Bathhouse Links


The Store Door is the publication of the Tenakee Historical Collection, sent periodically to members of THC. It was started in 2003 by THC president Vicki Wisenbaugh, who continues as its writer and editor.

Drawing by Terry Kennedy, Cougar Productions/. Reproduced with permission.The "Store" is Snyder Mercantile, in continuous operation since 1899. Its glass front door has served as the local bulletin board for town news for over 100 years.  Notices of births, graduations, weddings, potlucks, changes in barge and ferry schedules, all show up taped to the store door.

The Store Door carries articles and pictures of times past in Tenakee and Tenakee Inlet. Old family letters, anecdotes, legends, favorite Tenakee stories, even interviews with long-time residents show up in its pages. To subscribe to The Store Door, join the THC.

The following excerpts are from past issues.

September 2006
Water Rights (and Wrongs)

Anyone who has spent a winter in Tenakee knows that dreaded time when the domestic water freezes.  Nowadays that means pipes to one’s house have frozen or that the cold spring faucet is frozen, but it used to mean the streams and trickles that served as public water sources along the trail had given way to ice and no longer flowed. Buckets and barrels of water were stashed indoors to prevent freezing and serve the household. Trips to larger creeks to carry drinking water were made with sleds and boats. Everyone had (most still do) ways of conserving fresh water and making a bucket last.

It was January 1921 when the following legal action was taken, and the weather, we can assume, was bitter. It was early evening, a time when dinners were being prepared, when a fresh bucket of water might be needed, when the darkness probably required a light to negotiate trails off the main path.

John J. Egan was Tenakee’s U.S. Deputy Marshal and the story is told quite clearly in his words. Duly sworn, Deputy Egan reported:

“That on the 3rd day of Jan. 1921, at TENAKEE, Alaska, JOHN HOGEN, committed a DISTURBANCE OF THE PEACE, by being disorderly and using obscene language, committed in the following manner. At 5:00 o’clock PM this date while at the spring which issues from behind one of Hart’s cabins the above named JOHN HOGEN came out of the cabin, put his bucket in ahead of one other person, and attempted thereby to obstruct the water. I told him to take his bucket off, to which he replied with obscene language. I went up to him to prevent obstruction of the water, at which he began to use abusive language, and fight. I placed him under arrest, to which he gave resistance, all the way to the jail.”

What, if anything, does this tell us about free speech and going with the flow in early Tenakee? Maybe just the usual courtesies we were taught as kids—don’t cut in line and watch your mouth!  Vw

January 2004
Interview with Ray Paddock

Store Door: Tell me about your childhood.

Ray: There were 6 of us boys and [my sister] Minnie growing up together. Minnie more or less raised us. I was born in Hoonah in 1911 and we moved to Whitewater Bay, where my father had a logging operation with a crew that included my brothers. The logs were used for pound traps and docks, the hemlock for dock and spruce for fenders. We moved to Tenakee after my father got hurt when a log fell on his leg and smashed it in 1920. I went to school in Tenakee, which was alongside the store. There were 26 students, grades one through eight and one teacher. The population was bigger then because people came to Tenakee from the mines to winter here and brought their families. They rented cabins from Ed Snyder. There was also a cannery here and people trapped to make a living. [The interview with Ray continues.]

December 2008
Talk about leaving a tip…

Edla Salo’s name shows up frequently in the local court records. On September 8, 1915, she and her daughter took a little walk to the Tenakee Poolroom operated by Clyde Ayers. There they visited with and partied with friends, taking turns giving Ayers money for drinks. Mrs. Salo later specified that she drank beer and the others drank whiskey.

After the party broke up, Edla looked up Commissioner Cragin and brought a complaint against Ayers for selling beer and whiskey without a license.

Cragin dutifully issued a warrant, wrote and delivered subpoenas to a number of folks. Ayers requested a jury trial and Cragin set the date and time for the very next day at 7 pm. A jury was selected and the six jurors returned a verdict of not guilty.

Source: United States vs. Clyde Ayers, U.S. Commissioner’s Court for the District of Alaska, Chicagof District

December 2006
Naked Medicine  (Written by and printed with permission of Aman Hill 2006)

Many years have passed since I deer hunted near the small Alaska community of Tenakee Springs.  Tenakee has a community bathhouse centered around its soothing hot spring.  Part of the hot spring experience is in the connecting bathhouse dressing/drying room where the visitors engage in the latest gossip, deep political discussions, and general B.S., which is most welcome.

This experience is best enjoyed while still naked soaking in the warmth and often enjoying a beer or glass of wine.  One of the last times I enjoyed this community spirit gathering it was suddenly interrupted.  A very worried father burst in with his small son and sought out the visiting part-time resident doctor who has a cabin in town.  The father explained to the doctor that his boy had fallen off a roof and he was afraid of a broken bone.  The naked doctor stood up and set down his glass of wine and examined the boy.  He told the relieved father the boy was fine.  It was sometime later that it dawned on me that I had witnessed a unique happening.  How often do you see a nude doctor practicing medicine on a fully clothed patient--only in Tenakee Springs, Alaska.  Thank God for Tenakee-- it still has some old Alaska left.

P.S. Not long ago I bumped into the doc and he challenged my memory when I related this story to him.  He said he was drinking beer, not wine.


Past issues of The Store  Door are available for purchase.