Friday, March 30, 2007

"This World Is Not My Home... I'm Just a Passing Thru"

I was almost ten years old on March 27Th, 1964. The year of the big earthquake if you were around you would remember that date. In Old Harbor, I can remember the day like it was yesterday.

It was Good Friday. Mom said she was cooking. That day our cousin Valen Inga gave us a big stack of comic books to read. It was one of my favorite things to do in the village. Read! Comic books that we had stayed around our home until they got so worn out from reading they were tossed into the trash.

"I will read that one after you okay?"

"I already asked to read that one next!"

We sorted through and got first dibs on the comic books we hadn't read yet. I laid down on Mom and Dad's bed to read with the rest of my older brothers and my sisters. That day the earth began to shake! I was so into the reading that I thought it was my brother bugging me and I said, "Stop it DON!"

I kept reading as the bed shook then I looked around. There wasn't anyone around to keep shaking the bed and it was still shaking a lot! I dropped my comic book, got off the bed and tried to open the bedroom door which had shut with all the shaking going on. The ceilings and walls moved. I pulled on the door but it would not open.

"Open the door!" I hollered to nobody on the other side.

I kept turning the knob and pulling on the door until it pulled open and I went out into the hall. I tried not to fall over as I staggered out to the living room, to the dining room and then out the open door through the kitchen.

Everyone was already outside and I watched Mom with her hands on top of her head and my sister Millie doing the same thing. Mom covered her head in awe of God's power. I was in awe of everything around me! My sister Millie cried. The road was moving like rolling water. I could hear scared people all around the village. I heard the oil drums banging together.

When it all finally stopped the kids ran around looking at different things. "Sasha's chimney fell off!" I know I ran there to look. I don't remember being scared but I saw so many that were.

It didn't seem very long after that we heard the young guys running through the village hollering, "Everyone needs to go up the hill, there is going to be a tidal wave!"

I didn't know what a tidal wave was. Elena told me, "Go home now, go see your Momma." I hurried into the house and Mom said, "You kids need to go up the hill, hurry up!"

My sister Kotya began to cry as we hurried up to the hillside.

Still I wasn't scared and I lost track of my sister Kotya. She continued climbing way up the hillside with several other children before Leeroy stopped them and had them come back down. I watched people helping the old to climb the hill. I was fascinated with the old, blind lady Masha as she climbed up. I wondered what it was like to be blind so I shut my eyes as I climbed the hill hanging on to the dry grass.

That day we did get a huge tidal wave. I can remember all the people on the hill top and I looked down and watched the water coming from "The Narrows" and from the other side. All of the irritated ocean seemed to converge down below us in our village of Old Harbor and angrily tear up our picturesque little town.

I could hear the drums again, banging into each other. I saw flames in Enekenty's house. I saw houses floating. I don't remember much more except that it was so cold that night.

The morning after the villagers all climbed down and everyone met at the school. Stories were told of how the houses drifted here and there. The house that Dad built moved but was held close to it's place by the heavy fireplace he had built. The missionaries house stayed put, but the Chapel floated to Barling Bay. The water didn't touch the school, or the Russian Orthodox Church.

We all eventually left the village and traveled first to Kodiak then to Anchorage and finally were bussed to Camp Denali. I have no idea where Camp Denali is! It's an army barracks somewhere.

I don't remember how long we were out of Old Harbor but after the villagers went back we all lived in Army tents. The water damaged homes were demolished and burned. Government housing was built all summer long and they were not very good buildings. I remember when it rained the rain water ran down the outside of the house and in under the wall then the water filled up our floors. We mopped and mopped all day when it would rain until Dad could afford to order supplies to fix the cracks.

Cool Slideshows

Recently, I got a call from John in Old Harbor. "What do you want to do with the house? It is old and the doors are wide open. The school kids in the village are using it to party in. What do you want to do? Shall we board it up or tear it down?" I was saddened to think of tearing it down so I told him to just board it up.

My brother Toby called me a few days ago about it. He said he was told that the kids broke in and are partying in it again. "What you going to do about it, Con?"

To me it seems this house is just like the old comic books that we loved but as they got worn out we trashed them. This house has survived the years and years of wind, and rain and so much neglect. Now is it time to tear it down?

Something in me does not want to tear the house down. I want to be able to go back down there and fix it up. I want to return to this place that I used to call home. My husband encourages me and he says that he can salvage some of the wood, maybe build a small cabin in it's place.

I am thinking that this is a good idea right now but then again, I don't know why.

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' thru; if Heaven's not my Home, then LORD what would I do? The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door, and I can't feel at home, in this world anymore."

Millie will be traveling home to Alaska, and I am so happy to hear that.

Day 94.


Constance said...

That was really interesting! I remember an earthquake we had when I was a kid. St Louis is along the New Madrid Fault (in 1812, the earthquake was so severe it has turned the Mighty Mississippi River back on its course). Our earthquake was nothing like the one you had and we had no worries of tidal waves. I remember thinking that somehow my stepdad was shaking the house. Several years ago, Geologists were predicting that St Louis was going to have a mighty earthquake. My MIL took down all of her knick knacks (she had TONS of them) and boxed them up in the basement. Nothing ever happened though.

Being displaced is something I've never had to endure. My Mom & Pop lost almost everything in 1993 when the mid-west was so horibly flooded. She still has problems thinking about it and Pop still has nightmares of walking through their house with the water up to his neck.

I love the idea of Doug salvaging what he can from the old house and rebuilding something else. It's hard to let go of things, maybe it feels like we are losing our childhood or our parents if we don't still have those things. When I reflect on my childhood and remember how tough it was at times, I give thanks because those circumstances molded me into the person I am today and I'm very content with life!

PS Glad Millie made it home! When are you going to visit her? Can you make an address available for her new room so I can send her another card?

Connie Marie said...

I just added Millie's information.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story... I loved reading this. I was surprised to read that your family's home still exists in Old Harbor... you have a hard decision to make about it.

I am praying for Millie.

Sarah Brown