Friday, April 17, 2015

Alaska: Even Better the Second Time Around, Part 1

We moved onto Elmendorf Air Force Base in the summer of 1969.  We left the apartment life behind and moved into military quarters; into our Quad.  Quads were groups of four buildings with a common parking area and each building had eight families.  So when you moved in, you had 32 instant neighbors. With all these families living in our quad or very close by, we had lots of kids to hang out with.

Our house in the quad.  However, when we lived
there it didn't have a garage.
I started sixth grade that year and it was a very unusual situation. There were so many of us that they had to get another building just for sixth graders. We ended up in an old office building. (Memories of my kindergarten year, The Day the Earth Moved, March 27, 1964.) We actually started changing classes there so it helped us when we got to junior high school. My home room teacher was a wonderful lady named Mrs. Wallace. I had a terrible crush on a boy named Mitch Huff. Unfortunately, for me, he had a crush on a friend of mine named Sandy Martin. Because it was an old office building, our recesses consisted of standing around an empty field ogling the boys.  That's okay because they were doing the same thing to us girls.  Another favorite teacher during that year was Mr. Hadley.  I would love to know what happened to those teachers.  They had a huge impact on my life and because we were military, we would leave and most times not know what happened to them or many of our friends.

It was a fun year being with just the sixth graders.  We were all in the same boat.  All trying to figure out the whole growing up process but we didn't have to deal with any of the older kids that year, or the younger ones.  It was just us and we enjoyed that.  We did a play at the end of that year and I was chosen to be the queen. I remember the king was a friend of mine named John Kennedy. I don't think his middle initial was F.  I kind of liked doing that play and although I didn't have an opportunity in junior high, I pursued drama later, in high school. 

During the winter we would play outdoors a lot.  Yes, it was cold but we bundled up, many times to the point that no one could tell who we were.  We would go out and build ice skating rinks, forts and igloos in our back yard. The ice skating rink was a little bumpy but we still had fun.

I used to babysit a lot for the Paxtons and the Baldwins. If you remember from a previous blog, Land of the Midnight Sun, my family was in the Paxton's wedding the first time we were in Alaska. Now I was babysitting their boys.  It's hard to believe that those boys now have children of their own.  Yikes, I feel old!  This is an older picture of Johnny Paxton and his daughter, from our last visit to Alaska.  A great young man, husband, and father.

One summer I babysat Linda Baldwin all summer. I thought that was really cool to have a full time babysitting job. We couldn't spend any time outside though because she was allergic to the sun. But we still got to do lots of fun things.  One of our favorites was going bowling.  I heard she passed away recently, which really made me sad.  

Seventh grade was fun. I went to Orion Junior High. We were the peons at the school and the ninth graders didn’t let us forget it. They would make us do, what they called thumb ditties. That means that we had to stand on a table in the hall and put our thumbs on our heads and turn around saying that the ninth graders were the best. I couldn't wait to be a ninth grader so I could do the same thing but by the time I got there, I didn't have the heart to do it.

In this Google Earth picture, it shows the quads on the base.
Ours was at the top right at the white arrow.
Schools are on the left.  Expand for more detail.
We had lockers and I felt so grown up going from class to class. We even had dances. I remember that we would go to these dances and all the girls would stand on one side of the room and all the boys would stand on the other. Eventually someone would venture out and ask someone to dance and that would break the ice, somewhat.

During this time, we had Nugget, the family dog. He was a black Pekingese and was the pride and joy of the family. He went with us everywhere. He hated squeaky toys!  I don't know what made him dislike them so much, but if you gave him one he would disassemble it in minutes, to get the squeaker out or at least where it didn't squeak anymore. We timed him once to see how long it would take.  It was amazing how fast he was able to do it. We almost lost him one summer.  We were out camping, and a huge Weimaraner dog attacked him and almost killed him. That was a hard weekend for our family. But he was a tough little guy and he survived.  Nugget brought great joy to our family for a long time.

Today's Terri's Tidbit: Have you ever found a recipe from your grandmother, old church cookbook or even online, and couldn't understand the measurements? What is a smidgen, pinch, dash, or tad?  I found this great little conversion chart website that shows what those measurements are in today's terms.  Also I found this chart, from Family Tree Magazine, with some of the same types of things. Pull out those old recipes and make something yummy, using these conversions!


Jana Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!

sage said...

As a child, I was envious of you for being able to live in such neat places--I didn't know that you got to drive to Alaska (that would have been a long trip for a kid). Neat stories, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting stories you have listed on your blog- I enjoy reading them. I was also in the army then I married an Air force guy- he's retired now and we live in Texas. I was sad to leave our AF chapter but I am sure the future can be just as great for my family and I.