Trumbull – Dear Fugitives (2) – Excerpt From Rusty Huerlin’s Letter To Ced – December 3, 1944

To continue extract from Rusty’s letter to Ced: “Charles Brown had me over for dinner the day after we landed. Most interesting old timer in the whole territory. First painting will be of him and that one I will keep for myself. Then we’ll have to get down to making bread and butter money or go on Eskimo diet. Eskimos on the way said I was the only white man they had ever seen take to all their food and like it. Ate walrus blubber by the pound, meat dipped in seal oil, dried fish and seal oil and even soured walrus flippers. The latter dish is a rare one but was bound to try it to see if my stomach could digest it. This dainty dish is apt to knot up any white man’s stomach if not poison him. If soured by the sunshine it poisons even the Eskimos. But that did not keep me out of their gathering in a tent full of friends at Wainwright when the flippers were boiling. Sat around and ate like the rest but excuse from now on for not “taking it” again, will be that my false teeth cannot get through it. The stench from this boiling tough stuff and fat is the most repulsive I have ever experienced. It has not a sour smell alone for it smells of rottenness but I used imagination in “taking it” like one should use in first eating Limburger cheese. So the imagination I used was that my nose was rotting away and that I was starving for food – – that a rather spoiled pigs foot would give some strength to me. The girl cut off a big hunk of it dripping with rotten fat and handed it to me. Put it in my mouth and started the imagination and began chewing it. “That’s enough for him” said one of the Eskimos and stared at me with the rest watching for the effect. But I ate one piece after another. Did not get seasick the next day after we cast off and did not get seasick on the whole trip. Most explorers in their lectures throw out the hooey of what the Eskimos call them. McCracken’s bunk was “The Great White Provider”, though up here he is not regarded as much of an Explorer. Others have been known, according to their own accounts, as “The Peaceful One”, “The Crack Shot” and “He Who Never Tires”. The Eskimos have named to me now and by Mukluk telegraph it has gone a long way: “Artist, First White Man to Eat Flippers”. If I do it again it will be the last. Seal guts with crap in them tastes like sausage meat in comparison. One day on the trip I lived on raw caribou meat dipped in seal oil. Looks like pretty days ahead. My three months grubstake, which was all I was able to afford, is going to last me a year now. Have given up rum and all forms of liquor. Sure amazed at my willpower”.

Doesn’t that sound just like Rusty. I can see now that he was getting in training for the walrus flipper diet on that trip to Lake Winnipesaukee, the day he ate that famous sandwich which you all probably recall – – who could forget it?

From the childhood memories of Dave: “Rusty is the last one in the world to call someone else silly. I remember one time he decided to make himself a meal. So we got a piece of bread and he proceeded to put anything and everything that was edible on top of that piece of bread and ate the whole thing, stood out on the rock and belched loud enough so people on Red Hill (across the lake) could hear him, I’m sure. He was a character, a funny guy.”

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Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

Just the same, there is a great truth in what he says about going through with a task by using the imagination. Purposely shutting your mind to any consideration of the unpleasant aspects of something that has to be done will enable one to do the impossible. Rusty seems to have developed this imagination faculty to a remarkable degree.

Back where reference is made to Larry being a Mason reminds me of something, Ced, which I have been going to suggest to you for some time but have never happened to think of it when writing, and that is to ask if there is a Masonic Lodge in Anchorage and do you know, fairly well, any of the members? I am sure you would enjoy masonry very much and would take a great interest in it – – more so than any of the other boys. If you ever have the chance and the slightest inclination I would suggest serious consideration of it.

No word yet from Lad but the time is drawing near when a letter from overseas is about due if he sailed when we expect he did.

Catherine (Warden, who is continuing to live in the small apartment with her two children) told me last night that as Paul (her husband)  is expected to be stationed for 18 months in Oklahoma, he has applied to Washington for permission to bring his family out there and in that case, Catherine plans to sell the car to raise car fare, which will leave the apartment minus a tenant. Of course nothing is certain yet but she should know definitely by the end of the month whether permission has been granted or not.

