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Whittier: A City Under One Roof | Alaska’s Lost Modernist Master | Tent City Fiction


The Impact of the Humanities A

161 East First Avenue, Door 15 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 (907) 272-5341 |

s the CEO of the Alaska Humanities Forum, during the last year one word repeatedly came to mind: invigorating. I continue to be inspired by my remarkable Board and dedicated Alaska Humanities Forum staff, as well as our vital partners who help us to deliver our programs across the state.

board of directors Joan Braddock, Chair, Fairbanks
 Ben Mohr, Vice Chair, Eagle River Catkin Kilcher Burton, Secretary, Anchorage Evan D. Rose, Treasurer, Anchorage Dave Kiffer, Member-At-Large, Ketchikan

The Olympic Games: Through the Lens of the Humanities

I’ve had the honor of attending seven Olympic Games, both as an athlete and an official member of the United States delegation. However, the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games was the first Olympics that I attended as the CEO of the Alaska Humanities Forum. I found the Sochi Olympic Games to be as much about the celebration of the humanities as it was athletic excellence. One personal interaction reminded me of how the Olympic Games are uniquely intertwined with the humanities. I worked with a Russian volunteer during my time in Sochi. I asked him if he’d taken vacation to volunteer. He responded that his vacation request was not approved, so he quit his job in Siberia and drove 2,000 miles to offer his time and perspective. “Someone like me only has one chance in a lifetime to do something like this,” he said. “I have the opportunity to show my country’s culture, people and history to the world. How could I have not come?” His passion reminded me why all of our humanities programs are so very important in creating a bridge for crosscultural understanding here in Alaska as well as on the international stage.

Our Programs in Action

I recently had the opportunity to join our Take Wing Alaska (TWA) Program project team for a site visit to Toksook Bay in Eastern Alaska. The TWA



Jeane Breinig, Anchorage Christa Bruce, Ketchikan

Nina Kemppel President & CEO

Lenora Lolly Carpluk, Fairbanks Michael Chmielewski, Palmer

Program supports Alaska Native high school students from rural communities to transition to urban post-secondary education opportunities, with the long-term vision for them to return and contribute to their home communities. My trip to Toksook Bay was designed as a recruiting mission for the next cohort of TWA students. However, the visit was a much more meaningful trip than I ever expected. During my stay in Toksook Bay, I had the opportunity to experience the celebration of the first seal of the season. It was an honor to be invited to attend this traditional ceremony where seal meat and other important items for a family dinner were given out to all of the female members of the community. I wish to thank all of the Toksook Bay participants for their generous hospitality.

John Cloe, Anchorage

Thank You to Donors

Gregory Moses, Take Wing Alaska Family School Liaison

I personally thank all of the donors who have contributed to the Alaska Humanities Forum over the last year. We are focused on developing new and innovative programs that serve our state, and your donations are helping us to strengthen and evolve our programs here at the Forum.

A L A S K A H U M A N I T I E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014

— Nina Kemppel, CEO

Dermot Cole, Fairbanks Ernestine Hayes, Juneau Joshua Herren, Anchorage Scott McAdams, Sitka Elizabeth Moore, Kotzebue Pauline Morris, Kwethluk Wayne Stevens, Juneau Kurt Wong, Anchorage

STAFF Nina Kemppel, President & CEO Susy Buchanan, Grants Program Director Kitty Farnham, Leadership Anchorage Program Manager Megan Zlatos, Office Manager Matthew Turner, Special Projects Coordinator Veldee Hall, RURE Sister School Exchange Project Manager Carmen Davis, C3 Project Manager Nancy Hemsath, RCCE Program Associate Nate O’Connor, Take Wing Alaska Project Coordinator

Carmen Pitka, Take Wing Alaska Family School Liaison

FORUM MAGAZINE STAFF Editor David Holthouse Art Director Dean Potter Contributing Writers Christina Barber, Susy Buchanan, Deb McKinney, Patti Moss, Katherine Ringsmuth



Frederick Machetanz




4 The Far Side of the Tunnel

Forum grantee Jen Kinney documents Whittier

14 Lost Master

The legacy of Alfred Skondovitch

20 Intentional Community

Leadership Anchorage alumni launch coworking space

22 Instinct and News Sense

COVER “ Ti and Demitrius.” Photographed in Whittier by Jen Kinney. See page 4.


Forum is a publication of the Alaska Humanities Forum, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with the purpose of increasing public understanding of and participation in the humanities. The views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the editorial staff, the Alaska Humanities Forum, or the National Endowment for the Humanities. Subscriptions may be obtained by contributing to the Alaska Humanities Forum or by contacting the Forum. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. ©2014. Printed in Alaska.

A conversation with photojournalist Loren Holmes

28 Museum on Main Street

Smithsonian Institution’s “Key Ingredients” Alaska tour

30 Valuing Exploration Alaska Humanities Forum 2014 general grants

36 Between Earth and Heaven

Excerpts from A Land Gone Lonesome by Dan O’Neill


40 Diamonds from Wilderness America’s pastime in the Last Frontier

45 From Camp to City

Anchorage Centennial Legacy Media Projects

46 Augmenting History

Digital storytelling and historical reconstruction bring Centennial history alive

47 Paid in Kind

Tent-city fiction by Kris Farmen, presented with Augmented Reality features

56 Celebrating a Century

Forum awards first round of Anchorage Centennial Community Grants

The Far Side of the Tunnel Forum grantee Jen Kinney embeds in Whittier to document a city under one roof

By Debra McKinney

ennifer Kinney was a New York City college student with a summer break coming when she learned of an opening at a seafood cafe in a small coastal town in Alaska. Alaska sounded perfect, especially for a writer and photography major drawn to faraway places. Kinney accepted the job over the phone, knowing nothing about this place called Whittier. “I didn’t think to look it up until a day before I got there.”

She boarded a plane in early June 2011 and four time zones later landed in Anchorage on a gray, drizzly night. Her handlebar-mustached boss, whose work uniform would consist of raucous chef’s pants, a tied-dyed apron, suspenders and a baseball cap, met her at the airport, accompanied by a large, curly haired dog that reminded her of a cross between a poodle and a walrus.


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He tossed her bags into the back of his pickup and headed straight for the first in a collage of images that come to mind when Kinney recalls her introduction to Alaska — Walmart. She had just a few minutes to dash in and grab basics. They had to make it to Portage not one second past 10:45, before the tunnel into Whittier shut down for the night, sealing off the town from

More than half of Whittier’s year-round population of approximately 200 live in Begich Towers, a 14-story high-rise built for officers stationed in Whittier during the Cold War. Jen Kinney

car traffic. Blasting down Turnagain Arm, Kinney remembers marveling at the seasonal light, seeing her first glacier in Portage Valley, being swallowed by Maynard Mountain as they entered the single-lane tunnel, then 2.6 miles later being spit out the other side into a tantrum of sideways rain and otherworldly fog. “That was my very first Alaska

experience, and it now seems very authentic,” said Kinney, now 23. “It was surreal… and disjointed, and hard to understand how these things all fit together. “Turns out it was right up my alley.” Whittier, she discovered, wasn’t anything like she’d imagined, not the quiet, lonely hamlet where she’d get some solitude for a change. Not in summer, A L A S K A H U M A N ITI E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 01 4


The Sound of Prince William By Jen Kinney

[Ed. note: This article is excerpted from A City Under One Roof, a work in progress supported by grants from the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University through the Dorothea Lange– Paul Taylor Prize.]

A NOTICE TO OUR READERS The Sound of Prince William has endeavored to follow the policy of reporting the events that happened along this end of Prince William Sound in the manner in which they occurred. The method of telling it may be in an off-beat fashion and at times even corny. But the report is coming from an offbeat location and unbelievable people and events. […] It is not necessarily our intentions to be comical. It is just the only way we know how to tell it. We do not try to cover world events, nor State of Alaska happenings, because of our unusual geographic location, our inaccessible means of reaching the outside world – no television, very poor radio reception and week old newspapers. Therefore we must make our own news. —The Sound of Prince William, January 1973


he story of Whittier’s transformation from a military base strategically located in one of the most hostile environments to man in South Central Alaska to a ghostly town that a ragtag team of hermits, runaways, and otherwise upstanding citizens banded together to purchase begins in 1960, with the sudden departure of the U.S. Army from the port it had just spent 20 years and $55 million dollars to build. By that year the port had seen the construction of three major projects—the railroad tunnel that linked it to the interior and the Hodge and Buckner Buildings, the two largest structures in the Alaska territory. Two million tons of military supplies had arrived by barge and left by rail. So it came as a surprise to company clerk Al Waltz when he received news in September of the port’s pending inactivation. His final morning report that December tallied 156 military men remaining on the dwindling base, a far cry from its peak population of 1,200. The closure of the port still baffles Waltz. In 1960 the Cold War had the world in its frigid grip. Vinyl 45s in the Buckner’s music room played “Big Bad Nick,” a kiss-off to Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev. Whittier’s last large construction project had been completed only four years prior. Alaska had just become a state in 1959 and freight was still rolling into port until the military began diverting it to Seward and Anchorage in


anyway, with its influx of seasonal workers who come to fish, staff the cannery, clean hotel rooms, serve up food, crew on tour boats and otherwise tend to the 700,000 cruise-ship passengers and other assorted visitors passing through town. Not with residents living beside, beneath or on top of each other, most in the 14-story Begich Towers Incorporated, or the BTI as locals call it. Although it wasn’t obvious to her at first, this town that was named after a glacier that was named after a poet was exactly what Kinney needed. Once she acclimated to its claustrophobic confines and tempestuous weather, the people and the place captivated her. She returned to New York that fall to wrap up her degree in photography and imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and to deliver its student commencement address on the need for collaboration and community in the arts. The following summer, she was back in Whittier. And the summer after that. “After graduation I thought, ‘What do I want to do with this degree, what do I need to learn?’ Whittier had been such an interesting experience for me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.” Now she’s embedded. Backed by a $7,500 grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, Kinney is living, working and giving back to her new community while collecting photographs, stories, oral histories and archival materials for a documentary project she’s calling “City Under One Roof.” Her final product will be a book that weaves these elements together. The title is a moniker borrowed from the Buckner Building, built by the military in the early ‘50s to withstand bombs. In addition to housing personnel, the Buckner’s amenities included a small hospital, barbershop, mess hall, library, radio station, rifle range, photo lab, church, officers’ lounge, theater, bowling alley, bakery, commissary and jail. As a 273,660-square-foot, self-contained building, there was little need to step outside, and when one arose, tunnels connected it to other facilities. Once the largest building in Alaska, the Buckner is now a hollow, concrete phantom, a Cold War relic that overlooks the town through its dark, vacant, busted-out-window eyes.

The “city under one roof” was abandoned decades ago, but the metaphor fits. Whittier’s year-round, winter population would leave nearly half the seats of a 747 jumbo jet empty. Small, but that’s upward of 200 personalities, from recluses to social butterflies, altruists to egocentrics, born-agains to dedicated partiers, almost all of them neighbors living in the BTI or the two-story Whittier Manor. As long-time resident Terry Bender put it to Kinney: “We all live in the same house, we just have separate bedrooms.”

“Whittier magnifies what people are about” said Brenda Tolman, artist, sign painter, notary public, gift shop owner, reindeer enthusiast and Whittier resident since 1982. When she arrived shortly after her sister Babs, she said Whittier was full of possibility and entrepreneurship as people came who were intrigued by the opportunity to construct a town from the dilapidated former base. Jen Kinney

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advance of the closure. In the last days when shipments had all but stopped, Waltz had occupied himself by agitating crows from the windows of the near-vacant Buckner. His roommate, however, was kept mighty busy, using a bulldozer to raze orphaned equipment into the water. Bits of scrap metal, twisted rails, cars without serial numbers, an M60 tank that no one could say for certain was supposed to be coming or going: all were sunk to rust. Materials had come to the farflung territory at great expense and would have to leave in the same costly manner. In the final weeks anything the town could afford to lose was buried at sea. When it was done, the army walked out, leaving behind a skeletal maintenance crew and a gleaming white elephant. This was the city inherited by a civilian population of 40 people. The railroad was the only land route in or out of the base, but without a military population it ran intermittently with no schedule or timetable. The 60-mile trip from Anchorage to Whittier could take nearly 8 hours. Two expensive and nearly new buildings stood empty. The 1964 earthquake damaged both mildly and, in concert with the subsequent tsunami and fire, killed 13 people, destroyed the lumber mill and oil tank farm that employed most of the civilian population, and left the port contaminated by oil and creosote. In 1968 the base’s assets were transferred to the U.S. General Services Administration, a move that the 1984 Whittier Comprehensive Plan described as “tantamount to abandonment, as without maintenance or protection, the buildings rapidly deteriorated from weather damage and vandalism.” This did not deter intrepid residents of the former base and future town. A rotating population slowly rebuilt the tank farm and continued port operations. By 1969, Whittier boasted roughly 70 homespun citizens. They incorporated that year as a fourth-class city. Incorporation was only the beginning of their trials. The infrastructure was in place, but it was already decrepit. A government would have to be built from scratch. Three years after incorporation Whittier’s first newspaper, The Sound of Prince William, rolled off the press. It affords a hilarious and heartbreakingly sincere glimpse into the daily lives, personal histories, and grandiose dreams of the first curious souls drawn to the newborn city. The Sound of Prince William, edited by tank farm employee Jim Berry, sported headlines like “Are Residents of a Second Class City Second Class Citizens?” and “Is Whittier Too Proud to Die?” Impertinently, with tongue firmly in cheek, it described a town where mail arrived just twice a week and sometimes a month late; where your neighbors were apt to nail your door shut or paint your dog green; where your every activity, from heading to town to falling in love, was fodder for the bristling “Social Column.” “This is your chance to get in on the act of helping develop a city from scratch,” the front page of every paper declared beneath its motto: “You haven’t seen anything until you have seen Whittier.” Many of the first challenges the town faced still plague it today. Citizens wanted to build a road to Shotgun Cove so that a new town site could be developed there, far from the industrial center. They wanted a larger small-boat harbor. Most essentially, they sought to acquire property owned by government


Since its conception, Whittier has been a curiosity. Walled off by mountains, with its front door opening to the sea, the site was chosen by military strategists for its ice-free, deep-water port, fist-like mountainous grip, dependable cloud cover and fog as thick as cotton balls — ideal for hiding from enemies. It’s a place where houses with yards don’t exist, bears get into the garbage and snow loads collapse roofs and sink boats in the harbor. Deserted by the military in 1960, incorporated as a second-class city nine years later, Whittier has seen more than its share of trouble for its age — abandonment, fires, floods, a killer earthquake and tsunami. And ridicule. “So many people come here and write crap about this place,” said Bender, who’s included in Kinney’s mosaic of stories. “People come here and just don’t get it. They talk to some drunk at the bar and think we’re all drunks who live here because we can’t live anywhere else. “I stay here because the place talks to me. Not in words; I’m not crazy or anything. I just get this really great energy. It’s so beautiful here. You either get it or you don’t.” Kinney, she said, gets it. “Just the fact that she’s stayed here and wants to get it right. I honestly think the place talks to her, too.” Kinney could have grabbed some stories and photos that first summer, called it good and moved on. She could have turned her project into her senior thesis. But her interests go beyond the surface, because the Whittier she knows is complex and often misunderstood by people from the other side of the tunnel. And she had no desire to be one of those. “They [Whittier residents] are really used to the portrayal of their town as super weird and super broken,” she said. “I wanted to see what it felt like here after two months, three months, six months. I thought it was really important, first from a trust angle, and second, from a depth angle, not go off on first impressions. People have told me expressively, ‘I don’t trust anyone who hasn’t been here for a winter.’” So this time around, she’s staying a year to continue her work in progress. Driving up the Alaska Highway last summer to begin her full-immersion assignment, doubt

started seeping in. She knew Whittier had a remarkable story to tell, but would others see its worth? She was partway up the Alaska Highway she got her answer. She learned by phone that she’d won the $10,000 Lange-Taylor Prize from the Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, given to those carrying on the tradition of acclaimed photographer Dorothea Lange and writer/social scientist Paul Taylor, for projects centered around the interplay of images and words.

