Gail and Denvy
45 Years and Counting
Year One - 1970
 



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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 sitting in 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

     Gail 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.
     One weekend 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

     In 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 sister Avis.
      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.