Our Authors

We host authentic stories from a variety of writers sharing their experiences of Growing Up in Anchorage during the mid 20th Century.  We hope you enjoy reading these wonderful stories! For more detailed bios, check out our Midnight Sun Masters page.


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Jana Ariane:
Jana Ariane Nelson

Jana Ariane Nelson

Mother, Grandmother, Pet Mom.  Aging dancer by day, amateur genealogist, doll house aficionado, gardener, writer, Growing Up Anchorage Website Administrator, Editor, Publisher and Writer during most other times. Anchorage resident from 1948 until the mid 1980’s.  Worked in the legal field and at community colleges for many years before retiring. Lives in Oregon with husband and assorted furry children.


Jeanne Waite Follett

Newspaper and radio reporter, legal secretary, cook, condominium manager, ski resort worker, small business owner, electrician, and construction worker.  Varied career?  Nope, short attention span.  Now living in Moose Pass, award-winning writer, world traveler before time and money run out, and blogger at Gullible’s Travels.


Gene Brown

Gene Brown (aka: Eldermusician) lived in Anchorage from ’46 to graduation from AHS in ’60.  He played lead trumpet with the Navy for seven years, and has been writing short stories for decades. He recently retired from playing trumpet in local swing bands. A widower, he also runs a land development business with his son.


Kathleen Wilson

Kath worked for the State Troopers until she left Anchorage in ’67 to become a counseling psychologist working overseas providing social services to American military families before returning in ’92 to work for the Coast Guard.  Now a retired widow, she lives in The Villages, Florida. Kath said she’s never written a story before but is enjoying reliving the memories!


Jan (Petri) Harper-Haines

Jan began gathering the oral stories of her Athabascan mother and grandmother and their lives on the Yukon. COLD RIVER, Whispers From A Family’s Forgotten Past grew out of these early stories. She is a graduate of Anchorage High School and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. A former secondary education teacher, she has had a twenty-year career in advertising and marketing.  Please visit her website at harperhaines.com

Dan Riker

Dan Riker

Dan moved to Anchorage in 1955.  He attended Seattle University, and later joined IBM as a Field Engineer.  Returning to Anchorage in 1964, he continued his career with IBM, and also taught computer related subjects for ACC/UAA. After retiring from IBM, Dan formed a software consulting firm.  He presently lives in Portland, Oregon, and continues to work as an independent consultant to oil field service companies.


Jim Irgang Stelling

Jim was raised in the Anchorage and Spenard area from 1946 until he graduated in 1960 from AHS.  He was the first Marine from the Great State of Alaska to join the Marine Corps.  After two tours in Vietnam and 20 years in the military, he started his own business of apartment management and maintenance. Retired, he currently lives in Peoria, AZ.

MaryJo Comins

MaryJo Comins

World traveler, actor in community theater productions, teacher of writing and creativity classes, and award-winning feature writer for newspapers and magazines, MaryJo was an Anchorage resident from 1951 until 1995 when she moved to Eugene, Oregon.  After a 19 year hiatus from publication, 2012 brought joyful inspiration for her to resume writing.

Mike G:

Mike Gordon

A resident of Anchorage since 1953, Mike has been active in many community organizations including the Anchorage City Council, Anchorage Borough Assembly, Boys and Girls Club, Rotary, Anchorage Opera, Repertory Theater and Anchorage Mental Health Association.  He enjoys climbing, running, skiing, scuba diving, reading, writing, travel and opera.  He is an avid mountain climber including Mt. Everest, as well as having run fifteen marathons.  He is married, has two children and seven grandchildren.

Bill and Valerie:
Bill Rudolph and Valerie Timmerman

Bill Rudolph and Valerie Timmerman

Bill Rudolph is living a country life on an 80 acre farm in Gillingham, Wisconsin.  Valerie Timmerman resides in Seattle, where she is Executive Director of the Seattle Rotary.  They fly back and forth to be with each other, relishing the best of both worlds.

Connie W:
Connie Walker

Connie Walker

Connie and her husband Dick moved to Anchorage in 1967 where they raised two sons and enjoyed camping, hiking, and fishing.  Connie wrote stories, became an herbalist and worked in the natural health industry. She and Dick ran an Herb Business & School in Salem, OR where Connie wrote newsletters and an herbal course.

Sabra Comins

Sabra Comins

Born and raised in Anchorage, Sabra loves to be outside.  She received a Masters in Environmental Management from Portland State University.  She dreams of revitalizing the art of letter writing, owning a sailboat named Besame, finding the perfect cabin property, and joining a community that values skills of the past.

Mike B:

Mike Byers

Mike Byers

Mike Byers is a 6th generation Alaskan.  He was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Anchorage.  Mike and his wife and daughter make their home in Dallas Texas. Mike is still very connected to Alaska by family and friends.