With wind that can gust up to 80 miles per hour and annual snowfall that has reached more than 55 feet, it is easy not to leave Begich Towers for days or weeks. Jen Kinney

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agencies and the Alaska Railroad. In 1973, they did just that, using a $200,000 bond to purchase the town site and seven buildings—including the Hodge and the Buckner—from the General Services Administration. Arguably, the sale marked the high point of Whittier optimism. Bennie Barker, the town’s second mayor, told the Anchorage Daily News that the town would convert the Hodge Building into condominiums, with a 15th floor restaurant and cocktail lounge, and the Buckner Building into a hotel, ski lodge and commercial hub. Even more audacious was the proposal, two years later, to turn Whittier into a carless town. Visitors would leave their cars on the other side of the tunnel and float through town via alpine tramways. Throughout the years, the Sound of Prince William played cheerleader, advocate and provocateur. In 1972, the paper boasted that beneath Whittier’s careless exterior one could find “Two Theaters, Café, Swimming Pool, Gift Shop, Watering Hole, and Grocery Store.” In 1973, it reported on the Whittier vs. Whittier lawsuits about election propriety and voting rights that threatened to divide the young city squarely in two. In 1974, a competition was held to rename the Hodge Building—prompting such entries as “Little Alcatraz” and “Poverty’s Ridge”—and the citizenry rolled up their shirtsleeves to repair the newly christened Begich Towers’ earthquake-damaged interior. That same year, the town librarian and newspaper editor carried on a debate, issue after issue, about prohibiting neon lights. The librarian feared that Whittier might become “a carbon copy of Las Vegas or New York City” unless it banned their use and became instead, “Whittier, Alaska, the City with the advantages of civilization, but without its blight.” The editor countered by quoting Genesis, and off they went, as surrounding articles jested about the faraway scandals of the energy crisis, of Watergate, of the Vietnam War. Year after year, the same advertisement ran for the Sportsman’s Inn, which reigned with shabby courtliness as the only restaurant in the young township. Beneath a thickly penned illustration of a hotel with rickety beds and gusty holes in the wall, the Sportsman’s boasted its “ROOLS AND REGULATIONS”:

1. NOT MORE THAN FOUR GUESTS IN ONE BED ESPECIALLY IF LADIES ARE PRESENT. 2. PLEASE REMOVE BOOTS BEFORE RETIRING. OUR SHEETS BECOME RATHER SOILED BEFORE THE MONTH IS OVER. 3. NOT MORE THAN FIVE GALLONS OF ALCOHOL ALOWED IN THE ROOM, PER PERSON THAT IS. The Sportsman’s was a textbook Alaska menagerie of enterprise: there was a laundry and general store in the basement, a restaurant and bar above, and hotel rooms out back. By the mid-70s, Ross and Irma Knight owned the joint, which had morphed over the years through different owners and a hodge-podge of uses. Irma was a German woman transplanted in Alaska, a one-armed, nationally rated skeet shooter who never had a hair out of place. Irma’s couture was immacu-


Equipped with notebooks, a digital audio recorder and two vintage, mediumformat cameras, Kinney’s work is a study of Whittier’s history, people, politics, structures, economy, culture and selfimage. It’s an exploration of freedom and confinement, of detachment and community. She’s documenting how the town changes with the seasons, and the role the tunnel plays in keeping “enough of the world out to let silence, clarity and introspection in.” She’s particularly intrigued by the influence physical spaces have on people’s lives, and vice versa. “That’s really the crux of the Whittier story,” she said, “how that’s evolved over time.” It doesn’t hurt that Whittier is awash in colorful stories, many of which are actually true. Like the fellow, stewed to the gills, who got cut off at the bar and returned later armed with a mean cat, threatening to throw it in the bartender’s face. And recipients of the annual “Toilet Seat Award,” established in honor of a woman who got so trashed one night she got sick, losing her dentures down the toilet in the process. Esteemed winners include the man who backed into the town’s only police car and the BTI resident on his way to the bathroom one morning who instead ended up in the hallway locked out of his apartment, naked, about the time kids were heading out for school. So there’s that. But, as Kinney points out, Whittier is also the kind of community where no one is homeless, no one goes hungry and people look after each other whether they like each other or not, especially when the absurd weather hits and life becomes dicey in a hurry. In that regard, Whittier is a writer’s and photographer’s paradise, bestowed with stories that send Kinney down “a rabbit hole,” as she calls it, as one story leads to the passageway of another. Why people come, why they stay, what they find there they haven’t found anywhere else. Still, she knew winter wouldn’t come easy, watching businesses shutter, friends leave and the town empty out at the end of the season. “It got colder and quieter,” she said.

“Having come from a big city there was this feeling of dread. It was hard going through the shortening of the days. It’s like the tunnel, you’ve got this darkness narrowing in on you from all sides.” She got busy, though. She settled in, first in the BTI, then the Whittier Manor, then back in the BTI. She got certified as an emergency medical technician and is now on call for the volunteer fire department two days a week. She started volunteering at the school. She attended

Annie Shen and husband Joe have operated the Anchor Inn, bar, restaurant and general store since 1979. “When I first got here, I hated it. So dark and so dead in the winter,” she said. But then her husband climbed a mountain pass and looked down Passage Canal to where it connects to Prince William Sound and beyond to the Pacific Ocean, eventually lapping up on their native Taiwan. “For him, it was like hope,” she said. Jen Kinney

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late; she preferred color-coordinated outfits and silk blouses, which didn’t stop her from scooping elbow deep in a drum of ice cream. Her personal propriety didn’t extend to the establishment. When the Health Department tossed expired meat from the restaurant’s freezer into the dumpsters out back, Irma waited for the inspectors to split town on the next train and then ordered her crew to haul the meat back in, wash it off with vinegar, and load it right back in the freezer. It was the Sportsman’s that brought Babs Reynolds to Whittier in 1978, when she responded to an ad at the Anchorage Employment Center for a chambermaid and waitress. A train happened to be heading to Whittier that very afternoon. A veteran bartender, the Sportsman’s was the only job she was ever fired from. The customers didn’t like her. It was no matter. Babs stayed, opened her own hamburger stand, and wrote her sister to come up too. Whittier was a sanctuary, whether Babs got along with her neighbors or not. “Most of us were on the run in one way or another,” she said. “Bad debt. I had an abusive ex-husband. We were looking to do something different, like live,” she barked in smoky laughter. “Who else can say they live in a town where they close the doors at night?” Whittier was an easy place to live, if you could accept the downsides. Rent was cheap. The law was enforced just passably. But by the time Babs moved to town, the sheen of optimism had been tarnished, and the Sound of Prince William had already met its demise. Barker had been overthrown as mayor in a series of nasty legal battles that dragged through 1975. Opponents had him ousted for missing three meetings after Whittier reverted to a city manager form of government. Stripped of his salary, he sought work on the fledgling pipeline. The mayor sued. When voters took to the ballots to recall the ousters, a second lawsuit brought their voting rights under attack. The rift went deep. For eight months the press went silent: the new council had pulled the plug on the city-funded, pro-Barker paper. When Berry managed to raise the funds to revive it, The Sound of Prince William returned with a different voice. Gone were the editorials waxing poetic about the limitless possibilities of life and commerce on Prince William Sound. Gone was the front-page illustration of a man chasing another man straight out of his pants before a backdrop of a dilapidated cartoon city. The jokiness remained, but the bitterness was unmistakable. Where before the greatest ire was reserved for the unreliable Alaska Railroad, now the paper turned against its citizenry. Berry wrote of the council he considered selfserving and divisive; of the $150,000 debt still unpaid from the town’s purchase; of the city managers the city just couldn’t seem to retain long enough to continue the progress started by the first three councils. The early positivity had sailed on airy dreams. Now, Berry asked, where is that road to Shotgun Cove? What became of the progress he’d been drumming up for the past four years? By the end of the decade, Berry was gone himself. Whittier had always been a town of transplants and transients, from the construction crews to the fishers, from the military to the here-today-gone-tomorrow residents, whose only common ground was their willingness to claim that title. ■


church, workout sessions and city council meetings. And she’s covering Whittier for the Turnagain Times. The reporting gig is proving to be a valuable litmus test for her documentary project, since her neighbors are more than willing to weigh in on how she’s doing. “If they have a problem with (a story), they tell me on the elevator. It’s really good for them, and for me. I’m held very accountable for the things I write.” Since that first summer, she’s worked as a server, a barista, a deck hand, a fish processor, and now a reporter. This summer she’ll be working as a kayak guide. By immersing herself in all things Whittier, she’s getting to know its possibilities, as well as ways to ward off boredom. She’s learning what it takes to keep the town safe, powered up and navigable when snow piles so deep it covers windows and barricades doors, and raging winds do their best to knock the place down a size. “I grew up in a (Connecticut) suburb, and never in my life thought about what it took to run a municipal government,” she said. “The more I’ve been here, the more I’ve become interested in community development.” Ted Spencer, executive director of Whittier’s Prince William Sound Museum, appreciates Kinney’s efforts. “She’s not just running around poking her camera at stuff and blasting away; she is working at her craft,” said Spencer, a past Alaska Humanities Forum grant recipient. “She’s an artist. Her written prose is eloquent and carefully crafted. “I very much admire Jen’s energy and creativity. She is combining her talents, education and love of adventure to capture a rare moment in the life of a small Alaskan community. These works of art and written observations will constitute the historical records that will be examined and appreciated by the generations that come after.” Now watching spring unfold from the ninth-floor of her BTI apartment, her computer parked at the window, she’s come to appreciate what others appreciate about Whittier in winter, the way it feels safer when the weather and the tunnel team up to create a moat. In winter, people can leave doors unlocked and keys in the ignition. Parents know their kids are safe. If a man drops his wallet, he can be relatively certain it’s going to make its way back to

him. Not so with the comings and goings of summer. Living in Whittier, Kinney says, is teaching her many things, not the least of which is what it means to be part of a community — a city under one roof. “You really learn how to get along together, how to talk to each other,” she said. “Somehow it works. Sometimes it doesn’t work as well as it could, but there is this something we share, and what we share is living here.” ■

The only land route in or out of Whittier is the 2.6-mile, single lane tunnel at the end of this staging area. In 2000 it was converted from railroad to mixed automobile and railroad use. Some residents blame a decline in community engagement on the increased ease of access. Jen Kinney

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‘As I embark on the last paintings of my life, I bow to Alaska and the happiness she has brought me.’ – Alfred Skondovitch, 2010

“Spirits After Torture” david belisle photo

Lost Master T h e l egac y o f Alfre d S ko n d ov i tc h BY PATTI MOSS


t may come as a surprise to many Alaskans that an obscure Fairbanks painter named Alfred Skondovitch, who died in 2011, once stood shoulder to shoulder with the greatest American artists of the 20th century. For a time he was recognized on par with Willem de Kooning, whose paintings hold the record for the highest price ever paid for American works of art. Several of Skondovitch’s closest New York colleagues went on to become giants of the postwar Modernist Period of American art. The painter Mark Rothko named their group “The New York School.” Some artists in the New York School emerged out of the poverty of war in Europe. Others edged up through the complex political scaffolding around the New York gallery and art museum world. In 1947, Alfred Skondovitch joined them at the age of 20 when he jumped ship in New York Harbor with a letter of referral to famed abstract expressionist Franz Kline stuffed in his pocket. Skondovitch soon found a place at the school in Provincetown, Massachusetts, run by the legendary artist and teacher Hans Hoffman, who played a key role in the abstract expressionist movement. The school was a Mecca for postwar artists. Hofmann lectured on theory to packed rooms. Among the attendees were many new immigrants. Skondovitch’s journey had already been long and grueling; but in many ways, it was just beginning.

Alfred Skondovitch in New York in 1956, around the time of the famous “Ten American Painters” exhibit which included work by Willem de Kooning. courtesy david belisle

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Alfred Skondovitch was born and raised in London by Russian Jewish immigrants. As a youth he was sent to the English countryside during the London Blitz, and there he was exposed to great paintings in grand countryside estates. Near the end of World War II he went to France as a teenager. He worked odd jobs, helped his older brothers promote boxing matches, and assisted in efforts to arrange the underground transport of Holocaust survivors to Israel. He also painted, as he had since the age of nine. While living in France as a young man, Skondovitch had a life-altering experience when he visited the BergenBelsen concentration camp in northern Germany with a Zionist youth group. They encountered the same horrific scene as other liberation witnesses: the barely living encamped among the dead. The youths were unable to help and retreated. What he witnessed at Bergen-Belsen emblazoned itself upon Skondovitch’s psyche and would emerge decades later in his most magnificent work. After Bergen-Belsen, Skondovitch entered a London art school where he was noticed for his exceptional ability. He received a letter of recommendation from an instructor who was the sisterin-law of Franz Kline and soon left for America by taking a job as a deckhand on a cargo steamer. In New York Harbor, he simply jumped ship in order to avoid customs. In the immediate postwar years, U.S. immigration had swelled; visas had become very difficult to obtain, especially for Jews. Skondovitch was too impoverished to await the process, and he entered the country on the run. Within a handful of years, in a meteoric rise, Skondovitch was exhibiting his abstract expressionist paintings in New York’s finest galleries and was widely considered to be among the best of a movement of painters who became modern art masters. The New York Times art critic Dore Ashton acknowledged Alfred Skondovitch paintings above those by Willem de Kooning in her review of his work. He took part in


the landmark 1956 abstract expressionist exhibit, “Ten American Painters,” widely considered the most prestigious exhibit of abstract expressionist paintings in history. Then suddenly, at the brink of incalculable opportunity, Alfred Skondovitch walked away from it all, and eventually spent decades painting quietly in Fairbanks before passing away three years ago at the age of 84. A few years before his death, Skondovitch’s wife discovered in his small Fairbanks studio more than 70 richly colored paintings of dreamy figures floating in Chagall-like worlds. They are his legacy, the Holocaust Paintings. The paintings are not sad, but filled with intriguing brightness and alluring hues where figures engage the viewer through a thick silence. All are emotionally political, and seem to portray a mysterious visitation from figures out of a soft, deep, dreamlike world. There is nothing outwardly grim in the figures. They’re simply messengers. In one large painting, a clown hangs from a gallows in brilliant hues usually seen in children’s books or watercolors of flowers. “Hanging Clown” wears a clown costume. His neck is bent. His brightly colored outfit wilts on his frame, yet his expression is smirking. He has been hung for misbehaving. Was he a betrayer, a camp legionnaire, a kapo (prisoner functionary for the SS)? The clown reappears here and there among the other figures in the series. Who are they? Skondovitch wisely allows the figures to tell their own stories. He does not intrude with obviousness but allows us to journey through the questions each of us carry about the Shoah. A jester extends his arm enticing naive children to follow. He was, Skondovitch reported, the betrayer inside the altered reality of the camps: the collaborator, the snitch, the prisoner too slow on his feet to avoid damnation; and perhaps, the outside world silent in knowing. Other figures sit in quiet repose. Yes, in some of the paintings there is death. In most, there is eternal connection, dialog, conversation, pondering and knowing, from the viewer and from the figure.

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Then suddenly, at the brink of incalculable opportunity, Alfred Skondovitch walked away from it all.

Alfred Skondovitch in his Fairbanks studio in 2010. david belisle

The Holocaust Paintings stands with the greater body of Skondovitch’s paintings of nudes, figures and abstracts. It would be a mistake to define his work by the Holocaust Paintings alone, as his masterful images of figures magnetize and engage with great depth. He began the Holocaust Paintings at the beginning of the 1980s. What compelled him is not certain. Only a few people knew what he was working on toward the end of his life. At one point he allowed the small Jewish community in Fairbanks to exhibit two of the paintings. He led a weekly sketch group that had met regularly for many years, exhibited in modest Alaska venues, and was invited to speak to the art history class at University of Alaska Fairbanks taught by Kesler Woodward, Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He captivated students by

lecturing on art theory and his experiences as an artist. The reasons around Skondovitch’s abrupt departure from the New York art world in the late 1950s remain murky. During his few years in New York, he struggled at times to keep a room or get a meal; at other times, he generously helped others. When broke, he reported later, he would nurse a cocktail for an entire evening at the Cedar Bar, a Greenwich Village watering hole that served as a salon of sorts for artists and writers of the period. There he socialized with those who would go on to become legends, including de Kooning and Rothko. He hung around with the great poet Frank O’Hara, who worked as a security guard at the Museum of Modern Art, and who allowed Skondo-

vitch to crash at his place when he could not afford rent. According to Skondovitch, during his years in New York, he also befriended the poet Dylan Thomas, who was struggling with severe alcoholism. Later, during his own struggle with depression in his first years in Fairbanks, Skondovitch would express remorse for having been drinking with Thomas and others in late 1953 when Thomas collapsed and later died. This was one of many stories from his days in New York that Alfred Skondovitch shared only with his wife Patti. During those years, Skondovitch was part of a small circle of friends trying to survive on bummed meals and handouts at the same time their art was gazed upon by the wealthiest residents of the city. The circle included Andre Malraux, Wolf Kahn, Franz Kline, Rothko, Robert De Niro, Sr., and Elaine and Willem de Kooning. Abstract Expressionism was objected to and politicized by the American art community. Its legitimacy was hotly debated. Major arts philanthropists took sides, including Nelson Rockefeller, who refused to support abstract expressionist artists at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), even though his wife was the director of acquisitions for 20 years. (After she resigned he gave $20 million to MOMA to purchase the same artists she had promoted.) Dogged by immigration authorities, Skondovitch avoided gallery openings because he was afraid of being arrested. Openings are bad luck anyway, he reasoned. Not long after the “Ten American Painters” exhibit at the Poindexter Gallery, Skondovitch agreed to do a favor for well-known gallery owner and art dealer Elinor Poindexter by delivering a shipment of important paintings to a gallery in Texas. He wrecked the truck and all the paintings were destroyed. Poindexter assumed he had been drunk; and furiously denounced Skondovitch in a remark that he was “probably the best” painter rising in the New York ranks, but he was blowing it. According to Skondovitch’s wife, Patti, he wasn’t drunk at the time of the crash. He simply did not how to drive. (She taught him how to drive years later

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in Alaska.) After the accident, Skondovitch stayed for a while at a friend’s house in Texas, pondering his next move. He did not return to New York. Instead, he headed west, leaving paintings hanging at the Poindexter Gallery, and untold numbers of others in closets and back rooms of studios and apartments across the city. Skondovitch first went to California, where he used another referral to get into the art department of Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College). As part of an artists’ group at Claremont, he made money building Hollywood movie sets during the academic term and then joined the artists in going to Fairbanks in summer to fight wildfires. During his third summer in Alaska, Skondovitch married Patti Howard, who’d grown up in Fairbanks. For their honeymoon, he used his meager savings to take her to Paris, and then onto Vallauris, a town in southeast France where Pablo Picasso was creating magnificent large sculptures. In Vallauris, Skondovitch trekked up the hillside above the village to Picasso’s gated villa. On the first morning, he was simply told to go away. The second day, there were many black limos in the driveway, so he did not approach the gate. On the third morning, a caretaker dismissed him, then called him back. Yes, he could see the Maestro, but only if he needed to urinate. Puzzled, Skondovitch followed the man to the patio where Picasso stood above a large clay sculpture of a ram. “So you will piss on it. I am dry,” said Picasso. So Alfred did. A moment later a woman drove into the driveway, got out and began screaming toward Alfred and waving her arms. She was yelling for him to leave. A bit taken back by it all, he made his retreat back down the hill to tell Patti what had happened. Nearly 40 years later, Skondovitch encountered the screaming woman again during a conference at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She was Francoise Gilot-Salk, who had been Picasso’s mistress and later married Dr. Jonas Salk. In Fairbanks, she delighted in Skondovitch’s recalling the day they had originally crossed paths so long ago and far away.


