Info Nuggets

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4th Avenue Theatre owner seeks permit to tear it down

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LIVE!! Katmai Bear Cam

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Bear cub approaches runners during Gold Nugget Triathlon


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Mama Bear and Cubs on Lake Otis

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The History of Spenard

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Jeff King talks about the snowmachine crash that killed his dog

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Aliy Zirkle pushes on after encounter with snowmachine – ADN Video

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Jeff King sings to puppy Nash

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Iditarod 2016 hauls in snow

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VIVA LAS VEGAS!  Update 2-6-16


AHS CLASS OF ’61 55TH REUNION – MARCH 27-30, 2016

(and friends from classes of ’59, ’60, ’62, and ’63 . . . and more)




Only 50 days and counting . . . and only 4 rooms left in our block of reserved/special rate rooms.  So whatcha waitin’ for?  Get off that Laz-e-boy and hit the computer.  Here’s how you do it:

1.     Call the Sunset Station Reservation Office at (888)786-7389, ask for “reservations.”

2.      Give the OFFER CODE: SCI55TH.  You can then book a room for $39 per night (tax and hotel service fee included = $57 per night), THIS RATE IS AVAILABLE ONLY UNTIL 2/26/16, OR

3.     Book on line at using the same OFFER CODE and following the prompts (putting offer code in the “Offer Code” box; clicking on “Book Now!”; selecting date of arrival [March 27], number of nights [3] and room type [King or Double-Queen] and then clicking “Get Rate.”  You will be asked to provide a credit card and pay for the first night.  A room can be canceled with 72 hours’ notice without penalty.  Let us know if you have problems and/or need assistance.  If all our reserved rooms are sold out, we may be able to obtain more at the same great rate.

4.     Contact us to let us know you have registered:

Joel Wight:;  425-941-5630, or

Ginger (Harris) Metcalf:; 360-600-7822

Check out our web site at (thank you tech guru Talbert) and if your name IS on that list, there are still a few steps to take:


1.     Send your name (including maiden name if female), class year, current contact info, mailing address, e-mail address, home phone, cell phone, spouse/partner name) to:  gingermetcalf@comcast.netand we’ll update our records.  ALSO, if you are in contact with other classmates, please share this request with them.  If we can’t find you, we can’t keep you informed.

2.     If you plan to attend the Monday night (3/28) banquet, send $60 per attendee to:

Ginger Metcalf

400 W. 8th St., #402

Vancouver, WA 98660

Thanks to those of you who have sent your checks.  We must have payment prior to the reunion so we can let catering know how many to prepare for . . . AND we’ll know to let you in the door.

3.     If you have photos to share with the group, scan and e-mail them to Larry Talbert for inclusion in a rotating photo video:  reunions, first grade, prom, sports . . . start digging through those boxes and share your best with us. E-mail to Larry Talbert: 

4.     Let us know what you would like to see and do in Vegas.  We have some ideas (see previous update) but yours may be better.

5.     Tattoo this number on the back of your left hand . . . 528 . . . it’s the BYOB hospitality suite where you will check in . . . open 24/7 (or almost), attended by Larry Talbert and Doreen (Dunnigan) Donald.  It’s a place to pick up your name lanyard, hang out, visit, catch up, try and figure out who belongs to that face, peruse annuals, see pictures, check things to do, places to go and people to see in Vegas.  It’s “home base” for the reunion.


Information that we have so far on transport from the airport to Sunset Station:

·       Taxi, $50 (check to see who is arriving about the same time you are . . . we may be able to help)

·       Super Shuttle, $23/person (we’ll try to get more information to share later)


Again, check out the web site for updates.  Most likely we will have one more e-mail update prior to March 27 (ANOTHER REASON WE NEED YOUR CURRENT CONTACT INFORMATION).


Samples of tourism opportunities:

Check out more discounts at:


Weather forecast – temperatures to be in the 70’s.  Whooo-pee!!!!


Your planning committee:  “First in work, first in fun, senior class of ’61!”

·       Joel Wight,

·       Ginger Harris Metcalf,

·       Larry Talbert

·       Doreen Dunnigan Donald



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Small Plane Crashes into Anchorage Office Building

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Alaska Dispatch News story on Spenard porn shop recreated as a cafe and Indie bookstore. Comments on GUA story by “old timers” in Jan Haines’ story of the Idle Hour Country Club.