Connie O:


Connie Osbon

Born and reared in Anchorage, and a North Star trainee and 1962 West High School graduate, Connie went to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks in 1963, then to the University of Oregon. In college she worked summers at the Anchorage Times in the advertising department.  In 1966 she moved to LA to get her ‘big’ city experience, then to Las Vegas to become an Advertising Manager for a national retail chain. She also lived in NY City for several months, moved to Oregon, where she resided for 36 years.  Connie has had a juvenile book in the works, was prior adjunct college faculty for Adult Ed., and is a retired Language Arts and ESL instructor.


Melanie Lynch

Melanie Lynch is a life-long Alaskan.  A West Anchorage High School graduate with a B.A. in English and a minor in Fine Art from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, she attempts to balance the demands of two muses; painting and writing.  The Federal Aviation Administration is gracious enough to provide her paycheck in exchange for technical writing and engineering support.

Jean Mc:

Jean McLane

My family moved to Anchorage in 1957.  I attended Anchorage High School, Class of 1961, the last year for the one-and-only high school in Anchorage.  I took summer jobs in the bush during college and while at the University of Oregon, I met and married Sue from Honolulu.  We were married in 1964 and took our son and daughter to Germany for a decade while I taught English at a German school. The kids still speak German like natives.  I had later experience in the U.S. as a German teacher, Harley biker, programmer-analyst and horse trainer. I am retired now on a ranchette near San Antonio, where we enjoy the grandkids, our horses, dogs, cats, chickens and the wildlife. I inherited my Dad’s 5-string banjo and play a little bluegrass.


Dale Sellin

Dale Sellin

Anchoragite since 1950. Attended elementary and secondary schools and Alaska Methodist University, graduating from AHS 1960 and AMU 1964. Married Nancy Trombley 1964.  1965-7 Peace Corps teacher in Liberia, West Africa.  Attended graduate school at UPS,Tacoma. Worked in management in the motorcoach and cruise-tour industries, 1970-75 New York City, 1975-85 Seattle, and 1985-89 Anchorage. Married Jo-Li Chiang of Taiwan in NYC, 1974. No children.  Owned a small high-end bedding shop in Anchorage 1989-2009. Retired and moved to Seattle, 2013.  Dale and Jo-Li now divide their time between homes in Tucson and Seattle. Dale enjoys music, especially playing the piano, the arts generally, cooking and baking, reading, writing, bicycling, and running.

Mike D:

Mike Dougherty

Mike Dougherty

Mike’s family moved to Anchorage in 1950.  In 1965, while still attending East Anchorage High School, he decided on a career in television and motion picture production, and began working part time on the camera crew of the KTVA Channel 11 teen dance program, The Varsity Show.  In 1968, the very popular (and talented) DJ Ron Moore left the show and Mike took over as host of The Varsity Show, using the name Mike Ray.   He went on to become a Hollywood screenwriter, writing and selling family adventure screenplays and won an Emmy for his video camera work.  Mike and his wife live in California, where he writes humorous stories about his adventures growing up in Alaska, and presents his stories live and in-person to groups and organizations.


Leslie Ransom

Leslie Ransom

A mother of three adult children and four granddaughters, Leslie was raised in Anchorage, Fort Richardson and Spenard from 1951 until graduation for AHS in 1961. She graduated from the University of Washington in 1965 with a degree in Economics and was the first woman bank examiner hired by the FDIC.  (Thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.)  She is a “bean counter” with a career as corporate controller for small businesses and is currently employed by a CPA firm as well as the managing partner of a sports energy bar company www.electrodelytes.com.  Leslie lives on a small farm in Maltby, WA with a menagerie of horses, donkeys, llamas and dogs.  In her spare time Leslie participates in marathons and half-marathons.  Her favorite event is the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks.


Randall Montbriand

Randy J. Montbriand

Born 16 October 1954 to Lyle James and Elizabeth Jean Montbriand (né Stott) at the old Providence Hospital at 9th and L Streets in Anchorage, Alaska.  The first child and only son, he was raised with his three younger sisters (Sandra Jeanne, Marisa Elizabeth, and Brenda JoAnne) and his maternal grandmother, Lenna Stott (né King) in Mountain View, Alaska.  Surrounded and raised by an extended family of maternal aunts, uncles, and cousins, that flowed into Mountain View following World War II, he found a solid grounding in life and love in Mountain View and Wonder Park.

Education began with kindergarten at Mountain View Elementary School followed by Williwaw Elementary school, the one in the gravel pit on Bragaw at what is now East 4th Avenue, then back up Bragaw to Orah D Clark Junior and then back down Bragaw to finish Senior High at East Anchorage High School in 1972.  A year of undergraduate courses at ACC was followed by a rather uneventful semester at the University Idaho Landscape and Architectural College.  He returned to Anchorage for a final year of undergraduate courses then transferred to the University of Arizona for a double major in Landscape Architecture and Production Horticulture receiving a BS with Honours.  Following three (6 years) of work for the Fed, State and VECO, he returned to the University of Washington for a Master’s cum laude and an award for the finest thesis of the year in the College of Architecture.