“Snow Princess” david belisle photo

Alfred and Patti Skondovitch returned from their honeymoon to settle down in Fairbanks. During their first decade together in Alaska, he managed various businesses. He occasionally had small exhibits. But he also began experiencing a sense of longing whenever the New York art scene rose up in his mind, which happened with the arrival of each edition of Art News, the major arts magazine. His wife reflected on this time, “One time he was reading the latest edition of Art News and he looked so sad, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s give it a try.’ And we went to New York to see what would happen.” In New York they spent three months in the sweltering heat of summer, visiting old galleries which were now in new hands, looking up Wolf Kahn and a handful of other artists from the old days, and becoming more and more distressed as the toe hold they had hoped to find proved elusive. At the end of summer they returned to Alaska. Instead of being emotionally fatigued by the experience in New York, Alfred Skondovitch seemed to embrace their return to the north. It was as if, Patti recalled, he had made some sort of emotional switch. The depressive episodes

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failed to reappear. He was happy. “He was the funniest person I ever knew,” Patti once remarked. His friends helped build a studio in their yard. Alfred filled it with bright lights and painted to his favorite Fred Astaire musical pieces. He started a sketch group and taught a few classes here and there between working regular jobs. Patti worked for an airline and they had two children. “I hardly ever went in the studio except to tell him he was wanted on the phone or that supper was ready,” she said. A few years later Skondovitch had a one-man show at the State Museum in Juneau. Over the years his work was collected by a handful of followers, including two generations of the Klatt family. (Upon discovering his work one day in an Anchorage gallery, the Klatts drove to his house in Fairbanks after not being able to reach him by telephone. There they found Alfred clipping the hedge in front of his house. It was the beginning of years of support and friendship.) Toward the end of his life, Skondovitch had exhibits at Fairbanks artist David Mollett’s gallery. He also worked with The Museum of the North, on the acquisition of perhaps the most important of his Holocaust Paintings, “Hanging Clown.” UAF

“Hanging Clown” david belisle photo

Museum of the North curator Mareca Guthrie conducted a series of detailed interviews with Skondovitch. Graduate students in art history cut a path to the Skondovitch home. Since his passing, Patti and their daughter, Lara Duke, have managed Skondovitch’s estate and worked toward preserving his place in American art history, especially the legacy of the Holocaust Paintings. Patti met Alfred when she was a young beauty and he was a humble summer firefighter visiting Alaska. She fell in love with a forest worker, not a painter. When asked of Skondovitch’s place

“Erin” david belisle photo

in Alaska art, UAF professor emeritus Kesler Woodward said that Skondovitch never conceded to be an Alaskan painter. “He [Skondovitch] painted figures, which do not have a place in Alaska art as abstract expressionist figures,” said Woodward. “His work was always outside of Alaska art. He was focused solely on what he desired to paint, which was primarily the figure.” What do the Holocaust Paintings by Alfred Skondovitch mean to the world? What place will his work find among the renowned paintings of his colleagues in the New York School of American Modernism? In an art world teeming with

venture capitalists investing in modern art masters, the answer may still be coming. In the curatorial realms, Alfred Skondovitch is a footnote in bold font, rising toward a higher place on the pages of history. ■ Alfred Skondovitch’s work can be found at Alaskan historian and writer Patti Moss may be reached at Photographer David Belisle ( has recorded R.E.M. and other rockers. He was a close friend of Alfred Skondovitch.

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Intentional Community Leadership Anchorage alumni launch coworking space


he single-day purchase record for the Seattle IKEA store was set last October by two Leadership Anchorage alumni. Katherine Jernstrom, 30, and Brit Szymoniak, 27, prefer not to reveal exactly how they much the spent. But here’s a clue: the receipt was six feet long. Together with a collection of mid-century designer furniture they picked up at vintage stores during their five-day spree in Seattle, the women loaded the IKEA boxes into a 26-foot U-Haul truck, the largest that’s legal to rent without a commercial driver’s license. They then began a three-day journey up the ALCAN Highway. Things did not go smoothly at the Canadian border crossing. “The customs officials had a few questions for us,” said Szymoniak. And so the close friends and co-founders of The Boardroom explained, once again, their concept for Alaska’s first “coworking” space, a creative nexus where self-employed professionals can “work independently in a collaborative environment.” The furniture, they said, would outfit the 6,000-square foot space, scheduled to open for business the following month. The border guards made them post a $500 bond and sent them on their way. As IKEA shoppers are well aware, assembly is required. Upon arriving in Anchorage, Jernstrom and Szymoniak hosted a marathon furniture building party. Fueled by pizza and beer, they and a group of


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Leadership Anchorage alumni and The Boardroom cofounders Katherine Jernstrom (left) and Brit Szymoniak.

friends gradually assembled enough stylish furniture to fill a standard office room wall-to-wall, floorto-ceiling, with empty cardboard boxes (they were recycled). The Boardroom, located on the second floor of the Key Bank Plaza on Fifth Avenue in downtown Anchorage – prime real estate – opened last November and now is the base of operations for more than 30 small businesses and self-employed professionals, including website developers, attorneys, food truck operators, and photographers. Coworking began in San Francisco roughly a decade ago. It’s since become a global movement, with more than 700 coworking spaces in the U.S.


‘We both knew a lot of freelancers who were tired of having business meetings in espresso bars.’ — Katherine Jernstrom

Freelance photographer Josh Martinez at work in The Boardroom.

alone. The concept is to create a collective work space described in one popular online video as “accelerated serendipity,” a space where “freelancers can bounce ideas off of small business owners, entrepreneurs can inspire corporate refuges, and fledgling startups can quickly build a diverse social network.” Jernstrom and Szymoniak came up with the idea for launching a coworking space in Anchorage after they met and became friends in 2011 as fellow members of the fifteenth cohort of Leadership Anchorage, the Alaska Humanities Forum’s premiere leadership development program. At the time, Jernstrom was the community outreach director for Bean’s Café, and Szymoniak was the Port of Anchorage’s director of public affairs. “We both knew a lot of freelancers who were tired of having business meetings in espresso bars at four in the afternoon,” said Jernstrom. The rise of the coworking movement is driven by the ongoing fundamental shift in the U.S. labor force away from traditional full-time jobs in favor of freelance and temporary contract work. There are currently about 42 million self-employed workers in the U.S. – about 30 percent of the nation’s workforce – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That percentage is projected to rise to 40 percent by 2019. To help them determine whether they should quit their jobs and roll the dice, Jernstrom and Szymoniak conducted market research that indicated the demand

in space in U.S. cities can support one coworking space for every 85,000 residents. “We decided that if coworking is so popular in Seattle and San Francisco and New York, then why not here,” said Szymoniak. “And if why not here, then why not us?” Membership at the boardroom ranges from $150 a month for two days a week of business hours access to the open, shared work space, up to $500 a month a for limitless access. Private offices are $900 a month. Collaboration and networking is encouraged but not required. “We don’t force people to sit down and work together,” says Jernstrom. “We provide the opportunity for collaboration through the intentional, meaningful design of space.” Sugarsled Creative owner David Taylor, a branding consultant, joined the Boardroom in January. “Just being around all the entrepreneurial energy of the place, my productivity immediately shot up,” he said. “Everyone there is excited, and motivated. I’d been working from my home office for about two years. It was lonely and un-inspiring by comparison.” Taylor said it’s a welcome change to be able to invite clients to his place of work. “It [The Boardroom] makes me look good. It’s a beautiful space,” he said. “And let’s face it: I’m a high-end, high-paid professional. It was time for me to stop telling clients, ‘Meet me at the coffee shop.’” ■

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Instinct & News Sense A conversation with Loren Holmes By David Holthouse


he photography of Loren Holmes rides its own line between fine art and photojournalism. Consider, for example, the slideshow of his photos published May 2 by the online news publication Alaska Dispatch, where Holmes has been the one-man photo department since early 2012. The previous morning, two Alaska State Troopers had been killed in the line of duty in Tanana. Within hours of the shootings, Holmes was on the ground in the isolated Yukon River village, 130 air miles west of Fairbanks, photographing a standoff between heavily armed troopers and the father of the alleged murderer. The slideshow skillfully captured the breaking news with daytime photos of law enforcement officers in tactical gear surrounding the house where the


man was barricaded, then taking the suspect into custody after he surrendered. But accompanying these traditional news images were a series of photographs made by Holmes just before and after sunset. The photos are devoid of people. They show an empty bench and chairs overlooking the frozen Yukon River, a battered traffic cone affixed with crime scene tape, and the dark silhouette of the steeple of the village church set against barren trees and purple light fading to darkness. In context, these atmospheric images carry a powerful emotional resonance that transcends basic news photography, illustrating the mood of a small town in the twilight between shock and grief. A native of Anchorage, Holmes is the only child of an archaeologist and anthropologist. He studied philosophy

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before graduating with a master’s degree in photography from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. Perhaps best known in Alaska and elsewhere for his impressive photos of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in recent years, Holmes is about to join the combined photo staff of the Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News, following the Dispatch’s purchase of the state’s largest newspaper. The acquisition, announced in early April, alters the media landscape of Alaska. The week before the Tanana shootings, Holmes visited the Forum offices to discuss the logistics of covering the Iditarod and the influences and reasoning driving his unique approach to photojournalism. What follows is a transcript of that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

India’s a visual treat. This photo was taken on a Sunday drive with a family that had taken me under their wing. LOREN HOLMES

Why did you study philosophy? I took a year off between high school and college, because I didn’t think I was ready to really focus on school. I traveled for a year by myself around the world. Started in Japan, worked my way west to Hong Kong, Singapore, Nepal, India, Switzerland, Germany, France, Netherlands. My mom did the same thing when she was 18. She got a job washing dishes on a Norwegian freighter and wound up crossing the Indian Ocean, so I kind of got the idea from her. When I came back to the US, I still didn’t know what I wanted to study, but I decided that philosophy was basic to anything and everything. To life.

Do you have a favorite philosopher? I’d have to say John Rawls. [Ed. Note: John Bordley Rawls was an American philosopher and a leading figure in moral and political philosophy.] He came up with the idea of Just War theory. When it’s right to engage in war. The idea of a just war was something I’d never considered before I studied his work—the ethics of war, that there is a right way and a wrong way to wage war, and that war, while terrible, is not always the greater evil.

Do you believe that having studied philosophy influences your photography? Yes. Philosophy makes you think about things differently. It makes you think about them more critically. That applies photography. When you think critically you take more time, you question your own assumptions, and that definitely influences your photography.

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This photo of Jeff King was from this year’s Iditarod. He’s passing by the cliffs outside Ruby, the first checkpoint on the Yukon river for the northern route. The Iditarod is such a challenge to photograph year after year. I’m always trying to come up with new ways to keep it fresh, to find a different perspective on the same scenario. But the Ruby cliffs always seem to make the cut. They’re just so stunning.


When did you become serious about photography?

Did you return to Alaska after getting your master’s degree?

What led you to start working for Alaska Dispatch?

I’ve been interested in photography for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school I had a mentorship with the photo department at the Anchorage Daily News. This was 1997 or 1998, back when they still had a darkroom. They were still developing film. They’d just gotten their first digital camera, a Nikon D1, and they were experimenting with it, but they were still using film almost exclusively. I was photo editor of my college newspaper, the Carletonian, at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After I graduated, I came back to Alaska, thought about it for a while, decided photography was definitely what I wanted to do, and went to grad school.

No, I taught in India. I spent five months in a rural area near Bombay. I started a photography project at a college where I introduced students to photography. We had five point-andshoot digital cameras. I would come up with a weekly assignment, and they’d go out and shoot, and we’d look at photos and talk about composition. I came out of it really impressed with what they had done. They didn’t have a lot of creative outlets, so they really embraced the concept and took photography to heart.

After teaching in India, I came back to Anchorage, waited tables for a bit, then got a job at a stock photo agency in Girdwood. Mostly I was selling other peoples photos, doing a little bit of my own shooting to fill holes in the archive. The hour commute each way got old. So I decided to try to make it freelancing. I shot some weddings, shot some stuff for the New York Times, the Associated Press. Then in 2012 I got a tip from somebody who said the Dispatch was looking for someone to shoot the Iditarod, and right after the race the Dispatch hired me. Up until late last year, when we hired a videographer, I’ve been a one-man photo department.

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My editor at Alaska Dispatch, Mike Campbell, had a hunch that this guy Matt Novokovitch was about to win the Mt. Marathon race. So he sent me over to make a photo of his customized treadmill. He modified it so it would go up to 40 degrees, way steeper than a normal treadmill. And he was so hardcore, he would only train going up, not up and down like most other people who were training on real mountains. But he won that year.

What’s your logistical strategy for shooting the Iditarod?

Do you have any favorite spots for shooting the race?

Before we shoot the Iditarod, before we go out on the trail, we sit down and sketch out what we think might happen. We look at the historical run times between checkpoints and where certain mushers typically take their rests, and we do our best to map out a game plan, factoring in where we want to spend the night, and when we want to be in certain places. We based this year’s plan on the last two years, but our plan went out the window pretty quickly because they basically did the race a day faster, so we lost a day. I’m extremely fortunate to have a publisher who flies her own plane, and flies us around to cover the race. It’s our plane, so it’s easy to adjust on the run.

I like the Dalzell Gorge. [Ed. note: A particularly notorious two-mile stretch between Rainy Pass and Rohn.] It’s really narrow, really windy, has lots of tight turns, and the dogs are coming down very fast. When I shoot in the gorge, I carry two cameras, one with a wide angle lens and the other with a telephoto, then I set up a third camera with a remote control about 100 yards or so up the trial from where I position myself, so that I can shoot the mushers and dog teams from that angle as well. A lot of mushers were coming out of Dalzell Gorge really banged up this year. A lot of broken sleds. I actually caught DeeDee Jonrowe’s dog team in

the gorge, without her on the sled. Her dog team came by, dragging the sled on its side, then a few minutes later, she came walking down the trail, by herself, holding the brake that had come off in her hand. Another of my favorite places on the Iditarod is further down the trail in Koyuk, a checkpoint that’s right where the dog teams come off the sea ice. Usually, they come off the ice right at sunrise, so it makes for some beautiful photos.

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In Kerala, India, I spent some time with the fishermen there. It’s a very local fishery, they go out in boats, most much smaller than this one, pull in nets by hand, and sell what they catch at the local fish market. Most people I talked with said that the fishing wasn’t very good after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.


What kind of cameras and lens do you prefer?

How do you recognize the moment to capture?

There’s nothing really special about the gear. I use Canon cameras. 5D Mark IIIs. I do use a 24 1.4 lens which lets me shoot in the dark a little better. I like to shoot before sunrise, after sunset, I like to push the boundaries of the light. But really, the camera is just a tool. The lens is just a tool. At the Daily News they all use Nikons. It doesn’t really matter. It’s whatever you’re comfortable with, whatever you’re proficient in using, so you can capture the moment in the most aesthetically appropriate way.

Instinct. Instinct, and a sense of the news. I would like to consider myself an artist, but that’s not really appropriate, because at heart I’m a journalist. My first responsibility is to record the facts in front of me. That’s photojournalism in the purest sense: you record facts in the form of a photograph. But I always try to tap into the power of art photography by trying to generate an emotional response with my photos. For me, doing my job right means not only giving you the facts, but also making you feel something based on how I visually present those facts. That may not be a common in photojournalism. But it should be.

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Do you identify yourself more with newspaper or magazine photography? I look at what I do as closer to magazine than newspaper in that I’m trying to broaden the audience. I don’t assume that my audience is just people in Anchorage or just people in Alaska. I assume it’s somebody in New York or Florida or Germany. I want to make photos that are compelling to them, as well as Alaskans, and that speak to the issue more broadly than something as local as what you might typically see in a newspaper.


Alex DeMarban and I got to Kaktovik the day after they pulled in the whale. We wished we’d arrived a day earlier, but they’d worked all through the night, and left the head because they just didn’t have time to get to it. It’s on the beach, right next to the village. They were cutting up this giant piece of meat and in the distance you could see polar bears. It was a little unnerving. They’d just be working away, cutting up the whale meat, and polar bears would start walking up the beach toward us, and whenever a bear got a little too close, one guy just got on his four-wheeler and drove straight at the bear, ran it off.

