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Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Mangsol, Oscar & Lydia

by Ada Winther

My parents, Oscar and Lydia Mangsol, came to Juneau from Innis, Montana, when I was about five, so it must have been 1927. My father first worked for Dr. DeVighne at his mink farm on the Taku River where Taku Lodge now stands. We were there for a couple of years until someone discovered I should be in school. My mother and I then moved to Thane where I started school and we lived with the teacher. We then moved to Juneau where my father joined us and we first lived in a boardinghouse where my mother did some cooking and housekeeping. My father was a mechanic and worked for Juneau Motor Company.

We lived in several different locations in downtown Juneau and then on Willoughby Avenue where there were wooden streets and walkways, and cabins and houses on piling. I remember the building of the Douglas Bridge and the grocery store owned by Jim Ellen.

My father then went to work for the highway maintenance crew and operated the snow plows and graders. He then built our house out at Auke Bay near where the Ferry Terminal is now. I went to high school from there, which meant walking to the Y at Auke Bay to catch the school bus when a ride wasn’t available. In winter, this was a long, cold, two mile hike. I graduated from Juneau High in 1940, and was hired by Superintendent A. B. Phillips to work in his office. When it wasn’t busy, he would loan me out to the territorial offices. I then went to work full time for Commissioner James C. Ryan in the Department of Education, and worked with Assistant Commissioner Marie Drake.

Gudmund “Goody” Winther and I were married in 1943, and lived at the Jensen Apartments until we bought a house out the road at Mile 2 1/2 on the Glacier Highway. Goody worked at Northern Commercial Company and fished with his dad. In 1947, my mother became ill, so my parents moved into our house. Since Goody was out fishing most of the time, I moved into town with his folks until my mother died in 1948. My father later remarried and moved to Arizona where he died a few years later. The elder Winthers were wonderful folks, who had been in Nome before coming to Juneau, and Mrs. Winther was like my own mother.

Eleven years after we were married, we had two daughters, Leslie and Jensine, and I didn’t work for a while. Goody had his own boat by this time, the Elsie D. When our older daughter was about three, she said “Mommy, I used to have a daddy.” The next time Goody came in, I told him that and before long he quit fishing and went to work for Don Abel, so he could stay in town. He loved his kids! He later had a marine survey business and died in Ketchikan on February 1, 1994.

In the 1950’s, I worked part time as a Secretary in the Department of Education under the Commissioner, Dr. Don Dafoe and shared a job with Marie Darlin for a time. Our supervisor appreciated the fact we could read each other’s shorthand. This was long before jobsharing became accepted. Later, I worked for the school district
as Superintendent Bill Overstreet’s secretary for several years. Goody worked winters for Wayne Johnson’s City Cleaners when he wasn’t fishing, so he and Bill knew each other as Bill and Wayne were cousins.

The girls went to Harborview School and their cousins, the sons and daughters of Goody’s sister and brother in law, Jirdes and Fred Baxter, went to Capital School, so they didn’t get to know each other at school. Leslie still lives in Juneau and has two children. Jensine lives in Seattle, is married, and works at the University of Washington Hospital as an anesthetist. I now live at Parkshore Condominiums in Juneau.

Ada Winther (Mangsol) as a young girl wintering in at Taku Lodge.