Eielson AFB, Fairbanks, Ak.

Working and playing in the far North:
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The final four years of my Air Force career were spent at Eielson AFB, near Fairbanks. I drove up alone in August, 1975 pulling our 12' pop up camper. Four years later the family and I drove out together, this time with a pickup camper. The kids riding in the back. (I wouldn't dare do that today!) Driving the Alaskan Highway is a once in a life time trip for most people. Along the way South, we met many nice people whose enjoyment of travel and the outdoors made us immediate friends.

In this photo, we sit at the front gate of Eielson AFB, minutes before we began our trip out. Our truck was a 1973 Chevrolet with a 350 CID engine and a used NuWa slide in camper. We got 10-12 MPG loaded or unloaded. The truck was geared very low. She liked gasoline, but had plenty of power.

Life in the Far North:  Living that far north was a lot different than what we were accustomed to. The Alaskan winter nights were very long and the near perpetual winter time darkness was hard for some people to get used to. There is a higher than normal incidence of alcohol & drug abuse, not to mention divorces in that enviroment. Having a hobby to occupy yourself was a big plus. Some folks enjoyed ham radio, ceramics, woodworking, reading or any number of diversions. Anything to stay busy.

The Key To Survival:  What kept Suzie and me busy, especially during the winter months, was a small ceramic business which we created in our basement. We worked in what is known as "Alaskan Clay". The clay comes from deep in the earth and was belched up during the 1964 Anchorage earth quake. Each year we drove the 350 miles South to Anchorage and dug a thousand pounds or so of the stuff, hauled it home and processed it. This was a labor intensive job in which Connie & Doug were a big help. The clay had to be broken into small pieces, soaked in water for weeks, all the while stirred with a large beater connected to a powerful electric motor. This was done for more than 8 hours each day.

Once it was disolved into a liquid and most of the larger rocks and solids had been removed, it was strained many times through progressively smaller and smaller screens. The final straining was through a 300 mesh screen. Then it was allowed to sit undistrubed until more of the water seperated from it. Excess water was dipped off, and the mud was mixed more. Once it reached the viscosity of heavy cream, it was ready for use. A small amount was squirted lightly on the surface of a pitcher of regular slip. As the slip was poured, it was allowed to run down the sides of the mold. This technique produced the marbleized effect. Pouring ceramics is hard on your skin because slip draws the moisture from your skin and often causes the skin on your fingers to crack and hurt.

The depth of color depends on where (in Alaska) the clay was obtained, the temperature at which it was fired as well as it's chemical composition. Alaskan Clay ceramics are easily recgonized by their browinish marblized finish and at that time were very popular with the tourists. We sold many different "Alaskan" type souvenirs. Alaskan coffee cups were very popular as well as ash trays and various animal figurines. We had nearly 400 molds in our shop when we left Alaska. A lot of our work found it's way around the world through tourists that bought it as well as traveling military members.

Next, our trip to the "Outside":

Working and playing in the far North:
RETURN:

Sign my Guestbook View my Guestbook
Contact Me:


The final four years of my Air Force career were spent at Eielson AFB, near Fairbanks. I drove up alone in August, 1975 pulling our 12' pop up camper. Four years later the family and I drove out together, this time with a pickup camper. The kids riding in the back. (I wouldn't dare do that today!) Driving the Alaskan Highway is a once in a life time trip for most people. Along the way South, we met many nice people whose enjoyment of travel and the outdoors made us immediate friends.

In this photo, we sit at the front gate of Eielson AFB, minutes before we began our trip out. Our truck was a 1973 Chevrolet with a 350 CID engine and a used NuWa slide in camper. We got 10-12 MPG loaded or unloaded. The truck was geared very low. She liked gasoline, but had plenty of power.

Life in the Far North:  Living that far north was a lot different than what we were accustomed to. The Alaskan winter nights were very long and the near perpetual winter time darkness was hard for some people to get used to. There is a higher than normal incidence of alcohol & drug abuse, not to mention divorces in that enviroment. Having a hobby to occupy yourself was a big plus. Some folks enjoyed ham radio, ceramics, woodworking, reading or any number of diversions. Anything to stay busy.

