Pioneer Potluck: About Arleigh My Hero

  • By Grannie Annie
  • Tuesday, March 29, 2016 5:51pm
  • LifeFood

About 1991 or ‘92 North Nikiski, Alaska

The summer of the rain and more rain.

This is a request for a repeat. Gladly!

We had lived in our new house, built by Bob, with the helpers, J.T. and me, for two years without electricity or running water. It was time for the electric and after 4 months of long haggling, we finally got electric into the house.

Then it was time for a well and running water! J.T. and Bob put on their well driller hats.

Digging a well took lots of preperation and pondering, J.T and Bob’s engineering of a tri-pod and a 8 foot length of pipe with a sharp three sided teeth cut into it, by J.T. the welder.

The tire was taken off the old pick up of Bob’s and a rope wrapped around the back right wheel. The clutch was let out and the pipe dropped into the hole. Then the clutch would wind the rope around the wheel and up came the pipe. After weeks of inventions and tireless attempts at getting through a grey-blue Inlet-looking clay, they could go any deeper, so they borrowed a backhoe.

They started digging the well not to far from the lake – at 18 foot they stopped digging and took the 8 foot long pipe and dropped it, attached to the backhoe, to see if they could punch through the clay. Not one drop of water showed up. When they pulled the pipe back up-all there was was the Inlet clay. No luck finding water, whatsoever! The lake was ten foot from the hole!

After about 4 weeks of trial and error inventions and lots of strenuous labor, it started to rain, they reluctantly gave up. The poor backhoe did not have enough power to get up the hill, so J.T pulled himself up the hill with the bucket, dropping it in the mud and pulling the tractor to the bucket and repeating until he got himself to the top of the hill and a flat spot. Bob needing his truck, after putting the tire back on the wheel, the “63 Ford, just chugged right up the hill, mud and all.

Then it started to really rain and it rained and rained – the hole filled up with rain water running off the hill. The hole sides sloughed off, mud turned to slicker than slick mud that no one could walk in or on. The next faze was discussed and discussed in the shelter of the house or old shop.

In the meantime we worried! We had to contend with mud and the worry that there was an 18 foot deep hole full of RAIN water.

One day, after an 6 hours shift at the grocery store, I came home from work and the first thing I heard was Penny, our Golden Retriever, whimpering. I could not locate her or where the sound was coming from. Finally standing at the top of the hill, next to the edge of the house and looked down into the hole full of water, there was Penny swimming around and around in the hole – with a stick in her mouth!

Apparently she spied the stick in the water hole, just like we played with her at the lake, throwing sticks for her to retrieve (her favorite past time) she jumped in the hole to retrieve the stick and could not get out because of the steep walls and the slicker than slick mud.

I carefully ran down to the hole, found a long twig and tried to convince her to swim to me so she could grab on the to stick and I would pull her out. NOPE! She would not swim close enough for me to grab her and she would not let go of the stick she had in her mouth!

So in frustration, I lay down on the bank of the hole in the mud with my toes dug in, over a tree root. My thought was to grab the stick in her mouth and pull her out – NOPE!

In my struggles to get her up the mud bank, I slipped a little, my feet were hanging onto the tree root barely, and I was stuck laying on my tummy, looking into the hole full of water and Penny whimpering with the stick in her mouth.

I was in dire predicament – because I CANNOT SWIM. AND there was NOT one soul around. Suddenly I heard the cabin door, next to us, shut and I heard Arleighs voice talking to his dog.

I screamed “Arleigh. Arleigh come and help your Grandma – come Quick!!” I heard his little rubber boots, slappity-slap up the driveway and he appeared at the top of the hill. He stopped and yelled, beating his chest, “Grandma your Hero is here. What you need?”

I told him very calmly that he had to come down the hill very carefully and sit on my feet, grab the tail of my coat and start pulling. He came slip-sliding down the hill, sat on my feet and grabbed my coat tail. Just then Penny swan over, dropped her stick, I grabbed her collar and she climbed up my back and out of the hole.

It happened so quickly that I still have a hard time convincing people that IS what happened – Arleigh will verify it! Then with his mighty Hero strength he pulled and pulled until I could push myself up out of the hole. We both sat there in disbelief at what happened. Arleigh kept saying “WOW grandma, did you see that? Are you OK” as he leaned his head on mine and gave me a hug.

Yes, Arleigh you are MY HERO forever!

With that big hug and Penny dancing around in delight of being out of the hole, and seeing Areligh, we walked and slipped up the hill. We were head to toe, full of mud.

We were so pleased that everything turned out well. Penny’s wet, muddy tail was in full wag.

We took off our muddy coats and boots, still in wonderment at what just had happened!

Arleigh was 5 years old! He still is my HERO!


Grannie Annie can be reached at anninalaska@gci. net

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