‘Doing my job right means not only giving you the facts, but also making you feel something based on how I visually present those facts.’

How do you feel about shooting for online versus print? There’s a lot more freedom shooting for online publication. You don’t have the same kind of deadline pressure. If I need another hour to wait for the light to be perfect, I can do that. I also have more space online, so I shoot a lot of slideshows, whereas in print it’s often one photo, maybe two. It’s easier to tell complete stories with pictures online, because you can use more pictures.

As the Daily News and the Dispatch combine operations, will you be shooting for newsprint as well as the website? I’m excited about it, because it’s basically doubling the size of the newsroom. More reporters means more stories, means more photo ideas. I’ll be shooting for both. I’m looking forward to being part of a photo department, and having a photo editor, because I’ve been my own photo editor, and I think every photographer can benefit from another set of eyes on their photos. ■


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Museum on Main Street Forum coordinates Smithsonian Institution’s “Key Ingredients” Alaska tour “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” — Harriet Van Horne

A recipe from the Key Ingredients exhibit at the Pratt Museum.



n a crisp, blue-sky day in early April in Homer, 19 black crates arrived from Washington D.C. Bearing cargo stickers from all over the U.S., the travel cases contained a selection of Smithsonian Institution artifacts, photographs and illustrations about something that is so basic to human existence, so important in cultural development, and often so delicious — food! Staff from the Smithsonian Institution, the Alaska Humanities Forum, and the Pratt Museum in Homer unlatched the travel crates to assemble the exhibit, “Key Ingredients: America by Food” (Key Ingredients). Key Ingredients arrived in Alaska for an eight-month tour. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) pro-

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gram, and will be visiting four Alaska communities, Homer, Palmer, Talkeetna and Fairbanks. It will be featured in each location for two months. The role of the Alaska Humanities Forum is to host, coordinate and oversee Key Ingredients though its Alaskan tour from April to November this year. One-fourth of all Americans live in rural areas, and one-half of all U.S. museums are located in small towns.Museum on Main Street is an outreach program aimed at bringing Smithsonian-quality museum experiences to rural communities and helping to unite the nation by giving visibility to the cultural traditions and interests of rural America. Key Ingredients examines how culture, ethnicity, landscape and tradition have influenced the foods and flavors we enjoy across the nation. In collaboration with the Smithsonian, each participating institution will provide a complimentary exhibit that incorporates its own geographic location, history and traditions. Throughout each exhibit, local artists, historians, scholars and members of the community will share their stories and creative works. This is an exciting opportunity for communities to explore the connections between the Alaskan identity and the foods we produce, prepare, preserve, and present at the table, as well as a provocative and thoughtful look at the historical, regional and social traditions that merge in daily meals and celebrations. Key Ingredients examines the evolution of the American kitchen and how

food industries have responded to the technological innovations that have enabled Americans to choose an everwider variety of frozen, prepared and fresh foods. Each participating community in Alaska will showcase its particular food culture, and host outreach activities such as inviting locals to share oral histories of harvesting and preserving food, offering lectures by humanities scholars on the history of cold storage (e.g. Dena’ina Athabascan food cache pits and homemade ice boxes of the first homesteaders), and providing information on sustainable gardening, climate change, and educational information on nutrition. Alaska is characterized by cultural richness and diversity. Despite the active and dynamic artistic population, Alaska faces challenges when it comes to making exhibits and creative opportunities accessible. Key Ingredients will travel to communities along the road system. The four selected communities, Homer, Palmer, Talkeetna and Fairbanks, have a combined population of approximately 44,000 people. The Forum expects that working with entities in these communities will provide an opportunity for their residents along with those of surrounding communities to participate in Key Ingredients, thus increasing the potential creative and educational impact of the exhibit in Alaska. The communities and partnering institutions were selected through a competitive application process and the selected institutions were chosen for their focus in highlighting art, history, anthropology and science within the scope of their missions. These institutions include The Pratt Museum in Homer, The Palmer Museum of History and Art, Northern Susitna Institute in Talkeetna, and The University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. Through Key Ingredients, Alaska has an opportunity to break bread with the rest of the nation, and bring its unique cuisine to the table, and in this way contribute and honor traditional foods, from all Alaskans. The exhibit is currently on display

at the Pratt Museum in Homer. From there it will move to the Palmer Museum of History and Art. The Alaska tour of Key Ingredients was made possible by the sponsorship of Conoco Phillips, the Rasmuson Foundation, the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum. â–

A 1949 cookbook cover in the Smithsonian traveling exhibit Key Ingredients.

Christina Barber is the Key Ingredients Alaska tour manager for the Alaska Humanities Forum.

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Valuing Explora Alaska Humanities Forum 2014 general grants Panoramic view of the mouth of the Karluk River and Karluk Village, on the northwestern tip of Kodiak Island, ca. 1960. For more than 30 years, the Karluk One archeological site (located on the small peninsula in the background, below the church) has provided beautifully preserved artifacts to fuel the Kodiak Alutiiq heritage movement. A Forum grant will support publication of a book exploring the 600-year-old site and its contents to build a picture of prehistoric Alutiiq life. Alutiiq Museum archives, Clyda Christiansen collection, AM680.


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ho are we? What do we believe? What connects us across cultures, and what sets us apart? Where have we been, where are we going, what do we value, and why? The humanities seek answers to such questions by studying human traditions, ideals, history and actions. This year the Alaska Humanities Forum is proud to support 15 projects in the humanities throughout the state with general grants totaling $64,120. The projects are geographically and conceptually diverse, ranging from a documentary film about homelessness in Anchorage to permanent exhibits of poetry in Lake Aleknagik State

Recreational Area near Dillingham. They include a book of Alutiiq artifacts from a Kodiak archaeological site and a float trip down the Koyukuk River, so that Koyukon Athabascan elders can point out and teach the names of places to village youths in their first language. The projects have in common a free exchange of ideas. They share the same basic quest for wisdom. What follows are summaries of each of the projects supported by Alaska Humanities Forum 2014 general grants. They are listed alphabetically by project title, followed by the name of the project director or sponsoring organization, the location of the project, and the grant amount.

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Brief Stories in Time: Equinox in Rural Alaska will mentor young people from across Alaska in crafting a story from one day in their community: the Spring Equinox, March 20, 2015. The stories will come from all regions of Alaska. Students will draw inspiration from traditional Alaska Native storytelling practices while learning from experienced artists and journalists about how to gather and report information in print and broadcast media. Art shows in each participating community will feature stories from the area, and a First Friday art opening at the Alaska Humanities Forum will showcase selected submissions. The goals of this project are to inspire students in rural Alaska to illuminate the Alaska Native experience from across the state while developing skills in journalism and reporting, and to find out what could happen if young storytellers are empowered to communicate their visions of their communities, even if just for one day. The Coldest Winter Mark Wilcken • Anchorage • $3,000

The Coldest Winter is the working title for a feature-length documentary film about homelessness in Anchorage. This grant supports the initial research and development phase of the film, which aims to profile a handful of the city’s approximately 4,000 homeless residents as they attempt to survive a winter on the streets. The concept is to interview several homeless individuals in Anchorage in late summer/early fall, then chronicle the challenges they face in the following months of cold, ice and darkness. Running parallel to these profiles will be interviews with police officers, aid workers, shelter volunteers, and others on the front lines of this slow-motion tragedy. The Coldest Winter project director is Arkansas-based filmmaker Mark Wilcken, who won three regional Emmy awards in 2012 for Clean Lines, Open Spaces, a film about the construction boom in the United States post-World War II.


Crosscurrents Southeast: A Confluence of Writers and Readers 49 Writers • Craig, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan • $4,710

Building on the success of its 2013 Crosscurrents programs in Barrow and Kodiak, 49 Writers is expanding its beyond-the-roads literary workshop series to four communities in Southeast Alaska. The project brings together two of Alaska’s premiere authors, Ernestine Hayes (Blonde Indian) and Sherry Simpson (Dominion of Bears). The 2014 Crosscurrents tour will begin in Juneau, where Hayes and Simpson will team up for an onstage discussion to kick off the 2014 Evening at Egan Lecture Series at University of Alaska Southeast. Their talk, titled “Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn,” will address cultural appropriation in Alaska literature. Simpson and Hayes will continue their on-stage conversations in Craig, Sitka, and Ketchikan, and the following evening in each community they will co-teach a creative writing workshop on the craft of place-based writing, titled “The Story and the Music: Fresh Approaches to Familiar Places.”

Gwich’in Elders Traditional Stories Project University of Alaska Fairbanks • Arctic Village, Beaver, Venetie • $3,000

Underway since May 2013, the Gwich’in Elders Traditional Stories Project is an ongoing effort, initiated and led by Gwich’in Elders, to record and preserve traditional Gwich’in stories. The project also records interviews with Elders giving their reckoning of the spiritual underpinnings, cultural identifiers and moral lessons of stories that predate recorded history and express the animistic perspective that all things are a sacred gift from existence. Elders from Arctic Village, Beaver, and Venetie are currently participating, with others from the Yukon-Koyukuk region expected to join. The stories will be published in Gwich’in and English in a low-cost book to be distributed within Gwich’in communities in order to bolster a sense of cultural identity,

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particularly with Gwich’in youth. Digital recordings and transcripts of the stories and interviews will be catalogued and archived at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The tradition bearer for the project is Paul Williams, Sr. a traditional chief from Beaver who speaks Gwich’in as his first language. In one Elder participant’s words, “This knowledge is not intended only for our Gwich’in people, but it is for anyone who is willing to understand and learn from the Old Wisdom of the Elders.”

Courtesy Picador

Brief Stories in Time: Equinox in Rural Alaska University of Alaska Anchorage • Statewide • $8,000

Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones, will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference University of Alaska Anchorage Kenai Peninsula College • Homer • $1,000

The Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference draws hundreds of writers, agents, editors, publishers and literary enthusiasts to Homer in mid-June for five days of writing workshops, readings and panel presentations on both the art and business of writing. Conference organizers strive to create a collaborative environment to strengthen the foundation of Alaska’s statewide writing community. This year’s conference will feature 20 nationally recognized writers from Alaska and the Lower 48. They include keynote speaker Alice Sebold, author of three New York Times bestsellers. Sebold’s famous 2002 debut novel The Lovely


Fairbanks Arts Association

Kkaakk’et in Koyukon). Interviews will be conducted in Koyukon Athabsacan and English, and United States Geological Survey maps will be used to pinpoint locations. Additionally, Elders and youths from Hughes, Koyukuk (Meneelghaadze’ T’oh) and Huslia (Ts’aateyhdenaade kk’onh Denh) will take a float trip on the Koyukuk River to map place names and discuss their history. The final maps will be printed as posters for hanging in village post offices, stores and private homes. They will also be available online and stored in the Rasmuson Library Archives at University of Alaska Fairbanks. The life and work of Richard and Nora Dauenhauer will be featured in a “living history” film produced by University of Alaska Southeast. A Film on the Life and Work of Richard and Nora Dauenhauer University of Alaska Southeast • Juneau • $2,000 Richard and Nora Dauenhauer have shifted the narrative of the Tlingit language in recent decades from one of decay to revival. Writers and scholars, they made the revitalization of Tlingit possible. The Dauenhauers produced textbooks on Southeast Alaska Native leaders, artists, storytellers and orators, along with enough teaching materials – spelling books, phrase books, language learning curriculum and four volumes of Tlingit literature – to bring Tlingit back to a strong and safe place. They also published their own poetry, essays and plays. Richard is the former Alaska State Writer Laureate, and Nora is the current Writer Laureate. Combined they have won numerous awards in the arts and humanities. Now, with Richard and Nora moving into semi-retirement, University of Alaska Southeast language professor Xh’unei Lance Twitchell will direct this “talking history” film honoring their legacy. Twitchell and filmmaker Kelli Burkinshaw will film at least 20 hours of footage with Richard and Nora during the summer of 2014, including poetry readings, formal interviews, and candid moments, for a film that will cover biography, history, poetry, Tlingit music, Tlingit language, and the revival of Tlingit in the context of Alaska politics. The film will debut at the Alaska Native Film Series at the University of Alaska Southeast in fall 2015, and then be submitted to film festivals. Finally, it will be available to view online, free of charge.

Bones sold more than five million copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than 45 languages. Koyukuk River Traditional Place Names Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association • Hughes • $8,650

Koyukon Athabascan is one of the strongest indigenous languages in

Alaska, yet many Athabascan youths are not learning the language, and only elders know many traditional place names. The Koyukuk River Traditional Place Names project, which began in 2011, maps significant Koyukon Athabascan place names and documents their meanings for younger generations. This phase of the project will collect traditional place names from elders in the village of Hughes (Hut’odlee

A Land Gone Lonesome Archival Collection Dan O’Neill • Fairbanks • $500

Fairbanks author Dan O’Neill’s 2006 book A Land Gone Lonesome: An Inland Voyage Along the Yukon River chronicled his epic canoe journey down the Yukon River from Dawson City, Yukon. The book, excerpted on page 36 of this magazine, deals with historical themes as well as philosophical and political notions concerning humankind’s presence in the wilderness. “A hundred years ago, thousands of people bustled along this river,” O’Neill writes. “Today, it is a ghost river connecting ghost towns.” This grant supports the creation of a research collection at the University of Alaska Fairbanks comprised of materials gathered by O’Neill in the course of researching A Land Gone Lonesome. These include historical documents relating to Yukon River mail carriers, salmon fishing, and steamboats, tape recorded interviews, handwritten notes, correspondence, National Parks Service and Bureau of Land Management policy papers, photos, the original book manuscript, critical comments from draft reviewers, and published reviews of the finished book. Accompanied by a comprehensive finding aid written by O’Neill, the materials will be archived in acid-free file folders and boxes. The collection will be designed to dovetail with UAF’s well-used Project Jukebox series of oral history recordings on Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

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Last Frontier Theatre Conference Prince William Sound Community College • Valdez • $1,000

Every summer in Valdez, the Last Frontier Theatre Conference gathers more than 200 playwrights, actors, directors and theater goers from around the world to spend a week immersed in classes, readings of new plays, panel discussions and performances. This year the conference will feature readings of 50 to 60 new plays in the Play Lab, with the playwrights in attendance, along with seven evenings of live theater and workshops led by more than 20 theater professionals. Two plays from the 2013 Play Lab have already had productions based on their exposure at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference: The University of Alaska Anchorage produced Ashley Rose Wellman’s “Gravidity” in January 2014, and San Francisco’s Phoenix Theatre put on Joy Cutler’s “Pardon My Invasion” after the company’s artistic director attended its reading in Valdez last summer. Anchorage playwright Arlitia Jones’s “Rush at Everlasting,” which Perseverance Theatre produced this year in Anchorage and Juneau, was first presented as part of the 2011 Play Lab at the Valdez conference.

town visitors a better sense of what was lost, while fostering a sense of cultural heritage within the local population. Designed by the Portland, Oregon firm Alchemy of Design, the exhibit focuses on the town’s relocation and reconstruction, telling the story of the 1964 earthquake from a uniquely Valdez perspective. The exhibit includes a recreation of “The Pinzon,” a famed bar in the original downtown Valdez. Poems in Place Alaska Center for the Book • Independence Mine State Historical Park; Lake Aleknagik State Recreational Area • $4,000

Poems in Place is a collaborative literary arts endeavor to discover and place a poem upon a permanent exhibit in each of Alaska’s six regional State Park Areas. The concept was inspired by the placement of Kim Cornwall’s poem “What Whales and Infants Know” at Beluga Point in Chugach State Park in May 2011. Last year, following a statewide call for submissions that generated 120 entries, Alaska Center for the Book selected four winning poems: Frank Soos’ “The Blue Fish” and John Haines’ “Poem of the Forgotten” were installed on signs and dedicated in

A Moving Experience: A Look Back at the Good Friday Earthquake Valdez Museum & Historical Archive Association • Valdez • $3,500

The 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake and the tsunami that followed it destroyed most of the original town site of Valdez, now known as Old Valdez. The remaining structures were condemned after the quake and the residents given two-and-a-half years to relocate to a new town site four-and-a-half miles away. Today, the Old Town site reveals little remaining of the structures of pre-earthquake Valdez. Visitors have a difficult time visualizing Old Town and connecting it to present-day Valdez. With this new permanent exhibit, the Valdez Museum strengthens the association between the old and new towns of Valdez through visual imagery and personal narratives, giving out-of-


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Poem of the Forgotten I came to this place, a young man green and lonely. Well quit of the world, I framed a house of moss and timber, called it a home, and sat in the warm evenings singing to myself as a man sings when he knows there is no one to hear. I made my bed under the shadow of leaves, and awoke in the first snow of autumn, filled with silence.