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Kivalina, Alaska:  Climate Change


Kivalina Disappearing

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President Obama renames Mt. McKinley to




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Mike retirement #1 - Punchbowl Invite Mike's retirement #2 - Promo Flyer

Chilkoot Charlie’s News

Mike to sell Chilkoot’s

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Renaming Mt. McKinley to Denali

Ohio Supports Renaming Mt. McKinley

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Update on Fourth Avenue Theater

Fourth Avenue Theater Art in Peril

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Firefighter in Willow takes dogs back home after house burns.

Sockeye Fire, Willow

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Renaming Mt. McKinley to Denali


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Motherlode Lodge at Hatcher Pass Burns

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The Museum at Chilkoots



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2015  Iditarod

This story will touch your heart!

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Alaskan history – looking back

History tidbits by decade, assembled from various sources including the internet.  Compiled and written by Connie O



POPULATION: In 1940 the population of Anchorage was 3,495, a 53.7% increase over 1930 which boasted 2,271 residents.

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE:  Elmendorf AFB was a memorial to Capt. Hugh Elmendorf who was a test pilot killed in Ohio in 1933. It is now one of the nation’s largest. There is no information that Capt. Elmendorf actually was based on the base which bears his name.

It is now a major military site for oversight of the Bering Sea countries and northern Pacific Ocean by protecting the American International Dateline, the 200-mile off shore boundary, aerial space and providing military readiness. In recent years reductions in military bases have caused this base to be joined to Fort Richardson as Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

4th Avenue Theater. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons

Fourth Avenue Theater. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons

FOURTH AVENUE THEATER: Construction commenced in 1941 and was completed in 1947 with construction halted during the war years. The project was started by “Cap” Lathrop, a successful businessman from Seattle, Valdez, Cordova and Fairbanks. This luxurious theater, seating 980 attendees, was not his first theater. The Lacey St. Theater in Fairbanks was a forerunner to his lavish style seen in the 4th Avenue Theater. He created a laudable landmark in Anchorage and outdid the grand appearance externally and internally of the building in comparison to the Empress and the Denali Theaters, which were the typical utilitarian buildings.

The easiest way to describe the interior is splendid beauty with many high priced accruements throughout, embellished frequently with gold and silver touches, more suited to a grand hotel than a movie theater. Other features of the interior included a painting of Mt. McKinley, the North Star in the ceiling lighting, a gold and silver fabric mural and gold sconces along the walls.

In 1959-60, Mr. Lathrop added a penthouse apartment. A radio station (KENI) and a television station were included in the original building structure, but later moved to  Minnesota Drive close to the high school.

(Author’s note: my father worked as an electrician on the theater lighting projects. He mentioned how much he respected Cap Lathrop as an employer and what Cap’s life accomplishments were. I spent many Sunday afternoons when my grandmother and I walked there from her 8th & M home to view movies. To this day I have very fond memories of her pleasure as well as mine and a love of movies. The one exception was On The Waterfront with Marlon Brando!)

This theater served the Anchorage community for close to four decades into the 1980’s.

One blog writer wrote there was none other than the 4th’s fine appearance and enjoyment.

Even after its movie days were finished, the building was converted to serve as an assembly and banquet venue.

(This author attended the Class of ‘60’s 40th reunion in 2000 and found the remodeled transformation was not all that different, minus the seats, and included similar carpeting. It served pretty well as a facility for that event and definitely was a familiar site and conversation piece for those seeing it for the first time in many years.)

Fourth Avenue Theater interior. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons

Fourth Avenue Theater interior. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons

The 4th Ave. Theater was once a source of pride in the city’s architectural scheme. What Cap Lathrop built for the small growing city in 1941 is now a shameful deterioration of its historical grandeur. In 2008 it was listed with the National Registry of Historical Buildings. As of Sunday July 13th, 2014 the Alaska Assn. of Historical Preservation has told the Anchorage News the theater has been on their “threatened building” list since 1991 and is more so now.

The present investment company in San Francisco, according to a recent newspaper article on, has made assurances to upgrade and continue its use but to-date, little has been done to even maintain the structure. People report peeling wallpaper, carpet deterioration and other typical decay due to inattention. The exterior is also seeing severe demise with homeless people using the side thoroughfare to 5th Avenue area for their unsavory needs and uses.

