Gail and Denvy
45 Years and Counting
Year Ten - 1979
 



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Living Off the Land

     Our life style was set by 1979. The garden was doing well with fertilizer from the animals and constant attention. Neighbors and strangers alike would watch the progress as they rode by. Cold weather plants like peas and broccoli and cabbages grew like crazy in the long summer days with the cool misty, almost daily, rains. The state of Alaska decided that all residents should share in the wealth of the oil and so a $1000 was given to each adult and child. Denvy spent his on a TroyBuilt rotor tiller which made gardening a dream come true.
     The goats were grown and after having given birth were a wonderful supply of milk. The thought of goat milk is disgusting to many but if cooled quickly, most could not tell it from cow's milk. A gallon of milk a day was more than the family could drink and so Denvy made cheese, however the heating process brings out every bad favor that is hidden in goat milk. The cheese was not desirable and the yogurt needed lots of fruit to hide the bad taste.
     Chickens lay eggs enough for the family and some neighbors. A pig, who became pork, joined the menagerie from year to year and recycled food into garden fertilizer which became vegetables again. Both chickens and rabbits provided protein for the family. The rabbits grew and multiplied well. To avoid personal attachments to the animals they were not named unless they were to serve as parents of new generations.


Getting Involved

     During the first fall there was a meeting considering the possible establishment of a fire department. Denvy attended, offered to support the process and eventually became the training officer and for a short time served as fire chief.
     Gail on the other hand blended her nursing skills into becoming an EMT and serving on the ambulance crew. One day, within the first month of living in Trapper Creek, the first grade teacher came to the door and said that he'd heard that Gail was a nurse. He showed her his arm which had a red streak running up its full length and Gail said go to the doctor. That was the beginning of medical care in the area.
     Darron was enrolled in the Trapper Creek Elementary School which was a collection of recycled trailers from the construction of the Alaska Pipeline located along the main highway. During Saxowsky's first full summer in Trapper Creek, the units were moved to a new site, the site of the future permanent school, along the secondary Petersville Road. In the clearing process the community was offered the opportunity to gather the firewood and so Denvy and Gail with saw in hand filled the pickup and prepared for a cold winters.
     There was no kindergarten but Gail noticed that most of their friends had children that age. So she started a kindergarten type program in their home with about six children including Marc and a couple little girls who lived very remotely up the road. The parents all became very good friends.


Visitors

     About this time folks in the Lower 48 became curious about this lifestyle in remote Alaska. Denvy's mother and her brother came to visit during the summer. About that time, a cadre of Saxowskys' friends decided it was time for their children to experience a truly formal dinner. The date was set and everyone dressed in their best, going to the point of buying a Elvis-like red velvet suit from the second-hand store. A table was extended the full width of Saxowskys' home using plywood and sawhorses. Everyone contributed to the settings and the food. It was gorgeous.
     One of the fathers, it was told, played concert piano and so after the meal he played for everyone. This brought down the house or so it seems when a pile of sheetrock fell on some of the children who were played in the loft on the sheetrock. It appeared as if Denvy took only two steps to reach the loft and single handedly lifted the edge of the pile while Gail pulled the child out. Fortunately no harm was done.
     As the evening continued another knock came to the door and which was a young couple who simply hitchhiked up and down the road with their two children. They wouldn't be able to reach their remote cabin that evening, so they were fed and invited to spend the night. Later Denvy's mother expressed her dismay that anyone would just come by, expect food and to invite themselves in to spend the night. Welcome to remote "help your neighbor" Alaska, Mom.