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An Eye-popping Ailment

At the turn of the 20th century, men with various physical ailments sought treatment at one of the several hot springs in Alaska. The following story was told by Si Marks and takes place at Baker Hot Springs, which today is known as Manley Hot Springs:

Northern Light- September 29, 1906

SI MARKS STORY NO. 3- by Casey Moran

Si Marks tells a good story about a man at Baker Hot Springs. It seems from Si’s story that a man quite well known in this district was at the hot springs the same time as himself. He was a great big good natured, broad shouldered fellow and seemed to be in the best of health. As everyone who went there told of their ailments, the big fellow became noticeable from the one fact that he complained about nothing being the matter with him.

One day Si met the fellow and said: “See here partner, you seem to be in the best physical health of any man around here. Would you mind telling me why you are here taking treatment?”

The fellow looked at Si for a second, and a rather pleasing smile came over his face as he said: “I am from Cleary Creek, Si. I run the hoist on my own claim and from where I stand in the engine house I can see right into the parlor of my little home. I’ve only been married a year or so and am young to that life, but in the latter part of August, while I was at work one day I saw one of the muckers on my own claim in the cabin and—and—well, it made my heart jump.

“I hoisted the bucket and dumped it, and then called one of the men to attend the hoist and went to the house. My wife met me at the door and said: ‘What did you come in so early for, dear?’ I told her I wanted the man who was in there a few minutes before, and I said to her that I would kill him on sight.

“She laughed at me and then, putting both hands on my shoulders, said, ‘There was no one here, sweetheart; there was no one here.’

“I told her that I saw him with my own eyes.

“Then she put her arms around my neck, and kissed me and called me sweetheart and honey, and in a little pouting manner, and with her arms resting upon my shoulders, said: ‘Now _________,sweetheart, would you believe your baby or would you believe your eyes?’

“What could I do Si? I said I believed my baby.

“So I am here for my eyesight.”

Note: This story illustrates the men to women ratio within the Tanana Valley in the early days. This man did not have a marital problem, he had eyestrain from working too hard. This eye-popping history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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