An army of salvation

Posted: Friday, May 16, 2003

On the WaterfrontBy Elton Engstrom

There is something nice about being in the Neighbors section. Here, everything is peaceful; we only have good things to say about one another. It is calm and relaxing.

While recently reading an article by a New York writer, Judith Dunford, I saw a beautifully phrased sentence. She was telling of the joys of shopping at thrift shops, such as the Salvation Army, but it could apply to many things.

She said, "I myself don't need anything, or not much, in the way of goods. What I do need is what leaks out of life, as one goes along, a sense of possibility and a sense of triumph."

What greater sense of triumph do we enjoy than the accomplishment of a task? The smile on a mother's face tells us that the greatest accomplishment in this world is having a child.

For shopping at the Salvation Army, we have a wonderful thrift store, here in Juneau, across from Foodland A&P. Henry James is the manager. He's a fine, intelligent man, born in Juneau, and 42 years of age. He has worked for the Salvation Army for 15 years.

He has brothers, Roy, Mike and Gerald, and sisters Sheila and Colleen living in Juneau, and sister Vivian living in Anchorage. His dad, Gilbert Sr., lives in Douglas. His mother and two brothers, Gilbert Jr. and Robert, are deceased. His mother was originally from Klukwan and his father from Kake.

My father always had a love for the Salvation Army. He was born in Wrangell in 1905 and lived there with his father and three brothers. His mother died when he was 7. Wrangell, like many other towns in Southeast, did not have the creature comforts, back then, with which we are now familiar, such as wonderful medical services.

The Salvation Army officer in Wrangell at that time was Chester Worthington, a Tlingit chief. He had converted in Dawson, Yukon Territory, where, while working as a miner, he had become very ill. He was helped by the Salvation Army officers, who nursed and fed him and brought him back to life.

As a young boy, my dad also became very sick one winter with the flu. While lying in his bed in Wrangell, he had only one visitor, the Salvation Army officer, Capt. Chester Worthington.

• Elton Engstrom is a lifelong Alaskan, retired fish-buyer, lawyer and legislator (1964-70) who lives in Juneau. He can be reached at 586-1655.

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