Tag Archives: history

Two Pandemics and one Brown Jug

The Little Brown Jug

The Little Brown Jug has already seen one pandemic, and on a field in Minneapolis, Michigan and Minnesota will fight for it once again in the midst of a second pandemic.

The teams were already rivals in 1903, when Fielding Yost, and his Michigan Wolverines, left behind the 25 cent crockery. The Gophers painted the jug brown, and wrote the final score on it. The next time the two teams met, they agreed that the jug would make a nice trophy. Minnesota and Michigan have been battling for the jug ever since.

There was an eight year gap when Michigan left the Big Ten Conference, but the two teams were scheduled to restart their rivalry in 1918. That game never happened.

Minnesota had its first case of influenza in late September 1918. Within three weeks, there were over 1500 cases reported. Businesses were shut down, and gatherings banned by October 9. Like today, there were mixed reactions to the precautions. The University of Minnesota did not reopen until October 23.*

Sports across the country dealt with the pandemic, just like today. Alabama and LSU did not have a season. The World Series was played early, and the Stanley Cup was called off after 5 games because Montreal could not field a healthy team.**

It wasn’t the pandemic that kept Michigan from playing Minnesota in 1918, but the war effort. The Army had instituted a travel ban, so teams had to keep their games close to campus.

The two rivals did meet again in 1919. The Gophers won 34-7, with 1919 being the only year Yost finished with a losing record (3-4).

The Big Ten returns on Saturday, which many consider a good thing, and just as many probably do not. In any event, we have been here before, even though it predates the vast majority of us. We did get through it.

The very same 25 cent Jug will be up for grabs for the 104th time on Saturday in Minneapolis.

The Little Brown Jug at TCF Bank Stadium

*influenzaarchive.org

**Minneapolis StarTribune


Sid

Sid Hartman with his trusty tape recorder

Growing up in Minnesota, there were two people that everyone knew by only their first name. One was Prince, the other was Sid.

Sid Hartman was the sports reporter for the Minneapolis paper. He also had a show on the juggernaut, at the time, WCCO radio.

Sid literally started out on the ground floor of the newspaper business, selling the papers on street corners of North Minneapolis when he was nine years old. In 1936, he dropped out of high school in the 10th grade to take over the best intersections. By 1944 Sid had made his way to the sports department, and he wrote his first column for the Minneapolis paper in 1945.

Sid with Twins legend Rod Carew

From the sports desk, Sid became the de facto GM of the Minneapolis Lakers, when he was 27. He delivered the $15,000 check himself, at the Detroit airport, to have the Detroit Gems, of the NBL, to move to Minneapolis. The Lakers won the NBL title their first year. Behind George Mikan, the Minneapolis Lakers would go on to win 5 NBA titles before moving to Los Angeles. While doing that, he kept his day job as a sports reporter. He was also instrumental in the Washington Senators moving to Minnesota, to become the Minnesota Twins.

Sid came out of an era where the term conflict of interest was rarely uttered. He considered himself a reporter, not a writer. Sid based his entire reporting ethos on building relationships. Sid was an unapologetic “homer”. He loved Minnesota and its sports teams, but nothing was more dear to his heart than the University of Minnesota.

Sid with UofM great Tom Chorske, and Lord Stanley’s Cup

The gag line, “Sid’s close, personal friends” started on ‘CCO radio. From Bud Grant to George Steinbrenner to Bobby Knight, everyone in the sports world seemed to be Sid’s close, personal friend. When Grant was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was Sid who introduced him.

Callers to Sid’s radio show who disagreed with him on any issue, were dismissed as “Geniuses”. How dare we second guess the “experts”. Of course, disagreeing with Sid was half the fun, it was the main reason we called in.

Sid passed away on Sunday at 100 years of age. His final column was in that morning’s paper. It was his 119th column of 2020. Impressive. Sid had 21,235 bylines with his name on them for the Minneapolis paper over a career span of 75 years. He also spent over 65 years on the radio, doing one sports show or another.

