Category Archives: people

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue


The Alaska state flag

In 1927, when Alaska was still a U.S. Territory, Territorial Governor George Parks persuaded the Alaska American Legion to hold a competition. The Governor thought it would help the statehood movement by having a state flag, so the Legion held a contest, open to all Alaskan children, to design Alaska’s new flag.

142 designs were sent to Juneau from all over the state. A thirteen year old living in Seward, John Ben “Benny” Benson won the contest with a simple, yet elegant design.


Benny Benson holding his design for the new Alaska flag

Benny Benson was born in the fishing village of Chignik. His father was a Swedish fisherman, his mother an Aleut-Russian. Benny’s mother died when he was just three, and the family home burned to the ground shortly afterwards. His father, John Ben Benson Sr, could not take care of his three children alone, so they were divided up. Benny and his brother were put into an orphanage in Unalaska; his sister Elsie was sent to a school in Oregon.

The Jesse Lee Home in Unalaska was home to hundreds of Aleut orphans. It eventually moved from Unalaska in the Aleutian Chain, to the town of Seward on the mainland. It was from here that Benny Benson sent his design for the Alaska flag, as a seventh grader.


The Jesse Lee Home for Children in Unalaska, circa 1901

Benson described his design to the judges this way: “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.”

The Territorial Legislature approved the new flag in May of 1927, and Alaska officially flew its new flag for the first time on 9 July 1927. Benny Benson received a watch, with the flag design etched on it, as well as a $1000 educational scholarship, which he eventually used to become a diesel mechanic.

Benson Boulevard in Anchorage, which is a major east-west thoroughfare, is named after Benny.
A Benny Benson Memorial is located at milepost 1.4 of the Seward Highway in Seward.
The airport in Kodiak was renamed the Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport in 2013.
A school in Anchorage on Campbell Airstrip Road has been named the Benny Benson School.

Benny Benson died of a heart attack in 1972. He was 58.

The black & white photos courtesy of The Alaska State Library Archives


Who Loves You Baby?

Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater

Legendary Chicago bluesman, Eddy Clearwater died today. He was 83. Born Edward Harrington in Macon, Mississippi, Eddy moved to Chicago in 1950, taking on the nickname “Guitar Eddy”. His agent suggested Clear Water, playing off of bluesman Muddy Waters. Eventually that morphed into Eddy Clearwater.

Clearwater perfected his own style of Blues, which he called “rock-a-blues”, a mixture of Blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel. His music career extended over six decades, and he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016.

I first saw Eddy Clearwater live at a club in Des Moines called “Blues on Grand”. I tell you, it was one hell of a show. Of all the Blues acts I saw in Des Moines, I think Clearwater was my favorite. Eddy was such a showman, and I was mesmerized by his guitar play. Clearwater was self taught, and he played the guitar left-handed and upside down. My buddy who was at Blues on Grand with me said, “Watching him play is giving me a headache!” When Clearwater was on stage, he grabbed your attention, and didn’t let you go until he was done with you.

We sat close to the stage, although at BoG, no one sat very far from it. Just before a break, Clearwater called my buddy and I out from the stage. During the intermission, he came over to us and talked to us like we were old friends. Of course, he gave each of us a guitar pick. To this day, I still have mine; it’s fastened to the dash of my old Land Rover.

Rest in peace, Eddy. You will be dearly missed.


Humboldt Broncos

The hockey community throughout Canada and the U.S. was rocked by news of a bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos, a Saskatchewan junior hockey team.

A semi-truck slammed into the charter bus carrying the team to the Game 5 playoff game against Nipawin in the SJHL semifinals. Of the 29 people on the bus, 15 have died and the other 14 are injured. Head coach Darcy Haugan,Broncos captain Logan Schatz, 20, and teammates Adam Herold, 16, Jaxon Joseph, 20, Xavier Labelle, 18, Logan Hunter, 18, and Stephen Wack, 21, along with Tyler Bieber, a play-by-play announcer, were among the known victims to have passed.