Past and present residents lament its demise, but remember the glory for its intended purpose: being a quality, comfortable environment for the enjoyment and presentation of the current movies of the many days the 4th served our community.

Austin E. "Cap" Lathrop, courtesy of the University of Alaska Website.

Courtesy of the University of Alaska Website.

AUSTIN “CAP” LATHROP:  It was 1896 and Cap unknowingly was riding on the waves of the upcoming gold rush invasion where he would become one of Alaska’s wealthiest entrepreneurs.

He started in Seattle and Anacortes, Wash. working to improve those cities with various pursuits. As a beginner in the Northwest, he would face his first failure in his impressive biography of business achievements. He managed to reestablish himself, creating major shipping and commerce to the territory, then moved to Valdez, and onto Cordova with his first movie theater there.

He then went on to amass his fortune by establishing the Healy River Corporation (1922) for coal mining, which was discovered three years earlier (1918) in the area outside of Fairbanks. This became the predecessor of the Usibelli Mine, the major coal supplier in Alaska. His other commercial interests were oil, copper, shipping, lumber, entertainment, banking, newspapers, theaters, radio and television. He was titled “Builder of a Northern Empire” in Fairbanks where he named a building there also. The construction of the Alaska Railroad expansion also bolstered his profits, another favorable aspect of his Alaskan connection.

Cap lived to the age of 84, all the while working around the state in his many pursuits and well-established firms. He died as one of the shakers and makers of Alaska commercialism from the start of the Gold Rush until 1950. Robert (Bob) Atwood was a comparable peer, having established The Anchorage Times while Lathrop created The Fairbanks News-Miner. Both men were commendable achievers in creating a part of Alaskan history along with Wally Hickel, past governor, and Elmer Rasmuson, banker, among others. (You can read more about Cap’s biography under Austin Cap Lathrop on your search program.)

Independence Mine, Hatcher Pass, Alaska. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons.

Independence Mine, Hatcher Pass, Alaska. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons.

INDEPENDENCE MINE:  Earlier in 1940, the Independence Mine in Willow was the largest gold mine in Alaska and employed 160 men. It was designated a model mine. Its ruins still stand to this day.

THE ALASKA HIGHWAY:   The Alaska Hwy., as it was called in 1943, was created for two reasons: primarily for military reasons and to connect the territory with the rest of the U.S. It was approved by Congress and construction began in 1941 and was “completed” in 1942. In 1943 travel was strictly limited to the military vehicles, nor were hitchhikers even allowed.

(I insert “completed” in jest because the highway through British Columbia, Canada, the Yukon Territory and Alaska was constantly being improved, paving redone, grade and curves straightened out by the governments responsible for the highway in their country and as in Alaska, the territorial government, but this came about after WWII.)

Compliments of Wikipedia, permission by author, Luigi Zanasi

Compliments of Wikipedia, permission by author, Luigi Zanasi

During the war, the U.S. was left carrying the entire construction cost, as Canada saw no reason to support the task since only a few people would use it.

The highway was designed for a second time from Delta, AK to Dawson Creek, B.C., including through the lower Yukon Territory. It was considered a major engineering feat, considering the soil and weather conditions of the terrain in each location. It was also very much a rush job, which might, and probably, accounted for high numbers of damaged vehicles, chronic equipment repairs, etc., including those that went over cliffs due to the narrow roadway design. Surprisingly no lives were lost though (at least none were mentioned in the research.) The curvy layout of the road had a definitive purpose too: to avoid possible bombing of transports by enemy aircraft along the route.

Tree canopy also contributed to that protection and limited easy detection. It remained a gravel road during the war years and traveling the 1700-1800 miles took 10 days to a month. That was a lot of dust to live with along the highway.

Alcan Construction, compliments of Wikipedia Commons

Alcan Construction, 1942.  Compliments of Wikipedia Commons

Ironically, the Japanese encroachment of foreign territories during the war, including landing on two Aleutian islands and a futile attempt to drop balloon fire “bombs” along the Oregon coast, was diverted to other conquests in the Pacific region and abated the need for the prioritized military maneuvers and bases in Alaska. The facilities were still built and manned. American forces did engage in combat with the Japanese on one of the Aleutian Islands. And two or three people were killed in the “fire balloons” attack in central coastal Oregon.

