My Uncle Don Ahlas

Don Ahlas

by

Jenelle Pietruszewski

 

6th Grade 1997, Tri-County School, Karlstad,Minnesota

 

My uncle, Don Ahlas, was born June 27, 1934, in Indiana,Pennsylvania. He lived there for five years. Then he moved with his familyto Cayuga Island in New York State. Cayuga Island is in the city of NiagaraFalls. Niagara Falls is located on the western side of New York and atthe tip of Lake Erie.

He lived in a big stone house. He had to share a roomwith his brother. If you looked out the window, you could see Lake Erie! He said New York was beautiful. It's famous for its delicious fruit: apples, cherries, and apricots. He doesn't think the fruit in Iowa is asgreat as in New York.

To get to school, he took a ferry to the mainland. Whenhe wasn't in school he was a clerk in a big general store in Niagara Falls. It was run by a Jewish family. He made fifty cents an hour. He didn'tthink that was enough money so he quit to make more money at another placebut that didn't work out so he went back to the general store. They tookhim back at the general store and treated him like family. He liked itthere. One day he sat in a box and slid down the stairs. It scared oneof the kids working there!

He was senior class president in high school in Buffalo,New York. Don attended college in the area and became a teacher. He taughtelectronics but because of budget cuts he lost his job.

So, he decided to join the Peace Corps. He stayed in itfor two years. It was very interesting. First, he went to Western Samoa,an island in the Pacific Ocean. In Western Samoa, he was a teacher advisorfor teachers who taught school there and he also did other jobs to helpthe people in the area. He lived with a family there. They sat on matswoven from grass. They got a chair just for Don. It was much more comfortablefor him. He never found out where they got that chair! They never ateanything on their bread, and made pizza just for Don, but it didn't tastelike the pizza here in the United States. They had beautiful beaches butthey don't swim in them because they are full of trash! He still writesletters and sends gifts to his family in Samoa.

Then, he spent one year in Cameroon. On the way to Cameroon,there was a lay-over in Paris. It reminded him of Buffalo and home. Cameroonis located less than 10 degrees north of the equator in West Africa. Theweather is usually a tropical wet climate. Cameroon has big, dirty cities. There's garbage all over. The only kind of wild animals he saw was monkeys. There's no more animals because the people ATE them! There's pretty mountainousareas, green and lots of trees. They ate lots of Taro.

Taro is a root from a plant like a potato. He said ittasted like cardboard! They had peanut sauce on everything they ate. Theyeven boiled raw peanuts! They looked terrible but tasted good.

Don met my Aunt Sandy while they were working in YellowstoneNational Park one summer. Now, they live in Iowa with their two cats, Garthand Kitt Katt.

Source: Personal interview with Don and Sandy.IZE=+1>Source: Personal interview with Don and Sandy.