Gerald Lind says he was born where most people end up: in a mortuary. He was born in the upstairs of a funeral parlor in Everett, Washington, where his Dad was a mortician. That was just the beginning of Gerald’s colorful life. He covers a lot of ground in this interview with his daughter, Shari Otness.
Gerald tells of the wild escapades of his classmates as they moved through the Petersburg School system. The class was “frisky” he says, and the entire class was expelled from school several times. By the time graduation came around, life got much more serious, with the young boys enlisting in the military to serve in World War II. Gerald says they lost classmatesto the war even before graduation.
He was sent to the deep South for basic training, where he found the segregation laws puzzling. Gerald says that his very pale skin and nearly white hair made the girls want “to dance with the Albino from Alaska”.
Gerald ended up serving in the Aleutian Islands on the “crash boats” rescuing the crews from downed aircraft. At one point, he served aboard a boat with Erling Nicholsen, also from Petersburg. At the end of the war, they had to run the boats down to Seattle, and Gerald tells of arriving in the city on Christmas Eve, and racing between the loaded troop ships full of the men coming home from the war.
It was December 25thwhen Gerald met his future wifeunder the Christmas Tree at his uncle’s home. Sounds like it was love at first sight. It was not long before Ethel managed to find her way to Petersburg, accompanying Gerald’s grandmother in the early summertime. They married in the basement of the as-yet unfinished Lutheran church that October.
When Shari was born, Gerald was fishing up north. One day he heard someone yell down to the boat, “You’re a father..” but he did not know until he got to town if she was a boy or girl.
Many adventures ensued as Gerald and Ethel built their home, raised Shari, bought the Ben Franklin Store on Main Street, then later started the Junior Shoppe. Gerald says the happiest years of his life with Ethel were spent aboard the Sunny, the gillnetter they built in 1971. They were even able to share their fishing life with their beloved granddaughter Kari (now Bakkelund).
Gerald ends this interview with a wonderful tale of an April morning, when the muskeg came alive with the sound of wings.