Alaska is perfect spot for tall-tale tellers

Recently, this space had a column on Geritt “Heinie” Snider, an old-timer and former legislator who homesteaded at Lake Lucille. The Hollander who became an Alaska State Senator had the opportunity to actually know some of the sourdoughs this writer can only read about. Coming to Alaska in 1910, he caught the tail-end of the Klondike heyday. He crossed the border and did some mining before migrating to the Matanuska Valley.

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What’s there NOT to love about Alaska

When he joined the Army in December of 1947, Alaska was the last place in the world this writer wanted to be sent. In fact, each of the 12 times he went through processing, he responded to the question of his preference of overseas assignments with, “Anyplace but Alaska.” You see, he was born and raised in Alabama. Just the thought of below-freezing weather was enough to make him shiver.

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Wasilla’s ‘Heinie’ Snider: famed teller of tall tales

A park on the shores of Lake Lucille in Wasilla is named for Gerrit “Heinie” Snider, a well-known pioneer from the Matanuska Valley. His nickname was given due to the Dutchman’s accent. A miner, railroad section foreman, author, iceman, community benefactor, mink rancher, newspaper columnist and politician, Snider published his “100 Stories of Alaska” for the 1967 Purchase Centennial.The foreword to the book was written by U.S. Sen. E. L. “Bob Bartlett who wrote, “I know of no teller of tales, tall or otherwise, better equipped to relate Centennial stories about Alaska and Alaskans.”

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First legislature passed 84 bills in 59-day session

Passage by Congress of the Second Organic Act on Aug. 24, 1912, changed Alaska from a District to a Territory, giving it the ability to elect a legislature. Voters did just that in November, sending 24 residents to Juneau, which had been designated as the capital. The session started March 3. Legislators’ remuneration: $15 per day with 15 cents reimbursement for travel mileage.

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Alaska gardeners benefit from long days

Gardening is an endeavor many Alaskans have enjoyed since the days it became a United States possession. Our long daylight hours in summer offer us an advantage over friends and relatives in the smaller states. We can boast not only of oversized vegetables but flavor that is unmatched.

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Once illegal route only link to Anchorage

When drivers found the Glenn Highway clogged as they headed to work on March 22, there was only one way for them to reach Anchorage. That route, via the Eagle River Loop Extension to Hiland Road, was pushed through surreptitiously nearly half a century ago. State officials were outraged but unable to find anyone to charge with the crime. Years later, they decided it was a good idea, after all.We’ll find out “who done it” later, but first let’s look at what happened.

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Continent’s worst earthquake struck 54 years ago

March 27, 1964, was Good Friday, the day commemorating the Last Supper on the evening of Christ’s betrayal. At 5:36 p.m. Anchorage children were watching Fireball XL5 on KENI-TV Channel 2. Dinners were being prepared in homes all across Alaska. It was a fairly warm day, only four or five inches of snow on the ground. Roads were clear and trees were bare, their buds not yet starting to show and the sap still dormant under the bark.Not many of today’s residents remember that day. Those who were here will never forget it.This writer was one who experienced the second-worst earthquake ever recorded, the worst ever on the North American continent.

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Ides of March: Time for Romans to settle all debts

According to historians, Julius Caesar was named Rome’s Dictator for Life. Opponents, though, saw to it that he held the title for less than a year. In the halls of the Roman Senate, several of the elite lawmakers—including his longtime friend Decimus Junius Brutus—sprang upon him and stabbed him to death.According to legend, a seer much earlier had warned him to “Beware the Ides of March.”Just what are the Ides of which Caesar should have been wary?

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J.F.A. Strong: AK governor, editor, alien, bigamist

An enigma among Alaskan politicians was the Territory’s second governor, John Franklin Alexander Strong. Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913, he served until 1918. He was not reappointed and was replaced by Thomas P. Riggs, Jr. Years later, former Gov. Ernest Gruening surmised that the reason Strong was dumped was that a private investigator discovered that the well-known man had never been naturalized as an American citizen. Not only that, but he had abandoned the woman he married in Canada, along with their two daughters and son, and became a bigamist when he married Anna Hall of Tacoma, Wash.That said, however, other than his habit of throwing in a superfluous “u” in words like favor and endeavor, everyone considered him to be as American as baseball and apple pie.

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Chaplin’s ‘Gold Rush’ film: far from facts

While the Klondike Gold Rush inspired Charlie Chaplin to write, produce, star in and edit the movie “The Gold Rush,” the fantasy film fell far short of reality. While based on the stampede of 1898, it was filmed in California and only in suggestion told the story of the people who sought fortunes in the northern goldfields.

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