Nan Nelson Interview, November 16, 2001

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Upper Swan Valley Oral History Project, OH 422, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula

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Nan Nelson describes her life with her husband Mel Nelson, until his death from cancer in 1992. She recalls how they met in Tacoma, Washington and eloped in 1942 to Swan Valley, Montana, when they were both 17. She talks about spending that summer learning to live in the semi-wilderness and working odd jobs. Nelson discusses how Mel was drafted into the Army the following spring and served in Europe for the duration of World War Two as a soldier and a mechanic. She tells how, following the war, the couple lived more or less in Tacoma until 1972, when they bought a grocery store and gas station from Mel’s stepfather Andy Korpa in Swan Valley. She describes how they ran the grocery store together for almost 20 years and also opened an airstrip and airplane garage.