Many stories happen every day here at AK Child & Family. Some of them become legend.
In front of our administration building, the Gilbert Center, stands a totem pole depicting the story of Lonesome Louie, a lonesome horse who wandered on to the Jesse Lee campus and found some friends – just like lonesome kids find friends. Here is the story as told at the dedication on August 23, 1973.
Years ago in the early times of AK Child & Family, a horse appeared one evening. He wandered up the access road and was spotted by Elsie who was still playing outside. Betty, a staff member with a gentle touch went out to pet the horse.
Our great watchdogs, Caesar and Sam were very nervous having this curious animal on their grounds. They barked and barked to scare him away.
Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Gin were leaving the grounds to go to a movie. They went to investigate all the barking and found the horse. They tried to catch him but he disappeared.
Later that night, the horse quietly returned. He had remembered the nice grass he saw. He ate and ate with no one bothering him. After he was full he looked to see if anyone was around. He couldn’t find anyone because it was late and all the boys and girls were in their cottages settling for the night.
Since he couldn’t find anyone outside he began to look in the windows. He found Elsie’s window open so he stuck his head in to say hello. He said hello to Sue and Shelly too, and then went to the boy’s cottages to say hello to David and Melvin. It is said that the horse slept by Elsie’s window all night.
Early the next morning, Mr. Gilbert was working in his office and he heard the horse clomping down the drive. He alerted the Cottage 4 boys and went out to try to catch him. The boys circled the horse and Mr. Gilbert tried to get a rope on him. No luck. The horse ran down the access road and disappeared.
Later in the evening, Jack and Mr. Gilbert saw the horse eating the grass on the ball field. They tried to catch him and were just about to succeed when Jay came over the hill yelling that he had a rope. The horse was frightened. He raised his head and shook it in a gesture of freedom. He reared and bolted away, never to return.
We called him Lonesome Louie.
The moral of the legend is, “we have to accept horses and kids for what they are and not for what we want them to be.” The totem pole was created by R. Lynn Gaylor, Director of the Jesse Lee Home with the help of students and staff between 1969 and 1973. Lonesome Louie was formally dedicated by Governor William Egan at the Jesse Lee campus in August of 1973 and stands as a symbol and sentinel at the entrance of the Jesse Lee campus.