of 1943, when I got the word that we were going to be shipped to Nome. Our apartment there was right on the beach and had one of the few wells in town, even though the water was fit for only flushing the toilet. Betty came back to Juneau the next spring and I was shipped to Seattle. Eight of us, including Erv Hagerup, wanted to come back to Juneau, but we had to do it by way of Hattisburg, Mississippi. I was here for Davidís birth, and then my father-in-law and I went to Young Lake, fishing. I finished my military service in various places down south and came back up here. We then went back to Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where I was taught watch repair and jewelry for about a year. Then we came back to Juneau and I went to work for Bettyís dad in the store. In addition to our son David, we have a younger son Steve and a number of grandchildren.

We have lived in our house at Auke Bay for 40 years now. As a veteran, I helped to start the first American Legion Post and was its first commander. I was involved with the fire department and the public utilities board. I played a lot of baseball with Erv Hagerup, Red Holloway, Joe Snow and all those guys. We couldnít get television out in Auke Bay, so we did a lot of things like folk and square dancing in the Hagerupís basement. One remarkable thing I did was to win the Salmon Derby in 1960, with a 42 pound 10 ounce fish. We have seen a lot of changes around Juneau and Douglas. One thing in particular was when we were granted statehood. There was a lot of activity and celebration.

There were only two phones in this area, one at what is now Fishermanís Bend and one at DeHartís. Rod Nordling got a lot of old wall phones from the A.J. Mine. We bought a lot of wire and strung a line from his house to Neil Taylorís at Fishermanís Bend and to other houses. When you wanted to make a call, you had a code to call each other, and if you wanted to call into town, you had to call Neil and he hooked you into the line to town.

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