— John Haines

public ceremonies in Chena River State Recreational Area, and Emily Wall’s “This Forest, This Beach, You,” and Ernestine Hayes’ “The Spoken Forest” were placed at Totem Bight State Historical Park. This year, in phase two of the project, Alaska Center for the Book will select and place original poems by Alaskans on permanent signs at Independence Mine State Historical Park and Lake Aleknagik State Recreational Area. Coinciding with the installations will be free creative writing workshops held in communities near the parks. Publishing Kal’unek Alutiiq Heritage Foundaton • Kodiak • $4,000

The Alutiiq are one of Alaska’s least known Native peoples. The rapid conquest of their homeland by Russian fur traders led to an early and profoundly disruptive period of cultural change. The loss of political sovereignty and economic self-sufficiency, combined with catastrophic fatalities, suppressed the transmission of cultural knowledge. Many traditions were lost. For more than 30 years, the Karluk One Archeological site, located near the village of Karluk, on the northwestern tip of Kodiak Island, has provided beautifully preserved artifacts to fuel the Kodiak Alutiiq heritage movement. No other archaeological collection has figured so centrally in returning Alutiiq history to community awareness, or promoting an accurate view of the richness of Kodiak’s Native past. The Publishing Kal’unek project will produce Kal’unek–From Karluk, a 350-page book, to be published by the University of Alaska Press, which will explore the 600-year-old site and its contents to build a picture of prehistoric Alutiiq life. Richly illustrated with more than 400 photographs, the book will also track the impacts of the site’s study with essays by community members and a glossary of 170 Alutiiq artifact terms. Sitka Symposium 2014 The Island Institute • Sitka • $7,000

Held each summer from 1984 to 2009, the Sitka Symposium earned


a five-year hiatus, The Island Institute is reviving the Sitka Symposium on the 30th anniversary of its founding. The 2014 Sitka Symposium, scheduled for July 20-26, will explore individual and community resilience. Its theme is “Radical Imagining: Changing the Story with Stories of Change.” Guest faculty for the 2014 symposium include writer, economist and activist Winona LaDuke (Last Standing Woman); composer and Littleglobe co-founder Molly Sturges; poet, novelist and essayist Luis Urrea (The Devil’s Highway); and nonfiction author and journalist Alan Weisman (The World Without Us). The Winter Bear Project Documentary Film North Star Community Foundation • Statewide • $7,760

“Griz, Mile 56.” 2009. BEN HUFF The Last Road North Ben Huff • Dalton Highway • $5,000 In the summer of 2012, Ben Huff completed a long-term photography project along the Dalton Highway, a.k.a. the Haul Road. The road begins just north of Fairbanks and ends at Deadhorse, near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. The project, “The Last Road North,” was featured in the Spring/Summer 2013 edition of Forum. Huff describes the work as “a rambling love letter of sorts to the road that cuts through our last great wilderness,” and an exploration of “the people and landscape of this corridor which serves as the physical and psychological line between that wilderness and oil.” The Alaska Humanities Forum is underwriting the publication of a hardcover book of the best of Huff’s Dalton Highway photos. The Last Road North will be published and distributed internationally by Heidlberg, Germany-based Keher Verlag, a renowned publisher of arts and photography books. The Last Road North will contain 55 color and black-and-white photos, with an essay by Karen Irvine, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago, and a foreword by National Book Award winner Barry Lopez (Arctic Dreams).

statewide and national acclaim by crafting a space for interdisciplinary discourse about vital questions over the course of a quarter-century. Robert Hass, a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate and twice a faculty member, said of the Sitka Symposium: “It is that ideal thing: homegrown, communitybased, sustained for years now by mostly voluntary and always inspired work, national in reputation, global

in its concerns.” Though centered on literature, the weeklong symposiums created purposeful intersections with philosophy, history, cultural anthropology, ethics and folklore. Participants included teachers, social workers, doctors, artists, clergy, city planners, students, politicians and retired professionals—a deliberate variety to approach each year’s theme from diverse perspectives. Following

In 2008, Anne Hanley, former Alaska Writer Laureate, was commissioned to write a play about the life of Athabascan elder Sidney Huntington. Among the stories he shared with her were those of his three sons who committed suicide. The resulting play, “The Winter Bear,” tells the story of an Alaska Native teenager, Duane David, who’s contemplating suicide when he’s sentenced to cut wood for Sidney Huntington as punishment for vandalism. Their interaction is crucial to Duane’s journey from shame to self-confidence, and delivers a message of hope to Alaska Native youths, the play’s target audience. “The Winter Bear” debuted at the Alaska Federation of Natives Elders and Youth Conference in 2010. Since then it has evolved into a statewide phenomenon as the Winter Bear Project, a touring combination of the full-length play, town hall discussions, support from behavioral health organizations, and schoolbased performing arts workshops. The Winter Bear Project Documentary Film will include scenes from the play, behind-the-scenes footage of the tour, interviews with playgoers affected by suicide, and post-play town hall conversations in communities across the state. The film is scheduled to begin screening next summer. ■

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Dan O’Neill

Between Earth and Heaven Excerpts from A Land Gone Lonesome | By Dan O’Neill

Editor’s Note : The Alaska Humanities Forum has supported the work

of Fairbanks author and noted historian Dan O’Neill since the 1980s, when it funded the bulk of his research for his 1994 book The Firecracker Boys, about the 1958 plan by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to create a harbor near Point Hope by detonating six nuclear bombs. The Forum later supported the archiving of O’Neill’s research materials for The Firecracker Boys and subsequent works in the Daniel T. O’Neill Collection in the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Elmer E. Ramuson Library. This year the Forum awarded O’Neill a grant to archive materials he assembled in the course of writing his 2006 book A Land Gone Lonesome: An Inland Voyage Along the Yukon River (see page 33). The American Library Associated selected A Land Gone Lonesome as the best book on Alaska published that year, and the New York Times Book Review named it an Editor’s Choice. The excerpts here are published with the permission of O’Neill and his publisher.


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here does it all begin? There isn’t much agreement. And it isn’t a simple question. At its headwaters, the Yukon’s tributaries finger out dendritically, tapping lakes scattered over the high country of northern British Columbia in back of Southeast Alaska’s Coast Mountains. How to decide which stream should be designated the main trunk and which the feeders? Should it be the branch that would yield the greatest total length for the river, regardless of flow volume? Or the one that drains the greatest area? Or maybe the one that best aligns itself with the Yukon’s general geographic trend? Or the stream that begins farthest to the


south? Or the one that drops from the highest elevation? The hydrologist, the geographer, the mapmaker, each may have his preference. If it were up to me, I think I’d work my way upstream from what is incontestably the main stem and turn up every fork that spills the most water annually. I reckon that takes me up a little unnamed creek that terminates at the face of the Llewellyn Glacier, on the east side of the Coast Mountains. And then into it. The glacier, I would conclude, is water after all. A stream of sorts. Its water is colder than the rest of the river’s, but not much colder. If frozen, the glacier is still flowing, slowly, downhill and so behaves in this respect like a river. Glacial ice is something like its pellucid cousin, glass. Glass does not have a crystalline structure, as nearly all solids do. Of the two, glass and ice, glass is more like a liquid. Water molecules do form a crystalline structure when they freeze, but molecules deep in a glacier nonetheless warp and creep past one another in response to pressure from the weight above. Glaciers don’t just lurch down the mountainside like a skidding block. The ice flows over itself, like a superviscous liquid. In a sense, glaciers are the stained-glass windows of mountain cathedrals: not quite liquid, not quite solid; not quite wall, not quite sky. I like the idea that the Yukon descends from this borderland between earth and heaven, between science and myth. * * *

Dick Cook

When I come out of the big bend below the Seventymile River, I come upon one of the grandest vistas in a place prodigal with vistas. It is the view to the east looking up the valley of the Tatonduk River. If I were the expedition artist on some nineteenth-century exploration, I’d stop here and set up my easel. The way the near hills part to reveal the distant Ogilvies creates a space that would pull you into the canvas, the way the actual scene beckons you into this valley, a back room in the house of wilderness.

I cut the motor to add silence to the scene and drift languidly by the mouth of the Tatonduk. Funny how the gentle sun sinks me into a kind of torpor, until it seems I cannot move, can barely daydream. It should be ice, not paper, I’m thinking, that covers the rock that breaks the scissors. In the mountains far upstream from where I am, millions of tons of moving glacier ice reduce bedrock to specks of grit as fine as flour. The gray, powdery stuff roils the glacial outwash, clouding to a pearly translucence every creek and river downstream all the way to the sea. The suspended silt hisses now against my canoe, the aluminum hull magnifying the sound tympanically, like brush strokes on a snare drum, a quiet drum roll. Enter Dick Cook, McPhee’s most notable river character. I am seeing a July day ten years ago when my wife and then six-year-old son and I sat right over there on that stony beach eating lunch. We hadn’t realized we were quite so close to Cook’s place when we saw a canoe pull out from shore just a quarter mile below and glide across the wide, sparkling river. There were two people aboard, and we watched them check a salmon net on the opposite bank, gathering lunch, perhaps. In a few minutes they began to motor back, but the outboard quit. With half a mile or more of silence between us, we could clearly hear their voices over the water, as the river swept them away and the man pulled repeatedly on the starter cord. Finally, the motor fired, and they swung around and pointed into the current. But a minute later, the air was silent again. As they drifted downstream, the man pulled and fiddled, pulled until the motor caught and ran long enough for them to make it back to camp. After a bit, we packed up and drifted down to where Cook’s canoe was tied. I gave my son a bag of grapefruit to carry up the trail. If we were to disturb this famously crusty denizen of the wilds at mealtime, I figured to do so a couple of paces behind a cute kid bearing gifts. But Cook was already at the head of the trail before we started up. In seconds his flashing eyes had taken in the three of us, scanned the canoe,

registered that I was running an older fifteen-horsepower Evinrude on a nineteen-foot, square-stern Grumman with a lift, sized us up by our gear, calculated its volume and weight, and followed the bag of grapefruit until it was in his hands. He received it with thanks and invited us up to his camp, where he introduced us to his friend, a woman named Pat from Texas.

Dick Cook on the Yukon.

Dan O’Neill

Cook was as McPhee had found him in the 1970s: thin and balding with longish, gray-streaked black hair and beard, alert as a mink. Cook was as McPhee had found him in the 1970s: thin and balding with longish, gray-streaked black hair and beard, alert as a mink. He wore a T-shirt emblazoned with some irrelevance and old pants with a busted zipper. But he was shod in new sandals. He looked like a marooned pirate in Birkenstocks: a castaway scavenger

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Giving is easy


of random goods swept overboard from freighters somewhere out in the distant lanes of commerce. It was the time of gardens, and once up the bank we inspected Cook’s wellmanaged plot, discussed fish guts as fertilizer, cauliflower that would not head, and subsistence living generally. I mentioned seeing some fish heads on the beach where we had stopped for lunch and asked if he fished with rod and reel. No, it was the work of some floaters. For him to fish with a rod would make about as much sense, he said, as for him to take his rifle and shoot into the woods, then to take off walking after the bullet to see if it hit anything. I laughed, but remarked that old-timers in this country sometimes fed their dog teams by jigging for pike. I’d read accounts of holes so productive that a person with a spoon and a length of twine could stack up fifteenpounders like cord wood. Cook wasn’t buying it. He delivered a short lecture on the need in a subsistence economy for maximum return on invested effort. It put me in mind of a bit of McPhee’s scathing tact. He described Cook’s voice as soft and gentle, except “when he is being pedagogical. . . . He is not infrequently pedagogical.” But neither is he ungenerous with the fruits of his wisdom. As we moved to leave, Cook plucked from the garden a perfect, deep green cucumber and handed it to my boy. That was then. Now his fish camp could hardly feel lonelier. Dick Cook was one of the very few bush people left in all of Northern Alaska who still lived year-round out beyond a village. It seemed like he was here forever, part of the place, a central figure in anybody’s book. And now he’s gone.

Just a few weeks before I pull up to his fish camp, Cook drowned somewhat mysteriously in the Tatonduk, the river he navigated for thirty-six years. * * *

Ivy City

Somewhere along the left bank below Nation Reef and above Schley Creek was the town of Ivy City, now vanished. Even thirty years ago, Melody Webb and Dave Evans couldn’t find it. Just about every available force of destruction contributed to its disappearance. First, its rival, Nation City, was more conveniently situated to serve the Fourth of July Creek mines, so Ivy City declined. Rain and rot and the regrowth of vegetation worked away at the remains until a man named Alvin Arp assisted the reclamation. He built a cabin nearby and cut up the old buildings of Ivy City to burn for firewood. Then in 1969, a forest fire erased the whole shebang. Now, with the trees grown up again, it would take a metal detector to prove the town was ever here—to find the spikes and hasps and tin cans hidden between the trees, beneath the forest duff. I drift by in silence, pondering a country where towns are as ephemeral as footprints in the snow. I can see no sign of the old settlement, but I sense an absence hereabouts. It’s a condition of emptiness that I feel in my gut, as if the town had vaporized in an instant, and the vacuum tugs at my viscera. It’s like when matter converts to energy in a nuclear explosion, only this was cultural matter, and it converted to a psychic energy, the best name for which is loneliness. ■

Excerpted from A Land Gone Lonesome: An Inland Voyage Along the Yukon River by Dan O’Neill. Available from Basic Books, a member of The Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2006. Dan O’Neill is the author of The Firecracker Boys: H-bombs, Inupiat Eskimos, and the Root of the Environmental Movement (1994), The Last Giant of Beringia: The Mystery of the Bering Land Bridge, and A Land Gone Lonesome: An Inland Voyage Along the Yukon River (2006). He lives in a log cabin in Fairbanks.


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Diamonds from Wilderness America’s pastime in the Last Frontier By Katherine Ringsmuth


A L A S K A H U M A N I T I E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014

Frederick Machetanz

‘Baseball, because of its continuity over the space of America and the time of America, is a place where memory gathers.’ – Donald Hall, poet

The 4th of July Game was played at the Ship Creek field in 1915. Alaska artist Sydney Lawrence photographed the baseball team on the playing field, which was located at the foot of Government Hill. Note the tents and spectators in the background. Anchorage Museum at Rasumson Center, Anchorage, Alaska. AMR-b82-46-14.

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Due to the completion of the Copper River and Northwestern Railway, Chitina had developed into a thriving community by 1914, which also included a full baseball team. Courtesy of Geoff Bleakley, Makawao, Hawaii.


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the time of year when umpires across the nation commence a new season with two, long-awaited words: “Play Ball!” Just decades after the Knickerbockers faced the New York Nines in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846 to play the first organized baseball game in history, Americans went to great lengths to bring baseball to the Far North. From the late 19th century onward, Alaskan baseball fans from Nome to Valdez, Unalaska to Ketchikan have embraced the game. But unlike fans in the Lower 48, Alaskans engaged the sport in different ways. Freshly cut evergreen fields and youthful “boys of summer” rarely sparked reminiscences of baseball in the Far North. Instead, Alaskans play a more rugged brand of baseball. They carved diamonds from wilderness. They play ball at midnight and transform fields from ice and snow. In 1893, for example, icebound whalers at Hershel Islands spread ashes on the sea ice to form a baseball diamond on which they played the game at 40 below—literally, to pass the time. The so-called Hershel Island League competed throughout the winter, culminating with the “Arctic Whalemen’s Pennant.” During the Gold Rush era, Nome miners scraped away soggy vegetation from the surface of the undulating tundra, placed hundreds of burlap bags atop the permafrost, and then piled dirt atop the bags in order to craft a playable ball field that overlooked Dry Creek. Historian Terrence Cole described the Nome field as “one of the most unique parks in the world.”

Frederick Machetanz

finally, it is summer,

Since the first pitch in 1906, teams have assembled at the Fairbanks ball park to compete in the famous Midnight Sun Game. Fairbanks’ long, midsummer days allowed for the game to be played under the natural light of the midnight sun. Witnessing the unusual, lateevening start time was considered an Alaska rite of passage, as journalist H.C. Jackson explained in a 1913 article for Sunset Magazine: Here in this camp we hold that besides seeing a freeze-up and watching the ice go out in the spring, a chechaco [sic] must sit through a midnight ball-game before he can class as a sourdough.

In southeast Alaska, baseball’s themes of rebirth and renewal were not just underscored seasonally but twice a day, as Ketchikan teams competed on a diamond built on the tideflats where Ketchikan Creek flows into the Tongass Narrows. Though fans were accustomed to the game’s unhurried rhythms and timeless pace, the mighty Pacific Ocean was not. Matches that went too long were often called on account of the rising tide rather than nine innings, and each time the baseball field was made new.

In Anchorage artist Sydney Lawrence photographed a baseball game on July 4, 1915, the year the railroad town was founded. At least one hundred spectators lined an area from first base to third. Behind the perfect diamond and the spacious outfield stood tent city, and behind that, the seemly impenetrable Alaska wilderness. As transportation improved and the formation of baseball associations became commonplace, rivalries emerged among communities, such as Valdez and Seward. The extraction of Alaska’s natural resources by outside corporate interests also infused the northern landscape with baseball. Copper miners played baseball from Copper Center to Chitina, and even built a diamond on the Kennicott glacier. Salmon canners found time to field teams and missionaries brought baseball even further into rural Alaska, introducing the game to Native youngsters. When thousands of military personnel came to Alaska in the 1940s, not surprisingly, they too played baseball. Military bases supported teams while soldiers passed time in the remote reaches of the Aleutian Islands playing baseball. The postwar years brought one of the game’s great heroes to Alaska: Satchel Paige. Pitching his way to stardom in the segregated national

The 4th of July Game at the Ship Creek field, 1915, photographed by Sydney Lawrence. The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, Alaska. AMRC-b79-1-83.

