Home is Where our Hearts Are
Welcome to Growing Up Anchorage!
In the true sense of the word, GrowingUpAnchorage.com is not a blog, but a group venture dedicated to preserving authentic stories of life in Anchorage during the 1940’s through the 1980’s. These are not the narratives of the luminous historical figures in Alaska’s history; rather they are the memories of everyday people who lived under rather extraordinary conditions.
Alaska is exceptional; we can all attest to her uniqueness, even now. However, those of us who lived in Anchorage in earlier times experienced an even more rare, select culture that has long since altered and moved forward to meet the pace of a greater population and modern technology. Those years hold a very special place in our memories and deserve to be remembered and told so that current and future generations have an understanding of what our day-to-day life and living conditions were like.
I welcome you to read and enjoy our memoirs as much as we love sharing them!
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Recent interviews of Jana Ariane Nelson and Connie Walker by Alaska Public Media are available to listen to via streaming radio broadcast or by reading the interview text:
We are regularly featured on AlaskaPublic.org/Town Square 49. To read the current feature, click on the Town Square 49 link below:
We have also been featured on the Anchorage Daily News.com website. Click on the ADN link below:
We hope you will spend many hours enjoying our authentic stories about Anchorage during the mid-20th Century!
Story links are on the left, with more below, in categories and archived by date as well as by author.
Be sure and explore the links at the top of each page: Our Authors, Last Frontier Cafe, Info Nuggets, the Midnight Sun Mall and the Sourdough Shoppe.
More information about the beginning of this website, contributor and contact information is below.
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Several years ago we attended a family wedding in Alaska. During this visit I reflected on how “grown-up” Anchorage had become since I moved there in 1948, when the population was about 15,000. How different Anchorage is now compared to the “early days!”
I thought of my grandchildren, who have grown up in a much different world than we did; theirs is a world full of cell phones and video games and wireless Internet. They are used to the hustle-bustle of modern Anchorage, riddled with freeways, coffee kiosks and retail outlets on every corner. They didn’t experience a Territorial Anchorage that ended at the Park Strip or a time when Anchorage International Airport didn’t exist, or when there was only one High School in town. They didn’t order from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog because the Northern Commercial Company didn’t have what you needed.
My grandchildren didn’t go to 1st grade in a quonset hut, or live by lantern light when the neighborhood generator burned. They don’t remember when Northern Lights Blvd. was named KFQD Road after the radio station. They didn’t innocently play in the ash that dumped on Anchorage on July 10, 1953 from Mt. Spurr’s violent eruption. They didn’t see Anchorage rebuild after the devastating March 27, 1964 Alaskan earthquake. They didn’t have first hand views of the enormous ice of Portage Glacier.
In many ways, life was much simpler then. Neighbors helped each other build their homes and churches; we never locked our doors; boys were given .22 rifles and BB guns in grade school and went hunting with their dads for the winter supply of moose meat. Cars always stopped if you were stalled on the side of the road due to inclement Anchorage weather – snow, ice or mud.
Kids played outside in the woods during the long summer hours and their mothers couldn’t call them on cell phones when they were late for lunch. We didn’t worry about bears raiding our garbage cans; we burned our garbage. Brown and Grizzly bears kept their distance; they hadn’t learned to scavenger close to civilization. The hillside was not populated with homes that encroached on their territory. The Municipality of Anchorage was too small to exist. The Anchorage Daily News was just a baby – having published its first issue in January 1946.
Travel on alaskan airlines was lengthy, tedious and expensive. The marine highway was not yet in operation so people could enjoy an Alaskan cruise. There were no tours of Denali Park. In 1948, Alaska was a Territory, not a State, and many people in the “South 48″ thought that folks in Anchorage lived in igloos. Guiding for big game hunting and fishing had not become an Alaskan Tourist Industry. There were no freeways; the road to Seward had not yet been built and going to Palmer was a nightmare on the old road. The Parks Highway had not yet been conceived of. If you wanted to go northwest out of Palmer, you took the train.
And, in fact, the train stopped whenever it was flagged down, to pick up some hunter with his load of gear and meat. If you wanted to fly to Seattle, it took 8.5 hours on a DC-4 propeller plane. There was minimal electricity, and sometimes none! Most families had only one car and were lucky to have indoor plumbing.
Those were wonderful years – an Alaska that I loved dearly and miss to this day.
Since starting this website, I’ve been joined by a number of friends from those early years. They have contributed wonderful stories which are listed by date as well as under each individual author. You will find more information about them on the Our Authors page above. If you have stories to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I cannot promise that I will post everything, but I will read what you send me, and if it fits the criteria, will make every effort to post the story. Be advised that I will only accept stories that are relevant to Anchorage and Alaska in earlier years, true, and do not contain anything offensive, inappropriate or inflammatory. For the most part, last names will not be used.
It also is expressly understood that by submitting material for posting, you are waiving any right to payment of any kind. You retain your own copyright, however, and may publish your own material in any other form that you wish.
If you wish to contact me personally, you may do so at email@example.com.
Be sure to visit frequently and check back from time to time for new postings. All the authors are categorized under their own names, so you won’t miss anything. You can also read past stories in the Archives.
And so I welcome you: readers, friends and family! I invite your comments and memories. Anchorage may have grown and changed, but our memories are precious and should not be forgotten.
I hope you will visit us soon at Growing Up Anchorage!