Randy’s career carried him to three locations ending up in San Francisco as a Principal at The Guzzardo Partnership where he has worked with enormous pride since 1989.

As for personal interests, he’s a polymath: language, classical music, poetry, literature, history, geology, geoscience, design, horticulture and genealogy as well as animal habitat studies.  You name it, Randy has studied it in some shape or form.  A keen interest from early on as been a desire to relay the family histories and stories that have surrounded his every waking moment.  With these short stories he sincerely hopes to rekindle memories of Mountain View, Wonder Park and the incredible people without whom his life would not be as full as it is.


Tom Norton

Tom Norton

Tom was a resident of Anchorage 1949 – 1969.  He spent five summers employed by A.D.F.&G.; Studied Biology, Theology and German in Alaska, Oregon, California and Switzerland. He pastored 30 years in Bern, Switzerland. After retirement, Tom pastored several years in S. Korea in the mission and in churches in Seoul and Mokpo.  He made a 25 min. DVD (English and German) of the mission and country, and took a five week Korean crash course at Yonsei U.  He has spoken in many churches and events throughout S. Korea.


Joanna Cravey Hutt

Joanna Cravey Hutt

I retired after a 25-year career at The University of Alabama, which included serving as senior writer/editor in University Relations and as adjunct professor of freshman and sophomore English.  I unretired to become, with my husband, a parenting grandparent to our seven-year-old granddaughter. This role motivated me to begin my blog, Spittin’ Grits (www.spittingrits.blogspot.com). The framework of my life includes: growing up a military brat in the USAF and living many places; spending my high school years in Anchorage, graduating from AHS in 1961. Alaska is oversized, outrageous, and above all, spiritual. The AHS class of ’61 held its 50th reunion in 2011, and I was there.  (Ed. note:  Joanna, born on August 11, 1943, passed away on May 17, 2016 in Alabama.  She will be greatly missed.)


Jerry Blankinship

Jerry Blankinship

Jerry lived mostly in Anchorage or other Alaskan cities from 1961 to 2004. He retired in 2008 after a career in ‘big iron’ computing, having specialized in operating systems and data base software. He is a 1964 graduate of WAHS and a 1972 graduate of Anchorage Community College with a BS in Mathematics. He currently lives in Salem, Oregon with his SO Marilee.

Bill Z:

Bill Zersen

Bill Zersen

Bill Zersen was born in Kelowna, BC.  His father died when he was 10 days old.  His family migrated to Elmhurst, Illinois at the beginning of WWII.  He lived there until he entered the Air Force Academy in 1956.  He spent 27 years in the Air Force not including his Cadet time.  He is a retired Air Force Colonel currently living in a 55+ Community in Laguna Woods, CA.


Patrice Plummer

Patrice Plummer

Born in old Providence Hospital, pre-statehood. Left for fame and fortune at 25. Instead, prevailed and found humor in a cornucopia of adventures and mis-adventures. Collected a marriage (long-ended), and four degrees (hard-earned). Immeasurably enriched by working in Japan, Korea, Kuwait, and Finland. Home is now “Track Town” (Eugene), Oregon.


Louis Garcia

Louis Garcia

Born in Cuba, Louis came to Anchorage with his family in 1954. Talented in singing, dancing and drama, he has had a successful show business career on Broadway, and singing on cruise ships and nightclubs in Las Vegas. Louis is retired and spends his time giving back by helping individuals in need.


Rich Andrews

Rich Andrews

Played, worked, married-played, children-2, bride-deceased, playing alone, but still full of prunes as they say.  I sharpen knives for fun, became more aware of truth and the human comedy.  Vowed to fuel this temple well, make sure laughter continues within and deal out love wherever I may.  


Doug Brundage

Doug Brundage

I lived in Anchorage Alaska from birth in 1956 through my early high school years. Although this was just a fraction of my life to-date, the experiences during your formatives years seem to never leave you especially if you grew up in Alaska! I enjoyed the Alaska experience: baseball, ice-hockey, skiing, snow machines, fishing, etc. Our family moved out of Anchorage in 1972 after my father, Bruce, was killed while installing runway lighting at the Palmer airport in the late 60’s.

My 34 year career involved the development and support of business software for the schools of Washington State. I’m now semi-retired in Sequim, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula with my wife Terry (since 1979), where I enjoy playing trumpet in several local jazz bands, Port Angeles Symphony, serving in my local Church, cycling the town and Discovery Trail, golf, crew member for a local hot air balloon company, fishing, and generally staying physically fit as time allows.


Mary Burnett Priest

Mary Burnett Priest

I was born in Kidderminster, England, in December of 1932, and moved to Anchorage with my mother on New Years of 1948.  I attended Anchorage High School for a short time.  I married, became a citizen of the USA, and had seven children before leaving Alaska in 1970.  Since leaving Alaska, I have lived in Fort Meade, Maryland; Karlsruhe, Germany; Huntsville, Alabama; and Hedgesville, West Virginia before retiring in Apollo Beach, Florida.  


