Sept 2, 2014
I'm sorry this has taken so long. I got started on it and then life interfered. Dad will turn 96 on September 6th. He is a Pearl Harbor Survivor and is outliving many of his fellow survivors. My husband managed to secure some unissued TX Pearl Harbor Survivor license plates just this weekend, so I am going to get those FEDEX’d to him by Saturday
Anyway, I'll get this mailed to you at the same time. I wanted to give you a little background on the pictures. I sent you railroad shots as well as some others I thought you might like to see. My parents went to AK after the war as jobs were still difficult to find, following the Great Depression. My mother's father, Col JP Johnson had been tasked with modernizing the railroad up there. He was responsible for upgrading the tracks from narrow gauge to the modern standard gauge.
My folks were newlyweds at the time, in their 20's, so this was a great adventure. Initially, Dad was working on shrouding the engines, making them more streamlined. This process took place in Kenton Ohio at the International Railway Equipment Co Plant in Kenton, OH. I believe that the Aurora was the first train to arrive. Some of those pictures aren't focused well, but the camera was brand new and Dad was shooting 35mm slides. He had to calculate the settings for focus and exposure. Overall, he did very well. Each shot was precious so he worked hard to get it right.
The pictures of that engine were taken in Kenton. They had to shovel the snow off to work on it. The shots of Dad and Oakley [Brown] were also in Kenton. I believe Oakley was in charge of the shrouding operation there. I'll see if Dad recalls his last name.
My folks went to Fairbanks at the end of 1947 where Dad worked on maintaining the engines. There are a few aerial shots of Anchorage. One was deteriorating but it still showed a nice view of the city back then. The typical housing in Fairbanks were quonset huts. Those that worked for the railroad lived on Government Hill, across from the engine house. I don't know if it still exists. The quonsets were heated via steam tunnels from the engine house. It sounds as though it was quite cozy. My oldest sister was born in Fairbanks.
The quonsets were very dark as well so Dad engineered a solution and put a window in theirs. He was the first but others followed suit. He also had a garden for the very short growing season. He has to warm the water for the plants by spraying it up on to the warm quonset and letting the stream roll down onto the crop. I don't know that he got many tomatoes...
The spring thaw caused flooding in 1948 so there are several shots of the Quonsets sitting in water. Even the Catholic church was in danger of flooding. Dad has a shot of a clergyman bailing water. Life was challenging.
That's it! Should you have any questions, let me know.
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