by Peter Twitchell
It’s good to see high school, college-age parents and grandparents fill up the dance hall at Carpenter’s Hall in downtown Anchorage, where the young and old mingle. I never see kids running around unattended, most 99.97% of them are at home under someone’s care.
I’ve never seen teenagers in greater numbers doing line dances and they have a light foot and joy in their hearts. A 21 year old, Hans Halverson of Big Lake is paying his fiddle like a seasoned Athabascan fiddler. He just turned 21 today.
Also on the stage is an Elder, Bernard John of Shageluk, singing “I’m just driftwood on the River” by Ernest Tubb. Tonight, the “Pilot Bread”s’ David Chanar from Toksook, Steve Willis of Wasilla, Louise Leonard of Chevak Cup’ik’s Persuasion, Michael Angaiak from Tununak, and Peter Twitchell of Bethel are singing a farewell tribute, “Missing You”, to the late Leslie Hunter Sr. from Marshall who just passed and loved to go to fiddling dances when he was here.
As it is a tradition Athabascans, Sugpiat, Yupiit, and others have brought their favorite Native Cultural foods and dishes to share. We eat and then we dance!
I’m sitting next to David Henry who used to work at the Bethel Hospital as a cook in the 1960s and retired in Anchorage. He still remembers Anita Geerdts of Bethel’s desserts! He, like most of us have, is battling cold-flu symptoms, but is tremendously enjoying his night out!
I told him unbeknownst to me, I was enjoying his cooking and Anita’s apple pies in 1967 when the late Charlie Beaver and I were helping the late Joe Andrew (Kelucaq), John Kinegak, and Henry Demientieff at the PHS Hospital maintenance department. I was just 16 then.
My, how time flies when you are having sober fun or not!