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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Family life has changed over the years

Managing Editor Kaleigh Wotring asked for a column on families for this edition of the ECHO. I usually write on history, not on social issues, genealogy, or marriage counseling. But I do have a family that now consists of a wife and 29 offspring and off-spouses covering four generations. And I am very proud of each and every one of them. They are loving and loved and lead good lives. They are witty and intelligent. But, they are individuals and have opinions of their own. Thankfully, they also have tact and avoid arguing their opposing views—at least in the presence of Mema, my bride.

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Jonrowe bids ‘Farewell’ in Iditarod start Saturday

Hundreds of dog mushers have run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race during its 45-year history. Many of them have become fan favorites. One who has become a legend will retire her pink parka following the 2018 race. She will be among the horde starting out on Anchorage’s Fourth Avenue bound for Nome at Saturday’s ceremonial start. The race will restart at Willow on Sunday. Her team will definitely get the most attention of those entered.For DeeDee Jonrowe her 36th run will not be a competition but a farewell tour crowning a racing career that has spanned some 40 years. She placed second in 1993, 1996 and 1998. A bridesmaid three times, she has never won the Iditarod. But the accolades that have come her way far outweigh that one little blemish.Taking the trail for one last time will give her a chance to express her appreciation to the people along the route, her fans everywhere, and the many volunteers and sponsors who have supported the race over the years, she has said. It will be an emotional time for the beloved musher as well as for her fans.

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Eagle River Valley searched for Big Foot

A hoax in which this writer was involved back in the mid-1970s turned out to be widely believed—despite “facts” that were intended to be too far-fetched to be believed. It started with a conversation at Bill Higdon’s barber shop in Eagle River. Accountant Gerry O’Connor was in one chair, chatting with barber Don Golden. Golden had been on duty there two years earlier when Don Young, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, stopped by to seek votes. Young lost to Rep. Nick Begich but won the special election held to replace the incumbent who disappeared a couple of days later on a flight to Juneau. Young now is the longest-serving current member in the House. O’Connor was to become a member of the Anchorage Assembly from 1979-85. Just so you know, all that otherwise mostly-useless information is intended to give you a little background for what follows. O’Connor on that day announced to those being treated to, or awaiting treatment in, the tonsorial arts that he received a computer print-out listing all federal grants as provided by the state’s new congressman. It filled a large box of continuous-feed printed pages, O’Connor said while offering to let anyone stop by his office to review it. That, of course, led to a discussion of possible grants that might be sought by the discussion’s participants. One of the suggestions was to seek federal funds to pay for a search for Big Foot. After all, that was as logical and legitimate a use of our tax money as some of the items the accountant described in the seemingly unending list of approved grants.

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