STRIB writer Jim Souhan wrote recently that it wasn’t like Minneapolis had their version of Sid Hartman, Minneapolis had the only one. There wasn’t another version in New York, or Chicago or Los Angeles. Sid was unique; there was only the one.

There have been a lot of tributes and online salutes, but the one by Ryan Saunders, the coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the one that hit home the most. The final line says:

Sid was a remarkable example of living life to the fullest and finding your passion – may we all learn from the legacy he leaves.

Rest in Peace Mr Hartman


After the Ice: Our Land

Part II: “It’s heaven on earth.”

The second video from ARCUS on the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. It’s just under 7 minutes. This video highlights what the loss of sea ice is doing to the land where these villages are located.

The Eskimo Ninja, Nick Hanson, appears in Part II, and is quoted above.


I try to avoid politics on this site…

Walking bridge over the Chena

It is a conscious decision on my part to keep the politics to a minimum, here between The Circles. Whether that is good or bad is open to interpretation, and we will keep that discussion for another time.

Recently, however, a nasty debate has been growing in Fairbanks. The debate has divided families, and wedged itself between friends. Today, I feel obligated to throw in my two cents.

The question: Now that we are into mid-October, are you excited to see snow?

When I say that people in Fairbanks are passionate about this question, I am not exaggerating.

Since we have not seen so much as a flake, other than the residents, the question is getting asked more & more. On average, our first snowfall occurs on September 22. Only twice since record keeping began, have we had a later first snowfall than today. October 16, 1911 & October 20, 2018. The current forecast remains snow free.

Snowshoes, skis, snowmachines and dog sleds all remain off to the side, in limbo, and dead grass.

Many are desperately anxious to see some powder. I think it’s safe to say that an equal number of people are thrilled with the idea of a Brown Halloween.

The Interior is divided. The tension thick. Personally, I’m just going where the Chinooks send me.

Camera: Minolta SRT201; Film: Kodak 35mm, Tri-X400


We are making ice

although, not sea ice… not yet…

The Pond is now iced over

The switch has been flipped.

October started out fantastically mild. Fairbanks even saw three consecutive days over 60F, which is quite rare. As in, three times in the past 100 years, rare. The high temps have consistently been 10-15 degrees above average.

Temps in the teens this morning

For the next week, lows are looking to be in the low to mid teens, and highs hovering around freezing. I think The Pond will remain coated with ice until the spring. Of course, we can certainly hope for some strong Chinook Winds, which drive our temps upward.

Winter seems to be entering the neighborhood.


After the Ice: Our Food

Part I:

The Arctic Research Consortium of the United States has put together a series of videos entitled After the Ice. The videos highlight the changes and the dangers to Alaska’s remote communities, that have relied on the sea ice for their livelihood and sense of community. The first video, which runs approximately 7-1/2 minutes, shows the extent that residents of remote Alaska rely on the sea ice for their source of food.

Much of Alaska, including many in communities like Fairbanks, live a subsistence lifestyle, relying on the land to provide sustenance. It’s a good series, on a population that few Outside even know exist.

Our garden is dying, is a line that cuts to ones heart.


Seven-Four-Seven

Katmai Bear #747; Photo credit: Katmai Bear Cams

The winner of Katmai’s Fat Bear Week, is Bear #747. The bear that shares a number with a wide-body jet airplane, is the champion of 2020.

747 first appeared on the Brooks River scene in 2004. At that time, the young, male bruin could not maintain prime fishing spots against the other bears. That is no longer the case.

747 is now one of the most dominate bears at Brooks Falls, and he is a talented catcher of salmon. He is not the most aggressive of the bears, but 747 does not have to be. Most bears get out of his way just because of his size. In 2019, 747 was estimated to weigh 1400 pounds. He has attained that weight, if not more, in 2020.

In full disclosure: 747 was my personal favorite for this year’s Fat Bear Week. No attempt was made to influence voters.