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Negro League, Paige became the oldest rookie in the Major League after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Paige played in a four game exhibition series at Mulcahy Stadium in 1965, one year after the great Alaska earthquake, and rumor had it that the legendary pitcher might manage a team named for the natural disaster. Paige’s promise to start building the new Anchorage Earthquakers “the minute he left Alaska” never panned out, but his presence in Alaska attracted new fans of the game. With the founding of the Goldpanners by Henry Aristide “Red” Boucher in 1960, followed by the organization of the Bucs, the Miners, the Oilers the Glacier Pilots, and, most recently, the Chinooks, Alaska had established one of the original collegiate summer leagues, which has proven to be a spawning ground for major league ballplayers. According to Lew Freedman, author of Diamonds in the Rough: Baseball Stories from Alaska, some of the best major leaguers played under the midnight sun: Tom Seaver, Dave Winfield, Randy Johnson, Curt Shilling, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds (asterisks and all). Collectively, these stories tell us that Americans might have brought the national pastime to Alaska, but we Alaskans have made it our game. Although we tend to worry more about


A L A S K A H U M A N I T I E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014

sockeye salmon returning safely home than base runners, perhaps the game is beloved by Alaskans because baseball, like the Last Frontier itself, is about heroes, renewal and second chances. “Baseball,” writes sports historian John Thorn, “served as a beacon, revealing a path through the wilderness.” Indeed, the game was brought, played and passed on to the next generation by dissimilar people filled with similar hopes and dreams, who in the end, see salmon and ballplayers with the same goal: They both want to complete a cycle, get home safe, and score. The Anchorage Museum is planning a summer 2015 exhibit commemorating baseball in Alaska. The exhibit will focus on the game’s history, from a baseball-like sport played by Alaska Natives to the formation of the Alaska Baseball League. And although Alaskans have embraced the game differently than the rest of the nation, the exhibit will convey one universal truth—baseball is about being a kid. Thus, the exhibit will also look back at Alaska little leaguers, kids who recall starting their baseball season scraping spring snows off the fields, the kids at heart, who celebrate Fur Rondy with a game of snowshoe softball, and the kid in us all, who enjoys a good pickup game on the park strip as the summer sun blazes above. ■

“Baseball in Alaska.” The A.G. Spalding Baseball Collection. N.d. The Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Katherine Ringsmuth is the Curator of History for the Alaska Gallery at the Anchorage Museum. She invites anyone wishing to contribute to the summer 2015 Alaska baseball exhibit by donating photos, memorabilia, old uniforms and equipment, or by sharing a good story, to contact her at


Anchorage Centennial Sponsors The Anchorage Centennial Committee and the Alaska Humanities Forum thank the following sponsors for their support of the Anchorage Centennial Celebration:

Municipality of Anchorage

Anchorage Centennial Legacy Media Projects set to tell the story of Anchorage


he Great Anchorage Lot Sale of July 1915, also known as the 1915 Land Auction, marked the beginning of Anchorage’s transition from a fleeting “Tent City” to a permanent metropolis. Over a two-day period, 665 land plots were auctioned off for a total of about $148,000, establishing the development grid for the downtown Anchorage of today. As part of the official Anchorage Centennial Celebration commemorating the approaching 100th anniversary of the founding of Anchorage, the Alaska Humanities Forum in conjunction with the Anchorage Centennial Committee is managing the development of three major legacy media projects. The first is a feature-length documentary film, titled Anchorage Is… The film is being produced by Alaska Video Postcards and written by multiple Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist John Larson, who began his stellar career at KTUU-TV in Anchorage, where he worked as a reporter and assignment editor. Anchorage Is… will be rich with historical images and archival film. But it will also tell the story of Anchorage through the fresh voices of current residents, weaving their stories into the tapestry of the past. The film will premiere September 13 at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. The following month will bring the book release of Anchorage Stories: A Centennial History, by lifelong Alaskan and prize-winning author Charles Wohlforth. Anchorage Stories: A Centennial History will explore the

eventful history of Anchorage through the eyes of people who lived it and shaped the town, in ways large and small. Beginning with the indigenous Dena’ina and their successful trade and warfare over the area, from the perspective of elder Shem Pete, the book will cover the high-stakes political battle that determined the city’s location, its growth through World War II and the Cold War, and its eventual status as the dominant center of commerce and services for all of Alaska. Along the way, vivid stories of individual challenges and conflicts will show how Anchorage gained its half-urban identity and its energetic personality. The third Anchorage centennial legacy media project is a responsive website, Anchorage 100, that will be optimized for mobile use on smart phones and tablets. The website is being developed by The Alaska Channel and will go live this summer. Features will include a complete guide to centennial events, interactive walking tours of historical locations and points of interest, now-and-then photo arrays, and a virtual museum of centennial-related exhibits. Anchorage 100 will also host a family photo album and oral history section showcasing historic family photos accompanied by first-person memoir narratives. Present or past Anchorage residents who are interested in sharing their photos and stories are invited to contact project manager David Holthouse at, or by phone at 907-272-5341. ■

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Augmenting History A

nchorage Stories is an Augmented Reality art project involving digital storytelling and historical reconstruction for the Anchorage Centennial. Augmented Reality (AR) is the overlaying of digital information on the real world, and has been around for several decades. Since 2009 AR browsers have been widely available as applications on mobile and smart devices. Anchorage Stories will be using two browsers: Layar and the ANCHORAGE Junaio. Both are free to download. CENTENNIAL This project will be presented in Forum magazine in four parts, each written by a different local storyteller and set in a different era. This story, “Paid in Kind,” is the first of four. It’s by Alaska novelist Kris Farmen, author of The Devil’s Share, among other works. The story is set in 1915 Anchorage in Tent City, which emerged around the mouth of Ship Creek. At the moment of our tale, the town’s red light district, called “the line,” is being forced to relocate to nearby federal lands in the Chugach National Forest. The rest of the stories will take place in nearby locations and will chronicle a Dena’ina summer fish camp in the early 1900s, a single mother working retail during the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964, and a Nigerian immigrant in contemporary Anchorage meeting the people of his new home. The augmented reality will function in two ways for this project. The first, which is presented here, is target based augmented reality. That is, the printed iteration of the stories and their texts have been turned into images that can connect with digital content displayed on your smart device, as it scans the targeted pages. The second AR format will be geolocated walking tours of the stories, where people can listen to the stories told by the authors themselves as they walk in the actual locations mentioned in the tales. Both forms of the augmented stories are ways of illustrating the historical fiction using AR. To access the AR for Kris Farmen’s story here, “Paid in Kind,” you will have to download the free Layar Application. Once loaded, you can scan any of the pages of the story, by tapping the scan screen, and AR content will appear on your device above the printed text. Most of the content will be links to audio or video files that bring historically relevant media or notes up on your screen. As with all of the stories to be printed, we are illustrating the printed versions with historically accurate media. For this story, we have recreated actual advertisements from Cook Inlet Pioneer newspaper from 1915-1916. We have done our best to accurately represent the advertisements as they originally appeared. A small handful of fictional advertisements, connected to the story, are included. With each of the four stories, we are working with historians and tradition bearers to ensure that our stories, while fictional, represent the history of Anchorage respectfully and accurately. Anchorage historian Steven Levi collaborated with us on “Paid in Kind.” Some of the augments in the story will be historical point-of-interest (POIs), written by Levi, and will appear above the text in specially designed text boxes. — Nathan Shafer, project director, Anchorage Stories


A L A S K A H U M A N I T I E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014

Instructions for accessing the augmented reality features of ‘Paid in Kind’ Download the free ‘Layar’

application. Layar is a mobile Augmented Reality (AR) browser. Once Layar is downloaded, be sure you are connected to the Internet, have your GPS enabled, and that your device’s built-in camera is working properly. iPads that are not GPS enabled will not work properly for AR. The default start screen in Layar is the ‘Scan Screen’. Use this screen to access the AR content in Paid in Kind. Tap the screen to scan for content. Every page of the Paid in Kind layout

in this issue of Forum magazine can be scanned for AR content. Simply hold your device above one of the pages, and tap the screen. Your device will read the magazine page and load the AR content. This may take a few seconds. When a little image in the upper right

corner of your screen appears with a title bar reading “Anchorage Stories,” the AR layer is loaded and you can begin exploring the content on the other pages in the story as well. Be sure to get as much of the page on your device as possible and hold it still when scanning. The device needs to keep scanning the page to continue producing the AR content. Once the Anchorage Stories layer is loaded, some of the content can be snapped to the grid, which means the augments will stay loaded on your device, and stay accessible, even after your device stops scanning the target page. Some of the augments link to media on

different websites. If you accidentally get disconnected from the Layar browser, or spend some time on another website we have linked to, and wish to return to the Anchorage Stories layer, simply re-launch the application. Your browsing information will be saved in the browser’s history.

Today’s Paid Circulation 1,000 Copies. This Is Getting Action. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ SPECIAL AR EDITION

Cook Inlet Pioneer


____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ N0. 1 THE COOK INLET PIONEER, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA SPECIAL AUGMENTED REALITY EDITION, 1915 VOL. 1 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PAID IN KIND PAID IN KIND BY KRIS FARMEN It’s been said that a friend in need is a friend to avoid, and Byron Lamoreaux was in full agreement with that sentiment after he bumped into Angry Joe Ledbetter at the Montana Pool Hall. The Montana was really just a big tent, like most every other business in the new railroad camp along Ship Creek in the summer of 1915. Indeed, the whole place was an anthill, with men, horses and dogs everywhere, and each high tide brought a flotilla of lighters disgorging more of the same. Angry Joe was among the By Kris more cheerful facesFarmen in town, for he owned a team six fine down hereoffor theirMorgan yard. horses Or at and a freight wagon that were in high demand at thewhat moment. least, that’s they tell us.� “Unclesaid Sam’s making everyone offwere the flats and onto that new It’s been that a friend in move They playing nine-ball, and townsite up on the bluff, � he said as he sighted down his cue for his next need is a friend to avoid, and By- the continuous summer daylight shot. “I got ten jobs lined up already. ron Lamoreaux was in full agree- � thewere canvas to illu“Why the move?� Byron asked. sifted Both through he and Joe veterans of ment with that sentiment after he minate their table. The twentyseveral gold camps in the Interior and he’d never heard of the Feds decreebumped into must Angry Joe Ledbet- four hour staccato of hammers ing that a town relocate. ter at “The the Montana The down and here saws for competed withOr theatguitar railroad Pool needsHall. the space their yard. least, Montana that’s what was theyreally tell us.just � a big tent, player across the room as Byron Theyevery were playing nine-ball, the continuous summer daylight like most other business in andrubbed the cube of blue chalk over sifted through the canvas to illuminate their twenty-four hour the new railroad camp along Ship the tiptable. of his The stick. He was trying staccato of the hammers andofsaws with the guitar player across the Creek in summer 1915.competed In- to think of a friendly way to tell Joe room as Byron rubbed the cube of blue chalk over the tip of his stick. He deed, the whole place was an ant- that he’d gone the commercial was trying to think of a friendly way to tell Joe that he’dinto gone into the comhill, with horses dogs meathave hunting trade he wouldn’t mercial meatmen, hunting tradeand so he wouldn’t to work as so a teamster any everywhere, each seen highvery tidemuch have to in work a teamster any more, but then and he hadn’t game the as vicinity of this new brought a flotilla of lighters dis- lucrative town so hunting didn’t seem a very short term he more, but then he prospect. hadn’t seenAll very gorging more of thewas, same. Angry could come up with “That’s a lot ofmuch housegame moving. in �the vicinity of this Joe made shot at the five and missed. “Shit fire,� didn’t he said, thena Joe was amonghisthe more cheernew town so hunting seem looked overinattown, Byron.for“You feel likea making some money? I could sure as ful faces he owned very lucrative short term prospect. hell useofa six hand. � Morgan horses and team fine All he could come up with was, a freight wagon that were in high “That’s a lot of house moving.� They moved three businesses that first day, a watchmaker’s shop, a demand the amoment. made hisstanding shot at the fiveopen and cigar store,atand laundry tent. Joe drove Joe the animals in the “Uncle Sam’s missed. didn’t “Shit leave fire,�him he said, then doorframe of eachmaking building.everyone This arrangement any backmovefor off the new primary swing his flats whip,and so onto one that of Byron’s tasksatwas to trot “You alongside looked over Byron. feel townsite up wield on thethe bluff,� he said as like the team and blacksnake, it was called.some After a twelve hour making money? I could day drove down up to Joe’s camp, climbed wearily the seat and as they he sighted his cue for his sure as helldown use afrom hand.� turned the horses loose in the makeshift corral he’ d built of green spruce next shot. “I got ten jobs lined up poles nailed to standing trees. Joe trudged down the street to buy a plate of already.� roast pork from a chophouse and some rolls from a bakery for sandwiches. “Why the move?� Byron asked. Byron pitched out hay and poured a few oats, the latter worth roughly their Both he and veterans own weight in Joe goldwere this far north. of several gold camps in the Interior moved The entire camp seemed to haveThey been built atop three a bed businesses of muck, a and he’d never heard of the that firstThe day, a watchmaker’s mixed sludge of silt, tidal murkFeds and horseshit. Morgans sunk up to decreeing a every town must relo- had their fetlocksthat with step, which Byron worried rot. shop, a cigar store,about and ahoof laundry He moved among the animals as they tent. mouthed the oats theirstandcancate. Joe drove thefrom animals vas “The buckets, tappingneeds their legs cleaning out theopen hoofs, examining each railroad the and space ing in the doorframe of each




building. This arrangement didn’t leave him any backswing for his whip, so one of Byron’s primary tasks was to trot alongside the team and wield forthe the blacksnake, as it was called. After a twelve hour day Anchorage they drove upCentennial to Joe’s camp, climbed wearily down Celebration from the seat and turned the horses loose in the makeshift corral he’d built of Alaska Humanities RasmusontoFoundation green spruce Forum poles| nailed standing trees. Joe trudged down the street to buy a plate of roast pork from a chophouse and some rolls from a bakery for sandwiches. ByAll pages this text interactive, ron pitched outin hay andare poured a if you scan them with the free mobile app Lafew oats, the latter worth roughly yar and either search for ‘Anchorage Stories’, or scan the own pages of this Every willfar then their weight goldpage this spring to life with Points-of-Interest (POIs) which north. are layered over the story and it’s illustrations. The entire camp seemed to have _____________________________________________________ been built atop a reeking bed of muck, a mixed sludge of silt, tidal murk and horseshit. The Morgans ‘PAID in KIND’ is a short story written by Kris Farsunk up project, to their fetlocks evmen for this which is called with ANCHORAGE 6725,(6,WLVWKHĂ€UVWRIIRXUVWRULHVZKLFKFKURQLFOH ery step, which had Byron worried four different time periods in Anchorage’s history for about hoofCelebration rot. He moved the Centennial in 2015. Eachamong story will be written by a different author, mouthed and will illustrate the animals as they thea different point-of-view of how Anchorage has been oats from their canvas buckets, lived and experienced. Much care has been taken intapping making sure that every represents their legsauthor and dutifully cleaning out the andexamining time periods they writing for. thepeople hoofs, eacharefrog and The illustrations in this text are recreations of coffinadvertisements bone for found signsin of actual the infection. Cook Inlet Pioneer and the Dailywhen Times there between He was justAnchorage finishing 1915 and 1916. The augments placed above came a woman’s voice from the far the text are digital reconstructions of actual placesside and of available media from the year 1915, this the corral. LQFOXGHV :& )LHOGV¡ Ă€UVW PRYLH 322/ 6+$5.6 “Hello, Bye.â€?






BANK OF ANCHORAGE Will be opneed for business on or before May 15th, in temporary quarters in the Empress Building, nest door to the Wells-Fargo Express Company.

SHIP CREEK MEAT CO. Andersen & Jensen, Proprs. ______________

Dealers in

Fresh Meats of All Description Smoked Meats, Lard and Substitute, Butter, Eggs Sausage, Oysters and Fish. Because of excellently equipped Cold Storage Plant we are able to offer the public the Best Meat at the Lowest Proces. We Solicit and Deliver. Special Attention Given to Out-of-Town Orders Wholesale and Retailers. __________

ANDERSON & JENSEN Fourth ave, between D and E sts

Anchorage, Alaska

SKOOKUM JOHNSON Tableboard Lodging ENOUGH SAID Fifth Street,

Bet. C and D

Pioneer Sheet Metal Works

Yukon Stoves - Heaters

Corner Fifth and C



MONTANA POOL ROOM A Place to Meet Your Friends! 3 Leading Brands of Cigars, Cigarettes, Tobacco and Soft Drinks. Fruit and Vegetable Stand. Have your mail delivered to Montana Pool Room. You can get it anytime. _______________________________________

Tony Chlmento and Roy Williamson, Props.

PAID IN KIND (cont.)