Well, my hearties, I cannot say that I am imbued with the Christmas spirit, but I hope that as the day draws nearer, in spite of the fact that none of you will be home for that festival for the first time in our lives, I may recapture some of the old spirit, particularly with the girls here and possibly Butch and Marty present to put more meaning into the day. Be that as it may, perhaps this letter may not reach some of you before that day, so I give you what is deep in all our hearts here – – hopes and best wishes, particularly from

DAD

I’ll finish out the week with another of Grandpa’s letters addressed to T/3, T/4, T/5, Sergeant and Chief Ski Instructor.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Rusty’s Harrowing Trip (2) – Aug., 1944

This is the second half of a letter written by Rusty Huerlin, a family friend, to Ced. Both Rusty and Ced are living in Alaska and they have become good friends.

As most of our freight was for Wainwright, we were able to take on passengers there – storm bound Eskimos unable to return to Barrow in their boats heavily loaded with coal. So we left there towing five whale boats and had 25 Eskimos to sweeten the forecastle and share with us the four bunks when the next storm came up. We had then run into ice – icebergs 20 feet high, and got forced outside of them and land. Most of this was fields of bergs and we wound around it for a day in getting in close to land. This ice ran nearly down to Wainwright but once getting inside of it the water was smooth. 60 miles of this going was the best of our trip and I will never forget the fun. The kids had gotten over their seasickness and there was no more rushing from below with puke pots. They were happy and glad to be going home. One woman had six children. She and all of them had been sick in my bunk. But that was nothing. I had, after one storm, laid down in more filth than could be found in a garbage can and never felt more clean in my life. To sleep alongside of those shipmates after trying to take what they did uncomplainingly, was the finest expression I have yet experienced. I had made four friends I shall never forget – –Eubrulik Rock, Richard Scott, Daniel Attungniak and Andrew Franksen.

First chance I get now Ced, I will attend to the many things I was unable to do in Nome. One – a letter to Beryl, is she still in Anchorage? The painting for McDonald’s: what size would you like? Was it you that wanted it as a present for them or was it a picture they wished to order? And what type of subject would they like? I’m painting Arctic life now exclusively so my subjects will be Eskimos. This is the greatest field of all and a wonder to me why no artist has pioneered it before.

Charles Brown had me over for dinner day after we landed. Most interesting. old-timer in the whole territory. First painting will be of him and that one I will keep for myself. Then will have to get down to making bread and butter – money – or go on all Eskimo diet.

Eskimos on the way said I was the only white man they had ever seen take to all their food and like it. Ate walrus blubber by the pounds, meat dipped in seal oil – dried fish and seal oil – mucktuk and even walrus flippers. This latter dish is a raw one but was bound to try it to see if my stomach could digest it. Eubrulik, who had been seasick in the storm, had expected for a long time to see me seasick. Told me I would get seasick if we left one night following a hunk of said walrus flippers. This dainty dish is very apt to knot up any white man’s stomach if not poison him. If soured by the sunshine it poisons the Eskimo. But they did not keep me out of their gathering in a tent full of friends at Wainwright when the flippers were boiling. I sat around and ate like the rest but excuse from now on for not “taking it” again will be that my false teeth cannot get through it.

The stench from this boiling tough stuff and fat is the most repulsive I have ever experienced. It has not a sour smell alone for it smells of rottenness but I used my imagination in “taking it” like one should use when first eating Limburger cheese. So the imagination used was that my nose was rotting away and that I was starving for food – that a rather spoiled pigs foot would give some strength to me. A girl cut me off a big hunk of it dripping with rotten fat and handed it to me. I put it in my mouth and started the imagination and began chewing it. “That’s enough for him” said Eubrulik, in Eskimo to her and he stared at me with the rest watching for the effect. But I ate one piece after another. Did not get seasick the next day when we cast off, nor did I get seasick on the whole trip. Don’t know what that is and will never know but back to this flipper dish – anything fished from a sewer of smelly tidbits could never come up to it. Eubrulik has named me now and by muckluk telegraph it has gone a long way – “artist, first white man to eat flippers”.  If I do it again I’ll be the last. Seal guts with crap in them taste like sausage meat in comparison. One day on the trip I lived on raw caribou meat dipped in seal oil – looks like pretty days ahead – my three months grubstake, which was all I was able to afford, is going to last me a year now.

Sending you an ivory knife – soon hope to send all of $50 worth. Tell Morry I am writing him. Have given up rum and all forms of liquor. Sure amazed at any power of the will – Rusty

Here’s a link to some information about Rusty and another to some of his paintings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Colcord_Heurlin

https://www.google.com/search?q=Rusty+Heurlin&safe=active&biw=1463&bih=771&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JnN2VOaPGoqqgwTynIPQDA&ved=0CDIQsAQ

For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting a letter two-page from Grandpa and a letter from Lad.

