by Kara Hansen-Blazier
December 12, 2004
I recall the first year we lived in our new house at mile 4 on South Tongass. My dad (Dick Hansen) just had to have a tree that would touch our ceiling, which was 18' at its highest point.
Dad, Bob Vincent and his sons Dean and Tony, my brothers Eric, Kris and I headed out to the rock quarry on South Tongass early one morning to begin our quest for THE perfect tree to make the first Christmas in our new home complete. After looking at at least 25,000 trees and carefully considering each one, dad finally found what he thought was the tree for us, much to the relief of 5 kids with soggy feet, tired legs and half frozen fingers.
A big and massive tree it was, stretching high above my little 12-year-old self. It was so tall I nearly fell over backward in order to see the top of that tree. I still remember looking up and asking Dad if he was going to climb up and take just the top, but that was not at all what he had in mind. Dad and Bob took turns sawing it down with a handsaw which surely must have taken hours not to mention gallons upon gallons of sweat to accomplish.
When at last the tree was fallen, with a big, ground shaking THUMP, which was felt from Seattle to Juneau (anyone remember the Tsunami warning of December 1974?), the problem of how to remove it from the area was considered. It just was not possible that two men and 5 little kids could drag that tree by themselves without more assistance.
My brother Eric recalls my dad sending him on a 10 mile trek over a mountain, down a cliff and across a slippery log, which straddled a raging creek. It was snowing and blowing 125 MPH (I must say my brother has a penchant for exaggerating sometimes, in truth it was probably only blowing 110 MPH that day) to gather as many neighbors as he could find to help get the tree back down to the road.
At last, Eric arrived back at the site with a good sized group of townspeople to help drag the tree 3 miles back to the road and put it in the truck, although it probably was not so much in the truck as ON the truck. What a sight that must have been to those driving on the road that day, seeing a tree traveling down the highway, seemingly of its own accord.
When at last we got the tree back to the house, it would not fit through the door. After binding the branches with rope and much tugging, pushing and pulling, dad and the entire population of South Tongass (more of whom had to be called upon to assist), finally got the tree through the door. After moving all the furniture from the front room and jimmying the tree this way and that, we finally had it in a position to raise it up so it could grace our front room in all its pine scented glory.
But ..when we finally tried to raise the tree, using a series of pulleys, ropes and chains, it would not stand up it was just way too tall. A little trimming with the chain saw and we were once again in business (In my dads defense, things like furniture and trees always seem much smaller until you put them in your house.). Through all of this I'm sure my mom was having fits at the possibility of the door and walls of her new home being forever scarred by the branches of this tree, which I'm sure would have made the likes of Paul Bunyon very proud.
The tree was raised and in final position at about midnight we didn't get a star atop our tree that year, it wouldn't fit. And our beautiful ornaments, of which we had many and would usually decorate a tree of normal size beautifully, sure seemed sparse that year. But what a party we had in the end as all those dear, wonderful souls from South Tongass stayed until the wee hours of the morning to celebrate the raising of the tree.
When the time came to removing the tree, the possibility exists that Swede Risland was called upon, as I know a chain saw was very much involved in the removal process.
Note: This story is based on the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Any exaggeration contained within is purely intentional.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.