This was an old joke and he rec- these days, are you?” ognized the voice instantly. He Her eyes sparkled with mirth. looked up from under the animal’s “No, notwas in this camethere to frog and coffin bone for signs of infection. He justlifetime. finishing Iwhen neck,a breaking into afrom grin.the“Well if you and Joe could move our came woman’s voice far sidesee of the corral. I’ll be “Hello, God-damned. Bye.” How are you, house to the new Line.” voicewas instantly. He looked Kate?”This was an old joke and he recognized The the “Line” the common up Panama from under thewas animal’s neck, breaking grin. “Welldesignated I’ll be GodKate a prostitute slang into for aaboomtown’s damned. Howoffareand you,onKate?” he’d known since he’d red light district. Byron felt his Panama Kate was a prostitute he’d known off and on since he’d been been hunting out of Flat City in pulse quicken at the thought that hunting out of Flat City in the Iditarod gold fields. He was a regular customgold fields.become He was Kateofwas, they say, red all over. erthe andIditarod Kate had quickly a favorite his,as particularly as she moved a regular customer and Kate had “You’ll have to ask Joe. I’m just her establishment with each new gold stampede, often to the same places quickly favorite itofcould his, seem the at hired help.” Byron wasbecome headed.a Indeed, times that the stampede crowd was really justasa single community jumpingupfrom corner particularly she moved her es-of nomads Kate pointed the one bluff, cock- of the territory to another, and in a world where the vast majority of women tablishment with each new gold ing her hand to indicate the counwere working girls,toKate of its try leading female stampede, often the was sameone placaround backcitizens. of the town clear“You’ve gone back to freighting, I see. ” Her red hair was gathered up es Byron was headed. Indeed, it ing. “We’ve been told to set up in the Gibson Girl fashion of the day, with a jaunty straw boater pinned atop it.could seem at times that the stam- behind the town. I’ve got a spot pede crowd really just a single outshacks and cleared.” “On awas strictly temporary basis. picked All these and tents have to be community of nomads jumping “It’s all national forest back off the flats by the sixteenth.” Kate’scorner green of eyes travelled up thethere,” road toByron the bluff line.“They An enormous from one the territory said. won’t rooming tent was being dragged up Christensen Road by three to another, and in a world where like you being there withoutsix-horse some teams working in triplicate, operation required the entire width of the vast majority of womenanwere kindthat of permit.” the road. girls, CloserKate in, three ladies walked past, averting their working was Salvation one of its Army “The Forest Service and I have sanctimonious eyes from Kate. leading female an understanding.” “So manycitizens. respectable women here, ” she said. “You’ve gone back to freighting, ByronAnd wasbesides, worldly enough to “This is railroading, not gold mining. you’re perfectly I see.” Her red hair was gathered know what that meant. “You know, respectable in my book.” “You are soGirl fullfashion of it, Bye. up in the Gibson of ”the that offer I made back in Chisana “What I dostraw for you?” He flashed her a catty look that he knew day, with a can jaunty boater still stands.” would make her laugh. “You’re not making house are and you?” pinned atop it. Kate let calls out athese longdays, breath Her eyes sparkled with mirth. “No, not in this lifetime. I came to see “On a strictly temporary basis. flattened her lips. “It was very if you and Joe could move our house to the new Line.” All these have to slang sweet you, Bye. designated But I’m notred Theshacks “Line” and was tents the common for of a boomtown’s be off the flats by the sixteenth.” meant to belong to any one man. light district. Byron felt his pulse quicken at the thought that Kate was, as travelled Love canjust do,the and I could theyKate’s say, redgreen all over.eyes “You’ll have to ask Joe.I I’m hired help.”mayup theKate roadpointed to the up bluff be get of honor a theline. bluff,An cocking her the handhang to indicate theafter country around backrooming of the town been to set “But up behind enormous tent clearing. was be- “We’ve while.” Shetold smiled. I neverthe town. I’ve gotup a spot picked out and cleared. ” good at obedience.” ing dragged Christensen Road was any “It’s all national forest back there, ” Byron“They won’tKate.” like you by three six-horse teams working “It wouldn’t like that, being there without some kind of permit.” in triplicate, an Service operation smile became “The Forest and Ithat have anHer understanding. ” just a tad wistrequired the entire width of the ful. “The job is yours Joe’s if Byron was worldly enough to know what that meant.and “You know, road. three Salvation you want that offerCloser I madein, back in Chisana still stands. ” it.” She touched his hand. Army Kate ladies walked past, avert“Come see Then she of let out a long breath and flattened her me lips.tonight.” “It was very sweet you, I’m not meant belong turned to any one Love I canagainst do, and I ing Bye. their But sanctimonious eyestofrom to man. go, brushing could while.” Sheever smiled. “But I just never Kate.maybe get the hang of honor after hisa shirtsleeve so gently, was“So any many good atrespectable obedience.” women enough to have her perfume fill his “It wouldn’t be like that, Kate.” here,” she said. nose through the barnyard malHer smile became just a tad wistful. “The job is yours and Joe’s if you “This is railroading, not gold Byron watched her to want it.” She touched his hand. “Comeodor. see me tonight. ” Thenher shepick turned mining. And besides, per- ever way the enough stumps to and overher go, brushing against his you’re shirtsleeve sothrough gently, just have fectly respectable in my book.”the barnyard the planks that bridged the worsther perfume fill his nose through malodor. Byron watched pick“You her way through stobs and overofthe that bridged the allure worst of are so full of the it, Bye.” theplanks mud, feeling both the the“What mud, feeling theyou?” allure of fiery and resentment at the hold can I both do for Heher of herhair fiery hair and resentment at she’ d had her on him all these evenshe’d knowhad heron last name. flashed a catty lookyears. that He he didn’t the hold him all these knew would make her laugh. years. He didn’t even know her After they’d eaten and changed into their spare clothes, Byron and “You’re not making house calls last name.


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ype to get himself to

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e divided moans of



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BIGGEST FOOL After they’d eaten and changed into their spare clothes, Byron and Joe made their way to Kate’s tent bordello. Joe was not the type to get overly sentimental about good time girls, but Byron couldn’t bring himself to show up without a present. “You spend too much time alone in the woods reading poetry,” Joe told him. “And you lack appreciation for the finer things in a woman’s heart, Joe.” They were passing a bottle of bootleg gin and he took a drink. “There a flower shop in this suckhole town?” “Keep dreaming.” Joe took his turn on the bottle, tipping back a healthy slug. There were no florists, but Byron found an Indian woman selling blueberries by the quart from a birchbark bucket. Joe continued on to Kate’s to talk business while Byron paused to pay for the fruit. The negotiations must not have taken very long, for by the time he’d caught up Joe was heading into a room with a comely if somewhat hefty blonde girl. He paused at the door, saying, “Deal’s done. We’ll start first thing tomorrow.” “Where’s Kate?” Byron asked the girl. The cribs were divided with nothing more than sheets of canvas, and the squeaks and moans of commercial lust sounded from all quarters. The girl inclined her head up the hallway. “She’s entertaining. But you can wait in the parlor.” “Don’t spend your money,” Joe said, winking. “We got credit on the books.” Byron took the last open seat in the parlor, just a small room at the front of the place with makeshift chairs and a tiny bar knocked together out of spruce

slabs. A few newspapers and magazines were spread over a table. Thankfully the place had a board floor and siding on the lower half of the wall; the gin had him a little unsteady on his feet and he was glad to get out of the damnable stinking mud. He took a chair and his eye fell upon a story from back in June about William Jennings Bryan resigning his post as Secretary of State after the sinking of the Lusitania and rising tensions over the war in Europe. Evidently he had decided to return to the temperance crusade. A brunette wearing nothing but a fan of peacock feathers in her hair, a pair of frilly bloomers, and a short silken vest like you’d expect to see on a genie came up and asked what he’d like to drink. Byron ordered a gimlet. He would rather have had a beer but was mindful of the ancient adage of beer and liquor, never sicker. The symphony of flesh continued at the standard deal of ten dollars for twenty minutes. The brunette came back with his drink on a tin platter and handed it to him. Her vest barely concealed what her mother gave her and Byron did his best not to stare. “Who are the berries for, handsome?” she asked. “For Kate. She’s an old pal.” She flashed a knowing look. “Can I have one?” Byron held up the can. “Take a few.” “Here’s Kate now,” said the genie-girl, popping a berry in her mouth and moving on. Byron glanced back at the newspaper and lifted his glass to the engraving of former Secretary Bryan. “Here’s mud in your eye, Willie.” Kate had walked her cus-





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ron up quite didByron not care tomer out to the front and Byron and use it for eye shadow.” squeeze. She departed the suddenly hallway, and quite to ever see her again. He Where Kate gotsuddenly such notions swiveled his head in time to see did not care to ever see her again. Hecalled called Honey over and30-ounce purchased threeof ken, over but that a teamster he recognized from was beyond Byron’s Honey and purchased three bottles She pointed to the can of blueberries. “Are those beer, then he took his leave. He nodded 30-ounce bottles of beer, then he earlier in the day sling his jacket was part of her allure. for me?” Outside was very fresh pile of dog shit took hisaleave. again, so much of herthere over his shoulder Byron nodded,and nothead quite out able to find thinking his voicenotdeposited by some street mongrel. but of to that the teamster’s Outside there Many was ayears verylater freshhe thethe door with a dopey ondrew his the for lump in his throat.grin Kate can hergrin and onwould read a line by Yeats that reminded him instantly mug. Slowlyherit dawned on him pile of dog shit deposited by some face. The closed the door plucked a fatbouncer berry from inside. She held it between of this very moment in his life: Love has pitched her thumb “I loveup the that dustyjustmansion thatofhe might be the biggest street mongrel. Or Many years later behindand himforefinger. and Kate walked to color in the place of excrement. something very blue powder on their wish and much fool bottle in the itentirety of Alaska. he would read a line by Yeats that Byron, standing veryskin. closeIso thatI could like that. use for eye ” heritclove andshadow. spice scent filled him Kate chewed a berry and swal- reminded him instantly of this Where Kate got such notions was beyond Byron’s very moment in his life: once again. lowed, then reached for Not another. too surprisingly he woke with hisLove head has feelken, but that was part of her allure. He nodded again, ing like a melon that might explode if he moved too pitched her mansion in the place She pointed to the can of blue“Give me ten minutes. You can thinking not so much of her but of that grin on the fast. How he’d made it back to Joe’s tent he couldn’t finish drink, then have Honey of excrement. Or something very berries. “Are forit me?” teamster’s mug. those Slowly dawned on him thatyour he might but at histhe mouth tasted sour vomit. When will I much likeofthat. you in.” She recall, gestured nodded,fool notinquite able ofshow justByron be the biggest the entirety Alaska. ever learn? he thought into the wadded up coat he used genie-girl. then to findKate his voice for athe lumpand in swallowed, chewed berry for a pillow. Eventually he forced himself to his feet and reached for another. “Give You down can into his throat. Kate drew the me canten to minutes. He stared glass as tookhis a long draught of water, then filled Joe’s washbasin finish yourplucked drink, then you in.”theShe Kate took berries and planted her and a fat have berryHoney from show and sank his face into it. He was still there when Joe gestured the held genie-girl. Her in free hand inside. atShe it between her a kiss on his cheek.came with coffee. He stared down into his glass as Kate took the “Big night?” he said. too surprisingly he of Not thumb and forefinger. “I love the reached down to give the inside berries and planted a kiss on his cheek. Her free hand Byron just moaned. His the woke with hisvoice headbubbled feeling inlike color of down that dusty blue thigh a playful squeeze. She reached to give thepowder inside on of hishis thigh a playful cold water. their skin. I wish I could bottle it departed up the hallway, and By- a melon that might explode if he




PAID IN KIND (cont.)

moved too fast. How he’d left little to the imaginamade it back to Joe’s tent tion. It didn’t take a genius he couldn’t recall, but his to see that long skirts were Joe was in fine fettle from his night at Kate’s. “Breakmouth tasted of sourWe vomit. a practical option for fast is on me, pard. got us anot cathouse to move. ” When They will I walked ever learn? he this kind of work, but both over to a café where Byron managed thought thesome wadded up Joe Byron were more to choke into down hotcakes withand a side of ham steak and coat he used gallon for a of pillow. than aatlittle flustered by the about another water. Back the tent, Joe produced aEventually bottle of he Dr. forced McGillicuddy’s Patented Headache him- sight of so many womenTonic in (mostly laudanum and grain and Byron took athe long self to his feet and took a alcohol) pants, notwithstanding swallow, thinking that love a maze with noseen discernible long draught of water, then wasfact that they’d many exit. filled Joe’s washbasin and of them in their birthday Over at Panama Kate’s they spent most of the morsank emptying his face into it. place. He suits. ning out the Beds, tables, trousseaux, bar was still there when Joe Like most of the buildfixtures—all of it was piled in the driest parts of the yard. camewould in with coffee. onwith thethe flats, Kate’s They come back for all ofings it later wagon. Kate and“Big thenight?” girls had trousers and hegone said. for the daring house option of ill ofrepute was boots so as to moaned. be better able assist on with the move. Kate in Byron just His to built skids to facilitate particular had donned rathermoving. svelte pairByron of jodhpurs that voice bubbled in the acold and Joe left little to the imagination. It didn’t take a genius to see that water. drilled through each skid long skirts were not a practical option for this kind of work, in fine fettle with than a brace andflustered bit, thenby butJoe bothwas Joe and Byron were more a little from his night at Kate’s. bolted on thick iron brackthe sight of so many women in pants, notwithstanding the “Breakfast isd on me, pard. ets. inThey heavy fact that they’ seen many of them their shackled birthday suits. We gotLike us most a cathouse to chains and of the buildings on to theeach flats,bracket Kate’s house of ill repute was built on skidsran to facilitate moving. Byron move.” them a short distance andThey Joe drilled with a brace and then walkedthrough over toeach a skid to the whiffletree, to bit, which bolted on thickByron iron brackets. shackled heavy chains café where man- They the horses’ traces would beto each bracket and ran them a short distance to the whiffletree, aged to choke down some fastened. The process was to which the horses’ traces would be fastened. The process hotcakes a side of ham allnecessity the moreofonerous was madewith all the more onerousmade by the crawling steak and about another by the necessity crawling in the omnipresent muck, and by the time theyof were ready gallon in and the omnipresent muck, to hitchofthewater. horses Back Byron’satpants one whole side of his the tent, Joe produced and is bylife, the he time they were shirt were slathered with it.a What wondered with the singular of a hangover, thattoI must my day bottle of Dr. focus McGillicuddy’s ready hitchspend the horses heartsick covered Tonic in such ooze? Patented and Headache Byron’s pants and one place was and right atwhole the size what Joe’s (mostlyKate’s laudanum side limit of his of shirt were team could handle, so they were at pains to pick their route grain alcohol) and Byron slathered with it. What is with care. Byron held the team while Joe walked around the tookshack, a longgiving swallow, thinklife, hechecking wondered the tent it a final go-around, thewith skids, the ing that a maze singular focus of a hangchain and love tree, was the harness. with no“All discernible thatthe I must spend “Let’s my right,” he exit. said to theover, girls and bouncers. getOver this show on the road. ” He took reins from and at Panama Kate’s day the heartsick and Byron covered climbed up into his post they spent most of in thethe doorframe. in such ooze?Byron snaked the whip out on the ground, waiting. Kate’s place was right at morning emptying out the “Duke and Sonny!” called the lead horses. place. Beds, tables, trous-Joe the sizetolimit of what Joe’sHe tapped them with the leather. “Step up now, step up!” seaux, Cords bar fixtures—all of team could of muscle stood out on thehandle, horsessoasthey their it was slid piled in the at pains to pick hooves in the mud.driest Gettingwere a building started was their always parts of the yard. with Byron the hardest part. ByronThey poppedroute the whip andcare. Kate rallied the would come the backjoint for all it held the team while Joe girls behind to of help. “Push, push!” it all the you got!” later with the girls, wagon. Kateshe urged. walked “Give around tent Glancing her itatathe and the girls hadback, goneByron for could shack, see giving finalcorner, gostruggling woodenaround, siding. checking Their eyes met for the daringagainst option the of trouthe skids, just moment, the and skidstree, gavethe way and sersa and boots then so asthe to friction be theon chain harthe tent began to move. The horses put their heads down better ablemagnificently, to assist with ness. away. The girls and the and pulled dragging the move. Kate in particuright,” said then to bouncers stood off for a moment“All to catch theirhebreath, lar hadalong donned a rather the girls and the bouncers. trudged behind. svelte pair of jodhpurs that “Let’s show on the Christensen Road ran up the get sidethis of the bluff at an

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PAID IN KIND (cont.)