The Key To Survival:  What kept Suzie and me busy, especially during the winter months, was a small ceramic business which we created in our basement. We worked in what is known as "Alaskan Clay". The clay comes from deep in the earth and was belched up during the 1964 Anchorage earth quake. Each year we drove the 350 miles South to Anchorage and dug a thousand pounds or so of the stuff, hauled it home and processed it. This was a labor intensive job in which Connie & Doug were a big help. The clay had to be broken into small pieces, soaked in water for weeks, all the while stirred with a large beater connected to a powerful electric motor. This was done for more than 8 hours each day.

Once it was disolved into a liquid and most of the larger rocks and solids had been removed, it was strained many times through progressively smaller and smaller screens. The final straining was through a 300 mesh screen. Then it was allowed to sit undistrubed until more of the water seperated from it. Excess water was dipped off, and the mud was mixed more. Once it reached the viscosity of heavy cream, it was ready for use. A small amount was squirted lightly on the surface of a pitcher of regular slip. As the slip was poured, it was allowed to run down the sides of the mold. This technique produced the marbleized effect. Pouring ceramics is hard on your skin because slip draws the moisture from your skin and often causes the skin on your fingers to crack and hurt.

The depth of color depends on where (in Alaska) the clay was obtained, the temperature at which it was fired as well as it's chemical composition. Alaskan Clay ceramics are easily recgonized by their browinish marblized finish and at that time were very popular with the tourists. We sold many different "Alaskan" type souvenirs. Alaskan coffee cups were very popular as well as ash trays and various animal figurines. We had nearly 400 molds in our shop when we left Alaska. A lot of our work found it's way around the world through tourists that bought it as well as traveling military members.

Next, our trip to the "Outside":

Sign my Guestbook View my Guestbook
Contact Me:


The final four years of my Air Force career were spent at Eielson AFB, near Fairbanks. I drove up alone in August, 1975 pulling our 12' pop up camper. Four years later the family and I drove out together, this time with a pickup camper. The kids riding in the back. (I wouldn't dare do that today!) Driving the Alaskan Highway is a once in a life time trip for most people. Along the way South, we met many nice people whose enjoyment of travel and the outdoors made us immediate friends.

In this photo, we sit at the front gate of Eielson AFB, minutes before we began our trip out. Our truck was a 1973 Chevrolet with a 350 CID engine and a used NuWa slide in camper. We got 10-12 MPG loaded or unloaded. The truck was geared very low. She liked gasoline, but had plenty of power.

Life in the Far North:  Living that far north was a lot different than what we were accustomed to. The Alaskan winter nights were very long and the near perpetual winter time darkness was hard for some people to get used to. There is a higher than normal incidence of alcohol & drug abuse, not to mention divorces in that enviroment. Having a hobby to occupy yourself was a big plus. Some folks enjoyed ham radio, ceramics, woodworking, reading or any number of diversions. Anything to stay busy.

The Key To Survival:  What kept Suzie and me busy, especially during the winter months, was a small ceramic business which we created in our basement. We worked in what is known as "Alaskan Clay". The clay comes from deep in the earth and was belched up during the 1964 Anchorage earth quake. Each year we drove the 350 miles South to Anchorage and dug a thousand pounds or so of the stuff, hauled it home and processed it. This was a labor intensive job in which Connie & Doug were a big help. The clay had to be broken into small pieces, soaked in water for weeks, all the while stirred with a large beater connected to a powerful electric motor. This was done for more than 8 hours each day.

Once it was disolved into a liquid and most of the larger rocks and solids had been removed, it was strained many times through progressively smaller and smaller screens. The final straining was through a 300 mesh screen. Then it was allowed to sit undistrubed until more of the water seperated from it. Excess water was dipped off, and the mud was mixed more. Once it reached the viscosity of heavy cream, it was ready for use. A small amount was squirted lightly on the surface of a pitcher of regular slip. As the slip was poured, it was allowed to run down the sides of the mold. This technique produced the marbleized effect. Pouring ceramics is hard on your skin because slip draws the moisture from your skin and often causes the skin on your fingers to crack and hurt.

The depth of color depends on where (in Alaska) the clay was obtained, the temperature at which it was fired as well as it's chemical composition. Alaskan Clay ceramics are easily recgonized by their browinish marblized finish and at that time were very popular with the tourists. We sold many different "Alaskan" type souvenirs. Alaskan coffee cups were very popular as well as ash trays and various animal figurines. We had nearly 400 molds in our shop when we left Alaska. A lot of our work found it's way around the world through tourists that bought it as well as traveling military members.

Next, our trip to the "Outside":