Later when “civilians” were allowed to travel the road in 1946-48, aka now the Alcan, roadhouses popped up to accommodate the travelers and truckers hauling freight for Canadian and Alaskan stores.

A golden rule was never to deny families entrance into a bar where alcohol was served because food and lodging facilities were few and far between, just like the gas stations.

In the winter months survival was even harder where temperatures dropped to double digit freezing but the road was actually more passable. Gas stations were often 150 or more miles between each other just as the lodges, so a driver had to be well prepared and with good vehicle conditions and driving plans. Another cardinal rule meant you never denied someone roadside assistance. You always stopped when a vehicle was pulled off the side, even if the person was fine, you checked.

A byproduct of the Alcan Highway business was the production of the Milepost manual listing all the businesses, lodging, vehicle repair garages, gas stations, especially the mile postings (thus the manual’s title) and other accommodations for the 1800 mile trek between Seattle and Anchorage.

CALL TO MEN EMPLOYEES: Alaskan industries were announcing a call for men to operate machinery, work on the many construction projects for the Army and Navy bases, to work on a railroad tunnel to and at Whittier where the military stored four to five tanks of gasoline and which was closed to the public for years (even after the war), construct the Alcan Highway, and operate the fisheries and mines. One large mine in southeastern Alaska needed 300 men alone or would have to shut down. Another issue was the closure of gold mines due to the need of strategic metals for military needs.

RECORD NUMBER OF AIRPORTS:  With over 126 airports in the state, 2nd to California, Alaska was noted for more flying than any other state or U.S. possession. It probably retains that designation at present.

*** Compiled and written by Connie O

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To Name or Re-Name


Denali (Mt. McKinley) courtesy of NPS, Wikimedia Commons.

Denali (Mt. McKinley) courtesy of NPS, Wikimedia Commons.

Alaska and Ohio are again wrestling over the name of the tallest mountain in North America.  Sen. Lisa Murkowski has again introduced a bill in Congress to return the name of Mt. McKinley to its original Athabascan name, Denali.  The mountain, long loved by Alaskans, was named for President McKinley in 1896.

“I have nothing against President McKinley whatsoever, but I would rather have this peak be called by the name it has gone by for centuries by Alaskans than a man who never set foot in our state,” Murkowski said in a release. “This is the tallest mountain in North America and we deserve to have this Alaskan landmark bear an Alaskan name.”

It seems every few years this debate resurfaces.  Last week Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio, introduced a bill to retain the name McKinley.   Shall we take bets on who wins or shall we vote?   I’ll go first:



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Tax Time, Territory of Alaska


1949 Alaska Tax 1

It’s that time again!  January is nearly over and I’m thinking I should be working on our taxes.  In fact, I’d better get started soon.  🙂

Yesterday I was searching through some old files of Mom’s, looking for an item I wanted to add to her scrapbook.  Very timely, I came across Dad’s Territory of Alaska Tax form for 1949.  What a difference in our economy those 60+ years ago! His income for that year, working for the Bureau of Land Management in Anchorage was $6141.10. According to my calculations, he cleared about $470 a month.  His Alaska Net Income Tax was 10% of the Federal Income Tax, in this case, $519.08 and $51.91 respectively.

Typical of my Dad, he filed this on January 3rd. He was never late for anything!




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 St. Lawrence Island Birds


Tundra Swan (compliments of Wikimedia)

Tundra Swan (compliments of Wikimedia)

St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea plays host to a huge variety of sea birds.  Due to its proximity to both Eurasia and North America, it provides lichen covered volcanic rock, tundra, ponds, lakes, lagoons, marshes, sea-cliffs, grasses and other vegetation that attract a huge variety of migrating and nesting birds during the summer and early fall each year.  St. Lawrence has become a favorite destination for serious birders and ornithologists who have visited the island to study birds for the past several decades.

