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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Hand-me-down Recipes

People often speak fondly of “Gramma’s cooking.” The “Antique” section of  “Something Special Alaska Style,” a cookbook put together by the Chugiak Elementary Parent-Teacher Association nearly a half century ago has some examples. A recipe for “Know Nothings” cookies taken from an 1856 magazine was submitted by Velma Deavers. Ingredients are 1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup water, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, ¼ teaspoon salt, nutmeg or spice to taste and flour sufficient to roll out and cut. After the mixture was rolled out and cut, Gramma apparently knew how long to cook it in a moderate oven; the recipe does not say.

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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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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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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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2018 Fur Rendezvous scheduled Feb. 23 to Mar. 5

Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous had its beginnings in 1935 and continues today, suspended during World War II and revived in 1946. According to Elmer Rasmuson’s Memoirs in Volume II of Banking on Alaska, the event now known affectionately as “Rondy” was inspired by the winter carnival in Fairbanks. Plans were formed by three men during their return by train to Anchorage.

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Area has solid representation in Juneau

The second session of the 30th Legislature opens Jan. 16 in Juneau. It is scheduled to end April 15 under the constitutional limit of 90 days. Of the 20 members of the Senate, Chugiak-Eagle River has two, with two more in the 40-member House of Representatives. They are Senators Shelley Hughes and Anna McKinnon and Representatives Dan Saddler and Lora Reinbold. They have deep footprints to follow, from a long list of dedicated public servants who preceded them.

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Most Chugiak-Eagle River Christmases White

Chugiak-Eagle River residents were looking at only a thin scattering of snow as the Yuletide approached, but the weather gods cooperated a bit with six days to spare. That brought to mind the year when lack of the white stuff raised concerns for a white Christmas. With only days to go, the ground was bare. When this writer crafted an editorial capped by a big “THINK SNOW” headline, it prompted a call from BBC in London. Our English friends had been dumped upon in record-shattering terms. The on-air trans-Atlantic conversation was hearty with offers of exchange that could only be fulfilled in fantasy. “Cheerio” sounded hollow and fell on deaf ears.

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Christmas Past

Even though this writer recognizes that not everyone is a believer in the One whose birth we celebrate this month he will never apologize for saying, “Merry Christmas.” Even a non-believer can enjoy the colored lights that brighten the darkest month of the year. The decorations are pretty and people are smiling despite their frantic shopping forays. The practice of giving and sharing love for our neighbors can be enjoyed by all—and well should be. He and the girl who became his bride 65 years ago have for many seasons celebrated the holiday by driving around to look at the decorated homes. We have noted the continuous growth of subdivisions and appreciate those who go all out to make their homes and yards festive. It’s not easy to forget the early years when the population was much smaller compared to today’s numbers. Even though smaller, the holiday spirit was evident throughout.

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