Dr. Morrison: The Arctic Tern Incident - P.O.W. Report

Friday, November 8, 2019

Dr. Morrison: The Arctic Tern Incident

Tlingit and Haida peoples of Alaska is a great facebook page you should follow [here]. Below is a story by Dr. Woodrow Morrison.

My wife and I returned from our trip to Europe in 1969, in time for Thanksgiving and, stayed in Hydaburg, Ak. until January 1970. After the new year we went to Anchorage and rented the basement half of a house just off the Old Seward Highway, 8 miles south of Anchorage. My wife received a scholarship from the BIA to attend Alaska Methodist University. As a veteran I had to use up my Veterans Benefits ($120/mo) before I was eligible for a BIA Scholarship so I had to find work.

We didn't have a car, it was a very cold winter (Temp.s were below -30 degrees F.), no buses either so we had to hitch-hike. She was 5 months pregnant. We would leave our house about 7am tand hitch-hike to make it to AMU for her 8am class. I had 2 part-time jobs. As soon as we got her to school I hitch-hiked to Carrs' Supermarket where I worked 4 hrs. A day as a management trainee. Then I would hitch-hike to another job working for a building contractor (worked until 4pm) then went to AMU so my wife and I could go home together.

We would have a small supper then I would hitch-hike back to Anchorage to attend U of A, Anchorage (in modular units). Then I would head home. The next morning we would do that again. Then in March my sister, Dorothy let us use her car... made life very much easier... that is until my temper got me in trouble at Carrs Supermarket... I attacked my boss. Fortunately he was too scared to fire me.

My daughter was born in May and on or about June 1st I got a job as an Expediter, working for a company that was importing Cold-Rolled Steel products (Well Casing of various sizes, steel plates, etc.)

The products were stored out in the open near the Port of Anchorage. My job was to ensure the Consignments were loaded on the right trucks - so they went to right customers. It was cold down there and muddy. I got tired of having to look under the wristband of my gloves to see what time it was so, I put my wrist watch on the outside of my gloves.

A Canteen Truck would come by, we would buy coffee and sandwiches. I pulled off my gloves to dig for my money; bought coffee and a sandwich. Sometime later I looked to see the time and discovered my watch was missing. I recalled what I had done so went looking for it and, found it on the ground; crushed by one of the trucks running over it.

One of the truck drivers came up and showed my his bill of lading for some 6-inch Well Casing. I told him to wait, I would check to see if it was where I thought it was stacked. I didn't like to walk out near the Well Casings, the Arctic Terns were nesting there and were very aggressive.

As I walked up to the stack of pipes (Well Casings) a nesting Tern suddenly flew up about 10 feet in front of me. It flew right at my face and at the last moment pulled up while emptying its bowels right into my face. I thought to myself, "What else can go wrong now?"

I was paged over the Port of Anchorage PA System, I had an emergency telephone call. I ran to the office, answered the phone, it was my wife. She said there had been a fire.. I asked if she and our 2-week old baby were OK. She answered yes then went on to tell me we were going to have to find some place else to live. I told her I would be right home. She said, "You should stay at work. We are going to need all the money we can get. We're OK and will be at your sister's place."

I hung up and was very depressed, "What the hell am I going to do now? No matter how hard I work things just keep going to hell". I was just sitting there when the Dispatcher asked if something was wrong.

I thought for a minute before answering, "I'll be damned if I'm going to give in to this", then answered, "Actually, no. I think I am damn lucky. First a truck ran over my watch, crushing it but it wasn't on my wrist when it happened. Our house burned and my wife and daughter are fine. Then an Arctic Tern sh** in my face: I wear glasses so didn't get any in my eyes. So, I'd say I am one hell of a lucky man!"

Later I worked at the Petersen Point Cannery in Bristol Bay. Then in August I got a job as a Court Bail Investigator for the Alaska Superior Court. So my luck was holding.

Áaw tláan gyaahlangáay láa g̱íidang.
That is all there is to the story.

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