Spring is here and with the change of seasons, all sorts of things appear as Winter’s blanket thaws away. Two letters to the editor were printed in the local newspaper during the Pipeline days about things that “spring” forth.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner April 30, 1974
We arrived in Alaska last November. I was delighted and captivated by the beauty of the area and I took continual pleasure in the tall spruce trees, the graceful birch and the heavy blanket of snow that seemed to change and become more beautiful daily.
As it became evident that pipeline construction was to proceed, I heard comments and speculation about the adverse effects of the large numbers of transient workers that were to arrive. Also, the problems of preserving the natural resources were discussed and I listened and shared the concern. As a newcomer, I felt saddened at the thought of the beauty of this vast country being altered or destroyed in any way.
Now the snow is melting rapidly and I am shocked and astonished at the incredible mass of garbage, junk, discarded equipment, old automobiles and parts, cartons, animal waste, etc., that is being revealed daily.
Instead of bewailing the anticipated damage that may be done, I think Alaska should literally “clean up it’s own yard” plus its roadways, and vacant lots. Otherwise, I think the citizens of the state, and all of her natural beauty, could be buried under an avalanche of its own garbage, deposited by none other than its own residents.
It would appear, from the looks of this area, that they have taken a giant step in this direction already.
Signed: Virginia Cummings – 10 Mile Badger Road.
The following week there was another point of view published.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner May 9, 1974
Value in Junk
I am writing this in answer to a letter from Ms. Virginia Cummings that appeared last week in the News-Miner. In her letter Ms. Cummings scolded Fairbanksans for their sloppiness and their junkyard mentality.
In all due respect, I would like to argue the point. I think that the first mistake she made was assuming that the old cars cluttering people’s yards were junk. Maybe Ms. Cummings should have the wisdom to realize that what she sees as junk might be somebody else’s treasure. For example, let me tell you about some of the old wrecked and abandoned cars in my yard.
The 1939 Ford pickup truck and the 1941 Hudson belonged to my father who died in 1948. He was a good man and he spent a good part of his life driving around in those automobiles. So did I. I learned how to drive in the pickup, and I had my first wreck in it when I backed it into our house.
The 1949 Kaiser was my first car. I also had my first real date in it with a girl name Mary something or the other. We drove down to Nenana in June 1950. I lost track of Mary, but I still have the car.
The green 1954 Chevy with the windshield busted out was the car my wife Kathy owned when I first met her. We wrecked it hitting a moose in August 1956 just after I came back from Korea. In 1965 Kathy took our two kids. What do I have? All I have is this yard full of old cars—old memories.
So there, Ms. Virginia Cummings. You come up here and clean up Fairbanks and make it like a park. Well, maybe you ought to realize that some of us are keeping all this junk for good reasons. Maybe it’s all we have from our past.
Sincerely, Ronald Crowe – College, Alaska
Note: Today we have more junk than ever before, and these two letters could have just as easily come from today’s pages. It seems we are still chasing our tails on this same issue. Incidentally, Mr. Crowe eventually found love again because he was listed in the marriage licenses a couple of years later. This opinionated 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.