I’m back on the Gaede-80 Homestead outside Soldotna, Alaska. In 1961, my parents got in on the tail-end of the Homestead Act. They proved up 80 acres. Gaede and 80 rhymed, leading to the nomenclature of Gaede-80. In 2012, there is the Gaede-80 Subdivision off of Gaede Street. Most recently, there is a cluster mail box with Gaede Street addresses.
For years there was confusion about addresses of the buildings on the homestead. There was more than one building per legal parcel; perplexing for city planners who wanted to organize this random state. The electric and gas companies arrived at different numbers for the same building, and the borough showed alternatives. This was even more complicated when we siblings co-owned land.
But Alaska UPS and repair services are smart. They don’t bat an eye when you give them directions of “Go down Gas Well to where Jones goes straight, Gas Wells turns left, and Gaede is to the right. Oh, I think the Gaede sign is down again. Well, yes, there are actually two Gaede Streets because one runs down the property line, whereas the original one, which is still used, went to the Unical gravel pit…No, not the blue house. Go past the cabin and A-Frame to the brown house….. with the moose antlers in front of the drive and the orange wind sock……Yes, we land planes on the road.”
Several years ago, we tired of explaining that this and that building had two or three addresses. We decided what numbers we wanted where. I made cinnamon rolls. My sister-in-law and I delivered the cinnamon rolls and our request for non-randomness. The borough-manager-of-addresses agreed on this efficiency. Word made its way down to utilities.
No matter what the erraticness, the borough never lost us when they sent out property taxes.
In 2008, we had the homestead replatted and some parcels reassigned. The title search revealed that a parcel we’d thought was mine, and which I’d paid years of property tax, was still titled in all our names. Good thing I hadn’t tried to sell it.
The In 2012, we siblings have our own Gaede-80 land – except for one co-owned piece between two siblings of the four siblings. This is easier to manage; except for the parcels we still use as open-space.
Soldotna. When we arrived in 1961, there was disagreement about how to spell Soldotna or Soldatna. Eventually “Soldotna,” used by the Post Office took preference. Yesterday when I was in town, I saw a local advertisement with a location of “Soldatna.” When we arrived, we were told the name came from a Russian word meaning “soldier.” Now you might hear that it comes from an Athabascan word meaning “the stream fork.”
When we arrived in 1961, no one “Outside” (a term my parents became familiar with when they arrived in Anchorage in 1955), had any idea where Soldotna was. Now when I mention that our family homestead is located outside of Soldotna, I get these responses from people in Lower-48: Great vacation! Drove through it on the way to Homer. Saw bears! Caught huge salmon! Caught enormous halibut! Loved staying in the Freddie’s parking lot. Well, actually, no. They don’t mention that last one. That’s just what Soldotna locals put up with when Fred Meyer’s allows huge campers and enormous RVs to park in their lot. Not easy to drive through in July to buy groceries, but it’s good for business. We get our fishing licenses elsewhere.