Carolyn Knoppe McClintock

Carolyn Knoppe McClintock

In 1949, my parents, brother, and grandmother drove up the Alcan Highway to Anchorage where my father had a new job with the Alaska Army Corps of Engineers. I went to the University of Wyoming in 1961 but after college, I returned to Alaska where I have lived since then. I married Lloyd and have one son, Dan. My working career was with several Federal agencies in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Barrow.

My hobbies include gardening, decorative painting, boating, riding ATV’s, reading, and now, sorting through, scanning and enhancing hundreds of photographs. My community work has been as an election official and chairperson in both borough and state-wide elections.

At the age of 72, I don’t ever think of leaving Alaska. This will always be my home—even if it turns into the Pioneer Home.

Bill S:

Bill Stevenson

Bill Stevenson

Born in 1944, Stevenson moved to Anchorage in 1947 after WW II when his father pursued an airline flying career. He attended Chugach Elementary, North Star, and Central Jr. High and is an alumnus of West Anchorage High (1963) and Alaska Methodist University (1967). He spent most of his adult life in Western Michigan in manufacturing industries. Married Annie in 1990 and retired to the Florida Keys in 1996 and, after ten years in the islands, moved to Horseshoe Bay, Texas in the Hill Country NW of Austin challenging his tolerance of snowless winters. Bill’s fondness of Alaska is intact and he revisits every three years, or so. He stands proud of two sons, has a delightful daughter-in-law, and three impressive grandchildren. Gardens, cooks, helps reduce world wine inventories, keeps Pembroke Welsh Corgis, reads history and loves to travel. A reformed ADD/HD, he enjoys spending time in his studio/hangar restoring classic cars and airplanes.


Beth Brandt-Erichsen

Beth Brandt-Erichsen

I moved to Anchorage as a young child in 1966. My husband Scott was born in Anchorage two weeks after the Great Alaska Earthquake.  In 1995 we moved to Ketchikan with our three daughters, where I teach Sixth Grade.  We love to walk the dogs…. even in the rain! I have varied interests – travel, camping, hiking, reading, writing, artistic endeavors – including watercolor, and wearable art! And soon, a new grandson.


Tam Agosti-Gisler

Tam Agosti-Gisler

Tam Agosti-Gisler was raised in Anchorage and graduated from West with honors in 1975. She earned a BA in International Relations from Stanford University, then her MA in Teaching, and taught French and Social Studies in the ASD for 22 years. After 6 years as director of the School Business Partnership program, she was elected to the Anchorage School Board and is currently serving her second term. She has been married to Hans Gisler for 36 years and they have three adult children. Tam is an avid traveler and photographer, has visited more than 70 countries and speaks several languages.

Danny G:

Danny Griffin

Danny Griffin

Danny Griffin was born in the territory, and he lived  in Anchorage from 1959 through 1989.  He attended Chugach Elementary, Central Jr. High, and West High schools.  His father was Dr. Felton Griffin, who was the pastor of First Baptist Church for 30 years as well as on the Alaska Statehood Commission.  He attended Howard Payne University in Education and music, and a Master’s in Music from Golden Gate Theological Seminary.  He served in various ministries throughout the USA and overseas.  He has directed choirs and orchestras professionally in the USA and Russia.  


John Barber

John Barber

John Barber was born in Hobbs, New Mexico, and lived in Anchorage from 1968-1972. He attended Texas A&M University before embarking on an engineering career with Bell Helicopter Textron in Fort Worth, Texas. He married his lovely wife, Sharon, in 1986, and they have two sons, Royce and Robert. John is now retired and lives in Tyler, Texas where he cares for his Dad, enjoys various hobbies and is a member of the Tyler Airport Advisory Board.

Mary Carle:

Mary Carle, 1960 Class Reunion, 2000. © Jana Ariane Nelson

Mary Carle, 1960 Class Reunion, 2000. © Jana Ariane Nelson

Mary Carle come to Alaska with her husband, Bill Carle, in 1947. They were both schoolteachers. Bill Carle became principal of Central Junior High School and Mary taught Math at Anchorage High School, eventually moving to East Anchorage High School after its completion. Bill passed away in 1965 but Mary was determined to stay in Alaska in her home and continue teaching. She married Tom Hodgson and adopted two of his children. After her divorce from Hodgson, she never re-married, but enjoyed three grandchildren, Bridge, PEO, traveling, and the Senior Center. She passed away at 95 in 2014. (Ed. Note: Mary was my algebra teacher for two years and I remember her as being bright, enthusiastic, eager to encourage her students to learn, and an exceptional woman and teacher.   She was a beloved teacher at Anchorage High School in the 1950’s.)

