Ouzinkie Photo Album LIFE
A Ouzinkie Photo Album 1960 to 1974
PART FOUR: Slices of Life
Introduction to Parts Two, Three and Four:
In part one of my Ouzinkie Photo Album: Daily Life in Ouzinkie, 1965 to 1974, the focus was on the rebuilding of Ouzinkie. The next three parts focus on people, the many good folks of Ouzinkie who found themselves on the other end of my camera (and I never went anywhere without my camera). On a recent visit home, someone mistook me for my brother Kelly. I pointed to the new Nikon SLR around my neck and said, "Which Smith always walked around with a camera?" "Oh, hi, Timmy!" he laughed. I was in grade school in Ouzinkie during the mid-to-late 60s, and I also took up darkroom photography during that time, so I have a ton of photos to use to chronicle the major events and milestones.
(The author) Tim Smith next to the Evangel, 1971.
I had to move away from Ouzinkie to go to high school in the fall of 1968 (as all secondary students did in those days) but I was home for many weekends, holidays and part of the summer until the mid-1970s, taking pictures almost daily! I really wish I had more “people shots,” but here are some of the ones I have hanging around after all these years. You never know what you might find here, and of course there is no official story line here, so a lot of the story is missing, but I’m glad to share what I do have. Like part one, these are photo albums with commentary, arranged by topic, so skip around to what interests you. Most all of the black and white photos are mine, which I developed in the little darkroom in the Mission's basement. I have scanned and restored them as best I could for inclusion in these articles. The color photos come from slides taken by Rev. Norman Smith (my Dad).
Slices of Life: Some Comments
Village life has the reputation of being uneventful and even boring. I never found that to be the case. All of us could suffer from cabin fever in a long stretch of bad weather, but there were lots of goings-on. When I was a kid, there were movies at the old school every Friday night, there were club meetings at the Mission almost every day, and both the school and the Mission had special evening programs at holiday time. Of course, in good weather, every kid was out somewhere making an adventure in the natural beauty that surrounds Ouzinkie. In this section of my photo album, I focus mostly on other events, some of them special, and others just a part of everyday life. Things often happened; sometimes someone had a camera!
Slices of Life: Things to Do at the School in Ouzinkie
It is spring, 1965 in this photo (one of my first), and the snow has melted away enough for the young people to play lapture, the native ball and bat game which only vaguely resembles baseball. The blurry picture above is the only shot I have of a lapture game, and shows the kids on the right ready to run if their teammate hits the ball. Formal rules varied, but equipment was various mop and broom handles as bats, which were used to hit shiny red rubber balls as hard as you could. Each team pitched to themselves, with the pitcher standing beside the batter, tossing the ball up in the air. Just as likely, though, the batter pitched to himself. I remember a lot of run downs, with the game starting to resemble dodge ball at that point! We tended to tailor the rules to the time we would get for recess, but the game could often go on for hours. This game took place on the school playground, but epic lapture games were sometimes held at low tide on the sandy beach below the church hill. If anyone reading has the rules to lapture, I would love to get them, because my memory of the game is a little rusty after forty years. Other activities at the school included holiday celebrations and even concerts, when the talent permitted!
My sister Robin and Gene Anderson are crowned King and Queen of the School Christmas Pageant (whatever that meant), as an unknown Santa looks on, Christmas 1959 or 1960.
A young Jerry Gugel, Jr. finishes a piano solo at a school program, around 1960. Joyce Smith (my mom) taught a lot of kids how to play the piano through the years. Jerry went on to become a very successful salmon fisherman. Later, Jerry became a missionary with his wife and family, serving many places in Alaska, including Old Harbor on Kodiak Island.
The most important ceremony at the school, and the high point of the school year, was eighth-grade graduation! Here is the class of 1962. The cake says, “Congratulations, Freddie, Allen, Glenda and Verna!”
Wanda and Linda Panamarioff graduate from eighth grade in 1966.
In the next classroom, David and Verna show off the cake for Wanda, Linda, Gail and Willis.
