More than once, I have been asked from whence the inspiration for these Cordova Chronicles comes.
Small towns offer a rich array of sources, be they chance events that strike a chord, conversations with local characters, old newspapers, or even online news items that relate to our little burg.
Composition of stories almost invariably begins with a walk along Eyak Lake or a hike up the ski hill. Sitting in a duck blind out on the Delta is also a perfect time the let the mind wander.
Yet sometimes, believe it or not, the story comes driving right up to you.
Such was the case a few weeks ago. While walking on Power Creek Road, a shiny new white Subaru pulled alongside me just beyond Lyle Kritchen’s place, and who should power down the window but Faye Allen.
She was dressed in a colorful pink-patterned top, grinning from ear to ear, and talking like a car salesman.
Faye and I are old classmates, from the CHS Class of 1962.
There were 18 of us. With only three girls, it was pretty easy to remember their names. The other two were Lora Dettinger and Dorothy Gill. Four of us — Faye, Tom Andersen, Roger Behymer and I — have made Cordova our lifelong home.
I was accustomed to waving at Faye as she drove by in a small green Subaru Forester, but clearly, she had stepped up a grade, and wanted to chat about it.
Hi Faye. I must admit you surprised me. I see you have a new car.
Well, yes, and I love it.
When did you get it?
Not too long ago in Anchorage. It was about time. Subaru makes great cars, but my Forester was getting old.
Really? How long did you have it?
Let’s see. I bought it in 2002. So that means 18 years.
How many miles did it have on it?
Oh, I don’t know. But I did drive it to Anchorage a couple times.
(Whittier to Anchorage is 60 miles. Cordova’s “highways” total a combined 36+7+7=50. Faye’s idea of quite a few miles would amuse car owners anywhere else on the planet.)
It was still in pretty good shape, so I sold it to my son Gary. I just decided I wanted a new one. I was going to get another Forester, but saw this one on the lot, and couldn’t resist it.
It seems a bit bigger.
Yes, it is. It’s an Outback. It took some time getting used to it. In fact, the car salesman in Anchorage asked me if I wanted to take it for a test drive, but I said no, so he took me for a spin.
He then asked me how I was going to get it back to Cordova. I said I didn’t like driving in the traffic up there, but would practice on some back streets before heading to Whittier.
Faye went on to describe its many features, admitting she still hadn’t figured some of them out.
I’m not quite sure how the remote start button works, and this backup video display is so hard to get used to. But I have figured out the heater and the radio.
Can you believe it has heated seats? All my friends said “Ooooh. Let’s ride with Faye. Her car has heated seats.”
We chatted a bit more, and then she waved and merrily drove off.
Most likely she will have some very toasty and content passengers the next time she passes by.
Yogi Berra said, “You can see a lot by watching.”
What I saw made me smile for the rest of my walk.
A story had driven right up to me.
And it’s too bad Subaru didn’t have an advertising rep on hand to record Faye Allen’s testimonial.