Fat Bear Tuesday

The Fat Bear Title is on the line:

The Bracket

There will not be a repeat winner this year in Katmai. Last year’s champ, Holly, lost to eventual finalist Chunk.

Voting starts at 8am ADT on Tuesday for the title. “Wide Body” 747 takes on “Chunk”, Bear #32.

747: Before & after pics

The amount of weight these brown bears put on over the course of the summer is really astounding. The bears enter a state of hyperphagia, which suppresses leptin, which is the chemical in the bears’ body that tells the animal that it is full.

Bears often eat dozens of sockeye salmon at a time, although one especially motivated bear was documented eating 40 salmon in one sitting! Each salmon brings in around 4000 calories.

Chunk: Before & after pics

A bear fishing Brooks River in Katmai can easily gain four pounds a day eating salmon, sedge grasses and berries. As salmon numbers tail off in September, the bears will start to move away from the river and dine elsewhere. Although, stragglers will remain around the Brooks River & Brooks Falls through the month of October.

Head over to explore.org to vote:

https://explore.org/fat-bear-week?fbclid=IwAR3Bigm7fJl9pbH-oTYmA2UCFj8h20bL_RAG9mPH4pW3NHY8oojqFNtU4h8

Bracket and photos courtesy of Katmai National Park


LARS

Musk ox at LARS; Photo credit: UAF

We toured the University of Alaska’s Large Animal Research Station late this summer. LARS is located on the old 130 acre Yankovich homestead, which is basically adjacent to the Fairbanks campus. Originally homesteaded by Mike Yankovich in 1923, Yankovich donated the property to the University in 1963.

For much of the summer, tours had been cancelled due to Covid-19, but late in August, small groups were allowed to visit the research station. Our group of three, joined two groups of two, for a total of seven. Masks were required. Like most outdoor Alaska activities, social distance was not hard to maintain.

Two male muskoxen; the one on the right was in charge.

Muskoxen and reindeer are the most common animals at LARS, although at times other large animals, such as other bovines, are studied. Research is run by University scientists, but projects from all around the globe are supported here. This includes both wildlife, and veterinary studies.

Both the male and female muskoxen have horns, although the males are much larger. A male muskox can be 5 feet at the shoulder and weigh 600-800 pounds. A female usually runs a foot shorter, and can weigh between 400 and 500 pounds.

They have two types of hair: guard hair and qiviut. Qiviut is the very soft underwool nearest the body. It traps air, therefore acting as an insulator. The qiviut is shed every summer and can be spun into a fine yarn. In fact, LARS collects the quviut when the animals shed, and sells the yarn in their gift shop and online.

The guard hair is the long, coarse outer hair, that often hangs to the ground. It protects the qiviut. The insulation is so good, that snow on a muskox back will not melt from the animals body heat. It also allow them to live in the harsh Arctic climate without migrating or hibernating.

As the last ice age closed, muskoxen thrived across northern Europe & Asia, North America, and Greenland. By the mid 1800’s, muskoxen were gone from Europe and Asia, and by the 1920’s they had disappeared from Alaska.

In 1930, 34 animals were captured in Greenland, brought to Fairbanks and then transferred to Nunivak Island in the Bering Sea. The population took off. By 1968, Nunivak had 750 muskoxen. Since then, Nunivak muskoxen have repopulated several areas in Alaska, and even in Russia. Today, Alaska has a muskox population of roughly 4300. Of the 143,000 global population, Canada has by far the most with a population of 121,000.

A hungry cow reindeer at LARS

LARS also had a population of 42 reindeer when we visited. Considered domesticated caribou in North America, reindeer can also be found across the Arctic.

The caribou population can have major ups and downs across any given range, although they have never been threatened in Alaska. Currently, of the 4-1/2 million animals world-wide, Alaska has a population of 900,000.

Since I already have written a post on caribou, with the Alaska Big Five series, I won’t repeat all of that.

With the warming of the Arctic, research at LARS is in as high demand as ever.


Glacier Scouring

Film Friday:

Worthington Glacier Valley

Camera: Minolta SRT201