These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place.
Colcord (Red) Huerlin at his studio in Ester, Alaska
CED – Rusty Heurlin gave my mother a painting – it was a rather famous one – he was very fond of her. He was younger then my mother and father by a little. We did a lot with him – we would go hiking with him. He made quite a name for himself. All of his life he lived by sponging. He was so charismatic that he could get away with it. He walked out of school, he took Art lessons, he was a hobo for a while. The only thing that really interested him was painting. He spent all of his life painting beautiful pictures. He was a good artist but he didn’t make any money at it. He knew all the artists in Westport – Red Heurlin – they knew Red Heurlin and they loved him. He loved dogs, oh, he loved dogs with a passion. There are a lot of his paintings around Fairbanks, Alaska, at the University of Alaska, in banks, in hospitals. They are mostly outdoor scenes, some have to do with the early settlers, the Russians. Colcord Heurlin – he always signed C. Heurlin.
One painting did more to make him famous than anything else he did. Rusty made friends, he lived with me for a time in Anchorage. He made pictures. He made a mural, he filled the whole wall with it, for one of the bars in town, a whole Hawaiian scene. He used to drink quite heavily at times. I would come home at three or four o’clock in the morning and he would be painting. He lived with an old Norwegian guy, he slept in the upstairs room, he had to climb up a ladder. I worked for the airline there, mostly Bush Piloting – scheduled passenger service came later – but most of the time I was there, it was all Bush Pilots. Rusty and I would go down to George’s living room, George was a bachelor. Rusty would paint in that living room until three or four in the morning. During the day he’d go out partying up and down the street, they called it the longest bar in Alaska. That was Main Street in Anchorage.
LAD – I remember our family went up to the Island a few times, and I remember Rusty went with us the first time. We were supposed to meet his sister, Anna, and then she was going to lead us to the Island. Apparently, she began to worry about the fact that we had not gotten there yet. It was getting late in the afternoon, so she and her brother-in-law, Ingrid’s husband, decided to go looking for us. There was only one road so we had to be on it. They passed a car (coming the other way) where someone had his feet out the window and she said, “That’s my brother.” So they turned around and everything from there went fine. We had a nice time at the Island and Dad really enjoyed it. I think maybe the next year or so, we did the same thing again, although we knew where we were going this time. We didn’t have to meet Anna, Ingrid or Britta and Rusty may or may not have been with us.
When I was twelve, Rusty (Heurlin) took Dan, Ced and I, I don’t remember if Biss was along or not, to the Island, they owned. Back then, there was no States Landing Road. We went to Lee’s Mill and rowed from there. It was late in the evening when we got there and Rusty wasn’t sure he was going to the right place, but we got there. Among other things, Rusty told us of his boyhood experiences at the lake. This particular summer that we went, there was a lot of logging going on and one particular day a tug boat was going down from Lee’s Mill to the Broad’s, pulling a long line of barges, maybe half a mile long. Rusty told us to get into the rowboat and he rowed towards the barges. Just before we reached them he rowed awfully hard and fast and our rowboat went up over the logs and into the water on the other side. That’s what I remember about it. After all the barges went by, we went back to the Island. I don’t recall how long we stayed, maybe a week or two.
To learn more bout Rusty, see the link below.
Tomorrow, some more Random Memories from Grandpa’s children.