Gene Gough:

Gene Gough

Gene Gough

Gene was born in San Diego, CA. Lived in the Long Beach and Anaheim areas until early 1945.  Moved to Anchorage early 1945. Up the inside passage on the SS Alaska with Dad’s ’42 built in ’45 Chevrolet on the deck. Graduated AHS in class of ’52. Served in Navy ’54-’58. IBM Engineer/Programmer/Manager ’58-’94. Retired from IBM. Total Systems Services Credit Card Processing Programmer ’95-’99. Retired second time.   Currently living in Marietta, GA. WWW.GOUGHFAMILY.COM


Renae Stott

Renae Stott

Born October 8, 1961 to Maria S. and William D. Stott (diehard Alaskans) at the old Providence Hospital in downtown Anchorage. Unmercifully followed around one “older” brother, Alan Stott, who found reprieve after her permanent relocation to the Bay Area, California (San Ramon). Attended North Star Elementary School on Fireweed Lane, Central Junior High, and proudly graduated West Anchorage High in 1980 (Go Eagles!). Greatly enjoys spending time with daughters, grandchildren, two Beagles, and third grade classmate, North Star Elementary School crush, Richard Pollock. Living vicariously through memoirs of dysfunctional families who survive through love and humor, memoirs of triumph over tragedy, and historical fiction novels are a favorite pastime, next to sleep and caffeine.


Shana Ripley

Shana Ripley

Shana Ripley loves long walks on the beach with her horse, watching movies with her parrots, and romping in the backyard with her dogs.  She is grateful for her patient husband.  Shana lived in Anchorage twice, once as a toddler on Elmendorf, and again in the late 1960s.  She’s a veteran of Muldoon Elementary and Orah Dee Clarke Junior High.  She remembers visiting the sad lion at the A&W, which placed her on the path to a life with animals.  She bought her first Breyer horse at a little store in Mountain View, which started her love of horses.  Those Breyer horses are still on the shelf, watching her happy life.  Her favorite quote is from Walt Whitman:  ‘I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d, I stand and look at them long and long.’  Shana Ripley is excited to be a member of the writer’s stable at Growing Up Anchorage.


  1. Wow — browsing through the site, I see a lot of names and places that I remember hearing my parents, aunts, and uncles talking about over the years. I’m wondering if any of your contributors knew my paternal grandparents, Jack and Irene Barrett, or any of their kids (my dad Dick, my uncle George, aunts Jackie, Marilyn, Donna, and Judy), or my maternal grandparents, Raymond and Helen Myrick, or their kids (my mom Shirley and my uncle Dan)? Jack Barrett owned the Piggly Wiggly chain in the ’50s (d. 1964), my dad and uncle George owned Barrett Office Supply on Arctic Blvd through the mid-’80s. Raymond Myrick (d. 1975) drove for Matanuska Maid and was also active in the union, I am told.

    Thanks for writing all of this!

  2. Reginald Randall says:

    Can anybody please help me? I have studied my fathers pilot logbooks when he was with BOAC, and noticed that he flew through Anchorage on the way to Tokyo/Osaka. I want to gather as much information about his career as possible before it is too late – he is now 86 – and would like to get some background information.

    Where did the crew stay during the break in their journey and what was the airport like. My father suffered a stroke which has made getting all the facts difficult. Is there somewhere in Anchorage that I could contact to get the information.

    He told me that flying to Anchorage was hard work as the compass – in his words – did a war dance. I followed in his footsteps as a pilot with a major European airline.

    Any information would be most gratefully received.

    Many thanks.

  3. Sheila Stewart says:

    How did I not know about this site?, it is wonderful to catch up on all these stories! I grew up in Anchorage, my mother was born there as well as my brother Randy Stewart. I was a transplant moving there when I was six weeks old. Graduating West High in 1969 I now live in St. Paul, Minnesota. I had a long career in the wine industry and not ready to retire I now work at the Lexus dealership. I return to Anchorage periodically and am still captured by the beauty of Alaska.

    • Jana Ariane Nelson says:

      Thank you for joining us, Sheila! If you like to write and have stories to tell, send me an email!
      Also, be sure and sign up on the subscribe form on the left of each page, so you will be notified when new stories are posted!

  4. Mary Priest says:

    I lived on Kodiak for one year! It was an interesting year. We lived in a house on top of a hill, right next to the Fire Department. We had a photography business which we ran from our house. I also worked at a restaurant called The Galley. Some people may remember this restaurant. It just might still be there.

  5. Reeny says:

    Born in the Territory. Mother said that my birth was celebrated on the Delaney Park Strip, with all the whooping and hollering going on, as the U.S. Senate had just voted 64 to 20 in favor of Alaska statehood, that June 30, 1958. One of the Alaskan delegates called it the greatest day in Alaska history. “The Congress has acted wisely and in the national interest. We in Alaska will justify what has been done this day.” So, I’ve been gone the past 35 years; stateside on a WICHE scholarship and stayed lower 48 ever since. But, every year in the first weeks of February, I get ‘cabin fever’ wherever I am and think it’s about time for Fur Rondy and wondering who’s going to recite ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’. In the fall, I recall the ‘tang’ of the blueberry bogs, wading knee-deep, picking berries while trying to avoid any direct eye contact with moseying moose chomping on the new-growth leaves. Looking back, it was an idyllic childhood. Kids never questioned the work that went into pioneering. We were a large close-knit family on a monthly teacher’s salary, no T.V., and there was a lot of friendly competition among family members.

