by Jerry Stanyar
My parents, Doris and Ed Stanyar, met while attending Washington State College, before moving to Alaska, arriving in Douglas in early 1914 or 1915. My grandparents lived in Washington. My motherís mother was a school principal in Everett, Washington, while my dadís parents lived in Marysville where he was Deputy Sheriff.
Ed first went to work at the Treadwell Mine until it caved in (1917). He was always glad that his maintenance crew escaped unharmed. While living in Douglas my older brother was born, who later drove for the Royal Blue Cab Co. and later was the Captain of the port outside Bellingham, Washington.
From Douglas, we went to live at the Mendenhall Glacier where my father ran the powerhouse that was built near the face of the glacier. Now days, few people know of the powerhouse that was there. While living at the glacier, I was born. My dad and an Indian that lived out the road, pulled my mother by sled to Auke Bay where she was put aboard a fishing boat and taken to Juneau, where I was born at the St. Annís Hospital on June 10, 1918.
When we left the glacier, we moved to Thane where my dad worked for the Thane mine, running the Thane powerhouse, also the Salmon Creek Dam powerhouse. It was quite a trip from Thane to Salmon Creek in those days and when getting there, having to climb up the mountain to the powerhouse. In Thane, my sister Claire was born, who later was the head nurse for the Seward Hospital.
I remember the school house in Thane, a two-room building up in the trees above the boardwalk. At one time there were four of us in the family in the same room, different grades, but one teacher. My mother subbed as a teacher when the teacher wasnít available. The other kids I remember were the Sturrocks and the Kilohs. Some of the Sturrocks still reside in Juneau. Later my older two sisters took the ferry to go to school in Juneau in the higher grades.
A little time later we moved to Juneau as the Thane mine closed down and my dad went into the electrical business by himself, having a shop down South Franklin Street near the Cold Storage. Of the few jobs I remember him doing was the Native Hospital down on Willoughby Avenue and rewiring the old Alaskan Hotel. He also installed the first talking pictures in the movie house and we kids got free passes for a long time.
In the few years following, my two younger sisters and a younger brother were born in Juneau, making six of us kids born there and two in the State of Washington. There were two other brothers who passed away in the south in a big flu epidemic. So, my mother had her work cut out for her raising eight of us.
A few years later we moved to Windham Bay where my dad ran the maintenance and worked in the mine, while I worked in the mess hall, waiting on tables and doing the dishes. Between meals I worked inside the mine.
After a year or two, the mine closed down and we moved to Seattle where my dad was hired as head electrician at the University of Washington, where he worked till he retired. In the meantime, I finished high school at Ballard High in Seattle and returned to Juneau to drive for the Royal Blue Cab Co. and later we drove the Juneau-Douglas Bus. We really enjoyed the people in Douglas. We brought the miners over to the A-J Mine in Juneau and the second trip the school kids to Juneau. I worked there till the war broke out. I joined the Army and left Juneau for the Aleutian Islands for four and a half years of duty; three years aboard Gen. Buchnersí floating headquarters then to an Army tugboat.
I met my wife, who was an Army nurse and we married right after the World War II. In the fifty-four years of marriage she never let me forget she outranked me. I later became an electrician like my dad and worked construction in California. We lived in California all this time, but I try to visit Juneau at least every other year. There isnít a more beautiful State than Alaska, and you will have to put up with me a few more times. Iíve met a lot of people in my travels, but I have yet to meet anybody as nice and sociable as the people around Juneau. There are only two of us left, out of twelve, but we have to stay near our family, so youíll have to let us come visit every now and then.
After the war, I was recalled into the Army Reserve which I stayed in until I retired and am now on pension living in a retirement home. My wife died in August 1999.
Ed Stanyar at the old Thane mine around 1919. Eighteen degrees below zero.
Mendenhall Glacier in 1912. Note the ice close to old A.J. Power House. Photo by T. Davis.