A priest from Kodiak and a lot of Ouzinkie kids celebrate a Thanksgiving feast in the school in 1971. Dee Dee is on the far left, and Howie is on the far right. Nick is behind Dee Dee, and Teddy is wearing the sweater. (Who are the rest?)
The “new school” takes shape, in the early 1970s. This school was built on the site the kindergarten kids used to call “Sunshine Mountain,” a favorite picnic place in the woods behind the Mission (now just up the road from there). The construction of this school was long overdue, and many of us who had to move to Kodiak or elsewhere to go to high school had lobbied for its construction for years (as had our parents). Completion of first class facilities such as this school signaled the end of what had seemed like second class citizen status for village students, as money, materials and facilities finally matched what was available “in town,” and the older kids no longer had to move away to go to high school!
Students head home from the new school, still showing signs of its construction, probably in 1974. The room with the tall windows is an indoor gym set up for a variety of sports and activities.
For comments on what it was like to attend eight grades in Ouzinkie, please see my article, Ouzinkie School in the 1960s.
Things to Do: Go Play at Otherside!
Otherside Beach on a windy June afternoon, 1974.
Tim and Kelly (my brother) at Otherside with our dog, Oscar, in October of 1966.
Cliffy and Stormy stand on a potato shed at Otherside, 1965.
Otherside Lake swimming hole (with some kids behind the dead tree) in the summer of 1969 (Travis North photo)
The same lake would freeze over in the winter, and was the best skating site that was close to the village. Skating at Otherside Lake was a lot of fun, especially when you could push around a big piece of styrofoam salvaged from some float that broke loose in the Tidal Wave. If there was too much wind when it froze, then the lake would be like trying to skate on corrugated tin, and if there was too much snow, it would be like trying to skate on sandpaper until the snow froze down a bit. If the weather was calm and clear, about 28 degrees F. with a good moon (which usually happened a few times every winter) kids could skate or sled all day and late into the night, and we usually did.
A collection of kindergarteners at Otherside Beach in the mid-60s. Peter Zack Chichenoff is in the center, looking serious.
A bunch of friends pose at Otherside, in the summer of 1965. There are a few grandparents in this group now! My brother Kelly is in the middle of the back row.
Things to Do: Go to the Mission!
Baker Cottage, called “The Mission” by everybody in Ouzinkie (known as “Ouzinkie Chapel” on the CB radio) as it looked from the town end of the “Otherside Trail.” The building was built in 1938, and served as an orphanage until the spring of 1958, when the Norman Smith family moved there to run it as a Christian Center. More photos and comments on daily life at Baker Cottage (my boyhood home) will appear shortly on this website.
A couple of boys (Zack and David?) read from the Mission’s collections of Classics Illustrated comic books. This was a very typical scene when I was growing up. Almost any time of day, we would hear the footsteps of kids coming up the front steps, a knock at the door, and there would be kids wanting to come in and play in the playroom, read the comics or just hang out.
Georgia Smith, with Kevin and Carl, stop in for a visit with the other Smiths (no relation) at the Mission. The boys are playing with wooden models of Grumman Gooses, painted Kodiak Airways colors, which I got someone to make for the kindergarten class. There were always a lot of fun toys in the playroom, and in the special boxes in the kindergarten room upstairs. In later years, the playroom was converted into a small office and clinic as Mom’s health-aide work increased, and the couches in the Mission’s living room frequently served as a waiting area for patients.
One of my favorite candid shots from the collection of slides taken by Norman Smith: A group of kids sits on the stairs to the kindergarten and listens to a Disney story record. This LP could have been Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Treasure Island or any number of others, but the Disney version of The Three Little Pigs and even a 78rpm version of Mickey and the Beanstalk were also great favorites. The Mickey story was annoying, because the times for each side of the record were so short. “You turn the page, while I change the record!” is what the narrator said. Then someone would have to run to the office and turn over the record. The phonograph was in Dad's office, and the loudspeaker from the old tube-powered amplifier (this was NOT stereo hi fi!) hung on the wall in the hall just across from these stairs, making the stairs the best listening spot. This was a favorite rainy day activity at the Mission. Clockwise from top, Vicki P., Nick C., John P., Vicki D., Peter Zack C., my brother Kelly (with picture album), Kenneth (staring seriously at the camera) and Joan P. Notice the sweatshirt and mittens all hung neatly in the hallway to the right (which led to a playroom).