  6. JOHN PADGETT says:

    Arrived Anchorage June 1956, AHS 1958, Anch Comm College 58-59 1/2. Waiting for AMU to be built (delayed one yr due to strike at Seattle docks. AMU 1960-64. Must have known Dale Sellin. Maybe Dan Riker would remember me. IBM offered me a job in early 1964 (before or after quake, can’t remember), then a couple of weeks before graduation (AMU) they called me back in saying they’d NOT like to hire me. They had just sold the Alaska Railroad a $1.2 million dollar computer ($5 mil today) for the IBM 2nd generation 1440 with the first removable disc drives (3). It came in a 4,8,12 and 16K(ours). the CPU was a 6 foot square. The bldg was built for the computer. They hadn’t hired anyone yet and were afraid the project would fail if something wasn’t done quickly as it was to arrive in 6 months. The old punch card system mgr Aubrey Long was to retire in 3 years. ARR was owned by the Dept of Interior (feds) They told me the GS 13 would be mine. IBM sent me to California to be trained to program the 1440. So in 1966 (military called), I was a Col in the civil service and a Lt in the Air Force.(Navigato & DP Officer in Reserves.)

  7. I’d like to submit a story or two of my growing up years in Anchorage. What’s involved in becoming one of your contributors? One story is about Central School which had a fire in the auditorium the year I was there (1954). Another is about living on Elmendorf and watching going to Green Lake with my brothers (Kent and Ross). Lots more. Growing up in Alaska was some of the best years of my life. After I was divorced in California in1966, I decided the best place to bring my three children (Kent, Danika, and Mark) was Anchorage, where I had grown up. We lived in the Sand Lake area until all three had graduated from Dimond High.


  8. Hey, thanks for this great read,
    Just a note to all the “Olders” commenting here (deduced from the fact that there was zero mention of Betty’s Record Den nor Shindig City nor Battles of the Bands, etc). Let me know should you wish to play catch up with some of those folk, email would be good.
    We lost Pretz, my “So Rare”, in July of 2010. Life goes on even without his great hugs.
    Just a note, my website is being up dated and may not be available all the time for a few.
    Thanks and love you,

  9. carolyn french says:

    What a wonderful surprise ! On a whim, searching for information on entertainment in 1950’s Anchorage I happened on this site. So many reminders of what a great place it was to grow up. Thanks to all of you who have contributed.

    • Jana Ariane Nelson says:

      Thanks, Carolyn! I hope you come back and visit often! Subscribe so you don’t miss any great new stories! Jana

    • Kathleen Dunne Wilson says:

      As I perused this site I was glad to see you here, Carolyn! ….our lives have “touched” each others several times..in AHS, on the Anchorage “cruising 4th Avenue ” scene in our teens, and in 1975 when I visited my sister in Eagle River from Europe and found you were her friend and neighbor…..she lives in Wasilla now and I am loving Florida near both kids. You are so right…it was a great place to grow up! I found 91 former Alaskans live in my town and we’ve formed a group,”Alaskans Reunited”….just had our summer gathering in my home this month….no matter where or when we lived there, we all have a special and quite unique bond.

      • carolyn french says:

        Kathy, hello ! Of course I remember you and your very dear sister as well. I’m hoping to connect with Maureen in the next couple of weeks as I will be down that way and have been very neglectful of our valuable and long time friendship. Would love to hear from you again.

  10. Lynn Olson says:

    What fun to find this blog! I am writing a book about my adventures as an Army brat. My Dad was stationed at Ft. Rich. We lived in Nunaka Valley for a year or so before we got quarters on Fr. Rich. I remember being frightened out of my mind at the moose in the streets as we ran for our school bus to Central Jr. High. I think this was around 1956-57. I had the blind history teacher, Mr. Trietsch. I remember crossing the street to the Y (?) at lunch time to dance to early rock ‘n roll. After we moved to Ft. Rich, I remember the very wonderful Mr. Boswell, who taught me so much about books and writing. I also remember Mr. Wheat, the principal there. His son, Steve, was in my class. If anyone remembers any of these teachers or former students, I would be so grateful to share memories! I now live in Door County, Wis. Just lived through my 70th birthday! Can’t believe it! Be well… Lynn Olson

    • Jana Ariane Nelson says:

      Lynn, thanks for reading us! I don’t remember any of the people you mention, but I am a few years older than you. Those were wonderful days, weren’t they?