The Humboldt Broncos hockey team. Photo credit: Humboldt Broncos/Twitter

There were 24 players on the Broncos, between the ages of 16-21.
Curt Giles, the former North Star great, and current Edina High School coach, played for Humboldt back in 1973-1975. “It’s a great little farming town of around 6,000, and that hockey team is everything to the people,’’ Giles said. “It’s small town Canada at its best. I can only imagine the broken hearts in Humboldt this morning. Terrible. The hockey team is the anchor of that town. All the players live with a host family. I lived with the Grunskys for two years. Great people.”*

A Gofundme page has been started for the Broncos players and families. Within 18 hours, it has raised over $1 million of the $2 million goal.

Quote by Curt Giles was given to Patrick Ruesse


Reblog: COME ON BROTHER, I’M TAKING YOU HOME — Pacific Paratrooper

GP Cox has one of my favorite blogs on the internet, and I felt this was a particularly powerful post, so I thought I’d reblog it here on C-to-C.  Hopefully, GP won’t mind, because I did not ask permission first.  This site is well worth checking out, and the video below is well worth watching.  Thanks GP, for all that you do here on WP.

 

Click on the bottom link to take you directly to GP Cox’s post.

 

Angel Flights are the U.S. Air Force planes (C-130’s) used to fly home our Fallen Soldiers. Angel Flight is also their call sign. Angel Flights have top priority in the U.S. airspace – Towers will be heard to say, “Number One for landing/take off.” The Air Force Angel Wing flare pattern is amazing to watch […]

via COME ON BROTHER, I’M TAKING YOU HOME — Pacific Paratrooper


Gypsy Hiker in Kathmandu

The Gypsy Hiker is now in Nepal. Since the name Kathmandu always stirs up images, I wanted to share his blogpost on his visit there. In a previous post, the Gypsy Hiker was invited to a local wedding in Kathmandu. The best times come about unexpectedly, when traveling, and I have also been shown incredible hospitality, by complete strangers, when on the road.

via Spending two days with local Nepalese! #Kathmandu — A boy around the world


Bruce Brown

Documentary filmmaker, Bruce Brown passed away on Sunday. Brown was one of several young filmmakers in the 1960’s who made low budget documentaries on surfing and the beach life style. His classic, was the 1966 movie The Endless Summer. The film cost $50,000 to make, as Brown traveled the globe with two surfers, following summer as it passed from one hemisphere to the other.

There was just something magical about that film. Distributors wanted nothing to do with it, but Brown rented a movie house to show the film for a week. It played for 18 months.

The Endless Summer had a profound effect on me, and my deep seated wanderlust. It wasn’t the surfing that drove my interest, but the world travel, and the idea of following summer from country to country. I saw the film long after its debut, but like the millions before me, I absolutely loved it.

Brown, who surfed and rode a motorcycle most of his life, earned an Academy Award nomination for his 1971 documentary On Any Sunday, a film about the life of motorcycle racers. Steve McQueen was a producer on the film.


Brown, McQueen, and cast/crew On Any Sunday

Brown’s son, Dana, is also a documentary filmmaker, having Dust to Glory in his credits.

Bruce Brown was 80.


The King of Gold King


Don Robertson

From all accounts, Don Robertson was the heart and soul of the Gold King Mine in Jerome, AZ. Robertson, along with his wife Terry, spent 30 years building the mine to the collection that exists today.

One of the highlights of the collection, is the 1928 Studebaker Indy race car, built by Robertson himself. Don raced the car in vintage races around the west.

My Kiwi friend visited the Gold King Mine a few years ago, and Don started up the old Studebaker for him.

“He was a big-hearted soul with a side of orneriness,” said Jerome Police Chief Alan Muma. “He had this Indian motorcycle with a really loud motor. To stay out of trouble, he’d ask me, ‘Get your sound meter out and check me’ and as long as he kept his hand off the throttle, he would stay out of trouble.”

Don Robertson passed away in October of 2016. He was 73.