- Associated Press - Sunday, August 9, 2015

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - A Kodiak woman who has lived in a Bells Flats Quonset hut for more than four decades is preparing to say goodbye to the home in which she holds record.

After arriving as a hippie to work in the canneries, squatting in and eventually purchasing her Quonset hut, marrying her husband, becoming a snowbird and living in Arizona in the winter, Rose Cobis is finally leaving behind her Quonset hut for good, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Saturday.

Her hut was one of several in a book titled “Quonset Hut: Metal Living for a Modern Age,” which was published at the same time as a traveling museum exhibit of Quonset hut homes.

And at 43 years in the hut, Cobis says she holds the record for the longest continuous resident of a Quonset.

The Quonset hut was one of several on the property Cobis eventually bought. Most were torn down, but she left two in place, the one she and her husband, Ed Gondek, live in and one they rent out.

They chose the hut they live in because it had a concrete floor, unlike most of the other huts in the area. It had been the shower hut, Cobis was told.

Eventually, they planned to tear down the Quonset hut and build a nice home, but ultimately decided to leave the hut in place and live in it.

Gondek, a contractor, along with friends helped make the World War II-era building into a home.

The home itself is a lesson in reusing. The ceiling is covered in wood that came from a pile in someone’s yard.

“They were going to make a bar and then they decided not to, so they left the deck sitting there and it got weathered,” Cobis said. “So we decided to take the deck up and use that rather than sheetrock.”

The Quonset has in-floor heating and a small kitchen tucked against the side complete with a tiny dishwasher. Artwork and photographs are displayed on the circular sides. To make the small hut larger, an addition containing the bedroom and an entry way is built onto one end.

Cobis began living in the hut when she was 23 after arriving in Kodiak to get a job.

After high school in California, she became a hippie and headed to Spain where she lived until her money ran out.

She came home to work in the summer intending to return to Spain with friends after making some money.

“The boys saw a thing on Alaska and the fires that happened in Alaska and how you could get jobs fighting fires in the summer in Alaska,” Cobis said. “They went to Anchorage, and they happened to go on a year when there were no fires, so they couldn’t get a job.”

But while in Alaska, they heard that jobs in Kodiak canneries were easily found.

“So we jumped on the ferry and went to Kodiak,” Cobis said.

At the time, all the hippies lived in Bells Flats, she said, so when they got to Kodiak, Bells Flats was where she and her friends were directed.

She squatted in the hut before eventually buying it, the property surrounding it, and several other huts on the property.

For almost a decade, she hauled water from a creek and lived by the light of kerosene lamps, Cobis said. Running water and electricity didn’t come to Bells Flats until nine years after she moved there.

“The thing Alaska taught us was hard work and responsibility and all that crazy adult stuff,” Cobis said with a laugh. “This was just a wonderful place. You couldn’t get in trouble, and it did teach you how to work hard and get results.”

Cobis and Gondek are selling the property, and although Cobis said someone may choose to keep and live in the Quonset, it’s just as likely that the new owner could tear it down and build a house like the two planned to build before ultimately changing their mind.

They live in Arizona in the winters and instead of coming to Kodiak for almost half the year in the warmer months, the two will be traveling around the country in a motorhome.

“We’re going to come back every year, but we’re just going to come back for a month, it’s not going to be for half a year anymore,” Cobis said. “Kodiak is a really wonderful place.”


Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, https://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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