On Saturday and Sunday, two more Special Pictures.

On Monday, I’ll return to 1940, when Dan and Ced have been in Alaska for about six months and Lad is still in Venezuela. Grandpa, Dick and Dave are holding down the fort in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

 

Life in Alaska – Rusty’s Harrowing Trip (1) – Aug. , 1944

This is the first half of a letter from a family friend, Rusty Heurlin, famous Alaskan Painter, to Ced, a friend in Anchorage and roommate for a while, when Rusty also lived in Anchorage. It tells quite a story, but then, Rusty was always “bigger than life.” By clicking on the Category, “Rusty Heurlin”, you can read other posts about Rusty.

Barrow, Alaska

Aug. 14, 1944

Dear Ced,

Here we are and perhaps by thumbing our noses at the devil, were we ever able to make it. The usual run from Nome to Barrow in a 44 foot boat with 71 hp engine is from 7 to 10 days. We left on 23 July (Nome), sailed into Barrow yesterday. It was a trip we’ll never forget – hair still red but black before I took a bath. The five of us, Louis Riech – part Eskimo and all captain of “Ada”, his Eskimo crew –Eubrulik Rock, Richard Scott, Daniel Attungniak – to Point Hope and Andrew Franksen from there to Barrow, well, all of us have exclaimed time and again that we are the luckiest bums alive today.

The “Ada”,  overloaded by 5 tons on deck, ran into one storm after another – worst was between Katzebuc and Kivalun when we hit into the sea to try out running the storm. It is too long a story to attempt describing on paper. Conrad would have made a book out of it. I have seen higher waves off Cape Hatteras and in the North Sea, but never so close to rough weather as what we ran into on the “Ada”. None of us ever expected to see land again and I know now why men pray. Hope becomes our concentration and that is a tremendous thing. Eubrulik and Richard were religious which made their hardships not as great. I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped and never taxed my heart as much before as we kept taking in water and more water. Finally the engine quit. Richard then saved the lives of all of us in getting 9 fathoms of anchor line out and holding on to the end of the line – probably two minutes before he could get 2 feet of it to make a turn on the forward bit. None of us could get to him, the sea was so rough. And that was the beginning of  a24-hour battle with the devil in that deep green sea. It was bad again from Point Hope to Point Joy. Had taken a beating from 12 at noon till 5 AM the next morning, could take it no more and made for a lagoon 7 miles from Point Joy. Breakers were 5 miles long on shoals and some 30 or more rows of them from deepwater to shore. Channel was hideous. Eubrulik made fast some things. When it came down from “half one” (6 feet) Louis Riech said – rather yelled it – “Let’s get the hell out of here.” but it was too late. We struck bottom – went over on our starboard side – shipped water to soak me wet from head to foot where I stood on one ear in the cabin. Water poured down into the engine room to kill the engine. All Louis could do was blow foghorn for Eskimos in tents near Armundsen’s cabin to get out with what help they could offer. All this happened so quickly and the next breaker smacked us so hard that we went some 10 feet sideways. Then the miracle of all miracles happened. The “Ada” righted herself. We had been smacked over the bar. Then we rolled, helplessly in the deeper water, were blown into the channel and Louis got the engine started. We motored in behind a sand spit breakwater as if the way we had come was the right way to do it. 15 minutes later a gang of Eskimos came aboard saying we were the luckiest people they had ever seen. We all knew that not one boat in 1 million could do the same thing again. It took place about a quarter of a mile from shore and it hardly makes sense that we were not shipwrecked, that of all times, on the trip. But the whole thing was laughable or we were greatly excited. It was Davy Jones locker one second then the next, a certainty of fooling him. We made the lagoon more gratefully from Point Hope to Point Joy where we had to lay for five days.

 

Here is some further information about Rusty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Colcord_Heurlin

https://www.google.com/search?q=Rusty+Heurlin&safe=active&biw=1463&bih=771&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JnN2VOaPGoqqgwTynIPQDA&ved=0CDIQsAQ

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this very interesting letter. For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting a letter two-page from Grandpa and a letter from Lad.

On Saturday and Sunday, two more Special Pictures.

On Monday, I’ll return to 1940, when Dan and Ced have been in Alaska for about six months and Lad is still in Venezuela. Grandpa, Dick and Dave are holding down the fort in Trumbull.

Judy Guion