    • Jean McLane says:

      We met the Wheat family somewhere along the Alcan in 1957 when we were all migrating to Anchorage. The daughter Tracy was in my class (1961 grads) at AHS, and I vaguely remember her younger brother Steve. The Wheats moved to Fairbanks around 1962 or so. Truly great people!

    • Larry Grigsby says:

      Hi Lynn!
      I also attended Central and had Mr Trietsch as a teacher, he was impressive!
      Lunch at the Y across the street! Yes I remember jerry Lee Lewis and “Great Balls of Fire” booming out of that juke box!…take care
      Larry Grigsby
      West High grad, 1963

  11. Helen Lee Metcalf-Wyman says:

    Lived in Anchorage on East B Street from 1946 to 1949 although spent time in quarters on Fort Richardson after we had a fire in our house on East B Street. Used to go to school on Fifth Avenue where we watched the take off of the Fur Rendezvous dog races (Iditarod). I remember feeling a lift in school and looking out the window saw the spire on the church across the street tipping back and forth. This was of course before the ’64 big one but we did feel earthquakes quite often in those years. My father was stationed on Fort Richardson. My kid brother and I used to go down with other kids to Ship Creek and spear salmon with sticks when they were running and bring them home – bet we could’t do that nowadays! At that time there was a great open area of grass where Marilyn Hoezema used to put her horses out to graze. This stretched all the way downtown to the Providence Hospital. We grew strawberries in our yard that were huge I remember! We kids in the neighborhood used to go to the air field (Merrill Field I believe it was called which was not that far from where I lived. I remember all the “bars” on Fourth Avenue and I remember Seeley’s Drug store where we got the best milk shakes and the library on Fifth Avenue and Wolf’s Department Store. Anyway glad I discovered this site. If anyone who remembers me or went to school with me I would love to hear from them. Yes,I am so glad I have the memories I do of Anchorage and oh how I miss seeing the Northern Lights! We occasionally see them here in Maine but not as vivid or as often. Thanks for starting this site. I think the population was around 30,000 when I lived there, now ten times more people. Don’t think it can be anywhere near the same! Helen

    • Jana Ariane Nelson says:

      Helen, Did you go to school in the Quonset Huts? Who were your teachers? I am wondering if you were in my class. I was in first grade during the 1948-9 school year.

  12. Susan (Cox) Stevens says:

    I lived in Anchorage 1961-August 1964, graduating from East High in 1963 and working at Ft. Rich for a year to save up for college in Flagstaff, AZ. Twenty years after the earthquake, I wrote the poem “Mantle” about the event (receiving a master’s in creative writing from NAU in 1989), which is included in my book on Amazon called With Ridiculous Caution. Thank you for publishing these accounts; I only recognized Dale Sellin from all those included.

  13. Ed Rust says:

    Love your posts. I lived in Spenard from 1949-1954 and attended the quonset school for the first half of the 2nd grade then to North Star School when it opened. Would have been class of 1960 had we not moved. My father was a watch repairman at the Barber shop in Spenard and my mother worked at the drug store in Anchorage.

    I grew up with the Christenson’s, Agnes(class of 1961), Curtiss, twins Gary and Gorden and Russell.

    • Vickie Henninger O'Bannon says:

      Oh my goodness Ed Rust, we lived next door to the Christenson’s on Northern Lights across the street from Matanuska Maid Dairy. Dad had moved up in 1956, and we followed in 1958. He had a business called Modern Floors. I went to North Star, and then to Central Jr.HS, but moved back to Texas in the summer of 1964 after the quake. Dad still lives in Anchorage.
      One of my trips up, I visited with Karen Christenson down on the Peninsula.
      It was such a small town in those days !

  14. Leona Muckleroy says:

    I would love to hear from someone who knew my cousin who lived in Anchorage in the 1940’s. She (Kaathleen Templeton), worked at the Pimier Laundry (not sure about the spelling)).
    Thanks, Leona Muckleroy

  15. Loretta Andress says:

    About a month ago, I came upon this site and mentioned I had some North Star class photos from the 50s (some with names) but didn’t want to overwhelm this site with graphics. A woman responded I could send them to her. My computer died and I’ve lost her information–any idea who it might have been? Loretta Andress aflma@gci.net

  16. Debbie says:

    Just found your stories and am really enjoying them. I lived in Kenai from 1965 till 1970, elementary years. Thank all od you for sharing.

  17. Anne (Cannon) Hawthorne says:


  18. LynneAKAK says:

    Can someone tell some stories about “The Monkey Bar?” I’ve heard about it and am so curious if the stories are true…

    • Judy Mueller Jett says:

      Lynn…Oh yes! The Monkey Bar! This very unique establishment was located between 5th and 6th Avenues on the east side of C Street (sort of kitty-korner to Wolf’s Dept. Store). The bar featured several monkeys behind the bar in a glass enclosed area. They provided the bar’s entertainment…no band or performer needed. I don’t remember how long the bar lasted, but, I don’t think very long (maybe a couple years). After it closed, the building housed “David’s Gun Shop”. Sometime in the late ’60’s, after the gun shop went out of business, I found myself working in that very building as a state employee. My employer, the State Division of Lands, had leased the space (as well as the now defunct Wolf’s Dept. Store) while we waited for the completion of our new office, near the McKay building (formerly the McKinley Apts.) and across from La Cabana Mexican Restaurant.

