Great men in my life

by Peter Twitchell

Today was a swell day to reminisce about a different time when my mind was being filled with what was good, and a time in Bethel when people were impressionable.

My dad, David Adams Twitchell, was bigger than life itself. He taught me all I needed to know about my subsistence lifestyle and about firearms and surviving in a merciless environment. The greatest thing dad taught me though, was never to ignore people and acknowledge them always.

Jacob Nelson Sr.’s dad, Tom Nelson, taught me to do the best job that I could and to use my skills and talents to help others. He was like a grandpa to me.

Mr. Ben Dale taught me about sharing and caring. Ben was a police chief and he helped everyone. In the dead of winter he took his grader and plowed driveways of Elders and widows and he plowed them without so much as asking for a penny. I grew to appreciate Ben Dale for his caring nature.

Andy Edge gave me my first real job in radio broadcasting. As the manager of Bethel Broadcasting, he stood up on his own two feet and wasn’t swayed by innuendo and gossip. Andy took each person on their abilities and their word. Mr. Edge taught me the importance of keeping an “open mind” and never to play mind games with people’s lives. He always spoke with a clear and clean heart.

Without spirituality my life would be meaningless and lack direction. I was fortunate to meet another great man in my journey through life. William Nicholson loves his God, family, country and his fellow man. Known simply as “Doc” to his many friends, Doc has comforted wounded souls, prayed for the weary and gave us hope that we could find greater meaning in our lives. He is one of the few men in this world that I can have a heart to heart talk with and have a good laugh at the same time.

I met Mr. Albert Beans Sr. in November 2001 at Pilot Station. It was the first time I’d been to Pilot, or it’s Eskimo name, “Tuutalgaq” on the Yukon River. We were fiddling there and I didn’t know anyone. Towards the end of the dance, Albert came up to me and asked me if I had a place to stay. When I said no, he said, “You’re coming to my house.” He brought me to his home, fed me, and provided me with a room of my own. Mr. Beans treated me like we’d known each other our whole lives.

Very quickly I began to learn how well-respected he was, first and foremost by his grown children and his grandchildren. His son Dominic asked permission before taking his dad’s 4-wheeler and conferred with him before going to check for Yukon River eels. They talked about the best possible place to test for eel migration. Albert talked to me about how rich and fat the eels were and how best to cook them. I’m still amazed how well Mr. Beans raised his children and was instructing his grandchildren.

Albert loved to talk with his many friends every morning over the VHF radio and greet each one individually. His wife had passed on several years earlier and he told me how much he missed her dearly. Mr. Albert Beans Sr. had so much love in his heart for everyone, including me.

All these great men had an enormous capacity to care for and love their fellow man. Now I can see these characteristics in my own sons David and Daniel.