Summer was the time to harvest salmon for
the table and the freezer. While there were salmon is almost every stream
you crossed, the Saxowskys favored one about a mile up the highway and
just about wide enough that you couldn't jump across. It was legal but
perhaps not fair from the salmon's point of view. Those lures seemed everpresent
and much to intriguing to pass up. A daily trip with the entire family
for a week or so during the peak of the season usually fillouted the larder
for the winter.
Once when Becky was still adjusting to Denvy
and Gail as parents, Gail and Becky were on the opposite bank from Denvy
and the boys. A baby bear ran out of the bushes and up and over the highway
behind Gail and Becky. Denvy said to Gail, don't make a fuss or tell Becky,
but there's a bear and maybe more behind you, bring Beck back to the pickup.
Becky didn't like the idea and fussed because she absolutely wanted to
fish. Denvy told the boys there was a bear close at hand and to head directly
to the pickup but to not worry about the extra fishing gear. Marc walked
back rod in hand but Darron thought he could walk faster with the rod
and laid it down as he walked back. After a few minutes and no new appearances,
the family gathered their gear and decided to come back another day.
Gail enjoyed fishing to the point that she'd
take the guests and boys fishing while Denvy watched the store. One day
she took the neighbor. They caught some fish, laid them on the bank behind
themselves and processed to fish some more. As Gail turned around she
saw a bear grab the fish and head into the brush. The neighbor was very
angry; he didn't mind sharing the fish but he didn't like catching the
fish for the bears.
Further up Petersville Road about 25 miles,
was Peters Creek a prime source of King salmon in June. While each year
was different, several times they came back home with salmon larger than
they could lift with one arm
Riding the Ambulance
Gail's first year in Trapper Creek, a course was offered locally
training individuals as EMT (Emergency Medical Technicians) so they were
qualified to serve on the volunteer ambulance service. With Gail's medical
background she felt that this was something she could do to continue working
in the medical field. A year later Denvy, with no medical background except
what he acquired by osmosis from Gail, took the same course.
There weren't many ambulance runs, averaging
about two runs per month, but it kept them on their toes. When the phone
rang, there was the instance of "was it an ambulance run?" but
that question was answered quickly when the ring was constant with
no breaks. The kids were told to call the neighbors who were programmed
to do the babysitting. Being over an hour from the hospital and covering
an area up to 100 miles north beyond Trapper Creek, runs could typically last
for up to five hours.
One of Gail's first runs was a CPR patient
who had been drinking heavily and was sick much of the way to the hospital.
It's almost enough to give up drinking. Denvy's first run was intended
for him to be the driver but he didn't have his driver's license and so
he did CPR on a dead person for two hours in respect for the family who
had started CPR on their dead grandfather.
Gail's medical background took her into
leadership and training roles very quickly. Adventures included a gunshot
injury but upon arrival of the potential scene prior to the troopers,
they radioed back: "We have arrived on scene and we see the shooter
but the 'shootee" is not here. Please, keep in contact!"
If you do some simple math you will find
that in thirteen years of a couple dozen runs each year, Gail, who went
on most experienced a great variety of injuries and persons. There was the trip
that involved helicoptering in, snowmobiling back to the railroad, taking
the little railroad work car to the highway crossing and then over hundred
miles in the ambulance. The middle of the night call asking directions
for flying into a remote unlit area by helicopter at night: "Follow
the highway to Trapper Creek. Fly straight west for ten miles (remember
no lights on the ground), north two miles - watch for the bonfire signal."
Some day the ambulance stories will be written
in detail. It will include Gail's training of most of the EMT's who followed
The Growing Family
By the fifteen anniversary of Gail and Denvy's
marriage, Darron had finished the seventh grade, Marc the fourth and Becky
the second. Darron was bussed to Susitna Valley High School fifteen miles
south and the other two continued riding the bus to Trapper Creek Elementary
three miles west.
Trapper Creek School was now in a new building
which came about by dropping the decimal point in a grant for the school.
The grant was for some $10000.00
(ten thousand) for planning but turned out to be $1000000 (one million).
One million dollars was too much for just planning and studying so they
found another two million dollars and hired an architect and built. Denvy
chaired the community advisory community and Gail delivered brownies to
the workers encouraging them to work hard and get done on time. This episode
did not go by without some issues, but the school was beautiful and occupied