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Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Robinson, Andrew & Freida

by Freida Robinson

Andy and I were both born in Colorado, attended school there and were later both employed by the J.C. Penney Company which is where we met.

Andy’s greatest dream was to go to Alaska. He had several friends that went ahead, liked what they were doing, and also the area.

We were married in August, 1941, and in May, 1942, we sailed for Alaska. We left Vancouver, BC on the Princess Louise. We had a very pleasant trip as there was so much to see, stopping at most of the southeastern cities and finally arrived in Juneau. We were met at the ship by Polly Matheny, wife of Bill Matheny. They had preceded us to Alaska. We rented an apartment from Mr. and Mrs. John Satre, who made us feel very much at home which pleased us very much.

Andy immediately went to work for the B.M. Behrends Co. At that time, John Doyle Bishop was the manager.

Our stay in Juneau was shortened by a notice that Andy had to report for his induction in the U.S. Army. He was rejected, so here we were back in Colorado living with our families. He finally was hired by Montgomery Ward but we had to move to Bozeman, Montana. It was a beautiful city and Andy was happy with his position.

In April, 1943, we welcomed our first son, Charles. How happy we were!

We remained in Bozeman until December, 1944. John Bishop had kept in touch and wanted Andy to return to Juneau again to work with him at Behrends. We sailed from Vancouver, BC—this time on the Princess Nora and arrived in Juneau on New Years Eve, 1945. At that time, the Alaska Juneau Mine was operating on a very small scale.

John Doyle Bishop had rented a house for us in Douglas; in fact, it was the last home on the bus route. In April, 1945, we leased a house in Juneau which was much better for all of us. Early in 1946, we rented an apartment at the Fosbee. Freddie, our second son, arrived March 3, 1947. He was delivered by Dr. Joseph Rude.

Andy worked for B.M. Behrends until 1952, when he decided to make a change. At that time Nygard’s grocery business was for sale. We didn’t know much about the grocery business but decided to give it a try. At the Harbor Market we serviced many fishing boats and our business grew rapidly. We knew we would need more parking area, but were unable to purchase property for that.

In 1957, Marshall Erwin bought our inventory, we sold the fixtures and I went to work for Erwins. Andy had a position with Harold Brown at his menswear store. We were building a new home at the same time, a very busy and hectic time for both of us. We moved into our new home late in 1957.

Marshall Erwin decided to expand and build a new store in the valley. He purchased the Kendler property near the airport in 1961, and in 1963, we opened a new IGA store on the site.

Andy had always wanted his own business. In 1968, we opened Robinson’s Menswear in the new mall at the IGA site. I continued to work at the grocery store until 1972, then joined Andy at our business. We timed it right and it just took off. We had only one employee at the time, who was Irv Russell. His wife also opened the alteration shop in the same mall. We were open seven days a week, worked long hours, but we enjoyed serving our customers.

In 1975, we sold the business to Irv Russell and decided to leave Juneau for our retirement. We had purchased property on Fox Island, Washington. In 1976, we sold the house in West Juneau and boarded the ferry for a new life and home. We built our new home in 1978, and still occupy the same. Our 24 years here have been wonderful. We’ve traveled and enjoyed many wonderful trips. We also discovered a new hobby, a wonderful garden, and have many beautiful flower beds to care for. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on August 19, 2000.

We miss Juneau and our many friends. Also our family, Charles, Judy, Michael and Tom. Charles operates Super Bear and Family Grocery. God has blessed us in many ways. We did see Juneau grow and become a beautiful city, and also the great expansion in the valley.

Andy died at home on Fox Island on December 17, 2000.