Music by Harry Todd
This collection of Alaskan stories belongs to Eleanor Cooper Beatty. She wrote them and then we sat and filled in the details. Eleanor passed away after these stories were wrote.
In respect to Elder's Knowledge
Elder's Feet" Poem
The Shoe Garden
Frank Cooper used to own a cannery by Deep Creek River. They processed salmon and clams. There were tents for the workers with wood floors, stove and bed. There was also a cookhouse and my mother, Alexandria (Sandra Kelly Wells), was the cook. Dad, Innakenty (Alfred Cooper Sr.), helped in loading the fish and cleaning the yards. I would play around the tents while they were working. One day I had one of my bright ideas. Everyone wore rubber boots leaving their shoes side by side in a neat order while they worked. Everyone was working and I was lonesome so I was a little angry with no way to let any steam out. I carried sand from the beach and filled every shoe but my own with it. I then planted wild flowers in the sand filled shoes. I later heard my Uncle Frank telling Mom she should watch what I was doing when I was by myself. Uncle Frank never got mad at us kids. After that he started to send me fresh fruit and vegetables. He got it from one of the fisherman. Uncle Frank taught me how to can clams. I have never seen anyone can clams so clean and white as my Uncle did. He taught me tricks on cleaning clams and canning fish. He is one man we all loved.
The Squirrel In a Dress
During the summertime everyone worked at the Armstrong Cannery. Mom (Sandra Kelly Wells) was working overtime canning fish. Ida (Kelly Palmer), Bob Cooper, Carl Kelly, Alfred Copper Jr. and myself were alone during the day while Mom (Alexandria Kelly Cooper Wells) was working. Aunt Mary (Kvasnikoff Crosley) had gotten off work early, went home changed her clothes and walked to the Ranch House to check on us children. Mary was supposed to fix us dinner, as we were not old enough to cook for ourselves. Shortly before Mary arrived Bob and Carl had caught a squirrel. It had gotten loose and was running along the logs over the doorway when Mary wearing a cotton dress arrived. Mary opened the door and the squirrel jumped down onto her neck and fell into the back of her loose dress. Her dress was jumping up and down. Some of the kids started laughing and Mary began yelling and calling Bob and Carl all sorts of names. Somehow we all helped get the squirrel out of her dress. Mary was all scratched up and bloody. When she finally calmed down she fixed us something to eat. I don't think Mary ever quite trusted Bob and Carl again.
We usually didn't have a priest so a reader would hold a midnight church service for us. We had one good outfit of clothes and special hair ribbons to wear to this service. Our good clothes were kept stored in a steamer trunk and only taken out for special church holidays. We would go to the midnight service and have Easter Bread (Kulich) blessed. We would take red and green eggs. The eggs were dyed by soaking red and green crepe paper in water. After the service we would exchange eggs with people and get a kiss. Fist we would " Christ is Risen" in Russian and the other person would say "Indeed he is Risen" in Russian. Then we would kiss one cheek and the other cheek and then on the lips. Sometimes times young men would take an egg to a girl's home when no one was looking he would give her an egg and get a kiss. This was always away from the church and from where people would be looking so no one would know. To this day people who are Orthodox still say Christ is risen and exchange eggs. Kulich could be made before Easter but we were not allowed to eat it. It had eggs milk and butter which was not allowed during lent. Easter Bread could only be eaten for forty days after Easter. We could not have it any other time of the year. It is still a custom today. I think we probably had a chunk of moose, Easter Bread and eggs for Easter dinner. We used to save eggs and things for a long time for making things for Easter. When I was young they told me that if the Easter Bread had a hole in the center after you baked it someone was going to die.
Background by Tyshee please do not use without permission
Return to Babushka's Stories
Return to my Dacha