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Kaufmann, Robert & Dollie

by Lanore Kaufmann Gunderson

My dad, Robert T. Kaufmann, was on his way to Ketchikan to work about 1925. He met Mr. Bergman on the boat and he was hired to run the AJ Mess Hall that was associated with Mr. Bergman when his hotel was filled with miners. My mother and I arrived about a year later—I was about three—and spent many a day being spoiled terribly by many of the miners who had family back in the old country. After a few years, my dad went into business by establishing a restaurant which was across the street from the George Brothers Department and Grocery store.

By the time I was in the third grade, the owners of the Gastineau Hotel approached dad to run the large restaurant that was then in their building. Dad ran that until he decided to move across the street into the Imperial Building owned by Mr. Stocker and “Kaufmann’s Café” was there until my parents separated in 1940, dad moving to Anchorage, mother remaining in Juneau where she eventually married Dr. Archie W. Stewart, dentist. To this day, I have a lot of fun getting into discussions with several of my classmates (1941) who didn’t know downtown as well as I did for the period of 1930 on. I can remember a lot of vacant lots or houses being torn down to build the Alaska Light and Power building, the Baranof Hotel, the 20th Century building and I certainly remember the old Opera House, Occidental Hotel and the likes. I remember when the Elks Club building was three stories. As a youngster I sang and we practiced for the Elks’ big vaudeville show and I had to walk up those darn dark steps to the third floor and I always expected someone to reach out and grab me.

I graduated in 1941. I actually didn’t move away from Juneau until 1946, following the war and didn’t move further south than Wrangell. As mom and Doc remained in Juneau until the late 60’s, I came back every year at least once. To this day, ask where home is, and it’s Juneau.

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