    • Melanie says:

      Oooo….I remember the Monkey Wharf on ‘C’ street. I had never seen a real monkey before and wow, what a surprise for me! I may be misremembering, but I kind of remember a long glassed in cage with…monkeys. I also remember that it was dark and a bit “close” in there. I agree with Judy. It didn’t last long. I can’t imagine what kind of health department permitting issues were created by the presence of live monkeys in a bar! But, there they were!

      • Frank Latham says:

        I was a patron at the Monkey Wharf in 1974 or 1977…I cannot recall, but I stopped in there for dinner and a beer. It was a fascinating place. The bar was very long, and almost too low for customers sitting in standard chairs/stools. The bartenders were actually below the bar looking up a bit at the customers. Behind the bartenders for virtually the entire length of the bar was a glass faced cage with the appearance of a tropical jungle its entire length. There were several spider monkeys (if memory serves me) inside, playing with each other moving from end to end. It was quite entertaining. One of them had a crush on the bartender, and followed him wherever he went. It was fun to watch. I had a table across from the bar, in the area above where the live entertainment would perform. I was early, so I had a steak with rice pilaf. To this date, it was the best rice pilaf I have ever eaten, and the steak was pretty good too. I am sorry to see they no longer exist, but I guess it was too much of a fad. Regards to all! I liked Anchorage quite a bit even though I served on two different remote air force sites. My baby brother is up there now, but in Juneau as an Air Traffic Controller. Thanks for offering the place to write!

        • Jana Ariane Nelson says:

          Frank, thanks for including your memories of the Monkey Wharf and for appreciating our website! We have a lot of fun writing stories and remembering the “old days.” I hope you visit us often!


          • Frank Latham says:

            I certainly will Jana. I loved the time I spent in Alaska, especially winter at Tin City AFS. The Northern Lights of 1974 were spectacular, and filled the sky. Anchorage and Nome were kind to me during my visits. Not many people in the lower 48 can boast of the experience, so I am truly thankful it remains in my mind. I continue to try and convince my wife to come with me and enjoy its vast beauty.

  19. JanaAriane says:

    From J Stelling:

    Hi Jana, Just read the story posted in the Alaska public but no mention of your web site. Boy, do I remember the big volcano. I was walking down a gravel road with a fishing pole over my shoulder and saw this huge black cloud coming in over Cook Inlet. A few minutes later I had some very small white flakes hitting my clothes. No, it can’t be snowing, it’s too warm. The flakes grew larger and blacker so I turned around and went home to find out what was happening—Had the Russians dropped an atomic bomb some where?? The news on the radio said that a volcano had erupted and Elmendorf AFB was flying most, if not all, of its planes to Fairbanks. Our house was painted white, our detached garage (about 3 feet from the side of our house) was also painted white. By noon the gargage could not be seen, a complete Black Out. When all cleared, the ash was about 3 inches thick, maybe a little more. It took two heavy snow falls over the next two years to finally sink it into the ground.The picture of North Star School brought back wonderful memories. I remember The Principal (PAL?) Mr. Norton and was friends as Jack and I think you were with his son Tommy for several years. During the fifth and sixth grades I was a Patrolman, wow. I got to hold a red flag over Fireweed Lane to let students cross the street. I also got out of class 15 minutes early.My biggest mistake—During the summer I used to volunteer to go to school on Saturday and run the 16 mm projector for movies for the younger kids in the small library. There was a popcorn machine in the janitor’s room and we sold popcorn for a nickle a bag. The movie (staring Jimmy Stewart) about an invisible rabitt was over. I was pushing the popcorn machine back into the janitor’s room, there was some popcorn in the bottom so I grabbed a little bag full. MR. NORTON SAW ME.The next Monday morning he had the hallway filled with kids, explained to them the proper way of morales and honesty and swatted my backside with the paddle that had all the holes in it. One of the most embarassing moments of my life.

    • Maria James says:

      JanaAriane, curious would you consider being a guest speaker for an upcoming Fur Rondy event at the ASAC? M.James 770-2008 (ASAC-Membership & Programs Mgr)

    • Vickie Henninger O'Bannon says:

      I remember Mr. Norton at North Star. I guess the best memories are the Ice Carnivals there. I returned to Anchorage to visit my father some years back and actually talked to one of my teacher’s Rita Stout. Lots of fun times back on those days !

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Reenie!   It IS fun!  Thanks to all the contributors!  

  21. Willoughbyi says:

    I love the way your page is growing. Each time I take a look you have more information added. just plain fun!

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