Dot Otness says her favorite memories are of picnics. In this interview with her son Alan, she remembers favorite hikes and trips to the Green Rocks Homestead down Wrangell Narrows. There she spent time with the Allen Family, John, Minnie and their daughter Mary. She tells a story about when she and Alan’s aunt Odlaug Otness climbed Crystal Mountain with Mary Allen. They were blowing on grass, trying to whistle up a deer, and were surprised to turn around and find themselves surrounded! Mary Allen took the photographs pictured below - photos used with permission of the Clausen Memorial Museum.
Dot was part of the “Hill Gang” of kids, and remembers being a “spy” along with Lyle Roundtree. The Hill and Point Gangs are often mentioned by people who grew up in townduring the 1930’s and 1940’s. Roaming bands of kids built forts and defended their territories with heated spruce cone battles.
Dot was 17 when she married her husband Nels. They have been married 65 years now. She cooked aboard their family fishing boat, bringing the kids along. She remembers tying Alan to the boat when he was a toddler so he would not fall off. At one point, his sister Claudia had a patch of hair ripped off her head when it got tangled with the exposed shaft. Nels remembers Dot saying “five kids might be too many for the boat”.
Dot Otness is an example of the hard working women in Petersburg, who raise kids, support the family fishing business, but still find time to enjoy the beauty of Southeast Alaska.