Just to the north of the 'new' hotel was the old two-story dormitory, which had previously been converted into the school house, with a small class room at the front of the building; with Mrs. Pine's quarters occupying the rest of the lower floor. Again, that conversion came as a result of the hotel liquor license, in early 1956.
NEW SCHOOL HOUSE
During the winter of 1958, the upper part was converted into housing for our family. Another railroad worker stayed there, also, down the hall from us.
Prior to that, we'd stayed in the Kerrick's old Quonset – until it got too cold. That one was located next to the southern-most Quonset. Amazingly, Mr. Kerrick had installed a bathtub! Few tales are told of a Quonset hut with a bath tub!
That Quonset hut was another adventure! The winter of 1958 got so cold that the Quonset couldn't be kept warm. No one new the 'science' at the time, but the oil heaters were turned up so high that they consumed a huge volume of air. With the building nearly air-tight, the fuel-air mixture of the fire went so rich that the chimney sooted up and the fire nearly went out. We didn't know it, but if we'd occasionally cracked the front door – admitting more oxygen, the fire might have done quite well.
In any event, we ended up getting moved into the upper part of the school; with the railroad adding an upstairs bathroom, for us. With the hotel approximately forty feet out the back door of the school, the location was quite convenient.
By late winter of 1957, Dad decided there was no future in Curry. With the loss of the hotel, the Railroad scaled back the number of residents in Curry, so the 'local economy' was drastically restricted. So, Dad went into 'town' (Anchorage), and approached a banker as to any opportunities that he knew of. The bank had a foreclosure going in King Salmon, on a partnership between Larry Gilbert and his partner, Gladys Vail – the inn of King Salmon, then known as the "Gil-Vail Inn."
It had been built as a bar-restaurant-hotel (ten rooms). However it needed a liquor license – something that Dad possessed. Dad made a deal to take over, as Galdys Vail's new partner.
Dad set up Jake and Serifa Wright as the new operators of the Curry Hotel – minus a liquor license. Off we went, to King Salmon, in the spring of 1958.
I lost track of Curry after we left, but various bits of news would occasionally filter down. A little bit at a time, the remains of Curry were stripped to the bare minimum. The famous Don Sheldon once flew into King Salmon; by chance, I encountered him at the airport gas pump. He didn't have much to say, he was his usual smiling and hurried self; he just gassed up his plane and left. The Reverend Urban became a juvenile probation officer and had occasion to visit King Salmon, years later.
While I was in College in Fairbanks (1969), I had occasion to stay a week with my girlfriend and her family in Wasilla. Jake and Serifa Wright were living there, so I went by for a great visit.
Not that much later, I ran into Carol Yakasoff, who was living in Anchorage. Over the years, we'd occasionally run into each other, always recounting the 'good' days of Curry. I last saw her just before she moved to Seldovia – that was about 20 years ago. More lately, I learned that she'd passed on.
Eventually, the Susitna River washed away all that had been the developed ground, west of the railroad tracks. In the background, snow had crushed the old Whittier mess hall that had been our original Alaskan home. The wooden basement of our King Salmon home collapsed, with the earth swallowing that home. It's enough to make a person ask some interesting questions.
…for auld lang zyne.
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