Warm memories of cold winters

by Peter Twitchell

Back in Bethel, during the 1960’s, us kids went house to house down Mission Road, including our friends and relatives’ homes on Main Street. The people of Bethel were always without fail generous with us kids in our pre-teen years!!! We always got our fair share of big candy bars before the Candy Industry reduced the size of the candy.

And candy bars were cheap too back then. When I started buying candy bars the big original candy bars were four for a quarter.

4 for a quarter!!!

When I realized my AC plastic bag filled to capacity after a dozen residences I started using my pillow case! Because when my bag started overflowing all my pockets would fill up with Mars Bars, Reese’s Cups, Clark Bars, Cup of Gold candy, Big Hunk, and Look Candy, as well as all the other Hershey bars, in no time!!!

Back then before we became teenagers the winters in Bethel were frigid cold. The wind was always blowing from the north and our faces and ears and hands and feet became very cold. We were not wimpy kids, we picked up our legs and feet and ran across town going into the Tundra Shack to warm up. Max Lieb and his family were good to us kids and gave us more candy!!!

The Moravian Mission folks always had a hot cup of cocoa that was always welcome and warming, as it steamed in the cold crisp night!

There was always another part of the Halloween holiday that we looked forward to in Bethel. It was the Moravian Church’s Annual Halloween Costume Party in the church basement starting about 7 o’clock.

Church members and community members came and gathered filling the basement to capacity making it necessary to move the partitioned walls to make more space available for all the town’s folks, including us kids.

Friday night was a fun night, we all looked forward to! It was identified in Yugcetun as Kegginaquq (disguised and mask up) annual event.

One of our favorites was Abraham Hawk, known in his Yup’ik Eskimo name “Uqumtayuk.”

I remember Abraham was an annual hit at the Halloween party, someone whom we all looked forward to try to identify each year!

He had a good disguise in his movements, mimicking women included. We just never knew who he was or who she was as he/she pranced, danced, and jumped around the room. We never once guessed who Abraham was or where he was ha ha ha ha!

I just remember he kept his identity intact and took top prize each year I was there. Abraham always got a nice bag of gifts. And when it came time to reveal who he or she was Abraham would remove his mask, laugh and smile ear to ear with no teeth, only his gums.

We all looked forward to the Halloween party at the church each year. What happened was I became a teenager and moved on. But I cherish my memories of Halloween in Bethel and the excitement and the happiness we all shared. I hope everyone had a happy Halloween!