John was born in his home in Ludlow, Illinois. It has been torn down. When he first saw that, he realized that he should no longer aspire to being the President. He often told people he was born in Illinois in a log cabin (not true), relating to the legend about Abraham Lincoln and his birth place.

Barbara was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her high school home was in Birmingham, Michigan. We returned there recently and she got permission to step inside by the current occupant, the widow of an Episcopalian priest.

After marriage, we started our life together in one of the newest homes in Kenai. That was actually a barrier for ministry.  Today, it is no longer the newest or nicest house in town. It had been built on the cheap. One time we took the molding off of a picture window in the living room and we could see daylight. That explained some heating issues at 30 below zero. Some insulation was inserted and things got better. For church income, the daylight basement was rented to the school for a classroom. Didn’t need an alarm clock during school days.

Then we went to Chugiak and enjoyed (?) a log home for four years. One night (again at 30 below) I shut the damper prematurely and the house filled with smoke. We credit the saving of our lives to a cat that stood at our ears and mewed loudly. When I awoke, the smoke was within inches of our heads. An earlier resident, when the hearth caught fire, called the superintendent, asking what she should do. He suggested calling the fire department. We didn’t call anyone, but I opened the damper and the doors to get rid of the smoke.  Close call.

In Juneau, we lived on the flats in a Dutch Colonial home. There was no garage for our car. A carport was added while we were there. It was within walking distance of the church and that walk took me right by the governor’s mansion. When I was also appointed to Douglas, pressure was exerted every year for us to move to their parsonage. We did rent it to families. One Coast Guard family complained to me that there was no heat in the upstairs bedrooms. Their children had to sleep in the living room on cold nights. Being an excellent administrator, I took the complaint to the trustees and came away feeling that they were calling the renter and me liars. They had never had any complaints from former pastors. So I did some research and found that yes, indeed, the children of former pastors had to sleep in the living room on cold nights.  But did they ever tell anyone?  No they had not done so. They wanted to avoid the wrath of the trustees, I suppose. That problem may have been fixed.

Then we went to Nome where a fire in an earlier parsonage had caused the system to build the parsonage connected to the church. The buildings were on pilings, frozen into the permafrost to avoid buckling of the building. It worked for all but one and cracks appeared regularly in one bathroom. Not being the smartest fellow, I had it fixed twice and then we came up with a design where the repair would move with the building. No more problem.

One time we noticed water coming from the bottom of the building. My father-in-law and I diagnosed the problem and removed some sheets of plywood from the bottom of the house. Vile stuff came onto my body, including my head. Two showers later, I could live with myself. The drain from the kitchen sink had broken years before and all items of food flushed from the sink was inbetween two boards. My predecessor just thought the summer smell was inherent to living on the tundra of Nome.  As did we.  That got fixed. The smell went away.

If the power went off at 30 below, the building was one hour from freezing, so we put anti-freeze into the system. We were on auto-fill and one night we ran out of fuel. We actually had to brow-beat an employee to get him to come and fill our tank.  Only in Nome.

When we moved to Anchorage, we had a lovely home and a lovely garden. Zucchini is hard to give away.

A layperson encouraged us to buy our own home in order to build up some equity.  That didn’t end well. It was three stories high and Barbara had some surgery that required her to stay home awhile.  Not fun. She lived in the living room.

Then we moved to Sitka in a very large home without a view.  A neighbor allowed us to cut some tree branches and we got a peek-a-boo view of Mt. Edgecumbe.  Not being very smart, I planted some salmonberry cuttings in the yard. The yard was completely natural. When Bishop Dew came we insisted he stay in the parsonage and when he stepped on the back porch, I thought it would collapse. We had it reinforced, but I didn’t have the guts to put up a plaque “The Bill Dew Porch”.  The roof had not been attached properly and it started to blow off in a windstorm. With the help of a layperson, I got over my fear of heights that day.

When we moved to Spokane, we lived in a split level home with water issues.

At Stanwood, we were also in a two level home.  On the flats in a flood zone. With no view. I tried to sell the home , but could not get any interest at the price we were asking.  The trustees had upgraded the house and drained the property with a pumping system, so we had a great garden and few problems.  One of the reasons for selling it is that it is an area zoned commercial, so a family with children would feel isolated.  No problem for us, but some day a family with children may be appointed to Stanwood.

When we retired, we got a ranch style home above the flats with a knock-out view of the Olympics.  Our first home with a view. And soon we will go to a retirement facility, without a knock-out view.  Such is life.

Barbara found the potential home for us, but when we went to see it, it was being sold. We asked if we could see it and were allowed to do so. As we left, I told the agent that if the deal fell through, to please call us. The deal did fall through and he called us and we purchased the house.


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