First Alaskan Summer
During the drive to Alaska Gail never had
an opportunity to see or understand the vastness of the landscape or the
height of the mountains. Forest fires blanketed the state with a smoke
that shrouded the landscape and scenery.
Their first home was a one room shack about
12 by 20 feet. They bought a hide-a-bed which served as a sofa during the day
and a bed at night. Denvy built a counter for the kitchen area.
One day Gail baked a pie which they ate
the "bed." One of the Alaskan giant mosquitoes flew by and lit
on the edge of Denvy's plate. Gail's reaction was to swap the little biter.
She did and the pie flew into Denvy's face.
One task of the summer was to sell the boats.
The another was to buy the house just up the road with a young couple
from the church and convert it into a duplex. Ed and Martha Keener were
elementary teachers who got married a year earlier.
Exploring the Country
sat in the little shack with no friends and nothing to do during the days
of the summer as Denvy went to work. So on weekends, as early as Friday
evening, they headed for the wilds of the state, typically fishing and
boating. The boats were large enough that between theirs and the Keener's,
they could boat to a remote stream in the evening and share a picnic on
a river bank while fishing for salmon.
the two couples went fishing on the Kenai Peninsula. It was the weekend
when the first man was to land on the moon, so at the scheduled time they
went to the lobby of a small rustic hotel in Seward and watched as Neil
Armstrong stepped on the moon for the first time.
Later in the fall the house deal went through
and the newly weds moved into a house without furniture. Gail took a job
at API (Alaska Psychiatric Institute) and was trained to defend herself
in the first locked ward of the hospital. At Christmas they borrowed money
to buy themselves a piano for Christmas.
A Sad End of the First Year
May, near the end of their first year of marriage, Keener's pickup died.
In the process of finding a new pickup they discovered that the best deal
was at Sax Motor in North Dakota. Denvy agreed to fly to North Dakota
and drive a new pickup north for them. His parents picked him up at the
Bismarck airport after an overnight flight from Anchorage. His father
had bought the pickup and an outboard motor for another Alaskan and the
rig was ready to go. They drove around the farm looking at the crops and
as they drove, Denvy's father would say things like, "When I'm gone,
you will need to do..." That evening Denvy and his brother, George,
who would be a companion, headed north. Sixty hours they were home in
Alaska with 3000 miles on the odometer.
Less than a month later, on the first wedding
anniversary of the wedding of Denvy and Gail, the phone call came that
Denvy's father had died during the night. They flew to North Dakota for
the funeral and Denvy stayed for a month to help with the haying season.
About a week later Erwin's first grandchild, Pam, was born to Denvy's
One day while unloading some farm equipment,
the rigging slipped and hit George in the knee and essentially splitting
the knee cap. Fortunately they were only about five miles from the doctor and so
with a full load of hay Denvy rushed him to the doctor. They patched him
up and days later Denvy returned to Gail and work back in Alaska.