AK: The Way Things Were

From the big ideas that drew in mid-century Americans seeking adventure to the small furs that brought Russians before that, we look back through Alaskan history as our 50th anniversary of Statehood series continues. We look back at aviation, healthcare, the earthquake that, ironically, stabilized Alaska’s economy and the art created on America’s beautiful Last Frontier.

All that and more this week on AK, heard statewide on local APRN stations statewide.

Download Audio (MP3, 60min)

Host: Steve Heimel

Big Ideas
APRN’s Steve Heimel, Host Essay
Steve Heimel came to Alaska long after the pivotal year of 1959, but he remembers what drew him to the state.

Big Ideas – Big Projects

AK’s Ellen Lockyer, Story
The harder they come, the harder they fall, say the poets.  Lockyer speaks with Alaska Senator Mike Gravel and historian Terrence Cole, and a bit with Governor Wally Hickle, about some of the construction schemes put forward by a nuclear – loving nineteen – fifties government.

  • Music Button: “River” by Mr. McFeely, from We Have The Bomb

Jumping Ship
APRN’s Lori Townsend, Story
People came to Alaska all different ways in the forties and fifties, but merchant seaman Eldon Galier jumped ship to get to Anchorage. Looking back, he says he was undecided about statehood.

  • Break: “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” by Mercer Ellington and Ted Persons from Duke Ellington and His Orchestra – Berlin ’65 Paris ’67

Moose Hunt in Anchorage

APRN’s Lori Townsend, Story
Seamen Eldon Galier recalls hunting moose where the Sullivan arena now stands, and other adventures in early Anchorage.

APRN’s Annie Feidt, Story
From the first, Europeans exploited Alaska’s rich natural resources. The Russians developed a lucrative fur trade, and other colonists followed suit.  Even present day Alaskans continue the trade. Feidt speaks with trappers Red Beaman and Dean Wilson and furrier Perry Green about the state of the fur market today.

APRN’s Lori Townsend, Story
Townsend takes us on a tour of the Port of Anchorage, and meets Port Director Bill Sheffield, Horizon Van Lines’ Brad Brown and Lynden Transports Van Oliver to get at the whys and wherefores of today’s shipping business.

  • Music Button: “Beyond The Sea” by Big Band Classic from Thanks For The Memories

AK’s Scott Burton, Story
Big Alaska projects drew the ire of early environmental groups, and inadvertently helped to develop the strength of the environmental watchdog groups we have today. Burton spoke with early activists Jim King and Ginny Wood and writer Dan O’Neill.

  • Break: “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me” by Dave Brubeck from Private Brubeck Remembers

Rural Health Care
Johanna Eurich
1950’s health care in rural Alaska was rudimentary. Gloria Park tried to train health aides who sometimes couldn’t read the English language instruction manuals. Even in hubs like Nome, Natives often had a hard time getting care, as Mia Bassler illustrated in a story about a premature baby.

AK Contributor Johanna Eurich, Story
Aviation plays a huge role in Alaska, so it’s no wonder some firsts happened here, like Ingrid Peterson’s first flight over the north pole. But even with flight so essential, it’s hard for airlines to stay in business. Just ask Susan Bramstead of Alaska Airlines or PenAir’s Orrie Siebert.

Saving the Economy
Steve Heimel, Interview
Heimel speaks with Juneau economist Greg Erickson about the economy in early statehood: it turns out the 1964 earthquake, and the relief money it brought, helped the state through a rough time.

There’s Art in Them Thar Hills
AK’s Ellen Lockyer, Story
Early explorers, like Captain Cook, brought artists with them to Alaska, but it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that major artists began depicting the natural wonders of the Great Land on gigantic canvases. Lockyer speaks with museum curator Artemis Bonadea and art education curator Jodie Jenkins about how Sydney Laurence and Fred Machetanz, among others, shaped the public perception of Alaska.

  • Closing: “Opus One” (Oliver)  by Big Band Classics from Thanks For The Memories