Tag Archives: unalaska

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


Tidbits from the Dutch Harbor Telegraph

cookie-monster

Police Blotter:
Suspicious Activity—

“The middle-aged man with a large plate of cookies was spotted again, engaged once more in the dodgy act of giving away cookies and drinks. An officer this time located the culprit, and determined his random acts of kindness were simply a means to dispose of leftover snacks prepared for a corporate meeting.”

Editorial:
“The mountain formerly known as Cleveland Volcano….”

Some people have objected to (The Telegraph’s) arrogance in deciding to call the mountain by its old name, Chuginadak. As if the Telegraph is this powerful steamroller that flattens everything in it’s way. “Cleveland Volcano” is an awkward name….and Grover Cleveland never saw it. He’s got a city in Ohio named after him. Isn’t that enough? The Telegraph will continue to call the mountain Chuginadak or else “the mountain formerly known as Cleveland Volcano.”

Infantile:

Alaska tops nation for neonatal and infant survival rates

Alaska’s neonatal survival rate dropped to an all-time low of 1.92 deaths per 1000 live births, the best in the USA. This according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The state’s infant mortality rate of 3.75 deaths per 1000 live births is also the lowest in the nation.

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Return of Dragnet

From the Unalaska Police Blotter:

8 July
1340 – MVA Damage – Minor damage but no injuries ensued when one driver backed into another in the Grand Aleutian Hotel parking lot. Driver #1 was cited for Limitations on Backing.

1528 – Animal – Protest about perpetual problems with pets pooping on plots other than their own.

2259 – Animal – Caller reported a dead cat in the roadway. An officer responded and found no dead feline, only a motley collection of Bald Eagles.


The Return of Dragnet

From the Unalaska Police Blotter

22 May, Wednesday
0001 – Drunk Disturbance – A dipsomaniac reported that his dipsomaniac sibling was causing problems at their shared residence. An officer responded and told the two fully grown men to behave.

2130 – Assault – Caller reported being struck several times in the face after he squirted a former coworker with a squirt gun. Under investigation.

12 May, Sunday

2311 – Suspicious Person/Activity – A man reported being threatened by another man, of whom he was able to provide only a vague description. He asked that officers locate the nondescript suspect and talk to him. Officers were surprisingly unable to positively identify the unremarkable man in question.

1608 – Welfare Check – Caller reported a young boy riding a bicycle without supervision. Officers found the young boy’s mother not far behind him.

2246 – Fire Safety – Fire personnel responded to the apartment of a woman who reported that her smoke alarm was beeping incessantly.

2247 – Assistance Rendered – An officer helped a homeowner change the batteries in her smoke alarm, so the incessant beeping would stop. The Fire Chief returned to the homeowner’s residence a few minutes later and helped her change the batteries in her other smoke alarm, so that it too would quit beeping

1155 – Environmental – Two callers reported 20-40 eagles feasting on discarded fish fillets conveniently left in the back of a pickup truck, and the sheer number of eagles made it difficult for other drivers to safely access vehicles parked nearby. An officer scared the eagles away and advised the owner of the pickup to properly dispose of the fish.


Dutch Harbor Dragnet

beach seine

More from the Unalaska Police Blotter:

1146 – Suspicious Person/Activity – Caller reported a tall man carrying a buoy, an activity which he found suspicious. Officers did not locate the buoy-sporting suspect.

8 December, Saturday
0118 – Trespass – Caller asked police to remove a woman from his residence, and told the responding officers that the woman never leaves after he invites her to his house. Officers suggested that perhaps he should stop inviting her. The woman left without incident.

1100 – Harassment – Woman reported receiving annoying text messages from an unidentified sender. Officers determined the sender was an 11-year old girl who had forwarded the messages after being told that forwarding the messages would bring her luck. The girl and her parents were informed of the problem.

0949 – Welfare Check – Caller expressed concern about being unable to contact a friend by phone for the last several days. An officer contacted the friend, who stated that he turns his phone off when he’s sober.

13 November, Tuesday
0125 – Suspicious Person/Activity – An amorous bloke who in a misguided attempt to attract a mate placed his genitals on full, flapping display in the roadway instead caught the attention of a passing police officer. The luckless lad was allowed to leave without charges since the intended victim couldn’t be offended by what she couldn’t see.


Dutch Harbor Dares

From the Unalaska Police Blotter:

“1136 – Suspicious Person/Activity – Officer investigating the source of several odd text messages found that a young man in Anchorage had sent them after being dared to send text messages to random number. The young man was advised not to do so again.”

“0230 – Suspicious Person/Activity – Vehicle owner said four men were in the parking lot at Safeway, trying to lift up his van. Officers determined several men from a USCG cutter had dared another man to lift the vehicle off the ground.”

…and for good measure:
“0057 – Drunk Disturbance – Officers responded to the Airport Bar regarding an altercation involving multiple people, and found that two men had been wrestling – an activity in which they regularly participate – and had no intention of hurting one another. The participants and their audience left the area without incident.”


Dutch Harbor

More from “The Police Blotter Heard ‘Round The World”
——-LA Times 5 February 2009

Three juvenile boys phoned police and reported they had taken refuge inside a piece of playground equipment because they were in fear of imminent attack by a bald eagle. The suspect eagle hissed and puffed his chest feathers at the responding officer before flying from the area.

1010 – Traffic Roads – Caller reported dump trucks carrying dirt were dropping dirt in the roadway, where it subsequently mixed with rain to become mud. An officer responded to the area and verified that there was mud on the roadway.