road.” He took the reins from ers once again to step up. Byron and climbed up into his Byron threw the whip out, post in the doorframe. Byron popping first the wheelers, angle. There hitched to teams, all waiting snaked the were whip three out onbuildings the then the swing horses. With their turn. Standard practice was to go up one at a time, and it ground, waiting. another big push from behind was nearly an hour before their number came up. This gave Byron “Duke and Sonny!” Joefeeling Panama Kate’s began its asplenty of time to stand around useless and uncomfortable called to the lead horses. He cent to its new home. The with Kate rather pointedly not looking at him. tapped them leather. horses theirof “You all with readythe back there?” Joe said strained when theagainst team ahead them crested thestep rise.up!” “Step up now, collars as they started up the There a generalized from the Cords of came muscle stood out reply incline. Joestern. used Joe hisglanced reins down at Byron, who nodded back. He slapped the reins, on the horses as their hooves only to steer, riding withcalling bent out to the leaders once again to step up. Byron threw the whip out, slid in the mud. Getting a knees and holding each strap popping first the wheelers, then the swing horses. With another building started wasPanama always Kate’s between individual big push from behind began his its ascent to its finnew the hardest part. Byron gers. Byron kept pace, crackhome. The horses strained against their collars as they started up popped andreins Kate the whip and shouting enthe incline.the Joewhip used his only ing to steer, riding with bent knees and holding strap between individual fingers. kept rallied theeach girls behind the hiscouragement to the Byron animals. pace, encouragement the anijointcracking to help. the whip and shouting They were abouttohalfway mals. “Push, girls, push!” she up when a team of PercheThey were about up when team of Percherons urged. “Give it all you halfway got!” rons andawagon appeared at and wagon appeared at the top of the road, silhouetted against the Glancing back, Byron could the top of the road, silhouettskyline. They paused just long enough for Byron to recognize the see her at thecustomer corner, from strug-the ed against the skyline. driver as Kate’s previous night, then theyThey startedgling downagainst the hill.the wooden sid- paused just long enough for ing. “God Their damn eyes met forsaid justAngry Byron recognize the driver him!” The unwritten rule of the was that headed downhill gavecustomer way to teams a road moment, thenteams the friction as Kate’s fromgoing the up, underand load.previous The roadnight, was notthen quitethey wide onparticularly the skids teams gave way enough forbegan two outfits to pass, Kate’s tent took an awful lot the tent to move. Theand started down theuphill. ofhorses what extra room there was. The Percheron teamster stood on put their heads down “God damn him!” said Anthe brake and drove his animals down through the river of pedesand who pulled magnificently, gry Joe.onto Thethe unwritten rule trians had no choice but to scramble incline above dragging away. The girls and of the road was that teams the roadbed to let him pass. the bouncers off for the a blacksnake!” headed downhill gave to way to “Give thatstood sonofabitch Joe yelled Byron catch their going up, particularly asmoment the gap to between thembreath, closed by teams the yard. Byron was already racing out front of the Morgans. The then trudged along behind. teams under load. The road Percheron teamster’s a not flashquite of shock, then anger Christensen Roadface ranregistered up was wide enough for asthe Byron out bluff his whip, cracking it square in theand earKate’s of the sideflung of the at an two outfits to pass, outside leader. The driver let out his own string of oaths as Byron angle. There were three tent took up an awful lot of cracked again, driving the Percherons up into the incline so that buildings hitchedtotokeep teams, what room therearound was. they had to struggle their feet and extra their tack skewed waiting their turn. StanTheandPercheron onalltheir bodies. The wagon followed threatened toteamster tip as the dard reefed practice wasleft-hand to go up thesteer brake andonto drove driver on his reinsstood to tryonand back the road. one at a time, and it was his animals down through the thishour pointbefore Joe hadtheir thankfully to get his payload nearlyByan rivermanaged of pedestrians who had clear of thecame wagon thegave Morgans slowed were losing number up.but This no had choice but toand scramble onto precious momentum. reins shoutByron plenty of timeHe to cursed stand and theslapped incline the above theand roadbed ed at his horses to get up, but with no whip it was a tough sell at around feeling useless and un- to let him pass. best. comfortable with Kate rather leapt“Give sonofabitch the a The Percheron teamster from that his wagon seat with pointedly not looking at rage him. andblacksnake!” Joe yelled to Bybellow of sleep-deprived charged. Byron snapped the “You allatready there?” ron nothing as the gap between blacksnake him.back A whip fight was new among them teamsters, and when the Percheron driver reached andyard. caught the lash Joe said the team ahead closed out by the byofdeftly it around tried to jerkracing it from themwrapping crested the rise. his forearm. ByronHe was already Byron’s grasp, buta his own momentum was against Byron There came generalized out front of thehim. Morgans. used both hands on his end to yank him over the downhill side reply from the stern. Joe The Percheron teamster’sof the road, turning loose of the whip at the last minute to send him glanced ass down Byron, down who toface registered a flash of tumbling overatteakettle the muddy bottom. nodded back. slapped theincline shock, then anger as Byron From theHe crowd on the there came the shout, “Get reins, callingWon’t out tobethe flung hisifwhip, it onto it, boys! noleadmore fun at out Kate’s that cracking tent crashes

Union Laundry and Bath House Fo u r t h A v e . , B e t w e e n H a n d I Anchorage





square in the ear of the outside leader. The driver let out his own string of oaths as Byron cracked again, driving the Percherons up into the incline so that they had to struggle to keep their feet and their tack skewed around on their bodies. The wagon followed and threatened to tip as the driver reefed on his left-hand reins to try and steer back onto the road. By this point Joe had thankfully managed to get his payload clear of the wagon but the Morgans had slowed and were losing precious momentum. He cursed and slapped the reins and shouted at his horses to get up, but with no whip it was a tough sell at best. The Percheron teamster leapt from his wagon seat with a bellow of sleep-deprived rage and charged. Byron snapped the blacksnake at him. A whip fight was nothing new among teamsters, and the Percheron driver reached out and caught the lash by deftly wrapping it around his forearm. He tried to jerk it from Byron’s grasp, but his own momentum was against him. Byron used both hands on his end to yank him over the downhill side of the road, turning loose of the whip at the last minute to send him tumbling ass over teakettle down to the muddy bottom. From the crowd on the incline there came the shout, “Get onto it, boys! Won’t be no more fun at Kate’s if that tent crashes down after him!” Byron looked over as an impromptu gang of men rushed down to the tent and the

straining team. At least thirty pairs of hands latched on and they set their shoulders against whatever purchase could be found—studs, siding, whatever. Ever so slowly, Panama Kate’s began to inch up the road once more. Still, the horses would only pull so hard without the whip, which Byron no longer had. In desperation he unbuckled his belt, whipping it free of his waist as he slogged after the team. Two expert pops gave the horses the inspiration they required, and with nearly forty people pushing from behind the tent moved like a driving buggy. Down below the Percherons had righted themselves, calmed by passers-by. Their owner stood at the base of the hill, shouting obscenities and stabbing his middle finger skyward in Byron’s direction. Nobody paid him much mind, for when Kate’s place finally leveled out at the top of Christensen the crowd burst into cheers and applause. Several of the men threw their hats in the air with jubilation that the best brothel in the camp had been saved from disaster. Byron and Joe just grinned at one another. Byron still had his belt dangling from his hand and was holding up his britches with the other to keep them from falling off his ass when Kate came up and drew him into a heartfelt hug. He couldn’t tell if this was the start of a new chapter or just a continuation of the same old story, but she felt so lovely pressed up against him in her jodhpurs and blouse that he decided he really didn’t care. ■



Published By



Subscription Rates: $1 per month, $10 per year, in advance Entered in the Anchorage Post Office June 5, 1915, as second class matter under the Act of March 8, 1873.

Launch Brighton Nate White, Captain

Carrying U. S. Mail between Anchorage, Hope, Sunrise and Glacier Creek--All Points on Turnagain Arm

Mrs. Corlew A Store of Individual Shops

__________________________ The Newsest Ideas in the Most Wanted Fabrics First Store in Anchorage


down afte By down to t hands lat purchase Panama K Sti which Byr whipping pert pops nearly for driving bu Do calmed by shouting Byron’s di place fina into cheer the air wi saved from By his belt d with the came up a was the st old story, purs and

Fourth Ave. and H St.

Anchorage Central Market J. TURNER Proprietor


Arrived Live Chickens Fresh Oranges, Lemons, Bananas, Grape Fruit and Rhubarb Parsley, Green Onion, Tomatoes Fresh Salmon and Halibut Fresh Beef, Mutton, Pork and Poultry Boiled Ham, Bologna Sausage Happy Home Canned Goods Don’t Fail to Visit Our Market.

NorthernIncorporated Drug Co. QUALITY, SERVICE AND PRICE These Factors Predominate in Our Store

Empress Building


Kris Farme whose wor sian Life, T of the nove of Somewh from VP&D

Nathan Sh ka. Since 2 a wide ran recently fo media cur technology wife, Joelle

Celebrating a Century Forum Awards First Round of Anchorage Centennial Community Grants


ast December , the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Anchorage Centennial Committee awarded $231,000 to 13 humanities projects to conclude the first round of the Anchorage Centennial Community Grant program, which funds community projects commemorating the first 100 years of Anchorage, celebrating its historic rise from a railroad camp to the urban center of Alaska. The Rasmuson Foundation committed $500,000 over two years to support the Centennial grants program. The application deadline for the second and final round of centennial grants is June 15. For more information, including criteria and submission guidelines, go to Below are summaries of the centennial projects awarded first round funding. They are listed alphabetically by project title, followed by the name of the sponsoring organization or individual grantee, and the grant amount.

ACT Seismic Celebration Anchorage Community Theatre, $2,500

Anchorage Community Theatre has played a vital role in the performing arts in Anchorage since 1953. Fifty years ago the company was still maturing. ACT held rehearsals in a Quonset hut for popular productions of plays such as The Crucible and The Miracle Worker. The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 interrupted an ACT production of Our Town in Grant Hall on what was then the campus of Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University). Considering the circumstances, Samuel French publishers forgave royalties. To mark the 50th anniversary of the earthquake and celebrate its 60th season of theater, ACT held a Seismic Celebration on March 27, presenting scenes and songs from past ACT productions, ranging from Inherit the Wind, which played in 1958, to last year’s A Shayna Maidel.

Anchorage Remembers: A Centennial Memoir Project 49 Writers Inc., $7,500

Earlier this year, 49 Writers Inc. conducted a series of free memoir writ-


ing workshops for elderly Anchorage residents of all cultural backgrounds. The workshops consisted of eight hours of instruction, spread across four weekly sessions, led by professional writers. They were held at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, the Pioneer School House, and the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center. Topics included defining memoir, understanding scene versus exposition, and developing a writing practice. Fifty-six Anchorage residents participated. Selected memoirs will be published in an anthology, Anchorage Remembers: 1915-2015, celebrating the history of Anchorage in the words of those who have lived it. The project will culminate in a public reading. Anchorage Heritage Garden Alaska Botanical Garden, $20,000

This summer the Alaska Botanical Garden will transform one of its existing perennial gardens into an “Anchorage Heritage Garden” permanent exhibit. This historically accurate recreation of a charming old style Anchorage garden will celebrate the work of the hardy pioneer gardeners who grew vegetables, fruits, and flowers in the early

A L A S K A H U M A N I T I E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014


decades of Anchorage. Local artist and garden designer Ayse Gilbert designed the Anchorage Heritage Garden exhibit based upon historical photos of the private gardens in the city from 1915 to 1940. The garden will feature heritage plant collections as well as heirloom varieties of the vegetables and fruits from the period. The garden will take shape over the course of this summer, and the permanent exhibit, with signage, will be complete by summer 2015. Anchorage Stories Nathan Shafer, $34,000

Artist and educator Nathan Shafer is creating a four-part interactive walking tour of Anchorage that will be presented as an augmented reality application. The walking tour will be told through fictional short stories about four characters experiencing the city during different time periods in Anchorage’s history. Augmented reality content will include 3D models, historical photographs, video footage, and dramatized versions of the stories, read by the authors. The walking tours will be geolocated, so that users can follow the tour and access the augmented reality content


Tent City waffle house, ca. 1915 LOT 11453-1, no. 502 [P&P], Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

A L A S K A H U M A N ITI E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 01 4


using a smart phone or tablet computer. The historical short stories will also be published in Forum magazine as interactive text, meaning readers can scan the pages to bring up additional content on the screen of their device. The first story in the series is published in this edition of Forum. See page 46. Anchorage Youth History Spirit of Youth/Alaska Teen Media Institute, $7,000

Alaska Teen Media Institute reporters, mentored by professional journalists, are producing a series of radio broadcast stories on 10 significant events in Anchorage history, told from the perspective of present-day teenagers. Concepts include the desegregation of Anchorage schools in the mid-1940s and the establishment of Anchorage’s Youth Court in 1989. The stories will air on the institute’s monthly radio program, “In Other News,” on KNBA 90.3 FM, and will be placed on a new Anchorage Youth History section on the website

Anchortown Historic Buildings Project Anchorage Fairs & Festivals, $5,000

Anchortown is an educational project to replace 20 existing structures at the annual Trick or Treat Town event with facades of historic, iconic and important Anchorage buildings. Anchorage Fairs and Festivals is partnering with the Cook Inlet Historical Society and the Historic Preservation Commission to select the buildings and design the facades. Signage will identify the original build date and provide historical information. Trick or Treat Town draws more than 10,000 Anchorage residents annually. The facades will also be a part of the July 2015 Tent City Festival organized by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.

A Historical View for a Healthy Future Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, $18,000

On April 12 the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame held its inaugural familyfriendly, non-competitive Healthy Futures 10K run/2K walk run honoring


100 years of athletic achievements in Anchorage. Each kilometer in the 10K run represented a decade in the city’s history, and was marked with a banner with historical photographs of athletes and athletic events from that decade. The Healthy Futures fun run is designed to become an annual event, with another kilometer and historical banner to be added every ten years. Celebrating Anchorage: Ten Decades and Counting Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters, $14,000

The 150 members of the Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters this year are dedicating their annual Great Alaskan Quilt Show to a celebration of Anchorage history from 1915 to present. While the 2014 show will include traditional quilts customarily displayed by members at the two-day exhibition, the spotlight will be on a display of Centennial quilts depicting events, places and individuals that collectively tell the story of the growth of Anchorage during the past century. Organized by decade, the quilts will hang from a banner quilt depicting the Anchorage Skyline and a historical timeline. Following the Great Alaska Quilt Show, the art quilts will be available for display at other venues throughout the 2014-2015 Centennial Celebration. The quilt show will be held in early September in the ConocoPhillips Atrium.

Follow the Light: Anchorage’s Next 100 Years Anchorage Park Foundation/Light Brigade, $35,000

The Light Brigade art group will create a large scale wintertime light sculpture in Elderberry Park that park visitors and Coastal Trail users will interact with during their movements through and within the sculpture. The installation will repurpose iconic eight-foot-tall Christmas decorations that were installed annually throughout downtown Anchorage in the 1960s and 1970s. Eighty thousand LED lights will be woven into the ornaments along the flowing contours of the park. The lights will be powered with renewable energy through a partnership with Lime Solar.

A L A S K A H U M A N I T I E S F O R U M S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014

The installation will also include a temporary outdoor venue for a performance series called “Thirty Days of Thirty Nights.” The Historical Anchorage Radio Hour: The Mysterious Death of Police Chief Sturgus Alaska Sisters in Crime, $8,000

John “Black Jack” Sturgus, the first Police Chief of Anchorage, was murdered in downtown Anchorage in February 1921, shot in the back with his own gun outside the Anchorage Hotel. His murder is unsolved. Alaska Sisters in Crime is producing a 1940s-style dramatic radio show about the mysterious killing and its aftermath. The radio program will be aired periodically throughout the Centennial Celebration and will be available online. Additionally, before the end of the year, the project team will complete the production of a one-hour documentary film about the making of the radio play. The film will include a discussion of the case by a panel of experts on the history of the unsolved murder, as well as events occurring in Anchorage at the time, including some speculation on who may have been the killer. This panel will include a detective with the Alaska State Troopers who has reviewed the case

Oral and Written History of Fairview Center for Community Engagement & Learning, $15,000

Dr. Judith Owens-Manley of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Center for Community Engagement & Learning is training volunteers and overseeing the recording of oral histories of Fairview in a Story Booth project inspired by the National Public Radio project StoryCorps. Podcasts of the interviews will be featured and archived on Center for Community Engagement & Learning web pages specifically constructed for this purpose. The project will also produce a written publication consisting of short stories and other writings about the history, present reality, and future hopes for Fairview as one of the original neighborhoods of Anchorage.


Tents to Towers source material: Map showing the Anchorage townsite and the original south addition first laid out by the Alaska Engineering Commission in August 1915. Alaska Railroad, RG 322, 32-1-1. National Archives, Anchorage, Alaska Tent City Festival Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, $10,000

The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Art Services North will host a three-day Tent City Festival on the Delaney Park Strip in July 2015. The festival will feature a partial recreation of Tent City, along with historical exhibits, free entertainment, and retail and education booths. The event will celebrate the many industries, businesses, and government agencies that came together to create a thriving metropolis. ■

From Tents to Towers: A Century of Maps of Alaska’s Largest City Katherine Ringsmuth, $55,000 From Tents to Towers will intersect geography, art, and history by depicting Anchorage’s development and expansion through historically significant maps that showcase the unusual and provoke critical thought. The maps will be organized by historical theme. For example, “The Anchorage Bowl at 1915” will show environmental and geological features, Alaska Native place names, American and Russian commercial activity, and railroad reconnaissance mapping. “A Railroad Town, 1920-1940” will include the original Anchorage townsite, New Deal projects, railroad sites, original neighborhoods and early major buildings. “Crossroads of the Air World” will cover World War II and the Cold War boom. Other themes will include “Homesteads,” “Big Wild Life,” and “The Hundred Language City.” The maps will be printed on two-foot by threefoot posters designed for group exhibition or individual display.

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161 East First Avenue, Door 15 Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 272-5341



AKHF GENERAL GRANTS Sealaska Heritage Institute



Leadership Anchorage Legacy: Alumni launch The Boardroom

land gone lonesome dan o’neill on the yukon


Forum - Spring 2014  

Forum is a publication of the Alaska Humanities Forum, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with the purpose of increasin...

Forum - Spring 2014  

Forum is a publication of the Alaska Humanities Forum, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with the purpose of increasin...