Stewart, Roy and Clarice (Haines)
by Fred Stewart
As the war was winding down in June 1945, Roy Henderson Stewart, born in 1882, in Gainesville, Texas, and Clarice Vincent Haines Stewart, born in 1900, in Tainter, Iowa, boarded the steamship Yukon at the Alaska Steamship Company wharf in Seattle bound for Juneau. With them were their two sons, Jon, born in 1931, and Fred, born in 1934, both in Salem, Oregon. Roy, who had served in the tank corps in France during the First World War, worked as an accountant for the Veterans Administration and had accepted a transfer from Portland to Juneau. On the three day passage, Fred remembers that the Yukon was still in its wartime configuration—black paint on the sweeping windows of the forward salon to keep light from escaping; a 4-inch gun mounted on the after deck and anti-aircraft guns port and starboard.
They arrived in Juneau and immediately moved in to the home of the Art Hedges family on Gold Hill. They lived there a few weeks while the Hedges were away on vacation. Soon the family found a rental house on Dixon Street. While there, Fred and a friend built a fort under the stairway that was the “street’ connecting Dixon to the street above, and persuaded his mom to let them sleep there overnight. The city police discovered them and the camp out was ended.
Fred remembers selling a special edition of the Alaska Daily Empire on VJ Day and shouting the end of the war headline on the streets. In September, Fred entered the sixth grade at the school above the Federal Building. Sometime that fall, he looked for a part time job. He talked to George Simpkins at Simpkins Printing and Stationery store on Front Street. Mr. Simpkins gave him a job sweeping floors and cleaning windows for $3
a week. He worked two hours a day after school and all day on Saturdays. Fred continued to work at Simpkins Printing for six years working full time in the summers and after school and on Saturdays during the school year.
In the meantime, the family had moved from the house on Dixon to the Channel Apartments on Willoughby Avenue and at about the same time built a cabin on the beach south of Thane. There was no road so the materials were hauled to the site by boat and a small, cozy cabin was the result. Shortly thereafter, Clarice and Roy separated and Clarice and the two boys moved into a smaller upstairs apartment at the Channel Apartments. Fred met and was soon “adopted” by Kinky Bayers who lived a block away. Kinky found Fred a 14-foot wooden skiff, which with some work was made to float and provided much entertainment. Kinky, who was the skipper of a 72-foot U.S. Corps of Engineers tugboat and later skipper of the U.S. Geological survey boat, the Watres, took Fred on several trips around Southeast and initiated a lifelong love of boats and the water.
In 1950, Roy died after being hospitalized at St. Ann’s Hospital. Clarice died in 1955. Before her death, she had homesteaded a small acreage on the Auke Bay Loop Road but had been unable to complete “proving up” on it before her death.
Jon and Fred both graduated from Juneau High School; Jon in 1949 and Fred in 1952. Both attended the University of Washington in Seattle. Jon spent most of his career in the Foreign Service working for the U.S. Information Agency in the Middle East. Fred graduated from law school and became a lawyer and later a Superior Court Judge in the State of Washington. Jon is now retired and living in Seattle.
Growing up in Juneau meant riding bikes on long summer evenings, rowing skiffs at high tide over the mud flats, swimming in the pot holes at the airport or Dredge Lake, hiking to the 2nd or 3rd cabin to ski in winter, picking blueberries, taking pictures of hundreds of fascinating boats, going to high school basketball games. Looking back it was a wonderful time in a wonderful place.