49 Voices: Lawrence Bahovec of Wrangell

Lawrence Bahovec (Photo: Aaron Bolton/KSTK

This week we’re hearing from Lawrence Bahovec in Wrangell. Bahovec has lived all over Southeast Alaska since he was a baby and recently celebrated his 100th birthday on January 4.

Listen now

BAHOVEC: My father was a fisherman and trapper. He came up in 1912 to see what the country was like. Most of it was around Wrangell, up towards Juneau a little ways. That’s where he met my mother when he was fishing up around a little village.

My father first went to the chief and asked him if he could marry my mother. He had to get consent from the chief. So he did and then he brought her down to Wrangell.

When I was in Sheldon Jackson [a Sitka school] you weren’t allowed to speak any Native languages. You were punished, but now they’re having schools for Native languages. I think it’s wonderful now. These kids can learn language like that. It’s too bad our mother didn’t teach us that language. They all spoke it, you know. We used to listen to them tell stories. They’d tell stories every once and a while and bust out laughing. Probably talking about men.

This old friend of ours that I used to do a little work for, cutting wood, he left money with the stipulation that I go to school. He didn’t give me the money. So I had to go to school. University of Washington. I didn’t know anything about a city either when I got down there. Well, you’re amazed. It’s unbelievable to see so many people in such a large place. It takes you a little while to get used to it.

After college, I came here and I had to start making a living. So that was the first thing I thought of. Three of us built a little boat, a little sand boat. And we did pretty good with that little boat.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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