Ft. Yukon Cologne

Today’s History Nugget from fifty years ago, is about Don Young early in his political career.  He had just been elected to the State House and was due to leave Ft. Yukon for Juneau to serve his first term of office, which he did in real Alaskan style:

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner January 17, 1968


Don Young of Fort Yukon is a school teacher as well as a 16th District Republican legislator. He knows life tends to get complicated during the winter months in Alaska.

Villagers decided to give Don and his wife Lula a farewell party before their departure for the legislative session at Juneau.

The party was scheduled for 8 p.m., so Don and Lula planned to arrive at 9.

“Fort Yukon Time” usually calls for an event to get underway about an hour after it is scheduled.

Don was ready to go out the door of the family home for the party when the oil heater died out. He had already cleaned up, but the temperature was nudging 40 below and he couldn’t allow the house to freeze. Out came the tools. Don finally realized the heater was out of oil, but not until he was somewhat grubby. He filled the tank, spilling some of the oil on himself in the process.

Rushing to the party without cleaning up again, he arrived at 10:30 p.m. He thought his friends might think he was deliberately late. “I’m afraid they won’t believe it,” he told Lula.

“As soon as they smell you, they’ll know you’re telling the truth,” she sniffed. Fuel oil has a strong odor.

Don told the crowd he was wearing “Standard Oil Cologne.”

About 100 adult villagers turned out for the dancing party which lasted until 3:30 a.m. Not bad for a town of 550 people at 40 below.

Note:  Most folks know that Don Young was a teacher in Ft. Yukon before he was a State Representative or U.S. Congressman. During those early years he was also the captain of the Riverboat “Skookum” that freighted equipment and supplies along the Yukon river. Today, Don is the only member of Congress that holds a mariner’s license. This 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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