Antonina Hosick remembers when Cordova really was a small town — when everyone knew everyone, the sidewalks were paved with wood and music from the town’s five raucous bars floated across the waterfront late into the night. Now awaiting her 101st birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 27, Hosick reflects on the Cordova she once knew.
Hosick arrived in 1950 with five children in tow. She spent nine years working for Alaska Airlines, in the days when flying was still regarded as a glamorous experience. Afterwards, she took up management of the Anchor Bar.
“Personally, I didn’t like tending bar,” Hosick said. “We used to have some real characters, years ago. They were out having fun, but they did a lot of weird things. One man got drunk and they got a coffin out and stuck him in the coffin! When he woke up, he was kind of perturbed.”
During Hosick’s life, Cordova has undergone many gradual changes, as well as a few sudden ones, like the 1963 fire that reduced most of First Street to ruins.
“A lot of people were kidding that a million died in that fire — a million cockroaches!” Hosick said. “The city didn’t have a cockroach after that. Before that, you used to watch in your grocery bag to make sure you weren’t bringing a cockroach home with you.”
Hosick currently lives near Nirvana Park, in a residence crowded with mementoes from Egypt, Australia, Japan and the Carribean. At 100, Hosick has difficulty walking and hasn’t been to downtown Cordova, but still manages to go downstairs each day to feed her cat, Kitty-Cat. At 19, Kitty-Cat is, herself, also remarkably long-lived.
Cordova has changed a lot since 1950, though, whether for better or worse, Hosick can’t say.
“There’s so many things that have gone on in my days,” she said.