by Ann Reischl Burkhardt
My folks, Ralph and Treva Reischl, and my brothers, Dave and Keith, moved to Juneau from the State of Washington in 1929. Dad worked for the Union Oil Company and they lived in a house on the hillside, a little ways down the Thane Road from where the present Union Oil Company is now.
I was born at St. Annís Hospital in Juneau in 1934, and in 1935, my parents bought a house on Fritz Cove Road from Al Weathers. It was a wonderful place to grow up during those years. Since my brothers were quite a bit older, Dave was 14 years older and Keith was 12 years older, I was like an only child. I played a lot in the woods all by myself and never had problems with bears or anything. We had quite a few black bears around at that time, too. One did come one night and ate some of my chickens and dad took one of my stilts and chased it off, hitting it over the back and broke the stilt in two. We had about 20 acres and lived down off the main road about a quarter of a mile.
In those days, a lot of the islands nearby still had fox and mink farms on them, such as Coughlin, Suedla, Spuhn and Portland Islands.
My dad had a boat built around 1934-35, the Treva C. and did a lot of charter work as well as bear guiding. He also live-trapped wolverines and we had a covered pen that we kept them in until he shipped them out to zoos. He also live-trapped wolves and we had one in a pen for quite a while before it was shipped out. We named her Queenie and one time mom said she couldnít find me, I was about 4 years old, and when she did, I was at the wolf pen with my arm inside the cage clear up to my shoulder trying to pet the wolf. Never got bit but she said she watched me closer after that. After dad shipped Queenie to a zoo, he got letters from the zoo keepers for several years, telling him about the pups she had, etc.
Fritz Cove Road was so different in the early days, mostly a one-way road with pull outs if you met a car. Elaine Arnold, a friend, who lived at the other end of the road, and I would go back and forth on that road all hours of the day and night, either walking or riding our bikes. Never any problems. I thought of that so often because when my children grew up out there, I didnít feel like it was that safe anymore. Elaine and I would walk up to Auke Lake sometimes after school and go ice skating as there was so much skating on the Lake in those days and if it snowed, everyone got out and shoveled it off. Vick Johnson and family lived on Fritz Cove Road where Dock Street is now. He had a son Vicky whom I played with also.
My mom and I always went to church at the Chapel-by-the-Lake and at that time it was up on the hill on the left hand side as you go out the road just before you turn to go down the Fritz Cove Road. In fact, they removed most of the area where the little church sat when they redid the Fritz Cove Road.
During WW II, my Dad worked with his boat out of Excursion Inlet quite a bit and mom and I were pretty much alone at our house. My brothers were both in the service. I remember having to have dark curtains on our windows which we had to pull at night. One night we looked out and here were all these planes coming in and dropping flares over Auke Bay. Mom and I got scared, thinking it was the Japanese and ran and hid in our woods. Afterwards, we found out it was our own planes coming in with the flares trying to find the airport.
The summers of 1947-48, my dad worked up the Taku River with a little tug boat he had bought. The Taku Chief would bring the barges down from the mine to where the lodge is and dad would take the barges on down to the mouth of the river where the big ships came and unloaded them. I can remember dad having to go out with the skiff on the river quite often and change his markers as the silt coming down the river changed the channel so much. We lived in a little cabin just below the lodge during the summer.
The summer of 1949, dad worked the oil dock at Pelican and we lived there that summer. I helped him on the dock and it was so much fun meeting all the fishermen and helping them fuel up. During the summer, a mother otter was there with her young ones and got killed by a dog. Dad got one of the baby otter and we raised it and named her ďPokey.Ē We took him back to Juneau with us and he would be in the house along with our pet dog. The two would play together. Dad would take Pokey to town in his truck and when dad parked and got out of the truck, Pokey would lay on the horn so everyone knew when dad was in town. We had him for a couple of years until he got tangled up in the neighbors fish net and drowned.
Iíll always remember how much mom and I rowed around in our skiff. I started rowing when I was about five years old. We would row over to Spuhn Island and visit the Weschenfelders and sometimes we would row as far as Fish Creek, at the end of North Douglas Road. As I got older, Elaine and I would row out to Battleship and Coughlin Islands and walk around and sometimes swim there. I wouldnít want to be rowing out there now as there are too many boats in the Auke Bay area.
My brother Dave bought the Treva C. from dad after he returned from the service and he ran the mail to Elfin Cove and Pelican and the summer of 1950, I worked with him. At that time, we could take passengers and I was deckhand and cook and it was a fun experience.
After graduation, I worked in Juneau until 1953, when I married Walter Burkhardt and we lived in Tacoma, Washington, for about four years before moving back to Juneau. I could hardly wait to return to Alaska. We had two children born in Tacoma: Ralph and Charla. When we moved to Juneau, we bought a house in town, right by Gold Creek and lived there until 1962. My dad disappeared down Seymour Canal in 1960, and in 1962, we moved into my home place and mom lived in a little house right next to us. An old bachelor, Chet Barber, had lived in the little house the whole time I grew up. He had worked for my dad at the oil company and was like a grandpa to me. He had passed away in 1947-48. We had three other children which were born in Juneau: Chuck, Wally and LuAnn.
My mother passed away at the Sitka Pioneers Home in 1983. We continued living in Juneau until 1991, when we moved to Haines. We had always lived in our little cove all by ourselves with the exception of my brother Dave and three of his girls who had built on the property behind us. When a lot of houses started going up on the point across from us, things just changed too much for me and I needed to get away from it. It didnít seem we had the privacy anymore, looking at all the new houses. They are beautiful but they just changed things too much after living there all my life without them.
For quite a few years, one of momís brothers, Al Conine and his wife, Hazel, and two children: Charlotte and Harold lived in Juneau while I was growing up. Charlotte now lives in Anchorage and Harold in Wrangell. Later on momís sister Tess Strange and her husband Roy and their children, Val, Betty and Mike, moved to Juneau. Betty and Val still live there.
My brother, Dave, passed away in 1999, but his wife Bette and daughters Kathy Holmquist, Patty Weber, and Peggy Lamonica still live in Juneau, all out on the old home place. Daveís other daughter Barbara Scott lives in Anchorage. My brother Keith lives in Yakima, Washington, and his two daughters, Alice Messick and Lauri Butcher live in Anchorage.
Dave and Bette Reischl.