Parks and Recreation Image

Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Young, Newt and Kathryn (Cheney)

by Kathryn Young

I came from Larmie, Minnesota, near Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota, where I was born in 1914. My dad died when I was still in school. When I got out of nursing school in 1936, my mom and I came to Juneau where my brother, John Cheney, and my sister, Wanda Lavett, were living. We came for three months and stayed for thirteen years!

Newt came up the same year I did, but we didn’t meet until four years later. I started working at the hospital as a nurse on the floor. The procedures were very different, not because the sisters were running a Catholic hospital, but because of the differences between nursing in Minnesota and Alaska. Some of the Juneau hospital was primitive. They had the equipment but didn’t use it.

In 1945, we moved “out the road” to the Betts house (around 4 mile) when son, Peter, was seven years old. We lived there for forty years selling the house in 1985, when we moved into town to live at Parkshore Condos.

Newt was in Sitka and then came back but very rarely worked in Juneau. He worked all over Alaska for private contractors. They would build things and after a few years the same crew would go back and demolish them. He got paid more for taking apart than for building. Those big cement blocks out near Vanderbilt Hill alongside the highway were part of structures not built by Newt, but he and another fellow had the contract to take them

Newt retired around 1975. He went hunting a lot up behind the house and got lynx and bear. Every year he would get deer there. There used to be lots of animals up on the mountains, but now it is all houses. One morning we had five deer in our back yard and saw a bear in the yard once. One of the bears Newt shot was a glacier blue bear. The boys first went hunting up behind the house. As they were growing up, the boys would play in the woods all the time, or took a boat out front of the house at high tide while mother stood in the window all the time to keep an eye on them.

After working at Dr. Dawes’ clinic, I worked at the employment office for five years. That office used to be where the Sealaska Building is now. I would continue through the years to go back and work at the clinic. In 1970, I became the time and attendance clerk at Juneau-Douglas High School. By then I had three sons. I stayed with the high school until 1981, when I retired. They gave me a “J” letter from high school, and the kids served breakfast in my honor and later in the day, the teachers had a lunch.

Kathryn (Cheney) Young