Varieties of birds seen on St. Lawrence Island:  Several varieties of goose including the Emperor Goose and Snow Goose, Brant, Tundra Swan, Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Green Winged Teal, several Eider varieties, Harlequin Duck, Merganser, Ptarmigan, a number of Loon species, Short-Tailed Albatross, Fork-Tailed Storm Petrel, Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Rough-Legged Hawk, Merlin, several Falcon varieties, Sandhill Crane, Plover species, a number of Sandpiper and Tattler varieties, Snipe, Black-Legged Kittiwake, Gull species, Arctic Tern, Common and Thick-Billed Murre, Murrelet, Parakeet and other Auklet varieties, Horned and Tufted Puffin, Oriental Turtle Dove, Oriental Cuckoo, Snowy and other Owl species, Common Nighthawk, Larks, Tree and other Swallows, a lone Hummingbird, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Kinglets, Warblers, Thrush varieties, American Robin, Pipit species, Sparrows and others.


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Frosty the Snowman, Anchorage Style:




An enormous snowman, ranging in size from 16 to 25 feet, now and then appears in an Anchorage neighborhood during the winter. “Snowzilla”, as he was dubbed, began to cause quite a controversy when his creator’s neighbors objected to all the noisy tourist traffic. Eventually a bureaucrat, incidentally named Jack Frost, signed an order to remove Snowzilla citing it as a public nuisance. That, too, set off a controversy as a number of folks expressed criticism of the city’s decision, complaining that their freedoms were being infringed upon. Will Snowzilla resurrect again this year? Well, I guess it depends upon the snowfall. You can see authentic photographs and read more about Snowzilla at his web site:

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Star, Anchorage’s Celebrity Reindeer


Star, the Reindeer (Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, by Travis S.)

Anchorage’s very own pet reindeer has been a fixture in downtown Anchorage since 1962.  No, she is not Rudolph, and she doesn’t help drive the sleigh for Santa on Christmas Eve, but she is a cherished citizen in Anchorage.

Reindeer are the smaller cousins of caribou, an elk species native to the far north regions of North America and Greenland. They are sturdy, good swimmers, and able to live and flourish in the cold, severe climate close to the Arctic.  Their calves are up and able to run ninety minutes after being born.  The Arctic peoples in Eurasia have domesticated reindeer for centuries.  However, attempts to introduce large reindeer populations into Alaska have not been overly successful.

Oro and Ivan Stewart, original owners of Stewart’s Photo on 4th Avenue in Anchorage, adopted Star in 1962 from a Native reindeer herder outside of Nome.  The original Star lived to be 23 years old; unheard of for an animal whose usual life expectancy is eight or nine.  Since then, Star has been reborn, and is now enjoying her 6th reincarnation.

For more information on this wonderful reindeer, read the full article at:

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North Pole


Santa Claus at North Pole, Alaska (Photo by Beeblebrox (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so your little girl wants to write to Santa.

NO PROBLEM!   She absolutely can write to Santa Claus at the North Pole and you can mail her letter directly to:

Santa Claus,

North Pole, Alaska 99705

The post office at North Pole receives hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus each and every year.

The spirit of Christmas lives all year long in North Pole, Alaska.  This little town takes pride in its giant candy cane light poles, holiday decorations, and a world famous Santa Claus House with unique gifts.  Just outside is the world’s largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus.  Streets have Christmas themed names; fire trucks and ambulances are all red, and police cars are green and white.

The North Pole zip code stretches between Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base as well as the Chena and Tanana Rivers.  It includes subdivisions on the eastern edge of Fairbanks.

However, North Pole, Alaska is not really at the top of the world, being 1700 miles south of the Earth’s geographic North Pole.  North Pole, Alaska will be 60 years old on January 16th.

For more information on North Pole, visit:


  1. Jeanna Odgers says:

    I taught 4th grade at North Star Elementary School during SY 1962-63. Just wondering if any of my friends are still around. Hope all are well and happy.
    Jeanna Odgers

  2. Thanks for forwarding the video about renaming Mt. McKinley to Mount Denali. So, do we have to wait for Ohio to agree?

  3. Patricia Blalock Pamplin says:

    Valerie Timmerman was my pen pal in the forth and fifth grades! I lived in Atlanta, Texas when I was young and now live in Longview, Tx. with my husband Edd. I still have all her letters from more than 50 years ago!! Please give her my email if she’s interested. I’m also on Facebook. I go by my middle name Adrianne now, but my old friends and family still call me Patty.

  4. Donna Grant says:

    Just found out about your website and it’s a great pleasure to read about the good old days. My family came up in June of 1946 and have been here mostly since. Thanks, Donna Grant ( Cotter)

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