Two stubborn, hardy and colorful old-time residents of Eagle died over the winter, a significant loss in the remote Yukon River village of just over a hundred residents near the Canadian border. Anchorage writer Louise Freeman, a former full-time Eagle resident, pays loving and respectful tribute to Dave and Vicki this week in a lengthy remembrance for the Anchorage Press.
Dave, a gaunt figure in his 70s with an erect bearing, came to the narrow doorway dressed in heavy wool pants and sweater. "Greetings," he called out in a gentle voice, giving us a slight, but welcoming, nod. Dave rarely received visitors -- most people were deterred by the Keep Out sign at the entrance to the trail. His unwashed hair stood up stiffly and around his mouth his tangled gray beard had yellowed from decades of pipe-smoking. Dirt thick enough to have been laid on with a palette knife covered his face, already discolored and scarred by frostbite. Soot ground into his pores stippled his face with black dots. It was commonly known that Dave didn't take a bath all winter, but that was not considered particularly odd behavior in Eagle, where many people lacked running water. The road to Eagle closed every winter, and the effect was always a delicious feeling of isolation from the outside world, which suited Dave, and us, just fine. ...
Vicki was no Disney character: by turns Bible-quoting and foul-mouthed, she had a mean streak and could hold a grudge for years, feeding it every few days -- like a batch of sourdough -- to keep it alive. Half child, half crone, alcoholic and true believer, brewer of restorative soups full of wild greens and baker of towering chocolate-drenched cream puffs, this was my friend, Vicki. "It's right there in Psalm 104: 15. Wine ‘gladdens the heart of man.' Don't you think God wants us to be happy?" she'd say, raising high a glass of wine.
Read more in the Anchorage Press: Their last winter: Remembering two old-timers from Eagle