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MACKINAW MEMORIES: The Luckiest Cruiser: My Endless Alaskan Adventure

September 27, 2012
Filed in: Mackinaw Memories

Dear Mr. Filson,

You have asked for my life story. I am a blue checked cruiser. You made me about 1950 and shipped me by Alaska Steam ship to the O. Kraft and Son store in Kodiak, Alaska. I was purchased by Peggy Sutliff. Even then I was expensive, but as you will see, I was a good value. Our life together began on the Flying H ranch where she spent summers with her young children. We cut hay and wood, mended fences, branded calves and herded cattle. Peggy drove a 49 Plymouth station wagon in those days. That was before studded tires so many times we lay in the wet snow installing tire chains. No worries, I’m tough. Mr. Sutliff had a Piper Super cub. I spent about 1000 hours sitting the back seat of that cub. No rear heater! Damn it was noisy. They fished rainbow trout and silver salmon. She killed a deer every year for over 30 years. The freezer was always full and I never missed a trip. Peggy was a Red Cross volunteer starting with injured World War II soldiers. On March 27, 1964 the great Alaska earthquake hit. The ensuing tsunami destroyed the town of Kodiak. She spent the next month full time helping people with food, clothing and housing. There were no phones of any kind so all communication was in person or by radio. Do you know how bad the weather is in Kodiak in March? It rains sideways! You made me of the finest wool so I kept her warm and dry. Speaking of the Red Cross, Peggy was presented the Harriman award for volunteer service. I was NOT invited to the ceremony with Elizabeth Dole in San Diego, California. When Peggy died as age 87, I moved in with her daughter in law. She is a life long Alaskan outdoors woman with her own Piper on floats. No heater at all and still noisy. But, at least now I’m on the pilot in the front seat. My cuffs have been reinforced and buttons re-sewn. I’m good for another 60 years.

Sincerely, Blue Checked Cruiser

P. S. I don’t have hand warmer pockets

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