January 6, 2011 |

Opinion

Two weeks’ vacation was enough time for the editor to clean out the cubbies of his desk, unearthing scraps of notes, mementos, and bits of stories lost in the rush of deadline the past few years. They included:

· Two wrapped stacks of unused certificates for "Safety Patrol Award," found in the old elementary school a few days ahead of the wrecker. For younger readers who never heard of the outfit, the "safety patrol" was a troop of eighth-graders deputized to keep younger students out of harm’s way by serving as school crossing guards. The Haines safety patrol faded in the 1970s. Do we still expect our young adults to assume adult responsibilities? If not, maybe we’ve lost something more than the safeties.

· The funeral program for Kjell Arne Olsson, who died two years ago, Jan. 24. They say no one’s irreplaceable, but it’s not clear anyone has filled the shoes of the big Swede.

· A lost letter-to-the editor from tourist John Miller, who wanted to know who was the guy in the new, red BMW in the Fourth of July parade float celebrating the centennial of municipal incorporation. If you know, and you know John, help him out. In the meantime, John, my apologies for misplacing your letter.

· The press release dated May 20, 2009 from cold case investigators with the Alaska State Troopers, saying they were still interested in information about the murder of Eileen Wafter. Wafer’s body was found on the beach near Port Chilkoot on June 10, 1982. Investigator Tim Hunyor can be reached at 907-269-5677.

· A signed photograph of former Gov. Jay Hammond in Tlingit dance regalia, beside former City of Haines Mayor Jon Halliwell, also in regalia, standing behind the dais in the assembly chambers. They’re flanked by Bob Henderson, Peter Goll, John Schnabel, and Ray Menaker. Most everyone is smiling. The occasion presumably marked the creation of the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in 1982, following a bitter, community battle. That we were able to set aside 48,000 acres for eagles should stiffen the resolve of assembly members trying to acquire a small patch of land at Picture Point used by local people for decades.

· Notes from the April 15, 2009 "tea party" protest at Port Chilkoot Dock. The protest was political theater, but at a discussion held toward the end of it, residents tried to get at what was at the heart of our nation’s economic woes. There were the predictable theories about an international banking conspiracy, but the talk represented a rare, local, public discussion of national issues. As such, it was refreshing. As long as it includes an open-minded discussion of national events, maybe we should have a tea party every year.

· Three pages copied from an Internet site about "chemtrails," the giant contrails allegedly created by the secret dumping of hazardous waste into the atmosphere by U.S. military jets. The late Clyde Bell, who brought in the papers, was a believer, and had everyone in town watching the sky on clear days. Clyde was an independent thinker, very much in the Alaska vein. Another old-time Alaskan I know believes the moon landing was a hoax. In the Lower 48 these would be crackpot views, but here they’re just a difference of opinion. There’s something maddening but charming in that.

We put the newspaper to bed in the wee hours Thursday, in the midst of a literal cliffhanger. We pray for the rescue and safe return of Keith Hutchins and we applaud the brave souls who worked through the night in the dark and snow, seeking to bring him to safety.

-- Tom Morphet