Slices of Life (A Sampling of Ceremonies and Special Events)
So far I have focused on the mundane and ordinary activities of daily life. But occasionally, there were times when the village of Ouzinkie shone forth in all its remote and exotic glory. Those events took place in the Russian Orthodox Church, and reflected the spiritual soul of the village. Even when I was a kid (and wasn’t familiar with life anywhere else) I felt that the ceremonial drama of these events was something special. Except for “starring” at Russian Christmas, the village of Larsen Bay, my first home, was lacking in the ceremonies and traditions of the Orthodox faith. But Ouzinkie had a Russian Orthodox church, and for most of my youth, Father Gerasim was present for many of the important dates on the church calendar. Through living in Ouzinkie I became aware of that rich Orthodox spiritual heritage. When I grew older and got the chance to attend some of those wonderful ceremonies, I wasn’t disappointed. Ouzinkie can be as interesting as any place on earth. It was my home village for most of my childhood (and all of my school years), and I always felt as though I was privileged to live in Ouzinkie, a place where the traditions and practices of Russian America were still alive and flourishing. In recently reviewing my Dad’s slides, I can tell he felt the same way.
The beautiful Russian Orthodox Church in Ouzinkie, in the fall of 1966. This is one of five of my photos of Ouzinkie that were featured in Yule Chaffin’s 1967 book, Koniag to King Crab.
The bells in the little bell tower, 1971
Peter Squartsoff rings the bells for a worship service. My brother Kelly looks on from just outside the gate.
A priest leads a procession into the church.
Larry Chichenoff lights the candles inside the Holy Nativity Russian Orthodox Church in Ouzinkie in 1969.
During a wedding ceremony, the couple receives their crowns.
A priest leads a couple around the altar.
Lots of rice!
Some mid-60s wedding fashions!
Epilogue to Parts Two through Four:
A Home Village to Be Proud Of!
Each time I return to Ouzinkie, I am overwhelmed at how nice the people are there, and how much they feel like family. There is definitely something to be said for a close-knit community. In a small village, everybody knows everybody, and that has its up sides and down sides. Ouzinkie is the place where I am not a Californian high school English teacher, but I am Timmy, the kid they’ve known since I was “yay high,” the place where I am Norman and Joyce Smith’s son.
Some families in Ouzinkie still have forty-year old photos I made for them up on the walls. I can’t really claim to be an Alaskan anymore, and I certainly wouldn’t do very well trying to keep an oil stove going in mid-February, or to navigate a “kicker and dory” through choppy water, but when I am in Ouzinkie, I have a strong sense of “home,” and that is a very good feeling indeed. Congratulations to good old Zip Code 99644 for coming through the storms of life so gracefully. I hope these photos bring back a lot of pleasant memories!
The author (Timothy Smith) takes a self-portrait, winter of 1970. I took this picture in the mirror of my dorm room in the Kodiak Aleutian Regional High School dormitory. All of the black and white photos in this collection were developed and printed in the little darkroom in Baker Cottage in Ouzinkie.
Written by Timothy Smith, web author. See the About Me page for more information. Always feel free to send me comments, suggestions or corrected information about this article or any of the articles on this site. (Write to: Tanignak@aol.com) This article and website is © 2005 Timothy L. Smith, Tanignak Productions, 14282 Tuolumne Court, Fontana, California, 92336 (909) 428 3472. Images unless otherwise listed are from the collection of Rev. Norman L. Smith or the Timothy L. Smith collection. This material may be used for non-commercial purposes, with attribution. Please email me with any specific requests. You are welcome to link to this site.
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